The 30/30 Project: August 2021

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.

The volunteer poets for August 2021 are Claire Acerno, Ingrid Bruck, Onyedikachi Chinedu, Brittney Corrigan, Donna Dallas, Lawdenmarc Decamora, Jennifer K. Dick, David Estringel, Christine Hamm, Michelle Macfarlane, and K.E. Ogden. 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 31 / Day 31

A bird stands on air in the garden / Cento for August 2021

ravens in the streets
snowing notes of history
What molds now—
Form, shape, blow, compress, cast

whether it be monster or angel
it dwells
and flowers inside

arms of my breath floated
towards the windows.
Fingers of the left palm
Spread against a stone face

in the house, the star bangs blackness.
but my eye goes directly to the loose skin
old ladies in black walk through walls
cleave a building in two

we build a bridge to suture

scribble of blue sky, a spiral of bright yellow
how terrible it was to linger
in the bright azure
This is the painted feeling

one memory
lit of ocean
matchbox boat
every wave sickened
or promised
long days flame
port of entry

pufferfish, tarpaulin, barracuda
—a blurry rant of promised tell-alls glint:
migratory tales of one-eyed whalers
he weight sunk below the waterline
thought about the fishes in a school
the familiar knells of horned larks
that ring from blush and yellow blooms

Alone words
Jimmy died

departed, when the bones hum
Finer than the small bird
before the tragedy
A galaxy full waiting

Lines contributed by and from Claire Acerno, Ingrid Bruck, Onyedikachi Chinedu, Brittney Corrigan, Donna Dallas, Lawdenmarc Decamora, Jennifer K. Dick, David Estringel, Christine Hamm, Michelle Macfarlane, and K.E. Ogden

Poem 30 / Day 30

mom always comes back / by Claire Acerno

the last time I hugged you, breathed in your scent
memory butterflies, flutters in front of me your beautiful face

the first time I watched you window shop for a thing you couldn’t own
the last time I reached for your hand to walk across the boulevard

the first time I heard a song, it was a song you sang (so sweet)
the last time I heard that song, what was it again… “dyum dee dee”, o yes

the last time I pretended to sleep so you’d carry me from the car
or gave me a puff of your cigarette so I wouldn’t like it, backfired
the last time you chased me with a wooden spoon, while I laughed and ran away
the first time you showed me how to sew a button, mend a hem
first time I saw you cook, elbows up, “pass the formage” dig in
the last time you danced your rectangle kitchen, love’s common space

the first time we sat without the voice of others
in our musical T.V. zone, peace, love, popcorn
and us alone

the first time you had us as visitors, woke up in the middle of the night
“it’s late, go to bed!” the last time you’d cook us eggs
the last picture we took
put on your lipstick, smile big
to keep on squares of shiny paper

the first time you ‘exasperated’
the last time you made us laugh

the first time you clicked the third lock
the last time we left

these firsts and lasts
are neither beginnings nor ends
this verse is my last
for now, till we meet again

Broken Umbrella / by Ingrid Bruck 

Cold wind
rips,
a black umbrella
collapses
inside out.
Spokes dangle
from beaded wet satin,
rivulets
pelt her face,
she scurries
to shelter.

Once she was
a muddy-puddle girl,
a toddler
drawn of standing water,
a kid who found every pool,
stamped her feet,
and laughed.

Snap, crack,
she’s full grown.
Wind whistles,
raindrops pound.
An old lady pulls her head
between her shoulders,
huddles nearer to earth
standing ready to receive
just one more broken umbrella.

The Road Ecologist Has a Heart-to-Heart with the Chicken / by Brittney Corrigan  

What is it about the road, she asks, that makes it the center
of our lives? The road ecologist has stopped at the farm stand

for berries. The chicken is wandering loose, regards her
with curious eyes, too wide in its staccato-shifting head.

The berries are as red as the chicken’s comb, piled up
generously in the little basket. The road ecologist feels

she might cry from their abundance, their sweet promise.
The side of the road is two parts sorrow and one part joy,

she thinks, and the chicken seems to agree. It pecks a circle
around her as she walks to her car, blinks in the near-dusk

sun. The road ecologist glances around, looks back toward
the farm stand. No one is watching. No one is ever watching.

Let’s go together, she says to the chicken, lifting it into the front
seat of her car. They share some berries, pull onto the open road.

Jake Dallas 2000 / by Donna Dallas 

From a desire
to a prayer
to a plead
to my womb
now twenty-one
turquoise eyes with a splash of yellow
passed down from
my mothers’ mother
the mark of a musician
guitar in hand – doctor’s hands
so steady
from many
to the one
you with your melody

Music in your ear
college in the rear
the world ripe and ready
as you take off in a frenzy
to capture griffins and beauties
to save me – save us
with your song

The Transpacific Major Thank-You Hits Connections / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

I’ve never been to Tupelo but I wanted to say thank you

for being magically Tupelo in my eyes as they stare-whip

a thank-you cream that’s all butterscotch and dream

and Tupelo and from my skin of bones to articulating

thank you in Hispano-Filipino in an informed Tupelo

time and space and after identifying the many uses

of thank you within the Tupelo creative network

and discourse I give Tupelo the toast as a thank you

to everyone paying Tupelo a major thank you

like ¡Gracias! or Salamat! or thank you in Tupelo

English with transpacific major thank-you hits

connecting Tupelo to the lovely communities of thank you

such as Terima kasih in Bahasa and as how thank you

is expressed by the Vietnamese as Cảm ơn

making Tupelo happy too with a thank you rendered

in Tamil as நன்றி and in the Japanese left-hand

thank-you calligraphy of ありがとうございます

but I remember Tupelo running through the wet grass

I thought it’s a person and I thought it’s a place

I thought it’s also a language of plural stars

swarming a giant thank-you sign I made for Tupelo

tilling nouns like thank you and Tupelo in exponential

notation so I’m happy to be with Tupelo in Tupelo and

being Tupelo saying thank you in 30 lines on the 30th day:

cento | ode | nocturne | haiku | thank you | Tupelo

triolet | self-portrait | sequence | thank you | Tupelo

code-switch | exponent | found | thank you | Tupelo

tanaga | free verse | concrete | thank you | Tupelo

erasure | ruba’i | confessional | Beat | surrealist

sestina | Lazlo | micro-poetry | thank you | Tupelo.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/30

Lazlo learns the sextant, the quadrant, the
pseudocylindrical, Van Der Gruten,
Ptolemy’s pseudoconic attempts

studied in archives Lazlo photographs
creased Mercator, Gnomic, Polychonic
nautical maps for time-lapse comparison

charting losses, recorded data, claims,
holds, stakes, location’s amoebic un-
certainty principle, Lazlo fancies

himself an Einstein or Newtonian
archeologist of the seas—perhaps
a sea warden called back down, through time, one

 thousand leagues under…, with Jules Verne or Jacques
Cousteau getting their bearings by rise and
set stars, dead reckoning, Lazlo sights the

zenith, sets the plumb line calculates the
azimuth, weight and bearing of the lead
plummet, sounding the depths Lazlo explores

the fissures in the map-makers’ last log
entries, notebooks, sketches—an erased line
is perhaps a palimpsestual promise

Lazlo thinks he knows where the tide takes him
cresting waves, tracing overwater lines
along the continental shelf’s endless arc

adrift, Lazlo knows only the lengthen-
ing of his beard, weathering of his hands,
a parched sensation in his gut—along

his eyes, crabs crawl over cornea, hide
along the fraying ropes of his nerves, converge
where his chronometric exactitudes

meet along the lines of his mariner’s
compass rose, there where the barrels run dry
seek out chart datum, envision anchorage,

port of entry, sustenance, navigable
tracery—Xs mark this, this, this spot
to dig up buried treasure where Lazlo

locates meridian lines in parallel
or perhaps these are sinusoidal curves
longer than one central meridian

Lazlo sees the sun, spots the solar system
seeing him, spheres, arcs, degrees and depth
compromised, arbitrary, circular

circumnavigation, lost secant lines
like a noose slipped loose, Lazlo at the helm
glances starboard, aft, storm breaking along

the horizon Lazlo notes Ptolemy
refused to be constrained by any disk
or rectangle, a straight line—course, rhumb line—

dissects hemispheres making a beeline
for home harbor hailed hurricane held no
sway in the tidal drift catching up craft

hardened sailor cussed captain took to bunk
in quiet quarters wait seek out the storm
numbered days (Perseids to Leonids)

like years on the hunt, fore/aft castle, windage,
wreck that could have run aground gone to pieces
still floats bobber-like buoy found adrift,

no trace, presumed dead, Lazlo’s body lies
quietly in wait, ensconced in his quarters,
captain, at last, mummified.

Frozen Charlotte / by David Estringel

Skin, blue,
like mistletoe berries
under her midnight sun, she
sways and hums
to the tune of fireflies
in flight
and whispers upon the wind
though bare branches.
Night’s chill rests, warm,
upon bare shoulders
in want of cover, but
the anima
and blood
are numb to Winter’s sting.
So, she dances,
the wreath of Spring,
long fallen away,
beyond the crystalline grasp
of icy fingertips
(or loving hands).
Falling
silent and still—
a night heron frozen, midflight—
she turns, slowly,
to me
and the offending glow
of yellow lamplight
on bedroom walls (reflected in my eyes),
until thoughts pull her
away
in cold procession
back
into the taciturn embrace of
Night’s song
and that baleful moon, above.
So,
she dances,
unknowing (uncaring)
that she’ll be alone
for the next thaw.

IF NIGHT IS LIKE DEATH THEN LET IT COME / by K.E. Ogden 

It’s night now and what is night except
Stars staring back at cousins on earth?
The daily work has done— supper made
And eaten while stories of the day filled
Kitchens and dining rooms.. Plates washed
In sinks of sudsy water. Bodies in repose
On furniture, cuddled and reading or
Staring into a light-filled box with its own
Stories and jingles singing us to sleep.
Or one last neighborhood walk, the
Dog sniffing at trees and bushes. We are
sleepy and tired, all of us, as we shuffle
Up the stairs to our rooms, distant Cars hum
Highways and fill the air behind us.
We close our blinds. We pull
the curtains. No ghost light, just
darkness wrapping around us, skin
And muscle becoming shapes and lines
And everything merging into everything
Else. If night is like death then let it come.
Let us all rest after finishing this day.
Our cousins
The stars will keep vigil.

Poem 29 / Day 29

queen of the jungle / by Claire Acerno

tired but riled
I don’t want to walk
ruffled can’t sleep

others in the house
get under my skin
just being them
roof snaps low
boxes me in
tight and trim

go outside
leave me alone
I dare not speak it
out loud, do they know
(how would they)
what roars in my head
(perhaps they do)

a lion mama will kill to protect their young
a lion male will kill a cub to strengthen himself

my own, long grown species
here in a sub- urban square
I pace and circle as if
papa lion’s at the door
ready to break in, eat us alive
I scratch at an imagined foe
claw bloody my own fate
backed in a corner of this
who you are
who you portray

piss or get off the pot
lion strength is your mind
always has been
always is

Outside In / by Ingrid Bruck
Inspired by Joanne Kryger

They are spinning thread
solely of birdsong
in Antigua’s central market,
a gossamer mesh
dipped from the cobalt Pacific.
Weavers on knees twist strands
of cotton, the stuff of birds nests.

At the other end of the city,
above the cobblestone sidewalk
a shuttle beats on a handloom
weaving fabric.
Una princesa con pestañas tan grande,
wide-eyed beside her baby sister wrapped in a shawl,
stares at me, a gigante, a trespasser.
Her mother kneels at work, one of many
counting threads she lifts and drops.
A long tailed quetzal,
the bird of liberty emerges.

Don’t Fence Me In Triolet / by Brittney Corrigan

Lines of wire, barbed across the land,
snag ungulate migrations by the heel.
Now we are undoing, hand by hand,
lines of wire barbed across the land.
Boundaries short-sighted, poorly-planned,
loop the Earth that wasn’t ours to steal.
Lines of wire, barbed across the land,
snag ungulate migrations by the heel.

We Get Used to the Mundanity / by Donna Dallas 

The train rumbling behind the house
every hour on the hour
shakes the bones of it all
later in years we come
to not even notice
as if we have lived with this
forever
did we wonder – ever
what it would be like
to sleep in velvet silence
in a home tucked far away
from this diesel running mammoth?

Creatures of habit
or if it ain’t broke don’t fix it
and once in awhile
some wrench in the commonplace
will fly in the window like a brick
and cause havoc to absurdity

After the dust of death settles
we go back to the train
the steel wheels along
the metal rail
the reverberating of the roll
the ding of this beast’s heart
along the current

We wanted to be bowled over
with something big and exciting
not realizing we were slowly
becoming shredded

Still the sound of it nestles me in
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
mumbles somewhere under the dark
some little nudge of time
a long slick swallow of gin
a devil’s laugh
the nighthawk cries as the dawn
tears in

Have the stars ever looked this big
before the break into day?
I don’t know what it is I’ve wanted
for so long
it’s a petrified knot
under my gut

That damn train…..

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/29

Is this a pilgrimage or a quest…?
secreted away, stowed away, Lazlo
caught the bug, he supposes—that contagion

in the salt sifted into the bloodstream,
as a child wobbling down the rotted plank
leaning towards the gator, his ticking clock

embedding a certain determination
weft (cleft in the brain) tug at the back of
his neck, chasing not Peter, but the pirate.

Evening Machines / by David Estringel

Painted ladies duck
from fiends under velvet skies,
‘round corners and doorways,

as God’s chosen saves
souls of passersby and
dogs in search of scraps.

Shirtless boys show’r girls
on stoops with shucks and jives to
clanking coins in cans

of bums, patrolling
slices of concrete, splashed with
piss and hot dog wat’r.

Street kids linger ‘round
fronts of liquor stores with fists
of cash, cruising dupes,

for ill-gotten smokes
and cheap beer before managers
close shop for the night.

Electric lines crackle
and neon signs hum in the air,
overseeing the chain-gang.

A war story / by Christine Hamm 

Once, the brightness of lemons arrested a solider as he was tearing black cloth from a dead woman’s hands – the lemons spilling from under her skirts. Smoke flowed back and forth over the field like the breath of an accordion. 

In the next town, a girl in her track suit is replacing all the nouns in her textbook with the word shit.  She had shared her expertise in getting high using over the counter meds last week and now, none of her friends showed up to school.  The teachers stopped coming months ago – they were too scared of being shot or had flown to another country.  The girl kept showing up, hoping the library would be unlocked. She finds some pistols in the dusty bushes by the cafeteria as she’s searching for rocks to break the library’s windows. She finds one with bullets and fires into the sky – the gun so close to her face as she aims at the hawk-like cloud.  The kickback gives her a black eye, and for a second, she sees stars.

LITTLE BLACK CAT / by K.E. Ogden 

You nuzzle my face with your
Wet nose and whiskers while

I nurse a headache
Laid out on the couch

brain rummaging through lists
Of things I should be doing

On this hot Saturday afternoon.
When I was 7 granny gave me

A worry stone and I rubbed it smooth
in months and she laughed “just

Like your daddy.” And when I was 13
She gave me an old tin full of matchstick

Dolls, the “worry ghosts” she said would
Ease me into sleep without panic attacks

Or night terrors if I put them under my
Pillow. “Your heart is so sweet,”

She’d said, and I carried them
with me everywhere And held them

to my lips and whispered things:
“not making friends on the first day”

“Having enough money for lunch”
“Not getting picked on for my buck teeth”

And later “mom’s cancer going away” and
“Please let my sister survive.” Too much

My whole life, and granny is gone
And the dolls are somewhere else too

So now it’s dumb things in my mind
Like a cheap warble record or a worm-

Jingle from a dumb commercial
But you, little black cat, are making biscuits

On my stomach with your paws and nails
nestling in with your puddly purry body

asking for presence in this moment
asking for me to close my eyes and breathe

and saying over and over again
with every purr, all is well in the world.

Poem 28 / Day 28

messages from nighttime messengers / by Claire Acerno

there is a coat I wear like a skin
black faux fur, lined in thick satin
it doesn’t really fit, I tried
so many, from bargain racks of Old Navy
some grey & pink, 80’s punk lined dolman sleeved baggy
this one fitted at the waist
the price was right

I wore this bargain on a gloomy night
I drove all the way out to Patchogue, Long Island
that’s very far considering where I’m at
it got dark, I was tired, a friends house was nearby
thinking it would be a fun surprise, I pull up to her door
she had just left her husband, a nasty Trumper
changed her name back and kept her same head (tsk tsk)
she is a bit spent but that didn’t stop her
from swipe to the left, try again

Mom happened to be there so nice to see her again
since she is still dead, but we watched TV together
like the old days, I was wondering how to get home
I don’t drive at night, when out from a strange car appears
Mitch & Em (my two oldest kids)
stacks of Priority Mail envelops in hand stuffed with gifts

I want to leave and get back home
all we had was a clown car, can we all fit?
in sleepy desperation I curled myself inside the travelling shelf
the road was not lit, direction not clear
after a few blocks the car tips
I roll out on the gravel
what to do now,
with a clown car
a dead mom
unopened gifts
two grown kids
how do I get us all home
when will I ever wake up

Latihan / by Ingrid Bruck

a tiny body
hovers
moves in
moves out
from blossom to blossom
up the stem
of a cardinal flower

a bird
stands on air
in the garden
walking up the flower stalk
neither wings or feet
touch the plant,
only the flick
of black tongue
to scarlet
collects the honey
from colored vessels

flower
and hummingbird
moving in, moving out
shine gemlike in sunshine

A Singular Night of Shame / by Onyedikachi Chinedu

I hadn’t the words to teach myself a healthy sun.
That I’m in love was not enough to prosper the house.
That I had sung the hummingbird, showed power
in short syntaxes, did nothing
to keep him. who knew he’d a dreadful good heart?
so it took more months to realize he wormed in the apple,
all this time, fooling around in its meat.
I dreamed I had enough to whirl away the whispering bees
in my garden, not the robin in a slingsshot’s gaze,
for we were the same: in the wrong gaze at the wrong time.

Salmon Cannon / by Brittney Corrigan

Those 35 seconds out of water—
soft walls of the translucent tube
pressing against shimmering scales,
misted body speeding through
the channel, ichthyic shadow
of a body suspended mid-air,
climbing the upheaved river,
rocketing over the dam—
are an unladdered shortcut,
an unhindered path, a splash
landing bypass to the spawning
grounds, torpedoed fish, far-flung
and flying, shoot me into the sun,
I want to be among the stars.

(Italicized lines taken from a Tweet after the Whooshh Innovations salmon cannon video went viral.)

Rulers / by Donna Dallas 

Still here
we didn’t crumble
maybe we truly are
hanging on by a shoe string

Damn
we will hang on
by a pubic hair if necessary
pull out of the dark
like a long sucking drag
on an oily pipe
we smoke through it
roll out among the dead

Sit among them
pick flowers
for them
they hide
under our finger nails
drain them to bone dry

Yet our cave stays open
24/7
it’s warm inside
cozy by the fire
what’s the need
to peer out
or evolve
to see what we’ve been
and done

Come in and join us
for a nightcap
ignorance is bliss

Five Haikus of Autumn / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

swallows quick to split
summer skies bleaching in mirth
some mixed emotions

***

misty hours stirred
another X-ray morning
autumn pegasus

***

kestrels returning
pregnant with the thoughts of flour
confusion rain clouds

***

ravens in the streets
snowing notes of history
a Sean-nós singing

***

before the first frost
the blue chirp of vacant shops
no more ice cream bars

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/28

What, wonders Lazlo, is a true clue?
A coin, a crest, a cannon, an etched crate
crossed over? Ink rots away names of the

dead, rusted over barnacle-embedded
urchins, coral, sponge, algae, octopi
scrub all signs from that once surface-side, once-

buoyant vessel. Now flotsam and jetsam
settle the same seashelf awaiting divers
like a braille surface pressing up through sand.

the things that linger / by David Estringel

half-eaten orange rinds

                                           on the kitchen table

air bubbles

                     under striped shelf paper

posies and lavender

                                     pressed in books on the shelves

the smell of whispers

                                       at night

the wonder

                     of little things  

the dent

                 of my ring finger

Everything you touched.

The Good Housekeeping Guide to Year One / by Christine Hamm 

Take spoilt milk into your fingers and run it through your hair – surprise, it’s a great conditioner! Let the lawn fill with ravenous dandelions, and open the gate so snakes can devour the baby rabbits huddled in your strawberries.  Ivory foundation mixes well with your cbd-infused lotion to cover the scars, plus: lip gloss on your shuddering lids is a brand new shine!  Center a large pink pill (you know the one, under the sink in the basement!) on your formica kitchen table, inherited from the great aunt on the poor side of the family.  Gather ten more caplets. Crush them with your wedding silver – the back of the soup spoon should do great.  Once they are in a smooth powder, mix those ashes thoroughly with the instant coffee in his favorite jar.  Tonight, after you go to bed alone instead of waiting for the flash of his headlights to revive your Frankensteined heart, your dreams should tell you who deserves the first cup, him or you? Ignite all the curtains in a quick, counterclockwise rotation, and even the most stubborn house will burn evenly. 

THE BITTER AND JEALOUS SIDE OF ME / by K.E. Ogden 
with a line from my student, Kyle K.

Jealous of this cold coffee, heat gone, relaxed and chill
Jealous of the construction worker jackhammering the sidewalk into rubble
Jealous of the plant on the bookshelf that has me to water it and whisper love notes to its wilting leaves

Texting my kid, she says “Remember self-care” when I tell her I’m feeling sad and I’m jealous she remembered self-care and is starting her morning full of light even though yeah, I taught her that and go breathe
Speaking of light, Jealous of these sun beams hitting the tables and carpets, and the way my black cat twists and turns his body to suck it all in, and jealous, too, that when I touch his fur he’s full of hot sunbeams and grinning at me because he got his breakfast and now he’ll nap in the sun all day like an angel
Jealous of how I can cry watching the news, but not when someone I love dies

My bucket of care overflows like a slop bucket on a pig farm
which is a weird thing to write, so I’m Jealous of how other people can say just the right thing at the right time and not second-guess their weird, creative genius

Jealous of that creative genius or of that girl I used to be who wrote poems every day like they were life and stopped strangers to read them and said “wanna hear my new poem” and it felt like yes, I have to share this! and that girl was all earnest and full of hope and independence and a future that was blinding
Jealous of the blinding too or the idea of blinding because that blinding would help me figure out how to end this litany which is basically me saying I love you and I wish.

Poem 27 / Day 27

these last days in August/writing a poem feels like being arrested / by Claire Acerno

cop shouts
UP AGAINST THE WALL MUTHA FK-R
I pull aside, legs spread, arms
above my head, heart
beats out my chest

a small crowd gathers
it’s drizzling now
the worst thing to do
would be to run words
drop to the floor
spill without permission

yesterday I made cookies for you
today I am a windshield wiper
swiping, swishing
the same view, unattached words
back and forth
time a pressure cooker
your focus steams through
a small spout, in the wrong place
at the wrong time
a warning ticket
and you’re set free
water’s boiled, writing’s done
don’t think about tomorrow
be quiet and drink your tea

Motherhood Weaving / by Ingrid Bruck 

A mere conjugation of man plus woman,
motherhood picks up the shuttle, widens the belly
until a a tapestry emerges complete.
The act of procreation
lifts up the threads on a loom,
passes the weft through the warp.
As shedding rises up the warp yarns,
emotions stretch, the reed battens against the cloth.
The release of finished goods onto a beam
takes nine months to complete.

Motherhood doesn’t control of the process.
The loom weaves a pattern and design
DNA gives her to follow, she doesn’t create it.
Motherhood hasn’t changed from pioneer days,
it produces a textile.
The mother lacks control over what she makes.
Whether she weaves a blouse, potholder or rug,
what comes out she takes home from the hospital.
It’s her job to feed, clothe and wash the baby.

A woman uses the cloth gently,
protects it from breakage,
and delights in the intricacy of image and line
waiting to be revealed in the weaving.

 
 
 
Mirrored Tragedy / by Onyedikachi Chinedu 
 
There were things I couldn’t control.
I’d have known how to make you
finer than the small bird before the tragedy.
 
Finer than the small bird before the tragedy,
I’d have known how to make you.
There were things I couldn’t control.
 
 
 
 

The Road Ecologist Watches a Deer Chase a Coyote Off the Snoqualmie Wildlife Overpass / by Brittney Corrigan 

They might have a little history together. The road ecologist
reads the WSDOT Tweet, watches the video over and over.

She squints at the night vision shapes of coyote and deer, bright
and eyeless and bounding. She sides with the coyote, lone soul

just trying to navigate the dark. The road ecologist understands
what it’s like to be driven away, tail between legs, running.

The doe is alone, but who knows what small hearts quiver
in the forest beyond? The coyote is alone, but who knows

what small mouths pant in the distant den? I don’t want to be
alone, the road ecologist thinks, refreshing the video again.

She can’t sleep, listens to nothing in the empty night.
A little history together. As if that could explain instinct

or fear. As if that could explain every severed longing,
luminous bodies expanding the distance between them.

For Eve / by Donna Dallas 

In your near-sightedness
you salved my wounds
bandaged my body
I came out gleaming
I ate of your bread
drank of your wine
for a minute
that lasted two decades

I ran barefoot with you
under the fading moon
behind Saturn
we galloped our pretty selves
until we were sore-foot and bruised
exit the garden

Enter into madness
try to save these fools
who beg at our feet
redeem is the keyword 
back in our time
when I gave you the apple
and whispered here now it will be ok
and you
unknowingly followed my bleached bones
into forest after forest
pull shelter together twig by twig
with our backs against the seamless world

I try to covet you until our moon returns
gray and waxy
it tethers us
to walk again barefoot through the mud

Forgive my Fridays if they are, like herons, capable of flight / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

Some Fridays can’t decide if they’re hot or cold, solid or gas, widowed or windowless. Some days like Fridays I feel like saying I’m sorry. There are Fridays that try to shut the aortic valve but the aortic valve won’t shut. If I’m in another world, I don’t fuck up because blind swirling herons stay swirlingly blind. This was before Friday sang the blues, before the last sestina that came before happiness.

Beloved jealousy, forgive my Fridays if they are, like herons, capable of flight.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/27

Lazlo wonders if he had a boat if
his boat had fins if a boat could jump or
submerge itself, dive, if he had a boat

it would need to contain giant globes in
which Lazlo could swim, breathe, be contained
like a submersible duckboat snowglobe,

Lazlo thinks, his boat would chase sonar clues,
use magnetometry to scour debris
dig under sand, even, unearth Atlantis.

Street Flowers / by David Estringel

Night blooms

push

through the cooling bustle

of footsteps

and concrete street corners.

They unfold,

blue,

through sidewalk cracks

under streetlamp moons and

the twinkle of city lights—

savage beauties

with perfumed petals, pale

against the night sky

and nectared dapples of crimson.

So delicate.

So sweet.

So thorned.

