The 30/30 Project: December 2018

 

TP3030-logo-360Welcome 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 volunteers for December 2018 are Steve Bellin-Oka, Karen Craigo, Jefferson Duval, Kelle Grace Gaddis, CR Green, Liezel Moraleja Hackett, Jeffrey Levine, Sarah Terry, and Emily Vieweg. Read their full bios here.

If you’d like to volunteer for a 30/30 Project month, please fill out our application here and and warm up your pen! To read more about the Tupelo Press 30/30 project, including a complete list of our wonderful volunteer poets and to read their poems, please click here.

Day 30 / Day 30

New Year’s Psalm / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Like a black swan folding its head
into its wing, the crossing from one
year to the next is so imperceptible
we must mark it with our shouts
and the clanging of railroad bells.

When our car stalled on the tracks
and would not start, the Lord appeared
in the monocular locomotive light,
horn bleating like a black iron goat.
As if we could not see our peril.
He reached out his hand and sparked
the stuttering ignition switch.

Oh it was lovely to think so
but no longer did I after my teens,
not those years later on I-40 through
the Blood of Christ Mountains, blizzard
a white tunnel of wings our moving
truck rolled through as it skidded
into the ditch. For a moment it teetered

before righting itself. I know you do not
believe anymore either, but do not hate
me and my never empty tank of dumb luck.
Oh I, patron saint of flukes, I grant you
safe passage to the new year, at least
for the space of this immaculate page.

Casual Grip / by Jefferson Duval

These cursed wagons
rolling along
my thoughts sloshing
ricochet and splash out
down in thuds

undead
sprung bengal cats run
off on tangent missions
centerless.

At times I smell smoke
longing for a new story
to add or bathe with
fear for our lives
the risk of making this journey
other times I die with the land.

For all I deem sacred
memories, clean socks, gems
She, chuckles without offense
waits patiently from the future for my return.

Ko Samui Blackout / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

After nightfall, in my artist’s eye,
I’d imagined it dark blue,
like a watercolor painting.
Now, immersed in blackness
there are no colors, shapes
or shadows. We haven’t
the luxury of stars or moon,
both are hidden by clouds
thicker than down.
It is a lightless night in a place
without electrical power.
We’ve no match or lighter
to start a fire only sound, gravity,
the feeling of things assures us
we are still here.
Quickly to sleep, to dream
where light exists behind our
eyelid screens. A place to wait
upon the comfort of sunrise.

to the wall at the end of the year / by CR Green

i will make the list of what i left in leaving you–
there, i am saying it– leaving you
an accusation i have not yet agreed to

but there it is– i have left– not coming back
i do not have the emotional reserves, I say
not even knowing what that means

i will make a list of what you said you will send
from your side of the wall where we now exist–
you on one side, me on the other

this is what will be on the list: some paintings
some books, my family framed, my haikus
bound because life is short, you so often said

not many clothes– but, the hand-embroidered
mandarin-collared velvet jacket i bought– before
we met– on a whim at a shop near the great wall

of china– remember, i wore it when we married
i will mention it on the list, but, please do not send it–
our own wall, too painful to cross now–

besides, walls display boundaries– besides
walls never last forever– besides, it will be hard
to hang this list on a wall of water

Hinterland / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

It was a cocoon-

or a hammock.
It was neither of those words.
It carried another name
without translation
like my pain.

They just wanted me to heal
to take it easy.
It was an uyayi,
a duyan.
It swung and solaced me

like a hammock
Sturdy reeds of rattan and bamboo
woven intricate and tenderly into
a giant cocoon.
It was my cocoon.
If I could hibernate there
until my pain disappeared
maybe I’d emerge a butterfly.
But they needed to know

it will never go away.

How do you tackle something intangible?
How do you fight what you can’t see?
I was battling angry ghosts in an invisible war.

I didn’t emerge a butterfly.
I didn’t emerge free from the weight of anger.
I didn’t emerge.
I disappeared
and submerged
into the comfort of
words without translation.

No one looked for me.
No one could find me
under three blankets in the duyan
watching the stars at night.

The uyayi
was my
hinterland.

Then one night
a comet danced across the sky

forced me to stand

and try again.

Longing Distance = a Temple in Bhutan: a Mathematical Proof / by Jeffrey Levine

Hypothesis:

As best I’m able to leave them out, longing distance can be expressed without resorting to mention of stars in this poem, or of ay moon or planets, not even the sun. No mention of galactic wonders in the attempt to make what goes down, down here, seem bigger, more cosmic, more ennobled with the stuff of extraterrestrial light. For that matter, there’s no need to mention of any sort of light, nor resort to excess of “dark” or “black” or of magnetic fields or of this planet’s molten core. There will be no excuse for stock, interstellar references and metaphors, used to render the length of longing more deeply felt as longing distance.

Exception:

It would be ok to mention rocks and stones, but we’re not inclusive of rocks and stones in the way their power is weighed and measured by Neruda and his antipodal brethren.

Postulate:

Down here, longing distance is just longing distance. It doesn’t shine like anything, and it’s not shone upon by anything, certainly is it not intensified by appropriating the essence of what pours through the lenses of our telescopes.

Postulate:

It’s big enough already, longing distance, like the mind body problem, and like the mind-body problem, the stuff of mind and the stuff we mine is simply information, neither matter nor energy, the mind being software to the brain’s hardware. For example, mathematically speaking, an ideal circle is comprised of an infinite number of infinitesimal points. But un-poetic infinity is never realized in the empirical world, in which objects are composed of a countable number of material particles, for example, atoms.

Conjecture:

Consider woodsmoke, sandalwood, lemongrass. By dint of stamping the ground, of getting edgy, of trampling, of knocking against things in a sort of anguished openness, because only without forecast, without prediction, does that little demon arrive, who does not know that destiny waits impatiently for her.

Conjecture:

Consider, as in Brueghel’s Fall of Icarus, while I am there with my wings, the plowman or the shepherd or the painter sees something Icarus with his wings does not see. Just so, in the Nile Valley, green coffee grows riper by the minute, or in the silent caves at Lascaux with their swimming deer, floating horses, reindeer and ibex, the smell of stone and rust, distance occupies a space equal to woodsmoke, which is to say, all and none.

Therefore:

At Delphi, the oracle spoke from a grotto. Those paintings at Lascaux, both poetry and music, spiritual and prophetic, floating the way they do, offer some small proof of earthly heartbreak, visible today because they are hidden from the sun, and other like orbs and spheres, whose message, silver and burning, touches Istanbul and Angkor Wat, touches Breughel and Icarus, the floating horses, touches me.

Therefore:

Longing distance is the Bhutanese temples of the earth, this earth, our earth, like the soft spot of the skull that crumbles when touched, just as those same temples are repositories of spirits, the well of prophecy.

Which is to say:

We are all of us an endless line immigrants waiting on opposite sides at the vast, impenetrable border of longing, stooping figures among sacks of onions, peanuts, vinegar, yellow lemons and expired visas, because compared with the fire-lit, subterranean poetry of Lascaux, Einstein couldn’t have been more wrong.

Which is also to say:

Longing distance is measured not with multiples of energy nor the speed of light nor any power of mass—but is traversed, end-to-end, in one continuous, elaborate, brain-wide metaphor with a rash of dendrite inputs and handfuls of axon outs, each cell serving as enharmonic counterpoint, like—if you must—innumerable constellations, shifting configurations of moonlight, some weird parallax of galactic framing where the mind opens out not as pitch but as perfect circle of woodsmoke, lemongrass, and sandalwood, into a the aforementioned temple in Bhutan.

COFFEE SHOP BABY (ROCKPORT, MA) / by Sarah Terry

goodbye brilliant little miss – please and thank you please and
window seats, latte erosion lines, one red buoy swaying
gently on the sand. what do we say when someone hands us
one perfect owl in the midst of a tree of rising strands of rainbow?
I like a little color in case you hadn’t noticed, but you did notice,
didn’t you. a manifestation of all the labradorite foxes and singing bowls
we could dream of, trees on a shore made of pocket watches
and skeleton keys, whole stolen hearts of all nine seafencibles in our
fortress – the backhanded magic of a 50 degree day at the end of December.

Work / by Emily Vieweg

Before I awaken to make
bacon and eggs and other
memories from years ago
I wonder when frolicking
became a chore?

When did snowballs and
dirt and gravel become a mess?

I remember when fish became a job.
In 6th grade
I helped a friend
cleab her fishtank.
Sibling declared, “You know
the fish poop in there,
right?”

I quietly desired bleach
to wash my hands.

Ticks live in long grass…
Dirt has micro organisms and
bacteria and…

I miss when grass was just green.

Day 29 / Day 29

Resurrection Triptych / by Steve Bellin-Oka

1.

There is very little rain
here. Pretend we don’t hear
the ground crack, the plate
shattering in the porcelain sink.
If with us we’d brought back
trees—catalpa leaves
big as faces, the lemon’s
white flowers overwrought
with yellow fruit—at the border,
the guards would have cut
their bark and bled the sap.
We left them behind to die:
what other choice was there.

2.

On a small lonely hill—
among the noise and clutch
of a difficult time—Lazarus
did not ask to be yanked
up from the ground like
a weed’s roots. Body full
of curdled milk. From sleep
on a cool lawn at the edge
of yew trees, eyes closed,
his feet shook. I never
wished to love more than once.

3.

Your hair in my hands,
willow-like. The language
of desiccated grass just before
dawn. Every true miracle
happens when you do not ask
for it. Revenant still asleep
beside me, I cannot live
outside this body that binds me
to the red earth. My eyes
always momentarily blind
as if pulled forth from shadow
to bright light. What other
answer was there when asked
do you take this man but yes.

No Eyes In Ardra / by Jefferson Duval

I waited for you while
you were weighted with
four Platonic rocks
calling themselves forward
from Raven’s block.

With black lungs you floated
scraping from highest peaks
where geese freeze over

Through rushing blood muddy
deltas rich in the flush
you crying, the lookout
all eyes, water
no touch.

A search before beginnings
waters breaking in your sweet name
crying, crying for the unknown I
quiet
you are tears and the river writing.

Still Life of Seeing / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

forced smile, the blue valley under her eye
still, she’s retained the earnest light inside.
Jeopardy plays on the television controlled
by her hand, curious mind. i’ve arrived too
soon, the aftermath of recently shed tears,
fear red-speckle cheeks, a sense of what
may come. As I leave the TV goes off and I
hear a heavy sigh before the door closes.
The elevator smells of medicine, tension.
The drive home alone feels dangerous,
permanent, like the scars mounting on her
body, where the doctors do war with death.

monday, december 20, 2010 / by CR Green
found poem from vivienne westwood´s get a life!

i have now finished revising my manifesto i decided to re-write
i felt i was climbing on a soapbox and telling everyone what
to do– anglican deacon and photographer charles lutwidge
dodgson–better known as lewis carroll– how old is alice in this
picture dressed as a beautiful beggar child– i don´t like sounding
bossy even though i´ve got strong opinions– i think she is about nine
or ten– little children, especially girls– they are so open to ideas
and so curious
eleven, twelve, definitely thirteen– they start to get a bit boring
just interested in their friends, not in the world around them–
not looking at the world or trying to be unconventional or willing
to stick their necks out in any way– they want to look grown-up
get involved in all the things that make teenagers feel that they´ve
got an advantage over everyone else– mothers were pleased
to have him take photos of their little girls– they obviously thought
of photography as art
things are never what they seem– remember carroll, a mathematician–
fifty years before einstein– very much aware of the idea of relativity–
red queen running full speed with alice holding her hand– alice´s hair
pulled almost off her head– you find they have not moved at all and in
this world you have to run fast just to stay on one spot– at the mad hatter´s
tea party time will not cooperate anymore– time stays at six o´clock–
they have to stay at the tea table– of course this is what is happening
to us in our world today

Constellation / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

What kind of star
in the night sky am I
if instead of

hydrogen and helium
my blood fuses with
tolerable poison and
biologic suppressant
that seeks and destroys
the rogue cells of my DNA?
Cells from a country western
collapsing under gravity
a shooting star
a lone star
Alone star

Under my skin
my blood is brewing
fusing with
subcutaneous conspiracy
to rewrite myself with
a liquid that conquers and
forces my body to cooperate
breeds captive blood into
destroyer
Blood that was
sedimentary
Am I a canyon
memories hardened into stone
a rock star
an echo of myself
when I had a voice that
shattered earth?
Now a slow burn
a kindling
a whisper of myself
I hear the
fragments of my comet
ghost stars
making a wish.

Mercy, Mercy Me / by Jeffrey Levine

The face I carry with me—last—
When I go out of Time—
To take my Rank—by—in the West—
That face—will just be thine—

–Dickinson (336) The Face I Carry With Me—Last

An elderly man with a duffel boards a train heading west
out of Boston. Nearby, waves blown by headwinds, the sound
of them slapping at the tankers in the harbor, water thickening
with winter ice the same way we pause at the windows filled with lace . . .

The face in the mirror is interested in predicaments.
It wants to imagine life’s diminishing in mathematical terms.
It is a thing in process, this life, like the train, which is what he likes
about trains. How at speed they give back the world as mosaic.

No one ever talks about this, the man thinks early in his travel.
Theme and variation, variation and theme. Narratives in miniature.
Real smoke, real mirrors.

The conductor who takes the man’s ticket says something about how
train windows give primacy to the physical transformation of objects,
as opposed to a poetics of accurate observation and description. In other
words, the conductor says, it’s not a metaphor for suffering.

He has left behind a house, a space, a room, tranquil, a single
fragrant stove. Barely lit by that grey Boston sun that scuds low.
A sky that rarely bothers with evanescence. The late-autumn smell
of the ginko insisting its acrid fruit through those empty rooms,
stirring the slow, nearly dormant honeybees into a single breathless host.

He takes note of the changing guard at Walden Pond, receding
through its own brand of melancholy, its thoughtless clockwork,
how it hurts, what the dreaming wants, even between the dreams,
like Dante asleep as a star-lit night falls on Mount Purgatory.

Out here in the receding landscape, what matters comes in dreams.
So like the one where you know you are sleeping, doubling
your absence, harvesting fruit from the last blossoms, or like Thoreau,
taking inventory of the done trees.

There lies what seems in that late autumn dusk an entire day
in which you allow no part of the day to be torn, even in winter,
in which the winds cut, clouds push high, apes wail their sorrows
and the birds above the sleeper car fly in circles.

DARLING, THE ONLY GHOUL IN THE HOUSE IS YOU / by Sarah Terry

black hair shining red like
running your fingers through the fibers

of my heart – darling, I want to be buried
in my red velvet cape, to sing

this farewell spasm
like wailing calliopes cut loose

from their horses. the soft taste
of my cheek under your lips –

or did you disremember
me already? hand me back the angels

of my better nature and I’ll
let go our alchemy.

I’ll unhunt your shadow
down every cobbled street.

Day 28 / Day 28


Refugee Story /
by Steve Bellin-Oka

(found poem using the December 6, 2018 issue of The New York Review of Books)

Much of this material
is familiar: the half-drunk milk,

the portable heater, the eloquent
detritus of camp life. The red

and white of Lucrece’s face? A kind
of metonym for our time and place.

The dwarf pine bends. It bends lower
and lower. It’s like an octopus

dressed in green feathers. Fishing
barely exists anymore in the Mediterranean,

but once upon a time, we took pity
on a gourd the gardener wanted

to uproot. Perhaps certain kinds
of pain have just become more

visible. Single phrases printed
in large black letters: today is always

yesterday. Do not touch another child,
even if that child is your hermanito

or hermanita. Memory selects,
rearranges, and reembeds material

from the past. Also, it is best
not to cry. Doing so may hurt your case.

The Best Gifts / by Jefferson Duval

The best gifts
hurt when comforting
slap you sober from drunken dreams
showing your thoughtful commentaries
to be historically blind memes

the best gifts
build your character
break your legs to strengthen your spine
revealing your sacred herds and gems
before your fellow swine

the best gifts
strip your clothes off
when you found your signature style
delivering cuticle paper cuts
as you rifle through the pile

the best gifts send you reeling
trapeze through your tidy den
the best gifts land you kneeling
what you thought was True
blinds your pen.

Notes On The Lesser Loved Children In Our Family Line / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

The second born in my family do not fare as well as the first.

It’s a long tradition of suffering leading back at least as far as my great grandmother and her younger sibling Dora.

Dora didn’t marry which meant that she was reliant on family for identity and stipend until she died, reportedly of a broken heart, at fifty.

Dora’s older sister Geneva, who excelled financially having married a wealthy investor, wistfully told the broken-hearted-younger-sister story to garner sympathy and magnify her own mystique in the southern women’s circles she enjoyed.

All knew that Geneva never cared a wit for Dora who, in truth, died in agony after drinking bleach to put an end to her humiliating life of poverty and loneliness.

My mother’s younger sister, Evelyn, married a soldier that died in Vietnam. Her second husband died of cancer, which she now also has depriving her of her ability to walk.

Like Dora, Evelyn was not favored by her older sister, my mother. Mother, having married a doctor, lives a life of luxury never wanting for anything, which likely diminished her ability to feel compassion for those of lesser fortune.

Also like Dora, Evelyn lacked wealth. When times were hard, her sister offered a smiling sympathy but never money.

My mother, like Geneva, enjoys regaling her friends and children, with stories of why she believes Evelyn’s life didn’t work out.

My older sister, Ann, a happily married lawyer who achieved immense financial success loves these “poor Evelyn stories,” perhaps because she also speaks ill of her younger sister.

If I were to die tomorrow, my epitaph would bear all the disappointing features of Dora and Evelyn’s lives, as well as a few other hardships too heart-wrenching to mention.

My sister’s son, the first, second born male, doesn’t appear to be faring any better than the second-born women that came before him.

My older sister’s oldest daughter, like all the oldests before, got the bulk of my sister’s love.

When growing up, no expense was spared to get her first-born child into the best colleges and life. The younger son was left like all we seconds to figure it all out on our own.

I wonder if Dora and Evelyn noticed the affection gap? I’ll never know.

Since I still have my health and lack the will to drink bleach, I hope to break the pattern that the lessor-loved children in my family line endure.

I’ll offer love and guidance to my older sister’s second born son. Maybe I can be a nurturing hand for both of us since it’s unlikely anyone else will come to our aid.

If I were first-born, I’d probably be as ambivalent as the other first-borns to second-born suffering. Entitled people are all the same slow to love and quick to blame.

my hair / by CR Green
¨darling, i am growing old, silver threads among the gold.¨
h. p. danks, 1872, based on a poem by eben rexford.

almost entirely white now as it was in the beginning:
towhead with tufted curls winding easily
around my motherś fingers–

i see fainted, fallen threads on sofa´s mountains
each morning; i see them on dark floor´s beveled
edge, in shower´s slow drain where i bend to gather

these slivers, then wind them about my own fingers
crack window to rid room of steam, allow space
to place lightest entwined lines of mine

in uplifted leaf-cleft of arched rosemary branch
in hope their shimmered silvered fragrance will entice
some golden songbird close to where i spend my days

For Neruda / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

He paints the page blue-
Passion sadness beauty: the
Ocean’s serenade

Apropos Ravens / by Jeffrey Levine

The Flying Raven, Édouard Manet, Ex Libris for The Raven (Le Corbeau) by Edgar Allan Poe, French Edition, Trans. Stéphane Mallarmé, (1875)

You take the folding chair outdoors facing the ocean.
Pencils. The book. The papers.
There will be further postponements.

The calling and quothing of ravens makes it impossible to hear your cue.
You are offstage, left, invisible to the audience.
Your hand, like the hand of Ingres’s “Jupiter and Thetis”
is part octopus, part tropical flower.

The ravens stay where you put them: large birds turn to smaller birds,
perched atop the driftwood, high-strung to the point of hysteria.

Inventory: Your yellow painting robe brings good fortune (aristocratic reserve);
dragonflies hover over the beach,
their blood is black and yellow (inflation of earth principle);
lasting perseverance furthers (no advance, no regression).

Transfiguration: You shape each bird to allude to the shape of a chalice.
For example, the house is a receptacle.
On account of which, each day begins this way.
Morning sweatshirt. Cup.
A guide appears, you are asking permission.

No reason is given, ever, for whatever.
In other houses, many miles away: the magnifying glass, brushes, black paint.
You receive a letter. Letter: unexplained energy.
Message from a friend about more oxygen.

You think of a new direction for a new line.
Sometimes a word’s included. Sometimes it’s just a line.

A large tree trunk has drifted up from the surf,
from the beach, in the sand, on the ground, lodging
within your chair, where you sit, sketching.

_____________________________
*Kenneth Clark, The Nude, A Study in Ideal Form, from the six A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts given by Clark at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1953

MAKING SPIDERS / by Sarah Terry

There’s an owl outside
my window – therefore this

must be solitude. Look through
my ears until you see my waiting

eyes – bright as geodes and just
as jagged. Aren’t my arms

useless? Owl, haven’t I
seen you bursting through

the forehead of your father?
Match me in the divinity

of my jealousy. My heart
a smash-crash knock-your-knees-out

cymbal wailing yellow – I can have
no betters. Lend me some

of Hecate’s herb and soon
we’ll celebrate the obsolescence

of our enemies. Won’t we?
Owl, haven’t I learned how

to be righteous? Haven’t I learned
not to reach for other hands?

Clear / by Emily Vieweg

As I marinate in late night hours
thinking I must wake
in less than three hours
to repack
refile
return to the
security station
the mile-long
maze of rope
and elastic bands

i no longer wonder why
my mother was never able
to sleep in a hotel.

Day 27 / Day 27

Jackson Square Lullaby / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Lit from below, the huge arms of the angel
in shadow do not beckon, do not succor.
Instead, they seem to point you out
of the city. But you do not go. You stand
listening to the clop of shod horses,
the distorted bend of a trombone a few
blocks away where the bars do not
close. In the alleys beside the cathedral,
sometimes ghosts float on their blue feet,
trailing smoke from their clothing:
tonight, they do not. How long,
leaving, the banished Eve stared
at the sweet olive and Mediterranean
palms in the garden. From behind
a wrought iron railing, someone has
seen you lift a fallen magnolia seed pod
from the barren path beside the disgraced
general’s horse, rearing. Who told you,
who told you God was personal? Sleep
now. Your early morning flight will not
be delayed. With a sword of rain,
not of fire, the angel drives you out.

dream. / by Jefferson Duval

Again I dreamed we were friends
in some border ghetto
you at home, I visiting
speaking of clothes and their
reason
no ending, only departure.
In some row house
your mother a threat
stories stacked alight the water.
Now scaling rooftops
below carts of bodies
no feet, hands, or heads
headed somewhere we
know not.

