The 30/30 Project: April 2021 Pt. 1

Welcome to the 30/30 Project, an extraordinary challenge and fundraiser for Tupelo Press, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) literary press. Each month, volunteer poets run the equivalent of a “poetry marathon,” writing 30 poems in 30 days, while the rest of us “sponsor” and encourage them every step of the way.

Donate to 30/30

The volunteers for April 2021 are Lorraine & April Claggett, Sandra Fees, Cathy Hollister, Becca JR Lachman, Meg Little Reilly, Linda Michel-Cassidy, Matthew Moore, L.T. Pelle, Kara Penn, Angela Stubbs and Jennifer Wholey. Read their full bios here.

If you’d like to volunteer for a 30/30 Project month, please fill out our application here and warm up your pen!

Poem 15 / Day 15

Smith Island / by Lorraine Claggett

On the island the people all know each other,
The fish and crabs and sunsets.
But mostly they know the waters of the Bay,
How they slip over the breakwaters,
Flood the roads
And pool under the homes,
How much longer will you stay?

Poem Ending with Lines by Ada Limón / by Sandra Fees

Because I do not know how to be wilded
with what can save the world,

I read Ada Limón. Because I do not know

how to feather a nest or make a peace
that will last, I try to haul out

the power of speech. Because I do not know
how to honey the storms or thistle off grief,

I let the throat be seed, plough, prophecy.
When the day begins again, without reprieve,

I’ll settle for these words you gave me: sweet smoke
            and I’ll plant them into my chest so I can take this

circling spell and light it on fire.

The Carefully Calculated Caper / by Cathy Hollister 

On his nightly patrol the red-tailed hawk floats overhead on the soft thermals, causally planning his
evening meal. A tiny chickadee is frozen in place, fearful of the predator above. She carefully circled the
branch before selecting a skinny summer twig. She wisely chose one just strong enough to perch but not
so engulfed in green summer foliage that it might obstruct the view of the fancy feeder below. She hears
the noisy, gray squirrel chattering, clamoring for the forbidden treats the feeder harbors. No match for the monstrous rat with tail, she keeps a close eye on the juicy morsels, intended for her in the bird banquet
below. When she dares, she steals a quick peek at the huge hawk above. Danger, danger everywhere. The
scent of the juicy sunflower seeds and the tasty millet she craves reaches her, but she knows she will
never feast on the delicacies. From her skillfully concealed spy, she studies the interloper as the entire
devious plot plays out before her wary eyes. Hawk terrorizes the intended guests from feeder. Feeder, full
of the specialty songbird blend, seems a beautiful, bursting prize for the lazy, hungry rodent executing the
devious heist. From early spring, after running out of winter stores, he plodded, planned, and predicted his
haul. Now the time has come. Eyeing his unwitting partner circling above, the crafty creature makes his
move. The culprit scrambles up the “squirrel proof” feeder, the expensive one, given the highest rating by
the experts. Quickly defying the deterrents, he empties the trove, gathers the booty, and makes his escape. Chickadee can only watch and wait until the dual dangers have moved on. Only then can she scavenge the
remains, scattered in the grass.

Crossing Ice (Or, a 13-year-old Love Story) / by Becca J.R. Lachman 

Walking on the late snow feels
like crossing ice. We break through 

so far, then hit the same old ground, slightly
disappointed, but also breathless. The crust 

of this winter of winters kept us slipping 
long enough. The trees, so defeated by 

the latest storm, are finally springing 
up, perhaps with one less branch 

to bear. I hear them as I wait for you, too 
bright in sudden sun. They pull me 

out without a coat, their shaking free 
the best sermon. I stand below the feeder

staring down a forest almost talking, 
telling me something in its cracking

tongue, hiding life in ice and high-up
nests. I told you not long ago the female 

cardinal was my favorite bird, quietly 
elegant, her beak a jewel, a dollop of color

not to be ignored. As a child, I used to be angry 
with her (or God) for letting her beloved 

hog all the glory. But now, older, I notice 
her, notice him bringing her the best tiny seeds 

in his mouth. Icicles hiss, and I go back 
to the dishes inside, my fingers red, waiting 

to watch the lightshow with you. When I glance 
up again, 5 female cardinals–the most I’ve seen 

together– have chest feathers plumped, vying 
for suet and crumbs. The icicles moan, a bough 

somewhere splits, and I hear your car door 
slam. The birds scatter but for one. I dry 

my hands. The trees are dropping diamonds. 

I Am Glad to Tell You / by Meg Little Reilly 

I am glad to tell you
that hummingbirds are still
sucking lifefuel from foxgloves
saw it myself today
could hardly fathom
the unspoken choreography
and how is it that
we have not broken this yet
sex soil spring
perfume of peony
it was not for me
I was a nothing then
while they worked
the bird and the flower
carried on
unbothered and unburdened
by my presumption to
stick around on their earth
hospitality as in Hebrews
if you believe, and I don’t think I do
but this grace
may we deserve them

Goldsmith’s Apprentice / by Linda Michel-Cassidy 

Feel the Arno running damp
beneath this stone floor.

Some say it’s possible to pocket
aurum splinters under fingernails,

hidden among charcoal filth.
But then, I recall His light—

that divine beacon rendered
in toolwork, gem and shine.

This summons to sweet penance:
a life of worn leathers, 

four years with bellows
’til I was seen fit

to carry the crucible.
The precious turnt liquid,

a bead held hot and spinning.
I’m backbent at twenty,

my eyesight already gauzed,
my fingerprints singed slick.

I melt the pitch, its putrid black
snugs the gold piece

rolled thin as a longshot
tap-tap-tapped into contours.

I chase out delicate angels
with wings wide

like redemption.

AUTUMN FUNNEL / by Matthew Moore                   

Rousseau, forsake citizenship! 
The mountain testifies.
How many Waldens, you say?
Gute Nacht, Austrians
Must drive to several valleys,            5
And then to Vienna, to
Wish everyone good night, if
One does not want the
Family to vanish by morning.

Armed patrols install a town              10
and garden look, oh
that ear-worm infrastructure,
less invisible hand,
more dining, timely delivery
services (milk and                               15
mail) leaves in quisling-lined
lawn bags. Buy gas
from a reconnoitered station.
Shorter wait-time to
access the least known passes            20
into the least known
valley, best to take the family
sightseeing in leaf season.

Just to wake, to drink coffee,
and sit in a blue slant                          25
of light is as simple as a sin.

It begins / by L.T. Pelle 

It begins with a barrette 
and ends 
with a snapping shut. 

A scrunchies’
first-draft mouth 
on the bathroom floor. 

The cartoon in which 
you are stuck 
wearing the same age forever. 

A bunk-bed 
with someone else’s sunken
body as your sky. 

You lose a tooth.
You find your pillow 
has begun denturing with it. 

A body crayons 
in the dark,
wears a peeling paper dress,

presses itself against a wall
until the scribbles 

The thought bubble you thought 
you could pop
becomes a stain. 

Natalie’s Poem / by Kara Penn

We both needed something
from that cave-like home with
partitioned rooms, the cold sausages
left out and the day-old water 
in breakfast glasses. Our stays there
brought about by those who loved us
most, seeking permanence from two people
who’d levitate from the earth if not pinned
down, who’d drop back into a new country
creating life elsewhere, or simply float away. 
Left to myself, this immutability hit like waves 
pulling grains of sand from my life, rocks 
that had weighed me to the bottom of the ocean. 
You arrived with death in a frame– your father,
who’d returned from the sea seeking a safe place
to leave his body. That was a grief
I’d never known. You carried the stone of it 
lightly with a hidden bottle of rum and a
luminous smile. We needed the small fire
of laughter we built upstairs to warm 
that frigid place that smelled of gossip 
and decay. We needed the permission
we gave each other to move on, away.

Buzzing Ghazal / by Jennifer Wholey 

Close to the cherry tree, I encounter the sound of bumbling bees
all around me, astounding, to hear the sound of these rumbling bees.

I wanted my daughter to learn the name of these flowers, this tree.
Names have power, I believe, even more amid these grumbling bees.

I have never been so surrounded by stingers and not frightened.
How could I be scared of the jolly bouncing of these tumbling bees?

I often wonder and fear she’ll inherit my anxiety;
I hope she sees me and only feels ease amid these fumbling bees.

A 9-month-old amnesiac, she won’t remember the moment
but I will, and I’ll tell her, how we reveled in these humbling bees.

Poem 14 / Day 14

The Beech / by April Claggett

Among the champion sloughers
of the sluggish northern spring
whose slow psychotropic drip
Turns past to prelude again

The maples blush blood orange
The willows wear wasabi
The birches pull on long white gloves
Forsythias fling canary

Even the oaks of understatement
Sport burgundy striped britches
And pines add to their appliqué
Glowing lime green stitches

But the beech, she clutches her dead
Leaves in phantom photosynthesis
Semaphores to once and again
And spring’s very antithesis

For two more weeks as moribund
The tone-deaf beech will attest
To the end of time’s beginning
To the everpresent palimpsest

Gaia and the Awakened Mind / by Sandra Fees

She’s a firestorm
at the core

a game of molten
marbles and spinning

Her blue beret
rounds the sun.

Her rocks
are the recycled
pages of history.

Blue-green algae
rises in the rise
of her ocean bloom.

Water is her
heroic heartbeat.

She is first
of firsts. I am
and Om.

She salvages.
She moves.

She is what moves
the mountains within.

Lows and Highs / by Cathy Hollister

Lows and Highs
Great whites will eat anything
Monstrous garbage cans of the sea
dead eyes scan with omniscience
Silently moving,
cold blooded,

Sparrows and chickadees,
Well- they eat like birds
Light, airy, hearts all a’flutter
Content with one skinny branch,
Warbling for pleasure, or so it seems

Life in the deep daily slog full of pressure
Turns my gray heart cold, remote, full of rubbish,
The scars of my toughened, leathery skin
Scream survival

Red robin, red robin, sing to me, teach me
to soar above the trash heap of lies. Show me that
soft feathers make superior armor.
Remind me that my flock mates know what I need.
Delight me with the songs from many throats
that make a symphony.

Many thanks to Jeannetta Carter for teaching me to watch the birds.

The parable of trying to find a metaphor / by Becca J.R. Lachman  
“A recipe to grapple with the word reunification 

(fraktur response series)

If you were told of Ocean all your life,
Would you take the ticket offered, knowing you could 
Stand before it only once before it disappeared, or you did? If 
You saved up for a decade to buy a rare stone, then were given 
The chance to be its temporary keeper, would you risk all
You had to be near it, anyway? Let’s say you planted an orchard by hand
Of sought-after vintage fruits, but some strangers’ weeds were the only thing 
To carry harvest there. Could you pardon the trees, eventually? Would you 
Experiment with sauces and the strangers’ crop, make your table larger to include 
Them, those you can’t really call strangers after awhile, after they’ve been in your living 
Room three times a week virtually, after you’ve seen them cry and know the timbre 
Of their voices? The parables leave a seat empty next to them for interpretation; 
 You’re supposed to know the right and moral thing to do. But really: 
If you knew the treasure map was rigged, would that stop you
From setting out to find whatever it is 
Everyone’s looking for?

You Can Write a Whole Book / by Meg Little Reilly

You can write a whole book just to say
I am here
churn chapters of childhoods
until the plot changes
fill a boat with your
see-me’s and
‘til it sinks in a sea of old barnacled tomes
begging immortality
as the saline dissolves them
taking stories, regrets
unsaid sorrys and secrets
most of all, here’s-what-happeneds
to me (and to you)
if you happen to need
to put truth into words
and do you (do we)?
As time whizzes by
you can try to command it
smother life lifeless with strangling pages
you will think you are holding it
bare in your hands
and then blink and it’s gone
stolen again
that’s the trick of these truths
how they mock us with moving
un-pin-down-able doings
that we think we’ve lived through
but what else have we got
if not history’s holy sieve?
These books that we write
they’re the nearest to life
you can get, short of living
stories we tell to hold captive in time
claim here’s what’s mine
they are liars
the good and the bad ones alike
but we try as we can
to say: here I am
in reams of reports on the things
we have seen
futile, this work
it’s the best we can do
with unholdable truths.

Leverage / by Linda Michel-Cassidy

My mother would silently pray as
we crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge
to see my father’s parents.

All my childhood, I’d thought
the need for holy intervention 
had to do with safety, or carsickness,

or maybe the suicides my city cousin
had told me about while he performed
a freefall into last summer’s pool.

I watched Mom’s lips in the rear-view,
“Holy Mary, mother of God,” 
as my father lit up another Lucky,

staring straight ahead. “Cantilevered,”
was his response when we asked 
about the prayers. And yet, 

we’d get to my grandparents, 
who’d ask if we would change 
into good clothes for dinner—

and my brother and I, 
knowing we were already 
washed and dressed.

THE SPIRIT OF PROGRESS / by Matthew Moore         

Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce shone across Lake Michigan.
Financial instruments measure time between Haymarket and Bessemer.
A trillion moonlit packing foam leaves; no fixed pointof isinglass, sea,
beneath them even breathes.
Had I known in 1890                                                                                      5
how long it would take me                                                                            
to preserve a park for
the people against their will,
I doubt if I would have
taken it.But progress must shine ahead.                                                        10
Thus, Aaron struck his staff
to writhe on bellies, signed
to saw dust in hourly
warehouses that bore his etymological                                                         
fief, hill of man-power,                                                                                  15
his title, Ward, the year
1899, berthed sublime capital. Today is tomorrow’s
fulfillment centers. No future. A wroughten harvest.
Packing plantations.
A biopower haste debrided ashore wasteslick rivers.                                    20
If you want to, you
may think of it, again, today,
as your Wish Book.
Here, the shipping catalogues of
Thorne rooms model the wealth                                                                     25       
behind poor wars, all
details are furnishing memories’
militant preservation.
Air is remote, distant, surveilled in a bodysuit of time preservation,
each worker’s a BVLGARI. Autumn                                                             30
populations take less a percentage from the fund of breath’s polish.
Star will to heel. Cold-rolled in steel.
Yesterday’s strikes on the Chicago River are tonight’s
watchfires burning on the Mississippi streams now on the Amazon.

Sunburn / by L.T. Pelle

you aloe alone, and lie in the gray-dark 
of summer. the ceiling fan slicing 

the silence like a bird made of blades 
or a breath made of small winter.

the kisses still as a snowglobe, now
without her hands to wake them.

the broken t.v all that holds your face 
a soap opera you watch

how you wash your sadness
as if you could cry

it into something new. a puddle 
the birds of your broken could bathe in

without losing sight of the sky. 
she left you

and now august is a blanket 
that renders your blanket useless,

this hurt a heat better than the dark
heat of the love you were used to 

crawling under when disappointment 
pinpricked the night with stars 

to spite the no-sun. she left you
and now your skin is falling 

like the love letters you tore up 
that didn’t make her disappear.

you are not disappearing. your whole 
body pink as tear-stained cheeks

your skin weeping you 
in the absence of rain. 

regret. grieving the you 
you should have worn

when the sun was shining down 
on your beautiful skin.

Where I Meet You / by Kara Penn

I can’t summon what I can’t
remember except as body’s memory,
as dawn’s longing for something
beyond hold. The transition from
dream to waking is where I meet you
as if you have laid your body down
inside mine, breathing out my breath. 
The ache of you permeates
the skin, the muscles of the neck. 
Light’s sublimity steals, through bird song,
what was on edge to be recognized.
You issued a call into the present,
but the ghost of you, which is smoke,
which is ash, I’ve forgotten.
My body seeks the weight of you.
If the mind won’t, the cells remember.

