Welcome to the 30/30 Project, an extraordinary challenge and fundraiser for Tupelo Press, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) literary press. Each month, volunteer poets run the equivalent of a “poetry marathon,” writing 30 poems in 30 days, while the rest of us “sponsor” and encourage them every step of the way.
The volunteers for January 2019 are Dale Champlin, Tricia Knoll, Georgia Pearle, ellie swensson, MMThompson, and Viviane Vives. 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.
Poem 30 / Day 30
Renga / by the January 2019 30/30 Poets
crash of icicles
as snow slides off the roof
the letter I must write
syllables – still – in amber
once awakened, will shatter
glass spray clear and crystalline
Microcosms of sky lit,
Split through to faceted grit
Snow crystals shot like comets
gather, cover roofs and roads
only to melt next morning
A constant seventy-five,
water under Mérida
Winter’s Dream / by Dale Champlin
Snug mountain passes
leap with white goats.
Water trickles from beneath
snowbanks as ice-covered
ponds bubble and thaw.
Overhead brown pelicans,
snow geese and cormorants
dot the horizon, traveling north
with slow wingbeats on
Winter dreams branches
powdered with diaphanous
silks and cotton. Songbirds
every hue shimmer warm air
with high pitched trills.
Free from winter’s bondage
frog jelly releases tadpoles
like millions of sperm, orchids
and ghost pipes spring
from forest duff—
egrets needle upward, long legs
trailing like threads unraveled
from the riverbank. Tucked
into a yellow-leafed willow, a green
heron honks its mating song.
Dreaming this happy dream
winter contentedly sleeps on
in the midst of a cold snap
icing each roadway. Gray fog
stretches—feline and lethal.
January from Vermont / by Tricia Knoll
Anyone can write darkness. Ink.
Or mimic sunshine. Squint.
Say how cold burst out
of the Arctic and slipped down
into minus lives, whispering vortex
to laugh at laws and paint with frost.
Thirty days of icicle glass.
Thirty nights vampires suck
heat and furnaces knock back
like forty thieves thumping at the door.
Ice eighteen inches thick
on a pond where families
set up grandpa’s tip-ups
and wait for a flag to flop:
pike at shiner bait.
Where sun streams through
the augured hole, the fish
avoid the light, sink back
into low-below ink
that poets rinse off
as blotches on a fingertip,
a month of poems that scribble
in crust on the frozen lake
where we walked on water.
Cinderellas insole / by MMThompson
She just left the insole
In her hasty exit
She put up a profile
But she hardly checks it
There’s email and Facebook
twitter and Instagram
Just to keep up with them
Is not one to dwell on the
Details. She’s really after
High level thinking.
sees the big picture
Focused on process
Seeking out quality
Reflection of what if could be
And avoids equating
Solo with lonely
Or “Happy” with dating…..
30. / by Viviane Vives
La Libertad Duele
Soy libre mamá? La libertad sabe a estar sin el avi y sin vosotros. La libertad duele.
Los dos escribían, my madre y mi padre. Mi madre por fuera y por dentro, sobre libretas de las que tengo tan pocas. Se las arranqué a mis hermanas-araña en el último minuto. Se las dejaba todas, confiada. Querrán mis pensamientos y no los suyos? Ay mi culpa, mea culpa.
Mi padre escribía más que nada por dentro. Por fuera escribía muchas mentiras y alguna verdad: en su agencia de publicidad, en nuestras cabezas, y en su libro “Maldita publicidad!” (un libro pequeño de color marrón, lo abrí dos veces y las dos veces las mentiras salieron disparadas del libro; pum lo cerré;) excepto cuando le escribía cartas de amor a mi madre.
Pero antes de ellos y de sus malescritos, y mas antes aún de los míos, estaba Josep. –
Poem 29 / Day 29
Sleuth / by Dale Champlin
All winter, you change with every moon
phase—from cricket to orchid to axel—
like a child’s abandoned whirligig
spinning in bleak weather.
I have never walked this close before
to smell your scent in cold air.
I could find you in an attic,
full of furniture sheathed in muslin—
or would you be calmly reading
beside a cozy fire?
If I find you by your quiet breathing,
or the way light grazes your eye
my search would end.
But rooms go on like passing days
each different from the room before
and I might make a wrong turn
or drop the key. I need to hear
the sound of your voice
a whisper would suffice.
Your clothes may brush a wall,
or your match light a candle,
with the sound of rushing water.
Yet here you are, your hands
full of silver coins
that crash down and scatter
the way a pane of glass shatters.
When I find your true nature
I won’t touch you or slow your spin.
Learning from Wave Mail / by Tricia Knoll
A beginning: backbeat throb
of mother blood-pulse. Come to
variations of thrum, throb,
pulse, tick. I am. Alone.
Swimming lesson: sink
or swim. Father’s toss
in spins of tornado’s seiche.
Lake Michigan’s tumble-roil.
But I must kick.
A fishnet afloat in wind-fest
of white caps: Long Island Sound –
my dress in sunset calm,
a stroke, a cadence. Going on
to pull up lifelines
from the surf-churn.
Lake Beautiful’s mirror
illusion of honesty.
Military sonar spam and bad news
spume. Whales show how to shift
riffs to challenge codebreaking
and refresh an ancient love song.
Keat’s name written on water:
obit’s finger tracing the crest-end.
January 29th: for montbello / by ellie swensson
the seed upturned from
an elementary block, that child
told good ain’t good enough.
your literacy looks better
with a white name.
survey says: beautification.
survey says: amnesia,
the dust smeared behind.
well soled treads mount
a fiscal climb over slighted mouths.
targeted for turnaround.
tag that local advancement.
no food for miles, but buck up;
we’ll cut you a slant check.
we’ll up the cost.
everything’s going so well.
we can barely see you.
where you came from
tooled to a stepping stone,
a place of contract
penned in language that slips out.
who owns this future,
cuts thriving beneath the bud,
blunts resilience for efficiency’s favor?
the we is
amalgamating in stacks,
amoebic and misdirected. harsh
anonymity fortified and
well dressed. that smile,
that wagging tongue, metronomic
descent. pay attention.
attention and know:
the future belongs to the child,
always the child.
do not mistake this is a threat
and a resolve.
I know your name.
you are not alone.
Orthogonal / by MMThompson
I tried to separate
The sunset from traffic
So I could just capture
The clouds from the sunset
The parallel brushstrokes
Created by currents
That we can not see
Stories that are told in
The rosy and golden
That shimmer and glow in
The sky as the sea
But taillights and sunlight
A moment of twilight
The very same air
To block out the gridlock
The shapes and the steel
The taillights lava like
Flow slowly uphill
Because it would not be
The entire story
Is grounded and real…
29. / by Viviane Vives
Nuestra Libertad Es Estar Juntos
Estás enfermo en casa, bueno, la casa de tus padres. En el extraño sobre, casi cuadrado, que enseguida me ha llamado la atención, pone:
Sr Alberto Vives Muntaner 442-446
“creo que te gustará tenerlas hoy”
No se quién firma.
Se debió entregar por mensajero o a mano en persona, no hay una dirección completa (que diga por ejemplo: “Barcelona”). Y tampoco hay sello ni timbre.
Dentro hay dos cartas de mi madre del 29 de enero y 30 de enero 1960 dirigidas al Señor Alberto Vives
via Layetana 37
El sello es Saint –Remy les Antiques 50 francs
El timbre Nice 29 1 60 – 19 H
Y Nice 30 1 60 – 20 H
La primera es en francés:
Nice le 28-1-60
Alberto personne ne s’aime comme nous, notre amour est bien différent! Ne trouves tu pas que c’est bizarre l’amour?
