I love to see the big white moon, 
  A-shining in the sky;
I love to see the little stars, 
  When the shadow clouds go by.

I love the rain drops falling
  On my roof-top in the night;
I love the soft wind’s sighing, 
  Before the dawn’s gray light.

I love the deepness of the blue, 
  In my Lord’s heaven above; 
But better than all these things I think, 
  I love my lady love.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 27, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Love is a flame that burns with sacred fire, 
And fills the being up with sweet desire;
Yet, once the altar feels love’s fiery breath,
The heart must be a crucible till death.

Say love is life; and say it not amiss, 
That love is but a synonym for bliss.
Say what you will of love—in what refrain, 
But knows the heart, ‘tis but a word for pain.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 20, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

The boy beside me
is not you but he
is familiar in all

the important ways.
I pass through life
finding you over

and over again—
oppress you
with love. And every

surrogate?
Afflicted by my
kindness, they leave

me with my music.
I loved you before
I ever loved you.

Copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Franklin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 9, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

How to love like water loves
when it’s impossible to even taste
all the ghostly sediments
each time you take a sip

Impossible to savor
the salt in your blood
the light and island shorelines
in each living cell

When even the plainest mouthful
tastes more of you than you of it

 

 

Sweetest of absences
that frees in wave after wave
debris of thought like the dead,
the drowned, the vanished, and yet
sails your lips
on a voyage toward another’s, plying
all luck and regret

Worship, splash, guzzle, or forget
It clears any difference
Stone washer and mountain dissolver
that will
outlive us, even the memory of
all any eyes touched

Wasp and cactus in a desert
Comet through outer space
Sleep among all the cloud-shepherds’ children

A love so perpetually current
it doesn’t care that you love
without even knowing you love
what you couldn’t survive
three days without

How to love like that: wild
dream-sparkler and meticulous architect
of every snowflake
Wise, ebullient, and generous
as the rain

Deepest of miracles
for a time
borrowing and replenishing
a self
overflowing with fate

From Mitochondrial Night (Coffee House Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 Ed Bok Lee. Used with permission of the author and Coffee House Press. This poem originally appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, Fall-Winter 2017.

I hid my love when young till I
Couldn’t bear the buzzing of a fly;
I hid my love to my despite
Till I could not bear to look at light:
I dare not gaze upon her face
But left her memory in each place;
Where’er I saw a wild flower lie
I kissed and bade my love good-bye.

I met her in the greenest dells,
Where dewdrops pearl the wood bluebells;
The lost breeze kissed her bright blue eye,
The bee kissed and went singing by,
A sunbeam found a passage there,
A gold chain round her neck so fair;
As secret as the wild bee’s song
She lay there all the summer long.

I hid my love in field and town
Till e’en the breeze would knock me down;
The bees seemed singing ballads o’er,
The fly’s bass turned a lion’s roar;
And even silence found a tongue,
To haunt me all the summer long;
The riddle nature could not prove
Was nothing else but secret love.

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
  Silently, invisibly.

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,
Silently, invisibly:
  He took her with a sigh.

This poem is in the public domain.

You might say fear
is a predictable emotion
& I might agree. Whenever
my husband leaves
for his graveyard shift,
when he prepares to walk
out into the abyss of black
sky, I am afraid
tonight will be the night
I become a widow. I don't
want to love like this. But
here we are: walking
hand in hand
in our parkas down
the avenues & he pulls away
from me. I might be
in some dreamy place,
thinking of the roast chicken
we just had, the coconut peas
& rice he just cooked,
& how the food has filled
our bellies with delight. How
many times can I speak
about black men
& an officer enters the scene?
I don't want to love
like this. But there is a gun
in the holster & a hand
on the gun in the holster
& my husband's hands
are no longer in his pockets
because it is night & we are
just trying to breathe in
some fresh evening air,
trying to be unpredictable, to
forget fear for a moment
& live in love & love.

Copyright © 2018 by DéLana R. A. Dameron. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

After stepping into the world again,
there is that question of how to love, 
how to bundle yourself against the frosted morning—
the crunch of icy grass underfoot, the scrape 
of cold wipers along the windshield—
and convert time into distance. 

What song to sing down an empty road
as you begin your morning commute?
And is there enough in you to see, really see, 
the three wild turkeys crossing the street 
with their featherless heads and stilt-like legs
in search of a morning meal? Nothing to do 
but hunker down, wait for them to safely cross. 

As they amble away, you wonder if they want 
to be startled back into this world. Maybe you do, too, 
waiting for all this to give way to love itself, 
to look into the eyes of another and feel something— 
the pleasure of a new lover in the unbroken night, 
your wings folded around him, on the other side 
of this ragged January, as if a long sleep has ended.