Anxiety Is A Thin-Walled House / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

I’m up late unable to rest in a night filled with thoughts
of a day that has yet to come.

Fear of falling apart is amplified in the dark.
Begging won’t stop the toppling, so I pray.

Mistakes made at life’s base are cards leaning on other cards.
Decisions built on a shaky legged table.

Tomorrow I’ll lay another level. It’s possible all I’ve built will hold,
if I can steady my hand and hold my breath.

Maybe there’ll be no movement, sound, or breeze but that’s a lot of
maybes, too many for me to sleep.

doxology on the ¨Y¨ from new brighton to christchurch, new zealand boxing day, 2018, almost eight years after February 22, 2011 / by CR Green

all the world´s gone shopping it seems–this rumbling beast
takes me up from sleep-induced village to earthquake-ravaged
city yawing itself right in yearning for recovery

mounting monster´s hard metal step, i place plastic
wafer on cold offering plate, spy pew to hunker down
for launch-lurch into its peculiar liturgy, feel fabric´s
soft scratch, its prior warmth–another´s been on this spot
digested, eliminated before me
hear now this behemoth pause its roaring, kneel, open wide
to receive all: the old, crippled with walkers, wheelchairs, bikers
hikers, backpackers lugging presents, infants in prams, young
native-born sing with mothers joyful songs of praise for money
in pockets today, to wheels going round and round to their click
click, click all around the town

across aisle from safety of father´s lap, bright immigrant child
puts lips to magic wafer that got him into this belly´s midst
holds fast to it, gives promise to hold it, now questions all
he sees as we wind into the heart of the city: rubble, graffiti
promise of vertical metal skeleton-grids, long-necked cranes
stilled high in the sky, continually asking, Why, Daddy, Why
Daddy, Why, Why, Why?

Caroling Cento / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Hark the herald
sleigh bells ring
are you listening?
Above thy deep
and dreamless sleep
the silent
snow is glistening
O little town of
jingle bells
Do you hear what I hear
above all the bustle you’ll hear
the weather outside is frightful, baby
it’s cold outside
Let it snow let it snow let it snow
under the mistletoe
silver bells came
upon a midnight clear
The ox and lamb kept time
dashing through the snow
and there won’t be snow in
Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Away in a manger
city sidewalks, busy sidewalks
no crib for a bed
Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen,
But do you recall the
Silent night-

Where are you, Christmas?


Songs cited/used:
Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Winter Wonderland, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Jingle Bells, Do you Hear what I Hear?, Silver Bells, Let it Snow, Baby, It’s Cold Outside, Mistletoe, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, The Little Drummer Boy, Do They Know it’s Christmas?, Away in a Manger, Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, Silent Night, Where are you, Christmas?

People Like Trees, Walking / by Jeffrey Levine

“. . . and I treat a shade as a solid thing”

–Dante, “Purgatorio,” Canto XXI (trans. W.S. Merwin)

The past: surrounds me like a magnificent, seventy-year-long train.
So that place in Mark 8:24 where the man looked up and said:
I see men, like trees, walking: he meant me.
I was the one: walking like a tree.
I was named, I have form, I am not quiet,
I was one: walking like a tree.
I remember: the place that I am.
I was one: walking like a tree.
There are others.

They who are seen walking like the trees were not born for the life
of miracle: frightened, as though a certain likeness had befallen them from the sky.

They had felt a kinship with the forests: it wasn’t their idea,
then they discovered their laws: which they disobeyed.

They trembled and regretted.
We name this trembling by many words, each word: a body.
They made attempts to escape the body: but one cannot exit
one’s own ribcage. One cannot regret: the body.

I try, and see myself against the sky’s reflection in shop windows:

People are arranging mannequins.
People are: shelving books, icing cakes, repairing bicycles.
I guess at what’s owed, but I’m overly
generous, or underestimate.

 

If there are betrayals, I would as soon skip over them.
Skip over them like rams.
I ask how to pray my way out.
Over and over again, I brush my fingers against the strings:
mistaking psaltery for psalms.

I ask only that I be told how many I am: how much I owe.
I will pray in cash, in stars. Yes, pray.

Seeing is only one imagination: I see others every day,
and it’s true, they look like trees, behind the eyelids,
where presence and absence dazzle equally: there is the promise
of fresh mango and passion fruit, of walnut and of the cashew.

We absent people: we absent tourists: we carriers of the earth:
we who resemble poplars and pines: we who would see the world
clothed in orange leaves, where in that very instant terror vanishes
into the dream weight of weightlessness: the dream world of exaltation.

Day upon day arrives with a vision of sunrise: day after day
is glowing and wet: and the light comes unmoored: and the birds lift up.

I see the birds lift up: the light comes unmoored.

Blessed be that vision, without which: never would the banyans
and baobabs of dream have grown so tall, so strong.

…and Home Before Dark / by Sarah Terry

Wind your fingers into the soft forest floor
and root yourself by this river so sure
to last forever. You have sweet blood,
you know, mosquitos fall toward you
like tumbling stars. I think I could
belong here – dissolve and grow
into everything. There was a fire
we sat by together and you were rosy
red even in weak light, and I would
hold your cheeks while the leaves reached
out to touch my hair. And when I closed
my eyes, when I bated my breath,
the world quivered and trilled and waited
and waited and faltered and fell.
I wash up onto the shore, and it is a cool
night and the universe is growing slowly
endless. I weave my fingers into the sky’s
black hair, turn my tears to planets,
and I am never lonely again.

Packed / by Emily Vieweg

I climbed out
of bed, home
already,
a day early,
and still I
had to find
a way to
the airport.
I phoned my
dad in the
living room
across town
asking if
I should try
to get to
the airport
in the wrong
direction,
to head home
where i sat.

Confused, mom answered,
“well, if you’re already home,
do you need to fly?”
But… we have tickets…
I checked us in…
I must be dreaming.

Day 26 / Day 26

Waning Gibbous / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Snow in the clouds that laze
across the moon, parting now
and then like white lips. How I would
like to believe in passion again,
wind churning through our bodies.
Calf muscles seizing. Years ago
I tried to paint you sleeping, after,
your mouth almost open like the slats
of the blinds above our bed. The small
clip of black hair in the cleft
of your chest. But I’m no good
with fine distinctions—can’t tell
the difference between first degree
frostbite and second. For you, I turned
my back on everything: my sister
dying young, her misshapen,
metastatic body choked in a field
of scar tissue, the slanted elms,
bald and wild in winter, this
American forest that had no place
for you. In another country, we ate
lotus flowers spiced with fennel,
the island brushed with snow.
A decade later, we drifted back
across the northern border, ghosts
who know only thier whispered names.

A First Love Outside the Family / by Jefferson Duval

There is room enough
in this world
for you
and the you
who calved me.

Again. I’m found,
scumming it up
on the shores
of your real
work

Everything
I have yet to learn
to transcribe,
water passing
under your feet.

Knowing What to Keep / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

When you went to war,
I wore pearls around my neck.
I counted your years away on it
as if it were a rosary.
We thought war a necessity
for country until your fourth tour,
by then we’d lost our conviction.
The pearls were lost in a move and you,
as if in trade, were brought back to me.
Before you arrived home, the brass
gave me a red, white and blue scarf.
I wore it loosely over my shoulders.
When I ran towards you in the rain
my arms reaching for yours,
it blew off. I let the it lie where it lay,
unwilling to let you go for
a small muddied flag.

Hapori Ora / by CR Creen
or Community Health
Found poem taken from a newsletter
advertising needs

Come along to a Pot Luck Dinner
Please leave your details
Over a relaxed meal
If you are looking for a
Fully insulated pre-loved
Pleasant single woman
Looking for a pleasant way
To be tidy and have sober habits

Work wanted in the areas of
Healing, Teaching, Freedom
for someone in our community family
Cakes, Sweets, Plants
Forest walks and mountain views
Housework, Gardening, Caregiving
Putting dogs out, feeding pups and mopping
From Hornby to Riccarton

The Black Cat / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Absolute in onyx conviction, her
indifference is a thin layer between
delicate song of purring
and digging claws

Ardent and zealous
in the arts of head-butting and lap-napping
daredevil also tackles ribbon
and chases mice.

Alertness of ears and whisker detectors
intensity of claws, sharpened gaze
defiant tones composed when she hasn’t
at all been fed, but with

Assertion, her constant purring disposition is
inconceivable, retracting claws into
denim- dangerous, dainty, delovely
affectionate beautiful black ball of blades.

Pillar of Cloud / by Jeffrey Levine

The sacred is frightening to the astral body,
As is its absence. (Charles Wright, “All Landscape is Abstract, and Tends to Repeat Itself,” Appalachia)

This is what happens to the man when the pillar of cloud appears.

This is what happens when he pillar of cloud sculpts his torso

with all ten thousand fingers of language

while through the lens

of Gothic science it reads palms, the counterpoint in them as if

for a moment it had allowed the man to be Bach, to read

along the figured notes, the complications in the weave.

 

Like Bach, the pillar of cloud lights the living room from within

with a snowy face crowned with nightingales.

It webs aside the fretwork,

the thick wires twist into braided lanyards, the thin ones stretch

long and hollow as a pipe organ. Nights are cold now

and the planets bay at the moon and it

turns him inside-out

as if to reveal his own stitching, it lifts a match as if to ignite something

 

in his chest. Look, it says to the man, you get to be the man who un-turns

stone from stone, the story cracking from your own

broken mouth,

that cracking and a great flutter of hands and the impossibility of it,

the orchard’s ripened pear taken by the last fox, gently,

as if tonight

might be assembled from shards of pottery,

as if tonight the apparition

of cloud has no ticket, no luggage, nothing to read, no place to sleep.

DRAWING THE EYE / by Sarah Terry

Let me capture
your 56 eyelashes
curling like crabgrass
around lids so heavy
and unsympathetic.
Bette, I suspect
I am full
of dysfunctional
ganglia and my teeth
are slowly dissolving.
Our eyes are brim
with aqueous humour
and thus we shore
our lenses against
a world full
of exhausting solutions.
You don’t need any help
arching your brow –
you were born
to wither lesser men.
Everyone who loves us
is lying and it feels so good
to be afraid. I need
to be cowed
by a strong wind –
the water exorcised
from my eyes.

Declined (Found Poem) / by Emily Vieweg

Thank you for submitting
your work
by no means is this
quality writing,
as always,
Sincerely.

Thank you for sharing,
your work
isn’t right.
Sincerely.

Thank you so much.
Sincerely.

Thank you.

Day 25 / Day 25

Addict’s Erasure #2 / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Tributaries of Naivety / by Jefferson Duval

On this morning
I watched tattered
Fog blankets
Passing starboard to port
Emptying into cleft
Pooling the lower valley
Perpendicular.
Therefore, I am
Immutable witness
To nature’s parade
Meaning’s changeling
Ascribably culpable
Loggerhead.

Enter Light Upon The New Year / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

Another year is nearly done,
when looking back I see
all those that I’ve won by works,
and all for whom I disagree.
The latter is forgiven,
I’ll resist the urge to shirk.
The former is for living,
for us, the task is growth.
We’ll enter light upon the New Year
graciously greeting new beginnings
with “Hello! Hello! Hello!”

i knew it was true / by CR Green

what the big boy said as we stood
on the spikey, chartreuse ice-plant
covered southern california hillside
looking down into a peopled valley
the purple-curved san gabriels
looming behind

the ice-plant was not in bloom
but the sun i remember was soft
as he delivered the blow
there is no santa claus

i knew it was true, but, then again–
not so lovely as my mother´s gentle hands
making clothes in the night for my madame
alexander doll or of much good to report
to my twinkly-eyed father who would film
my delight on his bell & howell tomorrow

such a big hole for such a tiny baby to fill

Haiku- for Tommy / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Guiding the tide back
He is moon to my dark sea,
simply my North Star.

Above Thy Deep and Dreamless Sleep / by Jeffrey Levine

He speaks in flint, she in Aramaic.
You are in me like forgiveness, he offers with inexactitude,
but the intensity of his voice says the rest, speaking
as if all the golden threads have broken, as though falling
through cloud after cloud among shearwater and bunting,
longspur and willow ptarmigan, golden plover
and through a thick lining of sargassum weed.

The old gods can do nothing for them but extend
an ear and offer a bit of song, the syllables falling on them
from on high, a veiled place, such a long time coming
from an alien star so distant that Revelation escapes notice.

Behind the mountain’s shoulder, he remembers,
the doors to the sky turn on their hinges,
loose an unending spill of comets—
until the body of the world no longer bleeds,
and forests rise upon the earth, and the dead dress
in haste, those who had suffered dry their eyes at last
and linger until even forgetting is forgotten.

SOMEBODY SPOKE AND I WENT INTO A DREAM / by Sarah Terry

This crumble of peregrination, falling
semiquaver to semiquaver like the melody
slipped down a wonder-of-all wayside.
Our talisman, O our oratorio!
Luminary, I’d love to find my cobwebs
and drink my curiosity.
A crucifix of peppermint stood and stared –
hang the helmsman on the watchtower,
bash our thoughts against the threshold –
he didn’t notice that our lightships had come
to drag a combat across my heartache.
Lucky manacle! I saw a finch today, oh
brain, O tambourine, O orbit – my dapple
is an endearment, a treachery – rowboat me right with –
the nocturne plays in the Houseboat of Lordships.

(The basis for this poem is the N+7 OULIPO technique, where the writer takes an already existing composition, finds each noun, and then replaces it with the word 7 entries later in the dictionary. I started with Lennon/McCartney’s “A Day in the Life,” and Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Spelt From Sibyl’s Leaves,” and used a website to generate N+1 through N+15 versions of each, then created this poem from those.)

Winter / by Emily Vieweg

My grandma became MeeMaw
when my son started naming his family.
My parents are Meme and Papa.

Now MeeMaw has three other babies
who call her Great Grandma Helen

she hopes she will see us again.

Day 24 / Day 24

Ghost Cento / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Over this city of transparent buildings,
the zodiac staggers. Until the stars run
to milk and all that night carries soundlessly—

a satchel of eels—

just this once, pretend none of it matters.
A story travels in one direction only, no matter
how often it tries to turn north, south, east, west,
back. Consider the radio still crackling

a warning throughout the house:

he is gone and no one can tell us where.
We will be weightless, and our
goodness will not matter. Ever since
I burnt my mouth, I talk two ways.

Like we weren’t even there,

like we were the ghosts, spirit birds,
called back from memory or a book,
must sing on earth unto the bitter death.

Sources:
T.R. Hummer, “Plate Glass”; David St. John, “Until the Sea Is Dead”; Lucie Brock-Broido, “Considering the Possible Music of Your Hair”; Carl Phillips, “Living Together”; Jane Hirshfield, “Tolstoy and the Spider”; Sara Eliza Johnson, “Let Us Consider Where We Might Have a Home”; Emily Fragos, “The Sadness of Clothes”; Mary Szybist, “Via Negativa”; John Ashbery, “Unreleased Movie”; Wesley McNair, “Ghosts”; Stanley Plumly, “Spirit Birds”; Kathy Fagan, “Visitation”

Inheritance, Going Back For Seconds / by Jefferson Duval

A loosening sound
cracking the study’s
stinking footed claps

grandfathers sleeping

those staying long armed
choking merry goblets

bleed with comfort into her braid

getting laid voluminous
the wild Americans galloping
self-proclaiming, “Naked!”

only nude

cocooned cashew feet clouding
circuitous at best
institutional line ages
housing the boys howling
within visiting hours
passing hemorrhaging heritages

husky tongued, sterile and hung.

Wild Night / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

Fresh punch, winterberry and rum
Giggling cheer, without remorse.
No tempered remorsals on the buffet
because it’s a wild night! The type
Emily Dickinson missed writing poems
alone in her room. My punch lands like
a ballerina in the Nutcracker upon a
figgy pudding so rich it might make
a billionaire weep in a wealth comparison.
I try to recite Dickinson’s, “Wild nights –
Wild Nights!” but can only recall
the words port, compass, and chart.
I hear a dry stick mutter, “Bless her heart.”
Later, I’ll fall asleep barely able to
remember my name. Yet, unashamed
in my spinning room unwilling to spend
my living years in a sleeping tomb.

Stage of Life / by CR Green

The fast clock is too ticking; this year is clicking
quickly too much by–might not be as late as I
thinking lie. Is there still time? No harm to wait
before I must perform this day. Should what is
happening outside stay? There is safety–
unprepared privacy in blessed dressing room
my thoughts undressed, alone with me–
I could open curtains on this day, find what
waiting audience portends–which pair to open
first? Two entrances, two exits, yes?

One set faces south with view to tall Eucalyptus
bark breaking free, sometimes flying over me
as well as separating wall, then a fall to ground
in greeting. If there would be beckoning breeze
those trees´ tippiest leaves, their swirling grace
might entice– then beyond a fling of curtain
doors could open. Then I might hear branch-
bouncing Bellbird´s song– its bing-bong–
signaling Sunday´s late sleepers:
you are never so alive as now

The other set faces west– a slow traverse of cloth
would reveal a cloaked sun rising, sound of ocean´s
seething swell, a downward look to neighbor´s
yard where flowers take over weeds: abundance
of self-sowing red poppy, pink perennial geranium
white rose climbing higher– contented dog lazing
unafraid of swooping seagulls landing on rooftops
screaming plosives. This dog, she knows her food
awaits her on the inside–no choice nor instinct now–
just waiting for that call

Meanwhile, at the Inn / by Jeffrey Levine

Bethlehem, Land of Judah, 3758

Levitation seems a practical matter these days,
she told her husband. Solar energy absorbed by glass-
covered wings. One travels in the air in the form of thistledown
by the neighboring fields through which endless passing
is the assumption of the blessed.

Someone is smashing crockery in the kitchen.
The cedars of Lebanon swung open on their hinges
and by firelight shone paintings and crude tapestries,
on the walls and furniture, upon the bed of cypress,
too, even on the ceiling formed of the same Cyprus wood
Solomon had chosen for his temple and Noah for his Ark.

The table had not been cleared and there were scraps of food
on the plates where an eyelike shape remained like a bird
waiting to be born. She might have helped them but couldn’t.
She gave no reason though they might have used the money.

Wasn’t it enough to have housed David the Shepherd
on the day of his birth, and now, another claim, another need,
but it was late, and even the stars were cold as if chilled
by some energy in reverse, something almost mystical,
she told her husband at the carving board slicing the roast
lark for the second seating, while the grape wine breathed
on the sideboard and the laundry dried and stiffened by the fire.

They had made the sounds that compassed language about
before language began, she told him, though she had known
what they needed, and even the animals looked hungry.
She said only, rock was rock, no water on it.
Remember, he said, in Cairo, I bribed the guard
so we might stay overnight in the pyramid.
We stretched out in the sarcophagus, she remembered
and outside the beasts rolled in the loaves.

Who refers to you, and what?
You say the things they are expecting you to say.

Love Story in the Piazza / by Sarah Terry

Tesoro, tell each story over tiny cappuccinos
and it won’t feel like falling. Bring me to cafés
drenched in inconsequence and we’ll ignore
the way our hearts fall open, unzipped, over
the cannoli. Keep the conversation light.
This music would make a delicious piece
of crusted bread – rising and falling like
warm breath. Dismember me kindly when
you find my seams, or all my freckles
will turn to pinpricks and I’ll bloom
your white jacket like an imperial rose.

Afternoon / by Emily Vieweg

I sat beside the new fireplace
and glanced between the new logs
blue flames crackle and crinkle
almost like the wood from my
childhood where homemade
stockings hung from hooks
twisted into the mantle.

I can remember daddy pulling
the tree up from the
typically moist basement,
he’d grunt and quietly swear
how next year we should just
get a real tree, they are easier
to prepare, easier to set up,
and can turn to kindling
the day after we’re done.

Day 23 / Day 23

Addict’s Erasure # 1 / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Demolition Hammock / by Jefferson Duval

lay me down your weave
brighten respiting
spanning trees
these strands ease
resting tension

holding on
without ever having held
carry me
sans distance

vex populi
to keep you cocked
loaded
your source, your glory
your might

in ink we trust
using the me we make
most muse-ful

A Lost Postcard Arrives Unexpectedly / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

If life’s fragrance were a southern girl’s cadence,
an opening gardenia unfurling itself in the sun,
My mind’s eye might set itself on an image of you,
fingers resting on a new bell’s brass clapper ready
to be rung.

You and I come from a humid place. A jungle buzzed
in our backyard. Our sheets blew in the wind and
the grass was as insistent as a shark’s jaw, cholk-
full of teeth, acting on instinct, like a dog with a foot
caught in a trap, biting.

The pain comes out of nowhere striking in spurts
like lightning hitting the beach. A heat blast turns
sand to silica glass, ineffable beauty left behind.
I imagine myself in its wobbly surface.

The neighbors had a broken plate understanding
of our demise. Their gossip put a cut in every bruise.
One said, “New woman’s one third his age, a year
older than their son, a boy with two girlfriends in
high school.” The talkers taught gym and math,
lending authority to their claims. Math’s ugly laugh
added, “A chip off the old block” and I let it all go.

After my move north, where the air is always cool,
it’s as if someone pulled those damp sheets out of
my lungs. I breathe deep and refuse to think of the
time before. To see you is to get a postcard from
someone I forgot; character from a fever dream or
some other illness that went on like a long drive on
a southern freeway, where you’ve got to pay one
toll after the other.

Rosemary for Remembrance:
Notes from a Half-Price Diary
Purchased in March, 2018 / by CR Green
¨Paper from responsible sources¨
www.fsc.org

2018 January
Google: Rosemary, New Zealand
There are the natives and then northern
hemisphere transplants (me).
This morning after the rain
I stepped outside to see
County Clare names: Quinn, Moloney
Clancy, Hanrahan, Grady, Mullins
Flesh pulled away from flesh
The dying man´s voice changes
to that of a little boy
Google: ¨Rosemary is a super host!¨
Taylor´s Hill area of Galway city
beautiful tree-lined streets, Salt Hill
Europe´s longest Seaside Promenade
Lonely Planet: bohemian soul, tangled lanes
buskers, picturesque, energetic, enticing old pubs
day trip to Cliffs of Moher
How to care for Rosemary?
How to keep Rosemary from dying?
Did I hear somewhere? Weather starts in Antarctica
Takes 10+ years to make it ´round the earth?
I will lift up my voice, my pen– shout
PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN

Alter Ego / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

This time of year
I indulge the me
who wanted
to be a chef in
Paris in her 20s.

The me who stayed up
late at night
helping my grandmothers
prepare for Christmas Eve
roll a hundred lumpia perfectly
separate egg yolk from egg white
wrap delicately steamed rice in banana leaf
wrestle with pansit noodles
till they bend and fold into the broth.
The me who learned
to temper chocolate for ganache
bake cookies to cheer up friends
make cinnamon rolls for Saturday
fry turon for Sunday
The me who woke up early to
make champurado and fried fish
while the pandesal was heating
in the toaster oven-

The me who loves to taste.