La façon don’t.il transforme et fait changer de point de vue en peu de temps, c’est a peine croyable! Il est impossible de penser sans que tu sois dans cette pensée et Il serait impossible maitenánt de vivre l’un sans l’autre, quand on s’aime comme nous les separations sont trés ennuyeuses et tristes, mais il faut étre separés au moins un fois pour savoir a quell point l’on s’aime et la joie de se retrouver n’en est que plus grande, ce qui n’empeche pas que j’aurais preferé ne jamais étre loin de toi, et je ne penses qu’a la joie que nous aurons d’être ensemble a nouveau.
C’est drôle comme une personne qu’on aime (toi) est aussi necessaire que l’air que l’on respire, sans amour vrai (le nôtre) la vie est peu de chose, qu’elle différence quand nous sommes tous les deux pour voir les beautés de la vie et decouvrir des choses qui n’appartiennent qu’a nous, c’est tellment plus merveilleux.
Toujours nous marcherons main dans la main sur le chemin de la vie et toujours nous respirerons le meme air, verdad?
Je t’aime et ça me plais beaucoup de t’aimer.
Pour toujours le destin de Alberto et Bambi est lié.
Le segunda en castellano:
Nice le 29-1-60
Alberto solamente el uno por el autro! Y el uno es el autro.
Pues me gustaria ya estar con la autra mita de mi que esta en Barcelona.
Es muy difficil vivir solamente con una sola parte de ser persona y no es estraño que nos encontremos tan poco a gusto asi, menos mal que nos émos conocidos, tú no vés si toda la vida nos hubiera faltado la autra parte, que peina.
Comó pueden vivir los que no encuentran nunca la persona mita d’ellos? Es un drama esto,
Estoy muy contenta que el despacho va bien, pero no vas a enfermarté tanto trabajar? Quiero decirte que te quiero, es igual si ya lo savés, je t’aime esto no se dicé nunca demaciado, tú savias que cuando se siente de verdad no sí puede hacer de autra mañera que decirló mucho al final?
es tan nuevo para mi decirlo qué no me cansaré nunca.
Créo que cuando se empieza a decir no es possible pararsé, pienso que las palabras de amor son comó las hojas de los arbolés en “automme” cuando se empieza a caer una accaban todas por caër y cuando sê dicé una palabra de amor van siguiendo las autras (no me aclaro decirlo en español hubiera tenido que ponerlo en francés)
hasta mañana Alberto esta noche soñare en ti. Bambi
Doblo la carta y la pongo con cuidado de vuelta en el sobre “PAR AVION.”
España está escrito en diagonal a la izquierda, no debajo de “Barcelona” (no cabe) Noto lo cuidadosamente que se han abierto los dos sobres, uno por arriba y otro por el lado, los dos con cortapapeles, solo una esquinita rasgada.
Y entonces viene el milagro: en la caja plateada, de cartón, la que que se dejaron mis hermanas en las violadas estanterías, hay dos pilas de cartas, en dos montones. En el montón de las de mi padre hay 73 cartas, las he contado ahora, y me digo hoy: va, sólo una más… mi mano escoge, a ciegas, y es precisamente la respuesta del 2 de Febrero de mi padre a las cartas que acabo de leer, cómo es possible? Las del sobre especial. Se me pone toda la carne de gallina.
Escrito a mano:
MLLE. BAMBI BEGLIOMINI Av. De la Reserve
El sello es una imagen de Franco – 5 pesetas.
El timbre 2 Feb Barcelona y no se entiende mas
(dark blue ink pen)
Barcelona, 2 –II-60
Yo tambien creo en Dios.
Me dices: “nadie se quiere como nosotros. Nuestro amor es diferente”. Me dices en francés. Me lo dijiste cuando yo necesitaba que lo dijeras. Te explicaré. El sábado me acosté tarde. Estuve paseando un poco antes de ir a casa. Iba pensando. Bambi venía conmigo. Hacía frio y no me daba cuenta. Cuando me puse en la cama (a las 4 h.) me di cuenta de que tenía fiebre. El domingo y ayer, lunes, los pasé en la cama, ENFERMO. A las 8 h. de la tarde de ayer (cuando estaba pensando que tú estarías ya en el tren) me trajeron a la cama un telegrama: “Bambi ENFERMA…”
Ningún día del año hemos estado enfermos. Ahora, hemos coincidido los dos. ¿Casualidad? No! “Nuestro amor es diferente… nadie se quiere como nosotros”. Te digo: “nuestro amor saldrá todavía más fuerte de esta dificultad. El deseo de vernos sigue multiplicándose… a nuestro amor ya no le falta nada para que sea perfecto. Nuestra alegría debe ser superior a nuestra tristeza.”
Quizá me equivoco, pero en ésto veo la mano invisible de Dios. El quiere, quizá, que vivamos lo más intensamente posible nuestra relación. Alguien nos tiene atados para que apreciemos al máximo la belleza de la libertad. Nuestra libertad es estar juntos. Cada vez me parece más extraordinario vernos. Nos veremos muy pronto. Te lo prometo. Siempre cumplo lo que prometo…
Hoy habrás recibido una medicina que, en forma de telegrama, te he mandado desde Barcelona. Te he dicho “te quiero” porque no me parece justo que pases un día en la cama sin que tengas la noticia (cada día nueva) de que te estoy queriendo. Minuto tras minuto, Bambi.
Por todas estas cosas, empiezo a creer que nuestro amor (bonito, sacrificado… completo) es un poco (o mucho) sobrenatural. ¿No está lo sobrenatural por encima de todo lo natural, lo normal, lo de la vida? ¿No está nuestro amor por encima? Tú y yo hemos sabido hacerlo así: sí, efectivamente es suerte (o predestinación?) habernos conocido.
Hemos cambiado. Ahora pensamos: “Primero nosotros, lo demás importa poco…”
(In black ink roller pen)
Te escribo ya desde el despacho. Yo ya no estoy enfermo, y tu? Hoy, martes, he venido ya a trabajar. Tenía prisa el domingo para ponerme bueno… ¿Cuando iré a la estación a esperar el tren de Francia?
¡Qué lástima no haber podido enfadarme! T’estimo… et toi… me quieres, Bambi? Al
Hace una pila de años, cuando estaban todavía en la torre, la carta estaba en la despensa con las otras, en la misma caja creo, o a lo mejor no… pero en el maldito sótano en el que viví un tiempo, cuando ya iba de salida y olía todo a moho.
Poem 28 / Day 28
Sunday / by Dale Champlin
Each day I approach
with growing resolve
my body waits in the dark
past dreaming—like a heron
stilted in the marshland
each breath a shiver
feeling what it is to be alive
calm and washed clean—
like dishes in the cupboard
but tall and sturdy
as a sequoia—in this
where, off in the distance
past rail yard clamor
pink mountains all the way
to the glittering ocean
in this mystical hemisphere
under all the birds pressing
air downward beneath
pale in broad daylight
blanched like this paper
white and unremarkable
begging for words.
Blinded by the Light / by Tricia Knoll
My neighbor in her pick-up truck wears sunglasses,
waves a glove at me. I am wearing two hats, wool
mittens and socks, thick boots, and my tundra coat
so I tip my bright orange shovel back at her,
nod and begin again to fling snow as light
as whipped cream to clear a way for the mail.
Sparkle on snow; white as bright white ever is.
Yes, m’am, blinded by the light. Bring on
Springsteen. Keep moving this morning
at ten below. Revved up like a deuce.
The weather chart says maybe safe
to be outside. With care. Fresh-sown
moonstone from the song; the eye
of the sun on snowscape’s squint city.
My wrap-around blue muffler folds in
the exhale of my solo riff on this frozen road.
