The Academy of American Poets is for people who love poetry. Our membership is nearly 9,000 strong and growing, and our programs reach over 20 million people every year. Our programs include Poets.org, the Poets Forum, Poem in Your Pocket Day, National Poetry Month, American Poet magazine, the Poem-A-Day email series, the Poetry Audio Archive, educational initiatives, readings and events, awards and prizes, and so much more. We’ve been doing this since 1934, and we still think it's fun.

Follow us on:   Facebook   &   Twitter
From today’s Poem-a-Day, “Blue Palestine,” by Ariana Reines.

From today’s Poem-a-Day, “Blue Palestine,” by Ariana Reines.

Harlem by Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?Or fester like a sore - and then run?Does it stink like rotten meat?Or crust and sugar over - like a syrupy sweet?Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.Or does it explode?

Harlem by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore - and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over - like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?


(Source: Flickr / rebecca_e_g)

Exactly.

Exactly.

(Source: poopstudios.com)

Philip Levine's NY Times Advice Column: The Ethicist >
*   *   *

I’m married and recently had an emotional affair. As a result of the frequent phone contact with my paramour, I went way over my minute usage allowance. My wife and I have a shared plan, and the bill is automatically paid from her checking account. That overage brought attention to these conversations. My wife insists I reimburse her for this portion of the bill. She is the primary breadwinner, and I am the primary caretaker of our son; my small income comes from my unemployment insurance. While I freely admit the emotional affair was a breach on a number of levels, am I responsible for reimbursing her? NAME WITHHELD







Readers’ Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
Read All Comments (18) »



How long has it been since I heard the word “paramour” used seriously? I’m afraid I do not welcome it back, nor can I imagine why your wife welcomed you back after your “emotional affair.” You strike me as someone with a limited capacity for empathy, so let’s have a little exercise: Imagine the reverse were true. You are the breadwinner and your wife has charged her phone calls to her “paramour” to you. If that exercise in empathy changes nothing, then I believe you are both linguistically and ethically challenged. Paying back the money — money that you charged to your wife in order to prolong or enrich your betrayal — is the least you can do, but since you hesitate to do even that, I fear you are incapable of doing more. That you have to ask if you owe repayment to your wife suggests you need much more than advice from an ethicist, if, in fact, that is what I am at this moment. You need to see a shaman who can change who you are, and your wife needs to see a lawyer.
MASHED TRAVELER
My seatmate on a flight not only used the whole armrest, but also surpassed it. He spread his legs and shoulder into my space. He ignored my request to move into his own seat, and either was sleeping or pretending to be asleep for the whole flight. I’m sorry if he felt he needed more room, but I also paid for my seat, and I am not looking for such an intimate relationship. Does the airline have a responsibility to tell him to confine himself to one seat? JILL K., NEW YORK
Yes, the airline has a responsibility to you. And this hopeless jerk needs to be told by someone in authority to stay in his own backyard. If an airline representative won’t act on your behalf in the person of the flight attendant or co-pilot, then you have to act on your own behalf. Well, you don’t have to, but you’d feel a lot better if you did. I know what my mother would have done: she would have used the only weapon she had — her voice. And she had plenty of voice. She would have loudly named this man for what he is, a masher, and thereby called attention to this boorish behavior. Is that word, “masher,” still in use for something other than what you crush potatoes with? If not, it should be.
ON THE HOUSE
While playing five-deck blackjack at a casino, the dealer inadvertently exposed her hole card. I saw it, as did the player to my left. The dealer looked at us but did not ask if we had seen it. Was it wrong not to volunteer that I had seen the dealer’s hole card? PAT C., NEW YORK
A casino is in the business of taking your money any way it can. If dealers play by the rules — and of course the casino, and not you, makes the rules, and these rules are designed to take advantage of you — eventually you’ll give them your money. Unless you went there purposely to lose, you should accept winning through luck, your skill or their errors. While you are distracted by these higher ethical questions, make no mistake, they’re going to take all these winnings back. How do you know the dealer did not purposely show you that hole card? Indeed, you may have been playing against a double agent anxious to defeat an industry hellbent on fleecing the public. Take the money and the joy that comes with winning. If you still feel ethically uncertain, give the money to those in greater need than you. Do something worthy with it before the house can get it back. Anyone as concerned as you are about the rights and wrongs of taking money needs to ask himself why he was in a casino in the first place.
PUZZLED PUZZLER
I frequent the same nail salon each week. They have a subscription to a publication with a crossword puzzle that I like to do during my lunchtime. Since I am a paying customer, am I entitled to tear out the puzzle to do outside the salon, or is it only for my use while I’m at the salon? KATIE S., NEW JERSEY
You could ask the manager of the salon if you may have the puzzle and accept the answer. Or there is this way to think about it: Do you ever travel by plane? In your seat pocket there is often a magazine that contains a crossword. Does concern for the next puzzle-happy traveler keep you from doing it? It wouldn’t stop my wife, and she’s more ethical than I am.

