My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
This poem is in the public domain.
Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind doth move
I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears.
Ah! she did depart!
Soon after she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
He took her with a sigh.
This poem is in the public domain.
although I know you can never be found
although I know that from the highest height
you cannot be seen you are not hiding
from me or are you is it how you look now
or maybe how I look now all these years gone by
places seen people met not knowing at any time
who I was or how others saw me or did not see me
and how are you wherever you are if I write you a letter
I’ll get no answer if I cry out to you to come in my final
hour you will not come but I will still look for you
Copyright © 2017 by Emily Fragos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 24, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
The elephant, the huge old beast, is slow to mate; he finds a female, they show no haste they wait for the sympathy in their vast shy hearts slowly, slowly to rouse as they loiter along the river-beds and drink and browse and dash in panic through the brake of forest with the herd, and sleep in massive silence, and wake together, without a word. So slowly the great hot elephant hearts grow full of desire, and the great beasts mate in secret at last, hiding their fire. Oldest they are and the wisest of beasts so they know at last how to wait for the loneliest of feasts for the full repast. They do not snatch, they do not tear; their massive blood moves as the moon-tides, near, more near till they touch in flood.
From The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence, edited by V. De Sola Pinto & F. W. Roberts. Copyright © 1964, 1971 by Angela Ravagli and C. M. Weekly, Executors of the Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc.
I like how, when I look out
onto this desert Idaho plain,
I can pretty much graze my palm
on the Pliocene—
and doing so, greet the great wide savannahs of Africa—
mossy and tree lined,
laced in saber-toothed cats,
hyena-like dogs and a half caravan
of even-toed camels.
I like how, when I look upon these bluffs,
I have to leave off acuity—
level all spectacle,
Even so, here blows
another tumbleweed. Be careful
with that match!
Hear it now,
skeletal frolic of O’s.
I love how this lookout
offers no viewfinder.
So I must mesh with the idea
of what might have been
the lontra weiri,
Hagerman’s mystery otter,
nearly four million years ago.
Should I not add this riverine creature
was named for singer Bob Weir?
Dare I admit I am way, way thankful
he fathered the Grateful Dead,
which helped bring us hippies,
sideburns shaped into states of Idaho?
These, plus those love-ins
we never quite had down in Nampa,
where I grew up, 117 miles from here.
It all instilled what I will call gratitude’s latitude—
bones of articulate hope.
I like how standing still in this place
serves to remind
that every epochal zone
clearly inheres in us. Notice.
Most people only look
for what they can see. Oh, Great Dane-ish
Hagerman Horse. Maybe you’re Africa’s own
Grévy's zebra. Should I not grab you here
in this wayfaring now—and stiffly by the mane—
to say yes, of course, I am indebted?
I’m here at this look-out—
the long meanwhile, whole Snake River histories
molted and soaked in
then found their shot to break free
to the bone layer
under that soil-load
dubbed by the digging biz
Listen here, visitor.
Lay your millstone down,
once and for everyone.
can you see—hey,
here’s some binoculars : What kind
of place will we be
when I cross over
into you and you cross over into me?
Copyright © 2016 by Diane Raptosh. This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.
A woman builds a house out of birds’ cries and cries
all the time within it. The man she had wanted says,
“I am looking for a woman who is crying, but can’t
tell if anyone is crying inside that house’s outer
crying.” So she builds another house; this time, tears
for bricks, and cries as loud as she can within it.
Still he can’t hear her because the house’s
rectangular tears are too dazzlingly beautiful
to hear within. At this point, they both should be
laughing. The ceiling is neither of their mouths,
but full of teeth. The sky above: a chicken,
fresh out of a fake swamp, opening its eyes
and flashing its resplendent wings.
They called this coincidence
“summer” and continued
on their merry way.
She, like a man,
opening a checkbook.
He, like a woman,
invisible when taking
off his clothes.
They both envied
text, only invisible
would claim it was
when said to be
All walls lie.
Say somewhere an ocean is empty of leaves.
Say somewhere our dance is inside the roof’s burnt-down need.
The red shoe calls out to be danced in.
The potato calls out to be held like a doll.
The house calls out to be as empty as poetry
And say, yes, ma’am, I am empty as poetry.”
And say, “yes, sir, I am the soft spot on the back of a scar.”
Somewhere a harpsichord is weeping.
Somewhere someone can hear a harpsichord weeping.
Somewhere someone can hear a harpsichord weeping and tell us what
the weeping is for.
A man holds a stethoscope to a woman’s closed mouth.
A man holds a tongue out to another man’s car.
This is just stereotype.
a woman a woman a woman a woman a woman a man.
“Let’s say all poems are a Band-Aid on the word.
Let’s say a house is a poem that doesn’t know it
once died. Then to be a woman is exactly like being
a man, but to be a man is unlike anything a woman
might possibly be.”
This was the song of the house on the brink of the room’s
smallest eye hat cursed two belted felt smile, two knocked up
ideas, a prickly tremble inside a self made of nothing but noise,
while room temperature barbecue butterfly shenanigans drip.
