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 June 2021 are Susan Kay Anderson, Lynne Ellis, Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred), Annie Goold, Brice Maiurro, Caely McHale, William Overall, Meg Weston, and Heather Hallberg Yanda. Read their full bios here.
If you’d like to volunteer for a 30/30 Project month, please fill out our application here and warm up your pen!
Poem 13 / Day 13
They Rested There / by Susan Kay Anderson
near a colonnade/of sugar maples
from “Beneath Orion’s Left Hand” by Heather Hallberg Yanda
They look straight at the camera, no smiles.
He bends everywhere and she wears neutral.
What is inside is outrageous and boring. Green.
How come they have been there forever with candles.
Everything is true, what she told me. Soft. Oh, so.
That’s what it was like in the miniature of words.
Mechanics will tinker with almost nothing to go on.
starlings recognize us
near the second tree
our steps quiet asphalt
before the heavy rain
Summer Vacation Duplex / by Lynne Ellis
In green fingertip adrenaline
we learn to fight and fuck, learn to forgive.
Learn how to fight and fuck, how to forgive:
under the faucet my salt falls from your beard.
The faucet runs, you rinse my salt from your beard:
human objects ejected by the ocean.
Human objects ejected by the ocean
after lovemaking—rears pink with slap and scratch.
After lovemaking—zinnia-pink and scratched—
we find a fine steel and new ground, good to weed.
We find a fine steel and new ground, good to weed.
When we love we tear the earth open.
When we love we tear the earth open
with ruby fingertip adrenaline.
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 13: The Journey / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
61 Surrounded by the beauty of this place,
A paradise for which all men would case.
I know not by what means I was brought here,
Is there some reason which I must embrace?
62 Upon a rock fell acorns, which I hear,
In my thoughts, imagine each a seer.
I grasp them up, then from the cluster free,
Then toss all three to see them disappear.
63 And there appeared three angels before me.
One appeared as old with a white goatee,
Another was a young man fair of face
And a child was the youngest of the three.
64 Rubbing eyes these images to efface,
An effigy of three that interlace,
The child grabbed a tight hold, my trembling hand,
I turn to flee but fond I’m held in place.
65 Fear not, Ashlan, we came to you as planned,
With but a gesture, all of time is spanned,
One by one, past, present, and future show.
We wait for you to give us your command.
At Land / by Annie Goold
My head splayed out
like a deck of cards,
some love-sick phantom
kicks inside me,
freeing me of a caul, feeling
like the smile of a dog
panting on a hot day:
something unselfconscious, loose, hungry.
Hungry is a familiar assurance.
I know how to continue without
moving, lying, in wait.
But lying is a tool, a means of refusal, to apply
mindfully, and I’m tired
of the term mindfulness. It’s true
that instinct is not enough
when seeking shelter from your own
shadows. Still, must we be full
as we head forward? Mistakes
and erred corners. The murderous white
of afternoon sun. Too much water
makes the baby go boom.
Don’t you dare try to push me again.
Tsehaye / by Brice Maiurro
He told me
that his name meant
and I said
I can see that.
He said to me
that we all need our rooms
in this big house
and I said
I believe that.
He invited me
to step into his church
he told me it’s warm
like a body
you hope is still alive,
and I told him
of course I will step in.
He spoke in
every language of
the wind and he
over the houses
of west city park
and I told him
I see you singing.
Everything he said
held weight and I just
was running out of hands
to hold it all when I told him
and he told me
that the world
is a broken wing
and that the only way
to fix it is for all of us
to put our hands to its
and I told him
I hear you,
it’s all so lovely,
but it’s time for me
to go, you see,
I’ve got to go,
and I flew off
into the eve
the sun set
for him and me
Loose Perimeter / by Caely McHale
Each year the stone path grows
smaller as the grass grows longer
around each soft perimeter and
each year there are less and less
tadpoles and is it because I was
able to imagine more as a child
today all I saw were cicada wings
and cicada heads but no cicadas
today I read the lion the witch
and the wardrobe again and I
thought about portals and statues
the comforting uncanny and a name
that could make you feel like
the beginning of spring each year
the beginning of spring feels
different but somehow the same
always fast and easy to miss and
loose in the teeth
Immortality babes / by William Overall
My fingernails are just
Long enough to catch the
And spin it
I don’t count how
Many they grab
The smallest beads
To fill the gap
She scratches her nose and doesn’t know why
Color Photo on the Wall c. 1984 / by Meg Weston
what’s suspicious is / not one / of them / is smiling
from The Monsters by William Overall
There is a picture
hanging on my wall,
taken in Toronto long ago.