I go to her when my words need
mincing or dicing
salt or seasoning
when they need
to simmer or sizzle
I go to her when
my thoughts are hungry
and need to feel the
weighted balance of
a sharp blade
carve flowers from carrots.

This time of year
I indulge
the culinary me
and wonder if she ever
wanted to be a poet.

At the Winter Feeder / by Jeffrey Levine

The key is in the window, the key is in the sunlight at the window . . . the key is in the bars, in the sunlight in the window. (Naomi Ginsberg to Allen, quoted by Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts)

These birds are not birds. Whatever they may be,
one wants to keep them before they are swept up
into themselves. They are invitations to events
at which we are already present. They construct
the world out of the sum total of their thoughts.
No one of them is larger than a chalice.
They’re covered with vegetation and uncertainty.
They are tree-tops that have alchemized into earthen pots
with beaks and claws, formed of slippery clay-based soil,
frozen blades of grass and many dustings of fresh snow.

Each departure requires such expense of energy,
each one a small warning, and after these many warnings,
signs of leaving multiply, stark winter with its prayer
of ice is here. Like plumed serpents locked, contorted
into their shapes, motionless on the bough.
With a warning call, they move to another part
of the space that is the roundess of earth where works
are warnings. They’re not just prophets of ice,
but also certain kinds of bliss: they count the snakes
and moons, building houses that are fine but for the people,
recalling on Sundays, as I am the house and Thou art the Indweller,
I speak as Thou makest me speak, thus they sing.

Tuesday Tuesday, Born on Wednesday, was Born to Travel Time / by Sarah Terry

Mysteries, lay down! Where once slept blue-
eyed innocence, now there is only Tuesday
wearing red liquid lipstick like Dracula
on a bender. Tuesday entering every exit
door with abandon. Tuesday with one hand
on the wheel and a slice of merciless sun

inside her heart. Let’s turn back the sun-
rise until Time is nothing but a blue
smear across the back of your hand –
no, not your hand! Every hand is Tuesday’s
here, and she’s waiting, draped across the exit,
to fill your swan-pale neck with little Dracula

kisses. Isn’t it obvious that Tuesday, like Dracula,
could hold enough suffering to blot out the sun,
but, bless her, of course, she hasn’t yet. Exeunt
stage left – she’s off and twisting like the blue
myth of evening and everyone knows a Tuesday
is worth cradling deftly in your two lovely hands

but no one’s dared to try it. You have to hand
it to Tuesday – it is not optional. Even Dracula
once said: not in one quattuordecillion Tuesdays
has a Tuesday like this made me dream of sun-
drenched larkspur crowning an infinite blue
hillside. Tuesday is flattered, but already exiting

as we speak. Tuesday is a land of so many exits
and she grabs each one with Éponine’s hand –
why not? When your soul is a swallowing blue
ocean trench, savor each love-drop like Dracula.
Tuesday will swear she knows no Copernican sun
and so the center of everything is Tuesday

but the biggest lies are always the sweetest. Tuesday,
tender like a rabbit before a rifle, like an exit
path for lightning, like a scorched and hollow sun –
but doesn’t she know better than to ever show her hand?
Tuesday grins and drowns her frailty in Dracula’s
blood red cape. Waves goodbye. Tuesday blew

in like the bluest morning and exited like a fever dream.
Hand to your heart – does the sun cry for Dracula
the way Tuesday cries for each Tuesday gone by?

Day 22 / Day 22

December Acrostic with the Sun in My Eyes / by Steve Bellin-Oka

So much I owe to strangers I do not love—
the relief that, at least for now, they
enter the café where I sit as the late afternoon’s
vermillion glow enshrouds them, like crowned
egrets in snowy grass, their shapes
nearly whole—newly shadow, newly scar.

Ache of Praxis / by Jefferson Duval

looking back across what was time then
there emerge tiny pulsing lights
edges crumble off falling traditions
wet rot with mummy wrap
songs are going extinct
as we speak
retreating morose code
to the analogues
to the infant Aion

bring yourselves into this place
invite the guest over to unfreeze
as you unravel his clothes
warming stones
within the diaphragm of kinship
now breathe back the end

from stillness take direction
become guide to what was lost

Winter Fires / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

Outside muskrats and pocket gophers rustle through the leaves
before nestling into their burrows. We indoor mammals settle
before a fire crackling in the hearth our hands warmed by mugs
of Hot Toddy. More water whistles in the kettle softly hissing
on a blue-flamed burner. Candles long lit and left to burn until
their wick’s dance reflects back in glossy pools of melted wax.
In these we relax, less restless next to our holiday tree, shining
with electricity, than among the season’s shoppers and party
hoppers. Bottled spirits ignite stories we both know but love
to tell. Our faces flush a rosy glow. Beyond the steamy windows
of our home, even the stars seem twinkle with laughter.
We make wishes and give kisses, tending the fire in our eyes,
until it’s so late the sun threatens to extinguish moonlight
and we decide it’s time too for us burrow into bed for the night.

I Catherine, I Anne / by CR Green

One day I was Catherine of Aragon, the next day
Anne Boleyn. Some days I made much confession
on others enjoyed my sin. On a Monday, though I
was daughter of conquering queen and king, I sub-
mitted to Henry´s lordship–he ended up with everything
On a Tuesday I played bolshy-stroppy, was rude right
to his face, didn´t care a fig for minding manners
or staying in my place. On a Wednesday I attended
tournaments, never acting impatient or extremely bored
I gave him only one live daughter accepting blame from
my lord. On a Thursday I learned French and Latin, took
my place in English Court, climbed the Renaissance ladder
followed my family in this sport. On a Friday I was declared
illegal, separated from my kin: the Pope I´d always clung to
was now considered sin. On a Saturday in chambers for my
Ladies reading pleasure while they waited, I ordered Scripture–
from dying Latin to living English– be translated. At last
on a Sunday, both weary, I rested– half of me banished
reckoned dead; my other self arrested, tried condemned, left
without my head

Birds / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

From the rural dance Tinikling, meaning “To be like/mimic the Tikling Bird,” – a bird that is characterized in the dance as clever, being able to maneuver in and out of moving bamboo with poise and grace.

He is mischief. She is sass.
They- clever tricksters who
just want to eat your crops.
He is guarded but grinning.
She is regal and sneaky
They are playful and sharp
at the same time.

What is it like to hop on air?
Or suspend from the ground
without colliding
without falling
without fear?

To feel the wind
at their backs,
under their bellies
ruffling their feathers,
elevating.

They are smarts and swagger,
beauty and intellect.
Bonnie and Clyde.

They dance above our crops
they laugh at our bamboo traps
They soar effortless and aimless
They let the wind carry them.

They spin in the moment
while we are rooted in the ground
anchored by our wingless feet,
tending to the earth’s harvest.
They communicate without speaking.
They are partnership.
They are what we long to be.

Do they ever wonder how we could live without wings?

Study of Caravaggio / by Jeffrey Levine

Study of Caravaggio, The Entombment of Christ,

1602/03, canvas, Stolen by Napoleon Italian campaign in 1797, now Musei Vaticani, Pinacoteca Vaticana

 

dictating altarpiece, then tower bells

rang inaudible

standing so he arched, the painter, little grifter genius,

through an angle of moonlight

swept

through the stained glass cathedral lights black

heavenly candles black, a kind of incandescence made of pigment

robes and cassocks spilled

marking their fall through lamentation

Mizmor l’Dovid Hashem Roi, as we say in Hebrew: Sing a song of David, even so, the deep

sorrow, the silent night,

silent mourning

asking they are told:

by the prayers cast out chained

my shepherd is,

and bodily rosary held lifeless as heresy incognito persona non
grata gratia

In nomine patris et fili

patris et fili

dolor

tormentum

I shall not want, shall I?

green pastures still waters

restoreth and goodness and mercy and dwell

bring it!

anoint me with the 23rd, a garden simplified by winter, by Psalm

what was it then but

his feet his hands

accrued there beneath until something wanders outside the calculation
lost

the road back the road back back and thereafter was

ever thus carried to step back in

remembering where nowhere began

Nowhere

it is a plot sculpted in pigment, attached, character rising

over, nowhere, is it sacred in the sense of

Biblical truths?

(sense?) and

nowhere to be seen but from nowhere in a mind what joy

can disprove itself

and when it had been done explaining

the dream—reached me in chiascuro,

wordless beside the morning.

sublimation or exaltation /by Sarah Terry

againe through
and againe
Bodies changing into water
falling downe coagulated consolidated
remaine with him at the bottome and when they have united
Understand this that ashes be drawne and made
this secret
he does not understand how he shall begin this
it is one body
no more then one body
each singular dust
rest in the belly of
the wind under the height of the heavens
if you will pull it out you must turne the Stone to Ashes

(An erasure poem from “A Chymicall treatise of the Ancient and highly illuminated Philosopher, Devine and Physitian, Arnoldus de Nova Villa who lived 400 years agoe, never seene in print before, but now by a Lover of the Spagyrick art made publick for the use of Learners, printed in the year 1611,” transcribed from the Bodelian Library, MS Ashmole 1415, pp. 130-146, by Hereward Tilton)

Mirror / by Emily Vieweg

you were facing mom and dad discussing
interesting office things
I stood entranced, hypnotized by
my own face in your profile
even our eyeglasses matched

glowing brown and yellow
with a tinge of maroon at the temple
eyes chocolate brown, hair
long and wavy, as I wore it in school

What woman was this?

Who’s reflection did I see
in that kitchen,
swirling the pinot
sharing herself so freely
without apologies
without worry

Day 21 / Day 21

Ghazal with Winter Drought / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Burn the accumulated, whisping oak leaves, dry
as sloughed skin. It’s been three months since rain.

Somehow I’ve gotten old. When no one was watching,
I climbed into it like a cat under eaves in the rain.

There was a diamond, some curled and yellow pages.
Wild mint withers in winter with the lack of rain.

Dusk stains the air the way blood coughed up
discolors white gauze: I smell, instead of rain,

something harmed and musk-like in the neighbors’
chimney smoke. There’s no end, only not to rain

but to the dust that coats everything in our house—
old photos of us in the desert, mouths open, catching rain.

When I told you they found a shadow on the x-ray of my
lung, you blackened, a nimbus cloud gorged with rain.

Right Box, Wrong Puzzle / by Jefferson Duval

Wanting the picture to have legs
using the present to scan
yesterday’s travel
trusting moments
were left hanging on a mobile
twisting around looking for stillness
looking back at me
head on hand.
All that comes is how
the guy at the gas station
moved around my truck
as if it were a horse
talking to another fella
where I could just make out
bits of
something about the love
of macaroni and cheese,
and not knowing why.

Winter Solstice Birthday / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

On the first day of winter, cold winds blow the trees beyond my window.
I wake to a dark birthday morning often called the shortest day, as light
is genuinely lacking, yet tonight will be the longest night, and we’ll be
joyfully stacking glasses our glasses at our favorite bar, lighting the room
with laughter, knowing every day after is brighter until summer’s solstice
declares itself and we bask in the sun barely aware of the dimming light
gently easing us towards fall, winter.

Tangoing In the Meantime / by CR Green

because it takes two lovebirds sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G
I learn to tango with nations, accept another man-drake’s
berated invitation, let a compadre of a diffident madre touch
my stiffened German Steif teddy bear back as well as my horse-
ravished soft leather soul, take my freshly curled, permed
handlebars, press nervous Nels Swedish meatball cheek to mine
my known broiled chicken breast to his unknown BBQ´d one
He walks me backwards out of a landmine into a smartphone
one unwilling stepchild at a time. I don’t know where I’m going–
I could be blind vinyl sidled–but, I will clingwrap even if there’s
a pause button, continue this off-the-beaten track record-breaking
syncopating non-English speaking conversation between our two
trembling heart attacks on a tectonic plate. The music persuades
me curriculum’s lifelong learning curve is always circular but
inculcates a begin the beguine, a middling and an endeavour
to know one fine daylight savings time I will be asterisked
again to dance alone

Meditation No. 2 on the White House, a Brood / by Jeffrey Levine

                                                                         Like a breath
after the sentence is uttered, done, mouth shut with

Jorie Graham, “Praying (Attempt of Feb. 6, ’04),” Overlord

Trapped into saying the thing he meant
or nothing,
he brooded in the corner.

Brood [from Proto-Germanic *brōduz (“heat, breeding”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰreh₁- (“breath, mist, vapor, steam”)]

1. A brood of petty despots (A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles)

He meant disarmed by day and by night. He meant encumbered. He meant, nightmare.

2. The Serpent’s Brood of Vipers (Matthew 23:33)

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers,
how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

He meant disenfranchised by phantoms.
He meant made apoplectic by the enormity of the dumb in dumbfound.

3. The Serpent’s Brood (Dryden, Eclogue 4: The Messiah)

The serpent’s brood shall die; the sacred ground
Shall weeds and pois’nous plants refuse to bear,

He meant look, you fool, you abomination, in the mirror.

4. The brood of folly without father bred (Milton):,

Hence vain deluding Joys,
The brood of Folly without father bred,
How little you bested,
Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys;

(“Il Penseroso”)

He meant venom to vapor,
waste of breath, waste of ink,
so much mist.

Never Tell the Same Lie Twice / by Sarah Terry

It has come that time
when I am not
a person
but a person +
disclaimer.
Hello and I will
very likely start
crying at random
intervals but everything
is fine and I am definitely
not dying.
If you see me
sniffing my hair
it is just to make sure
it isn’t burning
because I do
smell burning
but I am not
(of course)
having a stroke.
That would be silly.
I had a dream
that I was an astronaut
and my fellow
astronaut
was a bit of a jerk
in that oh-but-I-know-
there’s-secretly-something-
redeeming-about-you
kind of way
and we were starting
to grow on each other
like Schönberg, like
someone stopped
coddling your ears,
and it was a
dangerous mission,
but all I could think was
people everywhere
are so unhappy.
I am not the aurora
borealis I would like
to be. Stepping
on my own
love story
comes naturally.
All this to say –
if you see me counting
the hairs that fell out
and caught on my spacesuit,
do not worry.
I’ve promised Houston
conditions are nominal,
and I’m definitely not
the type to lie.

Advice / by Emily Vieweg

They asked me:
why dont you just get up;
take a shower;
go for a run;
smell some of this oil;
garden?

I answered:
this bed is warmer than
any interaction.

Day 20 / Day 20

Prayer for Plant Rot / by Steve Bellin-Oka

I look like my father: that is the truth. Black lesions
creeping over purple grapes. I want to tell you
I am not like him: that is half-truth. Burn
the fruit if the fungus appears, powdery white mildew
that trickles from the leaves to the vine. A father’s
open hand against a child’s face: that is the truth.
Mold spores coat a grape as it shrivels, atrophies
like a middle-aged man’s arm muscles. On
the kitchen table of our house, a bowl of fake fruit,
hard plastic. Acrylic bananas and pears:
that is the truth. Once in Delaware we watched
farmhands set fire to a whole field of corn—
the crop is diseased, my father said. That is
the truth. His sclerotic heart stopped in his sleep:
truth is, none of us mourned. My mother threw
the chipped still life in the trash, to be incinerated
across town. Every death since his, we’ve
burned the body’s bones clean: that is the truth.

An Ouroboric Midwife / by Jefferson Duval

I was witness to thee most gentle
human angel
she who took a sinking ship
down like a grounded prayer
unassuming exquisite in her element
not without discomfort
or self-judgement.
Through our mother’s creviced
deep folds of language, my sister
understood exactly her request
same as she always had.
“Usher me out of this world girl.”
No one else could do it and she knew it
besides no one else could give her
as good a death she got.
Five days from upright
became four a closing jack knife
‘tripod’ the nurses called it
gravity makes it easier on the in breath
the hull and deck now below the surface.

Some were built for the mouth
others for the tail eaten
she handled the mortal portals even
just like that.
In an unassuming moment, mid-sentence
Ma left into her garden
to wait for the girls to get
the knots out
of their dock ties.

Blind In A Brightly Lit Room Of Happy People / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

No one sees the day through your eyes
I accept your blindness as you rail about the darkness encompassing us all
I pull enough candles out to heat the room
lights for fingertips
lights for the mind’s eye
You have no cane, patch, or braile I wonder if your fingers can tap the vat of my imagination
uncurl like lotus petals,
unfurl like flags
Can you see by understanding the possibilities or will you deny that light exists, overly certain in your politics?

Will you regard my opinion as heresy, as you regard all opinions other than your own?

Oh, how you love to complain

Do the candles burn brighter in the dark?
No, they’re just as bright on a sunny day although harder to see, but you are truly blind, unable to see day or night
touch them slowly and be burned
touch them lightly to learn of warmth
Ask yourself, is the one that brought you light your enemy? If the answer you insist upon is, “Yes” then knock them over, burn the whole place down; you’ll not find the exit without them.

Walking in My Little Village at Ends of Earth / by CR Green

I cross the street at the juncture of Shaw and Seabreeze
Five minutes. It´s early morning– in a pan of white clouds
fresh sun´s edge is a yolk not yet poached– I haven´t had
breakfast, but emergency almonds wait in my bag– my left
leg aches from yesterday´s walk

Obeying my very short, sweet, Greek-immigrant cardiologist´s
directive keeps me plodding. ¨You are 70,¨ he said two years ago
while I sat on his high table near the beginning of the Appalachian
Trail–what lovely lands I´ve lived in! He leaned in close and spoke
into my heart, ¨I want you walking forty minutes a day.¨

Leaving labour, lands, even loves, I returned to flat plains of another
mountainous land at ends of earth to walk, to write–
Now I remember I forgot to take the meds that keep my thick
blood thinned. Back home. Ten minutes. Five back. Fifteen total
At the juncture again, a decision–

Do I turn left to distant detachment of library with its comfy chairs
and ocean views? Twenty-five. Or to the right and the warmth
the welcome of a cafe called Kitchen–Twenty then–
Oh, do my choices really matter?
Isn´t it all about the trek?

Can the sparrow will its breath even at ends of earth?
You can still choose home´s long way before night time´s walk

Remnants of a parallel universe / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

In another time
another space
I ran in heels
and the heels
they were power

I lived in those black heels
They were my tango shoes
I learned tango for six weeks
then crashed a car
I was grounded.
I never made it back to tango-
but

something magical happened
when I wore those black heels

So I wore them
Everywhere
I wore them to work
to meetings and events
where I had to talk to people
have complicated conversations
I wore them to the grocery store
I wore them to get fresh baguettes and wine
I wore them anytime I had to be the ringleader

In another time
another space
they were my superpower
In another life
I was invincible

Then one day
my body said
no more

I visit those spaces now
as a ghost-
the fancy grocery store
where i used to shop
the garden behind
my old office building
where i used to strategize with
colleagues and constituents
the cafe on the corner
that served fresh baguettes and wine
The ballroom where
for a single moment
I danced and felt glorious

I visit them now
Invisible
In pain

Eyes focused
on the top shelf
in the corner of my room
My super power tango heels
Patiently waiting
Perfectly poised
Perfect remnants of a
Parallel universe
In another life
my life was gold.

Patent Pending / by Jeffrey Levine

Art is the power by which night opens
–M. Blanchot, “Orpheus’s Gaze,” The Space of Literature

In the other room out of sight on the soft chair I hid
sequestered for the better part of three weeks
in which the man my father lay in hospice
as one approaches the work of inventing how
to see that which it is forbidden to see,

thus this singular thing,
call it a twin diodic heart machine capable of beating
autonomously, able to pump out soulless self after
soulless self, each one existing out of time until time
rolls out a wakeup in a skull of sand of the sort pulled up
by the cork as popped in that moment when the essence
of night bears as the other night

who keeps the book after all
matters, one self-consoles, (how public was this
particular isolation) one turns away as myth teaches
this turning away from, in this case, him, how the hell
did you do this is the only way this art can be
nailed, or so I would have told the man
my father had we sulked together
within eyeshot abed

like an unequivocal dun-darting
jilt of spin and low casts left aye how far we fared,
fled with winkles whelks lit in that moment
of seeing clear into the breast of the phoenix
and his music
say conscience, say he cupped his Yeats
I mean years to my chest when he must have seen
me sneaking out, hot chocolate in hand, all lee light behind,
all I Ching in the plenitude
of his passing

De-Lovely / by Sarah Terry

Dear Diary – I am not
hiding
seething pockets
of any great
unconscious dread
about my person.
No, I swear. Nor
am I burying
my hands
in my abdomen
and searching
there for tumors.
Obviously
that would be
maladaptive.
Dear Diary,
the universe
is wondrous
the way Cole
Porter is wondrous,
a song so
inevitable
it’s already familiar
the first time around.
Diary, Dear,
I’ll drop dead
one day
and it won’t
be any less
of a miracle
that I
was here,
awestruck
and usually
(a little bit)
terrified
but always, oh,
always
with the sudden urge
to sing.

Obsidian / by Emily Vieweg

A soft weeping drew my attention from the castle,
guarded by the Princess, saddled on the dragon,
brandishing her sword.

I heard my voice ask, “Baby, what’s wrong?”
You didn’t answer me, Mama.

After scooping the princess up, nuzzling her hair,
kissing her forehead, patting her back,
assuring her that she was safe and
I was alive, she snuggled in.
I love you, mama.
“Love you too, baby.”

My foggy blasé snapped to full-blown awake.

Fingers scratched the sleep from my eyes,
pupils lethargically adjusted to the new dark.
Scanning for monsters in corners and closets,
I found a room overly cluttered with clean clothes
yet to be hung in the closet, the fan
oscillating merrily, oblivious to the terror
borne moments before, as the cat
let out a displeased mrrfff!

Nothing wrong here, I thought.
I tucked myself back into bed, returning to
my Big Spoon status, patting my daughter’s back
as she again became the princess
riding a unicorned dragon, protecting the castle
alongside the green-gray gargoyles.

Day 19 / Day 19

December 19th / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Why cling to this world,
the one here with the torn days grown short,
filament in the bulb sizzling like oil
in a hot pan before it burns out, bananas
tinged brown, the Formica chipped, can
of hardened waste grease in the sink,
and outside no birds in the bird feeder,
though they’ve left their white debris
in splotches on the patio, the acorns
split open and emptied, red yucca
lined up like penitents against
the desiccated wooden fence, not
enough rain, and the ghost boat
inside my body drifting, though
nearer the far shore than the close,
littered with spent matches and empty
oil lamps, and though I was a father
once I will not be again, the child
I thought I might once more engender
like the edges of loose wire soldered
to keep from unravelling, here
in this world I cling to drying dishes
with repetitive gestures meant
to put some sort of shine back
into the faded, off-white porcelain.

