I made mosaics
laid my heart’s tiles on display.
Now, you walk on them.

Copyright © 2016 by Andrea Sanderson. This poem originally appeared in Texas Observer, January 2016. Used with permission of the author.

Near the entrance, a patch of tall grass.
Near the tall grass, long-stemmed plants;

each bending an ear-shaped cone
to the pond’s surface. If you looked closely,

you could make out silvery koi
swishing toward the clouded pond’s edge

where a boy tugs at his mother’s shirt for a quarter.
To buy fish feed. And watching that boy,

as he knelt down to let the koi kiss his palms,
I missed what it was to be so dumb

as those koi. I like to think they’re pure,
that that’s why even after the boy’s palms were empty,

after he had nothing else to give, they still kissed
his hands. Because who hasn’t done that—

loved so intently even after everything
has gone? Loved something that has washed

its hands of you? I like to think I’m different now,
that I’m enlightened somehow,

but who am I kidding? I know I’m like those koi,
still, with their popping mouths, that would kiss

those hands again if given the chance. So dumb.

From Scale. Copyright © 2017 by Nathan McClain. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Four Way Books, www.fourwaybooks.com.

You entered the bedroom and fell to your knees.
I wait the rest of my life to hear you say, I made a mistake.

Inside my chest, a mangle.
Inside yours, a deflating balloon.

You took the vacuum cleaner, the ironing board, the dish rack
and left me some lint, an iron to scorch shirts, one chipped plate.

I would like to say at least we perfected
entrances and exits, like professional stage actors

honing their craft, but even that’s a fantasy.
Mostly on TV the lions ate the hyenas

but sometimes the hyenas
formed a posse, and tore a lion up.

Occasionally you came in out of the rain
and I was glad to have you.

Copyright © 2014 by Courtney Queeney. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on June 24, 2014.

I remembered what it was like,
knowing what you want to eat and then making it,
forgetting about the ending in the middle,
looking at the ocean for 
a long time without restlessness,
or with restlessness not inhabiting the joints,
sitting Indian style on a porch
overlooking that water, smooth like good cake frosting. 
And then I experienced it, falling so deeply
into the storyline, I laughed as soon as my character entered
the picture, humming the theme music even when I’d told myself
I wanted to be quiet by some freezing river
and never talk to anyone again. 
And I thought, now is the right time to cut up your shirt. 

Copyright © 2013 by Katie Peterson. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 25, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Love has gone and left me and the days are all alike;
   Eat I must, and sleep I will,—and would that night were here!
But ah!—to lie awake and hear the slow hours strike!
   Would that it were day again!—with twilight near!

Love has gone and left me and I don't know what to do;
   This or that or what you will is all the same to me;
But all the things that I begin I leave before I'm through,—
   There's little use in anything as far as I can see.

Love has gone and left me,—and the neighbors knock and borrow,
   And life goes on forever like the gnawing of a mouse,—
And to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow
   There's this little street and this little house. 

This poem is in the public domain.

This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.

It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.

Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet
in a river side by side with the feet of another.

Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.

IT spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
Under its chin, no fold of skin softened.
Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat.
What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall.
An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks.

The longing has not diminished.
Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat,
the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus.

Yes, it decides:
Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots.
When it finds itself disquieted
by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life,
it will touch them—one, then another—
with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.

—1998

From Given Sugar, Given Salt (HarperCollins, 2001) by Jane Hirshfield. Copyright © 2001 by Jane Hirshfield. Reprinted by permission of the author, all rights reserved.

I know what my heart is like
      Since your love died:
It is like a hollow ledge
Holding a little pool
      Left there by the tide,
      A little tepid pool,
Drying inward from the edge.

This poem is in the public domain.