Ways apt and new to sing of love I’d find,
Forcing from her hard heart full many a sigh,
And re-enkindle in her frozen mind
Desires a thousand, passionate and high;
O’er her fair face would see each swift change pass,
See her fond eyes at length where pity reigns,
As one who sorrows when too late, alas!
For his own error and another’s pains;
See the fresh roses edging that fair snow
Move with her breath, that ivory descried,
Which turns to marble him who sees it near;
See all, for which in this brief life below
Myself I weary not but rather pride
That Heaven for later times has kept me here.

Translated by Robert Guthrie Macgregor. This poem is in the public domain.

I’d sing of Love in such a novel fashion
that from her cruel side I would draw by force
a thousand sighs a day, kindling again
in her cold mind a thousand high desires;

I’d see her lovely face transform quite often
her eyes grow wet and more compassionate,
like one who feels regret, when it’s too late,
for causing someone’s suffering by mistake;

And I’d see scarlet roses in the snows,
tossed by the breeze, discover ivory
that turns to marble those who see it near them;

All this I’d do because I do not mind
my discontentment in this one short life,
but glory rather in my later fame.

From The Poetry of Petrarch by Petrarch, translated by David Young. Translation copyright © 2004 by David Young. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All rights reserved.

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

This poem is in the public domain.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decrease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel.
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that are now the world’s fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
     Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
     To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

This poem is in the public domain.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
    So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

This poem is in the public domain.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error, and upon me prov’d,
    I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

This poem is in the public domain.

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

This poem is in the public domain.

At the round earth's imagined corners, blow
Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall, o'erthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance, hath slain, and you whose eyes,
Shall behold God, and never taste death's woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space;
For, if above all these, my sins abound,
'Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace,
When we are there. Here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent; for that's as good
As if thou'hadst seal'd my pardon with thy blood.

This poem is in the public domain.

How love came in I do not know,
Whether by the eye, or ear, or no;
Or whether with the soul it came
(At first) infused with the same;
Whether in part ’tis here or there,
Or, like the soul, whole everywhere,
This troubles me: but I as well
As any other this can tell:
That when from hence she does depart
The outlet then is from the heart.

This poem is in the public domain. 

What needs my Shakespeare for his honour'd Bones,
The labour of an age in pilèd Stones,
Or that his hallow'd reliques should be hid
Under a stary pointing Pyramid?
Dear son of Memory, great heir of Fame,
What need'st thou such weak witnes of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thy self a live-long Monument.
For whilst to th' shame of slow-endeavouring art,
Thy easie numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalu'd Book
Those Delphick lines with deep impression took,
Then thou our fancy of it self bereaving,
Dost make us Marble with too much conceaving;
And so Sepulcher'd in such pomp dost lie,
That Kings for such a Tomb would wish to die.

This poem is in the public domain.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

This poem is in the public domain.

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

This poem is in the public domain.

Not that I love thy children, whose dull eyes
See nothing save their own unlovely woe,
Whose minds know nothing, nothing care to know,—
But that the roar of thy Democracies,
Thy reigns of Terror, thy great Anarchies,
Mirror my wildest passions like the sea,—
And give my rage a brother——! Liberty!
For this sake only do thy dissonant cries
Delight my discreet soul, else might all kings
By bloody knout or treacherous cannonades
Rob nations of their rights inviolate
And I remain unmoved—and yet, and yet,
These Christs that die upon the barricades,
God knows it I am with them, in some things.

This poem is in the public domain. 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

This poem is in the public domain.

Thou large-brained woman and large-hearted man,
Self-called George Sand! whose soul, amid the lions
Of thy tumultuous senses, moans defiance
And answers roar for roar, as spirits can:
I would some mild miraculous thunder ran
Above the applauded circus, in appliance
Of thine own nobler nature's strength and science,
Drawing two pinions, white as wings of swan,
From thy strong shoulders, to amaze the place
With holier light! that thou to woman's claim
And man's, mightst join beside the angel's grace
Of a pure genius sanctified from blame
Till child and maiden pressed to thine embrace
To kiss upon thy lips a stainless fame.

This poem is in the public domain.

On ear and ear two noises too old to end
     Trench—right, the tide that ramps against the shore;
     With a flood or a fall, low lull-off or all roar,
Frequenting there while moon shall wear and wend.

Left hand, off land, I hear the lark ascend,
     His rash-fresh re-winded new-skeinèd score
     In crisps of curl off wild winch whirl, and pour
And pelt music, till none’s to spill nor spend.

