25 Lines and Fewer

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ONLY poems listed here or in the current printed anthology are eligible for the 2013-2014 Poetry Out Loud competition. More information here.

The Nail

By C. K. Williams

Some dictator or other had gone into exile, and now reports were coming about his regime,
the usual crimes, torture, false imprisonment, cruelty and corruption, but then a detail:
that the way his henchmen had disposed of enemies was by hammering nails into their skulls. . . .

A narrow fellow in the grass (1096)

By Emily Dickinson

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him—did you not . . .

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

By Langston Hughes

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
. . .

The New Colossus

By Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand . . .

The New Decalogue

By Ambrose Bierce

Have but one God: thy knees were sore
If bent in prayer to three or four.
. . .

New Folk

By Terrance Hayes

I said Folk was dressed in Blues but hairier and hemped.
After "We acoustic banjo disciples!" Jebediah said, "When
and whereforth shall the bucolic blacks with good tempers . . .

Night Nurse

By Michael Earl Craig

This night nurse is different.
She walks into my room and does not turn the light on.
She thinks I am sleeping. . . .

The Night of the Shirts

By W. S. Merwin

Oh pile of white shirts who is coming
to breathe in your shapes to carry your numbers
to appear . . .

No Moon Floods the Memory of That Night

By Etheridge Knight

No moon floods the memory of that night
only the rain I remember the cold rain
against our faces and mixing with your tears . . .

Nocturne

By Li-Young Lee

That scraping of iron on iron when the wind   
rises, what is it? Something the wind won’t   
quit with, but drags back and forth. . . .

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