Crick Road / by Jefferson Duval

they rebuilt the little bridge
down on Bloomfield
it was finished months
before Ma died.

no more soft mica dust
a teen sanctuary in moments
homing firsts
reverie catchment of desperation
starkly human spot of rest
for our wounded town.

this new design erased
another place where
sacred ideals in adolescence
dirty fingernails, passionate
dry humping, fuck it
or in fearing their own power
tossing drugs, a gun into the water.

no, modernity wants all the moments
plain sighted in pajamas
our youth’s angst in digital witness
curtains drawn
eyes burning woven in distraction
as meaning gives birth
still or otherwise
for our future.

Wisdom Garden / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

Dreamers eschew anathema
its verbal jab and prick
its churchly curse of thorns
all poisons that trouble and goad

Mind, heart, and imagination know
it’s hope that cures a wounded soul
Open eyes discern weed from rose
a wisdom garden has no stones

Creativity itself a sturdy vine,
has lifted me many times
leaves fall away like misery
and love blooms in epiphany

Two Objects, Three Haibun / by CR Green

Made of clay from Peru: image of a baby with a brown face wrapped
in brown blanket crossing its body; the blanket´s white edging surrounds
the baby´s smooth face. Neither smiling or frowning, the baby looks straight
out at me. Its brown eyes are open, palest red has touched its face and lips
Its eyebrows are raised to ask me a question. When I pick up the image it fits
perfectly in my palm. I feel the clay becoming warmer

Hold me in your hand
I seek warmth in your embrace
Cold morning awaits

These bulbs are too many for me to plant– handfuls will be given away
I will still have more than enough for my small garden. The bulbs look
like small onions–round blank faces with pointed heads, dried roots curl
in jest from their necklines– when I hold one bulb in my hand my fingers
curve and cover it– so tiny, my first two fingers reach, play above its
forehead with its softened spikes

So much round and small
So much up and down in life
I must plant you properly

Side by side these two objects seem similar: both brown, both belonging
to earth, both now reflect light coming above. I pick up them up with one
hand and hold them — I feel pleasure and delight as my fingers play with
them. Both objects stare at me waiting to know what their future is–Who
am I, the baby asks? Am I any baby? What will I become, the small bulb
asks? Will I make it through the winter after you plant me?

Small round seeds now wait
in their dark place of planting
Warm earth, my warmed heart

Van Gogh’s Sky / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Spiraling
towards slanted stems of wheat
made golden by an early sunset
they soar with conviction
but also grace
Hiding in the clouds
Do they daydream like we do?
Gliding on whispers
and gossip beneath them
they lean into the wind and fly.

Blackbirds kiss the clouds
Then soar through golden wheat fields
Touched by setting sun.

An Unkindess of Ravens / by Jeffrey Levine

Circling there above the heaven tree, those markings—
like gravestones older than my childhood, rabbit of stone,
that star of pebbles, my favorite, the first angel,
who bathed in the river and caught a fatal chill.

Foreswear the disturbing wings, the wind presses you back
into your old life with its wrecked crossings and gone-wild creatures,
cats as many as minnows in a stream schooling close toward nightfall,
the strange-eyed women and black-cloth fanatics, and those who go stealing
through the alleys with caressing hisses and sacks of crumbled salmon.

Myself, I am a soft-shelled-crab man, plate of sautéed crabs,
a halved lemon, glass of chilled Chablis, the fingers whole, lemon scented
for we have inside—behind some midpoint and just before
enough self to be self—pools welling beneath the skin—
plus a street of Gypsies and gypsy cafés where you have your future
foretold and suffer the tattoos while sipping tankards of Moorish tea.

Clinging to these felicities, on a winter’s night stroll
across the bridge with frigid winds singing through the steel shrouds,
stars and ravens moving about above, and ships below,
you are as though the flames themselves, yet not consumed.

The ravens might well be subalterns in excelsis, calling as if to guide you
toward those four chambers in which your keep your blessings warm,
that forgiveness remoter than the Krak des Chevalier,
its Medieval walls planted in the mountains of wild Syria,
the circling birds cawing and cawing from the sky that bulks above.

Adonis Drives the Getaway Car / by Sarah Terry

Throw your pomegranates
at the roadside dust like –
not today, Hades! Today
we’re hunting down the myths
that tried to steal us
from our cradles.
My companion
looks like he was chiseled
from the surface of the sun
and we cock our shades
like Dolce & Gabanna rifles.

Print / by Emily Vieweg

Do you ever wonder
who gave you that lifeline
in the center of your palm?
Did a great-aunt on your
mother’s side have a dent
in her dominant pinky finger, too?
Why is that gibbous-moon
spot on your left thumb
so immune to sunlight?
Which of your parents,
during your conception,
dug their fingernails,
clawing the other’s right arm?
Is that divot in your ring finger
due to your great-grand-uncle’s
career on the railroad?

Day 18 / Day 18

Nightmare Cento / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Imagine being the oil boiling away
an entire person, the yet-to-be dismantled
elms, the geese. The first rule of evolution
is that everything must pretend to be
what it’s not: orange peels, burned
letters, the car lights shining on the grass.
Don’t believe them when they promise
sugar—the unplowed road is unusable
unless there’s no snow. We
come to something without knowing
why: peacocks screaming, at first harmless,
then like some far-off siren. I will change
your life, they say. To which I say, please.

Sources: Kaveh Akbar, “Portrait of the Alcoholic Three Weeks Sober”; Elizabeth Bishop, “Poem”; Angie Estes, “After Darwin”; Jean Valentine, “Actuarial File”; Li-Young Lee, “Changing Places in the Fire”; Brenda Shaughnessy, “Streetlamps”; Theodore Roethke, “The Manifestation”; Ada Limón, “Day of Song, Day of Silence”; Katie Ford, “Snow at Night”

#4 / by Jefferson Duval

Nope, i cannot accept this
you show up here with
not a single adjective
you mean to tell me
the spell is dry
dust settlements
hardened to lead
a hold on wait.
There’s something desperate
to be seen to be felt
in becoming cajoler~
don’t just sit there
wrought something.
Somewhere in all these
dusty law books
a great idea was pressed~
perhaps a blooming Ceanothus
your daughter discovers
while searching for
roots.

In All These Things / by CR Green

Now I lay me down to sleep–
(all these things done in my body
today, each and every day actually
knowing myself the way I do, always
falling short, missing some mark)
I pray the Lord my soul to keep–
(and remember before I do
that all is not lost and in all these things
I can still say Thank You and)
If I should die before I wake–
(perhaps I will be found bent over
by the side of my bed having said)
I pray the Lord my soul to take–

Beautiful Moon / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

You are a diamond
Cutting through twilight’s ocean
Darkness becomes you

And This Thy Harbor, O My City / by Jeffrey Levine
(Hart Crane, ‘The Tunnel,” The Bridge)

Who does not suffer from ambition?

Consolations? Show of hands.

Entry: “we never discover a ‘no’ in the unconscious” (Austen, Emma; Freud, “Negation”)

nor a elevenseed westblue-ryoffsome
half white one vi I ice oftosortwas
dozen lythator ythe
sisparticularlyHe Solidago according food

yet a slight swelling surrounds an island of aloneness.

andbecomes ue The ingintomy the Bor lock
andtheseen pen some air
tip full rapof a is ly
a isomeandrequires aetravellergined of P

Entry: “That passed over, this can too” (“Deor,” trans. Seamus Heaney, The Exeter Book, 10th century, a lamentation)

Thus, both the dreamer and the dream are concealed from the sleeper at the hour of vespers.

ah but his lowbe
oughtmayfroze the grove willty
arethisany yaredif
meadowpath

–home from a terrible dream, more harrowing than any life you would ever lead now (that life would have destroyed you);

as also in
of Checkerberry rockmany feet [some] in
shareseventeen
accompanyingis unexposed woods
smoothed handsomeof
improved the[the]
morning oldgolden and
dubiouground

home, too, from departures, a little harder than you expected (what loss is not itself?)

Entry: “itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.”
(Wallace Stevens, “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm”)

There where, in dreams or in your own dark age, you have appeared in one of those movies they used to make without sound, where some were love stories, loud, somehow, with passionate

–re gard onets yes, and otherwithout oithttnthand eservice
nvery Ion itthe Pond ndsbark

home to the simple fortunes, the calmer fortress (your desk, your dogs, your skill-set, your sense that your mission matters).

Entry: “that roar which likes on the other side of silence” (George Eliott, Middlemarch)

outfrom to they looked life useeve Is might ly
rain suddenlysparwarthe
red themakesone forbutneck
these breaksidesmartpickerel-weeds
sunbeen hapswith good to likeby the
Again

Entry: “the dimmer but yet eager Titanic life gazing and struggling on walls and ceilings” (Middlemarch again)

Entry: E quindi uscimmo a riverder le stelle (And from there we went forth to see once more the stars) (Dante, Canto XXXIV, “Inferno,” The Divine Comedy, trans. J. Levine)

Against the Advice of My Aura Reader / by Sarah Terry

I have decided to live
like a satellite – receiving
everything. Wolfgang
Amadeus star-gazer lilies
She-Ra is so good I can’t
even nineteen sins that will
make Panera employees
me no refuge on land
or sea on command
my shield is broken and
we still don’t know
which NFL teams
are any good.

The funnel
I have installed
directly to my
gramophone-heart
is unwise, perhaps, but
the only real answers
have to do with
quantum mechanics and are
unlikely to ease your sleep.

At night, the sound of frogs
crawls through my window
and drowns my thoughts
in peeps and warbles – tiny bodies
begging other tiny bodies
to hold them. Gravity means
there’s always someone who wants
to hold you. What else is there
to know?

Turbulence (erasure poem) / by Emily Vieweg

Movement in the absence of
visual clues (clouds)
caused when bodies
meet,

pause;
encounter jet streams
or mountain ranges.

become stronger.
frequent change.

(Source text: Wikipedia: Clear-air turbulence)

Day 17 / Day 17

Living Machines / by Jefferson Duval

There’s a sequence of command
to most things domestic.
Such as the time waiting
for the espresso machine’s orange
rectangular light to shut off.
Give me the clearance to pour
the shot, or steam the cream.

Today astutely facing it as I do
listening, I could make out clearly
the working dog inside barking commands
doing the work that needed to be done.

I’m grateful for the tiny animals
giants in their own right
living inside the machines
I may have otherwise taken for granted
if I got out of the house more.

Unrest / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

Waking from a dream or nightmare,
I concentrate on the soft purr of the cat
leaning on my pillow unable to possess
his nature, his simplicity of being.
My head is clear, too clear, I see with my
eyes closed unable to asleep.
My IPhone glows on the nightstand,
silently moving minutes towards morning,
yet, I hear ticking like the clocks from my
youth, the sort you could turn off and walk
away from without a second thought.
I’ll not recapture rest today, if ever, in this
lonely era of connectedness.
The cat has left the room.
I can’t blame him, my restless nature can’t
feel right to him even though he lost more
than me. All of his brothers and sisters in
youth, his mother killed, his father unknown.
How well he handles it all, admirable.
I turn the phone’s clock off before the alarm
announces what I already know.
It’s time to get up and face the day.
It’s time to appear well for others.
Later, I’m grateful to be able to blame my
inattention on insomnia.
I let it be the reason I need to leave early.
I don’t mention death once even though
the ticking is so loud now
I’m certain everyone can hear it.

imitating nature / by CR Green

my mind craves some wise word
no longer is my stomach the one

telling me i´m hungry– my brain´s
belly churns for a nibble–

is there some answer to my yearning
to know what is true?

this morning, in my garden´s spring
i discover every fruit must flower, after

the appearance first of what might be–
the olive did not betray my longing

but let me taste– bud is only beginning

Slow Burn / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

My demons are insomniacs
but also philosophers
Wide-eyed, wide awake
they speculate and surmise
simmering without resolution
until sunrise

The more mischievous ones
don’t care if they’re playing
Balderdash all night
they’re good at telling stories
and telling good lies.

They gather around the kindling
of my malaise
keeping warm by the fire
fueling my fatigue
I listen to them and put lavender
and chamomile garlands on them
I wait patiently as they
scream in the dark

My oldest demon is
starting to forget
why she fought,
why she holds daggers
when or how her war started
when or how her anger began
she wakes up without context
Is this how ghosts feel?

She cries angry tears
broken, cold, relentless
I tell her what she used to be
all the things she used to stand for
Then she rises, stands tall
clenching my swollen joints
She steps into the fire
becomes the bonfire
becomes whole again
as they all howl into dawn.

My demons are insomniacs
burning the midnight oil of my pain.

Ode on a Phoenician Urn / by Jeffrey Levine

As with the ten thousand year-old phoenix stopped
in the instant of rising from the ashes, or a moment of caress
that lasts a lifetime, just so for gods and mortals alike.
Time is time. There’s that look again,
and my friends mock me for my foolishness—
look they say, a quiver of light, a trembling of leaves,
that says the present is motionless, which is why
you cannot feel it. Gods and humans alike.
Consciousness, if it exists, is mutual illusion,
and so whether the rains fall on my arms or on yours,
or the feverish garden outdoes itself, or flint flowers,
or trees of smoke, yet this vessel exists no more
than you’re willing to permit. You get to decide.
Ask, and you are both flame and water, diaphanous drop
of fire spilling over the eyelids of your ancestors. Drink
from this vessel, or worship its gently sloping sides,
or put flowers in it, and still the heavens wheel across the earth,
a thousand years after a thousand years and anther thousand,
and the world wrenches up its roots, and our bodies, stretching out
at sunrise, grasping for the phoenix, weigh less than a single day.

You Can Also Eat It Cold / by Sarah Terry
a found poem from “The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook” by Fania Lewando, and translated by Eve Jochnowitz. The book was originally published in Yiddish as “Vegetarish-Dietisher Kokhbukh” in 1938.

scoop the soft insides –
it has been long established
4 pounds of the very best, firm, worm-free plums
are a step toward increased spirituality.
one must, however, not eat the pits.

it is no disgrace to cherish animals

no ordinary human organism
crumbling 2 French bread rolls into a bowl
butter and salt and 1 cup boiling water.

Substantial Puddings, Fruit Tea (for the Sick)
Crackers for Various Soups
you can be sure they are fresh if you make an effort.

they too grimace

place an almond in each plum – in the future,
one will have to give a reckoning
of every pleasant fruit
that he saw but did not eat.

they too dream before dawn

Matryoshka / by Emily Vieweg

Last night I knew I was dreaming
the events
in that world
deemed
appropriate
funny
even
natural.

I sat belted to a gurney
wearing a green jumpsuit,
ferns grew around my ankles,
cedar and patchouli aromatics
hovered across the room,
my nurse was an orange-skinned being
with beet-red hair, styled in a
cute pixie cut, its skull
flattened, veins showing
through its cracking porcelain skin.

I screamed at full volume,
“I know I am dreaming!
This is too ridiculous to be real!”
It shrugged.
It grinned,
teeth – paper white.

I willed myself awake,
frozen in sleep paralysis,
the room was dark
it was midnight,
and I was back home
where I used to live.

Day 16 / Day 16

Packing the Kitchen Utensils for a Move / by Steve Bellin-Oka

How many years since we used
the potato masher, the apple peeler,
its stainless steel blade and crank
tucked in the back of the bottom
kitchen drawer among the balled
clot of discarded rubber bands?
And the egg slicer, never touched,
its grille and clean wires taut
as the silver foil outlines on the faces
of the wedding invitations we mailed
out years ago? We bought these
utensils for ourselves: hardly anyone
came to a gay wedding back then.
Which of you is the bride? someone
scrawled beneath the box checked
“decline.” At least they answered,
you said. Husband, I lift these nesting
spoons from the cutlery drawer,
wrap them in a grocery circular.
Though their two silver oval faces
are tarnished with wear, on the handles
you can still make out the brand
name, the words Lifetime Guarantee.

They became minerals in their old age / by Jefferson Duval

we came upon them
heaving willful messages over
the dead’s chainlink fence
hydraulic arms leaking grease
was that part of emptying their bitter coffers?
us young in the middle
might we make repair enough to bring
an African three legged stool to the center
where elders listen but look away
laughing where you wanted to be heard
for you’ve brought all of life’s broken chippings
never mind you’ve been carrying a growing effigy
into smaller and smaller dwellings
the gamble is to carry on.
remembering you’ve been received
they have plenty to say
less than you wanted
in showing you more empty spaces
voids yours alone to hold or forget
giving thanks you walk away, different
but they sure seem the same
as you walk away they become animals cackling over
some flesh left on a bone
the spring in your step is dulled from a widening, sharpened
attention
on the look out in wonder or suspicious if rain made the
puddles or are these black
oil pulling portals.
two shells in your pocket
hold a choice to jump over
or into her yawning hungry mouth.

Upon Realizing I Earned My Advanced Degrees Too Late In Life To Save Myself / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

I thought I bought balloons,
feather tethers to give me
flight but my Arts degrees
were an illusion of light,
lead balloons, yokes, across
my shoulders, burdens to
remind me of my life plowing
in the rain. Beyond the muddy
field, the light glows warmly
behind a foggy glass. Younger
graduates, warm indoors,
plates pilled high as they
feed upon the meal of life,
laughing together in the ease
of cultivated youth.
They’ll not know the cold
of growing old having missed
the opportunity to rise in youth.
Like a fool I wait for an unsent
invitation, a scrap of mattering
until my bones show through
my skin. Six years of Arts
education deliver debt,
despair, on the back of
a mortarboard. I drag my
sorrows along, wondering
how I ended up with lifeless
seeds, unfertile soil, in a life
of perpetual waning. I shift
in my harness beneath concrete
grey skies, the true way wholly
lost. I slog across an unending,
my unheard cries as common
as the falling rain.

You Never Asked, But May I Tell you I / by CR Green

tasted
sour petal of iris
slick back of potato bug
bitter pit of apricot
rainbow of mescaline
laboured sweat of death

heard
night carry screams of fireman´s widow
dog´s tail after bush-sounds of bird
browned leaf grounded from flight
¨We´re waiting for you,¨ the evening song
my old Dad still sang out to my Mom

saw
young doctor´s hands in tenderness lift
pickled heart of cadaver
proud faces of buildings fall
wood flex its sinew; earth´s crust
fracture in rapid decompensation

smelled
burning of my own pressured blood
unseen snow scurrying eastward
nations conversing in tangoed tandem
sweet pungence ascending from
fontanelle´s cross

touched
noses with an Inuit in Alukanuk
foreheads with a Maori in Aotearoa
a sister´s shoulder in repentence
a child´s heart with my eyes
my love´s cheek at rest

Perihelion I / by Jeffrey Levine

Delicate mosaic work of revêtement and niche,
web-like arabesques of the upper walls, bold
almost Gothic sculpture of cedar architraves
and supporting corbels. The fretted panels of cedar,
bronze doors with their shield-like bosses,
honeycombings and ruffings of the gilded ceilings,
continuance of the life when the tiles were set
and the gold was new on the roofs and the beast
was not yet weary. And let’s, you say, move
into a smaller room, one small enough to brush
the guitar with your fingers from here, where
strange men give incomprehensible orders,
and when the sound of hammers grows too loud,
we have only to pass through the silk market,
among the merchants still weaving their patterns,
the embroiderers, with their needles and thread.

Once I Was A Fish / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

The chimes start in
to signal my brain
wind and vertigo
I never learned to swim

Once I was a fish
some things are simply
inherent and second nature.
Did you catch me running through a maze?

Dreams move just like ocean waves
My tribe is a school of a thousand fish
One collective eye with countless voices
You were talking in your sleep last night…

Something about butterflies and
the day you were born:
Laborless love. Lovers laboring.
Love’s labors- won.

I came into this world on
the fury of a poltergeist
my sadness and rage
are one and the same.

Your words are an ocean
Elusive. Powerful. Calming.
Salty. Rigid. Refined.
Smooth.

The ocean is languid
The ocean is language
The ocean is the sky is the ocean
Mimicking
The sky’s tears are
fury and felicity
The ocean is your words.
Once I was a fish breathing you in.

None Shall Sleep / by Sarah Terry

Waist-deep clover and honeysuckle ciphers –
find me here where the stars are not obscured
by even the most tenacious smoke.
No, the stars have opened my ribcage
to nest around my heart.

The whole green island buzzing wild.
Your cheeks lapping the shore and my hands crusted with salt.

Whether or not you remember the sea we met in,
whether or not you spat out my signal fire,
I have run magnets over all your skin
and realigned your poles. Think back
to when we were gods and goddess
and each blade of grass rang like a bell
as we walked together. Sink the tiny boat
you’ve poured yourself into – once we were
enormous. Once we were in love.

Blink / by Emily Vieweg

This morning, before the winter air
whisped across the windows,
I remember the coffee of Christmas morning;
deep green garland wraps the
railing leading to the living room, and the cat,
perched on the back of Dad’s chair.

Waiting for the table lights to flip on;
my sister and I hold hands as we did
during thunderstorms, eyes wide,
bouncing on our bottoms, wearing
our Christmas jammies.

Even into our teens, we could not
venture past step three;
Not until the coffee brewed
not until Daddy had checked to make sure
Santa had filled the stockings.

Day 15 / Day 15

emily miles me / by Jefferson Duval

in all my sorting
you Miss Dickinson
have confirmed my journey.

the outer reaches of an
inner landscape
guillotine teeth
for truth
but how?

i wondered in a wormy
squeamish lack
that a man masqueraded,
willing you
into existence.

As you laugh, so does She
casting my shadow,
her sucking force birthed me
leaving behind my empty skin
on a silver plate of fear
where this man’s identity hid

you through seeing, feeling
through
dreaming out loud gardens
brighter
widening the tub
holding a mirror up
to accept my midwifery.

I Reply By Design / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

If I cloak him in a stifling no,
I imagine me in a silky yes.
When he’s naked in uncertainty,
I slip into a little maybe and
reveal the future of perhaps.

Wisdom From Another World / by CR Green
from The Death of Socrates by Plato, 399BCE

Unfettered at last and facing death
Socrates joked while rubbing his legs–
If Aesop were to write a fable on Pleasure
following Pain, he would show them closely
tied head to head, legs running in a circle
around and around and around

Before drinking the poison hemlock
Socrates spoke to crying Crito– Even if you
don´t agree with me now but look after yourself
you will please me. However, even if you now
fervently agree with me but neglect yourself
it will do you no good

But how shall we bury you? Crito asked
in the company of others. Socrates gently laughed–
Am I the one talking to you now? You think
I will stay in my dead body lying here before you?
Bury me any way you like–if you can catch me
and I don’t slip through your fingers

My love is / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Roasted coffee bean
rich dark brown
cocoa nibs
before sweetened
into candy
The spice and the sweet
he is all the peppers
in my mole- that biting spice
the dust of cinnamon
in my espresso shot
the caramelized sugar
etched into my flan
the sweet balanced bite in
my coconut porter
He is delicious.