For Sue….. / by MMThompson
I’ll always remember
Sue as a supporter.
So proud of her daughter,
so proud of her son.
And how she would savor
when all were together,
her lovely granddaughters
her charming grandsons.
I’ll always recall this –
Sue took time to notice.
To celebrate promise.
The way we all might
find joy in today. Bring
the hopeful of new spring.
Be grateful for blessings
and share in delight
Poem 27 / Day 27
Next Summer I Grow / by Dale Champlin
Radishes, pole beans,
and asparagus. Peppers
and peonies zing in our garden.
I string words on each line,
fishing lines, clothes lines,
sheets hanging in sunshine
as birdsong rains down
onto fern beds—each note
breathless as a dandelion seed.
Bursting with juiciness, tomatoes
ooze in warm air, fragrant
with jasmine and honeysuckle.
Frogs harrumph, hummingbirds
thrum in summer’s lawnmower
drone. Our squirrel-chasing dogs
snap at dust motes and worry
the wood rat back into his hole.
in our ladybug sandbox. We
eat cucumbers and blackberries
and sun-swim the sandy river.
Bees swarm in the top branches
of our white oak and form a long
honey-colored drip shimmering
and murmuring in low sunlight.
Fish jump clean out of the lake
snapping at mosquitos. At night
we roast marshmallows
and you and I have sex
in an alfalfa field on an old army
blanket smelling of mothballs
after we watch the meteor
sky show sparked by the Perseus
Constellation as we have every
year since our romance began.
Moonglade / by Tricia Knoll
When you live far from the sea,
where winter hunkers down
to bludgeon most of your senses,
your eyes notice how moonlight
makes a path across today’s snow,
acute angles toward sleep, a shaft
that invites some sliver of bright
night into the shiver of woods.
You say it’s not so different
from shine on August’s loon lake
in the shimmer ease of warm breeze
but you know how far you must go
until crickets begin fall-ish frenzy
and acorns crash on a hot roof.
So you praise winter’s silence,
this gift you have, moon’s pearly
beam, grace on frozen water.
January 24th / by ellie swenson
My domestic instincts are fierce these days,
amplified by the increasing hours spent away from home.
The direct corollary between commute times and my need to nest
bares it’s teeth as I flip plates at the restaurant table to catalog stoneware brands worthy of patronage.
My inner housewife is on radical display,
comparing cutlery sets and discussing the finer points of accessorizing beside tables.
I note these moments in pithy quips,
limited POV narratives with a healthy dose of self deprecating sarcasm.
what if they’re right. What if
What if they’re right.
Concentric / by MMThompson
Trees grow out from the center
Ripples on clear pond
Trace circles together
And moving beyond
And moving toward
outward and forward
27. / by Viviane Vives
When you went into the shallow pool with your bride
I was left to take a shower with the girl in the cage
I walked in behind her, saw her jail only had three walls
We walked out, her and I, took a last look at the deep,
Saw your reflection in there, and ours, all the people gone
We went on, looking for the one floating over your shoulder
The pure one that covered, requited, laughed, still followed.
Poem 26 / Day 26
January Sorrow / by Dale Champlin
Two wild swans arrow
their way northward,
whistling to each other
an adagio for the faithful.
Sorrow is a lentil-shaped cloud,
caught on a mountain peak,
clutched by an ice cap,
frozen in time.
At the top of the gorge
water dives. Silver blades slice
the rough cliff face, plunging
into dark mirrors below.
Sorrow is the chestnut-backed
chickadee singing a spring song,
tucked into its keyhole-nest,
feathered with fur.
Thick rugs cushion
under my slippers
in early evening’s
To counterpoint cold—
I summon bright yellow
forsythia, the scent
of lilacs, and wisteria.
A wild boar sacrifices his life
so we can warm ourselves
with ragout, beet salad
and mulled cider.
Under a pregnant moon—
January dashes to the finish line,
destined to be forever virginal,
fervor beyond her reach.
At the Threshold / by Tricia Knoll
A chess queen and bishop rest
above the door in the old barn
where cows came home. Mezuzah.
Ribbon bowed up for birth.
Ankh. Wreath. Warning
inscribed at Cotton Mather’s
door, “Be Short.” Marked
passage here to there.
We no longer need madonnas,
monuments. Nor jamb angels.
Walk away from carved and cached.
Wait with me at newer gates. Now.
Shivering and sweating in need
to connect, open: enter/exit,
and survive severe transitions.
Let your inner moon gate open
to what we stand to lose.
As ancient women swept
the doorway with their hair
when calamity struck, prepare
to embrace (as best you can)
lands we stand to harm.
Bless the forest path, river course,
glacier trails, open light on the bay,
the arches in the great rock way.
You are a doorkeeper.
Lead your children forth.
With the Lights Out / by Georgia Pearle
Outside the demagogues are gathering
and the trains are all moan, moan.
The interstates seem full of moving teeth.
We sleep like we know what it means
to be married, conjoined at the start,
then shifting, thawed into each other,
abs to back, wrist to rib, an ankle
in the crook of a knee, eyes unblinking
in the dark once language has hit
its liminal limits, again, again.
Tea / by MMThompson
Tea teaches me to be patient
To plan out the process
To wait and go steep
an entire five minutes
To cover the teapot
With its quilted blanket
Though it might start hot
It’s warmer for longer
The swirling whole milk
With honey and sweetness
To savor the moment
To plan out the process
26. / by Viviane Vives
Remixing and in response to Guarani Shamans of the Forest. As told by Ava Tapa Miri to Bradford Keeney, Ph D.
Back to Earth
We will now send you back to earth
You will stay a while to help others
I watched the sunset, heard the song
The word soul spirits arrived
Child, get your forest name so they can see you
In the spirit world
After the big dream, I ate very little
Berries, wild roots, corn, honey and water
With so much light in your head
And love in your heart
How will you remain on earth
To live the sacred way and walk to the East?
If we dance and pray there is hope
But if we don’t follow the path
Bad things start to happen
Missionaries, silent hatred in their hearts,
Divide the people, disrupt the way
We must start from a new beginning
Make things better if we can
White people don’t understand
Poisoned the waters of the earth
Ignorance causes her destruction
All these bad things go up to the Sun
The spirits know this, tell us
Those who carry the pain of others
Hold the power to heal
An impossible role
So the others may survive
Pray for us, help us
Help the earth continue.
Poem 25 / Day 25
A Poem for My Granddaughter / by Dale Champlin
It took me seventy years to swim across this river,
every stroke meant scores of songs, trillions of half notes.
It wasn’t possible to foretell your arrival—my happy
dream of you—looking so much like your mother.
Ceremony imagined in a diary of desire, quill
and quilt you entered my thoughts, a window
into the future, now in your spindle fingers, delicate
as spring leaves tipped with incomparable whirls.
The Goddess of Baby Girls has bequeathed you
sky-blue eyes, fierce intellect, and keen perception.
My deepest hope is to spend my remaining time watching
your wild growth, crazy willfulness, and wide-open gleam.
How deftly you practice this thing called life—filled
as it is with joy and fierce struggle—all while dancing.
Song came to you along with your milk teeth. Now you sing
Row, row, row your boat and Up above the world so high.
You gallop a rhythm of whinnies and hoof beats, point
to planets tracing ellipses and flying geese barking unrest.
I find you fearless in acceptance of your tribe
and openness to other tribes. Meadow flower, child
of two rivers’ convergence, child of strength and comfort,
palliative as thistles anchoring a slope of rich loam.
Close-by, a copse of lindens shelters raucous blackbirds.
Listen to their unbelievable repertoire of hope and laughter.
Pola Vortex / by Tricia Knoll
I am the witch’s tit.