Missing As Landscape / by Angela Stubbs

my unending ache for 
the presence of you 
always shows up at nighttime, 
in those minutes where you feel 
close to something that’s 

hard to touch like laughter or 
knowing it’s time now to 
jump because my pulse is kept 
with your long, thin fingers 
and my thoughts moving 

one beyond silence or 
disclosure. your microscopic issues 
love mine, unseen in public, 
maybe you can pretend to 
have serious phantoms, 

a way of drawing me closer 
every little second, I 
don’t want to take care 
when I take my leave but I 
don’t mean it like that 

like the way I can tell 
you’re listening when 
you startle awake 
and say I love 
trembling with you on the carpet

10 Year Yahrzeit for My Grandfather / by Jennifer Wholey

The only Jewish cowboy in Brooklyn,
my grandfather would channel Johnny Cash—
“Another year older and deeper in דרעק”

was always his response when I asked him
how he was doing, wearing a wry smile
at this little joke in Yiddish. “It means ‘dirt,’”

he would add as an afterthought, as if
I hadn’t heard the joke 10 times before.
I didn’t mind, would hear it 10 thousand times,

if he could see me now in the country
with deer and turkeys knocking at my door
on 18 acres, with dirt good for growing.

Poem 13 / Day 13

Moondark / by Lorraine Claggett

Tonight is the dark of the moon
The window glass is a blank black square,
the outside world gives no hint of the river
Or movement of a creature there
This hour is the very heart of darkness.

Wrapped in the stillness of place and sound
Thoughts and attention drop away
Waiting, stilled, giving in to unknowing
Absorbing darkness, losing quotidian day
I find I am part of the heart of the world

Nocturne with Sea Toad and Train / by Sandra Fees 

My mind is a sea toad
being born from its mother’s
honeycombed back.

A vast flurry of fecund
birth swims up
in the slurp of marsh.

I am fumbling
in the halo light.

It’s one-thirty a.m.

A map of misgivings
uncreases before me.

I consult the directory
of what’s lost
and not paid.

I leaf through illustrations
of lilies of the valley.

Cats and ancestors
autograph the walls.

I am waiting for fabled sleep.

A train drones
and I wonder:

       what keeps it on its tracks?

Letters of women of genius
pile up at my bedside.

This is evening
and I am riding
this fertile tableau
toward morning.

Nothing Wasted, Nothing Gained / by Cathy Hollister  

The high perch of age has a long view

Of the scrappy road of missteps,

Mistakes, stubbed toes, and split ends

Keep those grades up, they said

You’ll need college!

Selfish squandering

Endless days lost

to the dark well of teenage angst

Barren years spent on female vanity

Hollow hours, gone forever

Work hard, they said

Make each minute count!

Wasted moments

Precious in their pointlessness

Failure tutored tenacity

Shy created courage

Image begot empathy

Be aggressive, they said

Build your career

Adult accomplishments,

Created in carelessness

When I was a child I saw as a child,

I played as a child

Now an old woman

I appreciate girlish things

Ceremony of Belonging / by Becca J.R. Lachman 

If you pay attention, the pull
is everywhere, not just an invisible
grid or energy rainbowed. It’s
the hodgepodge family of White-tails 
crossing in front of your city 
bus in morning traffic because 
they know, together, they can part 
our hurry. 

But it’s also the one doe 
who hesitated, left on the other side 
of the road, her ears dancing, nostrils 
flared, her whole body quivering 
with its new question.

And if you pay attention, it’s waiting
along the bike path by the river 
on your lunch break, when you’re walking 
fast instead of heating up leftovers 
since pain is invisible, and you’ve been 
hosting it all week. 

It’s there as you eye the geese flock 
            nibbling in the field next to the library, 
watching for any first signs of
                            aggression. So when they’re suddenly
all high-pitched percussion 
            like a jazz band improvising, 
shimmering their bodies, a rippled wave 
                            of goose dance, you walk faster until

you notice they’re all looking up at three 
newcomers circling overhead, asking 
to join them. There’s an initiation process 
if you stop to watch, and they must 
follow it all the way to the ground.

The people we know are all starting new things / by Meg Little Reilly 

Two babies are coming
now, if you can imagine it
born to friends on different coasts
bound only by my incredulity

There are new careers too
new callings

Someone else is getting divorced
and it’s a shame
we say
     but she is anew

I use those special nighttime creams now
like prayer
a plan
or the promise of more

They have no idea what they’re in for, we laugh
grown-ass hands gripping coffee mugs
and can you imagine
so glad to be done with all that
as ghosts

A former classmate has a rare disease
something new
it is just
     a sentence

What’s-his-name married again
younger this time
I believe
     he is

So, good for us
all the goings on
the keep goings
onward as if

It is only noon and the coffee is hot in our hands.

descent, 1958 / by Linda Michel-Cassidy 

at the last— 
translucent straw-fine hairs 
splayed on the skin of the water
like jellyfish tentacles

contract, relax, expel
in that bewitching sun

such a small boy
a bloom of splashing children
the sitter’s eyes elsewhere

the water takes
            the breath of him
                        the float of him

Laugh Track / by L.T. Pelle 

In the movie theater, my sister and I, sit on either side 
of my mother like emergency exits. We are red-faced, 
giggling neon while she weeps to the indie music sadness
of The Fault In Our Stars. The sound buttered popcorn 

spilling from our bellies. We cannot stop ourselves 
from cracking up. From becoming snickering shards 
of ourselves haunting the storied light beam above us
like dust. We know what we are witnessing is sad, 

but cancer is not a concept we can fit into our backpacks, 
it is too heavy and each chuckle seems to chip away at the weight. 
Each snicker snickers, is candy we will not wait too long to eat.
Cracking up. The way a father holds a newborn up 

to show how he can make a mother can fracture into family. 
We are not cold kids, just kids 
unused to the smell of our mother’s salt not coming from us. 
A boy holds a cigarette to his mouth and doesn’t light it. 

2 girls hold the hands their mother gave them 
over their mouths to cover the fire cackling from their lungs. 
Laugh so hard it rids us of our softness.
There’s only enough silver here for the screen. 

So then we hold our stomachs as if this could 
protect their linings. A boy dies. A girl’s heart breaks 
so completely she lies in the grass
looking up at a sky made of us. My mom, my sister and I.

This laughing is a red vest and a flashlight checking 
between the aisles to make sure everything is okay? Okay. 
Cracking up at inappropriate moments. Our mouths 
so loyal to our hearts that they break beside it. 

We all read this book. We all know the ending.
It’s funny how it’s funny. How it’s funny. How 
knowing the ending never makes it hurt any less.
And later, when our laughter end credits
to us coughing when we step outside to the aubade
of light that catches on the rivers of my mother’s face,
Isn’t it funny 
how much it’ll sound like we’ve been drowning?

Spring, as Reminder / by Kara Penn 

The daffodils, with their cup 
and saucer heads, line fences, 
rim trunks of silver maples.

Blossoms spread unevenly 
across the fruit trees.

The greenway is patched 
through with yellow.

Though we painted the front 
stairs to pristine white last summer, 
snowbanks pealed it back 
worse than before. 

The ragged edges greet visitors 
to the porch we keep
magazine-worthy in our minds. 

Bring me your temporal excellence, 
nature says, and I will hand back 
drifts of blossoms along 
your garden’s edge.

I will hand back an ant pile 
along your just-swept sidewalk. 

I will make room for dandelions 
and clover within your yard. 

I will give you the spring even 
when you hold so tightly 
to perfection, 

which is faultless, 
which is immaculate, 
which is death.

Which isn’t me,
which is what
you need.

Rainy Day Haiku / by Jennifer Wholey 

Grey beclouded sky
Turns up the color volume
On the green below

Poem 12 / Day 12

Tall Meadow Requiem / by April Claggett

My father felt
He won the bet
Despite a plague of daughters
Despite dinners late

Things were broken
Mom never home
But left on the table
A clod of honeycomb

I feared his bees
They shimmied around him
Patrolled neck and arms
Crowned him

With regal calm
And tai-chi moves
Creature to creature
He inspected his brood

We dipped into it
A kingdom come
Pooled in a chipped plate
Of swallowed sun

How long the reach
How finely spun
How sweet the spoon
Tall meadow requiem

When Her Inner Critic Comes Calling* / by Sandra Fees

She’ll do anything
to give her inner critic the slip

to shirk the household chores—

        the unwashed windows
        the unpaid bills
        the traps of time—

to let her glorious legs
dance the night
and live the stars
with naked grace
and seal-sleek zeal.

Anything to lap once more
against the salt-licked shore

to return like water to water
the sea calling her back

        like joy
        like a poet

who slips back
who takes back

                          her own sublime skin.

* inspired by Seal Woman folktales

Dance Through the Darkness / by Cathy Hollister 

Volpony, Volpony, now hushed dance floor
lacks hugs, Heys, and glances,
wants Honoring curtseys,
that give breath to step

like so many lonely displaced from their own
the dancers Turn Single
thoughts into stories
songs into Chorus
Jigs into glee

the pews miss their faithful,
stores long for lost shoppers,
starving cafes and
silver screens, silent
all wonder how humans
tucked Far Away,
thrive in the absence of life’s Do-Si-Do’s
and hands touching hands
giving moments of kindness

St. Margaret watch over,
Cast down from your Hill
fresh light washed in solace
warm Zephrys and Flora

for all who endured
Bleak Midwinter alone
hear music of caring,
make Dance of a Lifetime,
seek pale light of morning
just on the horizon

Volpony, Chorus Jig, Far Away, St. Margaret’s Hill, Zephrys and Flora, In the Bleak Midwinter, and Dance of a Lifetime are titles of English Country Dances. Honor, hey, turn single, do-si-do, and cast are dance figures in social folk dancing. Thanks to Peg Duthie for the inspiration for this poem.

On My 40th Birthday, I Think of You in Your Last Year / by Becca J.R. Lachman 

Anna, we were born on the cusp 
of a star sign– I’ve marked your late 
September birthday on the calendar 
next to mine. I wouldn’t exist 
without your first daughter, without the 
slow fire of your shunning (which has 
reached across the decades, by the way, 
still sometimes calling my body its
resting place, but only when I let it
in.) By this fall in your life, you’d
already carried four children, survived
the disappearing act of men who’d
offered you a door, then a cell. When 
the Ban started, no one would say your
name. You ate in the basement, 
traveled with toddlers to the children’s 
home by wagon, coming back both 
trips alone. You died of a cough and
fever before their cures existed,
the same age I’ve just greeted. 

Today, I pack an extra mask, my
nails chipped from furious 
hand-washing. There’s a mystery
illness my time’s trying its hardest
to tame, and it’s asked us to keep
to ourselves, not even meeting for
worship. Who was it that passed 
the peace to you, and also her
sickness? Do I have your questioning
eyes, your determined jaw? 
I think of this when at the store 
at 6:59am to buy diapers, standing 
distanced in line by mandate, or when 
letting the mail sit for a day, even 
the letter with my mother’s cursive
voice, calling me half a state over.

Important Work / by Meg Little Reilly 

Moss is a fairy blanket
leaves are their clothes
acorns are pixie caps
and the dog bowl is a pool
old toilets are flower pots on front lawns
bathtubs too
if they crack one day
embarrassed briefly to leak through the floorboards
then move on to their true calling
as beds for red clovers
oh and mattresses are trampolines
of course
cars with no wheels are jungle gyms
wheels are castle blocks
if you have a lot
snoring old men on sagging couches are dragons
or else they are the fire
and if laundry is strung in lines over lawns
then the flags of every foreign country can fly
at your little United Nations of squirrels
quarreling usually
‘round soda cap tops filled with broken cookie bits
that taste like spitzbuben
when they argue over international trade policy
with dandelion dollars.

The Doctor Wore a Navy Blue Blazer / by Linda Michel-Cassidy 

He told me what I already knew­:
that I’d be in for a slicing. 
Instead of the appropriate fear,

I wondered what secrets I’d spilled 
under the magic of Twilight Sleep—
not that I had any to tell. 

Somehow, I’d forgotten 
to lead an intriguing life, 
and now, here we were.

I longed to take a dose 
right there in front of him 
in his giving out bad news outfit.

Him and his big books and concerned face, 
and the tissue box I didn’t need, 
because I was raised to be a brick.

And now, fourteen years and 
(according to some) one miracle later, 
whenever I see that blue—

like today, in a junk-mail catalog
of wrinkle-free travel clothes—
I remember that office and how

I was probably supposed to cry,
but instead, yearned to slide loose 
through the what’s next of it all. 

BARGELLO / by Matthew Moore 

The ocean in the port is painted
red, yellow, and blue
according to the quarry’s claim
what is to be done to
memorialize all of the reprisals.                     5

Is living an emergency? And what
would you do, to not
make it so? And what would you
do to unmake it, that
it would not be so much so as it is?                10

When the killings begin you better
know what happened
today and one hundred and twenty
years ago. You better
feel these old words pass your lips                 15

and know you are just their vessel.

I thought my life was
my own but it was someone else’s,
and anyway that was
in another country, and the statues                 20

in the square were, as history was
now you are telling
me a story deep and it bears it out
as violence at dawn
as a cold time coming from a low                  25

direction, in which I would prefer
not to look back from where
the leaden current leads I promise
if being can exist outside the
borders of concertina wire fences                  30
weak power will be sold for parts
of speech.

Later, in the empty bed we share / by LT Pelle 

my back will arch, like a windshield wiper
trying to erase the rain.
Roadkill isn’t named for what kills it

but for whose caress held it in its fading. 
When the animals came, deadly as a kiss
we drove through the frail of night 

in your first car. In your second car.
In the car we would one day buy together.
All the lovers we could have had

becoming broken streetlights along the way,
flowers wilted in weight-dark.
The future an eye socket, unseeing, 

but waiting to bare what will, the 
two wet worlds working together
to offer us their upside-down illusions.

Sometimes I close my eyes in pleasure 
because there is no pleasure in being 
this surrounded by untruth. 

Your hands grip me like a steering wheel
like a clock you can stick your fingers into
while the radio’s mouth fills with static. 

There is so much music we haven’t earned yet
but this is not the reason silence 
is our best chance at being kind to each other.

There are rain stains on the windshield
pale enough to see through. Ghosts 
we reach our hands into just to touch each other.

Leda’s Story / by Kara Penn 

I am the woman seduced by a swan.
They ask me how. What was it like? 
No one asks why. They assume Zeus.
Assume seduced means raped,
the way my sons ravaged
the would-be wives of their cousins.
History remembers me chosen. 
Not of choice. They want to see 
the bite marks of that orange-black beak. 
I am here to say I lured the eagle. 
I beguiled the swan that feared it. 
I overcame the weakness
of that slender neck. I turned
white feathers red with my teeth. 
We slammed into water.
I cried out in bird song. 
I birthed eggs, nesting them
between my breasts. Then I prayed. 
All this to give my daughter wings.