An Unkindness of Ravens / by Jeffrey Levine

Because I was a there and appear to have survived, I was made hero of the apocalypse.
The world had exploded like three innocents on a mine, torn to pieces, here in the world
where I believed I would dwell, and so I exploded too, and so I saw everything:
the world sizzling like a saddle of raw venison, hung between the teeth of flames.
I was consecrated in a hurry, given a piece of parchment.

I want to tell you this.
If you’ve been paying attention,
you know it’s faintly familiar this climb to the end,
to be enveloped in nothing, surrounded by nothing, escorted
by nothing through a vast silence, while feeling the weight
of no sign, feeling the weight as a wild beast dancing
and growling in the middle of the path before
my ribs and seeming not to see my scorn, not letting
any being see what I do not see, here astride the beast,
acting as if, from stop to stop, the path that leads
to the impossible, is like this, crawling on all fours—
yet I manifest a wily, superhuman indifference.

I went to such depths. I saw the black horses caparisoned in black, a cloud pinned
in place above the mountain’s crest. And there, beneath my earth, I buried something.
This unsuspecting, stubborn me, I buried myself like one buries a corpse,
with the same exultant anxiety, as what’s the use of giving the lamb
time to imagine?

But this was not my corpse.
It was practice.
Practice execution, practice butchery.
And after all of that practicing, we are relieved.
We practice until we get good at it, and then
we are all of us a little relieved.

Sing Relentless, Dark, and Wild / by Sarah Terry

KISS your dread Mother, Mary, full of guile – darling,
Chill Paragon, don’t you know I heard you through only
salient gossip ripped from the breath of our nefarious
character arcs? Some nice people wait beneath the window
to see our torment. Use this poison like a question –
dreamy, miscreant soul serving that munificent kind of smile,
in this, the Month of My Compulsive Pet Names, have you set
your altars full of amethysts and figs? I have eaten the Sun
from out your sign and you will never become ascendant. HA!
And don’t you leave each room with an icy tinge just as mother taught you?

Pocket / by Emily Vieweg

inside the moments of waking,
during those milliseconds between
dreaming and full awareness,
before you first experience knowledge
that your nose is starting to snuffle;
your stomach is grumbling and
it is almost time for your morning meds;
that your cheek is wet from drool;
before you begin to hear noise:
chattering from the family room,
clonking from the kitchen,
splashes from (gulp) the bathroom,

within that milli-moment of space
is where I feel
an earnest notion
of reflection
refraction
certainty

Day 14 / Day 14

Supply Lines / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Pierre loves Natasha & Napoleon invades Russia,
but when winter comes, barns collapse in firelit snow.
Charred wheat fields, hypothermic geldings & toes.
The village shops smolder, their signage cut & crushed
like flowers aromatic of smoke. When did I grow
these old man’s hands? I think they’re not mine,
though as a child falling I snapped their bones
like the breadsticks we eat with borscht in our wine-
dark house. To make art of tragedy is something
humans do, not horses. Say it—Steve loves Kenichi
& Boeings fire bombed Tokyo. At the field’s fenced ring
two workhorses in blankets tear at the grass. Each
day I cup cubed sugar in my palm and let them eat.
Vegetables burn while my ghost materializes in the street.

Cloth Diapers and Christmas Jingles / by Jefferson Duval

The title statedly asks
Is Christ Your Imagination?
I’ve found the friend
Wrenching over comfort
Tune ups for life
Stripping away allegory
My eyes to written
Living within practice
Left room for Death facing
Laughter. Memories of how stupid
We were, courageous.
All while the sky carries still
Unmade clouds, the Earth giving
Canine love at the soft hands
Of men brought to their knees.
What we thought was simple
Pleasure tempered in no time.
With one question naive of
Dead facts humping, knocking up belief
Wars end
Begun within.

Walking Past The Single Women With Your Good-looking Man / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

After you’re together a while, after you know he loves you, you
walk past the single women glaring at your good fortune.
You feel them assess your worth to this man that they covet.
It can’t be her looks is written on their sad, well-crafted faces.
One whispers, “Nympho” the other “Bjs.”
A platitude retort is considered, the one about beauty
being in the eye of the beholder.
I say nothing.
You can’t let them know they’ve cut you with their smoky eyes.
If they knew, they’d take a piece of you.
For all you know, it would be the piece he loves the most.
Instead, you loudly boast, I can hardly wait until we get home.
The single women recoil; nasty cats unable to sink their claws.
You glide home, your own tail twitching, your arm locked in his.

Sometimes his love feels too big for your thrice broken heart.
Luckily, every day it overflows the beating chalice, it heals wounds
more seamlessly than Super Glue.
For now, you don’t worry about Hula girls or swimsuits.
Your mind will calculate calories and how many pounds-per-week
you can lose tomorrow.
You hope it doesn’t matter.
You pray that your good-looking man is harder to lose than the fat
on your inner thighs.
You forgive yourself for your anti-feminist thinking because you love
your life, his company, yourself most of the time.
These thoughts are ice cream eaten in secret, slips, honest mistakes;
even though you know to get rid of the evidence.
You never hide it all.
Your thoughts join you at the gym, in bed, everywhere.
All because you believe sacrifice is better than being alone.

After Emily Dickinson´s I´m Nobody!
born, December 10, 1830 / by CR Green

I´ve been Ghosted! Did you know me?
Are you being — Ghosted — too?
There must be more than two of us!
Take care! They´re Ghosting others. Boo!

How easy — to just — become Ignored!
We´re Endangered — like the Tiger —
Hunted — Captured — Tented — Ghosted!
Rio and Euphrates — Amazon to Niger!

Dancing Leaves / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

One morning
during summer vacation
my grandmother woke me
It was too early.

Summer vacation was for sleeping in
and chasing after the Popsicle Man
before everyone came home from work.

She needed me to see
what she was seeing.
The flowers are dancing, she said.
In my pajamas, eyelids heavy
hair tangled and messy
barefoot, I walked onto the grass.

She pointed to the red velvet rose.
I noticed a spotted leaf
I worried that Red was sick.
Then the dark green leaf
blinked at me and hopped.
She laughed- yes, that right there!
Ano ba yan?
He wasn’t alone- he had a few friends
lounging on petals and hopping between leaves.

My grandmother had never seen frogs.
and I didn’t know how to explain
or translate or compare it
to something familiar for her.
So I just said,
The leaves grew legs, Lola.
They’re dancing, po, and
they like your voice.

I slumped into the
blue velvet love seat
in my favorite
corner of the house
And dreamt about
Lola’s dancing leaves.

Spiritual Properties with Medieval Ramifications and Red Cabbage / by Jeffrey Levine

Repetition of an apt use of a word brings to light unsuspected spiritual properties of the word itself. (Paraphrasing Wassily Kandinsky: “Concerning the Spiritual in Art,” trans. M.T.H. Sadler, Dover 1977.)

This is a perfect day to skip the news and cook up some braised squab with red peppers, cardamom fragrance, and sweet-and-sour red cabbage. But before you don your toque, know that Kandinsky used the term Stimmung to signify the spirit of nature. Some might render it as ambience or atmosphere. But let’s go with “mood.” With that in mind, this recipe asks you to hold a sweet red pepper over the gas burner, turn it until the skin chars all over, scrape off the char, cut off the cap and remove the seeds. Best thing, the seductive, acrid/sweet aroma of charred peppers filling the kitchen and on your fingers as you cook. That mood.

So, you’re going to slice the red cabbage with a mandolin and sauté thin, thin slices in butter, to which, when foaming, you’re going to add some red wine, vinegar, grenadine and last, some red currants that you’ve got macerating in white brandy. Right. Go get some. Get the Christian Brothers. I’ll wait here.

Welcome back. Now, every recipe has medieval ramifications. Here it would be well to pause again and mention that Borek Witelo, Polish monk and geometer who lived in Lower Silesia between, oh, 1230 or so and somewhat after 1280, developed a Neoplatonic metaphysics and emphasized the psychological aspects of visual perception. Those Middle Agers, am I right?

Witelo laid down principles of interpretation, thinking about differing cultural conventions and the subjective orientation of sensory experience. When you have the pen, you get to say things like: “differing cultural conventions,” and “the subjective orientation of sensory experience,” and best of all, “Neoplatonic metaphysics.” And you also get to think about “Form,” which had referred to what lay visible on the surface, but came in the Middle Ages to denote that which is concealed in the background. For example, always Peter to the right of Christ, Paul always to the left Christ. Subterranean form. We are beyond quintessentializing sauces, even a good 750 years ago. Subterranean mood.

As for your mise en place: just as black pepper and saffron flavored some of your best-loved dishes of the Middle Ages, you’ll want several small earthen pots full, along with cardamom and galangal, ginger and grains of Paradise, for that authentic 13th century mood. Had you been living then, you’d have missed Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli and Raphael, and that’s a lot to give up, but you would have had the best spices, and you could have shaken them liberally, then as now, over your subjective orientation of sensory experience without worrying too much over the problem of consciousness and the rise of the so-called modern world. And you could repeat as necessary. Until the modern word was just an idea. A bad one.

Cookie / by Sarah Terry

Honey-
baby-sugar-
cookie-darling,
let me roll
you like my
heart is like
a wheel and when
I hold you
palms of rough
and ragged
flour-dusted
dough
develop into
something
smooth. We’re setting
our oasis, love,
on fire – frankly,
we don’t need
a savior or a
drink to quench
our flame.

Anon / by Emily Vieweg

It’s the waiting that hurts
thinking, or trying not to think,
wondering if there is that thing
that will happen

like hearing the three-quarter chime
hovering on the lingering
tonic E

Day 13 / Day 13

Upon Hearing Construction Workers Renovating an 100-Year-old Prison Building in Georgia Found 1000 Teeth inside a Wall, I Consider the Legacy of Whiteness I’ve Inherited / by Steve Bellin-Oka

After extraction, the dentist shuts
the ether off and drops an inmate’s
molar into a chest-high hole
in the second floor wall. It rattles
through the plaster like an enameled
pachinko ball. Perhaps among
its roots—and among the roots
of the 999 other teeth it rests with—
whole generations of mice fed,
the small black droppings round
pellets strewn across the white.

On the first page of my second-hand
pocket score of Sibelius’ fourth,
the previous owner has scrawled
austere—refers to prisoners who when
starving had to eat the bark of trees.
I peel back the silver wrapper
of a Hershey’s as if the candy
were a square black artichoke. Biting
down, a squib of pain in the left
bicuspids as they rend and grind.

In the dentist’s chair in Mexicali
I refuse the laughing gas. I must
extract some before capping others,
he says. Guides the Novocaine needle,
its silver circles the handles of scissors,
into the roof of my mouth. Numbness
like wax across my tongue. What is it
you are eating? he asks. Your teeth
are terrible. Chocolate bark and shame.
Then the roots cracking like bone,
bloom of red staining my white palate.

Day prayer / by Jefferson Duval

Today may it be so
my ears root like the spade
stay with the ground

My eyes working for
compassion and wonder
inhaling through baleen
held in her horizontal.

Today may it be so
my heart beats through my tongue
while thoughts only unwrap
sitting at the feet of trees sifting
through ash and humus.

Little Animals / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

Before nightfall Uncle finds the coins, one for every year since 1800. He held the collection over his head, blocking the light, and told you what happens to thieves.

He blistered your backside with a leather strap, until your cracked sobs ceased and you became as a young mute swan.

Deprived of shiny things, we play at life. Today we’re sister crows plotting, remembering. Our early wings carry us to the station where we again transform.

Resting cross-legged on the curb, our arms woven through the bars of the wrought-iron fence, invisible as mice to people going places.

The traveller’s make our stillness ache. At school I am more eagle than crow, mouse or swan proudly flying above them all.

At Uncle’s house, I’m reduced, a frightened fox hiding from the red-coated riders hanging on the walls.

We know that if it weren’t the coins, it would’ve been something else. Our sticky fingers are always trying to find something to hold onto.

I am as guilty as you, having swept tiny boxes of presidents into my pack, coins from the American mint, while you looted a two-century set. After sundown,

we’re still scurrying through the streets miles from Uncle’s house. We find colorful stubs of chalk, atop pink, purple, and yellow flowers on the sidewalk, the remnants

of other children’s happy day. Close to Uncle’s we build ourselves up and strut like cats under the streetlamps casting cones of light, giant golden coins, impossible to

carry, in beak or paw. Outside Uncle’s, you find two shiny pennies, a quarter, and a wadded five-dollar bill, fallen money is treasure for little animals like us. As quick as

the crack of a whip when you hold the new money high, briefly appearing bigger than Uncle, almost human, until the light goes on inside.

Later, we’ll line our nest, our den, with cash, deposits in a bank of hope, a light on the altar of happiness below a memory, a family photo, hidden in my suitcase.

You’re a baby on mother’s lap and I’m not much more; my hand reaches up to fathers and, although he hasn’t grasped it yet when the photo fixes time, I know he

takes my hand in his. We look as calm as lion cubs under their care. Someday they’ll be back from the hunt and we’ll be well fed.

Our parents were wild beasts to fierce for a cage. I hope they’ll forgive the barbwire strung around my heart. It’s all I have to protect the endangered species I’ve become. One day,

sister and I will become majestic beasts that no one can contain and all the fences raised at Uncle’s house will disappear and we too will run free.

“It would seem that I’m a bad feminist.”

~ Margaret Atwood, author of the Handmaid’s Tale

On Bruegel´s
¨The Sermon of St. John the Baptist” / by CR Green
https://g.co/kgs/ew6j76

Travelers, seekers of Truth
we have come late, sit edged outside
the large gathering. It is a warm day

My baby grows hot and begins to fuss
In the distance is the city and its river
A cat comes and sits on my husband´s

cape while he reads the palm of an artist
who pauses in his sketching
My baby sees the cat first

Around us, the woods are still, dark
dense with trees. I can see high and low
stations of life are here, their faces favorably

or unfavorably impressed with the speaker
The crowd presses close to him in the centre
I cannot understand what he says, but he points

to another man to his left. The singular man
stands in a shaft of light streaming through trees
I keep looking at that man because he makes me

feel like a child again in Damascus when it seemed
the sun knew me and would shine on me in the same
way it now shines on him

Half the World is Half-Naked / by Jeffrey Levine

Whosoever brought me here is going to have to take me home.
Rumi

Know that this is my body, it has been given up to age, shoes
taken off and lost, ankles exposed, and the day has slipped away
again, then the night, sand, as they say, between our fingers.
Once routine, I’m plagued with visions are wholly new—
new as that Afghani alone in her Kabul dress shop with a thousand

black ships in her eyes, the louvers open on still stranger, shorter trees,
shortened by fire and shrapnel beneath the ineluctable sun.
The world never noticeably wears itself out from sadness,
wouldn’t you say? A little hot now and then here by the cobalt sea,
sand in our hair, in our pockets, between (see above) our fingers—

even upon the baba ganoush we spoon onto our pita.
In the foreground, we with our espressos, the gods
with their light and madness and then—quiet again,
a universe filled with minor Saturns all hanging oddly in space,
and just as oddly ringed with worries of their own.

You know, there ought to be a lemon tree—rice, sea salt,
the shadow vines, and yet I mulch the poppy bed, prop open
the door to the olive emporium, and how lucky to have been born
out of danger, in a dense fog beneath the ringed creatures
and their starving fledglings in the upper canopy.

Love Story Lost in Space / by Sarah Terry

Oh Sig – smile quirkily
at me from time to time and tap
two fingers on glass, pushing
all the stars under our ribs
until our hearts become the naked,
nearby sun. Love is always
shot through with a certain amount
of gravitic repulsion, isn’t it?

None of the quadrillions living now
could know – bits of torn paper,
a handful of peddles, and you
whispering over and over again,
bathed in foundational brilliance.

I’ve started screaming. Yes? Or humming,
staring, tending the delicate vein
of the universe. Emptying rippling
thoughts onto the floor
to prove they don’t mean anything.

You were a perfectly definite idea,
you know, as far back as I can remember.

Pearl / by Emily Vieweg

hours before the alarm clock
bellowed its gong, before the cat’s whiskers
brushed against my palm, before my daughter
toddled from her bedroom to the living room,
i did not hear a sound.
i did not see a vision.
i did not feel a pulse or pain or cramp
i just
was.
for a moment after nodding off, i was
almost aware of my comforter,
my pillow, my breath,
                          in, out, in
then, almost as suddenly,
i hear the birds chirruping from
the sunshine alarm lamp on my side table
my cell phone dinging its morning song
my daughter, my son, and my cat,
roaming the hallway

Day 12 / Day 12

Blood Pressure Check / by Steve Bellin-Oka

I paid the little co-pay and sat
down under the sterile lights.
I waited with the others, the TV
looping ask your doctor about
this medication or that. Know
the warning signs of stroke.
In the exam room, I rocked
my legs on the plinth. A knock
before the door opens: hello,
Mr. Oka. I understand you still
can’t get this under control.

When I was a child, my mother
took me to faith healers. They were
free, after all. One laid his hands
on my lazy eye. When I had a
whole body case of poison ivy
so bad my throat almost closed,
another would only touch my hair.
Pray and be healed, pray and be
healed—but I never was. Because
I did not believe hard enough. Now

in the GP’s office, I think what of
the diseases you cannot see, the meat
I’ve eaten congealed to plaque
clogging my blood, the tree branches
of my lungs moth-eaten with early
COPD? He is young and beautiful.
I don’t tell him no one in my family
dies peacefully. I don’t tell him
what I’d like to do to him behind
this closed exam room door. That
I choose not to be healed because
I like the fever even after it breaks.

One Way In / by Jefferson Duval

It was easy at nine to love hard work
I overheard, “It’s what makes us different from the man”.
Before that there was wrestling practice
Mr Flood was so unapologetically ferocious, I’d go instantly into trance
I became coach’s sweat soaked satellite
All for that crooked smile that would find its way
Through his pissed off face a few moments of the night
Like an otter you knew would surface.

At 10 work changed, hard work would
Garner reward and glory
Not for winning now, well not then either
for Being Labor
Tearing off roofs for Mr McGinnis
On big houses with rolling lawns.

We’d lock our muscly balance
True to the pitch, then bearing down like angry-
Joyous badgers with short shovels
Stabbing low to ripple the shingles
Free from the past.

Not lacking respectful fear, but total
Myopia for clearing these slates
A job well done was its own lifespan.
Dark with sun and glowing from battle
There could be no greater freedom
Standing on top of our conquered world while
Families below came and went
Stuck in their N Gauge ruts
A widow or rich kids studying to become
The man.

And Friday nights
On the edges of our class
Standing with strength subdued, coiled
Scrapes on suntan
Fifty bucks in my sock
The inward smile of knowing
It’s on me.

my heart / by CR Creen
after ee cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

tries its best at times, bon Dieu
unsure of its mystery-electricity
generated by invisible powerhouse
diverse forms of energy coursing
its chambers-beats: faith, hope, love
wind-spirit, breath-life, flow-water
blood-boil, heat-passion, transmitted
go forth, distributed return safely

Haiku / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

My Icarus just
Wants to touch the brilliant sun
And give you its warmth.

Turbot Rubbed with Vadouvan and Roasted Whole, with Quartered Pears and Green Cucumber Juice / by Jeffrey Levine

Like all writing, this essay sets out in a rather baroque way,
piling things up on the plate and devising combinations
that are slightly surreal, but nevertheless centered.

For example, there’s chef Michele Bras, who is quite big,
I’m just saying, on edible flowers. He serves a dish he calls
“Shadow and Light” that tells of his home town of Aubrac,

in the Massif Central, with its great clouds chasing
across a sunlit sky, or Olivier Roellinger, he of the three
Michelin etoiles, toiling in bliss by the port town of Cancale,

Brittany, and who has written this book called “Fifty Recipes
Inspired by the Sea.” He looks like a spy, something LeCarre-ish
about him, surely the round rimless glasses, who uses spices

carried back by sailors to create a picture of its windswept dunes
and the beauty of the plate he sets in front of you might
as well be the hills and dunes and music of Britany.

And like this essay, there’s this dish that seems figurative
rather than abstract, yet wholly modern. One hears
the gustatory timbre of vadouvan, just as one recognizes

the sound of a trumpet, instead of perceiving its flavor,
which is complex, like this sentence. The legibility
of the dish is assured by the recognition of this timbre.

Remember, especially, that the French invented autumn—
this is demonstrably true—and that the pears must
be very ripe, almost overripe, and remember to cut them

into quarters with the skin left on because, like the soft flesh
of this essay, this is where they keep most of their flavor,
and remember also that spices, like the well-turned image,

have the power of collectively dreaming another possibility,
the way a successful coup d’etat interrupts even the saddest
of dreams. Excuse me for that. I didn’t mean to hint. In fact,

I was just remembering what Eugene Delacroix said
about painting, that it has no need for a subject, just as
this essay is just one more clean, well-lighted place.

You Should Talk to Somebody about This / by Sarah Terry

Today on the spirit board: we find
the specters of our better nature
laughing discretely, pizzicato,
like someone pinching a cello.

How did we get here? I ask,
because it’s always the royal we,
isn’t it. To spread our maladies
thin enough to see through.

The sourdough starter isn’t rising
consistently and smells vaguely acidic –
an obvious way for the world to end.
Our stomachs rumble sul ponticello.

A catalog of everything we’re dying from
has been produced and devoured
whole. How do we get back? Oh no,
you know the band can only play through.

Pacific / by Emily Vieweg

moments before you awaken
eyes are lines, not laughing
limbs are heavy, sinking into the
cushy warmth,
and so is your mind
you wish your dreams stayed closer
the pictures are fading
that message you were supposed to learn?
deleted.

Day 11 / Day 11

Palindrome Cento / by Steve Bellin-Oka

1.

Everywhere the smaller birds again
noising. The water’s green edge dissolves
into cerulean, cerulean pearls into clouds—
there is a bell inside this sadness.
And a hand that rings it. Think what it was
to blow into a first instrument, follow
a melody. I once turned to swan
in the post-office line. He throws my name
into the air: I watch the syllables
crumble into pebbles across the deck.
Yellow of sulfur, the finger, the road
home. These things draw toward us.

2.

What are these things that draw
toward us, yellow of sulfur, the finger,
the road home? He throws my name
into the air. I watch the syllables crumble
into pebbles across the deck. I once turned
to swan in the post-office line. Think what it was
to blow into a first instrument, follow
a melody: there is a bell inside
this sadness and a hand that rings it.
Clouded over, like a fortune-teller’s face,
the water’s green edge dissolves into cerulean,
cerulean pearls into clouds. And everywhere
the smaller birds again noising.

