25 Lines and Fewer


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

A Poison Tree

By William Blake

I was angry with my friend; 
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:  . . .

Possible Answers to Prayer

By Scott Cairns

Your petitions—though they continue to bear
just the one signature—have been duly recorded.
Your anxieties—despite their constant, . . .


By Jorie Graham

Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl   
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the   
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re- . . .

Prayer for My Father

By Robert Bly

Your head is still
restless, rolling
east and west. . . .


By Yusef Komunyakaa

Crowned with a feathered helmet,
Not for disguise or courtship
Dance, he looks like something . . .

The Princess: Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font. . . .

Prison Song

By Alan Dugan

The skin ripples over my body like moon-wooed water,
rearing to escape me. Where could it find another
animal as naked as the one it hates to cover? . . .

The Promise

By Jane Hirshfield

Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
They bowed . . .


By George Oppen

In the small beauty of the forest
The wild deer bedding down—
That they are there! . . .

The Pull Toy

By A. E. Stallings

You squeezed its leash in your fist,
It followed where you led:
Tick, tock, tick, tock, . . .