“Twisting my hands, thinking, you fool, you fool” / by Christine Hamm 

You’re watching an animated movie about a unicorn,
and she’s the last unicorn and a red bull keeps chasing
her over fields and mountains, and you turn to your

father and tell him that the movie’s based on a book
you loved in middle school, and how you drew that
favorite tragic female unicorn forever in your notebook,

and how, later, you came up with a color based on the
description of  her skin in the book, a pale bluish green. 
For years that was your favorite color, and you painted

your bedroom that color, and your furniture that color.
And he pushes his glasses up to the top of his head and
says, so you always knew you were going to die early, huh?

And then goes out to smoke on the deck, stumbling over
the track of the sliding glass door, then catching himself.

SUMMER BONES / by K.E. Ogden 
With a first line inspired by Mary Oliver

In the summer I am writing about
there were many storms. Rain thundered across

treetops way out there in the expanse of
mountainside. A train roared in the distance

close enough to see the steam rising and
dissipating into the grey sky with

its patches of white puffy clouds losing
the battle. It was hot. I could’ve wrung

the air of water like dirty dishrags.

I was in mourning then, as I am now —
open pockets of grief that I could step

into like puddles and some deeper than
expected lodging feet in mud. The fenced

garden full of rotting tomatoes kept
deer away, and I could sneak in there, step

over the wire fencing and pull eggplant
and green peppers and whole stems of basil

for supper. At night on the porch after
storms, cicadas in the trees — not hundreds

of this summer, just handfuls calling out
to their lovers while fireflies lit up pines

like a fancy restaurant. It was different.
But I feel whole now in this summer of

solitude and quiet sidewalks, dry, hot sun
and light air. Even now I feel like this

summer, with its lizards crawling hot streets,
its night-blooming jasmine thickening air

with perfume, I feel like this summer is
already in my bones.

Poem 26 / Day 26

mermaid / by Claire Acerno

lungs take water
my gills, breath easy
out-in, uncover the gleam
ancient currents absorb
line the depths, secrets
the ocean floor

a ray of sun
punctures the above
swift I travel switch
to the other side
open, empty, allowing
a change
back to woman
cells renew
feet in earth
renewed land

Warm Mineral Springs / by Ingrid Bruck 

At the gate of Warm Mineral Springs,
a fountain features dancing girls.
Seekers of youth have bathed
in these mythic springs
since Coronado discovered them.
The healing waters spray in the air,
flow out to the Myakka River.

Sulfur makes the water so heavy,
swimmers drift like colored leaves.
Coral reefs grow into the deeps
of the bottomless crater.
Ancient garfish inhabit the shallows.
With saw-blade teeth like sharks,
gar swim with gators and wrinkled bathers.

They coexist in peace until the owners
fence out the alligators in the 60s
and add a fountain for a roadside attraction.
Naked brass imps romp in jets of water.

Some North Port ladies declaim the statues.
Unseemly, immodest was their verdict
on shameless hussies not wearing clothes.
The hubbub roars for months,
owners refuse to remove the fountain.

My grandparents drive me
to Warm Mineral Springs,
we laugh at the reformed statuettes.
Protesters had their say,
each girl dresses in a yellow skirt
to protect her modesty.

In August, my grandmother phones me.
“The first hurricane was all it took,
it blew away the fabric.”
Ever since, the cherubs have basked
in sunshine and rain.

The Glorification of the Miscreant / by Onyedikachi Chinedu 
 
 
[is] old lore. The sin of the body
is of the father’s house, taking the entirety
of the upper room, and yet these things, with no accountability, slink further down, tilling fresh soils,
only to learn the unspoken void sums up
to the moment when the myth is unrelated and spirited;
that for this tale, the glorification of the miscreant’s
perspective reduces the clarity of righteousness,
but this draws on a certain memory of the cop
on his solitary rest. how the expiration of air
is the totality of life; how the end of territorial
reign rains rumors. the officer in the loamy dress, six-feet
below the buds as they break to let in the sun.
the myth is the waterproofed boat:
a turn on a mad sea continues to be—endless.
 
 
 
 
 
Tony Tries the Underpass / by Brittney Corrigan  
 
A screenshot of "Tony Tries the Underpass," a prose poem by Brittney Corrigan. The margins are justified and the poem is formatted into a square-like paragraph. The poem reads: Tony Tries the Underpass
It’s New Year’s Day when Tony finds the space under the road. The Kenyan sun warms his gray flanks. His wrinkled back, his billowing ears, blush with red dust. The highway’s belly used to be seamed shut, but now it is a mouth, yawning high over Tony’s head. Tony can see right through the earth to the forest on the other side. Behind him, the highlands shelter his kin. Through the archway, something calls to Tony. Like a part of him is already on the other side. The ghosts that have lived inside the bones of his massive skull for as long as he can remember, no longer ghosts. Tony can hear them trumpeting from somewhere up ahead. Today, two companions lumber at Tony’s heels. They are called, too. They urge Tony forward, swing their trunks up onto his shoulders, rumble their voices into the parched air. Above the space in the earth, human machines clatter and roll. Tony steps forward, steps under, steps through. He turns his head slowly side to side, great tusks catching the sunlight, eyes widening with joy. How long since his kind have been separated by the road? He can smell them now, can almost feel their bodies pressed against his. Reunion. That’s what’s been sitting between his ribs all these many years, wrapped around his patient heart. Tony turns to his companions as they emerge from under the road. He shivers his skin, takes off running. Crashes into the welcoming forest, startling bright birds into the January sky.

This Moment I Recall the Smooth Cold Stone of my Father’s Grave / by Donna Dallas 

I wish I knew what lurked
within me
I have tried so hard to dig it out
like shirking a mussel from its shell
it’s too ingrained in me – the thing that I am
whether it be monster or angel
it dwells
and flowers inside
like a fetus
but it never comes forward…
it lingers often behind the cold stone
of his grave
or wraps around me
in a gust of wind sweeping my hair
sometimes seeps in
through the dryness of my skin

Perhaps when I sleep
it ventures out with my breath
hovers above smiling
because it has taken me over completely
later enters back inside
and I awake as if nothing
yet know
this something (that is nothing)
is all I have

I go back to the cold stone
smooth as time unending
his tomb will be there
through my death
through layers of
countless deaths

Yet the stone
icy
with grey marble
his name engraved so deep
it’s blackened………..the granite stone
I touch
year after year
to pull out
a small granule of sanity
this marvel of rock
brooding in front of me
it’s where the end begins

Four Poems / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

My shadow stares at me
fashionably, without eyes.
Seeing me are its furious joy
and the pink suspicion of time.

***

When do you say you love a person?
Poetry sharpens its leaves,
sharper and more serious
than the proceedings of sassafras
held accountable for their false
deciduousness.
Behind the curtains of fall,
I bathe in your light, waiting—
when do you say you love a person?

***

I stand alone rearing an ego
up against the wind,
tinted dark and empty.
Static, its mouth
is the biography of silence.

***

You are the sun, the rain.
You are the rain that shields
love, fantasy, your bronchial malibu
from mediocrity.

Something breaks—

in teardrops, aquariums, invitations,
syntax error, liquid autumn, morgues.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / by Jennifer K Dick 

30/26

Sea-purloined, stealthy tempest caves under-
water castaways stowed ballast gilded-
atlas-not-gold peeled onionskin layers

woven freestyle backflip whirlpool vortices
rudder-rumble-crunch bone, stone: chipped granite,
basalt, cooled-lava crested seamounts, wave-

battered chests, corroding locks, tattered flags:
pirate, smuggler, colonial, blockade-
runner all run aground, cast asunder.

The Healing Clock / by David Estringel

Memories fade (like hours)
and fall away, lost down the crack
between the bed and the wall—
dissolving images in dusty frames,
slipping the catch of rusty nails
down yellowed wallpaper in thudless
freefall.

The shadow you left behind
retreats, silently, with each rising
of my morning sun, behind that thick curtain
of red velvet
to take your rightful place at
the head of our communal table
for the jubilee.

The gentle angles of your face.
The plumpness of your cheek.
Even those sad eyes of brown
that smile escape me
like ashes in the wind.
All are just the stuff of legends,
now.

“In the end, the doctor locked the door himself” / by Christine Hamm 

What is the opposite of blood, the doctor asks
with his eyes closed, when he thinks no one

is in the room.  The sky shines, and the clouds
puff and billow like paintings of clouds.  We lay

on our backs and contemplate the puffs, invent
words for them, (What is the opposite of blood?)

judge the various shades and machinery. The bugs
invited inside the house want out, snarling at the

windows, spreading their eight legs (no one is
in the room ) in the ceiling corners like the bones

of a flower. The doctor tells us we will die soon,
that we will lose the use of our hands.  We are

shown X-rays and charts. (The doctor closes his
eyes.) But all predictions fail.  Though grass

and men wither and fade to ash, trees and witches
remain until the final dove flings itself from
the thinning blue, the last star turns to pink salt.

ADVICE FROM MY DAD / by K.E. Ogden 

In my palm an entire
Automobile crushed into a cube
Red paint flecks stuck in my
Finger joints and the man
The man in the gallery says “isn’t it
Grand”? And I’m thinking
About Dad’s red Beetle,
the one we had to push down
The hill to get started, the one
You had to hold the passenger door
Handle of when you rode
Shotgun so that you didn’t fall
Out and lose a shoe on tight
Corners while my dad’s eyes
Widened and he cackled with
Laughter, “Layla” on the radio
And my teachers covering their
Mouths with their fingertips
When we pulled up to the
Curb at 8:43 am. If I had it all
To do again, I’d crush that car
Into a small square like this one,
The weight of it so heavy and
I’d be carrying around a metaphor
For my whole childhood like that:
hold tight, the road is going to
Swerve and be bumpy, and sometimes
You’ll have to push hard to get things
Going, but you gotta remember to
Laugh and enjoy the ride.

Poem 25 / Day 25

Poem 25 hope for another Christmas / Claire

when your sister spins
each story scatters
skips years, days
minutes, hours, her brain
on a loop with a glitch
knobs turn down
on lithium, klonopin,
more drugs than I can
spell or pronounce

a kidney that’s about to fail
a girl-child sits
in a grown woman
but there she is
and i am here
in a shared history
of insanity, put a block
in your mouth, shock therapy
don’t dare speak your mind
one wrong turn
one good girl gone
mad , twenty men or more , plenty
of hands raise to enforce
the way of martyrdom/victimhood

yesterday we spoke
over the line, she makes sense
to me, in a way she stays in places
I’ve mentally fled, physically
she wants to end
her time, maybe
it’s not a bad idea
but then again she’s
your sister and
you want her
without threats
of a sudden departure
without the loss
of life, past undone
on knees
my prayer for her
love yourself
half as much
as I do

Cento from 2019 Postcard Fest Poems / by Ingrid Bruck

a large mother with open arms
falls into the deep open well
one holds onto mother’s neck
crawls on her stomach, chest and back
this story does not end well
one horned, two horned, one horned—
chattering light on subway walls
walks on bare granite in the cloud
this tale is a lie
an island of shade on the ridge
i weed sipping morning birdsong
catbird sings three songs and hits replay
my sisters sing and i know the words
and so it was, and so it is

The Friend / Onyedikachi Chinedu

“Live to tell not of it,” he whispered.
I sent the heirlooms, cache in the back of the Chevvy,
to him pottering around the tribe.

I sprawled on the couch
and reviewed the number of times

I took serotonin against warning.
The therapist thinks

of an egg on a ship.
The silence birds me to the clean-
wet window. I adored the rooks

frolicked in the lousy wind.
The leaves would sail down in numbers.
From a tree, I subtracted its relevance.

The Road Ecologist Hosts a Lemonade Stand / by Brittney Corrigan

If I could just get people to stop, she thinks, they’d understand.
If they stood at the side of the road balancing little paper cups

while they dug around in their pockets and purses for quarters,
they’d notice the oil streaking into the dirty grass, the way

the trees shudder when the big rigs barrel past. While sipping
their lemonade slowly, savoring it in the unusual heat (Is it really

unusual if it happens again and again?), they might notice
the herd of pronghorn descending from the hillside, considering

the road from its thunderous edge. But no one is stopping.
The road ecologist adds more ice to the pitchers, adjusts

the brim of her hat. Is this what my life has come to?
she thinks, trying to remember where she is actually supposed

to be. At her feet, a prairie dog chirps, sits up on its hind legs.
Have some lemonade, she says. Here, take it. It’s on me.

I Asked for a Pine Coffin / by Donna Dallas

Because it’s a burning thing and that’s all

I remind myself
when things start to fall south
they drop like the osprey
when diving in for their kill
never see ‘em coming
the drop so deep it’s a gorge
we set up camp
because the climb back up
is a never-ending
treacherous event
of stacked dishes
or bills
every day a sore throat

This myriad of weeds
we try to grab hold of
to pull ourselves up and out

A mirage beckons
like a shiny new dishwasher
more money
better meds

I don’t know which way is up
nor do I care

Thus said many times over dinner
you think yourself so hard
you’ll think straight into
a wooden box

Because you become
what you think about – or
what you think about
becomes you

Never quite sure about this
or the table setting
or how deep we went
when we lunged for the jugular
and how far into the great gorge
this one will take us
again
and again

Yet here I am
when asked a simple question
I ponder the plunge
answer
as I stack dish upon dish
climb vine over vine
pay bill and pay again
just give me pine
because it’s a burning thing

David Lynch / by Lawndemarc Decamora

In the singular eye of the evening sun,
there is a hole inside between something
and nothing. A light. A rush of wind
in the gathering gloom. Industrial art
is the name you give to silence
that sometimes coils around your fingers
that count the cockatoos in rank order.
Quaint beauty swimming beneath
a matchless dream; your flora and fauna
are a domestique for your subterranean
thought bonanza, the kind of ideological
fantasy conflating rhyme and riprap,
rabbits and rafflesias. The Nadja I know
is an absurdum: the same deep water as you.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / by Jennifer K Dick

30/25

Lazlo turns the pages, peruses past
plunder, caption reads—promises for trea-
sure hunters
—cross a name off the list of

the long unfound, year’s ululation like
undulation, seaweed-waving through hulls
hollowed-out, site of sponge, corals, algae,

blue wrasse, jenny lind, urchins and starfish,
electric eels, sand tiger, hammerhead
beside great white sharks patrolling the lost.

What’s Wrong with Golden Calves, Anyway? / by David Estringel

Words
of PrOphETS
don’t rage, fiery, in the sky
or scar pristine faces
of sapphire
on holy mountain tops.
No.
No point in lookin’.
They hide in plain sight
like houses in need of a flip,
awaiting epiphanies
and big reveals.
Folds of clumsy-cut loose-leaf.
Coyish peeks of ink
above white, starched collars.
Tags on empty subway cars
and hearts.
Silent lovers at kitchen tables
topped with cups of cold coffee
and clean spoons.
They’re there—
everywhere—like oxygen
if we’d just rub the sleep
from our eyes and
see.

Netflix Pitch Number 16 / by Christine Hamm

On a reality show called “The River,” we eat and dream
on a decaying cruiser boat in a slow jungle river. Huge

flies swarm and land in our hair. We try to hold still, not
to cry. The theme of the show is: every week our missing

father visits in the form of a dragonfly. What was it that
Jack said, “it’s his way of telling us we’re close.” Night

vision cameras watch everyone sleep in their yellow
bunks. The engine spews oil droplets, so loud we have

to yell to be heard. The staff often disappears, but no one
talks about it on camera. When we cut our fingers sharpening

our knives, the wounds’ edges peel back, blood oozes green
and brown. We have lost all feeling in our hands, but we

manage to cook and steer by remembering what we used
to touch, what we used to like and want.

Midnight Stars / Kirsten Ogden

Pink tipped clouds skip across
The sky and I’m sipping coffee
And wondering about the stars
Are they still there waiting for
Night so they can shine?
I like to wish on that possibility—
Not just a star but a sky full
A galaxy full waiting for
Wishes to pull their
Light closer to heart
And breath closer to
Flesh and muscle and
then they’ll find stardust
In my bones and finished
Wishes on my lips

Poem 24 / Day 24

Mitchell / Claire Acerno

I was just a girl listening to blue music when you arrived
on the fourth note of a troubled life, cancer moon
sweet baby boy, night-time walks, ‘la la la la la’
for your laugh, O how you lit the small rented room
you never did crawl just stood up and walked
to avoid the dirty floor, as if you’d done it before

the borough of Queens, outlined our bodies
NY’s life form mental illness, we sat for hours
at nine and four, knelt at the god of Sesame Street
we’d learn our numbers, shapes, and sanity
with your small hand you grabbed at every song
mine tried to punch through new beginnings
an unending thirst for clear thoughts, love’s kind words

I can hear you, see you, with your Super Grover cup
held high, a toast for a new day, hope
“Happy New Nyear!” in your two year old
Rosh Hashanah voice and, that smile, O that smile
it still can heat up a cold reality
only seventeen years between us
we took our joy in fits and spurts
no steady knowledge, no long run acceptance

broken family remnants, resentments
mental breakdowns, neglect, depression
at three years, I left you in desperation
your sister Emily only two

I sit now and unwind ropes of guilt
pull its splinters from my body
I spiral, spin circles till I’m down
to the tiny dot of us, almost clear
but sometimes in a deep breath
of regret I remember

if I could go back
of course I would
erase mistakes
hold on, hold us
solely an answer for fate
but now is here
this much is clear
I love you
always did
always will

Toko Shinoda’s Art / Ingrid Bruck

calligraphy
falls off
her brush
art beat
heartbeat
art treasure
red blood
on legs
black wings
beat void
bird art
lines flap
lines tangle
lines diverge
ancient
red energy
modern
black box
stroke up
stroke down
stop-stroke
Shinoda
dead at 107

last year’s seed pod
brown bare branch
a thrush sings

Newfound / by Onyedikachi Chinedu

These questions of care must go on;
and without him, in the house, the star bangs blackness.

In the chapel in which the dark is the devil’s phrase,
you wonder if everything will soon take the sheen

of a glorious morning. He wrote to you
about his new place, his newfound love,

his newfound hobby of torching the willow tree
to the ground, to urn its ashes and butterspread

them over the sleek lake, but did it matter
if you’d browsed his beard for specks of scraps

after a three-course meal? Truly. Did it matter?
To any of you. The interrogation must go on

like the late light of the sky
is the newness of the cricket’s joy.

the somnambulist night opens like a vault
a contemporary season. still, I shall move on,

for all things must move on, even the cat
of a dirty street must move on.

A Love Story / Lawdenmarc Decamora

A kind of relationship developed between C and D.
The former was from a sacred temple, the latter
in an abandoned carnival park. One day a silvery
slope of tiny metal was found packed in an aluminum
foil paper. Glimmering in the glue of sunset
was curiosity. D thought it was chocolate;
C cherished it and both became friends. Soon,
lovers. There’s however a potential health risk
in chocolates, experts said. The two paid no attention
and their cadmium addiction soared 10, 000 feet
into the sky. They wrestled with toxicity and pain
cast in some parachutes of smoke. Earlier C saw D
hiding from tubes among books, hallucinating.
C’s worried face triply glowed. D handed the latter
a transcript underlining a note that read: “Cadmium
is thought to cause anxiety in monkeys.” Their eyes
paused, murmuring, But we are lovers made of chocolate.
Night entered. And for the last time, the two macaques
pleasured themselves in the chaos of ambulance
lights, right before the next laboratory experiment.

Golden Lion Tamarin Triolet / Brittney Corrigan

Beyond the road, orange bodies cling to trees.
A forest felled, and monkeys next to none.
Golden beings traverse the canopies.
Beyond the road, orange bodies cling to trees.
Fragmented habitat for their species,
we build a bridge to suture what we’ve done.
Beyond the road, orange bodies cling to trees.
A forest felled, and monkeys next to none.

White Night Moth / Donna Dallas

Opal wings beat through the
August heat
immobile
dense
air
so thick the little beast
lands
saucer like

Hair on the back of my neck
stands at attention as
the dead crawl across my grave
all hearsay perhaps
as the glowing white moth
eyes like globes
stares in through the window
at my ghost white reflection

Place my bony finger on
the glass
the death moth
size of a small bird
unstartled
peers in
rests patiently
on the outside
of the glass
the outside of my soul

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / by Jennifer K Dick

30/24*

In a small, seaside town called Grace traversed
by a river called Grace through Grace Park down
to Grace Lighthouse Lazlo lingers, longs to

levitate—as much needing to float on
air as sea—imagines: Grace who spotted stray
survivors storm-beaten against stone, raced

her horse into the surf, turned it back towards
shore, each barnacle-like sailor cleft to
mane, pulled to safety. Only shipwreck left.


*This poem is an homage to Grace Bussel (“Australia’s Grace Darling”) & Sam Isaacs who, in the middle of the night, used their horses to save survivors of the SS Georgette on Dec 1, 1876. Note: it was in fact Sam who saw the survivors in the surf first.

The Alchemy of Fingertips / by David Estringel

Long has it been
since I’ve heard the shuffle
of old slippers
on the linoleum floor.
The clanging of pans.
Squeaks from the rolling pin.
The
thump
thump
thump
of black stone on black stone—
the molcajete—
mashing cumino seeds
and garlic cloves
with snaps and pops
into a glorious salve
that staved off our
hungers.
I praise the alchemy
of fingertips—the
thump
thump
thump
that spun vulgar sundries into
liquid gold—
that elixir of lives,
swirled with warm love and
water from the sink,
poured into pots—cauldrons
of arroz con pollo
picadillo
carne guisada
and that pollo con calabaza I could never
bring myself to eat—
that set eyes and tongues aflame.
But, the kitchen is quiet, now,
the only smell, black bananas
in the fruit bowl and
abandoned dishes in the sink.
The molcajete is dry
as a bone—
grieving, quietly, in the corner
next to the sink—
not a tear left to shed
and no philosopher’s stone can
bring back the
thump
thump
thump
of this heart
or home.

Why didn’t I just eat the damned squash?!

vast to me and terribly warm / Christine Hamm

The bedrooms smelled of cow urine and buttery
corn. The shed was a nest for spiders with the
faces of children. The sun

a cracked plate, sponged and rewashed, returning
like the awful cycle of chores and meals, the fat-
necked men filling them-

selves until they could barely move from their chairs,
the women chatting slowly in the kitchen, washing
and stacking, the low

white ceiling dripping from the steam of the sink.

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

Writing an Obit / Michelle MacFarlane

Untitled / Kirsten Ogden

The rumbles of an airplane overhead
And the sky seems neverending
And thick like this buttercream
Frosting on this lemon cake
Which makes me think of my
Grandmother who baked cakes and
Made coffee every afternoon
Ushering us onto
The porch after dinner
The porch my grandfather
Built with me and my cousin
One summer after the second
Heart attack
And grandma and I sit on
The porch with paw paw
and stare at the sky
And tell stories and laugh
And paw paw mashed the cake
Between his gums because
He has no teeth
Me laughing at his crass
Jokes and grandma saying
“Baby stop that ugly mouth”
Me On this porch swing watching
The chihuahuas pee in the
Wooden slats and whine about
The coming rain
The sputter of gravel
Churning under daddy’s log
Truck tires as he pulls into
The property and everyone
Stepping onto the porch
With their good evenings
Getting their coffee and cake
And looking up at the blue
Thick sky

Poem 23 / Day 23

critical / by Claire Acerno

I once wrote a short and gave it to a friend to read
there’s a kernel of something here she said with a pinched expression
and handed me back the paper as if it smelled like dog-doo
I had thought it was an OK short, pretty good, not great
but definitely more than a speck of practically nothing
an un-popped piece of corn, you can’t even eat a kernel
never mind that she never told me what she liked or didn’t like
my thin confidence flat lined and died
I didn’t attempt to write anything for a long while
(maybe ten years or so) you see she was a Harvard graduate
with a bla bla bla in creative writing, I don’t believe she’d ever been published
but still, she held her own opinion in high regard. I guess so did I.

Twenty years later although not totally plugged
into the self confidence socket, I’ve somewhat recovered
no, I lie I now KNOW I’m am a writer, good or bad
someone will opinion in either direction
the point of this is…
Never, I repeat NEVER let failed writer ‘friend’
read your stuff

Pummeled / by Ingrid Bruck

a storm
overtakes
Afghanistan
US troops withdraw
the Taliban takes control
families try to escape
locals who worked
with US troops
mob the airport
behind the fence
shouts for help, papers waved
pleas to leave
some men at Kabul
break through
onto the airstrip
desperate to leave
they sprint down the runway
after an accelerating plane
hands of flesh
clasp at the metal shell
of a departing jet
one frail human
grasps at wings
to outrun a waiting bullet
holds on at lift off
until wind beaten
he falls
in my garden
yellow and red raindrops
press out daylight

El Bonito / by Brittney Corrigan

Jaguar in the borderlands
stalking the corridor
as the wall encroaches
tears through wilderness
in the basin of eyes
in the Sonoran night
jaguar at the doorstep
of a country where
there are no jaguars
all los tigres further
south across the border
across the growing wall
El Bonito moving north
to the country that keeps
everything out puts up
walls while pumas
and ocelots pace
the border El Bonito
threatened jaguar
divided continent
undone flow of species
all the openings too
small El Bonito
beautiful jaguar
waiting for passage
for undivided land

Time Gets So Big Like That / Donna Dallas

I’m this martyr in white socks
with super cush sneakers
leap to catch a falling child
try to tame the over growth of lies
I try to live in this time only
because the prior lives sucked
the good from me
what’s left
is this small reserve of tears
what’s left are my mother’s linens
what’s left is every damn coffee cup
chipped and cracked

What’s gone – the summer leaves
so green
complex and stunning
when examined closely
in the suns’ strips that dart through
the trees

Why so sad? Don’t reminisce…..
it will remind you of us
of this – that time just grows
so big like that

It’s an ache in my toe
a bunion that grew out of the side of my foot
cracks in the walkway
my child’s college tuition
haunting to be paid
boxes of candles never opened
nor lit in the face of laughter
with glasses clinking…..

We braced ourselves
for those tremendous waves
at Jones beach and when they were so big
we just dove into their bellies before they hit
we caved into each other
in preparation for all the deaths

Thank you cards I meant to send
it’s so big – the list
here’s another wedding
another baby born
somewhere
in this endless family
we keep going
knowing to stop and breathe
is the realization that
we stop

— Don’t stop —

It’s so big
you cannot wrap your pretty head around it
shrouds us with busy-ness – are we busy enough?
can’t we just watch
for a moment
as the hummingbirds delicately
poke into the feeder?
stare at their sweetness
before death is staring into us

Can we lay still?
feel my heart
rapid now
slower soon
slowly
time just gets so big like that
so fast

Tsing Ma Bridge / Lawndemarc Decamora

History tried to burn
this bridge, white, nervous,
with memory’s huddled torches.

This bridge, unfazed
by the currents, has a snake-long
magnificence prehensile as Monday.
City lights that grab,
full of language.

Its architecture
grows the hands that fill
Lantau air with hours,
the hours with the semen of stars,
the stars with the flower
of our circular sleep.

Hot as animal time,
this bridge’s limbs are sunned
by taxi colors of red, green, and blue,
sometimes massaged by rail traffic
leading to the airport.

Over the Ma Wan Channel
reverberations of July 1997
hover low like ghosts,
squeezed in today’s sentiments
of newsprint.

