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American Life in Poetry

Kay Ryan was our nation’s Poet Laureate at The Library of Congress for the 2008-2010 terms. Her poetry is celebrated for its compression; she can get a great deal into a few words. Here’s an example of a poem swift and accurate as a dart.


We say


A pin hole

of light. We

can’t imagine

how bright

more of it

could be,

the way

this much

defeats night.

It almost

isn’t fair,


poked this,

with such

a small act

to vanquish


Poem copyright 2011 by Kay Ryan. Poem reprinted from Poetry, October 2011, by permission of Kay Ryan and the publisher. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation and Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


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