© 2006 Joanna Fuhrman. By permission of Hanging Loose Press.
I found myself
a many-roofed building in moonlight.
me as simply as moths might.
Feelings traversed me as fish.
I heard myself thinking,
It isn't the piano, it isn't the ears.
Then heard, too soon, the ordinary furnace,
the usual footsteps above me.
Washed my face again with hot water,
as I did when I was a child.
Originally published in The Beauty (Knopf, 2015); all rights reserved. Copyright © by Jane Hirshfield. Used by permission of the author, all rights reserved.
For the distances collapsed.
For the figure
failed to humanize
the scale. For the work,
the work did nothing but invite us
to relate it to
For I was a shopper in a dark
For the mode of address
equal to the war
was silence, but we went on
For the city was polluted
with light, and the world,
For I was a fraud
in a field of poppies.
For the rain made little
to the architecture.
For the architecture was a long
lecture lost on me, negative
I finished the reading and looked up
Changed in the familiar ways. Now for a quiet place
To begin the forgetting. The little delays
Between sensations, the audible absence of rain
Take the place of objects. I have some questions
But they can wait. Waiting is the answer
I was looking for. Any subject will do
So long as it recedes. Hearing the echo
Of your own blood in the shell but picturing
The ocean is what I meant by
You startled me. I thought you were sleeping
In the traditional sense. I like looking
At anything under glass, especially
Glass. You called me. Like overheard
Dreams. I'm writing this one as a woman
Comfortable with failure. I promise I will never
But the predicate withered. If you are
Uncomfortable seeing this as portraiture
Close your eyes. No, you startled
Unhinged in a manner of speaking
Crossed with stars, a rain that can be paused
So we know we're dreaming on our feet
Like horses in the city. How sad. Maybe
No maybes. Take a position. Don't call it
Night-vision green. Think of the children
Running with scissors through the long
Where were we? If seeing this as portraiture
Makes you uncomfortable, wake up
Wake up, it's time to begin
The forgetting. Direct modal statements
Wither under glass. A little book for Ari
Built to sway. I admire the use of felt
Theory, like swimming in a storm, but object
To anti-representational bias in an era of
You're not listening. I'm sorry. I was thinking
How the beauty of your singing reinscribes
The hope whose death it announces. Wave
Numbness, felt silence, a sudden
Inability to swallow, the dream in which
The face is Velcro, describing the film
In the language of disaster, the disaster in
Not finishing sentences, removing the suicide
From the speed dial, failing to recognize
Yourself in the photo, coming home to find
A circle of concerned family and friends
It's more of an artists' colony than a hospital
It's more of a vitamin than an anti-psychotic
Collective despair expressed in I-statements
The dream in which the skin is stonewashed
Denim, running your hand through the hair
Of an imaginary friend, rising from bed
Dressing, returning calls, all without
Waking, the sudden suspicion the teeth
In your mouth are not your own, let
Alone the words
From Mean Free Path by Ben Lerner. Copyright © 2010 by Ben Lerner. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Some have the grandeur of architecture, The grandeur of the concert hall: the sentimental Grandeur of an idea lying just beyond recall In someone's imagination, compelled by an even Greater music at its most monumental, That begins with the explosion of a drum In chaos and the dark, the twin wellsprings of a world That slowly comes to lie before them—a natural One, apparently designed for them alone, That somehow lifts them in the end, a woman and a man, To Paradise and the certainty of God. It's lovely to believe—lovely, anyway, to hear. The chaos is still there, but rather than a distant state From which the patterns of this life emerged, It feels like part of it, like sex or sleep, The complex workings of a dream made visible. This afternoon I took the S-Bahn into town, Getting off at a half-completed shell In the middle of what felt like nowhere, One stop before the Friederichstrasse station. I picked my way along a maze of barriers and fences, Down an open street and past a makeshift balcony Overlooking a pit, the site of the creation Of the Hauptbahnhof to come. It was echt Berlin: A panorama filled with transcendental buildings to the south, And in the foreground towering red and yellow cranes Branded with the initials DB, a cacophony Assembled to articulate some inarticulate design, But closer to the truth: a half-baked world, The perfect setting for a half-baked life. I used to think one finished what the past began, Instead of moving things around inside a no-man's-land, A landscape always on the verge, always unrealized . . . Purpose and design; a sort of purpose, with a form Still waiting to emerge; and finally, lack of any Strategy or plan, as entropy increases— On my way back from a puzzling museum I found myself rehearsing various ideas of order And disorder, ideas of intent, deliberation, and control. Three hours earlier, strolling through its galleries Full of different kinds of cocks, encaustic cunts and oddly moving Piles of junk from the Berlin equivalent of OfficeMax or Home Depot, all strewn about the floor Of what until the war had been a neo-Renaissance Train station, I'd suddenly felt the wonder of uncertainty At how these things so stubbornly neglected to emerge From the rubble of Creation's threshing floor, But simply lay there—all this stuff—deliberately chosen, I suppose, yet out of context signifying nothing but themselves. I'd felt absurdly happy. Maybe it was the notion That the realm of the imaginary coincided with the present, With an ordinary day spent wandering here and there, And later on that evening, The Creation at the Philharmonie. At any rate, I'd seen enough. There was no place else I especially wanted to go—no more exhibitions Or architecture—and nothing I particularly wanted to do —Window-shopping in the stores along the Ku'damm— And so I wandered through its massive doors Into the afternoon and the museum of the future.
