Index of First Lines
An ongoing compendium of first lines of all poems featured on Read A Little Poetry
1. Don’t see him. Don’t phone or write a letter.
A break in the clouds. The blue
A girl whom I’ve not spoken to
A hippo sandwich is easy to make.
A mermaid found a swimming lad,
A scar’s width of warmth on a worn man’s neck.
A serious moment for the water is when it boils
A slower pace, a somewhat slower pace will do.
A touch of cold in the Autumn night —
A white room and a party going on
A woman is reading a poem on the street
Above the quiet dock in midnight,
Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
After I broke up with someone,
After the birthing of bombs of forks and fear,
After the first glass of vodka
Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
All morning, doing the hard, root-wrestling
All night long the hockey pictures
All the new thinking is about loss.
Although you have betrayed him in a dream,
Always caught up in what they called
Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde? Or religious as if I were French?
Among the first we learn is good-bye,
And isn’t it enough that the mind’s caliper
And the days are not full enough
And then I stood for the last time in that room.
and then Tony showed us the lake
Any body can die, evidently. Few
Anyone here had a go at themselves
Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter
Are you the new person drawn toward me?
As soon as you begin to ask the question, Who loves me?
As the bruises fade, the lightning aches.
As you read, a white bear leisurely
At first we just say flower. How
At least I have the flowers of myself,
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
At times my life suddenly opens its eyes in the dark.
Because my husband would not read my poems,
Because the night you asked me,
Because, in a wounded universe, the tufts
bed calls. i sit in the dark in the living room
Bend low again, night of summer stars.
Between going and staying the day wavers,
Between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter
But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
can be enough to make you look up
Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Coming home with the last load I ride standing
Composed in a shine of laughing, Monique brings in sacks
crumbling. It died of old age,
Dawn comes later and later now,
Days you are sick, we get dressed slow,
Dear love, though I am a hopeless correspondent,
Dear Madam, you have seen this play;
Death comes to me again, a girl
Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
Don’t be ashamed that your parents
Don’t listen to me; my heart’s been broken.
Don’t talk to me of love. I’ve had an earful
Dreamed the thong of my sandal broke.
Eleven o’clock, and the curtain falls.
Enter without knocking, hard-working ant.
Even Eve, the only soul in all of time
Even in this sharp weather there are lovers everywhere
Even pain you can take, in waves:
Even the purest writer is not entirely in his work, we must admit. A
Every day when I pick up my four-year-old daughter from preschool
Every morning the maple leaves.
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
Everyone who left us we find everywhere.
Finally, I gave up on obeisance,
Finding is losing something else.
First, grant me my sense of history:
For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
For those of us who live at the shoreline
For you I undress down to the sheaths of my nerves.
Give me tonight to be inconsolable.
Goodbye, lady in Bangor, who sent me
Hair is heaven’s water flowing eerily over us
Half of the world’s true glamour
Half past twelve. The time has quickly passed
He loved her and she loved him
He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
Heart, you bully, you punk, I’m wrecked, I’m shocked
Here the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-lasting:
Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
How beautiful the sun as it skims
How do they do it, the ones who make love
How funny you are today New York
How many nights have I lain here like this, feverish with plans,
How on earth did it happen, I used to wonder
I am calling to wish you well. I am calling because I want to
I am in love, hence free to live
I am learning to abandon the world
I am not a painter, I am a poet.
I am not ready to die yet: magnolia tree
I am wearing dark glasses inside the house
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
I can seep in, I can dry clear.
“I cannot go to school today,”
“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)”
I close the shop at six. Welcome wind,
I closed the book and changed my life and changed my life and changed
I could never say anything about my mother:
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
I daydream, melancholy at the windowsill—
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
I don’t know how to wish you well.
i don’t want to hate the president
I empty myself of the names of others.
I feel it when the game is done
I fell out of love: that’s our story’s dull ending,
I found it and I named it, being versed
I get into bed with it, and spring
I go down to the edge of the sea.
I go where I love and where I am loved,
I had drawn my chair to the hotel window, to watch the rain.
I have been wounded so often and so painfully,
I have supposed my past is part of myself.
I haven’t given up on trying to live a good life,
I imagined that you’d miss me, thought
I lay down in the empty street and parked
I left this morning saying ‘I love you’
i like my body when it is with your
I lived between my heart and my head,
I look across the table and think
I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
I never intended to have this life, believe me—
I never meant the words I said,
I never want to go when it’s time
I once knew an eccentric electrician.