You people never get me right. My bitch bra is made of silver, not brass. I make mirrors and hand you froth. I go by many names, but call me Pola. The lusty wind diva. Cringe all you like.
Be warned: Jail break! I am no longer stuck to the cloverleaf of north.I swoop down to kick ass on your sad little towns, clog your straight-arrow roads, shiver your timbers, and kill your weak. ICE? You ain’t seen nothing yet. I lock you homebound.
I rub you raw. Push me with plows? I keep coming. I’m higher than your kites, clouds, skyscrapers and drones. My slip shows – flakey lace. White and quite long-wear-you-down. Hah! I’m a swirling hurl-a-girl layback spin, skating your way every chance I get on ice-sharp blades. Flashing my flowing skirts – silver thaw and midnight blue.
You ignored me. You favored rant-chants about warming. While the sea beneath me went soft. We are going to dance, you and me. Like it or not, I lead. Buckle up your boots. Snowshoes. All-wheel drive and all-weather coats.
You don’t have time to tame me. I’m counter-clockwise. Pola revolutionary.
Fools unlocked the gate. I’m no more stay-at-home dame. Good times Pola Mama. You get what you deserve.
Catch / by MMThompson
An artful arch a purple catch
of Dawn in daybreak sky.
The mirror ice is casting back
refract reflect and freeze
Obscuring edges blurring lines
While winter branches weave
A blanket dark with barren cloak
And springtime wishes hold their breath
and clouds tiptoe on by.
25. / by Viviane Vives
Remixing and in response to Guarani Shamans of the Forest. As told by Ava Tapa Miri to Bradford Keeney, Ph D.
I still see him dancing
Keep the culture alive in our minds
Freedom, dance and ceremonies
He died near the river
We moved away to heal
We knew to do that
My sadness would not leave me
I became a killer
He came to me in my dream
He always came from the East
Were songs are born
A crown of feathers on my head
I’m leaving this song for you
I cried all night long
I began dancing and singing all the time
I travelled to them and all four
Gave me their word soul
Other ones took me to a special place
Where birds eat special fruits
Now that you know that place
You may listen to this song
Poem 24 / Day 24
Toward the End of January / by Dale Champlin
after Coleman Stevenson
The super-blood-wolf moon changed
from red to orange to white again—
hidden by cloud cover.
Some who saw it say the moon looked like
a maraschino cherry, or a burning
red garnet projected onto the sky.
The night went up in smoke.
At the sideshow, a mechanical magician
stopped Time—then went back to the heavy
work of turning lead into gold
Clouds disappeared in black wisps.
The fire died out.
Blackbirds left their roost
and wrote poems in the clouds
with slow jerky movements.
In the west mountains slumped
against the horizon.
The next morning there was no rain.
The garnet—January’s birthstone—
represents friendship and trust.
Garnet-studded branches harbor
How do stars burn without air?
Today I am thinking of blood—
symbolizing sacrifice—as stars bash
hydrogen atoms together blazing.
Pocket Mouse at the Wall / by Tricia Knoll
Live under. Many, many under.
Night. Seek seeds. Bugs. Dig
sand, pull grass, eat grass,
dig, curl up grass to sleep.
Now. People. Come quiet.
Swim river. Over sand.
Walk. Little trail.
Sad people and bags.
Drop bags. Some food
not much. Now. Trucks,
metal birds. Big. Buzz.
Road. Trucks pull metal.
Turn over all sand. Dig.
Loud. Lights not night
shine. Hunt sad people.
Hide under creosote.
Seeds in mouth pouch.
Stay under. Never
out in moonlight.
Big bad. Hawk. Owl.
Metal birds. Diamond-
back rattlers. Wheels.
Alone. Dig. Many holes,
pockets, tunnels. Go
under. Sand. Burrows.
Dig more. Eat creosote,
plantain. Hurry. Scurry.
Long time here. Faint
footprints. Dug under.
Many, many under.
Long time. Watch
others come / go.
Sand drift road.
Many under here.
Not so long here.
Raindrops / by MMThompson
As the raindrops come together
in a ribbon-braided river
in a million concrete gutters
tumbling over one another.
A molecular collective
from an eagle’s eye perspective.
As the nimbus circles darker
and, with gravity as archer,
every droplet with a purpose
hits the target of the surface.
Trace eternal cyclic circle –
Earth’s perpetual recycle.
Rain observes history in full
protozoan’s puddle now filled
witness land fish first appearing
be tyrannosaurus’ tearing
lifting Noah’s creature ballast
coating Taj Mahal’s fine palace.
An endless dynamic motion
sky to snow to stream to ocean.
Keeps the secrets of the ancient
buried deep in bluest glaciers
capturing the bubble fossils
Retracing steps now possible.
From the rooftop, moving outward
from the spewing spout, then earthward
At the nadir, water huddles
gathers into sidewalk puddles.
So sinuous slither streaming
reflect rainbows of the dreaming
shimmer spectrums towards forever
as the raindrops come together…..
24. / by Viviane Vives
Once home, she finally starts crying. Her body is doing that, not her. Tears all the time, brushing her teeth, making breakfast, taking pictures of her purple and yellow bruises, doing the laundry, feeding the birds, feeling fine, strangely, trying to take care of things. Except for the crying. She finally decides to go to work. She’s about to lose her job, she knows.
– “I can work and cry, can I not? Do not worry, really, I’m ok! I’m keeping hydrated!”
The man, an old Jew who has carved a good living selling oriental rugs to movie stars, turns his back on her, simply fires her.
– “I’m sorry this happened to you, but my wife has cancer on her leg, I have to take care of that. It’s too much.”
She does not get mad, it’s not possible anyway, physically, after crying straight all her waking hours. Understands. Keeps crying and functioning. Everyone in Los Angueles has too much going on, everyone is too lonely, too isolated, too sad.
After three full days, she stops crying. She picks up the phone.
(To be continued)
Poem 23 / Day 23
Tell Me Your Dream / by Dale Champlin
You broke the moon in half
and gave the dark half to me.
I held it in my palm—black as
cooled lava—pitted as a skull—
its two eye sockets nearly visible.
The moon’s other half drifting
on the slow river. Tell me how
you hatched from a turtle egg
and won a science fair prize once.
You remained in your shell and I
called it hesitation but you weren’t
afraid. We were sacred on the
lily pad of your bed in half-
moonlight. You unfastened my bra
during the chorus of tree frogs—
ethereal, ghostly and clamorous.
Unforgettable—how you poured
into my body and I knew
you would never be unfaithful.
Afterward our sheets rippled—
pierced with river reeds
in the wake of your leaving.
“Impossible is nothing.”– Muhammad Ali / by Tricia Knoll
Some people believe possibilities are endless.
Think of the miles blood flows every day,
of roads that fork, the rocks that hear the river
and let it go after knowing more for the passing.
That every moment we spend time, its currency
reflects our own design. The coins we toss in the cup
because they are too small to carry in a pocket,
those have a chance to bring home what we need.
Naming what seems impossible is a staunch gate
that closes fast. You can rip a fingernail off
trying to pry it open. Those too olds, not enough,
too tireds; or I let that go by and never heard.
They are out there. The men and women who
skydive, win weight lifting championships,
write memoirs, water ski, host exhibitions
of paintings and ceramics…after ninety.
Maybe the monks in the desert held out possible
as the word to hold secret for a year, to write
in the sand, to aim a finger to the stars and
loop letters together, scroll in the scryer’s pool.
Let’s not give up. Equity. Fresh air.
Clean water. Open space in wilderness.
Reuniting children with their families.
A woman danced in the halls of Congress.