How these two shame this shallow and frail town!
     How ring right out our sordid turbid time,
Being pure! We, life’s pride and cared-for crown,

     Have lost that cheer and charm of earth’s past prime:
Our make and making break, are breaking, down
     To man’s last dust, drain fast towards man’s first slime.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 11, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated by Thomas Walsh and Salomón de la Selva.

In all my days of troubled loneliness
And fretted grief Cervantes is to me
A faithful friend, and none so true as he,
That brings me precious gifts of quietness.

All nature his, and life. Of his largesse
My dreams, that are knight-errants bold and free,
Have golden casques to crown them gloriously.
He is, for me: sigh, prayer, joyousness.

He speaks as runs a brook, so amorous
And very gentle is this Christian knight,
Ever undaunted. And I love him thus,

Beholding how the world, by fate’s design,
Reaps, from his deathless sorrow, rich delight,
And laughter from a madness so divine!

 


Soneto a Cervantes

Horas de pesadumbre y de tristeza
paso en mi soledad. Pero Cervantes
es buen amigo. Endulza mis instantes
ásperos, y reposa mi cabeza.

El es la vida y la naturaleza;
regala un yelmo de oro y de diamantes
a mis sueños errantes.
Es para mí: suspire, ríe y reza.

Cristiano y amoroso caballero
parla como un arroyo cristalino.
¡Así le admiro y quiero,

viendo cómo el destino
hace que regocije al mundo entero
la tristeza inmortal de ser divino!

This poem is in the public domain.

By this he knew she wept with waking eyes:
That, at his hand's light quiver by her head,
The strange low sobs that shook their common bed
Were called into her with a sharp surprise,
And strangled mute, like little gaping snakes,
Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay
Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away
With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes
Her giant heart of Memory and Tears
Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat
Sleep's heavy measure, they from head to feet
Were moveless, looking through their dead black years,
By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.
Like sculptured effigies they might be seen
Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;
Each wishing for the sword that severs all.

This poem is in the public domain. 

Great carnal mountains crouching in the cloud
That marrieth the young earth with a ring,
Yet still its thoughts builds heavenward, whence spring
Wee villages of vapor, sunset-proud.—
And to the meanest door hastes one pure-browed
White-fingered star, a little, childish thing,
The busy needle of her light to bring,
And stitch, and stitch, upon the dead day’s shroud.
Poises the sun upon his west, a spark
Superlative,—and dives beneath the world;
From the day’s fillets Night shakes out her locks;
List! One pure trembling drop of cadence purled—
“Summer!”—a meek thrush whispers to the dark.
Hark! the cold ripple sneering on the rocks!

This poem is in the public domain. 

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

This poem is in the public domain.

 ’T is you that are the music, not your song.
  The song is but a door which, opening wide,
  Lets forth the pent-up melody inside,
Your spirit’s harmony, which clear and strong
Sing but of you. Throughout your whole life long
  Your songs, your thoughts, your doings, each divide
  This perfect beauty; waves within a tide,
Or single notes amid a glorious throng.
  The song of earth has many different chords;
Ocean has many moods and many tones
  Yet always ocean. In the damp Spring woods
The painted trillium smiles, while crisp pine cones
  Autumn alone can ripen. So is this
  One music with a thousand cadences. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear you body's weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity,—let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again. 

This poem is in the public domain.

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

From Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, published by Harper & Brothers Publishers. Copyright © 1956 by Norma Millay Ellis.

I had no thought of violets of late,
The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet
In wistful April days, when lovers mate
And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.
The thought of violets meant florists’ shops,
And bows and pins, and perfumed papers fine;
And garish lights, and mincing little fops
And cabarets and songs, and deadening wine. 
So far from sweet real things my thoughts had strayed, 
I had forgot wide fields, and clear brown streams
The perfect loveliness that God has made,—
Wild violets shy and Heaven-mounting dreams.
And now—unwittingly, you’ve made me dream
Of violets, and my soul’s forgotten gleam.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 6, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

I have a rendezvous with Life,
In days I hope will come,
Ere youth has sped, and strength of mind,
Ere voices sweet grow dumb.
I have a rendezvous with Life,
When Spring's first heralds hum.
Sure some would cry it's better far
To crown their days with sleep
Than face the road, the wind and rain,
To heed the calling deep.
Though wet nor blow nor space I fear,
Yet fear I deeply, too,
Lest Death should meet and claim me ere
I keep Life's rendezvous.

This poem is in the public domain.

You come to fetch me from my work to-night 
When supper's on the table, and we'll see 
If I can leave off burying the white 
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree. 
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite, 
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;) 
And go along with you ere you lose sight 
Of what you came for and become like me, 
Slave to a springtime passion for the earth. 
How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed 
On through the watching for that early birth 
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed, 
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes 
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

This poem is in the public domain.

Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?
They took my lover’s tallness off to war,
Left me lamenting. Now I cannot guess
What I can use an empty heart-cup for.
He won’t be coming back here any more.
Some day the war will end, but, oh, I knew
When he went walking grandly out that door
That my sweet love would have to be untrue.
Would have to be untrue. Would have to court
Coquettish death, whose impudent and strange
Possessive arms and beauty (of a sort)
Can make a hard man hesitate—and change.
And he will be the one to stammer, “Yes.”
Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?

From “Appendix to The Anniad: leaves from a loose-leaf war diary” in Annie Allen by Gwendolyn Brooks, published by Harper © 1949 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

History has to live with what was here,
clutching and close to fumbling all we had—
it is so dull and gruesome how we die,
unlike writing, life never finishes.
Abel was finished; death is not remote,
a flash-in-the-pan electrifies the skeptic,
his cows crowding like skulls against high-voltage wire,
his baby crying all night like a new machine.
As in our Bibles, white-faced, predatory,
the beautiful, mist-drunken hunter’s moon ascends—
a child could give it a face: two holes, two holes,
my eyes, my mouth, between them a skull’s no-nose—
O there’s a terrifying innocence in my face
drenched with the silver salvage of the mornfrost.

From Selected Poems by Robert Lowell, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1976, 1977 by Robert Lowell. Used by permission.

boooooooo. spooky ripplings of icy waves. this
umpteenth time she returns—this invisible woman
long on haunting short on ectoplasm

"you're a good man, sistuh," a lover sighed solongago.
"keep your oil slick and your motor running."

wretched stained mirrors within mirrors of
fractured webbings like nests of manic spiders
reflect her ruined mien (rue wiggles remorse
squiggles woe jiggles bestride her). oozy Manes spill
out yonder spooling in night's lofty hour exudes
her gloom and spew in rankling odor of heady dour

as she strives to retrieve flesh to cloak her bones
again to thrive to keep her poisoned id alive

usta be young usta be gifted—still black

Copyright © 1998 by Wanda Coleman. Reprinted from Bathwater Wine with permission of Black Sparrow Press.

1
Words can’t do
what bird bones
can: stew
to the stony
essence
of one
small soul, the spent
sacrifice boiled down
to the hard white
matter that nourishes
the mighty
predator, who flourishes
on the slaughtered
animal and water.

2
Who feeds
another is like bones
to him who eats
(I say “him” only
because it is a man
in my house
who eats and a woman
who goes about
the matter of sustenance),
food being always
a matter of life and
death and each day’s
dining
another small dying.

3
Scallops seared
in hot iron
with grated ginger,
rice wine,
and a little oil
of sesame, served
with boiled
jasmine rice, cures
the malaise
of long, fluorescent
weekdays
spent
in the city
for money.

4
I am afraid
I can’t always be
here when you need
a warm body
or words; someday
I’ll slip
into the red clay
I started with
and forget
who you are,
but
for now, here’s
my offering: baked red
fish, clear soup, bread.

From Middle Kingdom (Alice James Books, 1997). Copyright © 1997 by Adrienne Su. Used with the permission of Alice James Books.

A golden age of love songs and we still
can't get it right. Does your kiss really taste
like butter cream? To me, the moon's bright face
was neither like a pizza pie nor full;
the Beguine began, but my eyelid twitched.
"No more I love you's," someone else assured
us, pouring out her heart, in love (of course)—
what bothers me the most is that high-pitched,
undone whine of "Why am I so alone?"
Such rueful misery is closer to
the truth, but once you turn the lamp down low,
you must admit that he is still the one,
and baby, baby he makes you so dumb
you sing in the shower at the top of your lungs.

Copyright © 2012 by Rafael Campo. Used with permission of the author.

Batter my heart, transgender’d god, for yours
is the only ear that hears: place fear in my heart
where faith has grown my senses dull & reassures
my blood that it will never spill. Show every part
to every stranger’s anger, surprise them with my drawers
full up of maps that lead to vacancies & chart
the distance from my pride, my core. Terror, do not depart
but nest in the hollows of my loins & keep me on all fours.
My knees, bring me to them; force my head to bow again.
Replay the murders of my kin until my mind’s made new;
let Adam’s bite obstruct my breath ’til I respire men
& press his rib against my throat until my lips turn blue.
You, O duo, O twin, whose likeness is kind: unwind my confidence
& noose it round your fist so I might know you in vivid impermanence.

From Last Psalm at Sea Level (Barrow Street, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by Meg Day. Used with the permission of the author.

