Milton’s “When I Consider How My Life is Spent”

John Milton


“When I Consider How My Life is Spent”

When I consider how my light is spent,
   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
   And that one Talent which is death to hide
   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
   My true account, lest he returning chide;
   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”


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Luna’s “Lowering Your Standards for Food Stamps

Sheryl Luna

(1965- )

“Lowering Your Standards for Food Stamps”


Words fall out of my coat pocket,
soak in bleach water. I touch everyone’s
dirty dollars. Maslow’s got everything on me.
Fourteen hours on my feet. No breaks.
No smokes or lunch. Blank-eyed movements:
trash bags, coffee burner, fingers numb.
I am hourly protestations and false smiles.
The clock clicks its slow slowing.
Faces blur in a stream of  hurried soccer games,
sunlight, and church certainty. I have no
poem to carry, no material illusions.
Cola spilled on hands, so sticky fingered,
I’m far from poems. I’d write of politicians,
refineries, and a border’s barbed wire,
but I am unlearning America’s languages
with a mop. In a summer-hot red

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Loy’s “Black Virginity”

Mina Loy


“Black Virginity”

Baby Priests
On green sward
Silk beaver
Rhythm of redemption
Fluttering of Breviaries

Fluted black silk cloaks
Hung square from shoulders
Troncated juvenility
Uniform segration
Union in severity
Pride of misapprehended preparation
Ebony statues training for immobility
Anæmic jawed
Wise saw to one another Continue reading

Pastan’s “Marks”

Lisa Patan


My husband gives me an A
for last night’s supper
an incomplete for my ironing
a B plus in bed.
My son says I am average,
an average mother, but if
I put my mind to it
I could improve.
My daughter believes
in Pass/Fail and tells me
I pass.  Wait ’til they learn
I’m dropping out.



Rasmussen’s “After Suicide [A hole is nothing]”

Matt Rasmussen

“After Suicide [A hole is nothing]”

My brother stood
in the refrigerator light

drinking milk that poured
out of his head

through thick black curls
down his back into a puddle

growing larger around him.
My body stood between the

living room and kitchen
one foot on worn carpet Continue reading

Kooser’s “Flying at Night”

Ted Kooser


“Flying at Night”

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like

Su’s “The English Canon”

Adrienne Su

(1967- )

“The English Canon”


It’s not that the first speakers left out women
Unless they were goddesses, harlots, or impossible loves
Seen from afar, often while bathing,

And it’s not that the only parts my grandfathers could have played
Were as extras in Xanadu,
Nor that it gives no instructions for shopping or cooking.

The trouble is, I’ve spent my life
Getting over the lyrics
That taught me to brush my hair till it’s gleaming,

Stay slim, dress tastefully, and not speak of sex,
Death, violence, or the desire for any of them,
And to let men do the talking and warring

And bringing of the news. I know a girl’s got to protest
These days, but she also has to make money
And do her share of journalism and combat,

And she has to know from the gut whom to trust,
Because what do her teachers know, living in books,
And what does she know, starting from scratch?

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