The Orange by Wendy Cope

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At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I got a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

Summer by Conrad Aiken

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Absolute zero: the locust sings:
summer’s caught in eternity’s rings:
the rock explodes, the planet dies,
we shovel up our verities.
_
The razor rasps across the face
and in the glass our fleeting race
lit by infinity’s lightning wink
under the thunder tries to think.
_
In this frail gourd the granite pours
the timeless howls like all outdoors
the sensuous moment builds a wall
open as wind, no wall at all:
_
while still obedient to valves and knobs
the vascular jukebox throbs and sobs
expounding hope propounding yearning
proposing love, but never learning
_
or only learning at zero’s gate
like summer’s locust the final hate
formless ice on a formless plain
that was and is and comes again.

Old South Meeting House by January Gill O’Neil

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We draw breath from brick
step on stones, weather-worn,
cobbled and carved

with the story of this church,
this meeting house,
where Ben Franklin was baptized

and Phillis Wheatley prayed—a mouth-house
where colonists gathered
to plot against the crown.

This structure, with elegant curves
and round-topped windows, was the heart
of Boston, the body of the people,

survived occupation for preservation,
foregoing decoration
for conversation.

Let us gather in the box pews
once numbered and rented
by generations of families

held together like ribs
in the body politic. Let us gaze upon
the upper galleries to the free seats

where the poor and the town slaves
listened and waited and pondered
and prayed

for revolution.
Let us testify to the plight
of the well-meaning at the pulpit

with its sounding board high above,
congregations raising heads and hands to the sky.
We, the people—the tourists

and townies—one nation under
this vaulted roof, exalted voices
speaking poetry out loud,

in praise and dissent.
We draw breath from brick. Ignite the fire in us.
Speak to us:

the language is hope.

Human Family by Maya Angelou

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I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike. Continue reading

Hyla Brook by Robert Frost

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By June our brook’s run out of song and speed.
Sought for much after that, it will be found
Either to have gone groping underground
(And taken with it all the Hyla breed
That shouted in the mist a month ago,
Like ghost of sleigh-bells in a ghost of snow)–
Or flourished and come up in jewel-weed,
Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent
Even against the way its waters went.
Its bed is left a faded paper sheet
Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat–
A brook to none but who remember long.
This as it will be seen is other far
Than with brooks taken otherwhere in song.
We love the things we love for what they are.

To Some Buckets by Kenneth Koch

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Waiting to fill you, buckets,
One morning it was afternoon
Then evening, the same.
One time I filled you
And carried you to the apartment
In which a dog was sitting
I forget its name he drank thirstily
And well I brought you
To other places too with always
A strain, hurting my arms
For you are heavy you
Are heavy with water filled
Whether it was on Leyte
That I carried you
To fellow soldiers
Or up to the blankets, from the sea,
To splash on some
Who were too hot. It makes
For giddiness to
Concentrate on you
Concentric buckets – senseless –
You lend your sides to the soul.

Old Roses by Donald Hall

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White roses, tiny and old, flare among thorns
by the barn door.
For a hundred years
under the June elm, under the gaze
of seven generations,
they lived briefly
like this, in the month of roses,
by the fields
stout with corn, or with clover and timothy
making thick hay,
grown over, now,
with milkweed, sumac, paintbrush.
Old
roses survive
winter drifts, the melt in April, August
parch,
and men and women
who sniffed roses in spring and called them pretty
as we call them now,
walking beside the barn
on a day that perishes.

My God, It’s Full of Stars by Tracy K. Smith

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3.
Perhaps the great error is believing we’re alone,
That the others have come and gone—a momentary blip—
When all along, space might be choc-full of traffic,
Bursting at the seams with energy we neither feel
Nor see, flush against us, living, dying, deciding,
Setting solid feet down on planets everywhere,
Bowing to the great stars that command, pitching stones
At whatever are their moons. They live wondering
If they are the only ones, knowing only the wish to know,
And the great black distance they—we—flicker in.
Maybe the dead know, their eyes widening at last,
Seeing the high beams of a million galaxies flick on
At twilight. Hearing the engines flare, the horns
Not letting up, the frenzy of being. I want to be
One notch below bedlam, like a radio without a dial.
Wide open, so everything floods in at once.
And sealed tight, so nothing escapes. Not even time,
Which should curl in on itself and loop around like smoke.
So that I might be sitting now beside my father
As he raises a lit match to the bowl of his pipe
For the first time in the winter of 1959.

Trees by Joyce Kilmer

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I think I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

I Shall Paint My Nails Red by Carole Satyamurti

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Because a bit of colour is a public service.
Because I am proud of my hands.
Because it will remind me I’m a woman.
Because I will look like a survivor.
Because I can admire them in traffic jams.
Because my daughter will say ugh.
Because my lover will be surprised.
Because it is quicker than dyeing my hair.
Because it is a ten-minute moratorium.
Because it is reversible. moratorium.
Because it is reversible.