25 Lines and Fewer

ONLY poems listed here or in the current printed anthology are eligible for the 2015-2016 competition.

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By Robert Bly

Inside the veins there are navies setting forth,
Tiny explosions at the waterlines,
And seagulls weaving in the wind of the salty blood. ...

By Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   
I learn by going where I have to go. ...

By Howard Nemerov

For a saving grace, we didn't see our dead,
Who rarely bothered coming home to die
But simply stayed away out there ...

By Chris Abani

The telephone never rings. Still
you pick it up, smile into the static,
the breath of those you’ve loved; long dead....

By William Stanley Braithwaite

Two women on the lone wet strand
   (The wind's out with a will to roam)
The waves wage war on rocks and sand, ...

By Ha Jin

We used to like talking about grief
Our journals and letters were packed
with losses, complaints, and sorrows....

By Rhina P. Espaillat

What the scale tells you is how much the earth
has missed you, body, how it wants you back
again after you leave it to go forth...

By William E. Stafford

The well rising without sound,
the spring on a hillside,
the plowshare brimming through deep ground ...

By John Ashbery

The concept is interesting: to see, as though reflected
In streaming windowpanes, the look of others through
Their own eyes. A digest of their correct impressions of...

By Lorine Niedecker

What horror to awake at night
and in the dimness see the light.
               Time is white ...

What People are Saying

"I learned that I had the ability to capture the attention of an audience and evoke emotion from them. When I recited my first poem in 9th grade for a mock POL class competition, I was incredibly shy and barely audible. But eventually I grew to love sharing the emotions poems gave me."
Chiara Raimondo
2016 NY POL Champion