Philip Levine, a guest ethicist, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1995 and is the poet laureate of the United States.
E-mail queries to ethicist@nytimes.com, or send them to the Ethicist, The New York Times Magazine, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018, and include a daytime phone number.

Philip Levine's NY Times Advice Column: The Ethicist >

*   *   *

I’m married and recently had an emotional affair. As a result of the frequent phone contact with my paramour, I went way over my minute usage allowance. My wife and I have a shared plan, and the bill is automatically paid from her checking account. That overage brought attention to these conversations. My wife insists I reimburse her for this portion of the bill. She is the primary breadwinner, and I am the primary caretaker of our son; my small income comes from my unemployment insurance. While I freely admit the emotional affair was a breach on a number of levels, am I responsible for reimbursing her? NAME WITHHELD

Readers’ Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

How long has it been since I heard the word “paramour” used seriously? I’m afraid I do not welcome it back, nor can I imagine why your wife welcomed you back after your “emotional affair.” You strike me as someone with a limited capacity for empathy, so let’s have a little exercise: Imagine the reverse were true. You are the breadwinner and your wife has charged her phone calls to her “paramour” to you. If that exercise in empathy changes nothing, then I believe you are both linguistically and ethically challenged. Paying back the money — money that you charged to your wife in order to prolong or enrich your betrayal — is the least you can do, but since you hesitate to do even that, I fear you are incapable of doing more. That you have to ask if you owe repayment to your wife suggests you need much more than advice from an ethicist, if, in fact, that is what I am at this moment. You need to see a shaman who can change who you are, and your wife needs to see a lawyer.

MASHED TRAVELER

My seatmate on a flight not only used the whole armrest, but also surpassed it. He spread his legs and shoulder into my space. He ignored my request to move into his own seat, and either was sleeping or pretending to be asleep for the whole flight. I’m sorry if he felt he needed more room, but I also paid for my seat, and I am not looking for such an intimate relationship. Does the airline have a responsibility to tell him to confine himself to one seat? JILL K., NEW YORK

Yes, the airline has a responsibility to you. And this hopeless jerk needs to be told by someone in authority to stay in his own backyard. If an airline representative won’t act on your behalf in the person of the flight attendant or co-pilot, then you have to act on your own behalf. Well, you don’t have to, but you’d feel a lot better if you did. I know what my mother would have done: she would have used the only weapon she had — her voice. And she had plenty of voice. She would have loudly named this man for what he is, a masher, and thereby called attention to this boorish behavior. Is that word, “masher,” still in use for something other than what you crush potatoes with? If not, it should be.