At midday
ferries take the waltz
from pier to pier, like dragon
pillows parading in our dreams.
The water reflects the image
of the persimmon sun
as a way of bridging
the ‘dong’ and the ‘xi’,
or the east and the west
of our persimmon appeal
for resistance.

But this bridge, Tsing Ma,
a modiste of our tattered shadows
—reconnects, remembers.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / by Jennifer K Dick

30/23

*

Harvest moon. Half moon. Moonslice night light. Full.
Moon beside Venus glares down on Lazlo
as he dreams, he dreams of sunken cities

ocean treasure, a walkway of golden-
rod become bullion become heavy bars
—in his dream he is in a leaky wet

suit swimming up out of the dark towards a
pinprick of white light, weighted down, pulled back
by red octopus tendrils. He’s sinking.

*

Indigo, ingots, islands of iron
ore, opals, black pearl string necklaces drape
salt-frosted lead glass mirrors—a bell tolls,

silently, waterlogged, crystal glass din-
ner is served under chandeliers, silver
candelabra, Lazlo makes his way toward

long banquet tables bearing old painted
porcelain (shattered) past skeletal remnants
fleshless diners in their sunken danse macabre.

*

As Lazlo dreams he turns and tosses in
the leaky rowboat in his dream he is
swimming back up towards a yellow slick of light

he holds his breath, his heart stops, waiting for
the rope, cord or line to yank him surface
-side, back through gelatinous meniscus-

line or white wave-froth to break, breathe, thump
his heart turns back over—an old engine, flip-
flops, revving up. In his dream, there is gold.

The Yawning Grave / by David Estringel

What waits (for you)
beyond cold reliefs of
endless sleep
and the gossip of earthworms?
I scry the shadows (for answers)
stretching ‘cross your new marriage bed—
a stone for a pillow and
blanket of red posey—
but they scurry and scatter
like children
with the rolling of clouds across
the sun.
How I long for the cradle
of loving arms
and the smell of kitchen on
your clothes.
Though I hear the beckoning
of the yawning grave,
wailing
and ached,
like a baby bird awaiting its first
taste of flesh,
I will not take its hand
nor tarnish my finger with its
dubious promise.
Summer is no time for the cold.

Alone words / Michelle MacFarlane


Jimmy died 

Perfect Day / Kirsten Ogden

Down the street a grey haze
Pine needles and dried bulbs
On the sidewalks crunch under
our tennis shoes
we watch cars stop and
go at the intersection
and talk about movies
and what to have for dinner
There’s a quietude and
Hot air lingers
Some of the people we love
Are gone now and
We talk about them
And stare up at where
The stars will be coming
When the light changes
later we eat macaroni
And cheese and then you fold
The laundry and I curl
Up in the couch thinking
how lucky we are

Poem 22 / Day 22

salted tides pressed in books / by Claire Acerno

right at the brink of change
you cup your hands at a rolling wave
run with flames at your feet
one drop of the infinite
safe and sound

sun rounds a glass globe
ants march on it’s rim
a faint tic, a sound, a click
you smile for the picture
stiff from the hold

first thing when you wake
a mountain at your back
free air circulates, breath caught
weight of days, anchored chest

stacks of wise words
shelved in your mind
you pull each grain of thought
inspect from all sides

under your pillow a clipped rose
petals of dreams absorb
blown through open windows
bouquets of youth

Fire / by Ingrid Bruck

(After: Song by Big Daddy Kane – The Wrath of Kane)

The heat is on
so feel the fire

a crumb starts to walk
no, it’s an ant

a hornet sting throbs
you’re in its space

shooter hits a mall
mischance, you’re there

a drive-by shooting
devil’s own luck

struck dead by lightning
sunshine, no rain

only one monarch
lots of flowers

barefoot and grass
clover without bees

a silent springtime
the frogs don’t sing

fire season west
the sun shines red

the fire burns…

Why Did the Chicken Remix / by Brittney Corrigan

The road is a small horizon,
grasshoppers riotous at the edge.
The light of the farmland sun
follows the hubcap’s gleam.
The gate left open, long-toed
feet at the road’s white rim.
She could only fear the fox
for so long, the squawking
assemblage. The other side
rises past the verge. A white
bird among magpies and crows,
she steps into the road, music
against her claws and beak.
Terrible promise of what tilts
beyond: the heft, the lift,
the ascending. Chasing the sun,
it ends in dust. Angels unfurl
at the grounding, fine-toothed
and soft to bear the loss.

Seek Dolphins along the Crest / by Donna Dallas

Miami Beach sucks me in
with tequila
and tits
and I – always so easily enraptured
duck into a bodega
find the black door
find a plastic lover

Get caught in a rainstorm
laugh wildly
run through the sweltering streets
meet my death
it sucked me in

While dying
in Miami
pulled again through the black door
find solace in the needle
wake to the waves
wonder about dolphins
and if they will disappear
by the spear
or the many propeller blades
worry in such turmoil
as if this
is my only problem

Again
black doorway
run into my death
for the third time
we become friends
he (death) asks
why I’ve been a cunt all my life
I
not knowing the answer
reply
just give me more time
to get another hit

The wave
more immense and glorious
than before
pulled me back to the beach
to see a school of dolphins
and think this is what
I’ve searched for
stumble to the shore
under speckles of sunlight
I bathe in it

There’s a double rainbow
hovering over the Atlantic
I see its vivid stripes
of purple
yellow
blue
red
do I though?
it arches right into a sailboat bobbing
along the crispness of the sunset

How lucky to capture this bundle of color
while battling horseflies
in fear of dolphin extinction
I croon
over someone else’s double rainbow
dip greedily in to their pot of gold

migration / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / by Jennifer K Dick

30/22

      held on       lost       track     route     outpost manifest
plotted       (comatose)       a course / a coarse
      vessel       arterial       triangulated

destination       depart       to   sail   to       spy
      oxidized metal       shards       iron       dubloons
powdered gold       in cloth guinea sacks       sunk       slunk

      overboard       scribbling       a curious       note
ill-fated       under Captain’s orders       hold
      sealed sailors       in       snapped shut      like an oyster

Two days from Freshman Year / by Christine Hamm

I took Madonna’s name and wrote it backwards on my spiral
notebook. I drew her hair all during chemistry – though her
eyes never worked. After that first kiss under the bleachers,
I could only make them seem real when they were closed.

A dream: the air, cold, hot, and then that girl again, leaping
from a bridge in that French movie. In the next minute, she
was alive and wet in the back of a taxi. I sat next to her, holding
her hand as her damp hair chilled my neck. Then someone shook
me awake, screeching she was my mother. The boiler had shut
off during the night, and the phantom arms of my breath floated
towards the windows. I squeezed my eyes tight, pulling the sheets
to my neck, but the woman was still there, white and fidgeting
like a magician’s trapped dove.

Mark Her / by Michelle MacFarlane

Morning Glories / Kirsten Ogden

I remember my desire for sleep
As I look out over the streets

At early morning. The blacktop is slick
With overnight rain

And the sidewalks are grey
With the damp.

I want to reach past desire
Into that remembering

But the corners are dark
And covered in dust

Like endless catacombs I roam
In dreams I’ve forgotten

Pathways lost to waking

Even now the sun warms the streets
But today no one is out and about

With their dogs or their athletic
Shoes. Are we all watching the world

From our windows? What are we afraid
Of? wings flutter From our perches

Bodies inhale every breath as we each
Attempt to remember being alive.

Overcast today and the garden’s flowers
Haven’t opened yet. I’ll wait for them.

Poem 21 / Day 21

The Gift / by Claire Acerno

She held it in her trembling hands
afraid she might contaminate it. Was it a wives tale?
Would mother forever abandon her baby?
So miraculous and foreign this tiny owl.
In all her twelve years, her favorite present.
Yet she wanted to set it free. Frailty frightened her.

She set it in a nest of silk and wool.
Let it drink from a gold thimble.
Eyes like glass, owl blinked
girls heart skipped. The cage door closed.

Soon after, mystery.
In owls place stood a lone tiger pup
playful feline, pawed the gold thimble
along the marble floor.

Petting the cub girl noticed his sharp teeth, large paws.
Out the window mother owl and her baby
sat together on an oak limb.

Gazing at the owls, contented by the reunion
mother tiger pounced from above
one bite on the jugular killed her.

Without her body, girl sat with the owls
from the oak, she saw her body
sustenance for the hungry tigers.
her best birthday ever.

Sandy / by Ingrid Bruck 

I’m restless

my two heads rest
on a coiled rope body

tension rolls
down a long spine
into two brains

the sea floor shifts
a rough shake to the ledge
in the Mariana trench
prods me awake

I rise in fury
burst and roil
out of the ocean
rain and wind hits me
I slug back

I lash the sea to a frenzy
heft water out of the seabed
whip the clouds black
flay wind into a funnel
thrash up waves
raise up surges

I’m a wind rider
a wave surfer
a rain driver
a lighting thrower
a thunder dancer
a surge inciter
to landfall

one by river, one by sea
two heads strike land

in a pincher grip
I deliver a wallop

shred concrete, steel and wood
swallow doubters and disbelievers who stayed

gouge shore and bluff
breach and destroy sea walls

cleave a building in two
flatten a roller coaster

pick up a yacht in dry dock
flop it in a yard two miles away

fill up a swimming pool
with yards of sand and fish

I slither away, lapped by howls
of broken homes and hopes

replete with anger, I recede
coast on a wave back to sea

I drop into the deep
my coldblooded length settles in a crevice

unspent, I wait…

Red crabs always spawn before dawn on a receding
high-tide during the last quarter of the moon / by Brittney Corrigan  

Christmas Island swarms and clatters
with their bodies, millions of ruby-bright
land crabs clicking from forest to sea.
Sheer numbers demand the human world brake
and go around. When David Attenborough
sits on the undulating shore, we squirm as crabs
climb his pant legs, marvel as they scuttle
their egg-laden undersides to the water’s edge,
wave their cannot-swim pincers in the air.
When the tide goes out, the roll of red bodies
migrates home, roads and bridges ripening
in a scarlet stream. We make way and stare,
wonder at such excess for such odds, whale sharks
and manta rays feasting on the larval boon.

On Dead Days / by Donna Dallas 

When I could focus so deeply
I would twist
inside of myself

Peer out in fear of a lock down
unable to escape
myself

Sway within my darkness
hide from the demons
that always lurk

Realize I’m already dead
you fools

A disinterested whore
of a corpse

When Manny Pacquiao sprained / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

the noise jamboree in toda terminals[1], our regular Sunday
afternoon scared the neighbourhood children for seeing blood

drip from his head, all the force and feeling swam to the floor,   
parents cried, and street by arcane street the whole town

buried the fear in its throat, freezing the clock to stop the hurt
of tropical error; that loss was the injured sound of an engine

failing to drive families to church, to a nearby shop after mass.
I’ve felt my skin fumble when I heard a song from the speaker

of a passing car, a very familiar song I could remember
in the instance of a straight punch combination made possible

by retirement, as winning, according to critics, shouldn’t be
compressed on a tiny screen. Whatever that means—

the boxer breaks the mirror of the modern man, comes down
to realize why the future is unhomed by a heterotopia of hurt.

[1] A common place or town terminal where Philippine tricycles (or trikes) are used as service vehicles

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/21

“From Roseland to Jupiter Sound…” hums
Lazlo, finger tracing depth contours, sound-
ings, measuring fathoms, mapping, indexing

sandbars, rocks, coral reefs, jagged outcrop-
pings to pinch a boat’s hull, puncture cara-
pace, suck its marrow down, draw, claw at its

treasures, leaving no soul outlet, Lazlo
ponders the failed pirate captains plundered
by the sea, cast ashore, dried out like figs.

Sepscendence / by David Estringel

Fire
in my lungs
and poisoned veins,
fading
in (to white)
out (to black),
I see the eye of God—
unflinching
cold
against the welcoming void
of closed lids…
…that dream?
Is he keeping vigil?
Calling in the loan?

Always attending
never
ending,
His watch, nary a waver,
there
between the veil
‘til shadows
of angels, wingless
white
against the blaze of
artificial suns, rouse me
back
to this world of light
and illusion—the Hell
of my own making,
Was he keeping vigil?
Calling in the loan?

I suppose I’ll never know

“with newspapers and magazines hung upon them like dripping laundry.” / by Christine Hamm 

I didn’t want to die, she says, I just wanted to stop dreaming.  The HD TV

flickers, square patches of green or green laced with purple.  You can’t tell

if the girl is in a hospital or a lobby.  The journalist is now back on camera,

swearing, looking at her pink shoes.  She startles, plasters a smile on and

laughs. Her hair has a mind of its own. It cascades down her shoulders, climbs

back up.  She smacks it with her hand, shouts a list of numbers.  The wind

picks up, pushes napkins and cups past the picnic table behind her.

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

Matter in Hand / by Michelle Macfarlane 

River and wind
            Carved the green valley

                        Carried minerals
            Cut ochre and manganese

In a hollow of rock high above
            And large enough for a body

                        Fingers of the left palm
            Spread against a stone face

As the right hand held
            A thin pipe made

                        Of animal bone
            To carry pigment

Mixed with spit
            And breath enough      

                        To convey

THREE BLESSINGS FOUND / by K.E. Ogden 

Blessed is this coffee in its bowl,
on this pretty ceramic tray,
hot steam rising into morning
air, smell of cocoa and bitter
orange and my fingertips warming
as I hold the bowl to my lips

Blessed is this cat purring, curled in
a ball, tucked behind my kneecaps,
kitchen curtains waving in the
morning air, vertical blinds click
clicking with each breeze. Blessed is this

photograph on the wall above
the television, the one where
my daughter smiles full of joy, eyes
closed, purple scarf gathered around
her neck, dark brown hair pulled back in
a bun, beautiful face, dimples,
her exquisite throat readying
for laughter in the morning air.

Poem 20 / Day 20

mount itsyouvious eruptus / by Claire Acerno

instantaneous as it seems to spout
this life’s been building up
cellular traffic jam along the I am freeway
spills out, takes over, no plan, no escape
no clear road, to speed ahead

you’ve been trapped (your worst fear)
in your body for so long
frayed youth, senior pleasure
Ms. I’m OK, it’s you who’s broken
a dab of righteous glue it back together

sitting solo at your table
how’s that meal ma’am?
not so good? tastes like shit
no kiddin’ (hey, that’s dad talkin’)

keep it all on slips of paper
evade information from inner ethers
what’s real, what’s happening now
what’s warped recollection

this is how we stay away from ourselves
busying, buying, binge-TV watching
cleaning, cooking, drugged routine
do not let anyone close, there’s the icing
without the cake, lucky you
you’ve stayed the same, just one more thing
to open or close you: pain

at some point a body has to sync
heal the rift between heart and head
you can’t blindfold the obvious, bend the truth
to your direction, give it the cold shoulder
bargain and scream till your fall down mute

let the spark hit the arrow
let the arrow hit the water
be the wave who calms the fire
or the fire who builds anew
I’m no phoenix rising from the ashes
but one day sister
I’ll get there with you

Ferocious / by Ingrid Bruck 

Radar the cat protects his family.
The self-proclaimed defender
of the baby in the backyard,
the cat shadows Wrenna’s footsteps.

A neighbor opens his back door.
The cat jumps up, down and sideways.
When Matt glimpses the cat’s behavior,
he retreats back inside.

My son explains,
“Radar’s doesn’t bite,
he’s affectionate.”
The man’s not convinced.

On the front stoop,
my son’s misguided pet
sits beside Wrenna
and a German She-

pherd passes on the sidewalk.
The cat taunts the dog on a leash,
only a thread connecting
dog to owner saves the cat.

How many of his nine lives
does stalwart Radar have left?

The Road Ecologist Tries Hitchhiking / by Brittney Corrigan 

In the middle of nowhere, she thinks. That doesn’t even make sense.
The road is a sleeping snake between hills. The road and the hills

are not nowhere, just miles from anything else that looks like her.
The road ecologist studies roads that are more like dragons: awake

and belching smoke, thrashing their tails at the earth. Her car
at the side of the road is a broken, hissing thing. Roadkill,

she thinks, ironically. Though what was I trying to cross?
The road ecologist is only sort of running away from her life.

Her heart is like the roadside soil. Toxic. Particulated. Full
of what it’s not meant to hold. Standing at the roadside,

the road ecologist thinks, I am somewhere, I am somewhere.
She understands barriers, roads too risky to cross. The road

is empty, quiet, nothing bearing down. When the moose steps
out of the woods, the road ecologist sticks out her thumb.

Here’s What Saved Us in the Blizzard / by Donna Dallas 

When the power died
the internet stopped
we didn’t have a generator
we didn’t have any money to invest
in a generator – in a backup plan
we thought backup plans for fools – we thought wrong
it was seven degrees and feeling the cold
bully its way in quick
we set up camp in the den
in front of the old fireplace
built a raging pyre
we sat and drank potcheen
burnt every log
every box
every newspaper – everything we had
we burnt it all
the dawn broke
with the sound of geese overhead
and the nestling warmth
with a glint of sun in the cracked blind peered in
four layers of coats and blankets
we laughed
we shook the house with our belly laughs
we loved for each other
for ourselves
for mankind
to keep warm – to stay up
as if to fall asleep
would place us in an early grave
looking back now
that storm set our hearts ablaze
we rekindled the desire to live

Haiku (in two types of wind) / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

1
Habagat, you bring
us rainshowers in summer—
where frogs multiply.                                           

2
It’s almost Christmas!
Enter Amihan to rock
our noche buena [1].    

3
Monsoon winds explained
in seventeen syllables,
one August morning.

[1] It is a Spanish-inspired Filipino tradition where special meals are served on Christmas Eve.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) /poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/20

Landlocked Lazlo, landlubbered oyster pearled
appeal for, or to peel off: scales, waves, fins
undulations of steady hands quick slice

behind gill, flesh plied from rib, flip, repeat
or shuck with coarse grip to release briny
delicacies, wares once plied, pried free from

shuddering mollusks, barnacles, scuppered
ships still sinking: hundreds hazarded here
lie from Roseland to Jupiter Sound.

Santero / by David Estringel

I’m a peculiar one, the old women used to say.

Mother heard me laugh in her tummy

before I was born.

Dodged death—over and over—

since the time I could crawl.

Saw red lights peek under doors

and old ladies in black walk through walls

in the middle of the night

then…disappear.

I could find anything—anywhere—in the house

for a quarter

and tell you who was at the other end of an incoming call.

Dreams come true and words

manifest.

I know not all good spirits are beautiful and

the dead don’t have eyes.

The most powerful gods are small

enough to sit in the palm of your hand,

while others

couldn’t be bothered to move molehills.

I can make you love me with a jar of honey,

cinnamon sticks, and slices of orange.

Make you go away

with the light of a wick and wet, hot twist of a chicken’s neck.

Gods speak to me (of you) through sacred cowrie shells

and I can rip infernal monkeys off your backs

with bouquets of herbs and white flowers, sprayed

with perfume, rum, and cigar,

tied with white ribbon.

I know life seeps

from noses and mouths of the dying

like hot breath in winter air

and I can keep Iku—Death—at bay (but not away).

I hear my mother is laughing…wherever she is.

“It had a table, and leather chairs, and a variety of pictures on the walls…” / by Christine Hamm

We were that age when our parents let us stay in the same bed for sleepovers.  You reeked of lavender baby lotion, horse sweat, piss – our hands were never exactly clean.  My plastic Palomino stallion and your plastic Morgan mare got lost in the complicated river of the living-room rug, riding a raft made of socks.  Sometimes they fell sideways and drowned. I liked your house better because it was clean and blue with bits of gold frame around everything. Alone, I shambled to my house on an endless, expanding road, steep, dusty, filled with lizards and pine cones – sometimes red cars drove by and tried to get me to climb in. Sometimes it seemed like you were right at my shoulder, breathing, even when you were home listening to your parents scream.  During an overnight, we gave each other arm hickies to see what our teeth could do. You wouldn’t stop talking about how you wanted to die, how it would be so quick.

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                   Your Body is a Curséd House

Chuck Close said / by Michelle Macfarlane

Here and Now / by K.E. Ogden

The cat’s soft fur fluffy and his wet nose
Nudging my hand

Outside a bird sings good morning
An email from my friend says I love you

The sun is warm and the breeze
Wet and fresh with leaves and
Ginger and rosemary

I make the coffee and drop eggs
Into boiling water

I put toast in the toaster
And watch it warm and brown

You wake smiling and put your palm
On my cheek in greeting
And you kiss me

Together we sit and marvel
At the waking world

Poem 19 / Day 19

Pigs Fly! / by Claire Acerno

Answers in high nests
bird question’s flight

Ant buries his bruises
in an army of community

Snake cuts himself in two
to see if it really works

High temps send land turtle
to shelter in deep sea

Introverted porcupine provoked
quills shoot inward

Burro carries the load of his owner
works off ten times his own weight

Chicken does not cross the road
she is sick and tired of the joke

One hump desert camel smokes
two packs a day, fit as ever

Ape becomes 45th U.S. President
insults species innate intelligence

Subway soul-mates rat and roach
create indestructible life form

Possum runs from perpetrator
Hawk dies from heart attack

Humans acknowledge the intelligence of heart
earth is restored to it’s original state of beauty

Who told you? / by Ingrid Bruck 

Aunt Mary orders, “Stand up straight. Don’t hunch over.”
You thrust your shoulder blades together
but curl inward as soon as she’s out of sight.
Bad posture protects your minimal chest.
Bone and flesh pulls into your cave chest,
you retract like an inconspicuous bat in shadows,
small enough not to notice.

You watch boys at school ogle Carol,
blame it on her boobs and clothes.
Your cousin shows you her wardrobe.
She holds up fifty shirts, a number you remember
because she counts the blouses out loud.
She’s proud of the clothes, ironed and folded by her mother

An happy litany—colors, buttons, and stitching.
Fabric gathers, ribbons, needle weaves.
Pleats, crimps, folds.
Cottons that breathe.
Satin lining in one blouse.
Arm lengths, varied.
Neat, starched, ironed.

Hers are store bought.
Nothing borrowed.
No neighbors’ retreads.
No donated goods.
Your five blouses are well-used,
culled by your mom from rumpled heaps
on the ping pong table in your cellar.

It takes decades to notice your cousin’s not hugely busty—
confidence held her up straight.
A butterfly flapping its bright wings is pleasurable to view,
she accepts admiring looks as due.
When you are pleasant company,
everyone wants you at the party.

You acted like a moth in your cousin’s closet,
envy eating holes in her prim clothes.

There Weren’t Many Places Where Men Showed Feelings / by Onyedikachi Chinedu 

They were banned from passing bouquets in a bar
or at the poor Christian service naturally held at dusk.

The governing heads scorned the idea of having these men
as sparrows in a nest—their existence, not asserted

in the law by the government, was a congealed wax;
and without an acceptable space to show feelings

by physical touch, they retreated into the husk of a house—
fingering the only particle of light from the gauze net, maybe,

listening, for breaths, by the window, for any throng,
with a sense of security. Despite these lacks,

they loved like siblings. It was enough to refuse
to turn away from the truth: about the invalidation

of their union, of the glaring eyes overseeing bodily actions,
about love-making as a mask of aversion. For them, surely,

the migratory cranes became a recurring thought.
There weren’t many places where men showed feelings.

Red-Bellied Mama Makes It Across the Road but the Others Don’t / by Brittney Corrigan 

Red-bellied mama makes a slow trek
across the Causeway, red belly full
of unhatched eggs. Red-bellied mama
hauls her red belly from the delta,
river left behind for a nest on land.
Carapaced, log-basking mama
tip toes her red belly from the swamp
across the Causeway, whoosh
of traffic missing her left and right.
Red-bellied mama pulls her neck
and legs inside her shell in the middle
of the Causeway because the lights
the lights the tires the tires but
red-bellied mama sticks her head
out again, scoots her terrapin self
across the Causeway, makes it
to the other side. Red-bellied mama
stops in the sandy loam, dreams
of hydrilla and pondweed, sweet, crisp
stems of eelgrass, as her eggs settle
three by three by three. Red-bellied mama
with her alligator-tooth shell scars
leaves her clutch of elliptical eggs
in soft earth, enters the Causeway
of turtle-ghosts back toward the delta.
Dreaming of basking, red-bellied mama
presses toward the broken-shelled road.

Rocking Zebra Deja Vu / by Donna Dallas 

“I might foam at the mouth,
but bring me a doll to play with,
give me a cup of tea with sugar in it,
and maybe I should be appeased.”
-Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This wooden
rocking zebra…..
no idea where it came from
can’t fall asleep until
after 11pm with or without a pill
I’ve no real reason I’m staring
in the mirror
cold eyes
glare back
spark
gone

That rocking zebra must have
belonged to a child
she must have giddily rocked on it
tipped back and forth
laughed with hair tumbling
in sync with the rock

I don’t recall when – as it is now past midnight
I stopped rocking
I have come to know this silence
as I stare into it
until bleary-eyed
until the zebra stripes unite
drool
hair
still tumbling

tanaga (on forgotten Filipino values) / by Lawdenmarc Decamora

when has it become a myth
to see the island sun slip
past the sky’s breakfast bowl on
which ‘po’ and ‘opo’ we sip

we say these to our elders
whose respect for family
smells of gold and adobo
in the air of mammary

home filled with mahal kita
we say this too because love
is enjoying amihan [1]
under the rambutan tree

[1] It is the Filipino term for the northeast monsoon characterized by a cool and dry weather condition.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/19

Lazlo wanders up/down stream along the
rivermouth belching fat fish out into
frothy seawater’s briny air. Paces

to calculate, triturate, extirpate
to trundle, rumble, navigate along
sliding-silt beds serpenting toward yawn of

ocean deltas meted out incarnate
worlding into being, bodied shifts tect-
onic thrumming, arterial, plosive.

Palo Santo / by David Estringel

Rub me with egg…

Whip the switch…

Wash me in quita maldicion…

Cleanse me with rompe saraguey

and take this stain

away.

Light the palo santo

from the wood box of

herbs and poppets

under the bed,

letting arms swing

flaming sticks like censers,

making holy

these places (head spaces)

of mists and creeping shadows.

Sweep, clean, these tainted walls,

con ramos de oraciones poderosas

and smoky ribbon,

sending his specter—

su duende

back to the dark of

corners and cobwebs

of their master’s bedroom…

…and give me peace.

 “but rough, unfinished, and quite glistening with damp.” / by Christine Hamm

Somewhere a particular shard of night

slowly turns one of her three bird faces

and considers the dreaming,

their fevers, their gently pinking cheeks,

their fists balled around imaginary hilts.

Incapable of any human expression, more

curious than tender, more hypothetical than

holy. If she is hungry, the sleeping never know it. 

Or know it only as pain in the back of their skulls. 

______________________

            * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
            a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century

            ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
             Your Body is a Curséd House

Cave of Hands / by MIchelle Macfarlane 

Things To Move On From / by K.E. Ogden

She’s crying in the phone and my
Heart is breaking. There’s nothing worse
Than someone you love in pain
And you can do nothing.

I tell her shame is a useless emotion
And it is, and after we talk and she is
Soothed somewhat, I take a bath and reflect
On this thing called shame.