Generations Before Us / by Georgia Pearle
Gathered silver around their tables,
registered for a china pattern, a cluster
of roses, maybe, or blue garland, something
out of some botanic garden. Not poppies.
It was enough for my foremothers
to keep crushed in a den of opiate velvet.
Foremothers with their husbands who had
pensions and health insurance,
doctors with prescription pads. I pour
peroxide in our ears when the infections come.
There’s no medicine in the cabinet.
There’s nowhere to go but home.
Dry erase part 2 / by MMThompson
I thought you were dry erase
Turns out you’re permanent
Time to get out the most
Noxious of solvents
Reapply elbow grease
Focus on the lesson
The right type of connection
Hoping to find someday
Persistent and determined
Thought you were dry erase
Turns out you’re permanent…..
23. / by Viviane Vives
today, I drew you,
then burned you.
You took your time to disappear,
the wind protesting,
I moved away
I breathed deeply.
I saw you burn,
Blew you out,
already without a map.
Go away dirty conceited boy.
Go, in your tacky limousine,
with your shaggy girlfriend,
with your manias de putas y madres
the clouds no longer draw your name
my breath is pure, and your hands, well,
your hands are still mine,
but when I remove my leather bracelet,
when I return from my trip to the Pacific,
the house will be painted white
and my memory.
The dreams will be mine again,
you’ll want to find me there,
but look how small it is,
the fire is almost out,
I recover my soul,
I breathe into the wind,
a bitch in the canyon howls
for your death, a whirlwind
all around me, do not bother
sending me the wind;
what you threw on my arm
is not a spider
is a fragrant corsage of cedar
Poem 22 / Day 22
Rising Dark / by Dale Champlin
Piercing wind slings snow against my windshield.
The night road in front of my headlights bends and dips.
Unless I turn on my high beams, I don’t know the road’s
direction until the last second. There is only black night
at the crest of each rise. My wipers swipe full blast.
I head to my father’s funeral. But wasn’t that four years ago?
Does this mean that I’m not finished with the ten stages
of grief? Dark opens before me like a grave. I am so lost
that I am sure I am in the foothills of the Coast range.
Three giant elk bound off the roadway to my right.
I jerk my wheel to the left and the tires start up a steady grind.
But I keep driving. Can my father see me now, incompetent
and alone? Firs loom on either side of the two-lane. A coil winches
my chest. My heart slips but I keep driving. Who am I to make
such a reckless drive, in this storm, at night?
Who am I to take every bit of kindness you’ve shown me
as a slap in the face? What I want—what I’ve always wanted—
is a pressing transformation. Coal into a diamond. I want
to be alive without criticism or apology. So I make excuses
for being out at night, crisscrossing ravines without falling.
The Wild Turkeys / by Tricia Knoll
after Mary Oliver
We are past the season
for the wild geese to pass
over with hoots and straggle-
strings of V’s. They predict
when winter ventures down
to smother us, we might sniff
goodness in frozen, short days
like patience and resilience,
chili and ginger carrot soup.
A too-exciting harsh wind,
lifts thin veils of snow over
rounded white landscapes.
The plows scrape out
their growling message
that someone cares. Hope
cannot be not lost when wild
turkeys hold up to below zeros
that winter hurls at them
under the smallest snowflakes
that fall like gentle kindness
and pile up as peace.
January 22nd / by ellie swensson
providing time and place.
weight deep and looped
at the hip.
the litany of heritage,
finger stained edge to edge;
what I can’t outrun.
two hours in transit.
this scatter plot of headlights begs context,
a warm underlay.
how I get to you:
how I get to you:
myriad run of the heartfelt
there are no assurances
turn every page for the new
word bibliomanced clean
out as supple drop.
how I get to you:
the time bent art of faith.
moss to soil
you swung swift
plumb to my will
you woven thick
beneath you mighty
love you struck in the soft
dark you clung full
you terminus joy
lit and bounding
Dry erase / by MMThompson
I thought you were permanent
But you are dry erase
It was not evident
Or I’d have turned away
Search for indelible
To find ephemeral
Can’t always tell – a full
I thought you were permanent
But you are dry erase
In a form all too firm
where it’s from I can’t say
I can go back to cover
Retrace my steps yet find
Even after it’s over
There’s still a smudge behind……
22. / by Viviane Vives
Poem 21 / Day 21
Earthfall / by Dale Champlin
As it pinwheels through space
earth shifts of its own accord,
spitting up plumes of steam and ash.
Tender loam cradles wispy roots,
spoors, bulbs and sleeping seeds.
In cold-time earth rolls over
like a hibernating bear, locked
in its cave of stone and ice.
Oceans, ripple and spume and welcome
felled trees. Pilgrimages of fish plunge.
Birds and insects rise into frigid air
shivering on strange currents.
Aloof, sun hides behind knots
of shattered weather. Calving floes—
winter pours into every trough
and swell like wine from a barrel.
It’s as if earth is giving us
the cold shoulder. We suffer through
branches’ raw clack, bone-chilling
frost upheavals, the drip of icicles—
until fog finds us huddled in parched
homes, sleeping our troubled sleep,
sad for inexplicable reasons.
Yet ice is pellucid.
We might dream vivid dreams—
hallucinate we are in an empty room
where ghosts wander though an open door
into the yard with its bitter stream
and sunken skiff, oars drifting
from loosened locks. Before sunshine
breaks through, warmth touches our
shoulders and our hands gleam
in front of our startled eyes.
The Arc of Justice / by Tricia Knoll
bends slowly. Any realist
knows this. Women vote
for one hundred years
to get one hundred women
in the House of Representatives.
Some people won’t vote
for a human with breasts
or let another woman feed
her baby in the hallowed hall.
prevent many from casting
any vote at all. They draw fracture
lines and make narrow regulations
that make no sense. No one
gives you rights; you demand them;
then you gotta use them and
stand up for them. Let us bow
our heads and remember
those who fought
for the right to vote.
Thank you, Reverend King.
Going Solo / by Georgia Pearle
I have had so many husbands.
Not all of them were mine.
Maybe too I’ve had a few wives,
barrel-chested in their aprons.
My favorite spouse is my own
clean hand—I keep my fingernails
square and neat, I keep my ring
on all night, on the hand to the right.
Lapse // by ellie swensson
an opportunity for forgiveness,
some time space to shake clean
the improbable silhouette of always.
Productivity imperatives brand my coffee
sure as the steam sweat stung to my forearm.
I meet the mirror on my morning exit:
a rumpled brow, a starched collar.
I am the sum of my parts,
especially the bits unrecorded.
That’s why we do this, right?
To note the pieces that go unmarked?
To shape something of the mouth that
rebukes linear value and reclaims
softness as valor,
howls awe full in the moon’s shade overhead, bleeds, relays the tale
of those who passed through before
Intersect / by MMThompson
A garden of cranes
Below the blue sky carved by
Pathway of planes
Tracing straight lines
From some perspectives
The fuel that finds flight
Fills Jet engines with fire
Foils cranes’ reach skyward
vector paths in atmosphere
While cranes disappear
Section by section
Dwindling with the addition
21. / by Viviane Vives
Lo que más recuerdo es el ruido, jamás había silencio. Y lo cerca que estaban las otras, debajo de mi litera y a cada lado. La que estaba a mi izquierda era peligrosa, le notaba la energía todo el tiempo, le pedí que por favor se callara, al cabo de dos días sin dormir ni un poco, y me dejó saber claramente que me iba a hacer daño si no me callaba yo. Respiraba violencia y llevaba un mono de aúpa, de meth, supuse yo.