ON THE HOUSE

While playing five-deck blackjack at a casino, the dealer inadvertently exposed her hole card. I saw it, as did the player to my left. The dealer looked at us but did not ask if we had seen it. Was it wrong not to volunteer that I had seen the dealer’s hole card? PAT C., NEW YORK

A casino is in the business of taking your money any way it can. If dealers play by the rules — and of course the casino, and not you, makes the rules, and these rules are designed to take advantage of you — eventually you’ll give them your money. Unless you went there purposely to lose, you should accept winning through luck, your skill or their errors. While you are distracted by these higher ethical questions, make no mistake, they’re going to take all these winnings back. How do you know the dealer did not purposely show you that hole card? Indeed, you may have been playing against a double agent anxious to defeat an industry hellbent on fleecing the public. Take the money and the joy that comes with winning. If you still feel ethically uncertain, give the money to those in greater need than you. Do something worthy with it before the house can get it back. Anyone as concerned as you are about the rights and wrongs of taking money needs to ask himself why he was in a casino in the first place.

PUZZLED PUZZLER

I frequent the same nail salon each week. They have a subscription to a publication with a crossword puzzle that I like to do during my lunchtime. Since I am a paying customer, am I entitled to tear out the puzzle to do outside the salon, or is it only for my use while I’m at the salon? KATIE S., NEW JERSEY

You could ask the manager of the salon if you may have the puzzle and accept the answer. Or there is this way to think about it: Do you ever travel by plane? In your seat pocket there is often a magazine that contains a crossword. Does concern for the next puzzle-happy traveler keep you from doing it? It wouldn’t stop my wife, and she’s more ethical than I am.

Philip Levine, a guest ethicist, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1995 and is the poet laureate of the United States.

E-mail queries to ethicist@nytimes.com, or send them to the Ethicist, The New York Times Magazine, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018, and include a daytime phone number.

ELIOT (T.S)
Poems, FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE

Estimate:
£2,000 - 3,000€2,500 - 3,700US$ 3,100 - 4,700
Poems, FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE
Estimate:
£2,000 - 3,000
€2,500 - 3,700
US$ 3,100 - 4,700

(Source: bonhams.com)

Postcard from Langston Hughes to David Amram.

