The Best 22-Word Poems of 2022

In 2022, we held a contest inviting poets to write two 22-word poems. The poems below include our two favorite sets of poems plus our two favorite individual poems from the remaining contest entries.

Seagull on post with the number 22
Photo by micheile dot com on Unsplash
The Only Thing Left

was his smell. Buried in his collar, dank, musk after rain. He must have pounded the brakes on that slick country road.

How Did It Feel

to be lifted to the sky? Plunge. Strike solid ground. I’ve heard time slows. I wonder, did he smell his own fear?

—Diane Gottlieb



I owe you, my students,
an explanation.
My Spanish accent
isn’t listed in the textbook,
I reclaimed my heritage
with Univision Spanish.


Tree branches fill:
names I never knew,
homelands that once were,
languages lost.
My grandfather’s glee
was compensation enough
for the research.

—Angela Acosta



That was

when the owl sang
during the day.

When the cactus
was only smooth edges.

When the roses
were yellow.

Fatima van Hattum


I Heard Your Voice in Passing 

The road was wet
with laughter. Buzzing:

the emptiness after.

All it has left me
(deflated, seeking, unaware—

driving backwards)
is despair.

—Julia Watson

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