I’ve felt it often. In my 20’s living with
My biological father I clipped bills from
his wallet To pay for gas and food.

Yes, I was a thief. After my grandfather died
My grandmother asked me to sleep
Next to her in bed and I don’t know
Why I said no but that night I heard her
Crying, alone.

I hit a dog with my car riding too fast
On a rural road and it died. I still
Remember pulling up to the house
And still shaking and watching the dogs
Sniff at the front of my car.

They know I killed something, I thought
At the time, and was full of shame at my
Carelessness. I’ve come clean about
All of these things to people who love me,
And some have forgiven me and
Others haven’t.

I want to tell my daughter
You are human— this is your journey.
You will make terrible mistakes.
My father wiped my tears away
The night I told him I stole from
Him. My grandmother said
I love you, baby girl, when I
Told her years later how
Full of shame I was.

The man whose dog I killed said
Shame is useless when I offered to
Buy him a new dog. Sometimes,
He said, these things we do
Are just things to move on from.

I want to tell my daughter go ahead,
Cry it out, and then be better.

Poem 18 / Day 18

a morning prayer/dear God / by Claire Acerno

let me love
let me be love
let every particle
ever cell of me, be grateful
let forgiveness, allowance, acceptance
pour over me, seep in my cells
let me radiate this healing
near to me anything, everything
that opens me

sisterhood/brotherhood
help me learn to look within
when I want to judge
help me know we are one

create new words
new worlds where
we can live in peace
let us live in peace

feed the poor, heal the sick
house the house-less
stop the wars
open closed doors
of the heart
let us Be
Your love
shine out the dark
lighten the heavy
chains of guilt
let me know You
help me feel the angels
who surround us

help me be still enough to hear
the quiet instruction
voices of the ancestors
who know secrets
I’ve known before
but have forgotten
help me remember
the Truth always
Amen.

Muslim Outsider / by Ingrid Bruck

I slip in and out
of other skin, another religion
trying to picture
what life might be like
being the other

My Finnish grandparents
told me coming to America stories
I grew up a believer
of the American Dream,
wanted the same opportunity
for every newcomer

As Afghan falls to the Taliban,
I imagine life as a refugee,
ask, Who is the enemy? 
I try walking in the shoes
of an immigrant Muslim: 

How can I be glad?
I’m Muslim, an outsider,
you, pretty woman,
roll blue eyes at my hijab,
and flip your blonde curls. 

How can I be glad?
Me: head and body covered,
I smell like spice and garlic. 
You wear an obsolete rose, 
serve me pork and potatoes.   

How can I be glad?
I stand out like a Star of David
tattooed on white Protestant skin.  
I fit in your country as well as
a star of blood on the surface of a muscle.

How can I be glad?
Have you ever asked why
anyone prefers to pass as white? 
You play a white privilege game
that benefits light-skinned people.

How can I be glad?
I wrap my dark skin
in your red-white-and-blue.
A modest woman,
I pull your flag over sable hair. 

You accuse me of sacrilege.
No one mistakes a cardinal for a crow.            

( How can I be glad? Line from The Dance of the Soma, by Asmaa Azeizeh, translated by Yasmine Seale & a star of blood on the surface of a muscle – Line from En Route to Bangladesh, Another Crisis of Faith, by TARFIA FAIZULLAH)

Kororā / by Brittney Corrigan

Little blue penguins
Down Under
fairy penguins
road-crossing
nest to sea
slate-blue penguins
iridescent penguins
reclusive penguins
fishing at sea
hatching on land
oft-watched penguins
declining penguins
smallest penguins
road-crossing
Down Under
underpass penguins
sunrise-nest-leaving
dusk-returning
little blue penguins
using the underpass
Down Under

I See What the Drugs Have Done / by Donna Dallas 

I.
Hunch back
postulating sores
the nagging itch
white jeans
low hung ass
red long sleeves
it’s eighty degrees
wiry hair
try to bouffant it
to take away from your neck
but my eye goes directly to the loose skin
almost see the tracks
ever so light around your collar bone
face more of a hull
less of a face
around your mouth – smokers jaw
those wrinkles crown the lips like an army
when cigarette meets lip the lines craft together
in unison
an origami wrinkle

II.
You’re sad about it
about not having “it”
anymore
those mid-heeled pumps give you some height
the heels are wrecked and the top lifts
worn down to metal
when you walk that hard tap echoes
so loud
you just kind of slide into your step
zombie-like
this is what becomes of the life
after drugs
life after paradise

III.
I’ll start to shoot again you say
if they tell me I’ve got it
cough a deep and guttural phlemmed hack
light another
and pucker for that deep
lung spray drag
whichever way will kill you best

Ode to Your Injured Foot / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

I love all things that go unnoticed,
as suddenly one of your feet imitates
all the busy hands of the clock:
hour, minute, second.
Blue-green, black, vermilion.
Those hands become frozen vegetables
paying no heed to your saddest
story of the day. I said I love
the things that are being overlooked,
not because your foot is bandaged
in stark presentiments of winter
but because it remains still,
poised as a loaf of bread,
reminiscent of the pearl earrings
tingling elegantly
in a Vermeer painting.

Your foot becomes the protagonist
of your story. And I listen with a kind
of attention that radiates
berylliums and some fine words.
This ode sings to your talcum skin
one more time; you know
healing happens for a reason,
a reminder that spring’s coming
and Haiti’s hope, like your heroine-foot,
is earthquake-proof.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/18

(Arti-)fact which destroys an unwritten
continent eggshell letter uncharted
envelope secreting basaltic ropes—

intact homespun bright sail hopefuls (Lazlo)
emerging (immersing) village reliquaries
requires a spire, a spate of sedge-thatched roof-

tops plus a lazy sheepdog on a long,
sea-winding lane: to regain his sea-legs,
land-legs (geo)locate this place: home.

Birth of a Masterpiece / by David Estringel

Funny,

these blank pages—

so full of promise,

so full of regret—

with capacities, infinite,

to trap pith,

shaken from the rafters,

and narratives that rage

in delicate strands of cerulean,

crisscrossing sheets

like cobwebs

waiting

to embrace

another

kill.

“the kind of library, I suppose, that might be kept in clubs or little colleges” / by Christine Hamm 

You stand inside the canoe between
the countries of wakefulness

and speech, keeping the slumbering
mothers separate, speaking to their own

mirrors atop their sky-blue, diaper-shaped
vanities. If there is a river, an endless sea,

it is transparent, the shade of lost teeth
and quarters, with ripples the color

of spoilt milk. You nurse the terrors of 
the drowsing, hold the foreheads of the bloodless

and recently drowned, pinching apart,
flake by flake, the gold highchairs where
pacifiers and bottles rock, settle.

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

Cueva / by Michelle Macfarlane 

In the Patagonian landscape of Santa Cruz in Argentina in the upper part of the Deseado Basin at
the bottom of a stepped cliff within a canyon carved by the Pinturas River over one hundred miles
south of the nearest town are hands like those at Gargas on the walls of Cueva de las Manos where
there are thousands more hands next to hands in front of hands behind hands above hands below
hands on top of hands haloed in red and black and white and purple and green and yellow
surrounding the absent hands of bodies still embracing all that is not known in the dark.

SUN / by K.E. Ogden 

The sky is so close this afternoon,
Like a dome. I breathe blue — clouds,
Cornflowers and hummingbird feathers.
Bees wrestle with tree nectar
And yesterday’s asshole bird is back
Causing a ruckus from tree limb to electrical
Wire to fence top chasing everything away
like he owns the place.

I’m just a ways from the house,
Just down this hill, making my way
Back using the sides of the road where shadows
Cut sunshine. It’s afternoon and too hot
To be walking. Somewhere someone’s son
is dead and on display. Mourners sing hymns
And take the plants home when it’s all
Over. I’m heading home empty
Handed, just waiting on my wings.

Poem 17 / Day 17

Kindergarten / by Claire Acerno

She walks to school alone
socks fallen into the arches of her scuffed up Mary Jane’s
teeth and hair un-brushed, dirt under her nails
crumbled brown bag, cracker’s and cheese
no Scooby Doo lunch box, nothing to drink

Teacher can you see her
see the other children stand apart
when she sings along “…and all of your troubles
will vanish like bubbles”
her seldom joy can light the room.

Alone he waits for the school- bus
runny nose, ragged clothes, no Superman,
Batman, Black Panther tee
tears dried on his dirty cheeks
pinned to his inside pocket a free-lunch ticket

Driver can you see him
with your eyes on the road
do you feel his pain
as kids chant “Cooties, Cooties”
the boy’s body slumps in the last seat
his spirit rises above the El train

Broken crayons scrawled on tiny desks
the smell polished floors and new paper
a child tries her best
concentrate on the lines, hold steady
a square house, a mom, a dad,
a spotted dog, a friendly cloud
scribble of blue sky, a spiral of bright yellow
off to the side, the last thing drawn
a child face, a big smile

Thrifty House-Husband / by Ingrid Bruck 

father knows best
both parents work
but he’s head of the household
and makes the family decisions

his three daughters,
ages of eight, ten and twelve,
have come of age
even the eight year old wears a bra
with his wife, there’s four
menstruating women in the house

             unseen
             river flows
             blood red

the cost of sanitary products
funnels money from food and shelter
or it could buy some beer with the boys
but the government clinic provides
birth control pills or injections
free of charge

publicized in the news
some side effects
of children taking birth control:
loss of bone density, infertility
mothers and daughters worry about this

             heavy fog
             colorless leveling
             of the hill

father knows best
that’s the way it’s always been
the way it always will be
on father’s orders
his girls get their free shot

The Morning Azure with African Yellow Warblers / by Onyedikachi Chinedu 

 

I come to the oyster page and the African yellow
warblers chirp in the azure morning.

I haven’t written a word since the first rusty letter,
or spoke a word of either praise or loss, for a while;

and the warbler, posing on a luxuriant limb of an ex-soldier,
cries till I seek the cover of solitude with the dexterity of a predator’s bloodlust.

It’s August, and I know less of what to get from the weather;
the wind, a hospice sun, and everything is palindromic

as the year of the glass, so I try hard to lounge in the chaos
of the diurnal time as opposed to the twilight of radiating stars.

Four Lanes through the Mojave / by Brittney Corrigan 

And on either side
the desert’s rocky
peaks house herds
of comingling sheep,
great curved horns
in silhouette against
the blue expanse.
The road—un-hooved
for decades—now
butts skull to grille.
Southside sheep spill
northside, merge
as swifter monsters
beam small lamps
under the milk-starred
sky. Land to land,
the architect dreams
a bridge, sketches
plans as bighorns
constellate
the granite range.

Circle / by Donna Dallas 

All these kids
in our pool
play Marco Polo
form a moving
circle
it becomes a mini whirl pool
sends me back
to when I played Marco Polo
in the same pool
circled
until I became dizzy
laughed until
I cracked open

Ode to Package Arriving / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

It is not the terrible news in Afghanistan,
the assassin air that moans with the birds
as the capital’s wrapped in boas of shock.
Nor is it the cheese melting on a fry pan,
its cream always a status quo of surprise.

It is the delivery box arriving today.

I acknowledge my patience like how you
acknowledge yours. And slowly, I am going
to close my eyes. Toy zebras, of course!
Astrolabes and mandalas, why not?
Or maybe a cute gift box that contains
a cosmic-size publication contract.

Huh?!

Grains of summer occupy so much space
in my mind! You keep guessing
about the contents of the package, don’t you?

I only want three things.

One is an endless friendship
with common things, lyrical as songs
about fingernails. Two is to receive
the package while my hands are still
two happy hands. My third and final wish,
your book. I cannot survive without
sniffing its garden-fresh air.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/17

Like a nested bird Lazlo swings between
masts, high-up in his hammock strung between
infinite possibilities—and blue

—examining pale parchment decrees,
and cargo load lists legered by pirate
captains in Parkinsonian script

swaying at sea, drifting farther past
fathomless underwater treasure wrecks a-
waiting submersibles, discovery.

Boveda / by David Estringel

Candle flames speak in sparks and sputters, filling the air with chatter and the scent of dime store roses. Nine glasses, kissed by fresh rue leaf and cigar smoke, are filled with cool water, crowning the tabletop, and sparkling—on white linen—to a playful dance of religion, shadows, and sacred fire. One by one, we place flowers, reverently, like prayers into an old vase, invoking loved ones with showers of velvet and petal, paving their ways, smoothly, back to us, back home.

Daisies for happiness. Hyacinth for direction. Lilies to never forget.

Then, we light the palo santo to disperse the shade—for devils, inside and out, above and below.

Carefully, cracked plates of braised pork, fish head stew, and fried plantains are lined up on the floor between cups of beer, wine, and cool water—the largest, one of rum with a lit cigar on top. Nine taps of the opa iku—stick of the dead—calls them to order, to us, and to their dumb supper: all within the confines of moons and suns drawn on the floor with powdered eggshell—cascarilla—in the corner of my kitchen near the pantry door that sticks. Silently, we watch for messages—mensajes—that tell us the curtain’s been crossed…and wait. 

Bubbles going up mean prayers rising to Heaven. Bubbles going down, something evil’s near.  Hand on my shoulder…they’re here.

“In the end, the doctor took the key” / by Christine Hamm

Ashes. Fog with a green tint, as if moldy. Pocket full

of posies — other people’s hands have been in our gloves;

 we feel the grease of their fingerprints. Spinning in circles,

our arms covered with the tiny tents of bites. How we tear

the dark to cloud confetti; holding hands, we all fall. Our

shadow like a circus tent on the verge of collapse. On

Sundays, we make chalk outlines of our parents, as if they

have been murdered by petty thieves, as if  we were not

the only criminals, the only diseases, on this small street. 

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

Bury Me Dead / by Michelle Macfarlane 

NAMING RIGHTS / by K.E. Ogden

I d not know the names of any of these plants
or trees. I will call that one with the Coyote-head
coming out of the lower trunk “Laughing at the moon”
tree. I will call these small white and periwinkle flowers
pushing out beyond the trimmed hedges on wavering
vines “Octopus Eyes.”

A friend died last night. We had just been talking
2 days before, making plans for lunch with beers.
He was a writer too, kind and always generous
with students, a champion of the average kids
who always feel like imposters who don’t belong.

I’m taking a walk and birds are cackling. Some of
them scream. I watch one chase another off
a telephone line, electricity wire, tree branch.
That bird is an asshole.

In the waning light the hillsides come into view
in shades of blues and browns muted by a sheer
screen of dusty air traversing one hill top to another.

My friend’s name for me was ‘kiddo,’ like my
dad called me. It’s a delight, as an adult,
to have older mentors who still call you ‘kid.’

So I’ll name the skyline shadows “grieving hills.”

A sign on the roadside says “Slow down. Bunny
Crossing. 5mph.” It’s not kidding, either. Just now
3 brown bunnies jettison from a clutch of
greenery I’ll name “ghost hovel bush.”

My friend was like an old uncle to me. I found him
in my 40’s and couldn’t shake him. For 10 years
we’ve been exchanging emails, having long phone
conversations, and reading each other’s essays. His
critiques always began with “Wow! I just have to
say what a dynamite writer you are. Wow.”

I’m almost to the top of the hill now but I’m stopping
to hold this tree in my hands that has just called out
to me. It’s bark is almost
petrified it’s so hard and cracked and dry.

“What’s your name,” I ask it.

It could cut my palms with its body. I dip my
forehead to its bark.

I’m looking for a blessing.

I’m looking to find out who I even am anymore.

Fire. Fire and blazing heat too hot so it melts things
and fire. That’s what I feel. That’s what I
feel in my fingers and fingertips.

“What is your name?”

I close my eyes and there is blackness — I’m dizzy.
I stumble backwards and hit the blacktop
on my ass and only everything sees this —
those birds that look like penguins standing in
a row on the electric wire, that other bunny #4,
and even this patch of ants.

And now I’m crying and it’s so obvious
a thing to be doing.

I’m standing up now. I’m brushing dirt
from the scrapes
on my calves.

I’ve decided to
name this tree after me.

Poem 16 / Day 16

hello my name is / by Claire Acerno

I am not a poet
I am empty of words
with not a poem to spew
I’m barley a whisper of sound

I’ve not a thing on my mind
I’m not lying to you
and if I do, well it’s because
you expect me to

I’ve no opinions
just tell me what to think
I’m frozen as winter
summer go to sleep

my thoughts bubble
pop in thin air
cloud is my mantra
sky my hair

water my feet
vapor me sun
food in my belly
this day be done

I’ve nothing to write
nothing deep within
numb without the drink
stick me with a pin

DNA’s patched shadow
electric ions gather
through eons, a tangle
ancestor’s eclectic scramble

I don’t believe in destiny
or palmistry, or psychology
don’t believe in cures
for this malaise malady

I won’t underline
circle or question you
what ever shape you’re in
what ever you like you choose

just pen me yours truly
hope you’re doing fine
love to you always dear
I do wish I were here

Too Late / by Ingrid Bruck  

When I walk to the mailbox, I don’t take my camera. It’s going on eight. Last light falls grim gray. At the end of the driveway, sun slides out and dips into the Susquehanna in a tangerine light burst. Startled, I look behind me. An arc tops the black cloud mat covering the house, a half-rainbow shimmers rusty-red. Unrooted at one end, it glimmers atop slate cumulus and lands on the ridge. I hurry back for my camera and car. When I return, color has vanished. The western sky, a flat and dark pool, sheaths a new sturgeon moon. 

whispered secrets 
wind passes through 
the trees 

The Unlucky Pair / by Onyedikachi Chinedu

Maybe it took jacarandas to wed love,

to feeble legs, to stimulate a spectacle

for a short time. A miracle must lack mercy

before the briefest desire is authored, but

it had involved two men

sauntering the quiet street—vocalizing

a well-known elegy from a dream.

The man they knew guillotine by ghost;

his ashes butter-spreading the field.

And when away from the stuttering flash

of the lamp posts, escaping dawn like bats,

they were as one—a planet. Yet

was labor without want persevering?

Triolet for Big Night / by Brittney Corrigan

The first spring night that comes both wet and warm,
the salamanders crawl from forest floor
to vernal breeding pools. Soft-bodied swarms
the first spring night that comes both wet and warm
travel to wetlands. But the roadway forms
a risky crossing. And so we stop the cars, create a door
the first spring night that comes both wet and warm.
The salamanders crawl from forest floor.

Hang from a Sun-strand / by Donna Dallas
 
I listen
to the waves crack against the rocks
a red-winged blackbird cries
for a mate
the white caps spill into an endless blue gorge
my heart slows down in search of dolphins
natives say a dolphin siting
in this rural pit of a beach
symbolizes luck
others say it means forgiveness
               if I am lucky enough to be forgiven

I dangle over sapphire
peer in
an incurable amulet of longing
hangs from me
the spill of water into wound
covers my body
I float along
a shroud in waiting
               mourn for myself

Chaser of fool’s gold
where dolphins have swam
as curiously close as possible
to this body
as if I were their shepherd – no no I am
the foolish child in search of dolphins
               closing in on an abandoned shore

That transcendental chewing gum / by Lawdenmarc Decamora

narrates the taste of poetry to your mouth

as it also unveils the flavor seeping

in some once-upon-a-time hyphens

and meta-truths breaking the fourth wall,

the pharynx that flowers open

emphatically

or lets in some signs

that you’re once again in love.

Hallelujah!

By what manner is the candy

connected to the soul?

So Logic quotes,

“Love un-quotes me.”

It must have been that strange power

of the book you read at the airport.

Must have been Middle East Café in 1991

and the juicy irony

you detached from Summer Lies

by The Magnetic Fields.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/16

Platicine wave, wall, hull, thin, high-pitched flute
culling the children—for lemmings love of
seagulls, grey gulfs, lava beaches, whale wails

sealskin-foul stench of rotted remnants pecked
clean-boned chalk white to scribble secreted-
away messages then cup the bottle

plank-walked overboard—rather keyhauled than
strutted downwind to be plied for truths—knew
the lagoon held a way out, Buccaneer?

Blue Light / by David Estringel

Against an old Chevrolet on Maudlin Street, I smoke a cigarette—hard—chuckling at the hisses and howls of alley cats beneath the butcher shop’s broken neon sign. They flick their tails and prowl about, pestering fellas headed home to cold wives and cold dinners, straight from the misery of their long evening shifts. Persistent, with purrs and claws—smooth as cream— they graze oily pant legs (and thighs) for want of a rub…or two. Flicking my smoke at the sidewalk—a cherry-fire explosion drawing the glow of hungry eyes—a young, new one to the corner catches my eye, preening her strawberry-yellow hair, distracted by night shadows that stretch and duck in the periphery. Lighting another smoke, I call her over with a “Psst”, motioning with my hand, as tracers from a flaming tip pull heads from her pounce in unison, to and fro. Cautiously, she turns to me, as the sign overhead begins to flicker blue, casting a harsh pallor upon angled faces with its undead light. Motioning, again, she slowly heads my way—eyes shining and features soft. “What’s tonight’s special?”, I ask, as she pulls the cigarette from my newly shaken fingers and takes a drag. Letting out a long sigh, she blows a steady stream of spite—sweet—into my face, and jabs, “A pound of flesh with a side of soul. Hungry?”, looking as if she’d heard that line one too many times. “Nah,” I answered (a burn taking over my cheeks), “not tonight.” Then I turned and walked away down Maudlin Street, wishing I knew her name, loving her.

“take me down to a dark circle” / by Christine Hamm 

After the party, when you were still beer-numb, your bra
unbuckled but some of your clothes still on,  you weren’t
watching your little sister – you

weren’t minding the house, the dog, or the hillside underneath
the deck where kids whispered, lighting matches, watching
the dry summer brush burn. 

Then you saw but didn’t stop those boys when they grabbed
the little sheltie and blew pot smoke into his face; how stiff his
body got as he tried to pull away,

how he groaned, fled under a chair. You couldn’t stop those boys,
the ones you heard in the sloped darkness by the back door,
something about teaching her

a lesson, and later, the big noise of someone falling, yelling. And
your sister marched up the driveway, a bruise on her cheek, sliding
in the house and into the bathroom,
the only room with a door that locked.

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

plastikos / by Michelle Macfarlane 

A Good Old-fashioned Train Song / by K.E. Ogden

Layers of mountains backlight
The Baptist church on this
Short gravel road past the off ramp

This place we’re driving through
Is all horses and strawberry farms
And winding roads and uneven

Wooden fences. The girl at the
Coffee shop smiles and tells us too much
About her boyfriend who hates

Hot weather but loves caramel sauce in his coffee. It’s like that out here— small talk.
Back in the car we listen To old school

tunes and reminisce on the old days,
People we knew who are gone now,
Songs on an old cassette tape I made

For you when we were teenagers and
I wanted you to fall in love with me. I would
Die for you amidst this short, burned-grass

World where the sun begins to set
blue and gold And you start singing me
away with a wild wild life.

Poem 15 / Day 15

rain sun hand leg tree river / by Claire Acerno

we are particles all
all that ever has been
all that ever will come

the violin’s bow who crossed the first sad note
the dirt that bounces upon the drums of ritual
dust beaten from the fiber of royal rugs
sunbaked wood who shelters the lonely shepherd

we are bullets under Hitler’s bed
we are straw in Gandhi’s mat

ore particles who rest
on the strong shoulders of miners
who rise and steep in the burning memory
of a new sun

we are cinders who start the fire
blind to the naked eye
we number the boundaries of form
count back subtract forward

close your eyes in the blackest night
hold lightning in your palm
pull threads from the cloth of time
swallow your name

march on metal soldiers of creation
for the lingering air of the sweetest kiss
for the water that washes sinners feet
for we are
for we are all
that ever was
that ever will be

Friday the 13th / by Ingrid Bruck 

The woman cracks.
She’s gazing in the mirror,
hears the glass break.
A crack appears.
The fissure follows
a ditch
with
part of her
body
in it.
Her
form stands tall
before the fall.
She’s a receiver, a watcher.
Her eyes track the growing gap.
The shatter line runs
on a path,
veers off.
The road divides like a leaf vein.
A white
crayon f-
ills in the shape.
It’s pockmarked, marbled on the
surface.
Trauma. A stone. A bullet.
Movement sets off an avalanche.
Growing rifts
claw
mark
the surface,
the crazing bleeds.
Parts of the woman
fall out.
Pebbles of glass,
popped corn.
She looks down.
It’s as if she never existed.
She’s erased.

Crotalus horribus / by Brittney Corrigan 

Hollow in the rocks where you den
and wake. Your long body holds

a hunger the shape of a vole. You stretch
your triangular head into the sun, still

your dreadful rattle, ready your fangs.
How the road, a blur of wheels, comes

between you and the mice, the pointed
snouts and pinprick eyes of shrews.

The asphalt is warm. It calls to your
cold-blooded coils. Though we fear

your yellow-gray form, still we begin
to dig. We build tunnels, the first

for your kind. Cottontail rabbits blink
at our burrowing, turn their white rumps

to the road. You will slide safely beneath
to stalk small souls, unstruck as you strike.

A Violet Sky / by Donna Dallas 

It means a turbulent night
it means there’s no asking God
to level us out
we’ve gone so far off the charts
and he’s gone dark on us

This happened before
in Sodom and Gomorrah
back then the sky was lava red
they knew it would all go to shit
we dig up their stone entombed bodies
in the Dead Sea
where the sky is virgin white
the spherules ache
from the chaos
several miles below the dig
rests a phoenix

But we are not interested in enchanted myths
we lust for the salt of the earth
and it is never quite enough

When we hit that lava sky again
it’ll pull us straight
into the inferno
for a few hundred years
or so
our bodies creating a mulch
so pure
it’s stem cell perfect

Ceasefire/Pianissimo / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

 

1st: I was very proud I passed the test. The test was about how strong and firm

        I was with my faith, political or racial or hologrammatic.

2nd: The gift of democracy so essentially fluid, ergo, was time. I had to witness

          time suture history   or the narrative of forgetting in peacetime.

3rd: How were the militants calculating the algorithm of hurt when protesters

          themselves were the curators of Lego-like ideas and wild algebra?

4th: Gaza was a place of blacker and blacker appeal to our strategic liberation.

          She rebuilt herself amid rocket fires and air strikes: unhomed.   

5th: She who stood astound by the palace walls read her // self, more than

          bodies melting in the rain, freezing in the sun.

6th: The heroine who did this should become the anti-auteur. The second

          heroine in our mind would be the myth and metaphor of our freedom.

7th: I didn t believe I would allow myself to listen close to my mind    how 

         imagination gurgled so loud repeating revolution like a Bacharach 

         masterpiece on    ceasefire      pianissimo.  

8th: From Ramat Gan to my now city tetris: I have finally recognized 

         life to be full of bricks

9th: … that if you try to fit in, you   ll disappear.

10th: And the tenth was of course the trick. I wasn   t double-crossed by    

          anyone, by the crooked teeth of society.

11th: For this, I thanked the Earth   s magnetic field   how it deconstructed

          democracy in spheres of spectral marginalia. 