I pick an orange from a wicker basket
I said I will find what is lowly
I said perhaps Patagonia, and pictured
I said, “Nothing for the last time.”
I saw my father naked, once, I
I shall haunt you, O my lost one, as the twilight
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I sink back upon the ground, expecting to die. A voice speaks out of my ear
I slid the white louvers shut so I could stand in your closet
I spend all day in my office, reading a poem
I take off my shirt, I show you.
I think that I shall never know
I told them to go listen to people talking,
I used to lie on the floor for hours after
I waited for you calmly, with infinite patience.
I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
I wanted to know what it was like before we
I was asleep while you were dying.
I was fifty-three this morning,
I was watching a robin fly after a finch — the smaller bird
I watched the arctic landscape from above
I went for a walk on Hollywood Boulevard.
I whispered, ‘I am too young,’
I will die in Paris, on a rainy day,
I woke to a voice within the room. Perhaps.
I wonder how many people in this city
I would like to watch you sleeping,
I’m not feeling strong yet, but I am taking
I’m not going to cry all the time
I’m ordered out to a big hump of stones
I’m standing in a place where I once loved.
I’m thinking of you. What else can I say?
I’m thinking today of how we hold it together,
I’ve become the person who says Darling, who says Sugarpie,
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
I’ve sent you a poem; your first glimpse
If Baroque were more than a manner
if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
If it’s any consolation, when your wife took me
If this is Wednesday, write Lazartigues, return library books, pick up
If you believe in the magic of language,
If you keep taking stabs at utopia
If you travel alone, hitchhiking,
‘Interesting, but futile,’ said his diary,
In an effort to get people to look
In grayish doubt and black despair,
In Lijiang, the sign outside your hostel
In the deep fall, the body awakes,
In the middle of the night, when we get up
In the night, in the wind, at the edge of rain,
In the sunless wooden room at noon
In the worst hour of the worst season
In this room I was born. And I knew I was in the wrong place: the world. I
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
Interesting how we fall in love:
is a system of posture for wood.
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún,
is that you can never see the one you’re wearing,
is, after all, all we’ve ever done
Isn’t it always the heart that wants to wash
It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
It is a kind of love, is it not?
It is an afternoon toward the end of August:
It is big sky and its changes,
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
It is dusk. The birds sweep low to the lake and then dive
It is no longer night. But there is a sameness
it is so long since my heart has been with yours
It scares me the genius we have
It seems these poets have nothing
It seems too enormous just for a man to be
It was not love-why should I love you?-
it will not be simple, it will not be long
It’s a kitchen. Its curtains fill
It’s all I have to bring today —
It’s four o’clock in the afternoon,
It’s not how we leave one’s life. How go off
January finally drags into February and one fumbles
Just before she flew off like a swan
Kashmir shrinks into my mailbox,
Last night you left me and slept
Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
Learning to love differently is hard,
Let me make this perfectly clear.
Let the light of late afternoon
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Like primitives we buried the cat
Listen carefully, my son: bombs were falling
Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the
Long ago on a night of danger and vigil
Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
Look at the birds. Even flying
Look, your longing swung from the trapeze.
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Losing too is still ours; and even forgetting
love is a deep and a dark and a lonely
love is more thicker than forget
Love, is it a cat with claws and wild mate screams
‘Man who is a serious novel would like to hear from a woman who
Make some room for yourself, human animal.
May mga kalungkutang hindi mabansagan,
Maybe you need to write a poem about grace.
Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
Miracle’s truck comes down the little avenue,
Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
Morning at last: there in the snow
Morning is such a welcome time. It doesn’t demand
Must I, in this question I am asking, include myself
My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My body is both white and round
My body is white; my fate, softly rounded,
my cat has been biting my cheeks lately
My father stands in the warm evening
My father, in middle age, falls in love with a dog.
My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie.
My heart was full of softening showers,
My heart, sing praises to the men
My left hand will live longer than my right. The rivers
My mother never forgave my father
My older brother is walking down the sidewalk into the suburban
My sister doesn’t write poems.
My sister rubs the doll’s face in mud,
Nalulumbay ang puno ng goma sa gilid ng bulibard
Near the wall of a house painted
Night, what more do you want? Why this second per second
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
Not a red rose or a satin heart.
