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.

This Most Perfect Hill

By Lisa Jarnot

On this most perfect hill
with these most perfect dogs
are these most perfect people . . .

Those Winter Sundays

By Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached . . .

Thou Art My Lute

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

Thou art my lute, by thee I sing,—
     My being is attuned to thee.
Thou settest all my words a-wing, . . .

A Thousand Martyrs

By Aphra Behn

A thousand martyrs I have made,
   All sacrificed to my desire;
A thousand beauties have betrayed, . . .

The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown . . .

Tiger Mask Ritual

By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

When you put on the mask the thunder starts.
Through the nostril’s orange you can smell
the far hope of rain. Up in the Nilgiris, . . .

Time of the Missile

By George Oppen

I remember a square of New York’s Hudson River glinting between warehouses.
Difficult to approach the water below the pier
Swirling, covered with oil the ship at the pier . . .

To -

By Sarah Helen Whitman

Vainly my heart had with thy sorceries striven:
It had no refuge from thy love,—no Heaven
But in thy fatal presence;—from afar . . .

(to crave what the light does crave)

By Kevin Goodan

to crave what the light does crave
to shelter, to flee
to gain desire of every splayed leaf . . .

To David, About His Education

By Howard Nemerov

The world is full of mostly invisible things,
And there is no way but putting the mind’s eye,
Or its nose, in a book, to find them out, . . .