Undertow / by Angela Stubbs 

when you like old houses and they creak
                                           go sit in a house newly painted 
when you find holes in walls patched up 
                                           filling in slits and gaps to cover over broken 
sequences or the past, my dear everyone knows
                                           what desire looks like with those red pants
when I recall your mouth mouthing a language 
                                           only I can hear, this sound now my favorite 
part of your body holding translation
                                           with your thoughts, I am aiming for memories 
unmade without the fence of time, fetching forward
                                           beyond present-day obstacles 
where moments open pulling at your gray-streaked hair, 
                                           the undertow exposed, moving us 
both towards the same still point 
                                        oh please tell me how its going to go  

A Cherry Blossom Tree I Didn’t Know Was a Cherry Blossom Until Today
(Or, Mono No Aware) / by Jennifer Wholey 

 I was wholly surprised by the blossoms—
magenta pink—on a tree I don’t know
the name of. How often poets name trees
& flowers. Here I am with no idea
at all what you are other than you are
beautiful and unexpected: the sound
of rain from behind the blackout curtains
presaged you. I don’t need to know the name
of a bud to know the promise it brings.
With my baby girl napping beside me,
arm curled around my breast like a teddy,
soles resting on my thigh, I stopped trying
to put her down drowsy, pop my nipple
out of her mouth before she fell asleep
at the breast, pinky out like she’s at tea.
They say it goes by fast, but it’s faster
than that. It’s the moment held in the space
of a lip twitching into a sleep-smile,
a laugh so I wonder what she’s dreaming.
I wait instead until she lets me go.

Poem 11 / Day 11

Serena At Three / by Lorraine Claggett

My daughter’s daughter when she was three
Had a picture book story of a girl
Walking out in the night to find an owl
With her father. He held her hand
Was kind and liked to read the book to her.

She did not like the story,
It could have been because of the nighttime venture, but
The pages showing the owl she always skipped.
What did she know about the feathered creature
That made her close the book?

What did she, who was only cared for,
Know of huge wings slicing the night,
Eyes that swiveled as they burned the dark,
The taloned feet, the quick swoop,
And the small beating heart carried away?

She was told only of love, but at three ,
The meaning of the human spirit we bring complete at birth
Leaves us with but echoing remnants,
As our years of learning become forgetting.

On the Anniversary of My Mother’s Birthday
and Eleven Years after Her Death, April 10, 2021 /
by Sandra Fees

Today I release my fear of forgetting her

of forgetting the fragrance of childhood

and the purple glances of hyacinths
that bell their memorial to her.

I release my fear that the twisted teardrops—
those paisley shapes she often drew—
            could ever sweep away her curved flair

           and that her favorite color could stop swinging
from the red hips of tactile memory.                                          

I tighten the stitches of what seams me
to the countryside of her.

I repeat words from books whose love
      she planted in me like evening prayers—

and pray for remembering.

Blind Sighted / by Cathy Hollister 

Drought infested desert scape
Peaks and washes drained and rocky,
Hearty cactus dry and die.
Liquid pity falls each year
1 drop less, 1 drop less


Scarce moisture drains through broken earth
Seeping, weeping, collecting below
Tapped by only the strongest and wisest.
The unprepared perish


Gun infested city scape
3 dead in Texas, 2 in Tennessee
Empathy drains with each headline.
From even the heartiest
1 tear less, 1 tear less


Scarce protections drain through legislative cracks
Sinking, like graft into corrupt cesspools
Exposed and forgotten,
the innocent perish


City streets, safety deserts
Falling further, shrinking, stinking
Drained of duty, strength, and sense
1 drop less, 1 drop less


What We Will Do / by Becca J.R. Lachman 

When does the waiting
matter? After seven years, a jubilee
of what? This late spring, fawns
and protestors. This spring, one 
loud bleat for a mother on repeat 
in the woods behind our house, not quite 
a musical notation into morning, over 
and over, over and over… But we wait, still
assuming all will work out– it’s just
hot, and some are needier than others. 

When does waiting turn
into silence, settle on passivity, even
out to blame? (Is that the right word?) 
This spring, words finally matter: 
not killed but murdered. We tried, 
we’ll say, we called an expert and left 
two messages. But by the time the man
being killed on camera calls out Mama, 
by the time the fawn’s so desperate
it lurches towards us, what
have we done? What have we
done? What will we do?

Good Seasons / by Meg Little Reilly 


The car door opened and a rush of frigid air displaced you
already standing on loud snow
in those boots we picked out together.

(Oh how worn they looked then.
We got a few good seasons out of those boots;
it’s the most you can hope for.)

I wanted a minute to sit in the idling wreck with the notion of your leaving,
to test the ending,
see if it was a serious idea.

But you closed the door, too hard for the moment
which was neither angry nor sad in the way one expects
just a hollowing out.

It was so cold in the car as I drove away
that the snow from your boots held the pattern of the tread
and my breath was outside me saying

It was a few

My ghost wants to make good / by Linda Michel-Cassidy 

use of their time, 
no matter it is endless 
and without reckon.

My ghost wants to watch 80s movies
because they love, love, love the soundtracks—
wants to hop around with huge hair,
a ripped T-shirt, and a hot pink attitude.

My ghost wants a big sloppy bowl of migas, 
full of rice and beans with the fresh guac, 
because we’re real, but also a little skint. 

Wants the Hatch green chiles
in a rumpled paper bag 
bought from the side of the road, 
then roasted in the backyard 
in an old tin drum.

My ghost will drink a Margarita 
a little too fast, because it’s that hot out
and they have some forgetting to do.

Wants a room full of friends
hugging, and laughing 
and toasting each other,
instead of just the photos.

My ghost pinches my earlobe 
whenever some know-it-all tourist 
mispronounces our home town.

My ghost does not like being privy
to secret information about 
my neighbor’s boyfriend.

My ghost seems to have sent 
some emails in the small hours, 
angry and drunk, to a man 
who made assumptions.

My ghost wants to be read to, aloud, 
the reader shifting the timbre of their voice 
for different speakers, and will start a fight 
if you say it’s overkill.

My ghost holds the word “grief” 
up over the page, stares so long,
that it starts to levitate.

ETIC / by Matthew Moore 

A thundercloud, when it appeared, what

It appears to be, is exaggeration’s belief.

Ah profane venation, who

Flattens words

Under Thy ellipses Thine                               5

Vascular shell

Fructifies air for blazons, 

Word, exhalted in etic breath’s positions.

Split Weather / by L.T. Pelle 
For Papa

I am not sad until I see my father cry.
The hard line of his mouth softened like spaghetti.
There is flour on your apron. Handprints 
of the ghost we didn’t know you were becoming.

After your funeral, I was shocked not to find you here
so sure that this kitchen was your heaven
or that she could smuggle you back, 
pull your haunting from her handbag 

like stolen packets of sugar and ketchup.
Nana misses you. Her smile is so cold now
the blue-bright smile of a fridge left open.
Grief ice makers the heart, gives us a rain 

that shatters. A seat that stays empty.
That spring your garden gave us so many tomatoes
that they rotted in the brown paper bags before 
we could finish them. Love ripens faster

in the dark. I do not know for sure if I love my father
until I see him cry for his. Until my Nana’s hands disappear
in his apron pockets like they have gone to a better place,
a darker place where you can still hold them.

You loved the Yankees. Loved them so much
you could watch an entire game through the radio
and stir their home runs into the spaghetti sauce.
When my dad takes me to a game

his head becomes a roofless stadium where he throws me 
all the memories of you I was too young to catch. 
And I wonder then if you are watching over us or Nana
or if death is sweeter than that.

Death tearing open the sugar packet of the body
and sprinkling you everywhere. Split weather. 
A garden so red and alive all we can think about
is blood.

The Decomposers / by Kara Penn

Seven and Four were thrilled
when ants entered the home
suddenly appearing from cracks
in the floorboards of the kitchen
already hauling rice grains 
and crumbs from the pantry. 

Seven has a curious
mind. She announced ants 
are decomposers that work
with diligence and teamwork
to break apart anything offering
sustenance or use. 

The ants came three days ago, 
and while Four carefully observed 
their disciplined activity then carried 
ant after ant outside, tiptoeing 
to avoid harm, I felt dread 
at their arrival. An omen.

Those black bodies, so tiny
and persistent, promised death. 
On the first day they marched through,
you were up of your own accord, 
drinking, eating, moving about the home.
By day two you deteriorated 

into fatigue and weakness. 
By day three your breath accelerated 
into shallow puffs and I gathered you 
to my chest, measuring three 
of your breaths to one of mine. 
Chest to chest, we faced the night

while the ants felt their way below.
In the morning, it was clear they had come
for you, this army of decomposers. 
But you wanted something else
and, as I lifted you in my spread hands,
you left your body mid-air– as if 
I had thrown light into the sky.

Super Kosher Hero / by Angela Stubbs 

What if I keep my hands to myself? 
I’ll let you speak of things and won’t 
confuse meat with milk or what’s real
with antique dialogue or serious conversation.

Sometimes I have an overwhelming 
need to confide in you. if my mind is 
a ravine of yesterdays, if the music 
slips through and makes me swoon

I still want you to know I’ve painted
every room in my house, anticipating
your arrival, I’m stealing happiness 
from the neighbors so we might share

it instead of chance. It’s near impossible
to speak without gesture. Listen, I can 
imagine and hear your fears. In the quiet 
of your throat, I feel them waiting to escape. 

I run red lights but I’m not reckless. 

9 Month Old To-Do List Tankas / by Jennifer Wholey 

1.     Have a giant poo
while playing in the bouncer.
Make it nice and green:
remind Mom of yesterday’s
avocados and spinach.

2.     A bath-time milestone:
pull myself onto the step,
lifting both legs up
—knee up first followed by foot—
so I can see the water.

3.     Nurse half-heartedly;
Daddy’s back from the woods now.
I’ll roll off your lap
onto my tummy to crawl
quickly out of sight and reach.

Poem 10 / Day 10

At 10 / by April Claggett

The world outside is piled with snow
The barn became my refuge tho
My mother would not mind me here
Sheltering where animals go

My fuzzy pony stamps her hoof
Knickering in mild reproof
She does not want a ride today
She does not want to leave her roof

The barn a muffled dome does make
Soft wood buffering softer flake
I’ll stay and try to place the sound
In pleasing words, for mother’s sake

Two registers I think I hear
An icy whisper in the treble tier
While below a sigh of settling snow
Barely perceptible to my ear

My mother wonders if I might
Make my way into her sight
She checks the window toward the lane
The wind pulls up a veil of white

But something else my senses say
Is over where the chickens lay
A sweetly mewling calico kitten
In a small depression in the hay

I made my choice tho I don’t remember
I would not leave this life so tender
We played until the day turned dark
And wind turned wild that late December

The cracks where once the sunlight knifed
Now blow a hollow baleful fife
And heedless of my mother’s strife
In this cold world where chance is rife
I claim my life
I claim my life

Though You Try to Live in Harmony / by Sandra Fees

Little Girl Found / by Cathy Hollister 

She’d forgotten how much she enjoyed winning
Lost in that blotchy pool of laundry and dog food
Spinning solutions for petty stains
Walking daily grinds to keep the peace

Self just a pale stain on an old photo
Blending in- the essential skill female
Survivalists honed over generations
Keep the cogs turning, tumbling

Defeated, Determined, Defined
Transformed in the heat
Of conformity, unique in the dawn as
Worth emerges from the mists
of expectation

Breaking, waking in the soft light of value
Recalling the sweet joy of childhood victories
Won and treasured
She reacquaints herself with friends
Opinion and Decision
Never to be lost in gray again.

Child-proving Your Life / by Becca J.R. Lachman 

Nine baby gates, and it still may
            not be enough. Our movement, now
a metaphor: a few steps taken,
            then blocked, every doorway
and staircase, a warning, a reminder
            instead of a smooth retreat, confusing
punctuation [are we coming
            or going?] I pour the hooch
off the tops of the sourdough starters
            in the fridge once a week, add water
and flour to feed them, write child-
            proving on the to-do list instead
of childproofing, and isn’t that
            the truth? It feels like even our
mothers, even our caseworkers aren’t
            sure if this new self-made maze is
the right thing to build us. We’re just
            trying to pass the safety audit,
hoping to finally finish a creation
            myth. I let the dough rise because
I need something to, my body waking
            me up most mornings at four
to listen for a voice that might
            call me. But today, it’s only
the bread dough downstairs on top of
            the oven, shifting and bubbling.

Apostasy is the Prayer / by Meg Little Reilly 

The apostasy is the prayer
though it looks like a poem
and feels like a cat stretching long
razor claws splayed
peace qualified

the apostasy is the prayer
say it over and over
like a song
a poem trying to be cool
don’t even bother, prayer

the apostasy is the prayer
the cover
threadbare protection from
my failure of faith
imagination and waiting

the apostasy is the prayer
and it reads like a fresh script
everyone’s digging it
a new story
for the people who like stories (like me)

the apostasy is the prayer
light a candle at alter of hot defiance
irresistible infidelity
but no climax
still fall to same knees as before

the apostasy is the prayer
though it looks like a poem
won’t budge on this point
of belonging to no one
you’re the author now

say it over and over
till you know it by heart
just like you-know-what
say god damn
say yes please
say a prayer

CHILLED POSCA / by Matthew Moore 

The long division of soldiers
a region inside of itself.
Viaduct ripples
out by unison’s colony
marching the pathway,
When the wine
over the burg’s fronds,
screams stutter
to a rest
alongside the dead, how
tannins clot
the cold light, no helmet
reflects on
nothing, dust on the
chinstraps of desert pioneers
just needs
an hour of rest to keep
putting down
another volley of neighboring

The Neck That Has Become The Entire Body / by L.T. Pelle 

You cradle his fists and start to believe 
you gave birth to them. Your breath fontanelles 
between the night and his body. 

The night is what you call 
your body when you and him are soft
sigh-white bones reaching for each other. 

Consciousness the red dress not on the floor.
The sequin hanging by its neck. 
The neck that has become the entire body.

Consciousness waiting for a special occasion 
to be worn. Everyone has closets 
like this. You used to steal your mother’s clothes.

You used to wear overalls, used to place 
the largest pockets over your chest and leave them 
empty. Just in case. You were so young 

empty still meant tomorrow.
Now, your hands claw the back of a cloud
as if the sky could cry out

in anything other than a storm.
This view from our motel room
is another sad room just like this. 

History repeats what it believes is the chorus.
I reach for you. Hold you like this window 
will only ever hold exactly what it is. 

Like I am the only awful thing I can see.

April 10th / by Kara Penn 

What will I remember of this day?
The closing of night’s dream 
with gnawing ache as the sun slips in? 
What will I remember of this time? 

The spring sun blazing off countertops 
or the blossoms that smell of blood 
quietly opening? That the birds are back
to their nest? And I thought March 

the cruelest month. Cancer the news
over the phone, then frenzied waiting
to explore operability. But the lungs
were full of dime-sized masses. 

I imagine a time-lapse camera 
recording moss consuming a forest floor, 
clustered flowers punching open or 
mushrooms twisting up from spores. 

Like this, cancer spreads its fingers
through abdomen into lungs
with predatory stealth. Terminal
is a place of waiting –for a train 

to arrive or leave. For lives to separate
or dance again. Can this be both? 

Terminal wears heavy around the shoulders, 
behind the eyes. So who will I be this day 
that is the last of a life born to heal
the empty of a woman riddled

with dime-sized losses, weighed
with grief she could not miscarry? 
I hope I will return what was given to me–
A comfort no other could bring. 

Ease of suffering, ease of burden. 
A bridge to more than we can imagine.

Don’t Be Embarrassed By Love Poetry / by Angela Stubbs 

In plain view of everyone please wear a silky
blouse inside out because transformation is
sexy, not like torn stockings, or some version of

She says, I promise soft lips to kiss, where dust
covers her bra or the story, a quiet snore.
dearest I love you more when you’re
embarrassed by

love poetry or my tender places touching yours.
underneath a closed-mouthed fever, she is
flushed with fears regarding a better life.

I am a sucker for her look.

Second Shot Pantoum / by Jennifer Wholey 

When I get my second vaccine,
I might even go into stores!
The thought now feels somewhat obscene,
spending all of that time indoors.

