Welcome children of the Spring,
   In your garbs of green and gold,
Lifting up your sun-crowned heads
   On the verdant plain and wold.

As a bright and joyous troop
   From the breast of earth ye came
Fair and lovely are your cheeks,
   With sun-kisses all aflame.

In the dusty streets and lanes,
   Where the lowly children play,
There as gentle friends ye smile,
   Making brighter life's highway

Dewdrops and the morning sun,
   Weave your garments fair and bright,
And we welcome you to-day
   As the children of the light.

Children of the earth and sun.
   We are slow to understand
All the richness of the gifts
   Flowing from our Father's hand.

This poem is in the public domain. 

Ghastly, ghoulish, grinning skull,
Toothless, eyeless, hollow, dull,
Why your smirk and empty smile
As the hours away you wile?
Has the earth become such bore
That it pleases nevermore?
Whence your joy through sun and rain?
Is ’t because of loss of pain?
Have you learned what men learn not
That earth’s substance turns to rot?
After learning now you scan
Vain endeavors man by man?
Do you mind that you as they
Once was held by mystic sway;
Dreamed and struggled, hoped and prayed,
Lolled and with the minutes played?
Sighed for honors; battles planned;
Sipped of cups that wisdom banned
But would please the weak frail flesh;
Suffered, fell, ’rose, struggled fresh?
Now that you are but a skull
Glimpse you life as life is, full
Of beauties that we miss
Till time withers with his kiss?
Do you laugh in cynic vein
Since you cannot try again?
And you know that we, like you,
Will too late our failings rue?
Tell me, ghoulish, grinning skull
What deep broodings, o’er you mull?
Tell me why you smirk and smile
Ere I pass life’s sunset stile.

From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922) edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.

The soft harp of snowfall plucking through
my pine trees lulls me to peace, yet I still
hear the bongo of thunderstorms rapping
the rooftop of my queer childhood, dancing
to the clouds’ rage, raining away my sorrows.
Though snow melts silently into the gurgles
of my creek, my grandmother’s voice remains
frozen in my ears, still calling me a sissy, yet
praising me as her best friend. Even though
I marvel over spring’s abracadabra each time
my lilac blooms appear, I still disappear back
into the magic of summer nights on the porch,
the moon lighting up my grandfather’s stories
about his lost Cuba, his words carried away
with the smoke of his tabaco and the scent
of his jasmine tree flowering the night with
its tiny, perfumed stars. Despite the daystars
peeking behind the lavender clouds swaddling
mountain peaks in my window at sunset, I still
rise to the sun of my youth over the sea, after
a night’s sleep on a bed of sand, dreaming or
dreading who I would, or wouldn’t become.
Though I grew courageous enough to marry
a man who can only love me in his English:
darling, sweetheart, honey, I love him back
more in my Spanish whispered in his ears as
he sleeps: amorcito, tesoro, ceilo. After all
the meatloafs and apple pies we’ve baked
in our kitchen, I still sit down to the memory
of my mother’s table, savoring the loss of her
onion-smothered vaca frita and creamy flan.
No matter how tastefully my throw pillows
perfectly match my chic rugs and the stylish
art on my walls, it all falls apart sometimes,
just as I do, until I remember to be the boy
I was, always should be, playing alone with
his Legos in the family room, still enchanted
by the joy of his sheer self and his creations:
perfect or not, beautiful or not, immortal or
as mortal as the plentiful life I’ve made here,
although I keep living with my father dying
in our old house, his head cradled in my hand
for a sip of tea and a kiss on his forehead—
our last goodbye in the home that still lives
within this home where I live on to die, too.

Copyright © 2020 by Richard Blanco. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 22, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

“I can remember when I was a little, young girl, how my old mammy would sit out of doors in the evenings and look up at the stars and groan, and I would say, ‘Mammy, what makes you groan so?’ And she would say, ‘I am groaning to think of my poor children; they do not know where I be and I don’t know where they be. I look up at the stars and they look up at the stars!’”
            —Sojourner Truth.

