Then I was a safe house
for the problem that chose me.
Like pure math, my results
were useless for industry:
not a clear constellation,
a scattered cluster, a bound
gap. When I looked I found
an explorer bent. Love

never dies a natural death.
It happens in a moment.
Everything hinges on
a delicate understanding.
Even the most trusted caregiver
is only trusted for so long.

From Late Empire (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Olstein. Used with the permission of the author.

For fear of prowling beasts at night
  They blocked the cave;
Women and children hid from sight,
   Men scarce more brave.

For fear of warrior's sword and spear
   They barred the gate;
Women and children lived in fear,
   Men lived in hate.

For fear of criminals today
   We lock the door;
Women and children still to stay
   Hid evermore.

Come out! Ye need no longer hide!
   What fear you now?
No wolf or lion waits outside–
   Only a cow.

Come out! The world approaches peace,
   War nears its end;
No warrior watches your release–
   Only a friend.

Come out! The night of crime has fled–
   Day is begun;
Here is no criminal to dread–
   Only your son.

The world, half yours, demands your care,
   Waken and come!
Make it a woman's world; safe, fair,
   Garden and home.

This poem is in the public domain.

You do not seem to realise that beauty is a liability rather than
   an asset—that in view of the fact that spirit creates form we are justified in supposing
     that you must have brains. For you, a symbol of the unit, stiff and sharp,
   conscious of surpassing by dint of native superiority and liking for everything
self-dependent, anything an

ambitious civilisation might produce: for you, unaided to attempt through sheer
   reserve, to confute presumptions resulting from observation, is idle. You cannot make us
     think you a delightful happen-so. But rose, if you are brilliant, it
   is not because your petals are the without-which-nothing of pre-eminence. You would look, minus
thorns—like a what-is-this, a mere

peculiarity. They are not proof against a worm, the elements, or mildew
   but what about the predatory hand? What is brilliance without co-ordination? Guarding the
     infinitesimal pieces of your mind, compelling audience to
   the remark that it is better to be forgotten than to be remembered too violently,
your thorns are the best part of you.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

             after James Wright

Startled by my breath it bolts
to the other end of the field.

The horizon’s brow rasps
against a green cloud

which seems both
desperate and sincere. 

Into a dead tree
a flame of bird

drives its burning beak.
And somewhere out here

I have come to terms
with my brother’s suicide.

I wish the god of this place
would put me in its mouth

until I dissolve, until
the field doesn’t end

and I am broken open
like a shotgun,

swabbed clean.

Copyright © 2012 by Matt Rasmussen. Used with permission of the author.