‘Beware: Do Not Read This Poem’ by Ishmael Reed is a thoughtful poem about culture and how language is used to tell stories. The poem warns against becoming too consumed within one method of storytelling.
‘Sonnet 148,’ also known as ‘O me! What eyes hath Love put in my head,’ uses figurative language to describe the speaker’s state of mind. He’s blinded to his mistress’s faults, just like the sun becomes blinded by rain and clouds.
‘Zoom!’ by Simon Armitage is a thoughtful poem about the vast nature of the universe. It also emphasizes the tiny role humans have to play in it.
‘The Harlem Dancer’ by Claude McKay is a thoughtful poem about a dancer’s inner life. It speaks on the duality of what people see and what people experience.
‘Harlem Shadows’ by Claude McKay memorably addresses the lives of Black sex workers in Harlem. The poet describes their experience while also acknowledging their strength.
‘Decomposition’ is written by the Pakistani-American poet Zulfikar Ghose. This poem centers on a photograph of an old beggar sleeping on the pavement and contrasts artistic composition with physical decomposition.