Rimbaud by Jack Kerouac
Arthur! On t’ appela pas Jean!Born in 1854 cursing in Charle-ville thus paving the way forthe abominable murderousnessesof Ardennes—No wonder your father left!So you entered school at 8—Proficient little Latinist you!In October of 1869Rimbaud is writing poetryin Greek French—Takes a runaway train
to Paris without a ticket,the miraculous Mexican Brakemanthrows him off the fasttrain, to Heaven, whichhe no longer travels becauseHeaven is everywhere—Nevertheless the old fagsintervene—Rimbaud nonplussed Rimbaudtrains in the green NationalGuard, proud marchingin the dust with his heroes—hoping to be buggered,dreaming of the ultimate Girl.—Cities are bombarded ashe stares & stares & chewshis degenerate lip & stareswith gray eyes atWalled France—
Andre Gill was forerunnerto Andre Gide—Long walks reading poemsin the Genet Haystacks—The Voyant is born,the deranged seer makes hisfirst Manifesto,gives vowels colors& consonants carking care,comes under the influenceof old French Fairieswho accuse him of constipationof the brain & diarrheaof the mouth—Verlaine summons him to Pariswith less aplomb than hedid banish girls toAbyssinis—
Merde! screams Rimbaudat Verlaine salons—Gossip in Paris—Verlaine Wifeis jealous of a boywith no seats to his trousers—Love sends money from Brussels—Mother Rimbaud hatesthe importunity of MadameVerlaine—Degenerate Arthur is suspectedof being a poet by now—Screaming in the barnRimbaud writes Season in Hell,his mother tremblesVerlaine sends money & bulletsinto Rimbaud—Rimbaud goes to the police& presents his innocencelike the pale innocence ofhis divine feminine Jesus—Poor Verlaine, 2 yearsin the can, but could havegot a knife in the heart
—Illuminations! Stuttgart!Study of Languages!On foot Rimbaud walks& looks thru the Alpinepasses into Italy, lookingfor clover bells, rabbits,Genie Kingdoms & aheadof his nothing but the oldCanaletto death of sunon old Venetian buildings—Rimbaud studies language—hears of the Alleghanies,of Brooklyn, of lastAmerican Plages—His angel sister dies—Vienne! He looks at pastries& pets old dogs! I hope!This mad cat joinsthe Dutch Army& sails for Javacommanding the fleetat midnighton the bow, alone,no one hears his Commandbut every fishy shining inthe sea—August isno time to stay in Java—Aiming at Egypt, he’s againhungup in Italy so he goes backhome to deep armchairbut immediately he goesagain, to Cyprus, torun a gang of quarry workers,—what did he look like now.this laterRimbaud?—Rock dust& black backs & hacksof coughers, the dream risesin the Frenchman’s Africa mind,—Invalids from the tropics are alwaysloved—The Red Seain June, the coast clanksin Arabia—Havar,Havar, the magic tradingpost—Aden, Aden,South of Bedouin—Ogaden, Ogaden, neverknown—(MeanwhileVerlaine sits in Parisover cognacs wonderingwhat Arthur looks like now,& how bleak their eyebrowsbecause they believedin earlier eyebrow beauty)—Who cares? What kindaFrenchmen are these? Rimbaud, hit meover the head with that rock!Serious Rimbaud composeselegant & learned articlesfor National GeographicSocieties, & after warscommands Harari Girl(Ha Ha!) backto Abyssinia, & shewas young, had blackeyes, thick lips, haircurled, & breasts likepolished brown withcopper teats & ringletson her arms &joined her hands upon her central loin &had shoulders as broad asArthur’s & little ears—A girl of somecaste, in Bronzeville—
Rimbaud also knewthinbonehipped Polynesianswith long tumbling hair &tiny tits & big feet
Finally he startstrading illegal gunsin Tajourariding in caravans, Mad,with a belt of goldaround his waist—Screwed by King Menelek!The Shah of Shoa!The noises of these namesin that noisyFrench mind!
Cairo for the summer,bitter lemon wind& kisses in the dusty parkwhere girls sitfolded atduskthinking nothing—
Havar! Havar!By litter to Zeylahe’s carried moaninghis birthday—the boatreturns to chalk castleMarseilles sadder thantime, than dream,sadder than water—Carcinoma, Rimbaudis eaten by the diseaseof overlife—They cut offhis beautiful leg—He dies in the armsof Ste Isabellehis sister& before rising to Heavensends his francs to Djami, Djami the Havari boyhis dody servant8 years in the AfricanFrenchman’s Hell,& it all adds upto nothing, likeDostoevsky, Beethovenor Da Vinci—
So, poets, rest awhile& shut up:Nothing ever cameof nothing.

Written in 1958 and published as a City Lights broadside in 1960.

Rimbaud by Jack Kerouac

Arthur! On t’ appela pas Jean!
Born in 1854 cursing in Charle-
ville thus paving the way for
the abominable murderousnesses
of Ardennes—No wonder your father left!
So you entered school at 8
—Proficient little Latinist you!
In October of 1869
Rimbaud is writing poetry
in Greek French—
Takes a runaway train

to Paris without a ticket,
the miraculous Mexican Brakeman
throws him off the fast
train, to Heaven, which
he no longer travels because
Heaven is everywhere—
Nevertheless the old fags
intervene—
Rimbaud nonplussed Rimbaud
trains in the green National
Guard, proud marching
in the dust with his heroes—
hoping to be buggered,
dreaming of the ultimate Girl.
—Cities are bombarded as
he stares & stares & chews
his degenerate lip & stares
with gray eyes at
Walled France—

Andre Gill was forerunner
to Andre Gide—
Long walks reading poems
in the Genet Haystacks—
The Voyant is born,
the deranged seer makes his
first Manifesto,
gives vowels colors
& consonants carking care,
comes under the influence
of old French Fairies
who accuse him of constipation
of the brain & diarrhea
of the mouth—
Verlaine summons him to Paris
with less aplomb than he
did banish girls to
Abyssinis—