Not so hot as this for a hundred years.
Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
Nothing to tell. Nothing to desire.
Nothing’s going to become of anyone
Now that you’ve gone away for five days,
O generation of the thoroughly smug
O, how I faint when I of you do write,
Of all the public places, dear
Of the genesis of birds we know nothing,
Oh, I can smile for you, and tilt my head,
Oh, when I was in love with you,
Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
On average, 5 people are born every second and 1.78 die.
On average, odd years have been the best for me.
On the beach, close to sunset, a dog runs
On the scales of desire, your absence weighs more
on Venus, time passes slowly because
Once again, the moment of impossible
Once when I was teaching “Dover Beach”
Once you had a secret love: seeing
One day people will touch and talk perhaps easily,
One grand boulevard with trees
One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides
Orange blossoms blowing over Castile
Out of the night that covers me,
Out of the sump rise the marigolds.
Out through the fields and the woods
Pain froze you, for years—and fear—leaving scars.
Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
Probably I hurt your aesthetic feelings.
Radishes flip their skirts in the wind
Rain fell in a post-romantic way.
Reminiscing in the drizzle of Portland, I notice
Roselva says the only thing that doesn’t change
Sa almusal kanina, namagitan sa atin
Sa iyo hahapon ang aking umaga,
Seeing that there’s no other way,
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Shall I compare you to a rainbowed shower
She always writes poems. This summer
She had a way of walking through concupiscence
She tells her love while half asleep,
Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
Sitting on the deck, bare feet
Skin meeting skin, we want to think
Skin remembers how long the years grow
Snow melting when I left you, and I took
So early it’s still almost dark out.
So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years–
So that this will seem like words between
So this is what the ocean has been pushing across the table at us
So, there’s no way to be sure. Not
Some folks will tell you the blues is a woman,
Some people might describe this room as spare:
Some say the world will end in fire,
Someone I love is dying, which is why,
Someone was reading in the back,
Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,
Sometimes you look at an empty valley like this,
Somewhere a seed falls to the ground
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
Soon we will plunge ourselves into cold shadows,
Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Strephon kissed me in the spring,
Suddenly I remember the holes,
Sun in the knifed horizon bleeds the sky
Take the used-up heart like a pebble
Taking the hands of someone you love,
Talking in bed ought to be easiest
Thank you whoever tuned the radio
That Mississippi chicken shack.
That spring when my parents’ bodies were still pristine,
The afternoon turned dark early;
The apparition of these faces in the crowd :
The Argument: You Wondered Why You Weren’t Published
The assignment was to fall in love.
The birds have vanished down the sky.
The boy at the far end of the train car kept looking behind him
The clocks are sorry, the clocks are very sad.
The cruelest thing I did to my younger sister
The day he moved out was terrible —
The days are hot and moist now. The doves say
The evening was the same as any other.
The fist clenched round my heart
The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.
The light came through the window now
The married man dreamt last night
The mind becomes a field of snow
The moment when, after many years
The moon did not become the sun.
The moon was like a full cup tonight,
The names are the first to go,
The painter is beautiful because he can see
The people of my time are passing away: my
The problem (if there was one) was simply a problem with the
The river is famous to the fish.
The sea asks “How is your life now?”
The sky is random. Even calling it “sky”
The slate black sky. The middle step
The spider, dropping down from twig
The thing I’ll never write is the green leaf
The way air is at the same time
The way we can’t remember heat, forget
The whole idea of it makes me feel
The word Faith means when someone sees
The young girl wanted a new voice. After all, people got
There are so many roots to the tree of anger
There are some things we just don’t talk about—
There are two versions of every life.
There are who teach only the sweet lessons of peace and safety;
there are worse things than being alone
There comes the strangest moment in your life,
There is a place where love begins and a place
There was an apple tree in the yard —
There was the day we swam in a river, a lake, and an ocean.
There were the roses, in the rain
There you are, exhausted from a night of crying, curled up on the couch,
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They have photographed the brain
they set my aunts house on fire
// this is a test to determine if you have consciousness
They stand in parks and graveyards and gardens.
They tore down the old movie palaces,
They wanted me to tell the truth,
They went home and told their wives,
They’re at that stage where so much desire streams between them, so much
Think in ways you’ve never thought before
This being human is a guest house.