Sources: Carl Phillips, “Immaculate Each Leaf, and Every Flower”; Mary Szybist, “Annunciation in Byrd and Bush”; Catherine Barnett, “Chorus [The mothers keep promising clear skies]”; Kathy Fagan, “Grief”; Angela Ball, “You Say It’s Hard to Join the Hours”; Melissa Stein, “Rapture”; Ocean Vuong, “Immigrant Haibun”; Charles Wright, “Yellow”; Ruth Stone, “Returning to the City of Your Childhood”

frontal lines / by Jefferson Duval

i had thought to stockpile salt
screened the approaching blandness
trees hacked to bits for hunger’s fix
there were those who couldn’t stand this

the masks we bought
bought time we thought
rumors spread amongst
hope chested

our children led
we kept them fed
while forced to choose
to use the dead
for shoes and simple bindings

with smokeless fires
we gathered writing
for a muse
arrival

Organizing Thoughts for a Recipe for Taffy / by CR Green

Curious to see written recipes for food created
with blow dryers, hair irons and toilet wrap
I stood in front of my class of incarcerated women
who had tested below Fifth Grade

“Today, during our warm up,” I said, wanting
to satisfy their hunger to learn, “write the recipe
for a favorite food you make in your dorm.” It had
taken me time to call them dorms, not cells

The first line I wrote on the whiteboard was
Recipe for _________________. ¨You give me
the title,¨ I said. Heads went down and I walked
the room, spying lots of Pizzas, Wraps, Nachos

Tamales of Meat, a Tuna Log + Bombay
one Sweet Wrap, one Fritoe Chilli Pie
a singular Salmon Crowketts
a surprising “Something in a Bag”

Then I wrote two columns Ingredients and Source
and asked for examples
1. ( example : onions           chow hall)
2. ( example : tortillas        store)

“Take your time,” I said, “as much as you need–
Special Medical Unit hasn’t been fed. Neither has C2
Pill Call next. There’s been a fight in G1. No movement
We have to wait anyway.”

During those waiting minutes, Officer C____ would
lock the outside door until dorm after dorm made
its way to the school to be accounted for
It had taken me time to call them officers, not guards

Next, I wrote Directions and asked for examples
1. First, (example : turn on the flat iron)
2. Second, (example : place tortilla on toilet paper wrapper)
3. Third, (example : fill tortilla with leftover chicken-on-the-bone)

Later, at my desk, I waited and wondered, with all my pushing
and pulling, if my heart was too hard or too soft for this job
I sorted stacks feasting on chiken zisone, garlick with
little peaces of sawsage of beef –then at last

a small, perfectly folded and decorated packet revealed
my dessert with its neatly written directions
1. Mix bag of creamer from store with 1/2 bag
of Kool Aid (flavor of choice) from kitchen

2. Add 1/3 cup hot water and 1/3 cup sugar or sweetner
3. Stir or whip over and over until in a stretchee form
4. Let hard a little until the taffy is taffy
5. Enjoy

Vinta / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Slow rise of drums
racing pulse
steady chaos of
hypnotic gongs
and their echo

The wind moves
making everything
around her
speak

She is a whisper
She is a roar
She is a caress
She is a crash

Dark blue sea
guides a vessel through
dark blue night
rowing against the tide

Waves
rising
Waves
tumbling

She whispers into
billowing sails
seeking companion
conversation to breath into

She is forward movement
a twirl of the fan
a flick of the scarf
Her poise is extension and lean

The waves talk to the wind
and she answers
combing the waves
with her silver claws
dancing with them as
they roll towards the shore
pushing their way onto land-
She has arrived.

The Fleeing Father in Search of the Absent Father / by Jeffrey Levine

He puts into your fingers a box of matches
on which is printed the name and address of a certain bar.
In one direction the street vanishes into total darkness,
in the other, a diffused blue-gray light makes visible
a block of low buildings which descend like smaller blocks
cut into granite and converge in the gloom where the street
curves away, while thousands of feet above, an attenuated finger
of cloud, no longer visible, points across the line of the curve
and reddens, and a cool, salty wind blows along the street.
Inside the bar, a gathering of art students plus a crowd
of music types and a trio of mystics occupy a space
larger than the space in which they stand, their faces burning
like molten gold, as if they have heard the First One’s voice,
burning like the face of Moses listening for the sound
he’ll not again hear, and mirabile dictu, in the corner
under the only window and looking like he hasn’t slept
there’s a Caravaggio impersonator sketching with pencil
and grey-brown ink and some sort of blue wash on coarse
paper what might or might not become Moses
Closing the Waters of the Red Sea Over Pharoah’s Hosts,
thought until now to be anonymous. You find yourself
in that drawing, gawking over what’s happening below
to Pharoah and his Host in the crushing waters,
and even as you think, there but for the grace of God,
you cannot remember your own bedroom, not
the ubiquitous Van Gogh reproduction on one wall, nor
the Kathe Kollwitz self-portrait over the bureau, nor the voice
of your own father calling one last time for his shoes.

What Will Survive of Us is Love / by Sarah Terry
-title taken from the last line of Philip Larkin’s An Arundel Tomb

gawking at the fibers of the heart – you know,
a lot of things you love
get eaten
by a sundown sky as I
hold your head in my lap
through the purple stages of decay.

an alchemist rattles her jewelry
in the front row like a rainstick.

whisper: what did Aristophanes know about love?

I don’t want the world,
not really.
my name like a vivid spasm
dripping down their knees.

this rack of dead crowns doesn’t seem like enough
to remember
I think I had a dream
your rotten, delicious hair like
time-lapsed lilies
dancing at the foot of the ocean.

Respite / by Emily Vieweg

moments before my alarm sings from her pillow,
a whisker brushes against my forehead;
a paw kneads my chest;
i forget that i am a mother.

i have gravel in my shoes
receive a kiss on my skinned knee,
air flying through my ponytails
as i glide down the hill on my sister’s bicycle
my eyes are closed and i hear the trees
whisking in the wind, i sniff the damp
missouri air, owls are hooting their loved ones
home for the morning, as
the sun pokes her fingers through the cloudy blinds

it feels wrong: feeling happy, feeling free

Day 10 / Day 10

5. / by Karen Craigo

It always was my practice to push off—
to back up all the way to tips of toes
and then let go. I’d stretch my legs full out,
then pull them back behind on my descent.
That’s swinging. We all know the way it works—
it’s Physics 101, where we first learn
to raise our mass and thus increase our height.
It’s all about potential energy.
These days I’m focused most on coming back—
the tucked-leg tug of tension, gravity,
whose value I had failed to recognize,
my eagerness reserved for setting out.
The falling motion brings increase of speed.
I feel it now—the sweetness of release.

suffix / by Jefferson Duval

how fragile we’re bound
by inner chatterlings

how ferocious we herald in-
explicable conditioning

how fecund imagination
delivering deliverance on demand

how forgetful education
bubbles through retreating surf’s sand

how fragrant the past wafts
keel, hull and mast

spherically speaking i ask:
“Is the wind pushing or pulling?”

Power / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

Don’t ask the rain about sunshine
it only knows of falling down.

Ask your heart to pump happiness
allow it to infuse you all around.

Some will choose to be miserable
lost in nobilized pain.

All, in time, will suffer, the brave
refuse to blame.

Even as I wait upon the warmth of
a miracle’s rays I hear pessimists,

call happiness the folly of the naïve.
But, those with eyes to see the light,

recognize it takes courage to believe.

What Can Happen When You Listen to Angels / by CR Green

Before the Spirit of Elijah could be sent Elizabeth
had to go through menopause. Rebuked by an angel
Zachariah, her husband, was stunned into silence
and had to make love to her in his old age

An angel told Zachariah to name his son John instead of
after himself. John, who should have become a priest like
his father, had to become a prophet, become a voice crying
in the wilderness and have his head chopped off

Mary had to listen to an angel, too, become pregnant
by and through believing its words only. Joseph, her fiance
had to listen to an angel as well. Together, they had to accept
people thinking they had done it before they should have

Because of angels, shepherds, wise men and politics
Mary had her baby in a stable. Joseph had to listen
to an angel tell him to take Mary and the baby to Egypt
and be refugees until it was safe

then return at the direction of angels so the baby could
grow up and be comforted by angels and get killed
although not in quite in the same way, as his cousin
John, earlier that same year

Butterflies / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett
Inspired by the diwatas in the dance Singkil

Do I captivate?
I have lured you into the woods
with chant, with charm

Come chase me
I flutter at your windows
we are known for playing tricks.
Maybe it’s demons, maybe it’s dreams-
free and fragile, beautiful and broken
Maybe I am magic-

Something in the soul catches your eye
the wind whispers at your neck,
strands of your braided hair
come undone.

We are cut
from the same mischief.
We are not spun from
silken, soft, stained-glass wing
We are dragon wolves
in butterfly’s wings.
There is something
beautiful and broken
in all of us.

Come chase me.
The wind is my voice,
singing through wind chimes,
hollow bamboo and running river.
I have lured you into the woods
I make the bamboo trees fall

And I want to see you dance.

Speaking in Sleep, a Brief Meditation on the White House / by Jeffrey Levine

Such minor Armageddons.
Beside the waters of disremembering,

I lay me down.

– Charles Wright, “Basic Dialog” from Appalachia

The Romans called it Thule, the very edge of their flat world,
an edge outermost of all borders, in the Arctic Circle, an island
so far north that the seas, wild and forbidding, flow into each other,
there a frozen land with black cliffs, precipitous, and full of hollows,
cormorants high and harsh surf below, with mountains shrouded
in thick cloud cover, sky full and white and blinding and as enormous
as nowhere, so vast that it is impossible to think, a land with a thousand
kinds of snow, from firn to ice, and ice ruins that never melt,
gloomy, cold, harboring horrors, cloaked in darkness, abandoned
to the mercies of Nature, Nature speaking in her sleep at the other end
of the known world, just where that end is nailed down with boards,
unequivocal title to the very last place on earth, where you run
into the afterlife, where you discover how hungry you always were.

Party Game / by Sarah Terry

This is a game called Skull
and only some of us are bluffing,
exchanging our flowers for bones,
and grinning like mousetraps.

Only some of us love bluffing –
snagging your skin like a can-opener
while the mouse grins in the mousetrap
and dreams of being soft and fragile.

Open your skin with a can-opener
and you’ll start a red-shift – blooming
far past your soft and fragile dreams
which hum like stars in the distance.

Your flower blooms a red-shift –
place it before you like you’re certain
stars are humming calmly in the distance
and none of them are screaming.

The place before you (please) is certain.
Time to exchange our bones for flowers,
open our mouths until we’re all screaming,
and play a quick game of Skull.

Trundle / by Emily Vieweg

before I opened my eyes, the saddled
dragon appeared again; blinking, winking;
this time donning serene.
teeth were stark white, yes, but,
lips: unpursed.

pet her scales,
draw her breath,

Day 9 / Day 9

Self Portrait in a Side-View Mirror / by Steve Bellin-Oka

This dying bee—a wonder it’s lived
until this late in the year, last week’s snow

an insulin shock dose to the raving leaves,
which lift and swirl in whirlpools

of wind. The November sun’s mad buzz
through the gauze of clouds. I watch

a hawk veer west, clasp a dove
in its talons. Say as a child I believed

sugar water in eyedroppers would save
vulnerable creatures. Now I know

malarial sepsis will hatch in the blood
of the weak. Despite pity, despite quinine.

Grandmother, are we dying? / by Jefferson Duval

Of course we’re dying my love
not the lay me down gently
not the accidents will happen
nor at the well composed ending of lines

it’s happening in the absence
where there’s more time
forgetting we ever spoke
than remembering who we are
everlasting

look here now
lies are symbols just the same
in the vacuum’s freezing
our books burn brightest
a mighty echo goes, I hope

in seeking you find, I am

we were out in the yard
passing slowly underneath
the sky’s milky abscess…

Fallen / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

The tree gives way like a girl unable to see herself,
limbs and spirit broken, unable to fight off her assailants.
The girls, not the one cut down, are fearful gossips and, far
in the distance, undeniably—human.

A raised eyebrow, lip, or hand won’t mend or lend hand or tissue.
They put me in the chipper, to clarify my lack of belonging.

My words are the tree’s prayer of years, rings, evergreen. Silence
is a mantra, like the sky. Needles are a dirge, like thrown stones and
bark—

as if I know anything.

Today’s plight is wavering faith. I fear there’s sap
trickling off my leafs.
God?

I put aside the obvious injustices of life, who gets a
thumbs up and who is slain by a chainsaw to consider
what God allows.

I believe we all deserve to live and be loved, to be
saved and to not suffer at another’s hands, words.

Help.

I also believe that God grows us into who we are
meant to be through trials.

Tried.

Can it be that some are cut down, abandoned,
abused, and emotionally destroyed so that others
can live?

Fallen.

I’ll tell you a story from childhood, from when I was a seedling
in Catholic school just before my birthday, Christmas.

I’m cast in a play as Mary, Mother of God.
I am told where to stand, what to say, what to do.
The other girls wanted my role.

The audience weeps for Christ’s birth, his future
suffering, his salvation. Nobody weeps for Mary
who is lonely, at the periphery of angry angels.

Young girls and, as I’ll learn years later, women, find
pleasure in rejecting, cutting down. I have fallen many
times and long to be planted in better soil.

The play is long over, yet, never ending. I want another script,
one that allows me to laugh with the angels with gold tinsel halos.

As awful as they were and are today, by new names, I want
to grow in the forest. It’s cold and dark on the ground.

It hurts to be severed from my roots, to decay at the feet of
everyone dancing in the wind.

Gestures / by CR Green
Found Poem after reading ¨Notes on Gesture¨ by Alex Kitnick
in Art in America, November, 2018, and watching the funeral
service for George HW Bush at the National Cathedral

If, after all, Warhola could become an irascible or not
Warhol and Bush remain a Bush, then I´m an artist and
you´re an artist displaying in private or public gesture
a flick, a fling, a twist, a turn, free to live in this world

of liberation, practice private or public idiosyncrasies
of self as they both did: leave Pittsburgh, learn to live
with grief and loss, wear a wig or silly socks, be silent or
tell jokes forgetting punchlines, be shot out of a fighter plane

or in the stomach, experience life-long love and friendship
leave children, grands, greats or none at all. You and I are free
to express something of our inner selves: pull apart paintings
float silver balloons over New York City or ourselves in the folds

of parachutes over the Atlantic, pull down or deconstruct walls
But were they or are we each truly free to to go our own ways?
Do we artists, now not known as sculptors or painters
only live to call attention to ourselves

become only certain figures in the more or less excellent
excess of gesture? The Presidents sit shoulder to shoulder–
who will be next they wonder and so do we. They gesture
nods or not, bow heads or not, shake hands or not, lift lined

faces to lines they read or do not, shed tears, shut eyes or not
At home on our sofas we gesture or not for all kinds of reasons
We raise our voices or hands because we want to. We will not raise
them if we don´t want to. We have not lost our free will

to go to war, to worship some center we question will hold
paint, prophesy, change appearance, Americanize the world
make a living selling our names. our grooming habits
our hair and lifestyles, our very own souls

A Windy Day / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

The wind is chatty today.
She runs through my hair,
whispers at my elbows,
admires my scarf, touching its embroidery.

Her prickly nails grace my neck
as she gossips about
the scent of magnolias nearby
where a happy couple is walking-
told me he still puts on a nice aftershave
when they go out for breakfast in the morning.
Surrounded by twenty-something girls
waiting in a line out the door, but
he still looks only at her.

Then the wind spins as she whispers
about the freshly baked baguettes and butter.
Is that where you’re getting coffee? She asks.

She dances through the trees
and sends yellow leaves
down to greet me.
My frozen hands
cling to a hot cup
and a bag of fresh
hot almond croissants.
She follows me home and
asks me to write something.
I say no.
I just want a day off and coffee
and she’s making my ears cold.

She kisses my forehead
and whispers sternly
You can’t not write. So, write-
to feel words on the page
to say what’s unsaid-
to try to understand things
to understand each other
to capture the beauty we spend
most of our lives chasing.

Her cold front embrace
wraps around me.
She leaves to
part the clouds and
give me a sunbreak.

Guernica Postscript / by Jeffrey Levine

They’d been shooting tequila with salt and lime

when the great horse gave a wild shake of his head

that sent his black mane shimmering through falling mist.

At such times every sound is finer than every other sound,

and if a glass vase shatters, water splashing forth,

iron-clad horsemen charging, swords and halberds

clanging, the pfft of rending silk and spill of blood,

not a word survives, only the autumn moon a white sickle

through the river’s heart, sparks quick upon the dynamite.

That’s how nothingness is lessened.

Water falls.

Birds fall.

Horses fall.

Love Story, But a Real One / by Sarah Terry

Three hundred and fifteen days out, or so says
the very persistent app on my phone (and no,
I have not started researching photographers yet
but this is not about the photographers (although
shit, I do need photographers)) – anyway – everyday
and there is another thing that makes me say, wow,
you know, I love this guy more than peanut sauce
and glitter eyeshadow, and even that vegan General Tso’s
not-chicken at Whole Foods, Earl Grey and lemon candles,
Deep Space Nine, like, this is a very serious case
of the ever-afters. And I think, right, this is lucky
in the sense that we made this happen and I’ve never
believed in luck. As my father once said, there are
really (probably) many people we could have ended
up with (which is true but extremely un-romantic) except
also it’s empowering because sure, the world is stuffed
to the gills with fascinating people but I still found you.
The you who doesn’t get mad when I scream
during boss fights but don’t actually want any help.
Who brushes my hair and reassures me that I’m not
dying from a brain tumor each time I have a headache.
Doesn’t freak out (too much) when goats are so adorable
that I start crying (all the twee bullshit I live for), and frankly,
if ghosts waltzing in a graveyard in the middle of the woods couldn’t
pull us apart, then I think we’ve got a damn good shot at always.

Prime / by Emily Vieweg

Before you squint to the rooster’s call,
you are six again;
bacon bubbles on the stove;
hot chocolate percolates in the pot;
kitty sharpens her claws (again) on the sofa;
the barn owl hoots his good nights;
a phone rings next door;
a string of sunshine brushes your brow;
you squeeze teddy one more time;

Day 8 / Day 8

First Snow in New Mexico / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Even the snow won’t tell the truth. Though
it hides the witchgrass beneath its cold cotton,
its patina of white muslin, the tawny
discoloration of straw bleeds through. As if
I were a child and not a man, last night
he said, there, there as he held me, sobbing
for no reason. Or for the thousand reasons
I sob for, uncountable as hairs. I knew

what he was thinking—he’s afraid he’ll
have to commit me again, the way he did
that winter in Charlottetown when blizzards
battered the island every day for months.
I’d smashed my face into the bathroom mirror.
I’d hung a noose like pendant from the banister.
When was it I first started playing this game

in reverse, erasing the letters, calling out
vowels until only the hanged man’s head,
eyeless round circle clipped to the scaffold,
remains? I’ll be fine, I said, when I could breathe
again. This morning a bewildered hummingbird,
its wings stationary, hovers outside its empty
feeder, crust of coagulated nectar red as blood
someone else rinses from the lip of the sink.

circumcision quilt / by Jefferson Duval

sleeves of men
scab collection

mountainous dried rings
of dick jerky
stitched together with
collective gasp and awe
condom-like stretched over
gaia ball

once distant
mother’s sister’s daughter’s and lover’s
reclamation from the void now calls

as below severed
so sewed above
domination seeded within
books of origin

the same rings
crown our dying
drone kings

prosthetic power hung
on falling scaffolding.

En Route To The Afterlife Party / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

“If ever there was a time to rise to the occasion
this is it!” I said to the man disconnecting the
last of the illusion from his arm.
“Heroin got me,” he said. I nodded and shrugged
while he said, “Chiva, H, dope, dragon, drugs.”
I walked to the front of the bus disappointed
that it was a bus and not a plane, train, or boat
but forgot all about the bus being a bus when I
saw it travelled on light or in light. Earth parties
never started this good. If anything, being en route
to the afterlife party gave me a reason to live.
Then, the bus became an ambulance, a hospital, a ward.
I was under a light, a knife, attack wanting nothing more
than to have the afterlife back.

Out Like Flynn / by CR Green
Found Poem from The Times
December 7, 2018

From Inner Circle to Outer Limits
From International Interaction to Domestic Deception
From Lock Her Up to Set Me Free
From Widened Net to Narrowed Escape
From Seizing the Day to Seizing a Way
From Key Member to Unlocked Lead
From Hunted Witch to Freed Man
From Facing the Music to Saving the Face
From Chance to Rail Cad to Get Out of Jail Card
From Heavy Redaction to Light Recommendation
From Out of Sight to Out of Mind

Haiku / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Your warm fingertips
traced the lines of melted dreams
beneath my snowflakes.

The Father Appears out of Deep Mid-Winter / by Jeffrey Levine

The Tao moves its crooked fingers these cold winter nights
lighting smudges to keep the foxes at bay while the dead
make offerings of cherry flowers and spider orchids,
aloof plants, bizarre plants with rich brown lips, offerings
to the dense forest, and within it, my ancient father astride
the stallion, bearing over his shoulder like a burglar
a worn sack, making way toward the river where, muttering
in an alien language, he dismounts under the pointed firs,
and only the horse breathes, his black mane and black eyes
wet with snow, both listening to what the night wants,
something like the sound of a guitar played only
as thieves play to absence and its prominent bones,
something like the sound of a guitar played wet
with snow, both listen to what the night wants,
and only the horse breathes, his black mane and black eyes
muttering an alien language, he dismounts under the pointed firs
with a worn sack (making way toward the river, leading
the stallion) borne over his shoulder like a burglar
in the dense forest, and in it, my ancient father astride
aloof plants, bizarre plants with rich brown lips, offerings
made of cherry flowers and spider orchids,
lights smudges to keep the foxes at bay while the dead
move their crooked fingers these cold winter nights.

This is the Plan / by Sarah Terry

Step One: we are gonna be deliriously happy and live in a cloud and cry rainbows,
only we’ll never actually cry because we will be too goddamn happy. In Point of Fact:

the tree of knowledge has started growing honeycrisps and I have eaten them all. Therefore
I can tell you the following truths, that { “life”: [“is not tender”, “like risen bread”, “but we tie on

our vital organs for balloon strings”, “anyway”] } because it’s the only real way to love.
Wash your eyes of yesterday’s madness! No, I never said I was human, but I have two hands

that I’ve been training to hold you. I’ve gotten very good at working the panini press
and improvising minor musicals to keep you entertained: dear bird who lives

in the IKEA parking garage, the difference between an egg and an oval is breath!
Make sure you’re imagining that adagio, in 3/4 time. Waltzing is best when you least

expect the voyage. Step Two: starstruck and shaking, let’s remember Earth as a place
without enough green pens, but otherwise full of foxes, disco balls, and chickpea curry.