I might even go into stores
—never mind using Instacart—
spending all of that time indoors
just browsing, a forgotten art.

Never mind using Instacart,
I’ll pick out the produce myself,
just browsing, a forgotten art,
to find the best fruit on the shelf.

I’ll pick out the produce myself,
(a thrill hitherto unforeseen:
to find the best fruit on the shelf!)
when I get my second vaccine.

Poem 9 / Day 9

Westward / by Lorraine Claggett

Once I saw a poem entitled “Stepping Westward”
The title was enough.
I did not need to read more.

To hold the wonder of those two words alone
Has been enough for me who lived
Rooted these many years on an eastern shore.

The moving river is joy to watch,
And to feel the soft air coming from it
Is to be transported.

Hearing the notes of a Bach fugue, or
A distant guitar strummed in the night
Brings on other worlds.

The day I married
The days my children were born
And then left to claim their lives
Count as the milestones of my life.

A square of sun on the floor
Where a door lies opened
Beckons me there to stand in the light.

On Easter night an old friend died.
She has gone where there is light
And someday soon I will step westward too

Lazarus Species / by Sandra Fees 

Don’t poems falter too
each their own Lazarus
awaiting a small
miracle of love
or if not love
and if not that
then fury
or splinters of truth
to raise them
from obscurity

like wild dogs
for decades
in New Guinea
or Arakan turtles
in forest floors?

Don’t poets
in the laboratory
of words
by lamp
and quill

do everything
they can
to scribble
a few meters

to telegraph a future
that will hold the world together
that will hold them together

in stanzas and stresses
in cadences of creatures
ever rising from the dead?

Wildflowers In Asphalt / by Cathy Hollister 

Barren scrubby patches, gone to seed
Amid concrete barriers and bars.

ambitious shoots reach up
through distractions of want and waste
random roots jut deep, explore, seek, and branch
to sprout unplanned and out of place sweet
tender green sprouts of unknown origin prosper,
purple thistle in the grass, opinionated and prickly
strikes a Presence tall and loud

Comingling, roots crack through the surface
transform weedy confusion to cultivated commons,
ripe with alliance,
bursting in the contrast of self-seeded color.

Soft petals and grass roots
Graft confidence in neglected city streets
Welcoming new species,
Invasive creatives
Blooming in the desert

To Lisianthus and Neowise train the eye
A recommendation for joining a flower CSA”
(Fraktur response series) / by Becca J.R. Lachman 

First, take the stems of Rudbekkia, black eyes 
That never turn away for a full season, lasting longest in the
Mason jar bouquets left every Tuesday. Pair them with the sway
Of bluebells, then the gentle soul of Lisianthus, which grows slowly, almost 
Imperceptibly, until it blooms. Tonight, the locusts know something I’m waiting 
To hear firsthand (Is theirs a copper-tasting keening, or a calling?) Air so thick again 
Our barely-slivered moon can hardly rise. Though I tried to see it, 
My eyes weren’t made to witness any 7,000-year-old comet
With household binoculars. And I can forgive them that.
But can we pardon the clouds for being in the way of that showy 
Tail, just as its closest to Earth? Tonight, I had to use my hands and made
A zucchini cake with lemon zest and icing, at first too hot to taste as the windows, too,
Became dark eyes. Can we ever absolve our bodies with a sprig of Sweet William, 
Celosia, Bupleurum and Mountain Mint? I’d like to try. Rumi said
There’s a field, but I think it’s a kitchen table. There’s 
A simple bouquet, something set aside, cooling, 
And a third chair. 

To the Woman Ahead of Me in the Vaccine Line / by Meg Little Reilly 

We stood patiently, snaking up and down
aisles of drug store things
and you were holding your heart
like it might have fallen out or exploded
without the force of your own fingers
steps away from each other on either side
human scaffolding, holding up and in
the things we were afraid of without this
or too late for
but still here because life is larger
than our losses and it is lived like this
in a quiet line of strangers in love
with an idea of something better
and we were all afraid, friend
to enter a world haltingly and staggered
where a person can cry in line
at the pharmacy and we could feel you
each of us nearly anew and together
still six sprawling steps away
I am sorry, I did not know what to say
to you, a person I know somehow
hand on your heart
that I felt in my hand.

Driving Home to the Island / by Linda Michel-Cassidy 

A lowered window is all it takes 
to throw me back. 
One over-the-bridge whiff: 
pungent, ancient, seaweed-colored 
stench of my youth.

Tiny human barometers,
we’d guess the tides,
the solution graphed
in a pagebent chart book
on my father’s desk.

How they’d shift each day, 
a slight lateward slip
seven minutes, twelve minutes, 
then thrown a-wack by a full moon
or a September Nor’easter.

Splayed on our woodwarm dock. 
we’d considered the bottom of the bay,
fearful of its fluffy gore,
daring to touch the silten ooze
with our low-tide toes.

Beneath rest untold sets of keys,
my uncle’s deck shoe,
sunken crab traps,
a boat prop, a lantern,
my original wedding band—

things we thought we’d need
but were fine without.


Maribor is the place where
the tusk breaks.

Where a man slides across
floorboards off

the Ottoman Empire like a
molar wakes at

the door, drilled and wide
awake, with a

back sore from changing   
the languages

on one crossroads for too
many seasons

in a row. No more death,
the arrows in

the phone pointed hearts
at each other.

I’ve waited for you for a
century, gorse

replied to the pigment of
marigold. Axe handle

on the pink waters where
you last saw a friend.

For Ed The Dead Caterpillar / by L.T. Pelle 

Together we clutch the shoebox, heavy
as a coffin. Cross the yard in scabbed-knee silence
except for the swingset’s metal sniffling.

I didn’t have a black dress
so I borrowed my father’s darkest
Black Dog t-shirt. It smelled of cigars. Of weekend

beard and cactus kisses. You wore one part
of your brother’s old Scream costume.
It would have to do.

We had not grown into this type of grief yet.
Heads bent like sprinklers. Tears
arched, a bridge a small sadness to take us

to whatever was on the other side of
this childhood. Your mother watching us
from the kitchen window.

Her black umbrella eyes refusing to close
even when sunshine is all the sky had to offer
our rainboot chests

which is to say
she believed our pain and could breathe
on the pane with it.

And so she watched
and we sobbed
and the beach shovels needed

to lean against the trees for support
while we snot-sonneted all over
our sleeves. Dunked our Girl Scout cookie cheeks

in liquid suns. Heaven
was Lipton ice tea dust
we were not willing to stir

because it would mean
he would disappear for real
and that was not worth

the something sweet.
The last thing I remember
about my first funeral

is looking down at the breathing holes
the places we stuck our pencils in
to make him a starry sky out of puncture wounds

and emptiness. How the sky did not fall then but
revealed itself to be a lid
I’d never be able to lift

like I do not remember where we buried him
so I do not remember is where we buried him.
It was not far away

to stop the crows
from following us home. 

Alayna / by Kara Penn 

Holding you 
is to clutch
an armful 
of stars.

The scent 
of you, siren
and milk-

Your eyes 
are black 
hole and 

An imprint 
of feathers 
my womb.  

Where did 
you get
those golden 

The scar 
of you 

the day
the world 

and dazzle

and more, 
bled out.
We survived. 

Your dark 
curls swirl, 
feed my life. 

your mouth 
gapes open, 
both plea 

and demand. 
I step in 
among teeth 
pearls, tongue. 

Where shall 
we go before 
you swallow 
me whole?

I Could Be A Lobster / by Angela Stubbs

risking exposure is okay
with me. someone else might
not wonder if thought
is an affair of the skin
but I am not asking
proof or illumination
of the dark space we
share in our mind
at night

protesting conditions, you scratch
the itch. blisters become raw
or the color of love and Lucy.
you say better to be the creaking
of a floor than a shrilly
transparent perfection

I let my body adjust
to the temperature in the room
waiting for my skin
to peel

The Surest Sign of Spring / by Jennifer Wholey 

is the barking

when I open the window to let in an April breeze
and one dog presses his muzzle to the screen

like a Victorian street urchin at a bakery

when I can’t hear myself think in the evening over
the almost imperceptible twitterings in the rain gutter

because a staccato bass chorus answers to wake the baby

I can tell where the new nests are not by sight
but based on the weather vane of each leash

criss-crossing my arms to opposite bushes

with one dog’s taut body a mute menace
the rabbit announces his presence
in stillness

Poem 8 / Day 8

Refrain / by April Claggett

After a warm spring rain
When out walking again
You’re bound to discover
This resolute little feller:
The three-inch newt
In his natty orange suit.

Bent knees, toes splayed
Tail and belly in saucy sway
Beckoned by some ancient cue
He’s got an orgy to go to!

Which means, you should know
There’re hundreds in tow
by watch and by compass
Destined for the rumpus.

Each spring they reverse
And endlessly rehearse
The vernal ouroboros
And its magnetic force
With open ponds now beguiling
The naval orange iron filings.

So you, way up there
Make way, and take care
Step right or step left
For the red-spotted eft!

The Art of Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking / by Sandra Fees 
for Vada

My grandmother’s home-
             sick tongue spun
the table not with paisleyed
             lace or glazed porcelain
we couldn’t afford to break.
             No silvered cutlery
beaded dinner’s edges.

             Not even elegant words.
But simple prayers uplifted
             to the god of “Seven Sweets
and Seven Sours” who graced
             our communing hours.
The adage, remembered now,
             brings back the sour

longing for hard-boiled eggs
             soaked through
in hues of beet-deep reds
             and chow chow’s pickled
medley of the garden’s best.
             A recipe, stumbled upon,
in a forgotten book brings back

             the sweet balance
of seasoned hands
             of molasses-bottomed
shoofly pies and sticky buns
             smidgened with cinnamon
their gilded form, rising
             still warm. Still you.

Transported / by Cathy Hollister

Trudging through the grimy city
No sidewalk on the busy street
No sign that says, “not worth the trouble”
but there should be. Grateful to others for
a footpath beat in the dirt.

Fighting my fatigue,
Eucalyptus reaches out
with signature scent
Its silvery presence
Breathes serenity welcoming

Motion that catches my eye-
a small white butterfly flutters
wherever she pleases
on the breeze at my back

Bringing me home, recalling
Unexpected treasures along the way.
Softening my steps, gifting me
A magical journey

What Surprised Us / by Becca J.R. Lachman
-for March 2020

Green arrived again. Despite
the near-empty streets and hollow
classrooms, though the library doors 
locked, the forsythia reached towards us, made us look up.

Green arrived again, and each day
the governor (who I wanted to keep
despising) seemed more human, and
capable, protecting more than his tribe. Each afternoon, the map,

the names, until it was one that we’d called out to.

Green arrived again, even though 
our hospital didn’t have enough masks 
or gloves; even though in one night we went 
down to one paycheck; in defiance of  how our takeout splurge-
turned-tradition suddenly came with the restaurant’s owner
dropping off the Thai eggplant and fresh summer 
rolls at a safe distance, decked out like she was 
a surgeon, bowing her thanks three times.

The People Down the Road Have Nineteen Guns / by Meg Little Reilly

The people down the road have nineteen guns
a reason for each I am told
and when I leave my house
I lock the front door
and the back door
and all the trees and birds too
safe from the people down the road
or the things they are afraid of
which I couldn’t name
but oh the spring wetness has found its way in
mold grows on basement walls, tiles sweat
like bare teenagers drinking round a bonfire
on some sleeping man’s land
which is how we do it here
to get high and get held and get by
until someone fires something and we scatter
from our stolen places
on a borrowed earth
still unposessed

Not a Brain Doctor, and Yet / by Linda Michel-Cassidy

On a marshy low tide walk
I’m steeping in mental flatline.
Relishing the olive green stench,
the juicy-thick bog of it all

when a podcast I’m half-ignoring tells me 
some birds making arduous 
seasonal travels will engage 
in brain magic (my words) or
unihemispheric sleep (scientist words). 

This thing that sounds like touring the globe, 
is about the two sides of the brain 
sleeping and not sleeping. 
Out of unison, these brainparts,
being their own best selves. 

Their waking states at odds 
with each other­—one side naps
while the other keeps guard.

The internet tells me my 
favorite beasts partake— 
not just those birds, but whales, 
and our adorable friends, 
the dolphins! 

Their busy brains, doubled, 
unpaired, migrating the great vast.

I imagine my brain 
as portrayed by a plastic model 
of a put-it-together brain—
always a weird peachy-pink— 
but now, one side lit up neon, 
the other, a dozy grayish-blue.

Just think what I could accomplish 
with these super-powers.
Double the time for not getting shit done.

Then, because I am distraction’s easy prey,
I find a German scientist who says humans
might sunder as well. 
Calls it a chimeric state: 
the co-existance of order and disorder, 
which I might just put on my resumé.

And now, how I covet
this cranial doubling, 
this fraternal twinsing,
and wonder which side
I’d allow to chaos and which 
I’d allow to rest.

PASOLINI / by Matthew Moore

Jesus Barabbas in
sapphire wool.

Breakfast al fresco
under the sky
of seven continents.                5

Storms freak
the air over earth’s
rooming house.

Unforgiving is the
love windows                          10
offer that shields the
will to look, the
planing edge of open
restriction’s gift.

Ideas, masses, and                  15
fix to it they do
reflect some place
people blow and
below them people
blow. In shocks                                   20
spring rains shook.

My Mother Hangs A Rosary From Her Rearview Mirror / by L.T. Pelle  

and the beads sway like little rosettes of rain unable to land,
Forever moving back and forth between us. 
When I think of my mother I think of the way
those sparkling specks clings to each other
and we call it prayer. When I think of my mother 

I think of that communion of light that nearly blinded us, 
how when we stop short she seatbelts her arm 
in front of my seatbelt. My mother’s love is an airbag,
lungs waiting outside her body to catch me
to be a balloon when the party is over

and the sky is shattered glass waiting 
to exorcise every expression of us from my face. 
When I drop down the sun visor it is always her eyes
on my reflection that stops the shine from hurting. 
My mother made love at first sight mean

she would never be farther away than a mirror. 
She grips god like a steering wheel because
she knows her knees cannot reach
the brakes like her sole can. She knows the rain 
will have to land eventually. 

The rosary waiting to share the stillness 
with her neck and it is not that there is no music 
where we are going it is that these radio stations 
of our bodies can only go for so long before 
the skin becomes too symphony to hold onto.

Before the dust sings its static in the place
where my mother sticks out her hand
to catch my chest again and again 
the rosary shaped like a smile so infinite
you could mistake it for a scream.

Women Grow Gardens Instead of Themselves / by Kara Penn

Women plant something for every stage. First, 
the bulbs thrusting up their fireworks– crocus, tulip, daffodil. 
Then the feminine Iris, curved and opening, smelling
of grape or lemonade. Then the showy roses, round one,

sculptural and abundant. The shy clematis along the fence line
shows its purple stars. Then the daylilies with their short-lived
surprises, opening their lush mouths to the street. The poppies
in their abundant skirts twirl in hot winds. The coneflowers 

and black-eyed susans fix their cyclops eye on the sun.
Showy roses, round two, offer dessert-plate blooms. 
Human-sized sunflowers peer over the fence line. Red
Valerian, with its trumpet blooms, presides throughout.

All winter, women planned for this. All spring they tilled,
prepared, fertilized the earth. When the beauty tumbles out
of the mouth of darkness, women stand guard. Women
pick off worms and Japanese beetles. Women invite

the bees, keep slugs drunk in capfuls of beer. 
Women nourish roots and carefully pull off dead
blooms. At dusk, women wipe sweat from their necks
and pick dirt from beneath their nails. The garden

should reach its full potential, think women
then cut the best stems for their neighbors.