Merde! screams Rimbaud
at Verlaine salons—
Gossip in Paris—Verlaine Wife
is jealous of a boy
with no seats to his trousers
—Love sends money from Brussels
—Mother Rimbaud hates
the importunity of Madame
Verlaine—Degenerate Arthur is suspected
of being a poet by now—
Screaming in the barn
Rimbaud writes Season in Hell,
his mother trembles
Verlaine sends money & bullets
into Rimbaud—
Rimbaud goes to the police
& presents his innocence
like the pale innocence of
his divine feminine Jesus
—Poor Verlaine, 2 years
in the can, but could have
got a knife in the heart

—Illuminations! Stuttgart!
Study of Languages!
On foot Rimbaud walks
& looks thru the Alpine
passes into Italy, looking
for clover bells, rabbits,
Genie Kingdoms & ahead
of his nothing but the old
Canaletto death of sun
on old Venetian buildings
—Rimbaud studies language
—hears of the Alleghanies,
of Brooklyn, of last
American Plages—
His angel sister dies—
Vienne! He looks at pastries
& pets old dogs! I hope!
This mad cat joins
the Dutch Army
& sails for Java
commanding the fleet
at midnight
on the bow, alone,
no one hears his Command
but every fishy shining in
the sea—August is
no time to stay in Java—
Aiming at Egypt, he’s again
hungup in Italy so he goes back
home to deep armchair
but immediately he goes
again, to Cyprus, to
run a gang of quarry workers,—
what did he look like now.this later
Rimbaud?—Rock dust
& black backs & hacks
of coughers, the dream rises
in the Frenchman’s Africa mind,—
Invalids from the tropics are always
loved—The Red Sea
in June, the coast clanks
in Arabia—Havar,
Havar, the magic trading
post—Aden, Aden,
South of Bedouin—
Ogaden, Ogaden, never
known—(Meanwhile
Verlaine sits in Paris
over cognacs wondering
what Arthur looks like now,
& how bleak their eyebrows
because they believed
in earlier eyebrow beauty)—
Who cares? What kinda
Frenchmen are these? Rimbaud, hit me
over the head with that rock!
Serious Rimbaud composes
elegant & learned articles
for National Geographic
Societies, & after wars
commands Harari Girl
(Ha Ha!) back
to Abyssinia, & she
was young, had black
eyes, thick lips, hair
curled, & breasts like
polished brown with
copper teats & ringlets
on her arms &
joined her hands upon her central loin &
had shoulders as broad as
Arthur’s & little ears
—A girl of some
caste, in Bronzeville—

Rimbaud also knew
thinbonehipped Polynesians
with long tumbling hair &
tiny tits & big feet

Finally he starts
trading illegal guns
in Tajoura
riding in caravans, Mad,
with a belt of gold
around his waist—
Screwed by King Menelek!
The Shah of Shoa!
The noises of these names
in that noisy
French mind!

Cairo for the summer,
bitter lemon wind
& kisses in the dusty park
where girls sit
folded at
dusk
thinking nothing—

Havar! Havar!
By litter to Zeyla
he’s carried moaning
his birthday—the boat
returns to chalk castle
Marseilles sadder than
time, than dream,
sadder than water
—Carcinoma, Rimbaud
is eaten by the disease
of overlife—They cut off
his beautiful leg—
He dies in the arms
of Ste Isabelle
his sister
& before rising to Heaven
sends his francs to Djami, Djami the Havari boy
his dody servant
8 years in the African
Frenchman’s Hell,
& it all adds up
to nothing, like
Dostoevsky, Beethoven
or Da Vinci—

So, poets, rest awhile
& shut up:
Nothing ever came
of nothing.


Written in 1958 and published as a City Lights broadside in 1960.

(Source: vagobond.com)

Jorge Luis Borges & James Tate

Jorge Luis Borges & James Tate

Happy Birthday, Uncle . I wonder if there’s a sale at the mall.

(Source: poets.org)