25 Lines and Fewer

Menu

ONLY poems listed here or in the current printed anthology are eligible for the current Poetry Out Loud competition. More information here.

The Birth of John Henry

By Melvin B. Tolson

The night John Henry is born an ax
            of lightning splits the sky,
and a hammer of thunder pounds the earth, . . .

A Birthday

By Christina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird
                  Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree . . .

Birthday Poem

By Al Young

First light of day in Mississippi
son of laborer & of house wife
it says so on the official photostat . . .

Black Boys Play the Classics

By Toi Derricotte

The most popular “act” in
Penn Station
is the three black kids in ratty . . .

A Black Man Talks of Reaping

By Arna Bontemps

I have sown beside all waters in my day.
I planted deep, within my heart the fear
that wind or fowl would take the grain away. . . .

Blackberry-Picking

By Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot . . .

Bleeding Heart

By Carmen Giménez Smith

My heart is bleeding. It bleeds upward and fills
my mouth up with salt. It bleeds because of a city in ruins,
the chair still warm from sister's body, . . .

A Blessing

By James Wright

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies . . .

Blind Curse

By Simon J. Ortiz

You could drive blind
for those two seconds
and they would be forever. . . .

The Bloody Sire

By Robinson Jeffers

It is not bad.  Let them play.
Let the guns bark and the bombing-plane
Speak his prodigious blasphemies. . . .