Copyright © 2014 by January Gill O’Neil. Used with the permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 25, 2014.

Escape me?
Never—
Beloved!
While I am I, and you are you,
   So long as the world contains us both,
   Me the loving and you the loth,
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear:
   It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
   Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
But what if I fail of my purpose here? 
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
   To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall,
And baffled, get up to begin again,—
   So the chase takes up one's life, that's all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound,
   At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope drops to ground
   Than a new one, straight to the selfsame mark,
I shape me—
Ever
Removed! 

This poem is in the public domain.

There is no magic any more,
      We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
      Nor I for you.

You were the wind and I the sea—
      There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
      Beside the shore.

But though the pool is safe from storm
      And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
      For all its peace.

This poem is in the public domain.

tonight for a moment as the owl sleeps
i’m going to dust this city’s dirt from my clothes
the dry hot deaths that bring the strongest to their knees.
i’m going to run headlong through a rainstorm
dodging lightening blasts and hurdling rivers
as wolves howl on a peak of purple darkness.
with my nose flaring, the sulfur of the fields will not deter me,
i’m going to come through to a background of laughing cars
and screaming
                                sirens.
my forehead pushing forward to the street
of your house, i’m going to come with the smile of a boy,
my smile,
my hands offering callouses, offering struggle.
tonight as the owl sleeps, i’ll come with the silence of a cricket,
with the intensity of a flower and for an instant, a second,
before i tell you it’s starting and bring the guns,
feathers will flow from my mouth to tell you, mi amor, my soul,
a kiss before we pray. i gather the stars like berries
and bring them to light your face, let me again smell
the skin of your stomach,
let me wash your feet with my lips,
nibble the meat from behind your knees.

From A Jury of Trees (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe and Letras Latinas, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Andrés Montoya. Used with the permission of Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe.

Which cannot be written tries anyway—
From one room to another, each time startled
And does not want to hear of the already

Passed through, the country of before.
Poem that at each door believes itself
In the room closest to the end

Where finally everything will be gone over,
Dismantled, held up, carefully laid back down
While talked into the beauty which can turn

In a minute. To hear of every other
Poem written is to begin
Revision and what cannot be left enough

Alone and so the lovers look at each other
Until none else can come near. Poem
Which never wanted anything but this

Tries anyway, so brave, unable to know where
She heads; unwrapping until only a gift
Which cannot be given as it cannot be let go.

Sophie Cabot Black, "Love Poem"  from The Exchange (Graywolf Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Sophie Cabot Black. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

The aerogram says come      the photos show bliss
Another felicitous union      a fresh beginning
He’s so handsome fat      she’s so new world slim
 
The envelopes are red      the writing vermeil
He’ll get a good job      an iron rice bowl won’t break
She’s caught a princely man      a silent one      like her father
 
Sister dyes pink eggs      Auntie boils cider knuckles
The Great Patriarch is happy      a bouncy grandson
A bundle of joy      from a test tube in heaven
 
Thank you for your blessings      for your lucky lycee
A young nurse cares for her now      in a small hospice near the sea
He’s alone on Silicon Hill      that’s where he’s happy
 
Emails turn silent      Instagrams      remiss
Thank you for the white gardenias      they’ll sweeten her soul
The joss paper boats      will net fish for her in the next world
 

Copyright © 2017 by Marilyn Chin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 21, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her,
Next time, herself!—not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch’s perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew,—
Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.

Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune—
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,—who cares?
But ‘tis twilight, you see,—with such suits to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!
 

This poem is in the public domain. 

When my soul touches yours a great chord sings!
How shall I tune it then to other things?
O! That some spot in darkness could be found
That does not vibrate when’er your depth sound.
But everything that touches you and me
Welds us as played strings sound one melody.
Where is the instrument whence the sounds flow?
And whose the master-hand that holds the bow?
O! Sweet song—

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 4, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Escape me?
Never—
Beloved!
While I am I, and you are you,
   So long as the world contains us both,
   Me the loving and you the loth,
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear:
   It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
   Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
But what if I fail of my purpose here? 
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
   To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall,
And baffled, get up to begin again,—
   So the chase takes up one's life, that's all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound,
   At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope drops to ground
   Than a new one, straight to the selfsame mark,
I shape me—
Ever
Removed! 

This poem is in the public domain.

There is no magic any more,
      We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
      Nor I for you.

You were the wind and I the sea—
      There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
      Beside the shore.

But though the pool is safe from storm
      And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
      For all its peace.