Al otro lado de mi litera, a mi derecha, la pobre señora que estaba ahi porque no pudo pagar el registro de su coche, habíamos entrado juntas y ella había empalmado una broma nerviosa detrás de la otra, pero ahora estaba tan aterrada que no decía ni mu y sólo lloraba, A veces decía bajito: “Yo no debería estar aquí, que no tener dinero no es un crimen, por el amor de dios.” Ella pensó que un par de días de “vacaciones “ y resuelto y ahora estaba aterrada. Yo tampoco podía entender como se podía meter a alguien en un sitio así por no pagar el registro de un coche. Sigo sin entenderlo.
Poem 20 / Day 20
Marathon / by Dale Champlin
January misses her mother—
the oval plums and red
berries of autumn.
She remembers how fall leaves
danced in amber sunset.
with an unsteady gate,
mewls and shivers—
then finds her pace.
Half-way through her marathon,
She gains resolve,
becomes cold and gaunt,
even mud, firm and unyielding.
The harsh sun barely rises
above the horizon.
She stores up storms
to dump in her wake—
and possesses the absolute,
swallows day after day—
hurtles mountains whole.
When the earth
twists into shadow,
January runs all night
never stopping to rest,
heedless of history
or human affairs.
Bright needles of ice
prick her cheeks.
January plays for each tick of time.
Above her, the wolf moon hides
behind stainless-steel clouds.
Now she picks up momentum,
hitting her stride.
Winter Stole The Color / by Tricia Knoll
I accepted gray–green grass and the blush-peach
of a January sunset. Then this storm devil,
and hickories layer in billows of white,
snow-wraps thicker than the twigs.
A windless night holds a place for snow,
woods drain of somber grays into stark sticks
on pillows, mazes and cross-hatch #cold
lumps heap on resilient limbs.
When the home darkroom door opened,
you emerged from red light with monochromes
of razor wire fences, old cars in Cuba, sneakers
climbing library stairs, my fingers
rubbing the wood grain of a cedar stump
that the sea sanded into ridges. Scuffed
essence. Statements of the bare
outline of feelings we hesitate
to name. Timeless, this winter
as we live it – backlit, shadowed.
My heart would sing if a cardinal
entered the scene, but he doesn’t. Red
stays home and winter holds forth
a warped tattoo of sticks on ice crust,
no leaf pattern or wind play,
the transience and tangle
of a crow murder arrested
in bowed birches near the dump
or pipe organs of icicles
soon to grow from the eaves.
Young Wife / by Georgia Pearle
I heard him in the kitchen, badgering the dishes.
I heard him in the basement tripping over his tools.
He yelled at the laundry, he yelled at the dog, he yelled
that he was sick of our house. We were all sick
of our house. I wanted to strike out through the trees,
shed the windows, shrug off the lamplight
and the lampshade that kept the soft glow
in our night rooms. I wanted to be a sparrow,
a swallow, or dead. I wanted to live in the amber
field, free from ceilings, open to the open sky.
Swallows / by MMThompson
With tiny thin legs
and light hollow bones
I wonder – in winter –
how swallows stay warm
The maelstrom of tumbling
The fierce chilling wind
Is howling and thundering
Bushy squirrels dig in
Divining their treasure
Of acorns and seeds
Do swallows hide foodsource
In branches of trees
mostly they are silent
and hardly take wing
Yet in milder moments
I still hear them sing….
20. / by Viviane Vives
La Virgen De la Candela
My grandfather talks, or just listens, to the man in uniform with the crooked neck and the flighty gaze, his former friend, now crazed victor, the instrument of his ruin.
– “No hi ha res a fer.”
The factory closed, the workers gone. My grandfather wants to kill himself. Clearly, lucid. Everything ends.
No grandfather. It’s not true, I’m here, in the next century.
-“Here ends the family, the land, the honor and, above all, the good name … Per sempre.”
I have kept your name, Avi, I never changed it, none of us changed their name, three women, still called like you, the times changed, Avi. Although not as much as you prayed for. This is the year I will recover my honor, I swear. Your name, I invoke it, your weariness in my bones, your integrity. You lift me up. Think of your four children. La Virgen de la Candela (I’m disguised within her mantle, from the future, such is the power of my thoughts of you!) extends her hand. For the last time, you look at the carved pinecone and you close the door. You move to Barcelona, the family on your back, your woman sour, you will never again look forward, but up.
– “Santa Mare de Deu, you are life and the truth”
She smiles and caresses your cheek, exquisite, blue eyes, red curls; you were always humble.
One day, your son will fall at the feet of a French girl and you will meet her mother at the wedding, my other angel. Her war began where yours ended. Thérèse, flees. To the South. Little daughter asleep in her arms and my mother crawling, scratching her knees in the brambles, with pneumonia. A German army doctor kindly gives her penicillin while Mamie trembles. I do not know if a divine saint protects them too, and if she is French, but I do know that my mother and your son had to vanish from their enchanted forests; Valls and Lille. All lost, they were dragged to two cities by the Mediterranean. Nice and Barcelona. Barcelona and Nice. There I was born. In one, my life escaping at the other. And it is true that I am a daughter of the sea and granddaughter of the forest.
Poem 19 / Day 19
Something Borrowed / by Dale Champlin
I promised myself to borrow a bit of summer,
wrapped it in a cabbage leaf and tucked it under my pillow.
Now in mid-January, I dream of the lawn in the dark
and feel cool grass tickle the backs of my knees. The night is tender.
Near my birdbath, under licorice sky, a cricket chorus
performs without ceasing—grass gives up its essence as dew.
Around a broken moon, starlight spatters into a tracery
of bears and swans, but I see only squares and pentagrams.
Raindrops as large as my mother’s pearls break free—
with the scent of petrichor bled straight from the veins of gods.
Parsley, mint, and lilies congregate under broad trees.
Devout rows of sunflowers, pole beans and raspberries
bud, bloom and fruit. Hollyhocks spire in tutus.
My heart soars with fireworks. Later—
I might fall asleep at the drive-in or neck
with my high school boyfriend as onscreen cars race
and rebels without causes play chicken. The loser’s
leather jacket catches on the door handle.
His car plunges off the cliff into the sea.
Someone always dies at the end.
When Forever is Over / by Tricia Knoll
Someone will confiscate his keys
as the warden develops dementia.
His prisoner will have a history
no one shares, having served as
many lives as she had, her last
moments counting unserved
None of the heavy bells will toll
for the fall of the last old-growth
bristlecone hidden in a cleft of rocks.
The man who wrote the entire Bible
on birch bark will request a root;
a museum curator will deny his request.
I don’t know what will happen
to the oceans, our blue planet.
Another afterwe are rushing.
Maybe this is about impatience
with all clichés of forever:
eternal winter, waiting
for Doomsday or the end
of child detention, hell freezing.
In my neck of the woods
I don’t see cows come home.
They don’t go very far in wind
chill well below zero.
Those twenty-five wild turkeys
who cluster up in the cornfields
until there is deep, deep snow –
then they separate like peppercorns
displaced on salt. What is their forever:
Leaving / by Georgia Pearle
What else was I to do
with the shards I had left
but collect them?
The car windows busted
with a drop-forged alloy
held in the right hand.
The panes in the back door
taken out with a fist that then
turned the lock and knob.
Of course the message rang clear:
there was no staying if I hoped
to stay intact. I collected
the glass in the dustpan. I collected the glass
in the belly of a shopvac. I sold whatever
would sell. I took the children.
The night before snow / by MMThompson
The sky is so silent
The night before snow
Extracts and deposits
vapor into crystals
Simple yet elegant
Flutter through air
On eddies and currents
A six sided star
The moon is apparently
Still shining through
A light halo circles
The silver on blue
Blurs edges now found
first full fine flakes flutter
Tumble towards the ground
The morning is patient
As cloud cover grows
The sky is so silent
The night before snow
19. / by Viviane Vives
Arrived to Austin as an exile of herself;
entertainer, traveler. Burrow deep into her lake,
drink her springs, travels finally over.