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/15

Pinpoint, pinprick Polaris unwavering
beside wormholes, quasars, pulsars, comets,
satellites, asteroids, supernovas

Lazlo’s mouth opens wide to engulf
the celestial spheres’ radiance, flash of fire-
fly, cicada, crickets in the close brush,

buzzing juniper, bushes dotted by
brief bioluminescent flashes
popopopop denying night’s ingress.

Dopamine / by David Estringel

Drops
                                                                                                                      Just enough
Drops
                                                                                                                      too few
Drops
                                                                                                                      too many
everywhere
                                                                                                                      in my brain
sliding notes
                                                                                                                      calling cards and pink slips
under doors

and
                                                                                                                      slipped through fingers
here I am
                                                                                                                      without you
without my glasses
                                                                                                                      wishing I could think

“I met her on one of the tower staircases. She was climbing it rather wearily…” / by Christine Hamm

Behind the crematorium, a ghost steps
out of the garbage pit, half her skin burnt

off.  Because she left her pocket mirror
on the bus, she still believes she looks like

a large-nosed, if somewhat charming, girl. 
She greets the baker and the horse trainer

on the street, where they are arguing about
property tax.  They look at her and say

nothing. She smiles and they shiver. As the sun
slowly and half-heartedly slips below the tree line,

the girl runs her fingers across her forehead,
worrying that her bangs still look crooked.

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

Dura Mater / by Michelle Macfarlane

FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY IN AUGUST / by K.E. Ogden
for Mathew

Ivy leaves waggle dance to the
Oscillating fan’s consistent air kisses

And Captain America chases the bad guys
on the television. It’s supper time, or so

the cats signal. They both preen around my
Feet, tails wiggling with heavy purrs.

Just now on the phone I was crying and
It felt good to cry. I wiped it all away.

I could hear you breathing through
the speakers in your car, love. We are like

Those two geese on the news— you know?
The feel-good story that comes after all

The death numbers of Covid and panning of corpses In Afghanistan. We are in pain—

Me with the grief of two deaths in as many
weeks of dear loved ones, and you with anger

at the world’s inability to see itself— to
See you. So we are talking out our pain and

I’m thinking we are like those geese— the two
Who mated for life, the male one with his hurt

Foot getting fixed at the sanctuary and the female one honking and honking, tapping her

beak on the window and spreading her wings
in a flying run to her beloved.

What are they saying to each other, do you think?

I have ideas. Time to feed the cats. Time to
Water the ivy. And now I’m sitting by the

Window waiting for you to come through the door. Honk Honk.

Poem 14 / Day 14

when comes the dark nothing is seen / by Claire Acerno

how can a poncho not fit?
when your heads too big
and there’s too small a slit
and the man is yelling
and you can’t see on account of
a blanketed head

besides here’s the sting
he knows nothing of who you are

two different bodies
at the same island-counter (by chance?)
they serve all kinds
pick and choose
your identity
you plant
your feet
on the old worn linoleum

get on your knees
scrub, clean, shine
the muddy floor of time
un-recalled abuses, layers
of warped crimes

when the day is done
we two (me and the man) lean
into a slip of setting sun
long is one shadow

home gallery / by Ingrid Bruck

today’s edition of the living gallery:

multi-type wood pieces in hand –
            made furniture

a shadowbox painting
            in pressed sycamore bark

a scrimshaw blue whale
            swims in its tooth

a lit china cabinet
            with crystals and stones

framed eyeballs stare
            from a wall mounted light-box

the candy onion
            flaunts an emoticon glare

an eek-eek sketch
            with rainbow rays on a notepad

grocery list entries:
            lots of nothing & a box of money

a blue feather
            chained to the wall

an electric yellow stuffed Peep
            next to a vase of cut flowers

stuffed animal guards
            atop a bed side-table

garden vegetables for canning
            arrange in geometrics

this home gallery of pop-up art
features a rotating collection
we dare you to visit

Apex, Hex, Full Of / by Onyedikachi Chinedu

I rooked myself to surmise that a major spigot
of men had what it took to make me hollow-bone;
without assembling my thoughts, on the matter,
I configured everything, including the bleak sunset,
to contain nothing but a valley of upturned
bones and shipwrecks of appalling trinkets.

It became possible to lose a coat of skin and a silver
of peace; possible to burrow and rend the misery
encapsulated in a fine gem.

The apex, in a hex, I reached,
then roamed, again, the alleys of this street,
and found only a dream full of a black vermin
and a kettle whistling wildly.

Why Did the Chicken Redux / by Brittney Corrigan 

Who among us hasn’t felt the grounding,
the heft of wings that don’t work
as well as they should? We spread
and flap. Our soft, auburn feathers catch
the light of the cresting farmland sun.
But our flight always ends in dust,
in the squawking assemblage. The road
is a small horizon. How we yearn
for that tiny planet’s edge. What tilts
beyond, what rises past the verge?
We imagine worlds where we might
be angels, our shoulders unfurling
with a weight we are strong enough
to lift. We see ourselves ascending,
chasing the sun. We place our long-toed
feet at the road’s white rim, set our eyes
on the haloed beyond. We come
from dinosaurs, know we are meant
for great heights. We have only to step
into the road. Only to walk, only to cross.

The House that Jack Built / by Donna Dallas 

We eye these walls
mauves and greys with
heavy strokes
of Venetian plaster

We pull ourselves out
from under
our own dark corners
shake off
lies manifested in our cozy
nook by the stone fireplace

Separate self from truth
through the rainbow specs
of sun that fall from
the stained glass
window
we attempt fleetingly
to escape the glints
that speckle us
from room to room
even though their warm rays deepen
into the fully glossed parquet floors
we carelessly search for the silver goblets
later dismiss them for deliverance

Simple as the push of a foot into a boot
the way we use the shoehorn
or the way we ghost through the
kitchen and dining room
escape into lovers arms……or
flee from them
lack the courage to stay
or say
we cannot – or we could have

A dollar for every time we said
here we go again
through the long marble hallways
of bullshit
empty beds of time
rush past us
somehow we missed that gleaming rise
of a billion year old star
as we are now old stars
save pennies
hoard paper towels
complain about the things that led us here
to this very spot……this doormat so aged
it became a camping ground
for every trek of the path
in and out of this house
built with all our blood and salt
every foot over our grave
attempting
time and time again
to murmur some kind of bliss
into our insatiable souls

Pilipinas / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

There are 7, 107 islands of indeterminacy in the far east.
My country floats on a giant coconut shell
where there is no excuse to not be busy for it’s the texting
capital of the world. That’s what’s been said

on record

and I recall 7-Eleven for being the miniature NYC
to our videoke bars, massage parlors. Don’t you know
that reportage is a heavenly outcome of the tropics?

Sleepless lovers

are about to take on their neon sabbatical in the streets,
hungry mouths fed with psalms and promises,
time and again; some pained like academics
dwelling on their etherized research plans
rethinking discourse on the head of a pin.

Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao could have been
the AMBASSADOR
of the republic of speed and politics [1],
and the young bloods
oh they’re all passion setting fire to the world
using only the butane of their inspired

buoyant souls.
And nurses, nurses
the forever crowned kings and queens of diaspora.
How heroic, how proud and news-flashy.

This is the painted feeling when you place
optimism in the oven
and it doesn’t get burned.
Or the fantasy of reciting love poems
to frontliners in times of uncertainties
to digital ferrymen of drugs and fake news.

My country is a paradise.
It is a paradise. It is paradise.
Come see death and poverty in their twilight gowns!

 [1] A phrase derived from Speed and Politics: An Essay on Dromology, the debut book of French philosopher and cultural theorist, Paul Virilio

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick 

30 / 14 

Shipwrecked ‘with the loss of all hands’ presumed 
rock-wrenched aplunder asunder deadwood 
pirated away wavelet waterlogged 

to refloat sun-bleached and battle-ready 
ghost-batallion lean-to, fro, fore, aft, prow- 
point angel-gilded glimmer sundialed back 

as “Row!” then “Row!” then “Land—ahoy-matey!” 
phantoms also dream better days, Lazlo 
thinks alternate outcomes for submerged lungs. 

Raspberry Bush / by David Estringel

Stealing a moment
away
from the fields—
pungent with sweat and
cedar, warm, on the breeze,
I find a spot, touched
with shade
behind the barn,
where raspberry bushes hide—
ripe for the picking—lush
and swollen with fruit,
dripping
from modest but shapely stems.
Thoughts
pull me inside,
along walls, warped and damp,
where harvest baskets,
bountiful
with plenty, patiently
wait
for a place at my table.
Hopping up,
teased by hunger,
I pull off my white t-shirt
and wipe perspiration
from my chest and armpits,
before crossing the threshold
for another taste.

Walking down the path
of cedar trees—
eyes peeled
for the rusty white of
overseer’s pick-up—
I strut back
to my fields of barley,
betrayed
by sticky fingers and
wet stains of pollen
and raspberry swirls on a white tee.

“now the house is full of voices” / by Christine Hamm

A blackbird chases a blackbird into the dogwood — daffodils
waver on the banks of the river. You are sitting on the grass,

your skirt muddy, remembering the Kahlo painting of her
face on a running deer. Fifteen years ago, you were telling

women in a small dim room to draw with colors that represented
their feelings. Sometimes they used their fingers or got paint

in their hair. Tempera was all the agency could afford, and it faded
in the sun and flaked as soon as it dried. One woman kept saying,

“but I’m alive now.” She took a wide brush to draw a yellow horizon
across her canvas. The scar where someone tried to slit her throat

lay on her neck like a brown leaf.  Now geese are pushing them-
selves along the new grass, bending to pull blades into their beaks.

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House 

Still Life / by Michelle Macfarlane 

So much so are trees on the move
in the breeze today, I cannot say where

                        by tomorrow they will be. These poplars,
            maples, firs, an almond, a fig. Take the fig

for example. One day it appeared from who knows where—
            I had come outside to sit

                        and drink my morning coffee with the paper
            when at one point I looked up

from my reading and noticed its distinct leaves—
            not far from where I sat, but on the other

                        side of what I call a garden, the tree stood
            now directly in my line of sight. I knew it was a fig

immediately—from the shape of its leaves,
            from having seeing one somewhere else. Not here           

                        Not in this high desert where I have lived
            for years. Nor from anywhere I could remember           

in a childhood I had spent elsewhere. Yet somewhere
            in between, hangs a painting I’d seen or

                        lies a book I’d read wherein this same fig
            was standing still

The Camping Trip / by K.E. Ogden 

River born, you plunge into the water again
speckled fish wrangle and jump alongside you
and the green lady below beckons

A man with a tuning fork plucks with his lips
in the distant trees and you push the music
away with your splashing boots

There are pockets and sink holes where
something lives but you can’t reach them
with your net, each step more precarious
on the slippery rockbed

In the distance someone swims from
one side of the river to the next
as a fish gets caught up and you jerk
your net from the water

Tonight you’ll eat well
settled by a fire
smoke churning

and in far off wildnerness
your spirit runs for home

Poem 13 / Day 13

the variable color of human hope/carnation’s reinvention / by Claire Acerno

a body born
can not whisper itself
back into earth or sky
cries for a new mother
covered in human silk
the wet pod released
ingested by the giver
borrowed skin
to hold get and give

a body born
sheds many lives
mother holds new hope
father’s fruit earned
spider spins, cop’s baton twirls
hidden cycles, violence’s creed

coyote goes in for the kill
had by want not greed
one mouth to fill
forest for a tree
body for a hand
infinity for one day

little red riding hood skips her route
today the shortcut stings her inner eye
orders Gran’s meal from Grub-Hub
burns her red cloak on the fire
in her tee shirt and jeans
she starts again from one
no going back

wolf sniffs the air, his fur bristles
a new tale (about to be) told

She’s the kind of woman who… / by Ingrid Bruck

  plays classical music   and hymns
    organ notes          float          from her finger tips
feet    pump     on pedals    under the bench
    she jogs in place             where metal meets wood
           where another would pound the floor

the living room   walls in the trailer   shake
                            her husband    and two kids flee
I stand
transfixed

surrender    to a cascade of scales
      lift on the swell     of the sonata
ride    on a curl    that flicks
   whirl     on surround-sound
      motion that rocks
   vibration in air

after her fingers     lift      off the keyboard
                    notes linger
        the divinity she plays

she shuts the score, stands tall
       glides   the double-wide
 a music regal as her footsteps
    spectral as the echo of Beethoven
       a spell     laps     the metal walls

Triolet for the World’s Narrowest Animal Crossing / by Brittney Corrigan

Squirrels dash across the thoroughfare:
a sky-bridge path suspended tree to tree.
No longer flattened, now they race on air.
Squirrels dash across the thoroughfare.
Historic sign for animals not rare:
Nutty Narrows, nineteen-sixty-three.
Squirrels dash across the thoroughfare.
A sky-bridge path suspended tree to tree.

Found You at the Bar Most Nights / by Donna Dallas 

Foolishly tried to bitch boss you
into a role model
there’s no friending a wasps nest
those stinger words
led to the many needle holes
along the my tattered skin

You once said morning is the monster
that pushes us into silence
and that silence grew into a swarm
while time became our empty house
marbles roll
back and forth
along the base of my spine
twenty-six vertebrae
a chain link that bobs
up and down over
cord and neurons
you’ve never touched……

I
dry and vacant
still
would sponge any
residue you leak
fully aware
that I swallow poison
I tell you anything – anything
from you
to fill my empty bucket – is so much more
than the latter

Bent spine
hunched over
to hear you whisper a word
or two
I barely make out your voice
over the stream of bar chatter
smell Johnny Walker
know all too well this queen wasp
will be taken over by your swarm
what to do
when it’s an end in itself
what to do when
there is nothing to do
but be stung
by your own

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/ 13

After adventure feather-robe footnote
bands connecting imperceptible roots1
constellations redraw equinoctial

lines: star-point pulse coalescing cascade
“brief vectors, destinies in dust, in vast
nothingness.”2 Perseid-plummet tail-tracing

interior passing Swift-Tuttle through
clear deep night Lazlo charts fluorescing
as “something precious to them fell apart.”3

____________________________

Vocabulary & fragments in lines 1-2 culled from section i. of “Space Time Description” by Keith
Waldrop, The Not Forever (Omnidawn, 2013), p47.

Slightly amended line from Cormick McCarthy, Blood Meridian (Random House, 1985), p351.

Line from song “RPG” by Sekai No Owari, 2015.

Blood Honey / by David Estringel

Pulled
into breath,
lingering and damp
under nostrils’ slow
b u r n,
wet tips of tongues
melt,
dart,
and slide
into syrupy tangles,
furious
with hot spit
and exhales,
sweet
as red pomegranate.
Your little gasps
(my little deaths)
fire
cutting teeth
and hungry lips,
drawing us
in,
spitting us
out—
blood honey in a syringe—
into
the heavenly hell
of this hypodermic love,
the sugar
in my veins.

“the cabinet is the really curious or I should say horrible thing” / by Christine Hamm 

During the tour for the museum dig, we crouch at a shallow
trough full of muddy water, sifting for gems with our fingers.

You find a white stone in the shape of a peacock feather and
slip it into my coat pocket, so we won’t have to pay. Near the exit,

the cashier finds we are short a dollar, and you have to make up
the difference in dimes. The small boy following us hides rocks in

his cheeks, sucking on the stones like they will yield water, blood.
Before we cross the river back to our country, we feed him French

fries, load his backpack with semi-precious pieces, hide rubies in his
ears. We ignore his songs on the boat, the way he asks for his mother.

 ______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

Found / by Michelle Macfarlane 

her golden girdle cast astray
lying on the Floor
her sunk in a disturbed slumber
him depressed
her crying in the walk-in refrigerator
in mynes
in the larger veins of the Arms, Legs and other parts
in all the southern parts of the world
in Hampshire, Devonshire, Cornwall, near Manchester, near Lancaster
in the ballad of the Marblehead skipper’s dole
in the clay of the Arun Gap
in large numbers
in a deep quiet
established
unsure about the prospects for peace
on a Palme tree
some of their Things a Mile off
a pan of money under ground
in the blue jeans trousers of his son Andrew Jackson
a sixpence
some curious mushroom-shaped articles of burnt clay
a disturbing collection of items—several pairs of women’s shoes, a sex doll, some toy dolls, pine deodorant [etc.]
in Besançon
a translator also in Frampton
I was quite drunk, but went to sleep
to be excellent good
foure English miles in compasse
the enemy very strongly encamped
the work very hard to sell
herself wholly dependent upon strangers
ourselves opposed by a parapet of congealed snow
himself..entering a drawing-room
alone
wanting
to be the Redstreak, the White Must, the Green Must
to be without an anvil
wanting in some qualities
lacking at the Ingliston event
to be leaking
rather too much
rather muddly
impossible to wade through
necessary to disburse in Calcutta
necessary to quote
expedient to relax
necessary to invent
difficult to cancel
in the OED

A Hole We must Dig out of / by K.E. Ogden

Sky to night
Blue black like a bruised face
After a fist
the whoosh of airplanes and sport
Utility vehicles tearing up asphalt
With their teethy tires

How deeply I wish to fall
Asleep into nightmare
Water Rushing at my body
stealing oxygen the bubbles
Of breath and air escape
Into atmosphere

We should have a suicide pact
Me and you
A place to go when the battle
Cries begin

There is nothing more here
Except the Perseus meteors
Streaking the sky with tails
Of churning dust and decaying
Light

Tell me what more there is to see
Each space rock sludge sparking
Until hard rock hits the ground
Leaving a hole that all of us
Must dig ourselves out of

Poem 12 / Day 12

what a morning / by Claire Acerno

ya know when you feel bickery
and snickery, with a bit of fK you’ery
& some whad-ja do to me

like how can it be like this
and who can I discuss this with
not that I feel like talkin’
just moanin’ and squalkin’

why you always fight with me
when I’m right I’m right ya see

when I say destination left
you say straight ahead, as if
you know the way

UGH

why is the sky so sunny
why can’t it rain the piss away
racism, sexism, poverty
global warming, political treachery
disturbing perverted lechery
choose which pain to smoke
punch, kick, chug away

everything’s so messed up
sometimes I can laugh at the joke
but nothings funny, not today.

now this ass is comin’ at me
fists up, spewing red white and blu-ery
blind to his own damn bigotry
disgusting fool, religion disguised as nicety

what would Jesus do?
PLEASE!
what would YOU do?

with persecution’s hymn
you’d crucify Him again.

“Go back from where you came from
hippy, leftist, bleeding heart liberal
work for a living, close the borders
devil, pagan, long haired homosexual!”

hey Mr. Day, stop chasing me
I’m out of breath swinging
spittin’ mad, uptight unclear
about who I am,
a piss ant of judgment
blame and hate
will rise to the surface
cuz the real me can’t

I’ll stay home, read or write
sit and grind my teeth
till I face my own
can’t we all just get along?

Hey you!
Who me?
this rant is in YOUR head
go outside and walk
have a loverly day
there’s nobody else here

Have plant-lings, Will travel… / by Ingrid Bruck

                        If wishes were fishes, the seas would run dry. ~ Mother Goose

We swap houses nine times:
down sizing, buy outs,
headhunter offers…

I want roots,
crave to stay in place,
to grow deep roots.

On every move,
a handy trowel pots
pieces of friends and family.

Janie in Mesquite,
obedience, dug
from a front yard flower border.

Mary in Dallas,
white-and-blue violets uprooted
from along her driveway.

Cindy in Plano,
a fringed daylily taken
from beside her garage

I still have Flo’s rhubarb,
Olga’s creeping Jenny
& Chinese lantern (invasive)

We move from north of the city
to south, from east to westside,
from state to state.

Gypsy plants, seeds in soil
travel the packrat train,
adapt, set down roots.

“You don’t throw away anything,” accuses my husband.

moonflowers open                  push the window glass            reaching for the moon

Field of Wild Irises / by Onyedikachi Chinedu

before the last stop at his one-bedroom flat,
we had an uprising of cartilage: a testament

of nonconformity, but he was dormant
like a can of tuna. the skirmish shifted like the season.

it ferried both men to the end of the bed,
demonstrated the synergy between a thigh

and a hairy chest which drew back the snapshot
of bigfoot i saw two summers ago.

i frolicked and thus lost sight of an end goal.
it doesn’t get any better than the thoughtful medley of words

poetically strung from the bard.
now the threshold, a piece of cheese with him.

i’ve learned to mince trust into slivers of confetti,
stashed in with the rest of my intrinsic qualities—

what promising lies were from this needless situation?
but he spoke of I being sweet as the sunset

crowned the cool field of wild irises.
i would disbelieve its credulous context by him.

i wondered what kept me from straddling on the horizon.
i grew a lot of things for the men who treated me unfairly.

Roadkill Afterlife / by Brittney Corrigan 

“Just because it’s the end of an animal’s life doesn’t mean it’s the end of its story.”
—National Geographic

i: Scientific

Small body collected by careful, gloved hands.
How the skin of the torso parts to reveal
the non-pulse, non-breath of gorgeous organs
carrying secrets, codes, last meals. Bones
offer up their stories to mind after mind
after mind. Salvaged being, specimen-body
under eye, under knife, under scope.

ii: Aesthetic

One artist still lifes the bristled-tailed body
so it appears only sleeping, curled into
a porcelain dish among bright-seeded figs.
One artist filigrees the curve-horned skull.
Lotus-carved forehead, toothed jawbone
calligraphed with light. One artist casts
the claws, dangles talons around necks.

iii: Caloric

Sometimes rodents and deer chew
on the bones. Insects and fungi surge
on comestible flesh. Coyotes and bears
redden their snouts in the night.
Sometimes the eagles. Sometimes
the crows. Sometimes the carcass-deep
vultures feasting at the pavement’s edge.

Mafalda 1923 / by Donna Dallas 

Never heard the name
travelled the globe
nothing close
except in an article from 1988
Quino
creator of
the comic character Mafalda
had passed away
when researched
found this Mafalda character
reminded me of Lucy
from Charlie brown
nothing like the real Mafalda I knew

Warrior
female juggernaut
to find your bones
we trekked from Como Lago
down to the very end of the boot
drove through olive fields
fig farms
alongside the Adriatic
to finally stumble upon the rock cave
that opened up
into the blue-green ocean
foaming at its mouth

Carefully opened the bag of your body dust
swam out into that bowl of teal blue
to sprinkle you
in the cauldron of the sea
mixed with heavy waves
spurred a family of dolphins
to accompany us along the voyage

Two decades later
come to learn
you were royalty
you rode your white horse
along the sands of Polignano a Mare
your hair
a long dark menace
your horse
optic white
with specks of slate grey

Mafalda
my mystic mother
you left your legacy written
in the scrolls from Julius Caesar
neatly rolled beneath the floorboard
of the Byzantine ship we eternally
bed you down with
whereabouts unknown

Self-Portrait as Memory / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

I was walking, contemplative
as this new life that had sprung
from the corners of my eyes.
I was wandering here and there,
feelings the smell of the river
escaping the chasm of war,
fears the glistening skulls
decorating the streets, dirt-stitched,
swathed in requiem. You know
those old houses raised on stilts
over the surface of history,
they belonged to your state of charm
swaying between the aromas
of the Khmer sun and the gaiety
of gerberas. It was before sunset,
and I was wasting in the sultriness
together with the cicadas
and this memory poisoned by tears.
I was almost traversing darkness
in the middle of nowhere.
But the air was penetrating
and having me, like your solemn
touch of the rest of love.
I was a kite awash in your zephyr.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/12

Whirlpool, whirlwind, whippoorwill, hull, cull, cast,
coast’s clear to chug the crested crate over
board, to bargain—wager weathervanes for

Byron’s albatross, a goose-necked yellow
liver, ivory, cuckoo-clock ticking
underwater—ensnared in rotting nets

savory stories of sullied sailors
Hungarian heirlooms the rudder’s dull
thud echoing down: destiny, ahoy!

Sunflowers / by David Estringel

Gold crowns, so eas’ly
snatched by morning star’s glamours.
Youth’s a fickle weed.

“…then all at once, looming out of that unfathomable dark…” / by Christine Hamm

Cupcakes, yogurts, coffee-flavored candies.  Spoilt bananas,
Unripe strawberries.  Pea pods picked from the vines. 
Crackers salted with popcorn butter.  Even the smell
of food made you nauseous. Doctors poked your stomach
from the inside and outside, biopsied and conferenced,

typed it is all in her head. That year, you were so thin your
belly was an oubliette between two hip bones. You ran
five miles a day to the highway and back, feeling the
brush of gravity’s handcuffs like ribbons, feathers. During
sleep, the gap inside morphed into a yellow oriole, dipped

and dived with the ghosts of the children you had killed; laughter,
white flashes, gold. When you couldn’t swallow, you chewed
and spit into a napkin. Masticated cherries seemed fetal-like,
a halo of blood.  Surely, this was another punishment for the
excesses of your youth, for breaking all those boys,
                                                                           for wanting beyond reason.

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

I have more to say
                                                 about this cave called Gargas / by Michelle Macfarlane 

that I am—

the cave
the wall
the hand

the pressure
of
the two
against
the mirror
of
the mark
in
the meeting
of
each

the boundary
between

the dark

the pass
through

the membrane

the matrix

the site
of

—repetition

WHAT IS MUD IF IT ISN’T MEMORY / by K.E. Ogden 
 
     Water-logged red dirt full of tire tracks
 
and work-boot prints. As a child I would crouch
     at the edges of mud puddles, bare feet
 
caked in wet mud and dried mud, scalloped edge
     of my sack dress kissing dirty water. 
 
I’d peer into it, all sunshone, mirrored.
     I’d make faces at myself to prove that
 
it was really me in there. I exist.
     Around the mud puddles, grass pushing its
 
way through scattered gravel, bits of Spanish moss
     blown off live Oaks and Cypress by wind that’s
 
almost ready for hurricane season. 
     I love summer storms in Louisiana.
 
I love the thick, hot air full of diesel,
     my daddy and my uncles rolling in
 
their big trucks to get a cup of coffee
     at my maw maw’s trailer. This is memory.
 
My uncle picking me up with greasy, 
     dirty hands, me and my cousins fighting
 
for attention, to ride in the truck, to kick at
     the tires and peel bark off the logs, sweet pine
 
in the air. What is memory?  Only
     this muddy thing we can’t make sense of. This
 
feeling — how I used to be something once
     and now I’m something else. Time has passed like
 
those clouds overhead mirrored in the hole
    in the gravel that I’m staring into.
 
I’m just a face making faces to see 
     if I’m real — if I ever was at all.