Trellis de Coeur / by Angela Stubbs

She says she’ll wear that or ink, 
if you’re really blue. That’s what 
mourners do. When it
breaks, you’ll see how perfect 
it looks in the light. Abstraction 
unfolds. The iris transparent. 

Promise you won’t swallow sleep 
like a pill. We can wail with 
early morning light, drowning in it 
and the desire for tender stones 
to link names shared. The very thing 
that endures. Wild horses, a pedestal 
of volcanic rock, a blackout with eyes
wide open. Caught in waves that carry. 
A long stay home with you.

Sestina: Mom / by Jennifer Wholey 
With gratitude to Jonah Winter

How do you feel about being a first time mom
my therapist asked, and I told her the thought of being a mom
wasn’t what was daunting to me, it was, you know, dying. Mom
kept telling me she had a good feeling, and I trust my mom’s
feelings because we have kind of a psychic mom-
daughter thing going on. You’re not going to get pre-eclampsia, Mom

said, and I so wanted to believe her. She came to visit and mom
me in February just before the whole Pandemic thing. Mom
visited from Florida by herself, which was telling. Usually they’re a unit & my Dad sent Mom
to mop me up as I puked in public and in private. Mom!
I’m going to hurl, I said, hurrying from the only mom
store in Ithaca to narrowly miss barfing on a MLK Jr statue. Mom

is an old pro at this, expert at zipping me to the bathroom. Mom
tells me that as a toddler I could spit on a dime. Your mom’s
pregnancy is not your pregnancy, my doula tells me, and my mom
agrees that somehow I am absolved of the same suffering that made her a mom,
and both my aunt’s daughters. I was born three months early, and as a proto-mom
for the first time the gravitas hits me that here I am alive to tell the tale. Mom—

feels really weird when referring to myself—is a damn lucky thing to be, both alive and mom,
even when you’re yelling to no one in particular that you are a pregnant, Soon-to-be-Mom
not day drunk while you empty your guts on the Commons. But back to my therapist: moms,
she said, have very good outcomes here. The local hospital. The midwives. The moms
are encouraged to do skin-to-skin. What about the country’s trends in mortality for moms,
I asked, don’t you think it’s scary? People like you don’t need to worry about it, moms

like you, she said, and what I heard was Don’t worry, you are not a Black mom.
You won’t be one of those moms
because out of five ob-gyns and five midwives, Mom,
the only Black woman in that medical practice is one out of four receptionists. Black moms,
even wealth does not save you, even Serena fucking Williams almost died. Black moms
are dying at three to four times the rate of non-Hispanic white moms. Black moms

are dying. When I did get pre-eclampsia, we caught it early because my Mom
told me to always ask for a pee strip every single visit, and they listened to this mom
because they believed I am the person who knows my body best. My mom
couldn’t be there at the birth because of Covid restrictions; my mom
was constantly texting my husband for updates as she hurtled towards us by train; my mom
started this journey as afraid as me, I’m sure, but didn’t show it. Mom—

the nurses kept calling me Mom over those five days even though I was yet to be Mom.
Today’s the day, Mom, they kept saying, and I tried the name on like a new pair of sensible mom
shoes, the kind my mom wears gardening. Now, I’m alive to hear my daughter practice

Poem 7 / Day 7

Birds of Two Feathers / by Lorraine Claggett

Let us return to the timber doodle
a bird who waddles and doesn’t fly
But jumps and honks peent, peent.
As is seen on New Hampshire’s blueberry fields
In spring.
It is a harbinger bird I’m told,
A bird I would like to see jumping, or harbingering.
The peent perhaps, could be optional?

Back at home on the Chesapeake’s shores
A dear bird with a name to rival the first,
The chickadee calls from the mulberry tree, hard to see
In the greening of spring.
Chickadee, chickadee dee fast and soft.
Chickadee, chickadee so busy and congenial,
This little one captures my heart.

And both equally hold talents of skill and perception.
The timber doodle cavorts and knows omens,
It has a magnificent bill.
The chickadee in outwitting large feeder gluttons
watches when to dart in for a seed, and escape immediately
To lunch in the tree, surpasses all others in tactical planning.
And sports a snappy black cap.

There’s one thing to know how the two birds do differ
To me in my house on the river.
When the sun and fresh air call me out from inside
Where the hallways are empty and rooms start to echo,
A cheerful whistling just above me
From some rustling leaves
Is the chickadee greeting me
Tells me I have a friend to go with me.

Spring Cleaning on Venus / by Sandra Fees 

The morning the magnolia
first burst on the scene
I wanted only petals
only magenta glory
not the day’s chores
not the hungering
or hurt
but to remain
greenly amazed.

To remember
how on another planet,
Venus, for example,
it would be too hot
to worry about a sink
full of dishes
or dust on the mantle.

The constellation of washing,
drying and folding would be
meaningless, would be arcane.

My longing, I think,
would still be
for the ancient ways—
trees bursting their seams.

City Stripes / by Cathy Hollister 

Homeless vet
Gritty, rambling
Foreign familiarity
In his world of one
He is my city, my heart

Unmasked shoppers defiant
Red spice and steel eyed
As they pass
Considerate but for the obvious
They are my city, my heart

Downtown marchers
Pride pierced by others’ fears
Fire and ire
Slash and scar
They are my city, my heart

My heart is dark and tired
Compressed and forgotten
Afraid in New ways and times
Its chambers alienated

I want to collect the frayed edges
Sooth the fringe
Calm the galloping heartbeat
Of my fractured city, my heart.

To the body alone be the resolution (Fraktur response series) / by Becca J.R. Lachman 

“A method for keeping your soul in this canning jar”

First, know that we are not empty, but can 
Still wait for the future of what we carry to be
Recognizable, useful, needed. Sure, there is much of 
whatever we choose in this room and on this bookcase. We know 
Who’s made the mess, can choose to ignore it. We are nearing the climax
of our beauty, breasts still ours to give. There are whole weeks we’ve slept 
the best we have in a decade, sheltered from needing to act fine. We chose 
what chaos to say yes to, even before the lungs of our parents and 
bus drivers and grannies asked us to. Second, sometimes we turn 
the music up loud when we can hear the neighbor boys playing but we
Are actually Ok. This day, we’re OK. And sometimes we want to be asked how 
It’s really been. There are whole months when all we want is to feel your kind 
Of exhausted but are already filled in by other grains. Don’t believe the usual 
Parables, how not one holy woman who wanted a family ever had to wait
Forever, or didn’t change the last paragraph on her own. If God 
Makes in God’s image, fully male and fully female, then 
isn’t part of everything Holy infertile? There are too many 
of us barren-brimming on this shelf 
to say otherwise. 

I’m Putting It All Into the Least of Things / by Meg Little Reilly

I’m putting it all into the least of things now
savings, cravings
and every incantation for improvement
a plan to pour what fervor is left
into this lone backyard violet
purple pinprick
grown up from mother muck
the slope of weed-warped earth
where the dog shits most
is where this brave maniac chose
to make camp
and can you stand such nerve
of starting survival already in the thick of it
but we do
and do we even know it
like some antisuicide
to open violet eyes
look up at blister sun and say
I am game
then just keep outwitting
the chickweed chokehold
and god’s order
these brutal things
do nothing so deserving
as violet’s
relentless survival.

Chromostereopsis (#14, 1960) / by Linda Michel-Cassidy

The edges of the Rothko vibrate.
Humming still, they must,
even though I cannot sit 
on a black leather bench 

before it like an acolyte. 
I long to bathe in its maroon­— 
where deep crimson field 
meets navy abyss,

soft-edged against the perimeter.
I crave that luscious headache, 
so bold I can hear it grating 
and digging into my brainspace,
this muscular dentistry 
made of pigment.

Like dehydration or caffeine lust 
or that time I broke my glasses 
and let my phone guide me home,
toe on the brake, driving one-eye-shut, 
with the lens in my pocket. 

I tried using it like a monocle
pinched between my eyebrow and cheek
which, I’m here to tell you,
doesn’t work with astigmatism.

And now, glasses repaired, 
I recall this quaver is an illusion
rather than pure magic,
but I will not allow 
so many art history credits 
to thieve the moment,

because #14, though 
locked away in the museum,
still sends jitters to my peripherals,
my cones, my swoon. 

Death Is A Surprise Party
/ by L.T. Pelle

All the people you love are hiding 
behind the curtains. It is dark. 
You will not understand 

the celebration until you turn on the light. 
A room of many voices 
saying the same thing. 

This much unison rarely caught 
outside a church.
They sparkler-ed God for you.

Prayers have always been hand-held
but now the answers are too.
Death is a surprise party. 

The more they empty the living room 
of its soft places to land 
the more it becomes a dance floor. 

Macarena is reaching hands learning 
to rest themselves upon
your chest. 

Grind is low-rise learning 
all the ways you are not 
a ghost. The way someone else’s body

is not a wall you can slip through.
Champagne hearts sending their 
soft flying across the room. 

Death is a surprise party.
When it’s over the confetti 
on the floor refuses 

to parenthesis the silence.
It’s the body 
hitting the limbo

stick and not having to play anymore.
Not having to get low to win.
The trouble with parties 

is that everyone becomes a guest.
It’s the only way 
they know how to leave.

When you keg the sky 
you make a thing that can run out 
of stars to drink from.

When you ask for heaven to be 
here, the cups will all turn red 
and solo, wishing wells 

you can flip your coins into.
The price you have to pay to hold 
your own thirst.

The bathroom line is long
and you will spend most of your life
waiting for relief.

Turning on the faucets 
so no one will hear what it sounds 
like when you put down your pain.

Your song is whatever song is playing 
when you emerge.
Most balloons 

will shrivel up before they go.
You only hear the pop if they go too soon.
Death is a surprise party.

Don’t pack the goodie bags 
full of tomorrow.
You might not be there 

when they open it.

In a Year Barren of Poems / by Kara Penn

Not one verse was written at the desk 
of the virtual schoolhouse 

or conveyed through videoed body language 
of colleagues from the room with the bed 

I’d later sleep in, and a chair from which I never moved. 
In my husband’s temple of COVID research 

and the covid-filled church of the Emergency Room 
in which he worked, it was difficult to argue the importance 

of the poem. As people sought breath, the poem wasn’t air
or space for air in the lungs. The poem did not put dinner

on the tables of the jobless. The poem was no
high schooler’s prom or the college athlete’s

senior season. The poem did not facetime
with family members to say goodbye. The poem 

knows better than to wear a mask. The pandemic 
unfolds its poem is a bomb, is a sob, 

is a scream, is an ache, is an echo, 
is a breath held. 

And held.

If You Tell Me Something Good / by Angela Stubbs 

Maybe we can arrange something.
this already sounds like
a shady transaction
going down
outside a convenience store
but I tire easily trying to convince you
good manners aren’t
necessary. I guess we
should have some kind
of codeword, if you
expect flowers
or sex or the equivalent

Can I pay for this
with orgasms? you ask
holding up a bag of
Fritos, making fun of me.
Emily Dickinson would
say, I’ll pay—in satin cash
because she was fancy or maybe
she was desperate
for the kind of satisfaction
you can’t buy

I promise not to separate
real things from the unreal
or something similar

Ode to a Grounding Exercise I Previously Thought Was B.S. / by Jennifer Wholey 

O brown varnished wood of the headboard
O green glass of the lamp on the bedside table
O tarnished brass door knob
O blue sky glimpsed between branches
O strawberries and cream baby cheek

O pilling flannel pillowcase
O painted-over wallpaper
O sagging stomach pooch
O baby teeth scraping my nipple
O humidifier
O uneven baby breath
O work Zoom from upstairs
O leftover Szechuan food
O breastmilk and sweat
O Jolly Rancher

Poem 6 / Day 6

Recurring / by April Claggett

The moon woke me up
Or so it seemed
A thick cantaloupe slice
rocking on the small of the back of the far hillside
To me, on my hillside, in my house made of wood.

And, as lovers love only one,
And I the only one awake in the world,
It was me she stirred.
We locked eyes across the swales
of whishing pine tops and sucking bog ponds winking up as mica.

But what did she see in me
on such a seductive night
Save two tiny watery versions of herself
mirrored in my eyes?
And what did I see in her?
She dazzled my conscious mind to life
As I rose from the oblivion of sleep,
sensing some what but knowing not what.

And so recursively she is
My own looming conscious eye
Flattering my world with false
Because I know from my house of wood
That those thousand deliriously singing frogs
Down there in the lusty mud
Also carry two tiny versions of her in their eyes.

When serendipity / by Sandra Fees

slips a lost
in my coat

I deem it
luck or
more rarely
meant to be

this shine
of want
returned to me

this missing
half of circled
light that pierces
this lobe of life

this chandelier
silver-dangling me

hooped and jangled

Paved / by Cathy Hollister 

Rain on the windshield
Dark pavement
the parched spot
glistening roadway

Pearly no longer everlasting
Salted rye
Hopeful sputters of sprouts
far beyond the engineered path
of breeding black web

Greed for green turns landscape brown
Gilded chariots glide on gray
Crude the king of
myopic progress

Grassy two track through the woods
for the pace with which we race
To do, to strive, to chase the dream

Arrogant engineering
Fail over time and space
cracks in the cloverleaf
sport life
Nature wins

Tanka for All Foster Mums / by Becca J.R. Lachman 

Everything I post,
a kind of erasure poem.
What’s missing: your face,
the interval of your name,
a bough missing the blossoms. 

First Holy Communion / by Meg Little Reilly 

My mother pulled down the passenger side mirror
and applied lipstick as the car sat still in traffic.
I had never seen her do this before.

My sisters and I watched from the backseat
as my father cursed the congestion that had given us this,
these solemn instructions for how to be.

Waxy pink on lips that were not ours for that day
but belonged to a wondrous, unknowable world
of beautiful and needless things.

We were late to the first holy communion.

Nature / by Linda Michel-Cassidy  

A fight, so small I cannot recall the hackle, or even the facts of it—only my fists clenched in jacket pockets, my thumbnails digging into the meat of my index fingers. Walking, walking, deciding if I will keep my trap shut, whether one-upping is worth the price. I’m the picture of diplomacy, or at least a rough sketch of it, perhaps because not much is at stake. This walk, with a new friend carries no history. The moment rolls into the next.

And then, as if in some bad movie about female friendship, are three fawns, having their lunch of brush and wildflowers. We stop and watch them, and remark that they are cute, because they are here on our hike, and not in the neighborhood shredding roses or running in front of traffic. We part, each in our own cars, and on the way out, I am chased by a flocklette of wild turkeys. One throws himself towards my car, but gently, only testing, while the rest stare at us from the culvert. 

Half a lifetime ago, while driving with a roommate to the beach, listening to The Who, him having turned to volume all the way up and bongo-smacking the dashboard, a nastier version of that turkey came after me. There on the East Coast, we called them turkey buzzards, and this one cracked my windshield. That bird rolled off the hood, leaving a blood stain the size of my hand. 

I hadn’t thought of that turkey-splotch, or of the roommate, or that heap of a car, or even that beach in a long time. He, whom I’d considered a good friend, could be anywhere. How easy it was to lose track of things back then, always so sure the next good thing would appear.

Chilcot / by Matthew Moore 

The Iraq Inquiry is 6,147 pages long
and concludes Britain
prosecuted the war on spurious
intelligence, that was
built on in the Butler Review in 2004.
The Iraq Inquiry concludes
that Britain prosecuted war legally.

