“Poetry makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle,” according to Dylan Thomas. Our Eleventh Annual Poetry Contest opens May 13, and to get you in the right mood, every day leading up to the contest we are presenting an exceptional poem by an established or emerging writer. We know the poems featured here will move and transform you—from head to toe.
We thought fingers in dirt meant it was our dirt.
Someone says Jesus is bread. He is also suffering.
forget how to count starting with your own age
It is almost painful, the extravagance of his whooping.
Could the shoes infer the quality of walking he had done?
I read that the gloomy octopus has three hearts.
2019 Whiting Award
I like it when you shake the grasses for me.
There’s Szechuan hot peppers in my touch.
He woke haunted by the dreamt-of smells of Peshawar.
I’m the woman who catches the Holy Ghost on Sunday.
There’s a kindly, slow-motion clunkiness to our decline.
So sault means “jump,” as in sauter.
You no longer have the arms you were born with.
Did the blood rush to my face or to my fingertips?
When the light withdraws the dark comes from no place.
I’ve lost track of whether being alone was a choice.
For a time, I was her heart, unregulated, dead.
I wonder if those tiny computers in pigeons’ brains ever crash?
Why look up, when all we’ll see is people looking down?
We’re violet, saffron, we’re bright green.
The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing.
I let the baby mouse live because I cannot kill what has ears.
A sad air’s best for night as you mope about.
I only feel that here, in this one place, a small rise.
What is left but to become a flash of angel, or ghost.
The mind of Leonardo manufactured future pain.
I want to tuck you in surrounded by stars.
Is there a God butterfly? A Nietzsche butterfly?
Close the book quickly. Put it far from the alarm clock.