Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
From Homage to Clio by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1960 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
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.
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.
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 looked and saw a sea
roofed over with rainbows,
In the midst of each
two lovers met and departed;
Then the sky was full of faces
with gold glories behind them.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 16, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
it is you who leaves. So I set out
to read for signs of imminence,
the same river twice stepped in.
Morning rises gently on the harbor;
our letters come disguised as life.
We know the score but fracture
on fact. We sign a dotted line
made out of promise—the pipes
in November clanging on with heat,
the window left at night a little open.
I love you; then what? Hands
suddenly alive. I plead with time,
adamant, remorseless. So we begin
in earnest; what then? I plead
with time, adamant, remorseless.
Hands suddenly alive. I love you;
then what? The pipes in November
clanging on with heat, the window
left at night a little open. We sign
a dotted line made out of promise—
we know the score but fracture
on fact. Our letters come disguised
as life; morning rises gently on
the harbor. So I set out to read
for signs of imminence, the same
river twice stepped in. One way
or another, it is you who leaves.
Copyright © 2022 by Maya C. Popa. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.