The Iraq Inquiry was
announced by the combination
stool emollient – antihistamine
named PM Brown.
The Iraq Inquiry has
a second name, the Chilcot Inquiry.

J. Anthony Chilcot authored it
with two historians, an ambassador,
and a baroness. The first report
Chilcot authored, the Butler Review,
manufactured consent for the
US invasion in 2003. Time is never
linear for states approaching war
via security, intelligence, and words.
Literature is written for or against it.

Britain is a television . . .
a channel-sodden anemone . . .
the historical organ living in a hole
in Basra . . . Churchill’s
Great Cartier Reef is made of Boer
diamonds and magnum
corks from swilled Veuve Clicquot . . .
Chilcot can add volume
to the thought beneath Blair’s hair . . .
Chilcot can add colors
to the sympathy of the chameleons . . .

Reports tesselate as notices to
evict, sponsored by the
lion on the bonnet of the Peugeot
advertisement curling around the
labyrinth surrounding
the conflagration of Grenfell. 

Spring in New York (Haiku) / by L.T. Pelle 
Citi Bike Sunday
A hesitation of birds 
Washington Square Park

How the Owl Answers / by Kara Penn 

Am I always sad? Seven
asks one year into the pandemic
where just beyond the outlined city
and–beyond that–the mountains’ dark
edges, was a promise of an owl, shaped 
as dark outline of tufted ears. Where
by chance Seven and I are awake
and drawn to the window with a clamoring

of voices– a dozen crows gathered
alongside the owl. They flank
the larger bird, mercilessly or in adoration.
Oily shadows, their voices cut cold
with precise and hanging notes. I cannot get
away from crows. Even when the owl
is a gift resting in that branch, crows
come with it. Am I always sad? Seven

asks again, and again we see the black
kites collect then suddenly rise up with
the sun and against that new brightness
the open and closing beak of the owl.
Over and over, the beak opens and closes
as if its voice was carried off with those
common birds. Am I always sad? asks
Seven and the owl mouths her answer

into the wind then lifts her great wings
for us to see the delicate white fringe
and the deep cut within the feathers
that brought her down in our yard.

A Measure for Brokenness / by Angela Stubbs 

*Note: click on image to enlarge to full screen.

Tree and River / by Jennifer Wholey 
Cinquains for Tai and Shannon

You nourish me
With every graceful curve
Drinking in the sight of you, sheer

My tree,
Your steady roots
Anchor my banks—Those curves
You delight in—Hold me closer
Than close

You give me life!
Each tender kiss from you,
Your water’s sweet and rhythmic flow,
A gift

Casting shadows
Your limbs braid me a crown
This love we share, this moment, our

Poem 5 / Day 5

Easter Morning / by Lorraine Claggett

Easter morning and the sun is out
Burning away the dark hours of Friday with the color of new growth,
Shuttering away somber omens of the Sabbath,
And now, with the new day,
A wonder.

It is after the bustle of waffles for breakfast,
Baskets ribboned and gathered, shoes found and matched,
In the old house the silent Meeting gathers
Where young and old again dig deep into spirit,

What had happened?
In the spring of the year the age-old story is retold
The miracles are gathered to process,
And the meaning of death
Is asked

There is no reply, no path to explanations.
There remains only the comfort of asking
And the happiness of wonder;
To hold wonder as the work of the soul.
To behold.

As for the miracle, it is real, testified by
The centuries of folks gathered on Easter, on any Sunday,
Trees in leaf, flowers underfoot, children running circles,
Together weeping, caring, knowing joy
And love.

After Divorce / by Sandra Fees
           while putting together a puzzle of Frida Kahlo’s
           Self Portrait with Thorned Necklace and Hummingbird

Frida Kahlo spreads in pieces across the table.
            Outside hummingbird unspools the orange trumpets.

A face begins to take shape.
           Wings snap and unsnap.

The self unspools.
            The ruby-throated glistens.

Frida Kahlo glistens, her thorned throat.
            Hummingbird tongues nectar.

Pain and paint are nectar.
           Golden green and emerald brush the air.

She sweeps her hair into butterfly clips
            and at her neck the stilled bird dangles.

This puzzle, Frida, hums with survival.
            This puzzle, bird, awaits your revival.

Teetering / by Cathy Hollister

Early morning mist barely piercing the leaf canopy overhead, fine and lacy, sensed more than felt,

partial drops wetting my hair as small drops find each other, tension melts as brooks begin to

gurgle, streams swell, water rises, and rises, and rises, but no matter. See the lake and the

still, glassy surface, pay no attention to the currents, eddies and ripples, no monster

there. Leviathan is just a myth to scare the simple minded away from prosperity.

Enjoy the sun, stay and play, so called science just another name for alarm

Black gold will tarnish us, gasses smother, unfounded claims to make

us fear! Oh Bish, Bosh, Bither, Bother, pound the dreary drum

of Doom. Everyone knows ice melts, hot winds blow,

desert sands shift. ‘Experts’ abound, spouting

panic, unbound hysterical voices flood

the air. No need to fear, nature

cycles round and round

Danger will never,

ever pierce our

Rock Solid


On the Second Easter in Quarantine,
I Consider My Watered-down Faith /
by Becca J.R. Lachman

I need to believe Magdalene today 
when she comes to my yard, waving 
both arms, me not fully awake and 
longing for ritual other than coffee. 

I want to see her original story 

standing–there–beneath the red-
buds, posed as if she’s been in this 
house so many times she knows 
the sound of the door squelching 

open. Friends, I need to know she’s 
and angry. I want her body to be 
hourglass, despite never growing 

life within it, to carry a quickening 
anyway, outside of herself, so 
dangerous and sacred she had to be 

edited. And I need to hear her 
bloodline, his name and my name 
laughed from her mouth as 
she gives one more windmill 

of a wave, waiting to see if 
I’ll come outside and answer.

Even the Fish Are Rolling Their Eyes / by Meg Little Reilly

The bears in Shenandoah National Park will walk right into your campsite
look you in the eye and say
I’m taking this

There is nothing you can do about it
everyone seems to think it’s fine
or else they don’t know who’s supposed to be doing what in the woods

The trails are filled with constitutional lawyers in new shorts
on loan from congressional offices
and Justice

They bump into their friends
former reporters who work at consulting firms now
here of all places

You have to get out sometimes
everyone says it
breathe some fresh air and recall what’s important

Meanwhile the bears are ransacking their sites
good gear just out of the box
they are laughing and smoking all the while

It’s too many seekers sucking on God’s battery recharge
it’s too many bears wearing name brand sunglasses
even the fish in the streams are rolling their eyes at the state of things

What’s to become of us I wonder
that’s what I’ve come for, all the us’s to consider
but alas still no answer

And yet at day’s end
depending on your position
the light can blind, blur everything into timeless rightness

While the bears steal steaks from unguarded coolers.

The Daughter Obsessively Reads Articles About Blue Light / by Linda Michel-Cassidy

Snap back a few years.
I barter with fate, for you, 
who has lived this life 
eight decades­—and now this 
in our time of aloneness.

Your sight a reverse-telescope,
a thief: reading, driving, 
games of bridge and mahjong 
with women your age—
little old ladies you call them.

So, I make a small prayer 
that the power won’t crash.

New furniture not quite brain-mapped,
your muscle-memory not yet patterned
to avoid a shin-smack or tumble.
I worry up a shower drip 
on slick tile, waiting.

Your vision slips furry and tunneled
and you, alone in this world gone turbid.

Der Zweifler / by Matthew Moore
The reflections the shipping
Lanes foil on cliffs the trees . . .

Mud and poles, mud
And poles, Thorne
Rooms model poor wars,                                5
Sentiments in vertigo,
Fine delights carefully astray,
My god is the washbasin,
A cloud is washing my hands . . .

Pacification! Hobbyhorses!                            10
Capitalism spurs on
Vestigial organs,
Money and blinking:
Wealth is incest.
To have a bath instead                                                15
Of a life, to live,
Tubing hot—‘Everything is a test,
Say the gods,’ shells & deweyed
Mussels, opened by crateloads in
Hogarth rooms                                                20
Whiteness caters to rising craters,
Voices ascend the Canal face
Up from the severed isthmus
Vomiting the miracles of industry,
Ceremony dead,                                              25
The beaches exhumed
For a coast. My indisintegration
For a coast, for a maiden métier.

Ashes awash in waking, leafless,
The sea jerks on                                              30
The earth’s chain. Sentimental,
‘Christ,’ inexcluded from this,

‘To leave our gods out of this,’
Will to exist document that hell
Means to answer, white canals,                        35
Answer to divisions of this bell.

Wellness B*tch (or spiritual bypassing) (or skipping therapy to hang out with Gwyneth Paltrow) / by L.T. Pelle

The blue haired woman in the New Age store sells me a crystal.
Tells me, before I use it, it needs to be cleansed of the hands
that held it before me and I thought we didn’t do that here.

I thought these wind chimes and prayer flags
meant that that which we cannot see will not hurt us.
Never ask us to apologize

for the way our bodies respond to what moves us.
At Whole Foods there is a cure for everything
except always wanting to feel better. Be better.

It’s like I am playing poker with Tarot cards and pretending
my future is what’s gonna help me beat the other woman.
I do not want to be like this.

Doing yoga for the abs. Judging
each savasana by how out of breath I am before I get to it.
My selfie is corpse pose.

My smile is how thrift store this Urban Outfitters looks
which is to say my smile is all about how it looks to you.
I learn Reiki which is cleansing people through not touching them

but still I cannot lift this feeling of him from my skin.
A meditation retreat is not therapy. My skin is not a juice cleanse.
is not the skin scrapped, leftover, from all the squeezing.

This Tummy Tonic bubbles like a love potion
even though my self-love got lost between the web pages of Goop.
Self-harm is refusing to take off the clay mask

even when it is hurting your face. Self-harm is $40 to the specialist
who specializes in telling you the only things you can afford
are the things that are killing you. Who tells you your feelings are organic

and that best served raw. That antidepressants are for that girl
who doesn’t take her shoes off when she walks into the yoga studio
even if it’s because she’s spent too much time walking around

with glass shards in her feet. We are not looking away
we are gently closing our eyes and letting this day go.
Self-harm is writing it down in a gratitude journal,

the lies disguising silence as a pen.
This Tie-Dye isn’t meant to show you the knots in my stomach
are all the corners the colors can’t reach no matter what I do.

Aren’t these trendy half-dead houseplants proof
we all need more light than this? This reusable cup
is still half-empty and if I didn’t already know what mindfulness meant

maybe I would think it is the way I carry my thoughts
like I carry these organic groceries up the stairs. All at once.
As if it’s worth the weight never to have to look back

at everything I left behind.

My Child Teaches Me About Whiteness / by Kara Penn

Seven takes my hand in hers,
mentions Martin Luther King, Jr. 
is her uncle—casually and with pride. 

I ask her how she knows. She brushes 
her skin against mine and says, He 
and I are the same—and shows me the skin

that earlier she had colored into her “About Me” 
portrait, crow-black with just the whites 
of her eyes as feature, her almost-black hair 

lighter than her skin. Seven sees shadow
everywhere in herself and everywhere
that dances. In her is the cutout shape

of an ancient Indian shadow puppet behind
the white screen. She asks why are dark
people so good and white people so dark

in their history and why do I hold both, the
brown back of my hand, the white palm?
Then wishes upon an eyelash for lightness.

The Hermit Girl of Venus / by Angela Stubbs

For days afterward, I heard your
Tuesday words ring in my ears.

when we met, I fixed my gaze 
on your perfect hair in Parisian rain & heat

certainty cast anchor as you declared 
fun the anti-hero of our human experience, 

as we talked over tiny cups  
of decaffeinated desire, happiness

emerged the star in your gallery
of broken hallelujahs. I remained

overwhelmed or fidgety
wanting to peek inside your head, 

to see what you see, to hold your face with my face
to understand a victory march 

made in solitude

I admit / by Jennifer Wholey

that there is still a Christmas tree in the living room corner
bereft of ornaments, yes, but I couldn’t bear to let it go
when it began to sprout new growth from the top
filling the air with the scent of sweet Fraser fir
in January, February, March, April

that I kept those four pumpkins for too long
until we got the Christmas tree, in fact,
and then I didn’t even carve them,
but named them instead—
George, Timothy

that I should write in all those fancy journals
with hand-stitched bindings, ornate clasps,
embossed leather covers, and textured
paper rather than waiting for the
perfect words to fill them

that I should drink the whiskey sitting
in the liquor cabinet, the Ardbeg
that was a wedding present
(we are nearing a decade)
ought to be in my glass

that I hold onto too many moments that are gone
wait for the perfect moment to materialize
when I could be drinking Scotch
while carving pumpkins,
writing badly

I commit to throwing out the Christmas tree in January
because if I learned anything in the last year it’s that
special occasions are any damn occasion at all
and no one is looking forward to loss.
Your pumpkins will forgive you.

Poem 4 / Day 4

To my mother’s despair at Easter / by April Claggett

Attend instead to the arc of the egg
Adore how it curves
In sliding ratios
–now the gentle belly of a whale
–here the memory of your baby’s heel
–here a mathematician’s mushroom cap
Over and over without omega
A soft/hard strong/fragile strange/intimate
Orthodox paradox
It turns out
A cosmos in your cupped hand

Forgive the egg
For what it cannot do
For it is blind and dumb
For it cannot stand alone
And it must be nested

A mute universe
Pointing to nothing

When It’s Difficult to Feel Grateful / by Sandra Fees

I like double-bloomed trees, pink—
and prolific as poets
whose words are orchard,
polyvalence and mercy in my ears

and rivers whose mouths
are swollen with alluvium,
desire and the promise of spilling
into something larger
than the self

and the questions that congregate
in trees and poets and mouths
a language still taking shape in me
like fingernails grown too long

or memories whose lips
are strewn with lostness
and white blossoms.

Kind-Ness / by Cathy Hollister

Safe and protective, my old family tree
like-ness accepts all that look just like me.
When kind-ness excludes, when it fears and it hides
goodness, in loneliness, withers and dies.

After Hearing of Another Miraculous Pregnancy 
While Re-reading “Traveling through the Dark”
/ by Becca J.R. Lachman

I like to think of Stafford
in utero the day before
he makes it to us, that time

between this world and another
one, waiting to be delivered
somewhere that asks for 

our no or also, what we’ll make 
with our intricate moves. Before 
he was husband, objector, poet, 

before any tenure or award. Every wise 
heroine or mentor, each teacher 
we carry on shoulders, in pockets, try

brushing off like ash– imagine
them, too: vast and obeying,
in that slow-stretched moment, 

possibility. Perhaps they chose it,
too, their birth, in some language
they can never speak again. But 

what comes after, leaning toward 
the daily metronome inside the gut, 
what needs us and names us, that 

was deliberate, and also ours 
to hear. 

The Pancakes at the Hospital / by Meg Little Reilly

I have never tasted anything like the pancakes at the hospital
don’t know what they put in them
fluffy familiarity
and anti-inflammatory

Two soft, uniform beds
stacked up or beside
only one occupied
if you are lucky

Listening to other families’ bedside conversations is torture
the minor things that fill stinging silence
or cannot wait
for the privilege of privacy

Is your bed pad wet and is this a rerun
the white blood cells are not improving
and the nurse speaks no English
not that it matters

I hate those other families
hope that they absorb all the shit luck
if it is your kid
God forgives such prayers

I think that they put the exact same number of blueberries in every pancake
someone worked it out once
in the hospital kitchen
and now it’s a rule

Whatever you do
do not divine in the number of blueberries

the direction of the white blood cells
the berries aren’t talking

That number is fixed to say
you will be fine
or maybe not
but the world will keep spinning

just as it was.