This evening, I sat by an open window
This is not fantasy, this is our life.
This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
This morning was something. A little snow
This ocean, humiliating in its disguises
This room, how well I know it.
Three times my life has opened.
Time will say nothing but I told you so,
to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
To grow old is to lose everything.
To lie in your child’s bed when she is gone
To love like God can love, sometimes.
To pray you open your whole self
To pull the metal splinter from my palm
Today again I am hardly myself.
Today it’s going to cost us twenty dollars
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Tonight my brother, in heavy boots, is walking
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Tuwing makakahanap ako ng tula
verily everything that is lost will be
visiting a past self. Being anywhere makes me thirsty.
Walking in the dark streets of Seoul
Was it for this I uttered prayers,
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for
We are apart; the city grows quiet between us,
We are protected from so much pain. For example: graves.
We are reading the story of our lives
We don’t know how to say goodbye.
We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
We find out the heart only by dismantling what
We have lost even this twilight.
We live in a modern society. Husbands and wives don’t grow
We stand in the rain in a long line
We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
We will call you “Agua” like the rivers and cool jugs.
We’ve come so far, thought the astronaut
What am I, after all, but a child, pleas’d with the sound of my own
What birds plunge through is not the intimate space
What can a yellow glove mean in a world of motorcars and governments?
What do they think has happened, the old fools,
What do we do with the body, do we
What happens to a dream deferred?
What I see now in our snapshots
What little we have ever understood
What the mouth sings, the soul must learn to forgive.
What will suffice for a true-love knot? Even the rain?
whatever slid into my mother’s room that
When despair for the world grows in me
When I have you, the passions of love make me stay awake;
When I think how far the onion has traveled
When I was lonely, I thought of death.
When my dad first started to die
When sailors crossed the oceans
When the desert refused my history,
When the King of Siam disliked a courtier,
When the Regime commanded that books with harmful knowledge
When they say Don’t I know you?
When we wake up in our bodies, first we weep.
When we were nine or ten and used to play
When you appeared it was as if
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
When you consider the radiance, that it does not withhold
when you’re lonely in your room, and the year
Where what I see comes to rest,
“Which is bigger,” he asks me, “the ocean or sky,”
While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
While the long grain is softening
While we stood in the window and wept.
Whispering to each handhold, “I’ll be back,”
Whose woods these are I think I know.
Why do you always stand there shivering
Why does one write, if not to put one’s pieces together? From the
Why is this age worse than earlier ages?
Will obedience leave me unknown to myself, stranded?
Winter is out for a lot this year
Wipe the crumbs off the counter.
With some surprise, I balance my small female skull in my hands.
Wittgenstein was wrong: when lovers kiss
You always called late and drunk,
You are so beautiful and I am a fool
You can get there from here, though
You could say I grew up in a rough neighborhood: We owned boxing
You do not always know what I am feeling.
You have only these hours and days.
You have to try. You see the shrink.
You lie in our bed as if an orchard were over us.
You looked at me with eyes grown bright with pain,
You meant more than life to me. I lived through
You might come here Sunday on a whim.
You must have felt it working in your bones. It’s begun: The papers
You need a reason, any reason—skiing, a job in movies,
You put on some new pants. I put
You show me the poems of some woman
You simply go out and shut the door
You turn towards meteor showers in August,
You wake up filled with dread.
You want to cry aloud for your
You want to know what work is?
You will hear thunder and remember me,
You’ll rejoice at how many kinds of shit there are:
You’re sad because you’re sad.
You’re wondering if I’m lonely:
Your death must be loved this much.
Your letter unfolds and unfolds forever.
Your lungs fill & spread themselves,
I Was Told the Sunlight Was a Cure by Hanif Abdurraqib
"on the days I want to be alive I tell myself I deserve a marching band / or at least a string section to announce my arrival
La Chalupa, the Boat by Jean Valentine
"No, not drifting, I am poling / my way into my life."
[Goldenrod, I could say, you know, everybody wants something] by Diane Seuss
"Goldenrod, is your dying hard? I know, / I know dying's hard. Are you reaching toward, you know, or just reaching?"
Transformation by Adam Zagajewski
"I’ve lived humbly, reading the paper, / pondering the riddle of power / and the reasons for obedience."