This poem is in the public domain.

Light o’ the lodge, how I love thee,
Light o’ the lodge, how I love thee,
         Mianza, my wild-wood fawn!
To wait and to watch for thy passing.
          On hill-top I linger at dawn.

Glimmer of morn, how I love thee, 
Glimmer of morn, how I love thee! 
      My flute to the ground now I fling,
      As you tread the steep trail to the spring,
For thy coming has silenced my song.

Shimmer of moon on the river,
Sheen of soft star on the lake!
     Moonlight and starlight are naught;
     Their gleam and their glow is ne’er fraught
With such love-light as falls from thine eyes.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 17, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

True Love is but a humble, low-born thing,
And hath its food served up in earthen ware;
It is a thing to walk with, hand in hand,
Through the every-dayness of this work-day world,
Baring its tender feet to every roughness,
Yet letting not one heart-beat go astray
From Beauty’s law of plainness and content;
A simple, fire-side thing, whose quiet smile
Can warm earth’s poorest hovel to a home;
Which, when our autumn cometh, as it must,
And life in the chill wind shivers bare and leafless,
Shall still be blest with Indian-summer youth
In bleak November, and, with thankful heart,
Smile on its ample stores of garnered fruit,
As full of sunshine to our aged eyes
As when it nursed the blossoms of our spring.
Such is true Love, which steals into the heart
With feet as silent as the lightsome dawn
That kisses smooth the rough brows of the dark,
And hath its will through blissful gentleness,—
Not like a rocket, which, with savage glare,
Whirrs suddenly up, then bursts, and leaves the night
Painfully quivering on the dazed eyes;
A love that gives and takes, that seeth faults,
Not with flaw-seeking eyes like needle-points,
But, loving kindly, ever looks them down
With the o’ercoming faith of meek forgiveness;
A love that shall be new and fresh each hour,
As is the golden mystery of sunset,
Or the sweet coming of the evening-star,
Alike, and yet most unlike, every day,
And seeming ever best and fairest now;
A love that doth not kneel for what it seeks,
But faces Truth and Beauty as their peer,
Showing its worthiness of noble thoughts
By a clear sense of inward nobleness,
A love that in its object findeth not
All grace and beauty, and enough to sate
Its thirst of blessing, but, in all of good
Found there, it sees but Heaven-granted types
Of good and beauty in the soul of man,
And traces, in the simplest heart that beats,
A family-likeness to its chosen one,
That claims of it the rights of brotherhood.
For Love is blind but with the fleshly eye,
That so its inner sight may be more clear;
And outward shows of beauty only so
Are needful at the first, as is a hand
To guide and to uphold an infant’s steps:
Great spirits need them not; their earnest look
Pierces the body’s mask of thin disguise,
And beauty ever is to them revealed,
Behind the unshapeliest, meanest lump of clay,
With arms outstretched and eager face ablaze,
Yearning to be but understood and loved.

This poem is in the public domain. 

makes me think plurality. Maybe I can love you
with many selves. Or. I love all the Porgys.
Even as a colloquialism: a queering of
love as singular. English is a strange
language because I loves
and He loves are not
both grammarly. I loves you,
Porgy. Better to ask what man is not,
Porgy.
The beauty of Nina’s Porgy distorts
gravity. Don’t let him take
me. The ceiling is in
the floor. There is one name
I cannot say.
Who is


now?
Beauty, a proposal on
refuse. Disposal.
Nina’s eyes know
a fist too well. Not
well enough.
Pick one
out a
lineup.

Copyright © 2018 by Nabila Lovelace. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

To have been told “I love you” by you could well be, for me,
the highlight of my life, the best feeling, the best peak
on my feeling graph, in the way that the Chrysler building
might not be the tallest building in the NY sky but is
the best, the most exquisitely spired, or the way that
Hank Aaron’s career home-run total is not the highest
but the best, the one that signifies the purest greatness. 
So improbable!  To have met you at all and then
to have been told in your soft young voice so soon
after meeting you: "I love you."  And I felt the mystery
of being that you, of being a you and being
loved, and what I was, instantly, was someone
who could be told "I love you" by someone like you. 
I was, in that moment, new; you were 19; I was 22;
you were impulsive; I was there in front of you, with a future
that hadn't yet been burned for fuel; I had energy;
you had beauty; and your eyes were a pale blue,
and they backed what you said with all they hadn't seen,
and they were the least ambitious eyes I'd known,
the least calculating, and when you spoke and when
they shone, perhaps you saw the feeling you caused.
Perhaps you saw too that the feeling would stay.

Copyright © 2016 by Matthew Yeager. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 31, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.