Today in Self-Care / by Linda Michel-Cassidy

An invincible traffic knot 
both ruins and saves the afternoon.
This commerce-clogged intersection 
architected by a madman. 

Left turns made impossible by
a dozen plastic yellow poles 
I could plow the hell over.

I conjure my getaway—
spring-loaded stanchions 
thwacking on my undercarriage

like the sound of the carnival wheel
at the fair in my hometown. 
I won a huge stuffed bear 
on my lucky 21,

but was forced to swap 
for something useful 
luggage I wasn’t allowed to take 
on my escape ten years hence. 

Local legend says 
this ridiculous corner
has the most wrecks in the county,
and I am here to donate. 

I’m so busy concentrating 
on obstacles and surprise dead ends, 
and what the car in front will do,
and of course, my squandered youth

that I forget, for a moment, 
about despair.

Roman à Clef / by Matthew Moore

            Sleep—: the ring of keys next to the
            Time shells, the scales stressed, THINE,
            Narrowing, not abridged overmuch,
            Ill-starred, not railroaded overmuch.
            Time circulates the course of course not.                   5        

A Pigeon Arrives / by L.T. Pelle

From some sky 
I have not yet unfolded,
a pigeon arrives on my path.

And when she presses
her sharpened mouth 
to the filthy ground 

as if the cure for hunger 
could be found
in kisses or

at someone else’s feet
I know she is my heart.
I know she is my heart
by the stillness

she requires of me
through the threat of flying away.
How my lungs highrise

at the sight of her.
How the only music she knows
is siren, is the way music pours

from doors left open.
How she birdbaths in that sound
of leftover light.

Wears my body 
like the only apartment I can afford
which is a room locked enough

to call home. 
Wears my body 
like a stolen bike

A thing with bells clinging
to the handles
like how much church

do I have to hold onto
to get wherever it is I am going?
Like can’t I just be skin?

My poor pigeon heart,
every time she breathes
she breathes in so much exhaust

she thinks exhausted
is what it means to be alive.
Every moment an incision.

I am not mad my love has grown
too vermin for awe.
I am proud

of the way she has learned to love 
her awful. How she wears
the city’s colors on her feathers

like paint was not enough
to express her adoration
for the world around her.

Only becoming would do.
Yes, my heart
My heart has grown 

too hungry to live inside me
so I wear the absence like a crosswalk
white lines gaping the path.

Gaping my right
to get to the other side
alive and without


The Way the Smallest Pulled its Body Into Flight / by Kara Penn

The way the smallest, left behind, pulled its body into

the corner of the eaves and cried quietly

for food, reassurance, company.  The strong four

who’d for weeks now won the battle for early moths, 

even a sun-colored monarch, floated off the ledge bravely

and flew to nearby branches. All afternoon I watched, 

listened for love to return to the one cowering. The one

occasionally approaching the edge looking out. The one

whose voice, though clear, was growing weak. 

Once I stood on the ladder to ensure she was still living. 

Still present. Unlike last May when I stepped outside

to the emaciated body of one lost, who’d blown from the ledge. 

At dusk, the four returned to the nest, food arrived, was stuffed

into large gaping mouths. The smallest, her breath smelling of 

abandoned things, was blocked behind the others– 

not forgotten but also not fed. Still, it carried on

and in the morning, I slipped to the window

to see mother on the nest warming the little body

before winging off. It’s hard to un-hear the weakening

voice, compelled by fear. So small among the eaves. 

But the cry persisted all day and was silenced at night. 

Expecting death, I prepared myself and came to the tomb

at dawn, only to find the stone aside. The last one flew. 

I do not know for certain or how.  But gone. Certainly gone.  

Spring’s held breath exhaled.

Exodus 11:7 / by Jennifer Wholey

For Rebecca

The Torah tells us that on Passover
all dogs were silent as the former slaves
fled from Egypt with their unleavened bread.
The village dogs did not sharpen their tongues
to bark or snarl at this sudden parting,
skulking for scraps behind the procession.
Not even one let out a solo growl
or nipped at sandaled feet hurrying past.
That divine memo must have missed this house
because our dogs are being assholes now
begging for matzoh (a favorite treat)
then pouring out their wrath at the groundhog
that lives under the deck this time of year.
As we open the door for Elijah,
they remind us not everyone is free.

The Visible Discharge of Electricity / by Angela Stubbs

I feel flat or blue
against the kitchen tile floors,
like cutting yourself but less exciting.
I tried to think a lonelier thing
than fences or death,
to feel sick
in my skeleton 
and know why. 
This minute, swallows are 
swallowing whole 
my words inside your mouth,
where my lifeline hides. Something 
of yours making me choke, my tongue
trying to pry open
parts of your body,
to put feelings into words. 


Poem 3 / Day 3

Easter Mourning 2021 / by Lorraine Claggett

Spring has worked her magic to bring full color to the Easter parade
And is ready for the Day
Her cherry trees outline the lanes in yards of frothy white
Daffodils in yellow spool along roadsides and
Out along the meadow tiny flower heads of blue and white
Are quilted in the grasses
My dormant garden has sprouted six crimson tulips to be the crowning color of the
Easter morning.
Weather forecast: Colder and rain on Thursday and Friday with outlook for sun and warm
temperatures on Easter Day

Before Easter Sunday there is Good Friday.

Thursday has already darkened and rain begins again. The paper reads

“A seven-year-old girl out for recess with her first grade class sees her beloved friend
shot dead by a passing teenager with a gun, has not returned to school.”
She cannot go back.

Forgive them Father. They know not what they do.
News, Boulder, Colorado: A gunman opens fire on shoppers at a grocery store and eleven are

Atlanta, Georgia: In a shooting spree, six women at work and three men were killed by a
roaming assailant.

Forgive them Father. Forgive them.

Friday is the good day. It is called Good.
Under the spring rain the flowers that droop now will be bright again
The children will have pandemic plastic eggs, no candy, no dying.
In four other cities there are mass killings in one week. Mourning is there.

To have Easter Sunday, there must be death.

Forgive me Father, I do not know what to do.

“The Mind of Plants” / by Sandra Fees

Aeon magazine headline

In the years to come
rocks will still break their music
against the coastal edge

whales will breach
the staggering crest of sea

and armfuls of stars
will flatter the night
birthing and dying
as they must
as we must.

What’s unimaginable will already
have been imagined.

We will carry the luggage of regrets,
of our missing. Will we learn
to unpack them?

In the years to come
it will be the mind of plants
that enfleshes another season
enshrined with the courting of bees

and trees
that broaden
their leaves
to convene
the sunrise
that enfold
their roots
to remember
the future
to be

Evening / by Cathy Hollister

Red poppies sleep as crickets sing
lightening bugs float
on pillowed drafts

Sun warmed stones prolong the day
While cool of the evening
slowly gains control

Chardonnay and brie meet fat vowels
and stiff muscles
soften in the dusk,

take flight as
nighthawks trace graceful loops in the sky,

Choreography for the Barren / by Becca J.R. Lachman

There are only certain days      you’ll have the energy to send 
the Valentine      like the photo       reply to the shower invite     
do a loving kindness meditation      scatter wildflower 
seeds        mail the birthday package      put on the holy 
armor      call your doctor about new meds, options, test 
results      give back the heirloom ring passed from daughter
to daughter      throw out the musty collection of letters      
answer the RSVP      send a welcome baby basket      

open the Christmas card      open the Christmas 
card      open       text “Gah! I’m so excited for you!”     sit 
with no book in the lunchroom      think of every 1 in 10 women
at a dance recital/concert/basketball game (you aren’t alone, along 
in a crowd)

take it out on the dinner vegetables      hold yourself up 
on the way up the staircase       avoid mirrors for a day or two       
stuff dried dates with almond butter, dunk in simmering chocolate      
eat about a dozen      stand outside and watch the weather 
jump 30 degrees in a number of hours        brace yourself against 
the wind of it       wake up thinking about all the women 
who couldn’t or shouldn’t, and did      forgive them      forgive
yourself (how many ways can you say this?)      and thank 
your body, anyway, over a warm cup of tea, its soft
wet breath

I Do Not Intend to Become One of Those Old Women / by Meg Little Reilly

I do not intend to become one of those old women
who go on and on to fill the empty space,
like quiet is a condition that needs curing,
human buffers against the weight of thoughts.

These are real people, these women.
I think that they are old but maybe they are not only
mothers and grandmothers
tuned to the world’s unease.

Someone told them once,
somehow, though not likely with words,
that motion is better than stillness,
roofs safer than skies.

These old women,
yes, I know that they are old and that they are surely women,
they leave this earth as battered borders, human obstacles alone.

Because it all lands somewhere
I think,
the streams keep rerouting themselves along the rock,
and it’s too many metaphors for immutable thoughts but this is important!

just let’s not become those women,
leave that work to others,
to the mothers of men who are good and content.

Let’s you and I soak our silence
with dangerous thoughts
and when the time comes

float away on them.

Towards a New Osmosis! / by Linda Michel-Cassidy

I went colorless at the edges,
voltage down, corners ground soft­—

my sandpaper self, now velvet.
I found myself pillow-skinned.

I became an easy third,
a buffer, a bulwark.

Mostly still me, just less
abrasive, someone said.

I went positively suburban,
welcomed my new infinitive verb: to beige.

She used to have so many opinions
they praised, as if I’d shed a caul.

I neutralized inward, gentled pastel,
my me-ness scrubbed clean.

My invisibility, while maddening,
delivered a freedom. Without recourse,

(I know your every detail)
eyes focused, breath held.

When I turned vapor,
I went floaty and huge.

This fresh license so intimate:
I’ll possess, absorb, permeate.

Topaz Crust / by Matthew Moore   
Hexa-vexilla-Fall, striated in
the striation case.

To dispossess, then displace
the assets of war.

The Alps are the Alps, earth
is earth, a motor

pool is a motor pool. Reism
is Marxist ardor.

Heydrich’s assassin did not
need to believe,

he was a hurler, he tossed
the bomb case

with ease. Yugoslavia won
loss by loss, by

a pine needle and attrition,
by Communism.

Partisans smell like deisel
and spearmint.

Names of regions stumble,
who is missing.

Variegated, sacrifices and
survivals. Harp

of revolution. Snow shafts
glittering plucked

by wind off trees. Breath’s
heart. Topaz crust.

Things I’d Like To Say To My Oversized Homegoods Coffee Mug / by L.T. Pelle

I too, would like to be synonymous with dawn,
the ceramic church of someone else’s morning.
An almost-vase in which liquid blooms 
into the stem of a throat.

Teach me how to make a mouth
a ceiling like that, never a sky, but
something that can stay open 
long after it’s been consumed.

Teach me to bleed tree rings 
back into every wooden table.
Let me always find ways to catch the light 
that’s already shining in every room. 

Teach me how to turn 
my limbs into handles, 
to let someone hold me 
without letting myself go.

Teach me to call all my edges lips.
To be stubborn and sticky 
where they have removed my price tag, 
teach me to insist on my worth like that.

I want to hot cocoa clouds like you do.
Sugar succumbing to warmth.
I want to dissolve my kindness in 
something more stirred, like respect.

And when I am waiting 
let it be the way you wait, upside down 
in cabinets. Let every mundane moment
be a chance for a new perspective. 

I want to teacup today like you do.
To hold more 
than I can make,
and still keep warm everything 

that’s been given to me.
Teach me to forget like a dishwasher
with clouds culling in my chest.
Teach me to remember

poetry is what shatters 
against the ground when you 
are going so fast 
you miss something.

Madison Street / by Kara Penn

I believe I am ready to talk about the house. Crooked

beauty of rectangle rooms and square windows. The one

the doctor built. The one built better than me. Bricks stained

and solid, in a basement, that like me, shed a bit of herself

daily. The vacuum gathering her dust in its mouth. It seemed

the entire structure would eventually be carried off in tiny bags. 

A large home of five rooms and seven histories in her walls. 

A carriage house, original steel intact, now the bed of a single car. 

The dark, lustrous wood of a century ago was something to polish as meditation, something to syrup into and be lost.  I could see

right through her to the back. Every guest arriving to warm greeting,

tense word or extended hug witnessed from the street.

It was a snow globe that neighbors gazed into,  

we were characters revolving around the rooms. I spoke

to her often.  I’m sorry about the dogs. I’m sorry no one else loves you

as I do.  We found things that one finds when a house is old. Framed

newspaper clippings, part of a Beatrix potter tea set in the room

we, too,  made a nursery. A black widow near the boiler and a rough-

edged crucifix at the back of the closet. I’ve forgotten some

of what I found and left. When the house was emptied and we’d move,

I held her for a year in a slipped disc of my neck that radiated out

as a scream through my shoulders. I wished for death occasionally.

But I eventually moved her from there into the palm of my hands,

where she weighed less and I could love her without sacrifice.

We paid her large mortgage monthly, money simply set

aflame as love letter and ash. Unable to give her away to strangers, or

perhaps, more accurately, unable to leave the tiny miscarried bodies

of my children echoing in the hollow of her pipes, I kept her selfishly

empty until she was empty enough to not feel mine and to be new

to me so that when I walked in through the century-old door,

I could imagine footprints on tiger oak floors. And laughter.  

Where my breath would catch in awe, before exclaiming

what a house. I wish I could live here,  in this memory box

of wet wood,  square windows, long, murmuring rooms.

Dirty Dick / by Angela Stubbs

Dirty Dick is the name 
of a corsican gangster who 
runs a sex shop as a front 
for shady business or
maybe he’s the protagonist in 
your B-grade porno film
but either way, he’s keeping you
up, most nights well past 3am. 

Jet lagged and ready for sleep you’ve
got Sharon Salzberg on repeat with 
her offers of metta in your ear. 
Sharon, dear did you know these phrases
can’t turn off the neon sign shining
in through lace curtains, five-stories below? 

On Rue Frochot around the corner from
the BNP Paribas ATM, the homeless gather
which make loving-kindness important,
even in Paris. Soon, I swore 
I’d venture downstairs to investigate
the light, the noise, the sexodrome. With a band of
poets, we’d roam the streets of Paris
ready for Dirty Dick. In the same city where 
sex ran amok and dildos caught 
fire in a sex shop nights prior, 
crime and tiki lived right here inside
Dirty Dick. He was master 
and servant, serving up fruity cocktails 
like you do, in the midst of a hostile city
looking to find peace from
the chaos in the street

My Roommate Icarus / by Jennifer Wholey

steals milk out of the mini-fridge       at the foot of my bed
starts me from a dream of                   flying or falling
in his quest for cereal milk     “Hi”     he croaks softly
I nod    raise my eyebrows                 crack my sleep-stuck lips
into a smile     He’s been couch-        crashing
for a month     delivering pizza          (you think)
looking for somewhere else to stay    (you hope)
so this moment we share, at least       I know where he is
I didn’t know then about the wings    he hid from me

in a backpack  He marveled at them   when I wasn’t home
The waxen treasures arrived               on our doorstep
in the mail       I handed them over     oblivious
I know now his plan was                    the sea
                                                            all along

Poem 2 / Day 2

Timberdoodling / by April Claggett

Just when you think nothing more can possibly be done with this day
And the prop-setter sun has fussed too long, scurried off-stage
–House lights down—
The audience reproves with restlessness 
having paid the price
for this dead-serious drama
that is New Hampshire spring—
that is, proof of promises kept.
But first, ladybugs and germs, our comedic opener:

The timberdoodle waddles onto the stage
Hands-tied and Pinocchi-nosed,
Nasally beeping its one froggy note
Even motherly moon, smiling down, 
Can’t smooth over and pat down this anomaly.
Peent.              Peent.              Peent.