I will slide across your skin like a river flowing upward – two souls and whatever a sun
will sing of us – cricket-cry from the basement and a rumble of winds on Mars.

Paralysis / by Emily Vieweg

before I pry my eyes open
I sprint in slow motion
hunt a red beetle through traffic
my vocal chords: stunned

I swallow dry twice; cough, sputter
a muffler threatening failure
trapped

even the iron will of a mother tiger
may not escape this

knowing her cub is endangered

locked in the hyena’s jaws

Day 7 / Day 7

The Asian Carp / by Steve Bellin-Oka

for Daisuke

—jump, startled, in four foot arcs out of the Mississippi

—time is a river where mottled metal is sunk, Francis Bacon said

—to not look below a river’s surface is another way of dying

—I’ve seen the hole in water a 90 lb fish makes

—this memory of you: invasive species, long submerged, now leaping

slugfest / by Jefferson Duval

somewhere between
the last guest
before finishing a half-warm
plate of leftovers
after she fell back pulling
my wooden stool
crashing onto her face
exhale
the guest who stays
this sustenance screen
gives it’s hollow gleam
into a room i call work
trying to trick
this passing sadness
choosing micro-channels
alternating currents
my thoughts real good
pretending to weather.

As Suddenly As Spring / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

At the bottom of a pit of coal-black pain it’s
a struggle to imagine light when all is rain
Each day is winter, a steady deluge of endless night
since closed eyes insist that the sun isn’t bright
When lids flutter open to reveal a sky that’s happy blue
I’ll know it’s because love’s finally come through
It will stun with a rainbow as new trees beckon with
fluttering leaves, signing “There is life after grief.”

Even After Ten Years / by CR Green

you, retired, and I, almost, are still shy
with one another, but we have a morning ritual
that begins each of my working days:
the boldness of your coffee
the terseness of our greeting
your gnarled, swollen hand held out
my wrinkled, smaller one responding
our quick prayer of thanksgiving
Leaving the younger dog inside, you leash
the old one while I start the car
You stand, waiting, while I roll down
the window. I lean out. You lean in
We kiss–just in case, later in this day,
one of us is no longer here

Tired now from my journey home
to this sedated house, my nose promises me
the sympathetic porch swing isn’t far.
So, come, my love, my heart wants
my mouth to say, rise up, sit with me–
it’s just a few steps beyond this sliding door
But, I hear you sleeping so peacefully
Perhaps you are dreaming: you have been
in this house where she also lived–
all by yourself, all day, with the two dogs
The setting sun still warms the swing–
its cushion is savory with smells of more summers
than I have lived here with you
Before I rest, I will breathe in what the young dog–
whose own nose is its only leader–I will breathe in
what this new life–which only knows to gnaw
at the edges of everything–has done while I was away
I will inhale the essence of things past and present
things done and undone: lettuce, basil, mint–even pillow
piss, bone and pottery shard

Will Power / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Two-thousand nine hundred and twenty times
between the lines
I’ve fallen down and scrambled to stand
no
I’ve yelled at my wrists for being useless
one
I’ve yelled at my eyes for crying too much
sees
I’ve yelled at my hands for being numb
will
I’ve walked with knees the size of cantaloupes
power
I’ve yelled at myself for not being faster
stand
I’ve needed help getting dressed
under
Two thousand nine hundred and twenty days
the
I just wanted to dance but couldn’t
rubble
I’ve lost my balance
of
I’ve walked in pain.
Pain
I’ve refused myself everything.

Four-hundred and seventeen weeks
Five years
Six years
Seven years
Eight.

I’m taking it all back.

To Have It Back / by Jeffrey Levine

You have to admire what Mondrian was after,
rigorous straight lines and demand for harmony,
but the rivers know nothing of that, no “I drank hard
last night, don’t be too hard on me.”
Lava, liquid sun and scented acre
the earth holding out for adoration, like perfection
in the abstract, drawing lines upon lines
of visitors, while the rivers beg for listeners.
What luck we get to be ourselves,
even if it means having a job we can never quit,
or the occasional withered hand, whether or not
we hear what the rivers have to say,
their polyphony of sentences dashing down
as usual, in search of a way into speech,
a way toward a future endings,
into the next day, and into the next,
which is not a plot but a stage direction,
the field notes that make language possible,
and then nothing but the din and hum of regret
ripping on like a furnace, while your own fingers pull on
their blue yarmulke and the doorway
to your room seems suddenly enormous,
wide enough to wheel a bed through.

Helplessly Hoping / by Sarah Terry

We have very good reason,
Sullen Companion, to never
give him our names. Friendly,
direct gazes double-exposed
over a torrent of green ash –
seven hundred and fifty three
fluttering word-flowers sewn
into the breathing skin of a tower
to remember us by, if
we are really worth remembering.

The earth adjusts. Can’t help
but wonder at our own gullibility,
huh? We can’t stay here, this place
of superstitions and red lines to mark
the margins, nursery rhymes full
of salt air and princes
with the floppy hair of rock stars.

I’ll miss the color of flame on a stovetop.
Languages that were just out of sight.

If only this were more of a mystery –
“you can stay here,” he says,
knowing that we wouldn’t. If only
we could wear down everything
with our brackish water and fill
our mouths with cattail reeds.
But don’t worry. Not overmuch,
anyway. I’ll hold your hand
on the staircase as we’re carried
out of sight.

Dangerby Emily Vieweg

Before my eyes open, I am dangling my feet
over the edge of the Grand Canyon
stroking the divide with my toes
twisting the knot tighter into my stomach
and willing myself to stay

The mood is doom, like the winter solstice
such a short period of light, less than half
a full day of witness, fingernails bite into my palm
nearly drawing blood, at least then i could feel
something more obvious than nothing

These fears are roaches hiding from the
whisper of sunshine, crittering at my feet
snaking up my spine, revealing herself
only when a stream of a beam bakes her
like a vampire, shrieking in immortal pain.

Day 6 / Day 6

Sestina for Pete Shelley / by Steve Bellin-Oka

— December 6, 2018

Nothing has to look like this, December, ground
the color of rust. Sometimes I make up names
for migrant children locked in a border cage: Star,
Safe-in-My-Arms, Never-Go-Hungry-Again.
I’m not wanted in the place I live either, another queer
like the men who broke off from the caravan, banned

together for safety like firewood. The first Bush banned
any refugee with AIDS from kissing American ground.
He died. They shut the government down. None of the queers
I know mourned. Instead, we thought of the quilt, the names
of the lost stitched in wool, as if they were infants again,
in pink and sky blue thread. Some of them were stars:

Hudson, Halston, Mercury. Nureyev with spangled stars
on his tights. And you, I was 15 when the BBC banned
“Homosapien.” I heard it on MTV, heard it again
on the Hippo’s dance floor, synthesized bass, the ground
like a submarine’s depth charge. I’ve forgotten the names
of the boys I slept with, still telling myself I wasn’t queer—

that’s a lie. I’d let any homosuperior who turned his queer
eye to mine take me in the parking lot under the stars.
Like Tantalus, the virus just out of reach. I embraced the names
I’d always been called—faggot, fudgepacker, sissy, banned
from paradise. Two men’s semen in streaks on the ground.
Still, I hate how your death makes me remember this again,

how I survived and hundreds of thousands didn’t. Again
I think of irony: the underage, awkward eighties queer
with his White Russian watered down, surveying the grounds
for someone to take his will to live away. As if there were stars
in his fingertips. No wonder the bouncer never once banned
me, light brown hair and rattail. His was one of the names

I found on a matchbook and never called back. His name
I remember—it’s on the AIDS quilt. That name again.
Pete, your explicit song about the wish to be fucked banned
from the airwaves in England but not here, where every queer
with half a brain knew what it meant. We were stars,
at least for three-and-a-half minutes. One night I ground

a whole banned bottle of Paxil up, drank it dissolved. Again
I woke and wasn’t in the ground. My pupils dilated as stars,
I burned the queer matchbooks, exhaled the dead names.

Vanishing Pointsby Jefferson Duval

the “f” was never for you
a shepherd’s crook and staff

“o”, frozen stiff could never roll

see the “r” at best a short crutch
in arthritic hands it rests

“g” seems handy to have around
stubborn, won’t get off the ground

now “i” is a lonely beggar
back turned he’ll cast out your eye

“v” has auspicious markings
too easily tears a hole in the sky

“e” just too eccentric
doubling back to forward unravel

“u” stays lost in wandering

on roads “s” is yet to travel.

After You Drain the Swamp / by CR Green

Everyone, like you
fully male, fully female
no both/ands
only either/ors

acting as you
doing as you
believing as you
no apologies

no exceptions
same denials
same cover ups
same sales pitch

same lies
same language
same underbellies

walking the croc walk
stacked high by you–the
sated, steamroller baby–

seated atop babbling tower
tiny arms heiling to you
unable to seize life

tumbled, jumbled
felled, fallen, underwater
floating away, surfacing

strangled in unison

Shell / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Empty spaces, empty halls
empty cupboards with
faded floral liner
or striped print- from when
they ran out of the other

I used to say a shell was
just that thing a hermit crab
outgrew
Leaving an empty space for the next
voyager, scavenger,
thief, dreamer

A shell is an empty space
that used to be full
maybe overly full of
trinkets and talismans
tales and songs
love letters

A space is not empty
until every single memento
has been removed
has been measured and weighed
to give or throw away

An empty space was once full
where we fought
over the last slice of pie
and negotiated
to share the ice cream
where we gathered and laughed
where life used to happen
and where it ended

Empty is
eyes staring at outlines on walls
where frames used to hang
where dust lines form shadows
where there are only whispers
kicking up dust in every corner

Empty is
where I stand now.

The Musicians, Caravaggio and the Fado, c. 1595 / by Jeffrey Levine

Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together. Anais Ninn, 1939

Here are the seminal tunes:
Rainbow Cloak and Feather Robe
Entre dos Aguas
Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11
Maybellene
That’s All Right Mama
El Prormpompero

But as for Caravaggio, were not talking borrowed blues,
rather, one who has grown up with sorrow sing only like this.

As fado is defeated souls, lost nights, bizarre shadows,
Foi Deus, Lagrimas, all this exists, all this is sad, all this is the fado
as might have been sung (the literature so damnably vague, what
did Jason and the Argonauts hear, what Ulysses?)
The clear-voiced Sirens, who withered seamen with languidness.
How withered seamen with languidness?
We know only how quickly then they weighed
the anchor stone and set the gear in order.

So this Carravaggio then.
Look, there’s Cupid, there are his grapes!
It’s a toga party, ergo, an allegory. A fraternity kind of thing
seen though a bit of classical throwback haze.

Look again, there’s an unclaimed violin in the foreground.
It’s yours. It’s what Caravaggio wanted.
Invitingly small, he wants you to have it.

You don’t fit in? Self-conscious. Can’t play.
Not to worry.

Not a single figure in this picture relates to any other,
they’re not listening, as with our circle of friends,
our lunch table, our cocktail parties,
our separate selves melting into the distance,
glasses dissolving into the furniture, and that one, there,
a self-portrait, not sad, rather pretty.

Just last week he finished it, rinsed off the brushes with strega,
stood it against the wall opposite the southern light.
Not so much homage to the self, as a study.
What to do with that?
Just a teaser, like Beethoven’s Op. 18.
Like early Mozart (by which I mean, Mozart at 13)
And where’s our dark, our black our shadows?
Where’s our devout, frightened iconography?
Enough the other kind of light.
Put me here behind the door,
where everyone can hear me sing.

I Am a Giant Toy That Eats Other Toys / by Sarah Terry
or, when my fiancé made me watch Transformers: The Movie (1986)

If I
could digest
all of space-
time
through my navel,
human germ, oh –
there would be no
stopping me.
Would you like
to beg
for all your lives
now?
Somewhere
inside my caverns,
corridors, is
an ocean strained
through electric
sapphires
and peripatetic
rage. What good
are wings
without gravity
to hold them?
Don’t ask questions
and never trust
your broken
eyes. Sometimes
it helps, but
really,
here I am
with open arms,
synth riffs,
Leonard Nimoy,
and lasers firing,
and aren’t I
everything
you ever wanted
while you find
your way
to oblivion?

Bristle / by Emily Vieweg

before my eyes open, i hear your voice,
the way you would care from the downstairs sofa bed
when we’d visit for two weeks each summer –

dad’s wallet seated next to yours in the
desk drawer alongside bills, letters, car keys, and
pre-stamped envelopes.

i see the worm things floating above the pool,
attached by silk to the breeze,
“wind’s too strong,” you’d say, “and they’ll die –
then the birds’ll have nothing to feed the babies.”

did all the cousins feel like favorites, too?

on the two-day drive home, i’d wonder
if you’d maintain your softened gruff
after the grandkids went home.

grandma, too, has dissipated from
the afghan, but every now and then,
hints waft from the foot of my bed.

Day 5 / Day 5

Lunettes of the Medician Villas / by Steve Bellin-Oka

           — painted by Giusto Utens, 1599-1602

They are simulacra of themselves, white limestone
and terracotta-roofed structures seen as if from a balloon.

The Boboli gardens green as the one I took you
behind when we were 19 and dropped to my knees.

Why paint on a wall what you can see through a window
three feet away? Hedgerows, late afternoon, a river.

I shaved my head in penance when you left me.
Now I cup the razor in my palm like steel water.

In only one lunette are there figures—horseback men
& dogs hunting a fox. Off frame, perhaps thunder.

Old lover, I’ve tricked myself in parks: Loch Raven
Reservoir, Duboce Triangle, Mission Delores hill.

This pull between the real & the artificial, like
a dream in which you’re dreaming of wine grapes.

I never told you—once I took a coring knife & cut
my inner thigh in zigzag lines, like an opening zipper.

heart tongue / by Jefferson Duval

Watching her eyes take in moving images
finches to bushes to feeder to fence
my narration, ‘bird people, bird people’
her enwonderment casting
more than any knowing
patterned tone feelings
waves she can ride
this unspoken prayer
bringing language alive in relation
let the tree invoke season, ant chains
perching returns, wind speak
underworld roots – anchoring what’s seen
Coffee, mountainous hillside oceans of green-red fruit
rippling sun tanned berries
olfactorys of morning’s glow
slow smiles with no words.
May our language be revived, composted alive
welcome death’s feeding of life
through the wellspring nurtured imagination
of our children.

Towards Sunset / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

I am concave today
sunken in the hollow

Missing nails a picture
in my heart space

Hope’s light could be lifting,
if it weren’t exposing

We were children once
clipped out of ruled paper

hands gripped tightly
sisters of a sort

until time, alleged healer
severed our common

We had laughter in summer,
a wholeness like the sun, it

as a fresh cantaloupe split,
the juicy of the living,

two halves bursting with seeds
Gangly girls dangling in Evergreens

Our feet ahead of themselves
running toward sunset,

ever present in our skin, as yet
unable to imagine the end

Death Awaits the Unwaryby CR Green
Don’t have a casual attitude about climbing and its risks.
Distraction and that cavalier attitude cause many climbing
accidents. Stewart Green in ThoughtCo., June 11. 2018

¨Higher up, higher up,¨ Marriage called
Divorce held out no arms
to catch her

Assumption was no protection
when climbing required attention
on unreached summits

Ignorance was no excuse
when two attempted to belay
in anchored ascent

Repetition was no substitute
for vigilance in seeking
sought-after higher ground

¨I will rappel myself,” Divorce answered
Pinioned legs and feet kept her
from climbing higher

Head over heels in hate
unroped, she fell, her echoing
screams repelled his shouts

Always Show Them Your Form by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

 

Grammar and punctuation
are important,
because they see my differences
before my similarities
because they hear my accent
before my sentiment
because they won’t share
the language that also belongs to me.

Have you ever watched a poem move?
Grammar and punctuation
exist in dance-
the language I speak.
Sentences formed by
stringing movements together,
pausing to listen
to converse and converge
with the music.

My posture is a statement.
My accent is my lean.
I pause, I listen, I linger
to be heard, to be known
to be found in translation
to be visible.

So that they can hear me
with perfect grammar,
see my form and
understand me-
So that they can’t doubt
what i stand for.

Grammar and punctuation
in any dance
is always about
showing them your form.

Why Not Nothing? / by Jeffrey Levine

My Nana, wife of Poppy, told the story
only once, how she and he were in the cattle car,
holding hands, he was my Adam, she says, my good
heart, my Patroklos, and when the SS officer called
out for doctors, he said “I am,” and she “a nurse,” though he
a pattern cutter, she a baker of bread and honey cake,

so why not pray to be spared from the nothing
of nothingness, and so they were delivered.
And why not nothing? Well, first of all,
gift-horse leaps to mind, even as those few chosen
to work entered the town built on the marshes, even if
real nothingness would forbid that! It merely encodes
what it means for nothing whatever to exist. You want
proof, then know me by my proof.

Consider once again the orchestra struck up,
and the people chosen to work, the chosen, the elect,
after the officer had stalked down the ranks
in his fur-collared greatcoat making impatient
gestures, pointing at people, pointing at him.

They entered together the town built on the marshes,
dark water, rusty black, smelling of decay, filthy shreds of rags,
bloodstained clothes discarded by the camp operating
theaters, yet sometimes a child’s song, key to something
that is not, surely not, nothing, as after Patroklos is speared.

Remember how the first tribute comes from Zeus himself,
he who has just engineered Patroklos’ death,
and now sings of him “gentle and strong” then
“faithful friend” croons Athena, “His warmth of heart,”
Nestor’s son, Antilokhos hums, and “Our best man,”
“irreparable loss and grief” incapacitated
by grief, all of them, how is it, oh monsters
of cruelty, encoders of nothingness, turners
away from the nothing that is, escapees, my Nana,
my Poppy, singing lullabies to their gift horses,
those palominos of the here and now, dappled
with the dew of the living.

Drink This, You’ll Feel Better / by Sarah Terry

Some lessons for contemporary civilization –
aren’t we all just Argos, waiting patiently for love
to come home? Fuck no, raise up the crenellations

around this twenty-four hour light-strung shrine of
R-E-S-P-E-C-take a number and cower in the blaze
of my eternal style. Mr. Off-Piste can kiss my glove

and learn a thing or two at the foot of my chaise
lounge. Baby, never trust a man’s word about a sorceress,
or a nostos lasting longer than three thousand days.

Circe has shown up in her finest evening dress,
and the category is: Twinkling Center of all Kaleidoscopes.
No one should live or die for a sea-sogged caress.

Message / by Emily Vieweg

before I open my eyes
I glide along a hallway
with white-flowered maroon silk walls
you find in Victorian castles.
I do not see you, the seated figure,
until you turn from the
fully-flamed fireplace,
the wing-back chair holding your
former form; you are healthy and
strong again. I think,
“I miss you,” and before
I can part my lips to speak,
you smile a gentle calm.
I inhale deeply, willing
my senses to remember your
scent – and when I open my eyes
you are gone.

Day 4 / Poems 4

Rain Psalm / by Steve Bellin-Oka

the hundreds of sparrows // are lies the ghost told us // in a gutted cathedral // the stars pinholes in an aging roof // come sea, come salt // drowned toddler face-down on a beach // and the ghost said // a little water clears us of this deed // the body is two-thirds water, one-third desiccating bone // I will make hail to sweep // away your houses // sponges soaked in gall // come storm surge, come lightning // extinguish the candles in our hands // skulls of horses in the Sonora // // the multitudinous seas incarnadine // making the green one red // swallow the islands // unsplit the desert rock // unmake the division of waters from the land // lay the glaciers low // come hurricane, come wind // flood the parched cities of the plain // ask anything in the ghost’s name // and it shall be granted // it will be rain // so let it come down // a hand// on a fevered forehead

4. / by Karen Craigo

This time of year I get off when it’s dark
and on the interstate I find my groove.
I’ll ride it in the way needles move
across the vinyl surface—then the jerk,
the bump that sends it screaming wide.
It makes you start and feels like a close call
but not as close as car confronting wall.
We hit the thing you tried most to avoid.
It’s thirty-one minutes door to door,
true silence not an option on the way.
I spin a record at the start of day
then crane to hear the backmask on return.
With higher speed, higher goes the tone
You whisper “Shush,” but look—you’re all alone.

R. Bachusby Jefferson Duval

the kind of guy
who doesn’t come towards you
either draws or repels
tall, thin, strong and squinting
as if to take you in as part of an
approaching design

smoking outside with the front door
wide open as if to say
I’m out here, but the smoke goes
wherever it wants to go

he speaks the language of machine
they speak back to him
his fluency scares bosses and coworkers
not caring, he serves only proper functioning
he talks to me of things I don’t understand
maybe if I did we’d have a better chance of laughing

serving hardened steel he assuages still
from inside an occasional gift appears
his heart’s likely twice the average size
pumping thickened blood like oil
through his stalky hose veins and chambers

he struggled but told me
not coming by for dinner was only
because he didn’t know how to be
plainly, doing the best he can
having as a kid been busted up bad

and raising his young sweet son I now see
one committed, loving dad.

Never Again / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

For years I fed you dinner
my heart in every dish

As certain as a lioness, I gave
all to my lion and cubs

I chopped beasts and greens
so our gathered family could eat

I did not consider the wellness
of other animals, only my own

I made dinner for us
a sacred family trust

On lean days when no
check arrived to purchase

chicken, vegetable or stock
I did not growl in complaint

turning what remained
in cupboard into our

savory our sweet
Only when another

lioness nestled in my den,
did I break the contract

of only feeding kin
I quit hunting, preparing

growing thin as I looked
for another place to stay

one without a kitchen
or dishes or demands

I’ll never hunt again
not even if he asks

I cannot give to something
that threatens not to last

No Statue / by CR Green

You gave the world wise words, but only
I heard them to recall now, To be happy
and productive with what talents I have
been given, knowing they are not
the greatest, is my challenge.

You did not hide, hoard or take hostage what
you were freely given. Driven by those gifts,
however small in the world´s eyes, you sensed
even to divide requires knowledge of multiplication,
that what is sown in weakness will rise to spread

No statue in or on your resting place, your remains,
in communion with others, contained within
a simple wall where large words carved in stone remind
that love is stronger than death; lesser words in metal
recall a Creative Artist existed in the world

Unlike the hardness of metal and stone, your own
boundaries were not rigid or compressed. I still see
the rounded contours of your ruddy full-cheeked face
facing the wind close to Mt. Sinai where your ancient
people began their travails

Jerusalem to North Africa, Spain to Odessa
New York to Alberta, Los Angeles to Aotearoa
Always mindful of the past, Not everyone is made
to live long, you said. Talents are given
for the future´s use.