From Ninety-fifth Street. Copyright © 2009 by John Koethe. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
What was he saying and to whom? With a silver thermos he left the building; He paused in the courtyard and turned. What was he saying and to whom? The building at dawn not yet a building Paused the way all buildings do. What was he saying and to whom? Time doesn't stop; time doesn't wait; Time has never moved. What was he saying and to whom? If the dog had been sleeping She would not have awakened, So small was the moment to lose. What was he saying and to whom? What was he saying and to whom? The courtyard at dawn was the same As the sky, the sky swept clean by the moon. What was he saying and to whom? Good morning, good-bye, I love you, I'll try. What was he saying and to whom?
From elephants & butterflies by Alan Michael Parker. Copyright © 2008 by Alan Michael Parker. Reprinted by permission of B.O.A. Editions. All rights reserved.
Under the green domes of maples light spangles the abundant slabs of moss. Grass won’t grow here, but something else has taken over. When I went into the drugstore yesterday the clerk who moved away had been replaced by a girl who looked so much like her I thought for a moment she’d come back to town with her hair cut. And in the second grade, when Bobby Markley died, a new boy from Ohio promptly sat beside me at his desk. Out here, in the city park, people are almost always interchangeable, though the summer I’ll hate to lose supplants itself with a wan and amber sun that isn’t quite the same, reminding me of larger griefs not easily consoled. “Life is the saddest thing there is, next to death,” Edith Wharton wrote, she who walked so often in the park listening to the old, remembered voices. She must have sat under trees not unlike this one, heavy with sorrows she couldn’t speak aloud. She mourned her friends, and one friend like no other, while the late sunlight passed across the grasses, and now she too is gone.
Copyright © 2017 Patricia Hooper. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Spring 2017.
Rain fell in a post-romantic way.
Heads in the planets, toes tucked
under carpets, that’s how we got our bodies
through. The translator made the sign
for twenty horses backing away from
a lump of sugar. Yes, you.
When I said did you want me
I meant me in the general sense.
The drink we drank was cordial.
In a spoon, the ceiling fan whirled.
The Old World smoked in the fireplace.
Glum was the woman in the ostrich feather hat.
Copyright © 2006 by Matthea Harvey. Reprinted with permission of the author.
For Fanny Brawne
The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone!
Sweet voice, sweet lips, soft hand, and softer breast,
Warm breath, light whisper, tender semitone,
Bright eyes, accomplished shape, and lang'rous waist!
Faded the flower and all its budded charms,
Faded the sight of beauty from my eyes,
Faded the shape of beauty from my arms,
Faded the voice, warmth, whiteness, paradise!
Vanished unseasonably at shut of eve,
When the dusk holiday—or holinight—
Of fragrant-curtained love begins to weave
The woof of darkness thick, for hid delight;
But, as I've read love's missal through today,
He'll let me sleep, seeing I fast and pray.
Written October 11, 1819. This poem is in the public domain.
What was it I was going to say?
Slipped away probably because
it needn’t be said. At that edge
almost not knowing but second
guessing the gain, loss, or effect
of an otherwise hesitant remark.
Slant of light on a brass box. The way
a passing thought knots the heart.
There’s nothing, nothing to say.
Copyright © 2015 by Thomas Meyer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 1, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
The cloth edge of certainty has shredded down to this: God and love are real, but very far away. If I go to Istanbul, will I return? That is not one of the permitted questions. When I go to Istanbul, how will I bear to return? I could slip into the small streets to the high plain and the Caucasus— It's all alone, the returning, the going. The cloth, a soft holland whose blocks of blue and lemon once cheered me in a skirt, now dries dishes. God and love are very far away, farther even than the mountains in the east.
From Romanticism by April Bernard. Copyright © 2009 by April Bernard. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.
As we unlocked it
there was nothing
in the safe
so intent to record
all we saw
paying attention meant
at that age or later on
a kind of stage
a fictive situation
parceled among the crowd
multiplying your every gesture
I wanted to stop
and touch you to
of our passing
Copyright © 2013 by Chris Hosea. Used with permission of the author.
If I could have put you in my heart,
If but I could have wrapped you in myself,
How glad I should have been!
And now the chart
Of memory unrolls again to me
The course of our journey here, here where we part.
And of, that you had never, never been
Some of your selves, my love, that some
Of your several faces I had never seen!
And still they come before me, and they go,
And I cry aloud in the moments that intervene.
And oh, my love, as I rock for you to-night,
And have not any longer and hope
To heal the suffering, or to make requite
For all your life of asking and despair,
I own that some of me is dead to-night.
This poem is in the public domain.