The joke is on us, of course.
The second it ceases you want it back
So badly the fishing line of your heart
Unspools dizzyingly out 
–hooked as it is on absence–
then locks on a faint twitter
Now impossibly, escapably high 
for a bogsucker–turned sky dancer–
Telegraphing respectable bird-code.

Beseech all you will,
its sudden plunging return from infinity
knifing nose down and warbling reverse arias
somehow ends up right
–wild silent applause–
with its doe-eyed doddering
reset to peent
in future blueberry fields.

Owed to (Mis)spelling / by Sandra Fees

The rite arrangement of letters
is like stepping threw a looking glass
to leave behind the whorled

         of no smoking aloud signs
         of eau de colon labels
         and no regerts tattoos

where a man sprays Wighte Lives Matter
in capitol letters across his white picket fence
and neighbors laugh of grammar.

          And I think how
sometimes the write rules
won’t make flowers speak

and when you want
to bee someplace knew
you must learn to circle
round the opposite way.

Balloon Ride / by Cathy Hollister 

Roaring flames transform the
Landed lumbering to
silken tapering sky bulb

Toxic screens, screaming sirens
squeaky hinges and mouses
Fall away, fall away
Silence surrounds

Satin Silence with a texture so soft
it soothes my skin

Pure silence so sterile it
breeds no contamination

Silence so dense
it hosts no argument

Wicker oasis a cool respite
Between hot air above and below
Safe and quiet
Floating free of sensual assault

Dropping from the peak of peace
On descent to lower climes
Lift lost,
            air cools,

To the grounded static-
the bellowing refuse of the land.

Still enlightened by
The treasure of Silence claimed,
Purring within

Late to the Table / by Becca J.R. Lachman 

I’m ashamed to say it, but it’s taken me this long 
             to pick a carcass clean with just my fingers 
for the first time, setting aside the good 
             morsels for a soup bright with dill.   
Which one’s the dead thing, and which one 
             the maker? And when is it again 
             that a shell’s truly useless?   

This one will be submerged, savory
             shipwreck in filtered water, with thick 
lemon wedges and rosemary. For the first 
             day of a new decade, it will sit atop a burner, 
             heat pulling and cajoling from its bareness 
the very medicine

I need. I’m no witch doctor, no pagan
             goddess wanting to read my
future, maybe even change it. My grief
             tastes of nothing, it’s been boiled 
for so long… But I’m ready now: give me 
fresh thyme,

The Dogs All Bark at Once / by Meg Little Reilly 

The dogs around here all bark at once
restless and stirred to their feet by
some call

I imagine them scratching at doors
in houses I have never entered
but know

good husbands and wives
shake their heads
let them go

whoo boy, do they bay for invisible things
howls hover together
form clouds

from our doorsteps we watch them
find sounds of themselves
a choral pulse

the particular antidote
to all this

it is joy, of a sort
to hear voices furious
as our own

singing back to
these small

islands, but for the rolling song
of lives

Residue / by Linda Michel-Cassidy 

Wildfire ash nestled between weft and warp,
my window screen archives the evidence.  

I’m unsure a hose would have enough push
to break the skin of last season’s leavings. 

And here we are, another bone-parch spring.
O California, so ready to burst!

In the desert, tumbleweed me never
bothered washing my car, knowing full well

it’s half-past scorch, and another dust storm, 
those fresh windshield dings, spidering­— 

like these eye creases, these stale arroyos, these lightning-
kissed trees, these apocalypse-red skies

all painterly and Rothko-full of lush—
I cannot but call them magnificent.

Stańczyks Wake / by Matthew Moore 

            Hippolytus dies.
            A vulture descends and begins to eat his body.

                        —Sarah Kane, Phaedra’s Love (1996)

The audience marks their seats with clothes.
Politesse makes conscience police of rows.
The coward thinks his neighbor is her smell . . . 

Someone cracks a nut, as reprisals begin as
surnames, in preludes. The solemn joiner                              5
digs, out fingernails he jots with on the cell

floor, to catch the conscience of the king,
last handsaw bred in blood’s myopic log,
till from chitinous cloud a word emerges . . .

In bloodwelt sunlight’s sawdust reflection,                           10
bright wind flashes on ordained eyelashes,
irises pace the floor of the wooden trough,

to read again a word dug inside the cabinet,
by a dead man buried last winter, his name,                          15
Lord Heron knows not, only the word leers . . .

lilies, reeds, and roses the people will throw
his guts in the air the bread melted as again
the dead jester reads, inside his coffin: Fool.

In Europe, things are kings, anything is anything.                 20
In Poland, earth is too cold to do with it anything.
In Germany, police eat sandwiches with anything. 

How Terrible It Is To Be Loved In April / by L.T. Pelle 

through cable knit sweaters 
and Regina Spektor rain 
playing the walk home like a piano. 

Our noses pink as vinegar-colored eggs 
mucus running, 
our stickiest selves right towards our lips. 

The angry goose mother guarding 
her baby grays from our gaze,
from the dangerous way we love to love.

All awe with no space for that awe 
to waddle away towards flight.
How terrible it is to be loved in April,

surrounded by the invisible winds of our bodies.
The goosebumps that give 
our mountains away 

to the breeze 
while the winter is still 
waiting in the wings of all the birds 

How we foxglove our forever
in the fabric layer of fleeting 

that begets our fingers.
Everything unfinished turns yellow here.
The color of almost-gold.

How terrible it is to be loved in April,
the days Easter grass into each other
and within the thatching, all the moments

of pale plastic eggs staying empty 
until we choose
to fill them.

About the Body / by Kara Penn

The body is a type of clay.
Time punches out the gut,
pulls wide the hips.
The putty of the abdomen,
stretched with children
in their beds of blood and water.
The treacherous journey
this body helped cross.

The body is a bridge
from here, to there. 
“There” is a tunnel painted
on the brick wall at the side
of a very real road. “There” 
is a detour. It’s realistic as hell. 
The artist is good. The body
is a map of distractions.

The body elevates in sport
and desire. It never makes
it out whole. The body scrapes
itself on sidewalks, litters
hairbrushes, sheds blood monthly.
The body discards whole bits
permanently if required of it. 
The body is born with its own demise. 

The body can’t remember what it was.
The body as magic trick. A flame.
The body as dance or dream.
The body is tired, bruised, 
and full of steel and ache
The body is a body within a body.
This body made four bodies.
The body’s miracle is it carries on

until the body is a backflip into dark.

The Iris Of Necessity / by Angela Stubbs 

I vow to make a little space for myself
with a spatula. in the kitchen I wait to cook
something new as praise, but I feel
terribly lonely and insane without
constant reassurance. the uncompromised
expression of my emotions reminds me
when it happens of a love sickness
only I can cure

maybe I will learn the secret of things
I would like to address. who’s allowed
to be fire, to be soft petals and apologies
or regret. everywhere,
the yes concedes. people say

she has a plan for my feelings

Early Forsythia / by Jennifer Wholey 

For April Fool’s, the gift of snow—
no jokes here—coating each branch
in impossible perfection,

a mirage of powdered sugar
falling from a wire sieve
inch-thick rather than a dusting

coating new green shoots of flowers,
the daffodils just growing,
the fresh buds on the olive trees.

Forsythia, I’m worried
that you came too early this year
and your first day might be your last.

My own night-blooming flower
cast long shadows in the moonlight
thrumming like clockwork in the dark,

the only constant against
my ricocheting blood pressure,
the night sounds of a hospital.

A nurse said “Think of roses,
petals opening in the sun.”
Yeah. No. That sounds stupid as hell.

My mind filled with stargazers,
lilies that grew next to the swing
in my grandfather’s garden plot.

Their fulgent fuchsia faces,
the heavy, sultry scent of them
perfumed my morning memory,

batting away the age-old fear
(a fear that shares my birthday)
that my body could not hold her

for as long as she needed me;
her first role to play: Macduff,
untimely ripped as I had been.

Just as precocious as precious,
she sprouted three weeks early
brushing snowflakes off her shoulders.

Poem 1 / Day 1

Buffleheads / by Lorraine Claggett

Easter’s full moon has made a silver coin on the river
Stilled by a windless morning.
There is no movement save for the tiny ducks,
Reluctant migrants, still sojourning
In their winter refuge.

Held enthralled I watch their happy motions
Effortlessly sliding over the watery surface
They meet fellow travelers
And grouping in small coteries, glide along together.
When suddenly the first ducks head down
The others follow one by one and all are gone below.
I remain deserted.

Until, one by one, each pops up
In unexpected places; and I breathe again,
Observer to the return of greetings and groupings,
All glad to be together under the brightening day.
When, once more, each goes under singly
To where there is no sun.

The buffleheads live in two worlds
As so do I.

Preliminaries / by Sandra Fees

Promise of Spring / by Cathy Hollister

Immature cast of vernal days             March swells

With a flutter of summer scent                       pregnant days

waiting                        infant sprouts poised to spring

waiting                                                to find untapped fancy

to pry open a sleepy eye                                 spy round buds on twigs

ready              primed to parent full foliage on long branches

assume the grown up task                  to hide the sparrow from the hawk

conceal the gray squirrel’s nest                      and make cool shade

from the sweltering summer sun                    in full bloom.

Both Goal and Medicine / by Becca JR Lachman

These days, I rarely recognize my body: 
jeans two sizes smaller that still won’t 
stay on hips, hair pulled back in 
a once-in-a-decade ponytail. 

There are moments—folding up

the stroller in one muscled pull— 
accidentally signing off a late-night
email with Live you instead of Love you— 
that I sit with all the dying 

we’ve played landlord to, even

if it’s the laser of prevention, choir 
of turned faces behind the daily
numbers, begging our parents not to 
leave the house again. And mostly,

it’s been keeping you alive, learning how

to make formula, to get through a day
on three hours of sleep and the hum
of wonder. I practice caring for you 
as both goal and medicine, even on days 

when pain takes up its usual residence. 

After 20+ years, I don’t fight it, pull up 
a chair instead. But I wonder how 
I’ll tell you about my body, without you 
someday fearing it. For now, the best trick 

I’ve found when I can’t stop your wails or 

you’re trying to roll over on the changing table 
is to break into “Caro mio bien” as if I’m alone, 
once again, on a lit stage in a long black dress. 
Without fail, it stops you, mouth open, answering 

my wonder with wonder. Let me show you 

this body, breaking into music, knowing 
what else, no matter what, it can carry.  

Whenever I Drive Through Someone Else’s Town / by Meg Little Reilly

Whenever I drive through someone else’s town –
I mean a different place altogether,
different weathermen, different weather –
I have the sure sensation that I could be happy there.

I look into living rooms all lit up by tv moons,
kids sitting on stoops with battered bikes beside,
sagging roofs and sallow paint.
It looks like what I think it must mean to do this completely.

The feeling began from the backseat, before.
I thought it was childhood,
that the creation of my own life would realize
or replace it.

Instead I look in through other people’s windows now
and feel nostalgic for a time when their swing sets weren’t rusty,
worry for their preteens’ prospects at the local college,
and hope the test results come back benign.

I want to remind them to bring the trash bins out in time
and call the dog before he poops on the neighbors’ deck
because that sometimes happens in this town.

And deep in the rooms I see silhouettes of good mothers
just as I want them to be,
paper-doll dads open papers
at kitchen tables, these abundantly others.

I think that if I lived here, I would pray
to the plastic Virgin Mary in the wet grass –

or I would be the sort of person who could –
when moved to give thanks for this utterly perfect place.

And everywhere I look, there is proof of life well-lived,
not worn down,
stories bursting from porch steps, still no scars.
It is time untethered here, in the elsewhere.

Holidays are just right in other people’s towns,
the lights at night, and oh the smells.
I know this to be true as I breeze through, unburdened,
at the direction of the GPS voice, with my gas station coffee.

I am on my way to see people who have names,
the stars and survivors of our shared half-truths,
in a real life I have forged
but will never see lit up at night
from the window of a passing car
as an uncomplicated
no one.

Ingeborg by Starlight / by Matthew Moore

            Fishes wish, glow lupines, loaves goad from looks.

            Stars wink like hooks.
            Who would not write back from what. Nightingale,
            how do you oscillate;
            in bed, orthogonal to the Roman sash,                                               5
            moonbeam of blacklight, sift through,
            in the mood for
            evidence mood detects, rank
            with; o, how do you gesture,
            women singing                                                                                   10
            with hands wept on silk nails, try to,                         
            fingers ten to noon
            in a pack of ideas you ripple through,
            beneath the gymnasium of the world.

            It arches, your star of nut flexes, it pounds of wave,                          15
            a muscle of muscles                                                                          
            in the nacre, and mermaids, singing
            in the high lull, nod,
            arrive, between the breakers. How may a meridian 
            you lead, lead. Were I to angle foam                                                 20
            longing, loin de toi,
            would your star against the virgule hand still initial.

            In this train, and horn, of erotomania, hold on, as
            I would be reliable, as                                                            
            you were to miss, and slide; though                                                   25
            panting wills lapse forward, though, panting laps
            plumb the seam; humoral petals thicken and slue
            black green rose cream
            in vain, human fixities, to rail on,
            as stamens would in their dark junction to inhere                              30                               
            us; whitherward, there is no one decision
            made in no particular detail, not to go on.

            Spell, with fairer names, your time, and would you, on                               
            a far eve, address none, your letters, were you to wend
            then unsent, mine I will perjure out, in thine recipience.                   35

When the Sea Fails to Transform / by Kara Penn

With the sun dropping, she lopes 
towards, then dives beneath the sea,
her body a pale tongue probing
each wave, searching deeper in,
her radiant suit a petal of blood.

The waves did everything
they were meant to do,
lifting her upon the sea’s altar
pulling her under to the catacomb
of grit and assaulting kelp.

She became pummeled
in the onslaught, her red-licked 
body rolling as log beneath 
waterfall. I wanted to be her until 
she emerged unscathed, the same. 

She came back to shore. Stood
dripping salt and sand.  I held up
my hand so, at a distance, her body
fit neatly in my palm. I cupped her there
against sunset, then crumpled. 

Insequi / by Angela Stubbs

I opened up, the light
still resisting in its sleepy state.

I wish it could emerge
between us, illuminating that place
when I push fingers into her mouth

or someplace more beautiful like
my tongue in her cheek or

the effort made in morning
to camouflage her true
self, covered in covers. 

I can do it, no problem, my 
tongue in my own cheek, seeking

her body unpacked, not
remembering why
she’s shy, but inside the hour

movement attracts 
an intricate cadence. She

quietly motions wanting. 
Soundings fall out,
a hush of endearments.

Alphabet Song for a Pandemic Baby / by Jennifer Wholey

April means life
Beneath winter’s gravel
Crocuses purple and white
Daring to show face
Even as a stubborn snow pile
Fronts the garage where the foxes
Gave me six small joys last spring
Heartened to see anyone, anything
In my shut-down shut-in world
Just as the bulb of you
Kindled quietly inside me, no
Loudly! (Who am I kidding?
My cervix head-butted for the
Nth time, kidneys karate-chopped)
Overnight, every night, you
Person into the bloom you are today
Questions forming in your owl eyes
Ready to ask as
Soon as your lips and
Tongue will allow
Until then, I will let you
Verb my noun
When I see this year’s crocuses
Extant already in late March — “Look,” I say
Your eyes dart rather to the honey bee
Feet barbing sweet pollen, all abuzz