No statue will show your long fingers
the wide spaces between each where mine–
carried over time from Ireland, England, Scotland,
France and Germany–fit so easily, gently, generously
urging me to use my own meagre gifts

No statue, yet I know for sure you stand
solid somewhere waiting to receive me
with arms open in welcome wide
to continue our journey on into
that prepared and promised place

where no fear of harsh or punishing hand
where all is whole, eternal, and you take
my hand again, not to strive in works, but to rest
in delightful ones, your tender, enlarged heart
beating, not beaten, by the long past

temporal cast of death

Two Haiku / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Vast

I was once canyon-
Wet clay earth forged into stone;
Memory’s echo.

Becoming

We orbit the moon
recalling when we were once
roots, arms, dust, ash – earth.

On the Origin of Weaving, A Rip in the Air / by Jeffrey Levine

Open your mouth and receive the host of the wounded word”
Vicente Huidobro (“Unravelling”)

On the occasion of her 95th birthday,
a constellation of darkness (don’t say “darkness”)
another of light (enough already with the “light”)
a gesture to be completed by light (what did I tell you about “light”?)
she knows none of us, not her daughter or her son,
neither her nieces nor her grandson,
nor whose birthday it is, yet
she is her own epiphanic experience,

her hours, such as they are, ripe with divination,
and so the flickering lights (again, are you serious?!) produce
a certain trance, and a gleam in the dark is seminal
(of course it is, like, I mean, the spark at the beginning
of the beginning, by definition, comes first)
let’s call it an instant, let’s call it a gaze
as Celan says, “there are still songs to be sung
on the other side of mankind,”
and so we sing the required song, all of us,

as the poet has also used discarded materials since well before
Lautreamont defined beauty in 1868
in Les Chants de Maldorar, as “the chance encounter
between (here he tells us what) and (here he tell us
something else) on (and here he tells us where).”
Even Santa and Mrs. Claus join in, ceremonial red and white,
so we create sound, sound from swen, swen meaning chant,
an incantation, voice as thread, voice as weaving,
folding together the thread and the threadlike writing
to form a nest of sound, she folds into herself,
her hands working at something small.

Imagine, for example, the first cross
interweaving of branches and twigs to make,
yes, a nest, the first cross of warp and weft, the first
knowledge, beginning of the spiral, a rip in the air.
Two or three lines, a mark, and silence (no no no no no)
begins to speak (isn’t that an affectation, a cheap effect?)
BE MORE PARTICULAR: call it the meeting of sun and bone,
call it a path the hands knows how to follow,
like a planet waiting to sprout

Love Story at Absolute Zero by Sarah Terry

Kelvin, ask me how badly my atoms long
to be held on chilly winter evenings. These
fingers painted Prussian Blue, Winsor & Newton,
darling, of course, and nothing but
Dvořák in my un-sweltered heartstrings,
mellifluous as a supercollider.

What do you know about singing?
Kel, I swear, I’ll send us both to the moon
and we’ll be washing the regolith from our hair
for weeks – each grain sharpened like shattered glass.

I can make you believe me. Dewy-eyed
and dreadful, you can slide past the inky skin
of my fortress like a dagger in Rusalka’s lake,
and isn’t that just what you wanted?

Let’s pretend we asked for the happy ending.
Spin me supersymmetrically through your arms.

Call / by Emily Vieweg

before the cat’s tongue tugs on my bangs,
before the kitten’s paws knead my chest,
before my eyes open to the lamp coded to rise like the sun
and chirrup like spring birds,
I realize that I have company;

but today is Tuesday, so I must carefully wriggle out from
under the zebra-printed comforter tucked
between my daughter’s 5 year old fists.
She is so cozy, warmer than grandma’s afghan;

mechanical birdsong chatter negotiates with my will,
reminding me of mama robins scolding brown squirrels,
of cardinals, blue-jays and sparrows,
chatting each summer morning outside my
childhood second-floor bedroom window,
music-noted wallpaper adhered to the east wall,
ballerina music box resting on my dresser,
and the carpet, still olive-green.

Day 3 / Poems 3

Daylight Savings Time / by Steve Bellin-Oka

This borrowed hour dissolves like peppermint
on the tongue. Dusk comes upon you, a feather
dropped from a departing bird. A few days ago,
the birch leaves were yellow as softened butter.
Now their branches are bare,

fractured arms in white casts no one cares to sign.
Though we can’t behave like people in novels,
nail a gourd to your door anyway, a 97th thesis:
though winter is long, though

for months you must wake before the crows,
April will come. Refuse to give your hour back.

3. / by Karen Craigo

One night I saw a fire up ahead,
and traffic slowed nearly to a stop.
Smoke rose into the black backdrop,
the underside of sky stained garnet red.

If you wait, eventually you get your chance
to study what combustion makes of us—
we slowed our cars and swung out wide to pass
and watched the burning from a safe distance.

I think I saw the driver on the berm,
this night so different from the one he’d planned—
parade outpaced by its reviewing stand,
faces at the window feeling warm.

I’ll admit—I slowed down traffic just to stare,
the need to witness still a type of prayer.

Sammy, so long sweet / by Jefferson Duval

fall leaves fall
that way down the ride of a lifetime
they     sure     do

from the docks i watch
a tidal, familial drift
the boat an upturned homogenous mask
with cracks
around this gently wrested matriarch

strength arcs up from behind emptiness
unrecognizable

the hole is torn
waters released
though stretched thin from living
enough to catch that warm breezy calm
the worldly veils
change our ways in
rearranging scar path matrices

elements unfed
call the unsure footed
toward the musty smell crumbling
earth at the edges
unwetted
now may suck stray uncles over and through
or a child too pure for wading the malaise
those who’ve fed sorrow with sorrow
pain with punishment
meaning with empty cardboard boxes
recyclable, yes

let there be joy
coming in around caged smoke
welcoming the warm host for discomfort
lovely contractions
tearing the heart muscle strong
pointing the way home.

Knowing What to Keep / by Kelle Grace Gaddis

When you went to war, I wore pearls
around my neck. On it, I counted your
years away as if it were a rosary. We
thought war a necessity for country.
Those pearls were lost in a move
and you, as if in trade, were brought
back to me. A red, white and blue scarf,
given by the brass before you arrived,
hung loosely over my shoulders, when I
raced towards you it blew off. I let it lie
where it lay, unwilling to let you go.

How Now to Eat the Earth? / by CR Green
On Ruth Watson´s Geophagy following RikTheMost´s Spoken Word Workshop.
Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCa)
Christchurch, New Zealand

Born with all senses, but not listening,
is this what you have left of the earth to eat?
All right, then. Touch it. Pick it up.

Go ahead. While this roley poley baby blue
still rolls around, let the viscose, polyester, nylon,
rayon, spandex, 100 % cotton, linen blends

fall through your swollen fingers. The earth´s
disposable, isn´t it? So, do it quickly before it´s past
its use-by date. Let your eyes feast on the packed

and piled flavours: the sweetest of stripes, rainbows
and calicos, four seasons of bitter frocks and jackets,
mountains of savory pants and pantaloons.

Devour rocks with your nose. You have my permission
to blow it. Strain them through your remaining teeth.
Smell the timeline of marbled chocolate strata, inhale layers

of melted icing, Pavlova icebergs topped with Passion Fruit,
baked Alaskan volcanoes waiting to set the ocean on fire.
Let your tongue polish them until chaos shines so bright

an audience of angels wants to stare. Let them look deep
into your core. Is there a flame of feeling, something,
anything there?

Even though you can´t hear their wings, listen to what
those angels say about the days you have left to eat.
Count them, they are saying. They are numbered.

Blue Words / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

My blue is hidden

a toll bridge bell rings

warm hands hold hot paper cup
possible splinter
raindrops in my hair

Gray falls from

a blank canvas sky
the absence of blue-
rain drops

cling to my lashes

break surface of the lake
hear ripples
see ripples
dog climbs out of water
shakes himself dry
tail wags like an otter
wet nose sniffs the air

wind in my face
hot paper cup of coffee
steam at my nose
liquid on my tongue
shoulders at my ears
cold cheeks
angry breeze-
words on the page

my breath when i exhale
a callous from this pen.

Yellow leaves

fallen into gutter
warm hands holding

hot paper cup
wind blows rain sideways

toll bridge falling

down back into place

Gray rain drops
a blank canvas sky
my breath when i exhale
the absence of blue
words on the page.

Agnus Dei / by Jeffrey Levine

Friends called near midnight from the house on Derby Hill
where another eight inches of snow masses in the prospect.
Here in Vermont, there is no stopping to measure
each thigh-swept sweep of snowfall, but
only the season’s swaddling
of whitened landscape, as if to preserve it
for something more important, farther off.

It’s reliably Medieval, Vermont snow; we skate
a quarter turn past solstice and there it is.
No more rain, only the permanence of snow
and what there is to say about it. How fresh snow
holds the pod of childhood weightless on its tongue,
how hard you have to listen, still and faint,
to Gregorian chant rising from every whorl and tuft—

alleluias and antiphons, and like the graduals,
the snow falls and falls in Latin, in elongated
melismas, snows fall into the shapes prepared
by Palestrina, by Orlando di Lasso, these
are the tablets of the law, frozen ground,
frozen sky, the pale vulnerable bark of birches,
the frozen streams wanting sleep and more sleep.

They’re home atop their mountain, my friends,
the chimney plumes an Kyrie of smoke and embers
into the blue-black night, books piled on the floor,
and something baking as if answering the need to dream.

The snow through the window blinks
like imploring winglight falling white and gold
through a nimbus of uncurtained glass,
powder falling mute into the valleys below,
falling where no rain—neither spring wash nor
frozen—sets unbound the streets and stores.
Not until the lone midnight skater tucks
one more turn through time. Glide again,
chanter of snows, reaper of seasons,
dona nobis pacem.

Love Story in Stop-Motion / by Sarah Terry

Forty-seven degrees –
the way I love
your outstretched finger
as it taps against
my skin – the gasp
and breath – remove
your eyes for softly
falling lids
that settle on my cheek
like ash – a flash –
and when your heart beats,
each second blooms
in fireworks of torn cotton
on a wire-scaffold sky.

Homecoming / by Emily Vieweg

Before you open your eyes,
an old barn door slides open
your left foot inches in
narrowly missing Tom,
guardian of the realm.
He sniffs your mud-caked
sneakers, lets out a low snort,
lowers his ears, and retracts
to the corner, annoyed
at the intrusion to his day.
The Gelding pads his hoof in the
third stall, he can already smell
the carrots hiding in the trunk.
After twelve years, the only new tenants
at your parents’ farm
are the litter of kittens
nibbling the cabbage leaves
in the back garden.

Day 2 / Poems 2

A Visit from The Shadow / by Steve Bellin-Oka

Under the velvet, wide-brimmed hat pulled low,
I thought I saw a piece of white bandage
on his cheek. The cloak lined with crimson
the color of dried plum juice. I held the door
open, but he was already in the kitchen, leaning
against the scratched refrigerator. Who knows what
evil, he said, lurks in the vegetable crisper? Then
he was floating through the hallway, pointing
his black-gloved finger at a photo hung
on the wall: you weren’t there when your sister
died. You weren’t there when anyone died.
He patted the dog’s head as it sniffed his leg.
Kicked off his shoes and lay across the bed,
staring up at the ceiling fan blades churning,
the frosted lamp cover. You never told him—
but my superpower is disappearing. Where
is Steve Oka now? Those are his jeans draped
over the scuffed blue wingback chair. Someone
should tell him he left behind his favorite maroon
scarf, a wilted carnation, a handwritten note
on the bedside table saying, All your fruits
are bitter weeds. All your shadows know.

 

2.by Karen Craigo

We all have sought a place to make our den,
each traveler who treks from end to end
of road first pressed by hoof into the land
where some deer made its way once, then again.

I’ve always had this theory of the road:
It had to start with one sole passing through—
ten-thousand-year-old feet pursue a doe,
and passage rises from primeval tread.

And so one day’s decision carves the way
and caravan and wagon reinforce
and tamp down, broaden, verify the course
that’s smothered under interstate today.

Once a mother, too exhausted to move on,
laid down her mat, and there sprang up a town.

approaching tracks / by Jefferson Duval

On an early Sunday morning drive behind
the familiarity that allows the mind to slow
time to wander into passing houses by

here in one, a light on
i see a dark mask on the wall

feeling a large armature
humming
moving currents through
no events
an operator’s beaconing
passing with fine feathers
symbols and meaning for flocks
across this dividing line.

A Note Left By the Rare Green Woman / by CR Green

But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth…
Revelation 12.16

Our pestles though cracked
cracked at the edges still do the job
the job we and they seem created
to do, to do now when herbs are fresh
fresh cut from your ears
fresh hewn from felled grain
clipped from your nostrils
in need of dehulling

Our mortars stay sound
yet sound life´s alarm:
all is not right
You watch, provide providing
we serve in continued pounding
yet continued provision
requires balance for nature’s
natural order to be ordered aright

Bread, bred from two bodies, rises
Vined fruit from your beard becomes
blood blended: life-giving blood
letting past blood be passed at table
yet you, seated, sated with other
green men of misunderstanding
misunderstand the service
we green women serve

Firebird / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

Blade flying through night
Edges sharpened by falling-
She is fire rising.

Lamentations on the Twenty-Fifth Amendment / by Jeffrey Levine

He feels sad about us, you’re certain, even when she tears
open her shirt and holds God’s leathery knuckles to her breasts
as they walk together through the meat-packing district,
first the right breast, then the left.

What do you want to know about perfectibility? God asks
his lover. Every gesture says, “For some things I am not responsible.”

Tenement windows heave open like mouths gaping wide
with wonder at this vision of holiness, this midnight sublime,
blessing God more deeply into a provisional vision of greatness,
mopping God’s damp brow against the aching of the Rabbis.

God, who had been minding his own business, painting
a religious scene in his Soho walk-up—let’s say, a heart-stopping
Madonna who remembers a little of her Latin and can cook–
presses an oil-flecked fist to her cheek, slight lift of turpentine,
as if requiting her the price of beauty even as a thin blue mist sieves
through the night’s fluorescence sighing to steam
upon the summer pavement.

Weary, proud, Puritan heart, you are gasping for air.
You promise to do better next time: a perfect stew
on the slow burner, a coarser bread cooling on the sill,
hospital corners more crisply tucked. Each path swept clear
should He decide to touch you again
with His infinitely gentle indifference.

 

Telesilla 2049 / by Sarah Terry

Pizza topped with vinegar loops and delusions of white lace – Telesilla!
Plug yourself into the wall of blistered dreams and come alive.

Home is now a city collecting pistols, watching marbles
as they fill the empty circles of your father’s prying eyes.

Plait a prayer around the gates. Ablution rides on neon waves.
The torrent housed inside you hatches brightly like a flame.

You have stolen every hour from the countdown clock above you,
torn the wires from your rafters with your rampart skin unfurled –

Telesilla! Hear them cry it like a violent vow from heaven!
Upright palms in exultation as the rains come down in chrome.

 

Grit / by Emily Vieweg

Before I open my eyes, a princess,
armed in sunset-orange, sits
atop a violet unicorn. Its jet black mane
flows through the tsunami winds,
guarding a palace constructed of
generic lime green legos.
Perched on the north tower,
a green-gray granite gargoyle
blinks
twice
and as the princess draws her sword
from its sheath, its hilt blooming
in the evening dew,
the moon falls,
a pink sun rising over the horizon,
the ever-vigilant guardian
eases her talons from the slate,
releasing a morning sigh
against a torrent of
hail.

Day 1 / Poems 1


Disappearing Acts / 
by Steve Bellin-Oka

Black smoke waft of a train
over a stone trellis in late afternoon. White

trees. Mist in stalemate above winter
river. Catgut of a broken

violin string. Eurydice’s body crumbling
to dust on her path upward. When you

walked out of the Amtrak station
in Charlottesville, I thought I’d

memorized the lyre shape of your back:
I’d seen it bare so often. The once

you’d let me touch it, my fingers
shook like crinoline on a clothesline.

I moved them lower & you did not stop me.

Will you ever look behind you where
I sit hunched on the wooden bench? The porter

straps my bags to a cart tenderly, as if
they were travelling cellos. Look back—

I’ve crumpled like a white tissue paper bird.

You paused at the station door & listened.
At the station door you listened & did not look back.

 

Commuter Crown / by Karen Craigo

1.

Impossible, but yes, that was a bear
I spotted a black heap of yesterday
as I topped eighty on the right-of-way,
no time to pause for scrutiny or prayer.
I’d finally found a job, and it was new,
and what I’d witnessed wasn’t thought to be.
What can’t be there, but nonetheless we see—
it complicates our effort to pass through
easily. I’d hunted for a place
to take me, out of work for two-plus years,
and chances very nearly rare as bears
toppled by some speeder’s coup de grace.
Uprooted once and twice and then again,
we each had sought a place to make our den.

 

Time untrendsby Jefferson Duval

I died again
laid down the friend
retired my skills
leaving luggage lost

now Born again
seeds opening
cynical thought trains
composting
infirm

Mid-life again
on our marks begin
level scales nosing up
a still-life, winking
smiling back across.

 

Inside and Outside / CR Green
Los Angeles, 1954

We live inside the city
Small house next to my elementary school
rent reduced because my teacher-father
watches the school on weekends to make sure
no one climbs fences to play on the playground

Outside is connected to a school garden
Gardening teacher, Mr. Nelson, show us
chicken eggs incubating. He points to an
embryo chart: hard shell of protection, soft
cushion of albumin, an eye, a brain, a heart

Mr. Nelson gives my father the chicks once
hatched–they grow large inside a dark
dusty shed beyond the house. Outside in
sunshine I see my father’s hands wring
a chicken’s neck

It runs around and around until it drops
Following my father when wilted chicken
is carried into the house by its feet, I see
it presented to my mother who accepts
gives him a tight smile, plops it in the sink

I see her pull its feathers out one by one
Bumpled skin looks like mine when water
grows cold in the bathtub. I see her hold
the chicken up to the light. I see pale arms
a fat torso, chubby legs–a baby!

A knife appears in the hand that holds
my head when I am fevered, holds my stomach
when I vomit. I watch the mouth from which
emerge stories, now concentrated, as if saying
someone before me did this, I can do it, too

I see her hand slice the baby down the middle
arms, legs quickly removed, insides now outside
liver, kidneys, even the heart I love to eat
sorted, stacked. From the floor where I sit
I look up to my mother who turns and says

“This is why we give thanks.”

 

Pandanggo sa Ilaw (A Dance of Lights) / by Liezel Moraleja Hackett

First, we show them
a box to waltz in
and then we give them
a circle to waltz around
then we separate into lines-
a candle in each hand
and one on the head.

We share a story about
somewhere far away
a small seaside village
where fishermen out at sea
are searching the dark
for a light to guide them home.

The light is you.

We sway and we turn
We smile and interact-
villagers standing with oil lamps
at the water’s edge
That is when the candles dance.

Each step, each turn
we take in the dark-
Without it
the light we carry
cannot be seen.

This light is for you.
It’s the light you showed me
The light you taught me to carry
A light that burns
and makes itself known in the night.
A light that guides us home.
A light that can never die.

 

The rare wine, which is drunk / by Jeffrey Levine

It was this time of year, cold, and he was the kind of guy
who says the thing you most want from him—in this case, money—
is “done” and then he takes you out to dinner,
the small place with no name yes exactly like the horse,
some little jewel box on the Jersey Shore where
he’s going to toast to your dream because he says
it’s the right dream, a good dream, a dream of poetry,
and he’s wealthy beyond measure, and after all it doesn’t
matter, the money, to him, and he dandy’s in four bottles
of rare, nearly priceless Bordeaux, two for the chef,
who he doesn’t know but he wants to matter to the celebrity,
and he figures rare, nearly priceless wine will do the trick,
and two for the two of us, of course, the best the French
have to offer, and we open and we pour and we swirl
and we toast our mutual designs, and I put away the plan
because he doesn’t need to see it, we need only to drink
the best of the Chateau sip-by-sip, and something happens,

something gone forever, wine like a living animal,
you might say, the horse, say, there, now, then
a purpling of the light, as where the whole dissolves
to fetch up a molecule, and the birds alight on the windowsill
and from across the table this man holds his hands to his heart
as he rocks in place, like a secular sort of davening,
as if trying to capture something particulate, something beyond
the prescribed liturgy, as if spontaneously composing
an erudite monograph of the age of the earth or the footprint
of what’s numinous, as if it’s possible to tell the difference
between those sudden shudderings of the sacred and the mystical,
we creatures composed of millions and millions of tiny robots,
each trying to locate stuff in the moonlight, working like hell-
bent, well, robots, to take satellite pictures of the putative self
and put them back together, reassemble them more or less randomly,
because how could we, poor mortals, know the difference, so
he stands up, wavers, lifts up on his toes and bends from the knees
like Astaire savoring himself, saving himself, closing his eyes
and humming some counterpoint to the Eurotrance electropulse
otherwise madness-inducing drone, the closed-in part pushing
outward toward the hand on his chest, the wine folded in,
unchangeable then, forgive, says the man, you with whom
he is pleading, the wine was moon-cold, forgive me,
it was colder than you think, though it didn’t hurt
much, this business of slipping into an other life, full
of nothing like the drone of ours.

 

Tripartite, like a painting, like a god / by Sarah Terry

Lie down on the path.

Force your hands into the gravel and feel it run from you,
mice from thunder, goosebumps from the cold.
Tiny shivers of life desperate to escape undoing.

Go deeper. You eat vengeance like air.
Your skin is nothing but an event horizon –
all that’s left inside is yearning.

I could have told you. Oh, but it wouldn’t have mattered.
You already knew.

Lie down on the path.

She’s eight years old. Did she look back when she was taken away?
We tear our hearts open like hands to hold her.
Did someone tell her not to?

There are no gifts and no curses. You are power because
she had to be – raw and mighty like the broken mountains.

When I take your hand, our breaths catch, our eyes focus.

Lie down on the path and become the way.

 

Good by Association / by Emily Vieweg

David gifted this title.
I wonder how to live this line.

On bad/sad/sick/ days I find myself
crass and a little too honest
like the uncensored pucker
of the sour-lemon-sucker.

Holiday hooplah and hullaballoo
fogs over the house and
clogs window screens, a/c unit filters and
garage door gears.

i wonder if santa is watching, if
rudolph consumes enough vitamin A and
if father christmas ever ate chocolate?

will this spirit evolve, too?