“The most moving poems linger on the blackboard so long, written in cursive so lovely, they also exist inside our fingertips,” said Ann Beattie. Our Tenth Annual Poetry Contest opens May 15, and every day leading up to the contest we are featuring an exceptional poem by an established or emerging writer. The works below will stay with you long after you read them. May they also fill you to the fingertips with deep reading pleasure.
If necessary, turn your back on the past.
It is the night of whores and monsters.
An exit viewed from elsewhere is an entrance.
Back home astronauts turn to drink or religion.
Time would go on, bold in its black cloak, no shadow.
your slightest look easily will unclose me
The sylph fell stained and crumpled in her palm.
To get the job, always stay starched, creased to death.
I have the final say so of the kiss.
Thus began my career as a simpering little white girl.
For who can escape one’s twenties or browser history?
We don’t say we are armed when we mean our arms.
His version of dignity had room enough for bombs.
Down the road, women still light candles at dusk.
You go to museums to fall in love.
Alone, I conduct experiments. I communicate with storms.
There is the Hudson, like the sea aflame.
If marriage resembles a bird, why can’t it be one?
The crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire.
How to see the difference between “or” & “and.”
I’ll leave a trail of crumbs as I descend.
she wiped her hands saying “lord these children”
I would have saved the abacus from the fire.
Ripple your rill across my living heart like a balm.
People play parts of themselves all the time.
The earth is for desires, small but beautifully done.
Here’s a room where every bullet planted blooms.
Like comb through hair. Like water washing gold.
2008 Narrative Prize Winner
Too bad there is no oil between her legs.