Poem 11 / Day 11

ignorance’s bliss / by Claire Acerno

we do not know why
some bloom and some die
or guess how timber’s arms
reach for sky
how mighty roots
dig in earth

loquat hang’s along
free to pick, peel, savor
sweet juice, slick pits, spit
on hopeful ground

bird’s song strides
this morning walks
as sky passes
sun holds me
summer keeps my day

Dad Style / by Ingrid Bruck

Dad style – a reluctant father of nine
blames Alice for being a fertile fanny

Dad style – a proud patriarch
taking his kids one-at-a-time

Dad style – with pencil in hand
writes a news column and poems

Dad style – a bent tonsured head
reads Carl Sandburg

Dad style – an O’Henry romantic
sells his cello to buy Alice a Christmas opal

Dad style – a whistle from the front door
calls the kids home in the dark

Dad style – the way he requests a cuppa tea
delivered to his lounger

Dad style – dozing in his chair in Easter heat
smacked awake by a melted bunny falling on his head

Dad style – the whirring casts of his bamboo pole
in the side yard, a sure signal of spring

Dad style – delivering a fly from the boat
rowed by Alive (or one of the nine)

Dad style – catch and release before it’s fashionable
keeps his white hands clean

Dad style – ripping out the last page in Alice’s book,
throwing it in the lake guarantees her attention

Dad style – only classic, blues and jazz at our house
until the kids outweigh him

Dad style – picking up Alice after work
when he buys a car, the kids stay home

Dad style – two-thumbs on the wheel
driving over back country roads

Dad style – a car nap in the A&P parking lot
on another noisy family Thanksgiving

Dad style – a Florida snowbird and mate
accept visits by one progeny at a time

Dad style – a camera to his eye
snap snapping family history

There’s an Alligator Under the Road / by Brittney Corrigan 

Which is nothing
to be afraid of,
nothing but scuted
legs wayfinding
in the humid night.
Also under the road
is a panther. In fact,
the underpass was built
for the panther, but
the panther shares.
An otter with algal
tresses waddles
its slick-watered
self through
the tunnel, but not
while the panther
is also passing
through. Sometimes
there’s a bear
under the road.
Sometimes a mink.
A flock of turkeys
struts and scoots.
The roar of the traffic
is louder than
the roar of the panther,
or the alligator,
or the bear. Under
the road, nothing
but travelers,
nothing to fear.

Dark Matter / by Donna Dallas 

Didn’t want this to start
this slow killing of our earth
although we’ve ruined it…….us
beyond repair
with……and without
knowing

It oozes into
our atmosphere
all it took was more darkness
             more bloodshed
love is so convenient
             when it’s love
murder when it’s hate
             yet they are one in the same
because when we achieve the one
             we long so hot
for the other

Dark matter
creeps
into our universe
pollutes us into thinking
we are
             nothing
or worse…..
             everything

Yet I would churn
again and again
if there was any way
to sustain
something
so mediocre
as
                our human life

Self-Portrait as Healing / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

Feature a smile behind the veins of a mirror
The color of time is a fractured red
Your words they drip and giggle
swept by the eyelashes of the window
by which you stand to see the world
You are not broken              You are
beautiful          because you rationalize
the sweet flayed breath of azaleas

Imagine a parade of elephants in Sichuan
How slow feet become imperceptible
Weight transfers water
                                    burning memories
There is a gap in my bouquet of reflections
Here I am lost and I climb back down
to your nape
           your lucent map of beginnings

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/ 11

Dream adrift or hallucination—lost
dangers, lost at sea, being at sea, lost,
losing sea swell, compass, navigation-

al markers : buoy, bobber, anchor, perched
pelican atop rotting pier, a call—atoll—is
an ocean-oasis salt-thirst-dried lips

—a strange, Lazlo senses, becoming—
beef jerky or bait: blood worms stiffened
by wind, sun, heat, drifting sensation of

Life From a Garden Fence / by David Estringel

A wooden rain barrel—
weathered and worn—
slowly
bleeds
sweet
elixir
in
drips
and
drabs
through
weakening
seams,
among yellow and pink
Chrysanthemums
and
old magnolias,
tolerant
of violet thistles’
motivated peeks.

“…sand upon the floor and this was dark, and clogged with fallen fluid.” / by Christine Hamm

And his body was filled with a terrible groaning. Now, you wish
someone had been able to say something the first time he fell

over the rails and lay, just like a wet rag is supposed to lay,
something like, just stop, he’s dying — let the body go,

don’t make him into a machine that breathes just to
keep you happy and alive. Don’t sacrifice this horse

on the altar of your invisibility, of your inability to
feel, of your failure to ward off all the beasts

swarming to enter your body, all the things
that wait to eat all the tender parts of you.

______________________

            * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
            a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                       

            ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
             Your Body is a Curséd House

Grotte / by Michelle Macfarlane 

In the Luberon there is a cave
called Gargas where in two main chambers
one opening for each (oubliette, if you will)
are hundreds of hands. Not all are intact
Many, most maybe, are missing whole fingers
or parts of them—one knuckle, sometimes
two, sometimes palms only, or fists, maybe
Most are large, adult-size. Many seem
to be the hands of children too

They are like the ones my mother
made, like the ones I made, holding each
child’s palm, fingers splayed against paper
quickly moving the pencil around tiny digits
like the ones my children made themselves
early on in school when each year slightly
larger versions got taped to the fridge
and later lost in the bins
of what to save

So too, dark halos outline
the Gargas hands, like photographic
negatives there, now not there, hands
were placed, held long enough and steady
enough for someone ready with a mouthful
of red of black pigment to have blown into
the space surrounding each next hand
on the main wall, flickering in darkness
What wild gestures stray in time

STRINGING STARLIGHTS / by K.E. Ogden

We both huddle around the screen
Looking at the red and blistered
Patches that have appeared on her
Body. You’re checking WebMD
And I’m peppering her with questions:
what have you eaten today? Did you
go for a walk in the woods? Have you
played with a dog Or other animal?
Behind her she’s hung Christmas
Lights in the corner of her dorm room.
They backlight her so the patches
Of red bumps are more Prominent.

She’s fine. It’s the attention we need to
Give so that she is reminded this is ok—
Everything will be ok.

Later, we both remember my gall bladder
surgery at 19. I was throwing up and
couldn’t stop You raced to my apartment and drove me to the hospital in the middle
of the night. I almost died— another hour
And it would’ve burst and killed me.

You said “everything will be okay”
To me that night. I don’t even think
we told my parents—

They were too overwhelmed with their bankruptcy and the drugs, getting
Evicted and their impending break-up
And divorce. I think I was lucky we had
Each other, you and me.

When we settle into the couch and turn
The lights off, only our starlights shine,
Hung in the kitchen near the ceiling.
And we’re watching the news and it’s
Seems bad. You rub my arm just
As I’m tensing up and I breathe
into the moment.

Poem 10 / Day 10

this is not a prayer / by Claire Acerno

India ingested Mahatma
under lotus’ spray
blood thin figure eight
swallow light, pray

Geronimo grinds axe
feather mask, straight back
true face speak
brine, grave excavate

a bossy color orange
peace march chant
bell around the square
bow, stand, feed, command

If I had somewhere to go
I could not
solace in word
I doubt
something to spout
I do not

off beat religion
off the wall belief
new dogma to sprout
yes, no, perhaps so

taste this
flavor of the day
unity beware

spirit’s big bamboozle
watch for tomorrow
clown phrases shout
Separate, Follow!

dot us quiet
tree, water, vein
star, mountain, flower
our mighty strength
one people the same

Tree Dreaming / by Ingrid Bruck 

She wishes she were a tree.
Plant an acorn, it grows roots.
A second marriage. A second chance
transplants her in the southwest.
Gold sun burns
a clear bluebonnet sky.
Hard glare, poison,
the darkest-tint, sunglass medicine.
Clap, clap, clap, clap

Deep in the heart of Texas
Where a scorpion hidden in a baby shoe
raises its tail like a white flag.
Shake the shoe outside, both win.
A bobcat in a tree tenses to leap,
the horse smells danger, veers.
Prairie roses grow huge as jack rabbits.
Canna blooms erupt in vibrant rock and mineral colors.
Urban cowboys hike up a peak
to a grand four state overlook,
heat irons the hair under Stetsons.

The sage in bloom is like perfume
Girls read adventure stories and play
lead action parts without a stunt man.
Popular girls and geeks join the same club,
laugh, sing and work as sisters.
Where women don’t seek a princess-bride-marriage for solace.
Friends don’t evaporate in half-light like morning dew.

A live-oak planted in the front yard grows tall.
In a tree dream,
she moves in, stays put.
Her marriage grows leafy as their lives.
The stars at night are big and bright

bare feet
              in wet grass
                          chasing fireflies

(Intertextuality: June Hershey’s lyrics: Deep in the Heart of Texas, music by Dan Swander, 1942)

Threshold, Threshold / by Onyedikachi Chinedu 

He pruned the anchorage of hair
when he cut off both feet.

In his tongue, they cleared truths, promoted
a year of therapeutic lies in a cleft.

The zeppelin in the mouth
of a thunderstorm would throb ruddy lights

before they entrenched in his tongue.
Ugly utterances whispered in alleys

were a day’s worth of acidic rain.
Now, I try not to miss the monster

howling where the light fades
to become a thin strip of napalm.

I’ve given all pelts to these thin-chest prey
bounded by chains.

Wildfire Triolet / by Brittney Corrigan 

On one side of the road, the world burns.
The other is an ark, a havened zone.
The fire teaches, each animal learns.
On one side of the road, the world burns.
To flee and then to cross, each creature turns
road to door, not turned to ash nor bone.
On one side of the road, the world burns.
The other is an ark, a havened zone.

No Name Key / by Donna Dallas 

You know it?
probably not
it sits next to Big Pine Key
right off the turquoise bay
with manatees and sea turtles galore
there’s a small splat of an island
nestled in there
just big enough for three wretched homes
all with splintered
worn doors
and boarded up windows
piles of garbage
bake in the Florida heat
they’ve got their own road to the bridge

Bridge ain’t necessary, they say
they got the rusted out dingy
and some abandoned motorboat
that washed up one morning
with a blown motor
they work at it from time to time

Don’t need no bridge to connect
to the world they never seen
as they hang their clothes
on the sun bleached branches
of dead trees
Momma Girl still breastfeeds her kids
they already got teeth
them boys never cut their hair
one of em lays in the water
rubs clay all over his face and body
dries in the sun to petrified white

He starts the pit
alligator chunks roast in the pyre
they speared it
and skinned it
someone from the road videoed it
animal activists upset
but it was an eight footer
roamed out of the lagoon
this ain’t no stroll in the park
we pray Jesus for waterfront
some people got it like putty in their palm

Those boys keep flailing bottles at the bridge
alligator skin laid out on the dirt
the little ones dance around it

Footnote to Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

There is no poetry tonight.
My evening headache is putting up the walls where alphabets
and tiny helicopters skip their shiny aerial extravaganza.  
My pen writes: ICU.

In critical condition are the words. In need of daemon boosters.
I’ll be brief.
He wants you to read this note.
                                                       Mark Renton
                                                       Rilke, with love.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/10

*

Susurration. Perforation. Pity
Pythagorean parsimony of
pentacle-shard clues. Cue the wannabe

cruise ship coast guard, the aluminum-cap
sporting sailor at reef-edge holding up
his salt-decayed plexiglass message: a

ledger or spreadsheet of the doomed alien
fish migration patterns Hurry now! he
mutters at a man-o-war drifting by.

*

                                      “A fire moving sideways through the woods’ B Kapil
                                      “scored the sky” T. Hardy

Backdraft licked flames up overhead. Portent:
darkling thrush claw in your throat, recall horse-
shoe hyoid Orpheus muted or crushed.

A wing lapped rent rendering a wavelit
fly-flung louver clung or hung up, inversed.
Calamitous curtailed cattail called in

the bluff’s blistering belligerent buzz
beguiling sea thrift or crinum lily
of the valley vociferous red noon.

*

Vermillion Ventimiglia vent
rent wrought caught coughed in a public hideout
(admittedly not to-do. Manners

matter in a pandemic. This one’s a
concentric consensus, cerulean
bramble-bristling allergen-produced

hazy-headiness gunpowder grey-green
atmospheric conundrum). Addendum:
the bulletin in his brain knocked some sense loose.

Dandelion Wine / by David Estringel

Sittin’
on the back porch—
drunk
on gasoline
and baseball cards—
I’m rockin’
to the creaks of bones
and backyard poplars
that sway
in the summer breeze.
Clouds pull
like flour sack dishcloths
‘cross God’s baby blue
to hold back
the rain,
and thoughts steal away
to the cold
of icebox-orange smiles
against teeth
and
another bottle in the cupboard.

“My daughter sat in a darkened room…” / by Christine Hamm 

On the porch, a cardinal flies up past me to the corrugated tin
roof — his wings, tail, belly, a series of hinged fans, red, all red.
You tied girls with their own shoelaces.  His pin-prick talons
scritch on the metal, his call a cut-off shriek repeating repeating
repeating. The song my father murmured to make me sleep:

Foxgloves in hedges surround all the farms —
your teeth are quite sharp and so are your arms.

When I try to write a poem without the word dead in it, with
honey substituting for blood, all the bees become homicidal.
You waited for hours in their closets, humming as the house
fell asleep, as all the breathing slowed and regulated.  We
never met, but in sleep, my palms know the clockwise rub
of the fur on your belly, my nose the scent of ash on your forehead.

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

found under Hardness                        
                          —Wikipedia  / by Michelle Macfarlane 

A "screenshot of a found" poem by Michelle Macfarlane, using lines from entries for the word "Hardness" on the website Wikipedia. The words and lines are sporadic throughout the page with lots of spacing, just like it would if you eliminated the words from the original page. The poem reads:  
found under Hardness 
—Wikipedia
responses to force, depending
material:	
elasticity—		
temporary change	,
plasticity—				permanently change 				in 											deformation
,
some materials
fracture—	      into 		       pieces.
Strength		the extent of 											compressive	     shear	     tensile 	 
forces involved					,		the 		load 		specific material		can withstand.
Brittleness			the tendency		to fracture
under a small		force 
because they do not experience		.   
The toughness tends 
in 
any				.

Nocturne / by K.E. Ogden

We’ve moved the kitchen table
To the living room
Covered it with books
And magazines
So we can read and write

The day’s work is done
But outside the hammering
Continues into the waning
Light as pale blue deepens
To night sky

We will see stars soon
And eat tacos for dinner
hovering around each
Other until we make up
from our afternoon
Argument about
Cooking salmon
Or halibut chunks
Still frozen
Or ordering out

Likely I’ll volunteer a joke
And your blue eyes will find
My smile and it will
all be ok

Because the air has cooled
The flowers closed except
Blooming Jasmine
Swelling with perfume

Poem 9 / Day 9

Emily doesn’t talk on Monday (by Emily’s Mother) / by Claire Acerno

she yaps on Tuesday
yacks on Wednesday
but Emily never talks on Monday

she blabs on Thursday
yammers on Friday
shoots the shit Saturday
goes on and on on a Sunday

but Emily never talks on Monday

so don’t call her up
don’t even think of face-time
that’s a long shot any day
anyway, Monday’s her quiet day
she recoups, takes it easy
relaxes and winds down
so don’t waste your time to text
she’ll never give a reply

she won’t give the time of day to a clock
or bla bla bla to birds
doesn’t tell tales to dust
or whisper one solid word

So if you wanna chew the fat
dish the dirt, speak a piece of your mind
if you wanna gossip and jammer, shoot the breeze
need an ear to hear your plea
give Me a call anytime, any day

but never on a Monday
who do you think Emily takes after anyway

Jazz Riff:
After Buika singing “Volver, Volver” / by Ingrid Bruck 

Life wails.
A jazz solo.
Contrapuntal.
Her heart, broken.
A dream, stolen.
Love lost.
A child gone.
Her man left.
Hope for the future, smashed.
A cup, shattered.
Only wabi-sabi can fill these cracks.
Sorrows soar on Buika’s blue notes,
griefs crest and fall,
regrets hold her hostage.
The singer belts out the shadows that trap her inside a cave.
Her voice cascades like golden shimmer on clouds,
She climbs up molten scales,
running notes illuminate the pain.
That which was broken is mended whole in this song.
Her voice releases a bird,
its wings beat in frenzy to find the door.
She refuses to stay trapped,
pounds the walls and glass,
won’t be stopped.
Her notes fly
unbound and free. 

Ode to My Father / by Onyedikachi Chinedu 
 
 
My poems, of neem trees
or murraya, are for you—
 
to dispirit that infant mischief
at the beginning.
 
I write to remind me of the times
you remained a monument;
 
the time I had bright light, a raven night, 
an antithetical childhood.
 
The reason I would confide in you
is to rouse the body from its morning-blue bed.
 
I tell these things when we will not speak
of the welts and the words, but the sun, 
 
through the linen curtain, makes summer
on my elbow—a blessing.
 
Yet, the past of anger shoots
like new beans on a field of rye.
 
In a new season, I become
the child who would come
 
to love you.
 
 
 
 
 

Now Crossing Parleys Canyon Wildlife Overpass above I-80’s Slaughter Row / by Brittney Corrigan 

Dewlapped moose, stepping between boulders and logs.

Doe with two fawns, dotted flanks in the rising sun.

Bobcat with a small mammal in its jaws.

Coyote by dawn. Coyote by dusk. Coyote by night.

Black bear doubling back then continuing across.

Marmot. Ground squirrel. Chipmunk, with a tiny hop.

Porcupine, slowly, spines bobbing and relaxed.

Soft-antlered bucks. Whole herds of deer.

Another bobcat, stopping to sharpen its claws.

Solitary cougar, sleek and silent in the almost-dark.

Field mouse darting in circles, all ears and tail.

Raccoon wide-eyed in the spitting snow.

Things Along the Way / by Donna Dallas 

Such obscurity as to how these monstrous
obstacles land in my lap
must have been an awful wretch – the me before me
as they say souls are recycled

The last broken
busted Goliath in my path
shut me down
almost took me
like a cancer

tsk tsk…..what to do with this behemoth
y’all know I’m gonna invite it in
have a chat
probably sleep with it
maybe keep it around
for a bit
every coil it wraps around my wrist
pulls me closer to its poison
I want it so

Later
bored out of my skull
dump it out there
cuz I’m done with its’ menace
place it strategically along the way
for some other sad and sorry sack
to pick up
where I left off

Farsi lights, September 2017 / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 
(after reading a few lines from The Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam)

The cycle which includes our coming and going

 Little did I know then that the Khayyam boys
will soon become Khayyam men, out in the fields
searching for that sticky tongue of fire singeing
exits in between the heavy horns of departures.

Has no discernible beginning nor end;    

Let the one hundred and one nights sing
to the prophets and muses. Let the flowering chaos
of the night sweeten sin with the grace of Samarkand,
holier and silkier than a whispering ruba’i.

Nobody has got this matter straight—

Life… oh it’s the magical mystery kind!
In the desert I could die loving the sand, the body
that misses the soul’s prayer in every particle
of dust, calving colors, like the Eternal Painter.

Where we come from and where we got to      

The Master of Fate greets the myth with the moon’s
arias, and sound to sound the rains of Iran
shower us with metaphors and fragrant camels—
reminding us now of Farsi lights’ invasion of plateaus.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/9

Water laps up under the pontoon as
Lazlo awaits the storm or sun rays. Red
dawn, crimson crabs scuttle across far off

foreign beaches, burrow under sand-caves
at each slight shadow notion of danger.
Here, baited, rose-dotted moonfish tremble the

line between eternal hunger and hooked
recollections. Lightening rips over
surface. Lazlo, too, remains. Mesmerized.

False Knight on the Road / by David Estringel

Atop a valiant steed with a head full o’ rags, the road beckoned, stretching—long—into a realm of
darkening cloud but lined with gold (for the taking) that peeked just above its rough-hewn surface like
new growths of spring through a winter snow. Emboldened—a plastic sword in one hand, held high
and kissed by The Sun, and Youth for a shield in the other, a battle cry, fearsome and loathing, escaped
his pink lips, claiming what little was his (and everything that wasn’t)—its resonance, lost in the
surrounding expanse of harvested barley fields, littered with chaff and cigarette butts from passing
cars. As a heralding thunder rolled in the distance, hazel eyes searched the summoning horizon for
portents, signs of castles (and dragons) he could conquer beyond the ruins of his dying kingdom and
dying queen, finding nothing but the billowy black of a closing road and hints of wet earth, disturbed by
the fall of a heated rain. Seeing its glitter fade with the noon sun, he and his valiant steed abandoned
their vain quest—never started—and returned home to the cold comfort of their crumbling halls—Truth
weighing heavily upon frozen brows—to put away his toys and beat the golden bell’s call to jubilee.

“The air was thick and the scents on it not wonderful.” / by Christine Hamm

We crawl so close to the deer, but the deer chase us back to our bedrooms, and our beds stink of rot… of the swamp.  Our cats die in our closets, under our beds, in the bathtubs…we are not allowed to shower alone – the wilderness must come and watch.  We are not allowed soap – that would mask our scent.  When we piss our pants in fear, we must wear those pants for the rest of the month.  Our mother leaves us home with babysitters who like to play twister naked, who like to see what is happening inside of us.  A babysitter and a witch have many things in common… rough hands and laughter, the ability to feel glee while watching another weep or cringe. 

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

I Have Held This Matter Close / by Michelle Macfarlane

My kids and I were having a late afternoon snack when their dad came home with a container of brain
in formaldehyde. I’ve only borrowed this, he said. We cleared away the crackers and peanut butter and sat
suddenly quiet, all eyes on the symmetrical halves he set down in a jar. Frontal, parietal, occipital, temporal,
and here’s the cerebellum. He pointed. It’s heavier than you’d think. Three pounds. Did it float,
I can’t remember.

He unscrewed the lid and reached in with his hands to carefully lift it out of the liquid. This thing. We all
wanted to hold, and we did. It felt weird. And wrong. Such matter of fact violation. We knew. We did. How it
absolutely did not belong in our hands. But we each took a turn. Holding its weight. Passing it around a little
more slowly than we passed around the Sunday dinner food. Still, as with a bowl of mashed potatoes, we
were greedy. But with more solemnity. We tried.

I was with my mother a few years later when the neurologist said, Parkinson’s. She squeezed my hand. Lewy
bodies, he continued. Never heard of it, she said. Protein deposits, he explained, pointing to his chart on the
wall. They develop in nerve cells in the parts of the brain that involve thinking, memory, movement. Pretty
much all the parts I had held in my hands. Only a brain autopsy after death can confirm a suspected
diagnosis, he continued.

THE ADOPTED CHILD / by K.E. Ogden

Most mornings like this morning
my first thought when I wake is what
she might be doing. Sleeping, probably, after
An all nighter with friends
Watching movies on a computer.
She tells me things sometimes and I always
know what’s real and what isn’t. I Ask Questions. She chooses how to answer.

Most text messages She replies with
“not much” so
I’m not ashamed I used to read
Her diary for clues about her
Heart. I used to flip through
Her school notebooks and read the
Margin notes, turn the pages of her sketch
Book marveling at the colors she used, at
The way she drew people’s eyes so big
I could escape into them and wander.
I used to Skim her text messages to friends
so I’d know this Other girl she was choosing to become.

She wrote poems about her real parents,
the ones who were too broken to keep going.
I thank them for their weaknesses. I never imagined I’d be a mother and always
Wanted to be one but those babies
escaped my body. I used to wonder if it was because She was already on a path to me.

I remember the day she was born
to my sister. I held her in my arms
And walked her down the hospital
Halls and people congratulated me
on my new Daughter. I never
corrected them.

When she was a year older and
then three, and then five, she looked
Like me. She’d stretch her arms out
When she saw me and I’d scoop
Her up and spin the world
To a blurred painting of
Possible futures.
She had my smile and my nose.

What kind of a mother I am now
I couldn’t tell you.

She used to fall asleep with the lights
on and earbuds in her ears.
In the middle of the nights
I’d walk up the stairs to her room just
To watch her sleeping, sometimes sitting
an hour or more imagining
she’d been mine the whole time.

I’d pull her blanket on top of her. She
Sometimes kicked her way off her bed
And rolled to the floor without waking,
and I would pick her up and put her back,
Wondering what nightmares made her
Fight sleep.

There isn’t a lot of time. She never looks back when I drop her off somewhere because
Maybe she thinks I’ll be gone.

I always watch her go until she
Disappears. I can’t make the world
love her like I do. This is my weakness,

And also the prayers I murmur
In these early morning hours—
the memory of her breath,
watching her stomach
move up and down
And hoping she dreams.

Poem 8 / Day 8

cento from my 30/30 poems of march twenty-sixteen / by Claire Acerno

ever ago did we meet
straight as metal blades
in smokes curled bend

peppered legs pass
again she sings wood and pain
wipe tears from an ill wind

children’s tender cheeks
square with it all is well
don’t tarry child, time is near

open your middle eye, shhhhhh
the truth you’ll hear

unbury our grief, feminine divine
man’s forbidden fire

star swallows, legs, arms, fingers
open, empty of desire

flowers grow from stone
balance on see through joy

moons sighs every drop of water
on fragile stems

who stands firm
as us
as them

Trash to Treasure / by Ingrid Bruck

in maine
a spurned girl tosses her china
off the sea cliff

in rhode island
a bar dumps beer bottles 
off the pier

in jersey 
a broken blue willow plate
finds home in the sea

in miocene times
a giant shark dies
teeth turn to stone

beach combers find
sea glass, fossils, shells
on the shore

Praying for Him / by Onyedikachi Chinedu 

should’ve made
the birds a perfect teeth.

I go to the temple,
for him, and I do not

say any prayers
of supplications.

how does it come
to you reciting the Lord’s Prayer?

how do you puppet
the lips to blubber

words in marble form? how?
it must’ve been arduous to let go

of the ache horsing within the triangular
shed, trampling roan tufts.

I illustrate pain
in paints smeared

on the dried up canvas.
tell me, how to orchestrate this hand

to consecrate the reaper’s curve of death?
praying for him should have its triptych curse.

last night, the barn owl,
on a gaunt branch,

silhouette the moonlight
to the gauze curtains,

which gradually trickles
on the bed, spreading

like spilled milk
and, yet, amidst this beauty,

I fancy the hands
clenching the chalice,

holding the divine
before now.

The Bull Elk’s Ghost Circles the Wreck / by Brittney Corrigan 

This isn’t like the time the wolves almost brought him down,
that harrowing drag along his flanks, the breath of the pack.

What kind of wolf is this, crumpled and hissing, shoulders
bent into the ground, sharp entrails sundered across the road?

His head feels light, like when his antlers fall in spring, bone
wasting, loosing the rack into the last scatterlings of snow.

He snorts at the wounded thing, but nothing forms in the air.
His hooves make no sound as he circles the steaming beast.

And then, a keening from within the not-wolf’s belly. Its body
rends open, whelping. A terrible howling builds, draws near.

He turns to where the woods open. At his center, a lifting.
He shivers with the shedding weight. Runs toward the light.

Mid-day June / by Donna Dallas 

The bay
sucks me in
with its chops and cuts
that foam over
its many mouths – many masters
I forget it all
mindless
on the edge of such an immense
water hole
wind travels
separates every strand of hair
whips me
with water and longing
try to scoop it
grasp it as it rushes to me
wave after wave
water runs through my fingers
trickles along my arms
dries against my skin
leaves me salted and grainy
every day the same ritual
at the rim
mid-June through August
forget it all

At a conference / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

in Bali there were no flying correspondences
pressing details rife with office duendes and deadlines
I began my presentation with no powerpoint
no book of abstracts or conference kit in hand
nothing but the sight of circus smokes
following the contours of an old-fashioned cafeteria
fuming with dialogues and inner sastra that didn’t even translate
to my issue of palm civets whose eyes set in fire-bloom
at night whose organic waste could please Hesperian throats
because they philosophize over and about coffee
because kopi luwak is the supplement
our spleen needs as writers as green surfers of the neocortex
international bringing ‘thought-images’ to Sanur
my research purpose completely washed ashore
I’ve underestimated the charm of the beaches
back to Manila there was a certificate delivered
Selamat, you are the Panelists’ Denkbilder Awardee!

