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.

every single day

By John Straley

Suppose I said the word “springtime”
and I wrote the words “king salmon”
on a piece of paper . . .

Ex Machina

By Linda Gregerson

When love was a question, the message arrived
in the beak of a wire and plaster bird. The coloratura
was hardly to be believed. For flight, . . .


By Ralph Waldo Emerson

The lords of life, the lords of life,—
I saw them pass,
In their own guise, . . .

Fable for Blackboard

By George Starbuck

Here is the grackle, people.
Here is the fox, folks.
The grackle sits in the bracken. The fox    . . .

The Fair Singer

By Andrew Marvell

To make a final conquest of all me,
Love did compose so sweet an enemy,
In whom both beauties to my death agree, . . .

Fairy-tale Logic

By A. E. Stallings

Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:
Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,
Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat, . . .


By David Baker

It was midday before we noticed it was morning.
The boy cousins brought us a tray—soup and cheese,
warm soda, and a soft cloth and candy for her fever. . . .

The Faithful

By Jane Cooper

Once you said joking slyly, If I’m killed
I’ll come to haunt your solemn bed,
I’ll stand and glower at the head . . .


By Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,    . . .

The Farmer

By W.D. Ehrhart

Each day I go into the fields to see what is growing
and what remains to be done.
It is always the same thing: nothing . . .