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.

Break of Day

By John Donne

‘Tis true, ‘tis day, what though it be?
O wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise because ‘tis light? . . .

Bright Copper Kettles

By Vijay Seshadri

Dead friends coming back to life, dead family,
speaking languages living and dead, their minds retentive,
their five senses intact, their footprints like a butterfly’s, . . .

Broken Promises

By David Kirby

I have met them in dark alleys, limping and one-armed;   
I have seen them playing cards under a single light-bulb   
and tried to join in, but they refused me rudely,    . . .

[Buffalo Bill 's]

By E. E. Cummings

Buffalo Bill ’s
               who used to . . .


By Karl Shapiro

As a sloop with a sweep of immaculate wing on her delicate spine
And a keel as steel as a root that holds in the sea as she leans,
Leaning and laughing, my warm-hearted beauty, you ride, you ride, . . .

Burning the Old Year

By Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper, . . .


By Amy Beeder

I see you shuffle up Washington Street
whenever I am driving much too fast:
you, chub & bug-eyed, jaw like a loaf . . .

Carmel Highlands

By Janet Loxley Lewis

Below the gardens and the darkening pines
The living water sinks among the stones,
Sinking yet foaming till the snowy tones . . .


By Rebecca Lindenberg

The mask that burns like a violin, the mask
that sings only dead languages, that loves
the destruction of being put on. The mask . . .

Catch a Little Rhyme

By Eve Merriam

Once upon a time
I caught a little rhyme
. . .