She’s never been so spent; strangely,
he’s on her mind, lovely but almost repelling, last year
wanted to have coffee, play cards, talk photography,
two streets away; she’s drunk, last bottle of Saint Emilion,
dead inside; the timing, five AM, he finally kisses her.
Three sleepless days; futile but stubborn.The worst jail in a city of ten million. A boss-type, older, skinny, cold danger about her, in for forgery, decides to help her; not only because she is stunning, but because she is intelligent. They both are, they connect. She cuts her in front of the line, to the saving phone. She shudders to think what happens when you are not pretty and fit and if a felon with a little bit of raw power does not like you.
– “Please tell the story of the women here, one day.”
Poem 18 / Day 18
Into the Void / by Dale Champlin
Shortly after surfing her scallop shell to the winter beach,
Venus reclines exhausted. She has arrived in Pacifica.
Her cupped left hand protects her pudendum. Since her birth,
the earth has barely begun a single revolution.
Breakers dally so softly they merely whisper—
or is that sand stretching to the horizon? Even
five obsidian crows cannot rouse her. They want
a taste of love. One by one they pluck at her eyelids.
Black angels, these demon birds rasp harsh calls, devil
her flesh, and scrape the air with razor-sharp wings.
What kind of world is this dark paradise,
where even a goddess has no choice but to be ravaged?
In the middle distance a line of telephone poles lists,
now obsolete, replaced by our voices pinging
from artificial moons—silvery and spherical—
unseen stars hovering above in daylight.
And the sand—smooth and still beneath our heroine—
doesn’t sift or alter but remains inflexible. A long-lost soldier
wearing his bloody uniform, ammunition spent,
returned from war, sees how love lies bleeding.
Walking on Water / by Tricia Knoll
Summer’s dream: wait for freeze
to grab hold of the pond.
Encourage safety: wait.
When the crackle ice on the edge,
a topography of thin, buffs up
to thick and underwater moans.
Scuffle through rice-snow drifted
where slush went solid
around someone else’s boot.
Hike around the rim
of the hockey rink and let the lake
lure you to its center stillness
within the window eyes of cabins,
far from smoke fanned from chimneys,
where weak sun pierces low snow-clouds.
Move like a boat upheld to both ride
the surface and sense the deep.
Be as small as the lake says you are,
a dot smack in the middle of vast,
a sigh’s silence inside a hooded coat,
a part to play as numbing cold
foreshadows ways of walk-on’s.
Daughter / by Georgia Pearle
Those days in the red house,
I’d take you to the back yard where
I’d watch you climb the abandoned
chicken coop. We had little else
to do, couldn’t afford even gas
for the car to take us somewhere.
The freedom of days, then, with you,
when all I had to do was narrate
and name every bit of world
in your view: the quick snake
in the garden, the orb weaver
with her web by the window—
in the beginning there was
a woman, a small girl, a story or two.
January 18th: part 1 / by ellie swensson
echo of snowfall in the city
a skyscape rounded to grey
expectant and peaceful in wait
alleys amplified to wonder
frost feather to a fingertip laced through
the wet of afterthought across the glass
the heavy exhale of the pavement
risen to expand and bathe each passerby
black slick and salted
boot licked, brandished
winterborn and southernbred,
my eyes will never adjust to this
and my mouth will always gasp seconds of this air
piercing as it passes
this fierce majesty to awe and adore
A force of kindness / by MMThompson
For Tyrone M.
Kindness is in short supply
Which makes our mission in relief
Reminding us that outward anger
Covers underlying grief
The velvet midnight winter brings
The shadow extended ever far
Accentuates the glistening
Of distant yet persistent stars
The thickest of the solid ice
Still Insulates below – so life
Can prepare now for springs return
When all the frozen bubbles seem
Ready surface – poised to rise
Release a collective breath – and try
To fill the air to be a force
Of kindness, once in short supply
18. / by Viviane Vives
Fuck Wells Fargo
Austin trapped her deep into her lake,
she has to get rid of a million things,
put a few thousand books in storage,
place the dog, prep their child,
to make sense of his own lost world;
(he looks at the Ikea blackboard:
chess club and nine hours of ballet
he is a boy for fuck’s sake, but it helps.)
Kafkaesque bastards came to punish them
for their visions of benevolent, fruitful worlds,
for rearing children in freedom; impeccable creative lives;
now caged inside a senseless joke, a parallel universe,
falling hard on her while she walks barefoot the puddles
of Hyde Park into the mud of Elizabeth Ney;
yes, just the other day, when it was almost cold
during the summer, but also before, in 2008.
She dropped to the floor hiding from the street,
crying behind the red and yellow cabinets.
Custom made. All went. He became at large,
The Architect has left the building.
her husband at the airport,
he turned around once again,
kissed her one last time,
disappeared, a preoccupied ghost
behind the glass doors. On this side,
her mind shattered a little.
Al least she has finally stopped calling Wells Fargo every day,
obstinate monologue, cold executive-snake on speaker phone,
keeps working, her laments and her worst Gypsy curses, dumb rain.
– “Fuck Austin, fuck Wells Fargo, and fuck UT.”
Poem 17 / Day 17
The Lacemaker / by Dale Champlin
In slow time, clocks here on earth
tick more quickly than clocks in Heaven.
Far from gravity’s pull, seconds spread
out, taking their time like calm snowfall.
As you rush headlong into the New Year
you might feel your body reel and turn—
you may become overwhelmed
by the brilliance of the Universe.
In all this whiteness, as pleasurable
as a field of Queen Anne’s lace, frost
sparkles. Handfuls of diamonds
coat your lawn and driveway.
After it snows, nothing is as tawdry
as it used to be. Even your house glistens
like a birthday cake. Sundogs bracket a glacial sun.
Mare’s tails and ice fog whiten blue sky.
In this climate of unpredictability, nothing
is the same as it was last year. Astronomers
are mind-boggled by each new discovery.
Cosmic flares brighten and fade—
and when feathery ice crystals alight
on your face, each bite a miniature seizure,
what can you surmise but that you
are being quickened by God?
The Artists’ Contributions to Winter / by Tricia Knoll
Slush balls fall soot-black from wheels.
The plow pile at the shopping center
is twice as tall as I am. The dogs plan
to turn the snow yellow. The wind shook
off the twig-lining white. The old snow
men and women have settled in
as cycloptic corpses, sort of upright
because they froze that way.
Last night fell below zero. Moisture
seeped into the glassed-in porch
from the simmer of the curried stew.
Window frost: ferns and feathers,
morning’s impermanence. Outside,
yard-long icicles twist in spirals,
narwhal tusks of glass.
Low-slung sun shimmers them;
sundown leaves them hanging.
A certain satisfaction lingers
at my stomped-down path
that curves gently
to where cottontails
dash tracks in the night
January 17th / by ellie swensson
An ode to the tender boys:
with soft eyes, sharp jaw, and agile tongue.
How you stand on that back wall so well.
How you make poppies of pocketed fists.
How you dip low in shadow and smile shameless come sunrise.
How y’all got my number before you even ask it.
I flirt with the false assurance
of safety in your hands,
lean to you with vigor, and don’t fear
regret in the ways I used to.
There will be misgivings,
but damn if you don’t make it worth the while.
You’re the weakness I wear proud and
solicitous into every crowded room where queer is an open call.
Lindy / by MMThompson
My four pawed muse
My brindle pup
She melts my heart
By looking up
A treeing hound
So glad she’s found
A gal like me….
