poem index

poems & poets

Search over 2,500 poet biographies, over 6,500 poems, as well as essays about poetry, and some of the most important books, anthologies, and textbooks about the art form ever written. To search by keyword, use the search bar above.



The gray path glided before me
Through cool, green shadows;
Little leaves hung in the soft air
Like drowsy moths;
A group of dark trees, gravely conferring,
Made me conscious of the gaucherie of sound;
Farther on, a slim lilac
Drew me down to her on the warm


I like to be alone in someone else’s house,
practicing my cosmic long distance wink.
I send it out toward a mirror
some distracted bored cosmonaut dropped
on an asteroid hurtling vastly
closer to our star. No one watches
me watching thousands
of television


Dark hills at evening in the west,
Where sunset hovers like a sound
Of golden horns that sang to rest
Old bones of warriors under ground,
Far now from all the bannered ways
Where flash the legions of the sun,
You fade—as if the last of days
Were fading, and all


Poetic Terms/Forms

riddle: “A mystifying, misleading, or puzzling question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed often as a game” (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary). Though the dictionary definition focuses on the riddle as a question and describes it as a game, the riddle is more than a puzzle. It is both an interrogative and an expressive form, possibly the earliest form of oral literature—a formulation of thought, a mode of association, a metaphor.

The comparative work of folklorists suggests that riddle-making is virtually a universal activity, a lyric root, a contest of wit, a process of naming. The earliest riddles on record are preserved on a clay tablet from ancient Babylon. They are inscribed in Sumerian along with Assyrian translations. Here is one that Archer Taylor, the premier scholar of riddles, presents in The Literary Riddle before 1600 (1948):

Who becomes pregnant without conceiving,
who becomes fat without eating? The

from American Poets

In recent years, I’ve found that some of the most compelling and exciting poems I’ve encountered are those by American poets of color, and many of them LGBT. These poets have stepped into an arena of a true democracy of voice, often publishing their first works, sometimes a chapbook of poems, with little known and/or regional presses. Many of these poets want to explore not only gender identity but also the sexual transgressions that make a culture doubly nervous; these concerns are often coupled with issues of race as well. One especially notable, though admittedly high profile, example of this is Eduardo C. Corral’s book, Slow Lightning, selected by Carl Phillips (his own recent poetry a superb example of the sexual transgressions I’m noting) for the 2012 Yale Younger Poets Prize.

Let me now introduce to you another wildly compelling young poet, one who has not yet published a full collection—Saeed Jones. His chapbook, When the Only Light Is Fire, was published in 2011 by

Poetic Terms/Forms

free verse: A poetry of organic rhythms, of deliberate irregularity, improvisatory delight. Free verse is a form of nonmetrical writing that takes pleasure in a various and emergent verbal music. “As regarding rhythm,” Ezra Pound writes in “A Retrospect” (1918): “to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.” Free verse is often inspired by the cadence—the natural rhythm, the inner tune—of spoken language. It pos­sesses visual form and uses the graphic line to differentiate itself from prose. “The words are more poised than in prose,” Louis MacNeice states in Modern Poetry (1938); “they are not only, like the words in typical prose, contributory to the total effect, but are to be attended to, in passing, for their own sake.” The dream of free verse: an originary verbal music for every poem. Jorge Luis Borges explains: “Beyond its rhythm, the typographical appearance of free verse informs the reader that what lies in store for him is not informa­


Poetry Book
Poetry Book
Juvenilia by Ken Chen
Poetry Book
Selected Poems by Keith Waldrop