I think I see her sitting bowed and black,
  Stricken and seared with slavery’s mortal scars,
Reft of her children, lonely, anguished, yet
  Still looking at the stars.

Symbolic mother, we thy myriad sons,
  Pounding our stubborn hearts on Freedom’s bars,
Clutching our birthright, fight with faces set,
  Still visioning the stars!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 24, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

I do not crave to have thee mine alone, dear
   Keeping thy charms within my jealous sight;
Go, give the world the blessing of thy beauty,
   That other hearts may share of my delight!

I do not ask, thy love should be mine only
   While others falter through the dreary night;
Go, kiss the tears from some wayfarer’s vision, 
   That other eyes may know the joy of light!

Where days are sad and skies are hung with darkness, 
   Go, send a smile that sunshine may be rife;
Go, give a song, a word of kindly greeting, 
   To ease the sorrow of some lonely life!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 12, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

Dear love, what thing of all the things that be 
Is ever worth one thought from you or me, 
             Save only Love, 
             Save only Love?

The days so short, the nights so quick to flee, 
The world so wide, so deep and dark the sea, 
              So dark the sea; 

So far the suns and every listless star, 
Beyond their light—Ah! dear, who knows how far, 
             Who knows how far? 

One thing of all dim things I know is true, 
The heart within me knows, and tells it you, 
             And tells it you. 

So blind is life, so long at last is sleep, 
And none but Love to bid us laugh or weep, 
             And none but Love, 
             And none but Love. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 5, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

When buffeted and beaten by life’s storms,
When by the bitter cares of life oppressed,
I want no surer haven than your arms,
I want no sweeter heaven than your breast.

When over my life’s way there falls the blight
Of sunless days, and nights of starless skies;
Enough for me, the calm and steadfast light
That softly shines within your loving eyes.

The world, for me, and all the world can hold
Is circled by your arms; for me there lies,
Within the lights and shadows of your eyes,
The only beauty that is never old.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 7, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

—for Melissa 

What sadness anywhere is sadness where
I could just stand and walk to you      from sadness 
Go      home to you though I bring home my sadness 
What sadness there though I have felt sad there

Before      when I come home from far away
What sadness then      or from three blocks uptown 
My office      where I write this poem down
In a room full of the dimness that fills spac-

es anywhere where you are not      a film 
Obscuring every surface but it is a light 
Not shining      ever from surfaces

You are not near what sadness      where you might 
By being near reveal each thing for what it is
What sadness where each thing is whole

Copyright © 2020 by Shane McCrae. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 28, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

You are someone with a penchant for dark
beers and pasts, walk-in closets and porch-step

smokes, who liked to ride it out to the depths 
of the middle of Lake Hopatcong, spark

the flint of your lighter, take longing drags
and talk about hipster coffee and sex

with whipped cream designs—and sometimes, your next
lover—and dive in to put out the fag,

swim to the deck to peel off your cotton
boxers and wring them in your fighter’s fist.

It’s too cold in the fall on the water
we fall in, too naked for falling in

naked and docking unanchored like this.
I remember. You’d kiss me and shiver.

Copyright © 2020 by Billie R. Tadros. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 2, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

How I loved
each bare floor, each
naked wall, the shadows on

newly empty halls.
By day, my head humming
to itself of dreams, I cleaned and

scrubbed
to make life
new; dislodging from the corner,

the old
moths and cicadas
pinned to the screen, the carcasses

of grasshoppers
dangling from beams,
and each windowsill’s clutter of

dried beetles
and dead bees. But,
through each opening, each closing door,

the old life
returns on six legs, or
spins a musty web as it roosts over

a poison pot, or
descends from above
to drink blood in. This is how it

happens: the
settling inthe press
of wilderness returns to carved-out space, to skin.

Copyright @ 2014 by Jenny Factor. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 11, 2014.