Citadel of our best names—angsty Zooey & chatty Zarathustra,
              wee Zaccheus & mighty Zorro. (Zebediah, of course,                              would place among them.) 

Experiment in endings (A-Z), as in “where the A ends up,” the crooked path
              an A could take toward some arrival’s gate (zig-zag). 
Or Z-pack: superhero strength contained in capsules. 

Like the 7, crossed or uncrossed, mustachioed or not,
              the Z with its dashing  good looks & flaming androgyny,                        its cursive tail & tiger purr. 

That Z, its maze of contradictions, shape-shifter & fortress of finality:
              N’s topsy-turvy cousin, S’s more callous sidekick,

The stuff of caped-crusader skirmishes: ZAP! &  ZOOM!

Enabler of interjections (think Wowie Zowie! think Zoinks!)
              Symphonic doppelgänger shadowing xylophone &                                 disguise

The verbage of bees, buzzing all day in a hive. 

Zeta or zed, its dialectical relatives, or the numeral 3,
              Z’s bodacious brother on its mother’s side.        

Ambiguous, flirtatious, & worth 10 points on the Scrabble board,
              Z turns out to be quite the catch—zany, zesty, &                                      remarkably well-read.

But despite its zeal, Z can also communicate quietly, eloquent as an ideogram. 
              It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring…

How do we know? Just look at the rocket of Zs rising out of his mouth.

Copyright © 2017 by Julie Marie Wade. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 1, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
’Twere better than the cold reality
Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
But should it be—that dream eternally
Continuing—as dreams have been to me
In my young boyhood—should it thus be given,
’Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
For I have revell’d when the sun was bright
I’ the summer sky, in dreams of living light,
And loveliness,—have left my very heart
In climes of mine imagining, apart
From mine own home, with beings that have been
Of mine own thought—what more could I have seen?
’Twas once—and only once—and the wild hour
From my remembrance shall not pass—some power
Or spell had bound me—’twas the chilly wind
Came o’er me in the night, and left behind
Its image on my spirit—or the moon
Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
Too coldly—or the stars—howe’er it was
That dream was as that night-wind—let it pass.
I have been happy, tho’ [but] in a dream.

I have been happy—and I love the theme:
Dreams! in their vivid colouring of life
As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
Of semblance with reality which brings
To the delirious eye, more lovely things
Of Paradise and Love—and all our own!
Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.

This poem is in the public domain.

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-yen, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
   As far as Cho-fu-Sa.

        By Rihaku

"The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter" is based on the first of Li Po's "Two Letters from Chang-Kan." Copyright © 1956, 1957 by Ezra Pound. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.