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.


By Stephen Vincent Benét

My mind’s a map. A mad sea-captain drew it   
Under a flowing moon until he knew it;
Winds with brass trumpets, puffy-cheeked as jugs,    . . .


By Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb   
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
. . .

Dirge in Woods

By George Meredith

A wind sways the pines,
         And below
Not a breath of wild air; . . .

Dirge Without Music

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.  Crowned . . .


By Kenneth Rexroth

I don’t mind the human race.   
I’ve got pretty used to them   
In these past twenty-five years.    . . .

Disenchantment Bay

By Timothy Murphy

Touch and go. Our Cessna bumped the sand,
       thumped its tundra tires,
       lifted as if on wires, . . .

Do Not!

By Stevie Smith

Do not despair of man, and do not scold him,   
Who are you that you should so lightly hold him?   
Are you not also a man, and in your heart . . .

Domestic Situation

By Ernest Hilbert

Maybe you’ve heard about this. Maybe not.
A man came home and chucked his girlfriend’s cat
In the wood chipper. This really happened. . . .

The Donkey

By G. K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
   And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood . . .

The Doubt of Future Foes

By Queen Elizabeth I

The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy,
And wit me warns to shun such snares as threaten mine annoy;
For falsehood now doth flow, and subjects’ faith doth ebb, . . .