17. / by Viviane Vives
hundreds of objects by the crooked
condemned vegetable garden,
clothes fainted over the low fence
smell of her thyme plant keeps her company
improvised urban plot, Irish style, continuos, fertile,
crude, crying her absence, her descent,
the hell of death, father, in Barcelona
strong scent, sustaining, wasted
Another betrayal, mind in Australia
and he wanted the thyme plant,
said so many things like that,
an idiot savant to another. Aspergers for sure.
They stood together looking at the plant,
loving it. He would kill it or give it away,
owned barely anything, no furniture, yes a bike,
a skateboard, not a computer or a car,
looks, feels, from another epoch,
“dollies” away on his skateboard,
waves and smiles, proud of himself
it all could be a silent movie.
He even shoots in thirty-five, the little shit.
Guessing his exposures. Sound familiar?
Like her, a camera always hanging from her neck,
loving many, living, and then leaving, everywhere:
Madrid, Ibiza, Barcelona, Paris, Capri, New York,
an awkward railroad apartment in Chelsea,
Los “Angueles. (Letterman’s) then Venice Beach,
film people–not owning a thing that can not be flicked
into a dumpster or given away, prepare to board the next plane.
How dare he throw it all back to her face?
Even down to dating “older. Same fucking manias,
she can’t breath if she thinks too long about it.
She’s paying for it all, now, like an idiot, not that savant,
moored at Austin’s lake shores for years,
the gypsy in her lives on, ringing her ankle bells,
making her exhale.
Poem 16 / Day 16
January Junkyard / by Dale Champlin
What can I say about the sixteenth of January
that hasn’t been said thousands of times before?
When I think about the snowfields of my childhood
I remember tough going, how I would break through
the sharp crust and plunge into the soft under-part
up to my kneecap—just a few ice crystals sifting
past my rubber boot-top to my waterlogged socks.
I will point out childhood ¬landmarks. Teasel fields,
every sharp bristle limned with a strip of snowflakes.
In Pioneer Cemetery, tombstones sheltered beneath
snow pillows and ice haloed angels blew trumpets
into tinsel clouds. Blue sky reflected on pale blue
hillsides—dips and hollows blushed lavender.
We kids, skating on a shallow pond, last summer’s
swimming hole, peered through transparent ice,
to see leaves and sticks drifted to the bottom.
In small woodlots tree trunks rose like jagged pillars.
Branches dumped their loads of snow with a whump.
Black crows sifted by on wing-startled air.
In sheer silk-chiffon daylight I would call one
or another friend to come and explore the junkyard.
In January, rust, wheel and chrome shape-shifted—
transformed into a white comforter-covered playground.
Red foxes tiptoed through the aisles only to disappear,
we and they, wild animals living in the moment.
Poetry That Matters / by Tricia Knoll
It’s deep winter here. If days are getting longer, I can’t
tell. Out the window naked maples pitchfork the sky:
survival’s stand like scissors and wait. I notice two nests,
tumbled-up leaf-messes though I haven’t seen a squirrel
in weeks. A few tracks during a thaw. A month ago.
Gray squirrels, mice, a mink, a bobcat, two does,
red fox, flying squirrels, cottontails, coyote rambles over ice.
I have no idea whether any of them freeze to death.
Local frogs turn their blood to anti-freeze.
Their pond froze rock-solid weeks ago.
The ice fishermen set up shanties
on larger ponds to make pickled pickerel.
It seems too damned cold for tiny buds
to appear on the nodes of branches, but they do.
My slow cooker turns out hearty soups
I taste and stir, salt, taste and stir.
I suspect much will survive. That I might.
I am not so hopeful for children in Yemen.
The poem that stirs that pot – to feed them,
save them – has not been written.
Grace / by Georgia Pearle
You can’t remember the nights so tepid
we could see mosquitoes cloud around
the streetlights outside with the mayflies.
It was one of those when your father called
in a full sob, throat thick with apologies.
I listened, blankly. I had learned by then
to listen flatly, take only enough meaning
to prove I hadn’t not been listening—
And that night, like every night, I rocked
you, singing wretch like me, hardly hearing
myself singing, listening with that same
faraway flatness to the second-hand.
January 16th / by ellie swensson
Bathed in a terra cotta kind of wet,
the one that deepens dark and damp in the dish,
this vessel marked as plenty,
as proclamation of satiate.
The slight kiss of velvet nose
comes turnkey to my attentions.
These are tender moments
of toes curled under and fingers
threading the water as legends
wound in that foreign ice that called
you home so many summer days,
that tugged you tether
as a siren, sure but absent
of threat. She said, “return, boy,”
and you do often in ritual.
You take me with you some
days, in palms giving, in lit candles,
in the scent of your upper lip traced
Original skyscrapers / by MMThompson
Perpetual cloud combers,
Survivors of cold winters,
Providers of shade shelters.
Promoters of seasons,
Collectors of sun.
Original skyscrapers a
16. / by Viviane Vives
I hold my crystal and my ring in the palm of my hand, over my heart. I’ve cried so much I no longer feel my belly, my legs, my mouth, my eyelids.
The world is dark gray. My gaze low, my hair dirty, my belly empty. Candle drops spread over the stone wall, dull and worn, cold, with rigor mortis, the candles in the window that did not bring you, the messenger tree that did not find you.
The sky falls over the house, the world comes undone over the new roof. Everything is what has not been these months, what will not be. Rushing down the canyon, under the cold wind.
The morning’s winter dew and the singing cardinal in the bush, with his being so deeply red, will they survive the loss of our bellies separated from each other? There is a space in the wind that does not know how to part from you, yet it must.
The sea drops over my head. I look like a crazy bird stupidly floating up and down the gray, cold, heartless waves. I will survive this even if I do not care. This is my silent and dark, my tenderness, and I didn’t know that loneliness can also be made of velvet.
The rain will stop, the heat will come, the storm will not leave a memory, I’ll scratch my own back, indolent, swaying on the hammock, over the garden, I’ll close my eyes, no longer think of you.
Before, you photographed schizophrenic neighbors, the terminally ill, and our dogs; now, her dogs, this fat bitch. I did not ask for much. I waited one day and another in my stone house with my heart in my hands. And you did not come. And that is that. There will not be dancing of water skyward. No abandonment. There will not be.
Faltabas. No matter, Los Angeles swallowed you yesterday, me, twenty years ago. Crazy black hole, sanatorium for ten million people. You were the last loco to arrive. You hit your head, you tell me. Erased The Most Important Thing.
I talk to people at the bar. I’m not really me, swallowed by “Los Angueles,” it ate half of me then, today you ate the rest, only my shadow remains. My shadow is dying, drinks Argentinian wine, watches Barça finally lose. My shadow twirls on the bar stool, smiles, tells stories to unsuspecting couples. My shadow vomits on the sidewalk, then goes get my son.
My shadow sleeps in my bed, doesn’t think about anything. Frightened by the storm, my dog climbs in with me, he is surprised to not find me, my dog does not like my shadow. The storm moves away. I’m going to pee and sleep. I’ll swaddle my shadow, a night without dreams, no sound but the storm that leaves.
My shadow and I can’t sleep, we walk, give me a stick, to Santiago’s path; the road Michelle took carrying her dead child, John his dead Narda, on their backs. I carry you dead, a fluttering moth tangled in my eyelashes.
Dirty kid. It was your smile that dirtied everything. Not even this crazy rain cleans. Filthy world, we will not paint it with our bodies, we can’t keep up. I want to keep up.
You wear a silver ring on your finger. I take off mine, marry my shadow. On my finger, a deep hole, an ugly twisted vein. All will pass. Old age accelerating. I, floating.
To Read Our January 2019 Poets’ First 15 Days of Poetry, Click Here!