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/8

To pause to pinch a grain of sand through the
thin neck falling, recalling Liutprand’s
first 8th century clock-measuring-time-

pieced out in grainy increments: what does not
get stopped or bob or falter atop waves,
or flounder, leak, call down—“Cast down 10 leagues

from the Land’s End [in] 1641
having in her a world of treasure*”—down-
gazing Lazlo turns green, grows greener still.

*The Merchant Royal—sunk off Land’s End, Cornwell Cty, England,
23 Sept 1641 with 100,000lbs of gold. Source for quoted material: Thomason Tracts, 1641.

Sister / by David Estringel

How regally you sit
in your funerary black—
a touch of blush,
a collar, torn,
and lips, naked as the day you were born—
by the wedding silver.
Remember me, dear sister,
the little king
that faded into chairs
and the dark of lonely corners,
now erudite and battle-worn?
What wonderous, magical current
must have settled you, there,
in that chair at father’s table
(at the right hand of God).
O, Dandelion in the Wind,
how glorious it must be
to ride Zephyr’s wings, to and fro,
deep-diving into life
in rushes and bounds, blitheful and unfettered—
without care—
with a velocity that keeps delicate, white fingers unsoiled
and pristine for the turning of a registered page.
So glad to see you slip-in, Mayfly,
from your lingerings in the periphery,
far, far away
from the rank skin-stink of pill dust, sweat, and soiled linens.
No. Absence’s subtle bouquet that rides your forgetful breezes
always suited you best
as if a signature scent.
How the call of home (or better things)
must try, vainly, to pull your teary eyes
from the antique, porcelain chickens—
so gingerly fingered—on the china hutch,
out the dining room window
and away.
Now, come sit by me, dear sister,
and let’s have a drink,
here by her jewelry left on the windowsill,
and let’s toast
to you and me
and the mess she left behind.

“The blankets not just ripped but shredded.” / by Christine Hamm 

It is dawn, and the landscape is moving.
In your lap, you read that Abigail sleeps

in the stranger’s bed while small brown
dogs roam the room, pause at the window

and whine at the pigeons dying in the air
shaft. You want her to wake up, you want

her to nuzzle the dogs, though they stink.
You want to believe that you can stop

reading at any point, that this bus will
pause at a light and let you off. The coffee

you propped next to your bag spills,
and, as the bus accelerates,

the passengers behind you
moan and lift their feet.

______________________

               * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters,
               a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

               ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called,
                Your Body is a Curséd House

I. DEPARTURE / by K.E. Ogden 

The following items recovered on today’s walk:
2 ball point pens, 3 black, soft led pencils, the nail
off my right baby toe, a casette tape labeled “for Jesus”,
paper wrappers in a lunch bag from Henry’s Tacos,
a hypodermic needle, 2 beer cans, 7 plastic grocery
bags, 18 cigarette butts, a key, 1 clean sock,
a birthday card for a child with the signature blurred
away. Matches. Dead cigarette lighter. An unopened
box with ribbon still intact, Junk mail flyer
from the nail salon down the street. Loose twinkies.
How to move through this midden, except to say
how beautiful, the things we leave behind.

II.  ARRIVAL
Everything lives only for a finite
amount of time: stars, people, flowers,
ice, oceans, air. The brightest things
are easiest to see. This isn’t a truth.
Take the sun, for instance: who stares
to see if it is brightest? Only the blind.
Every day I change the water in the vase.
I trim the ends of the flowers and greens,
and place them all back onto the coffee table.
In this way, I make time stretch like a
rubber band. If I could, I would capture
lightening in my cupped hands and slip it
into a mason jar. I would shake the jar
like little kids do with fireflies.
I would wander the earth in this glowing darkness,
holding the only brightest thing.

Poem 7 / Day 7

             yin yang / by Claire Acerno

dismal             abracadabra
rev-up              wind down 

charming        catatonic
demand            allow

know             wonder          
money           broke 

think            stone
heart             dome

in                    out        

middle        
middle        
middle 

lion does not pray for food
mouse does not beg 

gap of light in forest
before gun
side eye deer
startles   runs 

alive          dead 

Queen Elizabeth high
John down on his luck 

big boys don’t cry
girls don’t demand 

brother every man
every women sister 

beast       human 

time         out

Time Twist / by Ingrid Bruck 

I charge ahead,
noisy as a horse on pavement,
clumsy as a hedgehog,
in pursuit
of my rambunctious four-year-old
who climbed the backyard fence,
the wily boy escaped.

Busy city traffic—
gravel and cement trucks—
lumber past
our house
in the boom days
of seaside development.
An infant sleeps in her carriage,
a toddler boy
sits on the ground
shoveling sand.

It’s said that God knows
no time
because he’s infinite.
So time doesn’t exist
and I can think
myself into the past.
I do it now,
grabbing Georgie’s collar,
yanking him into my arms
a minute after
he died.

Ungulate Blessing / by Brittney Corrigan 

For the hooves that travel by land,
winter range to summer range,
high altitude to higher, desert
to mountain, sagebrush steppe
to peak. For the black-tipped ears,
pinnae swiveling to cup each sound
beyond the hooves that wade
through water, tread on forest floor.
For the bony skulls, heads of antler
and horn, that ride out ahead
of keratin hooves, cloven hooves,
dew-clawed hooves, even-toed
hooves navigating mile upon mile.
For the migration path pressed
invisibly into landscapes, into
bony skulls, compass-ghosts
unfailing to steer trotting hooves
as the seasons stack. For the bridge
that takes each hoof safely across
this road that split the migration
route in two, rally of hooves
pulled toward an imprint of home,
herded hooves crossing the to-and-fro,
mapped plain to basin, highway to sky.

Penn Station 2004 / by Donna Dallas  

What a shit show
with the skeleton crackheads
laid out on the ground
like beaten and battered soldiers
in a semi-coma wait
for the next hit
beg for a dollar
a train ticket
for anything
I decline
offer to buy one coffee
he declines
I full well know
he could care less about coffee
or keeping warm
I see them crawl in from the street
hover in dark corners
shit where they lay
every day a maze of them

One boy smiles
still half alive
bit of a human glow
so familiar
his beautiful black eyes
the whites so white
pouty lips
I recall twirling with him
endlessly at Escuelita
back in our heyday
we laughed and danced
and twirled until noon
on Sundays

We would open the door to exit
the sun shone bright like Mother Mary
as we twirled along 39th street
and skipped to the diner
for breakfast

This morning 7am
our eyes meet
his full lips form a semi-smile
he once did a handstand on the bar for me
and we kissed like best girlfriends
in love with those weekends
when we were under the young moon
safe from death and decay
his arms this eerie morning
so skeletal
a minefield
of sores and tracks
I knew the eyes
they knew me back

For a second
his half smile
rekindled
our twirl in time
the cold races down
the dank steps quick
he shivers
and shakily
asks me for a dollar

Very Busy People / by Lawdenmarc Decamora

Sequencing—

or such a genome can make our lives aflutter with repairable
☑☑☑ of considerable options, to choose from the ff. & yet
so prismatic are my hinted clues winking at your hail mary threes:
                    (1) I peer through the doorscope, reality on mute, quarantined
                    (2) You like it, as if it would spare the lexicon of your TV cabron
                    (3) Discuss how many ways are there to submit to medication:
                    over the top rope, I-quit, via pinfall or submission

 —And while I cannot arrange the squares of your soul,
the glinting hexagram spliced gently into a midterm
ultrasonic **** to be your likely firstly first, select from:
                             (2) Erasing the love scene of un-splitting 3 & 1
                             (3) However, you think you can wrestle science
                             (1) Science takes the shape of an Olympic gold medal

So you see we can exact things & lift them & read them
& finally say something beyond our spherical undulations—
hopefully I count, nominate, radically tally you through:
                             (3) Love elliptical & electrical love
                             (2) We are escapees, escapists, escapism, escape
                             (1) Or a vaccinated sight: we’re very busy people   

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/7

In the Torrid Zone bound by two Tropics:
Cancer and Capricorn: three of five great
latitudinal divisions of Earth’s

sea surface, bluegreen swill-swollen middrift
along the equator flummoxed in a
hammock napping when the motor stalls—fails

to turn over to turn back again to
roar out angrily over the ocean
devouring miles. Miles of now. Adrift. Stopped.

3 A.M. / by David Estringel

Here,
at the Devil’s hour,
in the room made void
by your indentation
(my lamentation),
Sleep tantalizes,
echoing infernal lullabies
of leaky faucets
and bathroom-mirror punchings—
my cradlesong.
(drip…drip…drip)

My love—red and hot—
sprawled on motley white walls
and the cracked basin,
like graffiti in disappearing ink,
cascades to the sobering tile,
below—
like icicles during Spring thaw—
leaving specters and tragedies
stitched in hands (and time),
rank with the smell of sweat and pennies.
(drip…drip…drip)

Its 3:15—
knee-deep in the Devil’s hour—
only a quilt of coppery ghosts and shadow
to keep me warm.
Where’s your affection
(my confection)
that silences the symphony of raining glass
and pleas from my mind
(and scars),
crying for a new page?
(drip…drip…drip)

“the padded door being now put back…” / by Christine Hamm 

The room in which she met with us was white, with a dead deer on the wall, and a bureau squatting in blue black.  She had a wall of books (such bright and shining spines), but she would not let us touch.  When she liked a line we wrote, she crossed it out and drew a heart next to it. “From inside her closet,” she would say, “framing the shot so it looks like we are staring at the sleeping girl” as she arranged her collection of scars and green velvet scarves on the kitchen table. But that started months later, when it was snowing, and all the lights burnt to husks.

_______________________________________

                              * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters, a queer gothic drama set in                                                                                                                     the late 19th Century                                                                                          
                              ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called, Your Body is a Curséd House

Unrequited/ by Michelle Macfarlane 

a lover might say in a bout
of disappointment

—I sometimes feel the love
for my children to be

But I am wrong. Yet neither
is my love requited

Requite is foremost
a transitive verb

And so, requite
is quite wrong too

Rather, my love is quite
Quite, my love for them

Quiet

Poem 6 / Day 6

unlikely / by Claire Acerno

He had a birthmark on his face and two
winning scratchers in his pocket
all of twenty five, a movie star on campus
the dorm was more like a hospital infirmary
beds lined up; the cheap seats at an ivy league school.

The other girls had their shit strewn about, used
to being picked up after. I was broke as usual
a neat freak with not a quarter to do laundry

The birthmark boy was visiting the beauty-queen
he noticed my dilemma. being the generous sort he fronted
me one of his two scratchers to do my wash.

At the 7-Eleven counter the clerk looked at the ticket
with an expression only the poor make (I should know)
his bushy eyebrows raised as his mouth warbled
he gasped out the sum; “two hundred thousand dollars!”

Did Rico Suave make a mistake? As I was deciding
if I should keep it or give Legs the gift of more
I hear the door bells jingle, he glides
in unperturbed “I gave you the wrong ticket.”
“I was going to tell you!” I lie.

Our bodies touch, a soft electric shock
as I switch places with him, I let him
at the big bills being spit from the thumb
of the giver, one after the other

Back in the depressed dorm, gathering my dirty laundry
the defeatist in me notices everything out of place
and just damn wrong.

The tall handsome winner was now smitten with me
but there was still the matter of the slobby beauty-queen
that he would never leave.

He kissed me in front of the elevator
I stood alone and watched the lit numbers count down
my bag of laundry over my shoulder
still broke but clean
and getting a great education.

A Black Version: After Untitled (Skull) 1981 / by Ingrid Bruck 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Michel_Basquiat#/media/File:Untitled_acrylic_and_mixed_media_on_canvas_by_–Jean-Michel_Basquiat–,_1984.jpg 

This is poem version of graffiti wall art,
meet the young artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat.
He paints a self portrait of life for a Black in NYC
shortly before his over-
dose at age twenty-seven.

For vertebrae, train tracks and streets.
Skyscrapers and colorless projects
rise up in large-scale
from the grid.

Uptown tenements.
Drab, empty squares
for the poor.
Downtown Manhattan.
Vibrant, vivid color,
the zip of art, music, heroin
(three sirens).

Downtown,
a bright yellow guitar plays riffs.
Blues bind the island city—
the Hudson River, the Atlantic Ocean.
Amber notes press and distort his skull,
green grass pushes into sidewalk cracks,
a ladder climbs
into a pink pocket of mind.

Jazz be sweet but music don’t probe
the projects where Basquiat grew up,
the wobbly block stacks
turfed with bare trees,
spiked by leafless limbs,
lined with gravestones, his ghetto playground.

Graffiti strokes chide hope:
the black face, misaligned,
eyes, misdirected,
teeth clenched in pain.

A Tragedy Is First Imagined as a Waterline / by Onyedikachi Chinedu 
 
i think of the fracture   on the mid-region
of a barge   wondering if the whole thing
 
could make it   across   the Atlantic Ocean
and back to a port   but had I seen
 
the weight      sunk below the waterline
thought about    the fishes    in a school
 
whose field of vigilance   is lessened
by the bulk and bubbles  yet the wide-
 
eyed boy clutches the wrist of a stranger
forgets the weakness of skin under clean-cut nails
 
only that I’ve witnessed   this fall
so many times through the hole in clouds
 
how terrible it was to linger in the bright azure
and stay inert like rain shadows 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Armadillo Triolet / by Brittney Corrigan 

When scared, you jump three feet into the air.
Bony plates—nine-banded—are not wings.
Against each foe, your body is a dare.
When scared, you jump three feet into the air.
Your un-keen eyes can’t match the pickup’s stare.
The road is like a bird, the way it sings.
When scared, you jump three feet into the air.
Bony plates—nine-banded—are not wings.

There’s This Riff I Have with God / by Donna Dallas 

And Satan
when they decide to organize
a colossal
cluster fuck
design some universal catastrophe
to rip us from our root

People die
by the dozens
other people have to pick
through the aftermath
to locate their parts
white ashy pieces blended in
with the concrete and dust
piece them back together
for a proper burial
cremation perhaps
closed coffin
most definitely

I want to know how this comes together
like….. does God say
Satan, you pull these people together
to stage a disaster
I’ll hang out here on the sideline
and pick through the souls as they
line up for divination
I’ll take my half
you take yours
we are good for another
hundred years or so….?

tanaga [1] (august six) / by Lawdenmarc Decamora

when the water cycle sighs
ay naku! & rain & cloud
mist marry the heat w/ lies
what it’s like to be     happy

when a lone region survives
waste/quakes/santisimo blues
Boracay Island is live!
Flazkaboozendancingshoes  

a summer of soup & post-
post banana in a daze
Andy Warhol (who could be
a Pinoy) happy birthday!   

[1] A tanaga is an indigenous Filipino poetry form consisting of a four-line stanza with heptasyllabic lines and interchanging rhyme schemes (e.g., AABB, ABAB).

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/6

Z, x, y… marks the maps invisibly
inked (just add a dash of salt then) shimmer
a swimmer backstrokes past Lazlo and his

astrolabe, his magnifying glass a-
ligned with the sun, burning xes over
buried treasure marked by unknown pirates

xenon, xenophobia—claustrophobes
clamber out hull portholes, scattering
like ants: Lazlo counts Chi, Psi, Omega…

Fireflies / by David Estringel

Quiet starfalls,
sprinkled from God’s fingertips,
slice and burn through Summer’s night
to dance and play atop the barley,
resting, gently, noble crowns upon
smooth brows of boys and girls
playing in the fields.

Watch,
how these Kings and Queens of Earth (of nothing),
swathed in paupers’ cloth with bodies, electric,
of hot blood and light,
laugh and prance in fountain-drunken promenade
through this Mortal Coil, blind
to cut and scrape.

O, Flowers Among the Chaff,
with cheeks, sticky-sweet with red plum jam, and arms, outstretched,
I pray those luminous wreathes and heady scepters never fall
as you leap, and twirl, and tumble
into the sweet oblivion of your starry fields, for
just beyond the horizon
fire flies.

“…press[ing] itself against the bars, there came a face.” * / by Christine Hamm                                          

The black hornet is stunning, like a model wearing fifties’

Chanel, all leg and wasp waist and vacant, slippery eyes.

So dark as to create a cartoon hole in the world, in that

tufted, shimmering pink sky — in the faded roses of the

cushions on the shattered rocking chair. Only when she

settles in the light, does she look like a pretty and

                                                                           damaged grey. **

_______________________________________

             * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters, a queer gothic drama set in the late 19th Century                                                                                   

            ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called, Your Body is a Cursed House

How Like Her / by Michelle Macfarlane                                 

How Like Her
she notes 
how the mirror holds 		her mother’s face, 				remembers how 
sometimes 			    in her 			  daughter 	  she glimpses	
her own, 			senses how			     like sand 
she is,				like summer grass, 				like wind 			
that tangles hair, 				    scatters chaff 			across 			the face, 				   dusts lips, 			takes her breath 					   away, 			she understands 					how little 
it matters 				    where 		she eats, lies down, 					      sleeps, 		      or where 					      the wind blows 					now 				beyond 			this blue 
evening, 			she imagines			          an end 
where there is 								no speech, 
no light					by which to see, 		          and considers how 							like stars 				    we are, 					                 every night 		
a new one.

WE CAN’T REBUILD THIS / by K.E. Ogden
beginning with a line from Mary Oliver

Death taps his black wand and something vanishes. Today, a whole gold-mining town in California burned to the ground — the churches, the post office, the fire station where the chief closed the front door as the fire raged through main street like a robot destroyer from a 50’s sci-fi. “It’s like a bomb fell,” says the news reporter. Last week he reported on another town trucking in water and setting up portable toilets to conserve. Picture after picture of empty wells and people watering flowers with dishwater, their strained faces wondering when the rain will come again. Today I wrote 5 letters to my daughter while it was still dark out, ripped up each one and dumped coffee grounds over them. There’s not much time left. There never is, yet I still struggle to take my shot. From the kitchen window and across the street a hawk circles the canopy of a pine tree and settles at the crown buried in nettles, its wings sprawled and waiting for wind. Sun rises pale yellow and pink, then golden. A waning gibbous moon recedes. Is it enough in this life to watch how this sky brightens, to feel the heat build until the blinds must be drawn to blackout? I don’t want the citrus fruit on the kitchen table to rot in the sun. When I take out the trash I see a nest hidden among the water pipes above my car, the faint music of hungry mouths just learning to ask. “The whole town is gone,” says a man on the television. “We can’t rebuild this.” 

Poem 5 / Day 5

little Italy / by Claire Acerno

ragged middle
southern edge
prayer veil
a scared boy
a calloused man
a beaten wife
a sage lady
a heavy burlap life

one memory
lit of ocean
matchbox boat
every wave sickened
or promised
long days flame
port of entry

translate
to mortar and brick
New York filth, unending
scrub, polish your name mute
wisps of silver
grandma’s hands
crochet my face
somewhere inside her
floating in her stitches
bang in her beatings
red, white, (black) and blue
stars and dregs forever
not yet kicking
not yet dead

A Suitcase / by Ingrid Bruck 

Before the beginning
there’s a suitcase
with my mother in it
and other non-
feminists
waiting on the shore
for a man
to save them

Before the beginning
there’s a suitcase
packed
with nine off-spring
waiting on the shore
open-mouthed
for songs, books and birds
to save us

Before the beginning
there’s an suitcase
with a baby George robin
that my mother rescues
waiting on the shore
with ten other Georges,
loudly chirping
for worms

Before the beginning
my mother sings
in the suitcase
waiting on the shore
with Mother Goose,
Rachel Carson
and the Hobbit

Before
my mother
sings


Line, “before the beginning”, from: Remember re mem ber ing by Semaj Brown
Line, “for those of us who live on the shoreline”, from: A Litany of Survival by Audrey Lourdes
Title, My Mother’s Suitcase, by Nancy Mercado
Inspired by poet and teacher, June Gould

Cento / by Onyedikachi Chinedu

What ceremony of words
can patch the havoc?

What solace can be struck from rock
to make heart’s waste grow green again?

Who’d walk in this bleak place—
this landscape of chagrin

brooding as the winter night comes on?

*All lines belong to Sylvia Plath

Jackrabbit | Jackknife / by Brittney Corrigan

It’s not the size but the suddenness of the body across the dark tunnel of road—
no antlered head, no two-pronged horns, no cloven hooves or fear-struck eyes—
that sends all the wheels careening—the star-shattering screech of the veer—
the slide and buckle, the empty desert night, the sagebrush-shouldered road—
the skid and spin as the cab collides—not with the long-eared, long-footed body—
but with its own long-trailered self—the undone driver, the bend and crash—

                                                                        the flash of white from the hare’s
                                                                        black-tipped tail swerves beneath
                                                                        the chapparal, its side-eyed face
                                                                        awed but unstricken, ears reaching
                                                                        for the mewls of its furred leverets
                                                                        unattended in the splitting night.

One Day I’m Gonna Turn the Corner / by Donna Dallas 

I won’t be ready
never ready
on time
or prepared enough
the corner lurks like a menace
cracked and spindly

I’ll tumble down
through a worm hole
without any water
or my phone
I’ll have forgotten to bring
identification
splatter
onto the concrete

After they spatula me up
they’ll dig through my pockets
find nothing

Jane Doe
lived like a queen
died as a question mark

Figure-four shoulder lock / by Lawdenmarc Decamora 

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick

30/5

To puzzle a life outlived another’s
life outrigger canoe’s wormwood wedged in
concentric circles to begin cobalt

countdown aslant across aquatic star-
signs, silt-stammer stilted signals stemming
hunger for an unwrappable past post

provisions gilding glamouring updraft
to be carried skyward, shot out past Earth’s
atmospheric conundrums counting back

Cough Syrup / by David Estringel

Bad medicine
going down,
doled out in loving spoonfuls,
still leaves burns
your sugar can’t temper.
What cruel apothecary –this chemical romance—
that blisters wanting lips
and scalds the tongue,
makes flush the palest cheek—red hot—
with a heat, synthetic and caustic,
making me hollow—this playground for echoes—and smoke-choked.
What to do with this melted skin
that blurs the line between
you and me,
this addictive crash
of candied pain that boils and bubbles
like black tar heroin in a dirty spoon,
leaving nothing but pitch in its witchery’s wake,
except wait…
…for that next opiate kiss.

“When I passed her gate I turned my face to the wall and
                                                            wouldn’t look at her”* / by Christine Hamm

Inventory:

An ivory ankle boot, soaked grey with snow, stinking

                                                                                          and leaking,

A pen empty of ink,

The sparrows, silent outside the funeral home,

A dusty silver tray heaped with calling cards,

A sketch of her hand, somewhere above a fireplace,

A ring with a cracked violet stone,

A couple whispering under the eaves in the rain, faces

                                                                                          obscured,

Her dark eyelash, caught on your pillow,

A broken silver chain, the width of a child’s hair,

The boxes your mother sends, swollen with fabrics seam-

                                                            stresses threw in the litter bin…**

_______________________________________

                              * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters, a queer gothic drama set in                                                                                           the late 19th Century                                                                            

                              ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called, Your Body is a Curséd House

Oubliette / by Michelle Macfarlane 

ROUTINES / by K.E. Ogden

You wake in the morning and your knees ache.
You sit at the edge of your side of the
bed, feet dangling, and you watch your cat lick
its massive furry stomach. Sore knees are
the signal for an inability
to welcome change into your life. Snoring
behind you is your lover – almost drowned
out by the gardener blowing leaves from
gutters just beyond your window. It’s hot.

You stand, pull back the blinds from your window.

Golden tanned grass, patches of brown pushing
the hillside. A jackrabbit running from
one bundle of grasses to another.
A new homeless man, sidewalk-sitting, eats
something, his plastic bags and grocery
cart balanced on the curb. It’s been months since
you’ve seen a deer on the hillside, but it
is so dry. The gardener ignores the
homeless man, blows and blows the leaves around.

Your cat follows you to the bathroom, jumps
on the sink, jumps into the tub and cries.
Your cat runs figure-eights around your feet.
You feel bad for putting him off so you
can make coffee, even though he’s hungry.

You’re hungry too, but for something like rain.
Or the sound of her voice again, laughing.
There’s a tightening in your chest. Just breathe.

The cat jumps on your thighs, pushes paws on
your belly. When the phone rings you almost

don’t answer. The voice on the line — breathless.

“You heard the news?” she asks. “Is it really
true?” Your knees still ache. You must be sleeping
in an uncomfortable position.
“Yes,” you say. “I can’t believe it either.”

You’re thinking again of what that book said
about ailments and their meanings — cancer
and fingers and coughing and anything
you can think of, it had a meaning like
childhood fears unaddressed or barking at
the world to be heard or grief, loss, anger.

What you wouldn’t give for a rainstorm. Just
something to break the monotony — She’s
crying. She announces “Shoot, now I am
really crying.” And you want to cry too.

“I know how you feel,” you say. She is gone.

And the cat still needs feeding. The coffee
is almost ready. You have a list of
things that you should probably do today.
Your knees still ache when you stand. But you stand.

Poem 4 / Day 4

do nothing/do it all / by Claire Acerno

do not anything
in the air
under water
on the ground

you used to everything
ol girl
ms hully-gully
ms man o war
ms man o margarine
ms freedom bird

anti-this now anti-that
tear US in two directions
one National death bed

un-must me pandemic head
jump the wave
stomp the ground
butter up, plus-size imagination
be the fear brave
the open cage door


My Mother’s Vanity /
by Ingrid Bruck

I was three
Sitting on the floor

Watching my mother
Brush her hair

100 strokes a day
Keeps my hair silky

Brushed hair glistens
I brush it every day

Your father loves
My beautiful hair

Her smile melts
Into her mirror self

Smiling a secret 
Only for adults

A mantra, beauty
She caresses her face

Smiles into her eyes 
The color of clear sky

Purses her lips
Picks up lipstick

The scarlet of tanager
The crimson of a hummer

I crawl on mom’s feet
She shifts them

I fit under
Her vanity table

Upon Watching the Viral Wildlife Camera Video of a Culvert / by Brittney Corrigan 

The frisk of the coyote’s tail
as she bounds at the mouth
of the tunnel, her playful
downward-dog butt
and popcorn paws
an encouragement
to the badger
that waddles behind.
We watch and re-watch
as the pair trots
into the dark ring
of the culvert,
the video soundless,
the grain and gray
of it an invitation
to our storytelling
human minds.
On the other side:
what prairie dog,
what field mouse,
what rabbit with ears
tuned to the urban night
sprints for its burrow,
the lope of the coyote
on its tail, the plunge
of the badger’s claws
into the yielding ground.
What companionable
hunger sated while we
delight in the replay loop:
such hunting buddies,
such funny friends,
such luck.