Tiger beetles, crickets, velvet ants, all
know the useful friction of part on part,
how rub of wing to leg, plectrum to file,
marks territories, summons mates. How

a lip rasped over finely tined ridges can
play sweet as a needle on vinyl. But
sometimes a lone body is insufficient.
So the sapsucker drums chimney flashing

for our amped-up morning reveille. Or,
later, home again, the wind’s papery
come hither through the locust leaves. The roof
arcing its tin back to meet the rain.

The bed’s soft creak as I roll to my side.
What sounds will your body make against mine?
 

Copyright © 2015 by Jessica Jacobs. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 8, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Aster. Nasturtium. Delphinium. We thought
Fingers in dirt meant it was our dirt, learning
Names in heat, in elements classical
Philosophers said could change us. Star Gazer. 
Foxglove. Summer seemed to bloom against the will
Of the sun, which news reports claimed flamed hotter
On this planet than when our dead fathers
Wiped sweat from their necks. Cosmos. Baby’s Breath. 
Men like me and my brothers filmed what we
Planted for proof we existed before
Too late, sped the video to see blossoms
Brought in seconds, colors you expect in poems
Where the world ends, everything cut down.
John Crawford. Eric Garner. Mike Brown.

Copyright © 2015 by Jericho Brown. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 7, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

We suffer through blinding equatorial heat,
refusing to unfold the suspended bamboo shade 
nested by a pair of hardworking, cheerless sparrows.
We’ve watched them fly in-and-out of their double
entryways, dried grass, twigs clamped in their beaks.
They skip, nestle in their woodsy tunnel punctured
with light, we presume, not total darkness, their eggs
aglow like lunar orbs. What is a home? How easily 
it can be destroyed: the untying of traditional ropes,
pull, the scroll-unraveling. For want of a sweltering
living room to be thrown into relief by shadow.

The sunning couple perch open-winged, tube lofty
as in Aristophanes' city of birds, home made sturdy
by creature logic and faith that it will all remain afloat.

Copyright © 2016 by Joseph O. Legaspi. Originally published in Orion Magazine. Used with permission of the author.

Cinched belt tugged tight around the heart
5 or 6 aerial roots dangling      A strangler fig

Do homeless ancestors live inside the tree?
Child of noise    Hold the loosened ends    You

may miss the moon or fall in love with it         Embrace
ashes    I too am far removed    A thirst that wanders

thirsting     And I could never ask the name of the boy
who died     A baby boy who died but what could you do

and maybe words hang in sinew and care     Writer
of dead words or living words and life's hammer

Encase the host tree and erase it     I don't know
the folk songs on farms far from here    The dead buried

and gone    To dig the grave     Who dug the graves
Darling      The sea widens for you tonight      and deepens

Copyright © 2018 by Hoa Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Maybe a bit dramatic, but I light
candles with my breakfast, wear a white gown 
around the house like a virgin. Right
or wrong, forgive me? No one in this town 
knows forgiveness. Miles from the limits
if I squint, there’s Orion. If heaven
exists I will be there in a minute
to hop the pearly gates, a ghost felon,
to find him. Of blood, of mud, of wise men. 
But who am I now after all these years 
without him: boy widow barbarian
trapping hornets in my shit grin. He’ll fear 
who I’ve been since. He’ll see I’m a liar,
a cheater, a whole garden on fire.

Copyright © 2019 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 24, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

Copyright © 2017 by Ada Limón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

The shadow I had carried lightly has

Been forced upon me now and heavy since

Bulky since     now and since unwieldy as

A corpse the shadow I     was born from in

 

And to I     should have known I couldn’t being

As how it wasn’t me who lifted it

Not     all the way     from me in the first place being

As how its lightness after was a gift

 

Its near-     bodilessness a gift     from those

Who bind it to me now I should have known

I couldn’t while they watched me     set it loose

 

They bind it     to my back they make it strange

That I knew     in my arms they weigh it down

With the shadow they had kept the bindings in

Copyright © 2017 by Shane McCrae. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 29, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

When James Baldwin & Audre Lorde each lend
Stevie Wonder an eyeball, he immediately contends
With gravity, falling either to his knees or flat on
His luminous face. I’ve heard several versions
Of the story. In this one Audre Lorde dons
Immaculate French loafers, turtlenecked ballgown,
And afro halo. An eye-sized ruby glimmers on
A pinky ring that’s a hair too big for Jimmy Baldwin’s
Pinky. He’s blue with beauty. They’re accustomed
To being followed, but now, the eye-patch twins
Will be especially scary to white people. Looking upon
Them, Wonder’s head purples with plural visions
Of blackness, gavels, grapples, purrs, pens. Ten to one
Odds God also prefers to be referred to as They & Them.

Copyright © 2019 by Terrance Hayes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 26, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.