When I Became a Ghost / by Donna Dallas 

I strayed to the shore
floated out along the morning mist
I bobbed on the buoys
salty crests sprayed over me
I gripped
for days on end

I let the ocean waves whack me
clutched to that floating device
as if it were my oracle
greyed arms wrapped tightly
clung to it
waited
for a lapse
a hole
to fish worm into
some pocket
of orb
to fold snugly 
for the long haul

Call for Submission / by Lawdenmarc Decamora

In the interest of fairness, please submit to your opponent not by tapping out,
but by covering you (hee-haw mass esemplastic) one! two! three!
I tell you not to break the hold once               & for all.
The approximate length
                      & width of the ring can testify to the size
                                                                                        of the Punjabi Playboy
            puffing smoke rings (‘cause moths are oracular) from prison
            that you (hee-haw mass esemplastic)
thought was an ancient gumbad of manuscripts & cathode rays.                                           

 ——

In light of ping-pong & peer reviews, please follow the submission
guidelines & observe the smooth delivery of promos
           guided by an abstract of 300 to 500 words
                                                (‘cause moths are oracular). After
your proposal is approved, you will be invited to cheer on
the hope of the other paper: to do a Spinaroonie.           Unpublished words
always turn into birds.
                                       You (hee-haw mass esemplastic) remember that!       

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poem by Jennifer K Dick 

30/4

Curtailed futures dangle in the bright air
acumen, iridescence, what time bloats
phosphoresces there under azure waves

pufferfish, tarpaulin, barracuda
—a  blurry rant of promised tell-alls glint:
migratory tales of one-eyed whalers

scarred by gaffer hooks—“This’ere drink’s on me!”
Lazlo sits quietly in a corner
mesmerized by infinite conjunctions.

Mother’s Milk / by David Estringel

It’s been a year
since the blush was kissed from your cheeks,
stolen away
with the morning sun,
leaving us here
with only the chill of starless night
as a guide.
How the void you left behind
lingers
like restless ghosts of marigolds
and burnt almonds,
following
from room to room,
fingering dust on old picture frames
and long abandoned books,
stealing space.
Yet, I see nothing.
Shall I look behind the bookcases
or cobwebs in dark corners?
Under those stacks of magazines, you never read
(but grew, year to year)
or those secret places–old purses and shoeboxes–
that hid your treasure from prying eyes
and sticky fingers?
Where is that
thing
I once found bitter
that now tastes so sweet?
Won’t you sing to me
Once more?

 “We had walked almost the length of one whole passage, and ahead of us was the archway…”* 
/ by Christine Hamm                                   

Your body, not your own, touched by hundreds of men’s fingers and hands without warning or permission.  The forward lean to reach something in front, and to the side, of you on the table or desk: his breath vaguely on your chin, and then his elbow and upper arm swirling against your nipple.  He knows you’ll be polite and pretend you’re somewhere else.  Sometimes he’ll cock a wry eyebrow at you, as if you kissed his cheek out of the blue.  When you’re walking in a crowd, or up a staircase, the pressure of a palm in your lower back; he knows you won’t protest – this is what it means to be helped, to be assisted (you silly confused goose). **

_______________________________________

                                                                        * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters, a queer gothic drama set                                                                                in the late 19th Century                                                                                         

                                                                     ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called, Your Body is a Curséd House

Like Water / by Michelle Macfarlane 

PHOTOGRAPH MAPS / by K.E. Ogden

Pictures arrange themselves 
in thematic albums with titles I don’t understand 
and experiences I don’t remember

a fat patch-furred cat chews a shiny 
fabric fish that crinkles when kicked 

a group of people around a dinner table  
sing Queen anthems drinking beer 
in a dorm apartment 

someone stares out an airplane window  
and counts twelve colors in the ocean below 
a phone and a brown eye reflected 
in the double-paned glass 

I keep wondering how grief found 
a place to root itself here in  
this forgotten place 

I could go back a decade if I wanted to 
I could see you like it was yesterday and 
yesterday again just by swiping my thumb

You and me walking a dirt path under trees 
that were so familiar to us 
brown spotted wet leaves sticking 
to our tennis shoes 

there was one day –  
you were trying to tell me something 
about forgiveness and waving your right hand 
emphatically to underscore a point  

but I had stopped to stare at a fallen bird 
ants and gnats eating through its feathers 
and into its eyes 

too gruesome but still 
I had wanted to take a picture of it  

Poem 3 / Day 3

three of us / by Claire Acerno

there is excitement all over my body
i can’t decide if it feels like joy
or disease
stomach tight, loose arms, scarecrow legs
shoulders up high, muscles I’ve hardly met
feet that don’t quite touch ground
a thing separate

a tiny dot of light floats
waits to collect more
sun, or something bright like that

this long shadow messes with me
tries to convince me that he IS me
sneaky, quiet, gray and indirect
ya never know which side he’s on

tonight I’ll sleep and become someone else
with a body like a door
flat and open from the inside

cranky ladies / by Ingrid Bruck

we can’t think
                                    in summer
we all talk at once
                                    sharing meeting space
the roar
                                    teens and ole biddies 

Medieval Swindle / by Onyedikachi Chinedu

how will it feel to wield this truth,
to transport the medieval swindle

to hours of bustling cities?
centuries of repudiation; one in which

the penis is the penis, but the vast
globe forfeits more of what is lost,

curtailing the status
of the penis as kobo.

Extirpation / by Brittney Corrigan 

“It isn’t just the number that are killed by cars but the inability to cross large busy roads that are putting the mountain lion at risk. Populations are hemmed in by highways leading to inbreeding, which…could cause the species to disappear within 15 years.” —Euronews

The road is not a surgeon,
not a scalpel excising
flesh from flesh.
The mountain lion
is not a hatchback,
not a semi barreling
toward the escape.
The road is not a wall,
though it might
as well be. The big cats
tumble their cells, braid
their double helixes
like to like. The road
is a guillotine—no—
the road is an electric
fence, an electric
vein of lights and grilles
and steel. The shoulders
of the mountain lion
ripple with each silent
step. Her eyes are not
headlamps. Her cubs
are not a gas gauge
hovering over E.
The road is a drain.
The road is a knife.
The road is a closed-eyed
hum. The mountain lion
is a yellow-eyed window.
Her body is one part
mammal, one part
guardrail. The road
is a scalpel. The lion
licks the edge, laps
the fog line as the road
purrs into the night.

No-zone Don’t Go Zone / by Donna Dallas 

I’ve drifted so far away
from the shore of my very own needs
I just follow the watery pull
lose the course again and again
paddle desperately
this is my tug boat baby
and I’ve got room for one more
in this no-zone – the don’t-go-zone
the I’ll never come back from place
so alluring
fresh and safe – death or hell?
aren’t they both the same?

Knuckles swell
another bone cracks
I hold us afloat with my pinky now
while gravity pulls skin from bone
would have been better off holding the atlas
instead I chose to drag us both to shore
crawl across the grainy sands of never-ary
come back to shake this and dry out
get footage – get better

Left-handed kindness, with time difference / by Lawdenmarc Decamora

Wrestling with words. Wrestling

with shadows of youth. Wrestling with pain

through the floodwaters.

Wrestling with echoes and booyaka trees.

   Wrestling with VIP treatments  

na-na-na na-na. Wrestling

with your non-distant

magnetic

ultramarine

philosophy.

Wrestling with

heightened quarantine restrictions.               Wrestling wrestling                with language starting

with Basque and Rx escapism         and monsoon                               alliteration/addiction              silence/sickness           of Le Champion

wrestling with pixie risk.

Wrestling with CoViD and its poverty ward

its bastard child Delta

et cetera et cetera.

Wrestling with the ambassadress

   of 6-1-9 mood pageantry.

Wrestling with brand politics

Pfizer/Sinovac/AstraZeneca//

      plink! plink! plink! plink!

I’m fully vaxxed

          with your left-handed
kindness.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poems by Jennifer K Dick

30/3

It was a lucky dime or diadem
or document shred of sail-rent message
in a bottle of leaden glass, that old

soothsayer foretold “what sinks will return
threefold” foggy blue wink of sly eye in-
exactitudes writ in cards’ wry rhymes

salted and waterlogged, Lazlo picks up
the ace of spades, the hanged man, a faded
three of wands: pins each one by one to the line.

Pomegranates / by David Estringel

Lay me down just beyond the back porch,
where the pomegranates grow—
a stone for my pillow,
fragrant grass and pink evening primrose for a quilt—
beneath playful trickles of sunlight,
sieving through branches of verdant green
that dance to the burden of those fateful red globes.
How I could pass these languorous days
lost in the shadow plays
cast upon these eyelids too heavy with sleep—
quiet tumults of mists and stars
that stretch and fade into nothing
to the familiar knells of horned larks
that ring from blush and yellow blooms of lantana trees
just beyond the gate.
Or to roll, smooth, pebbles and twigs,
caress the backs of shiny, black beetles,
between curious, cold fingertips dug deep into wet earth,
conjuring up ambrosial moments,
like ghosts,
of the taste of that sweet, sweet, red nectar—
those wanton streams of warm blood-honey
that dribbled down my tongue, my throat, my chin,
onto white t-shirts
and patched jeans,
leaving me forever hungry (forever stained)
and feasting on shades.
Maybe…
…just maybe,
one day you’ll come along and pull a fruit, then take a bite and say,
“Hey, David’s tasting good this year.”

 “From a distance it had seemed to me as if the cabinet might be filled with broken statuary, or with pale rocks.” *
    / by Christine E. Hamm

Listening to them, you understand that to be a girl is to be constantly confused by the world, by the good intentions of men.  The dentist who leans against your shoulder, who suggests we can skip the Novocain this time. The mover asking if you want to try out the mattress with him is only asking if the springs suit you. The carpenter touching your shoulder, your arm, your wrist, no matter how many times you back away, just to be sure that you are paying attention when he tells you about his brilliant daughter. The doctor who won’t make another appointment with you after you tell him about the abortion. The doctor who asks you to relax.  The doctor who asks you to lay back down.** _______________________________________

                                                                      * The title is a line is from Affinity by Sarah Waters, a queer gothic drama set in                                                                                                                  the late 19th Century

                                                                    ** This poem is part of a series provisionally called, Your Body is a Curséd House

Dog Star / by Michelle Macfarlane 

returns to the night
sky, shifts slowly
each late summer
its position relative to the sun
so soon
it will rise
in the middle of winter
in ten-thousand years

THE LAST PROMPT / by K.E. Ogden 
For N.Z.

3 journals arrive in a padded envelope for you – a bright yellow-orange
one with lines, a red one with blank pages, and a composition-style
notebook with a note between the pages:

“Write it all down. Use your time wisely.”

***
A body piled with comforters spewing feathers and
a purple poncho blanket
relaxes in an easy chair watching the video of
your cat gnawing a noisy crunchy fish toy filled
with bells and catnip.

***
A dream about the both of you fighting giant space spiders.
Don’t worry. You were both winning.

***
Text a bouquet of hot pink carnations and
yellow lilies to someone you love without knowing
whether or not they’ll arrive.

***
This cat with its ear torn at the edges—we’ll call him
Dr. Death. He loves complaining. I think we all should complain.
I think complaining is good for us.

***
She said, “I’m a good baby and you’re a good sitter.”
“I’m terrible,” I said. “You’d probably fire me.”
She said, “Yeah. I would fire you. Ha ha.”

***
24 baby cacti arrive in a small box. You get out clay pots and half
a bag of dried-out dirt and gravel from the closet. You make mud
with your fingers and press cacti bodies into holes. It feels so good
to bury things, dirt under your fingernails, lining up the pots
on the kitchen table near the window hoping they’ll survive.

***
What would you do if you had a tomato plant that
wouldn’t grow? And then you had to write a poem about it.
And the person you look up to sent you an LOL?¬¬¬¬

***
This is probably harder on you than your parents dying because
this is someone from the family you built for yourself. That sounds nuts.
I hope you make it through it. Sending love and hello.

***
It’s hard to stay in a delighted mood this time of
year. Try to hang in there. Good thing you are not here. It has
been totally gray for days on end and today it is pouring rain
all day long. Send a little sun my way. You always bring the sun.

***
Something will start to happen again. You know what they say about
monkeys and a typewriter. Write down 10 memories
that are very very specific and seemingly superficial.

Keep at it.

Poem 2 / Day 2

from the past and faraway Po comes out to play/happy birthday Will / by Claire Acerno

I walk into the bathroom to pee
before I leave the room I give it the once over
swipe, shine, straighten
I see the old towel hung like a rag
the kelly-green background white with age
Po’s outline rosy still
thousands of days wiped it’s terry flat

a baby-face sun sets
on a submarine eye into the past

I feel the imbalance of my left hip
where my son’s weight rests
I whiff the top of his head
kiss the sweet halo of hair

my antennae retracts
static flattens to a straight line
Tellytubby land fades in my middle
we are here
now
behind a shut door Will sleeps perhaps also hung over
space and time, not yet a man, but definitely no more a child

dusty in the closet
maybe out in the open
Will’s old Po sits
a stuffed reminder
of how fast the past dims
to a future
we can’t know

Colonization
After: On Gardens by Rick Barot / by Ingrid Bruck 

When I read about the village garden
and the friars who romped there
plucking the white flowers,
I feel bad for the pillaged girls.

They were plucked like Linda,
an Amish girl nearby,
kidnapped, raped and killed.
Young, unmarried, innocent,
Linda was used for sex, discarded
underground to rot in a tarp
after she was finished off.
Her family and community
manned a phone booth for months,
waiting for Linda’s call.

Colonial settlers ravaged
American Indians and our land
the same way the friars
pollinated the garden’s white flowers.

I would shape change each girl
into a huntress,
a black hawk with sharp talons
and a dagger beak.
Or form them into inviolate rocks
in a garden cushioned by softest moss.
Or pour them out as white sand
in a temple garden,
a raked maze of gentle curves
and straight lines to nibble
light and cast shadows.

Oh happy girl. When she blooms black.
When she blooms rock.
When she blooms sand.
When we protect her.

Lesson / by Onyedikachi Chinedu 
 
 
Both did a thing of bringing another to life:
the hog out of thin air, the air knitted from the hog.
 
in a writer’s dream, there was a man with a spineless hog.
it lived with him for years, even bountifully.
 
What I do not know is the duration of its paralysis.
if it emerged by choice or a luscious casualty hotly served by immortal hands.
 
The hog lived. The man, in every dream,
restless and exemplary, existed as long as the dreamer
had these stupid fictions of both, 
 
but there was a lesson in this desired work.
the desired lesson to be learned from the work.
 
 
 

Why Did the Chicken / by Brittney Corrigan 

Because the magpie was tuxedoed and called to her from the dust.

Because she could only fear the fox so long, that fine-toothed hunger.

To get to the grasshoppers, riotous at the meadow’s edge.

Because she mistook herself for a crow, followed a hubcap’s gleam.

Because she couldn’t bear the loss of one more egg.

To get to the tornado, terrible promise of actual flight.

Because of the gate left open, the will of the flock.

Because of the music the asphalt made against her claws and beak.

To get to the field of strawberries, fragrant in the afternoon sun.

Because the farm is a scatter of feed. The other side is a white bird in the snow.

My Body is a Corset / by Donna Dallas 

Laced around my lungs
my body stretches over
this heart
spandex-like
two eyes peer out
tongue in cheek
blankets a dry throat
scratched and scarred
from screams that
funnel through
bad dreams

I pull back into the cave of myself
where it is safe
where my body snugly
wraps me
in darkness

Breaking kayfabe / by Lawdenmarc Decamora

“Spectatorship is not a passivity that must be turned into activity.”
– Jacques Ranciere

After the wrestling match, perhaps our doubt could launch a fighter plane
on a slew of heads disappearing before the WWE Thunderdome,
perhaps an attacker line booming, How did they do that? That storyline
almost stank. Every word is vital to the conclusion.
I buy it, and there’s a revolution that power-slams
                                                                  the Daydream-nasium of the mind,
If vying for the gold, the technique must be sexy,
tricky, no, sexy.
And that win we saw is full of kingdom. We’re tired.
We’re tired of the caged horizon, the canned emotion.
                                                                                              But the spectacle
                                                                                              of the crimson world
is a real slobber-knocker of a struggle. It is the flesh of the outside,
the babyface-turned-heel character that shoots on the sky
of flaky isms. The new normal machina,
as we know, is ideologically
                                                                the border-shunning pipe bomb.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / poems by Jennifer K Dick

30/2

Lazlo picks at lock-rust, wipes algae clear—
dried into stiff, green nets stabilizing
the 16th century chest’s rot, surface

fingers trace as if a bright Rubik’s cube
to be unpuzzled, unpacked after its
too-long voyage: what was written in that

last log entry? What charted star led a
-stray, in hurricane waves, unnamed beyond
the alphabet sounded out in reverse

Meadowlark / by David Estringel

Little thief—
breast aflame with morning sun—
bring us fire from the heavens
and light this cracked path we tread
by grace of your fleecy abduction
and divine song
that rings bravely from the treachery of snow-laden treetops
and crackling telephone lines.
How sweetly you sing,
O little Prometheus,
from the cold comforts of home—
your dirt clods,
your crags,
your dark moon—
joining me
harmony for harmony,
cry for cry
in this mortal reverie.
Walk with me for an hour…a minute…a second more, little one,
through these winter-torn fields
of slumber and withering brown,
piercing the air and earth with futile stabs (words)—
a mad dance, fateless and vain—
before the falling of night pulls us away
by the black of crescent yolks ‘round our necks.
But, before you go, sweet meadowlark,
remember to tell the eagle that, like the sun,
we will rise again, again, and again,
‘til that night Heaven finally calls us home.

Dress Rehearsal / by Christine Hamm

You hover beside
the riverbed of your sister’s
vanishing: you, like a night-

ingale of sudden exclamations,
clad in your sister’s feathery
sweater with large black stars,

a dusty cocktail gown of cobwebs
sewn to your shoulder blades,
to that thinnest bit of skin. We

all want one thing: warm lips
on our neck, an ovation at
the final curtain. Downstage

left — ignoring the bleeding robes
of the living, you start your dusk
song, squat among the paper

robins and fight for the last pale
worm as shadows stretch, lengthen.

You’re So Fabric, Mother / by Michelle Macfarlane 

Pia Mater, like the soft cotton I wore the day it was hot until it rained and when it did I was soaked in an instant, the thin cotton of my summer dress sticking to me, water slicking through my hair, down my neck and shoulders, arms, chest, back, hips, legs, all the way to my feet. The water filled my shoes as I sloshed to meet you half-way. You were there, already soaked to the bone too. So tender, I remember, how you hugged me at the light before we ducked in for coffee.

ON THIS NOTHING LOS ANGELES DAY IN AUGUST / by K.E. Ogden

We’re playing Cribbage and bingeing 
The Man in Highcastle after pizza 
delivery and we hear helicopters sputtering 
outside probably filming some stolen  
car diddling down Ventura 
to Vineland onto the 210 or the 5  
so my sweetheart counts a pair for 2 then 
15 for 4 veering off again into some small suburb  
where people watch and point from sidewalks 
and sirens scream block after block   
while other cars peel to the sides of the roads  
drivers gripping steering wheels and eyeing the careening 
car in their rear-views blowing kisses past  
red lights I’ve got a good hand and start counting 
it out the roll over spike strips tire tongues 
splattering off steel drums charred with 
break dust peg my holes on the wooden Cribbage  
board we bought at a resale shop carved AL next to 
a little wooden man flinging a fishing line  
16 spaces to the win a Pit manuever twirls  
the offending car to a glamorous end AL liked to fish 
I guess but died or sold this board probably a gift 
filled with rubber-neckers’ applause those LA angels 
on couches and in sticky pleather barca loungers  
me pegging my 14 holes all of us nestled in 
air-conditioned living rooms across  
our Southland all of us fanning ourselves 
and taking swigs from sweating bottles of Sapporo 
while my sweetheart laughs you’re still 2 from 
the win watching a shirtless body stumble from 
the driver’s seat to the sparkling cement of someone’s 
driveway a shit-eating grin on his drunk fucked up face 
like he won the lottery or something but no still 
another hand to go and guns are out and cops are crouched 
behind cruiser doors like the OK corral or something on this  
nothing Los Angeles day in August  

Poem 1 / Day 1

notes on some kind of scheduled interruptions in an adult life/I’d be better off wrong / by Claire Acerno

there was strong evidence that she’d never get there
so she starts walking ribbons
unlived

he sat in the public toilet, girly mag, three rolls
TP on a metal bar, one full, one half, one almost finished
sure as titties he pulls from roll
unused

she locks the top lock with her key, careful
not to wake the neighbors, shoes in hand tip-toe
down the narrow hall of lettered doors, bag lunch, correct bus change
check

he tips the waiter two quarters on a twenty dollar cup of coffee
I-phone face reflects unnatural
his red tape ironed out by professionals
paid

a hopeful assistant on the DMV line
candy crush colored eyes
talk to no one wait your turn
shout

yellow tape surrounds no crime here

duct tape my own misgivings
half–heart no-brain
cobble over deep dish safety shoe miles
count on nothing but dim lit pain
over and over
again and again

Little Collector / by Ingrid Bruck 

Two-year-old Ira
spills a pail
of sandy treasure
on the floor:
Pink tab
Red plastic cap
Rusty flat cap
Clear glass
Broken clam shell
Black scallop wing
A skate case

On the balcony,
childhood wonders

Fleeting Whipping Wail / by Onyedikachi Chinedu

Phoned the bolt of time; it was practical to love
while maintaining the beauty of a lie.
A man lost in a wilderness, in a landscape
of disruption, but it seems, now, it was all over by the time
I was old enough to tell the mild disparity between
devotion and fondness. By the time I had enough
old bones to tell these differences, a yowl had formed within the fur-ball, limiting the rays crowning the head
below the lanterns. There, I thought, it was.
Under the cherry blossom, he kissed the veins,
on the face of my palm, and sang a serious song
I imagined it as skulls.

The shift in the rift between idioms and the fact
set upon the dark lens of the light were too
numerous to find the little virtue in it. The lights,
on his shaved head, disclosed boils from a malady.
It must have been fun to see it burn his terrain of hair,
to catch a fleeting whipping wail tumble downwardly.

The Road is a Wound / by Brittney Corrigan 

             “A wildlife crossing is like a Band-Aid.
             The road is like a wound.”
             —Trisha White, environmentalist

A body passes above us, not a ghost.
A body passes above us, not in flight.
Our bodies pass beneath. Vroom.

Asphalt gapes the landscape, unstitched.
Each road an unsutured darkness. Each
vehicle a bulging cell, thrumming air.

We slice the wild world open, swathe
a bridge over what we have rended.
Antlered beings murmurate across.

How the foliage-gauzed span hides
the fester and flay. How we press
into the veer, the blooming bruise.

How we marvel at each safe crossing,
that the animals find the unbroken
and the mended, the cauterized way.

It Came From the Fire / by Donna Dallas 

It did didn’t it?
with two sticks
red hot like Dis
it came out of smoke
and ash
rose up gnarled teeth
swallowed branches
spewed charred ashy
bits of blackened wood at us

We’d watch
spike it again
and again
just to see the burning of it
we carried the fire
around
in our pockets
lit that old bum’s blanket
afire
sent him running – well actually crawling fast
too damn drunk or high to run
blanket ablaze

It came from there
those yellow eyes
in a sooted face
tortured shape
burning
back to mounded ash
no telling when
it would come again

Four years later
in the attic
at Dolly’s
fumbling with matches
to light cigarettes
and burn crumpled napkins
it came then
came in big and hungry

We barely escaped
two out of three
Dolly swallowed whole
in seconds
a burning pyre

It came from the fire
it came for us
we weren’t ready

Where was I when AEW announced the return of Juventud Guerrera? / by Lawdenmarc Decamora

I was at home sitting in a small chair, floating this idea
of ammos I saw on the other channel turning into red
and white and green neon fixtures crucifying the evening sky.
Lots of description you know. Lots of medulla function too.
Ammos on TV are like butterflies, or wrestlers performing
a magnificent 450 splash to remind us of our pandemic plight.
Juventud Guerrera: would this be the perfect time for a legend
to return to in-ring action? What about wearing a mask?
Luchador or clinical? Air Juvi’s a-gonna fly like it’s 1998.

I was at home polishing a lonely 7-inch record, a life
so lonely that when you thought of singles a Rotoscope
dream parade stages, spinning and spinning you a treat.
A tradition. A chaos of flight. A subterranean fiesta.
The color of the ropes is the color of the night.
I was thinking that old wrestlers either were bodhisattvas
leading the herd or the Woody Allen of the squared circle.
¡Pero no los luchadores, por el amor de Dios!
The night swished through time and space, across
the patio with its freedom-flavored call for The Juice.

I was at home when I heard AEW breaking the news
to Juvi’s long-time foe, Chris Jericho. Social media
has tens of thousands of cheers to rekindle the rivalry.
I was in the kitchen asking my mom for some juice.
There was no juice, only the memory of Juventud
“Juvi” Guerrera in my glass of milk. Kiddos might ask:
who the hell is Juvi? This I dove into the night’s sweat.

Tupelo 30/30 (drafts adrift: as they come) / by Jennifer K Dick

30/1

Lazlo comes back to the sea to see what
awaits him under the azurite sea
encapsulated within the geode

of his ribcage. Lazlo breathes in seafoam,
seamist, sea’s tidal patterns rhythmic ebb-
-flow: respiration, echolocation

breaching surface spittle blowhole coughed up
seaweed: these opalescent reminders
of sunken astrolabes, treasure, pirates.

The Thing About Desire / by Christine E. Hamm

Men and women, they say, are

distinguishable after death, after

the flesh has sloughed off, fed

the beetles, the roots of the blue

bells & ferns, after ants have feasted

and departed, when the bones hum

alone, gleaming, because the pelvic

girdle (often called cradle), is smaller

and lighter in women, and the coccyx

(named the tail bone, because, beneath

the muscle, it appears as a stub

of a triangular tail) is stiffer and more

forward curving in men. Once when

I was on top, I imagined we shared our

bones, our organs, that there was no

difference between us, no gap between

our skin and blood and bone, but now

I know, you were never more alone

then, or neglected and  bitter.

Deseret Aire / by Michelle MacFarlane

pale

            morning sky

                        prepared as                               

                                                for a surface of writing

                                                                                    mother’s skin was          
                                                                        like parchment
                                                                                                scraped

                                                            how wind and sun
                                                                                    and time can                 

                                                                        leave blank
                                                                                                the mind

                                                                                    a crescent moon
                                                                        wanes  
                                                                                                flying faint
                                                                                                falling thin
                                                                                                            fine

                                                                                    tracing
                                                                        through a dry wash

                                                                                                of blue

                                                                                    under its trajectory

                                                                        ephemeral
                                                bodies
                                                            like paper moons
                                    rise
            turn in the light

                        fall

A LANDSCAPE YOU’RE FAMILIAR WITH / by K.E. Ogden

Baywood Church Graveyard, April 18, 2012

Your heels sink into soggy green grass
littered with oak leaves and heavy rain
the black tent soaks through to mourners

When he hands your step mother the flag
and says in honor of his service she cries
whispers just one more kiss

This is the place you call
home every spring

Your family’s headstones fanned out
in an eerie early welcome
roots tangled up through plastic vases
and silk flower petals

Everyone singing to the sky