A convention of photofinishers
for major retailers— all looking
like college buddies grown older,
those seven men
in their black suits,
and me in the middle,
white wine tipped in a toast
toward the camera,
my suit of fuschia flowers
on blue and teal silk.
We’re all smiling for the camera.
All competitors in processing
rolls and rolls of film—
families, birthdays, vacations, and more.
Purveyors of those captured faces,
always smiling, often lying,
concealing what’s beyond each frame.
Eight executives poised with glasses,
not the knives we gripped tightly
behind our backs, ready
to steal each other’s customers
I’m in the middle
smiling ear to ear
hating every moment of this
the annual convention
Poem 12 / Day 12
M / by Susan Kay Anderson
the moon in a blue sky
–from “Experts: it’s a wash!” by William Overall
1. Washes up the downside of Kalapuya Creek. Thirsty.
2. Old Pioneer Road says rain the hay must wait in mint.
3. Closed down the laundry room just for the cats. Yawn.
4. Cool the West with a rotating corner fan. No clicks.
5. Mr. Velvet acrobat. Silent corner. Mice made of yarn.
6. Closer, can you hear me cry? Scotch Broom. Thistle.
Cattails. Himalayan berry. Hawthorne. Pear.
Burrow / MRI-Assisted Biopsy / by Lynne Ellis
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 12: The Three Acorns / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
- Aslan, we’re here though you don’t realize,
We can make ourselves seen or in disguise,
We can come to your thoughts or speak aloud,
Or make it as though you soliloquize.
- We’re the Angels of dreams that come avowed,
We’ll appear as acorns equal endowed,
Past, present, and future are gifts we bring,
Our task is to lift that which is enshroud.
- On a rock, three acorns land with a ping,
Pluck from this cluster each one that they cling,
Toss one acorn at a time to the ground,
Then carefully observe that which will spring.
- We will show you affairs truly profound,
If you are willing, will render redound,
Follow the path, and we will lead the way,
The choice you choose will be all yours once found.
- Let’s not linger here nor cause a delay,
Pick up the acorns; we have no leeway,
The journey starts when you toss the first one,
For this Aslan is your ascendence day.
Six of Swords, Snuff Box Sea Bean / by Annie Goold
Big, slow flames. Exiting
a temperate rainforest and immediately entering
onto a prairie, separated by one blink.
But you’re here, coming back
from taking the dog out, me snoozing on the red couch.
I feel you tectonically, sliding with me,
our magmatic undertows oozy and hissing
together into the sea of this blanket. It doesn’t matter
how worn I am from my landscaping gig
at the end of the day: you invite me into your arms as is.
We came here to save other people,
but we’ve sown ourselves instead.
Ars Poetica (via Dr. Grant) / by Brice Maiurro
A found poem, thanks to Michael Crichton
try to imagine yourself
in the Cretaceous Period.
You get your first look at this
as you enter a clearing.
He moves like a bird,
bobbing his head.
And you keep still,
because you think that maybe
his visual acuity is based on movement
he’ll lose you if you don’t
You stare at him,
and he just stares right
And that’s when the attack comes.
Not from the front,
but from the side.
Keats / by Caely McHale
My body settling into every space
the dirt is not, soft spring fingers curling at my edges,
their verdant green complex and shadowed, their brown
where the sun has shone too brightly too long and did not turn
her lusty eye away.
The spiders, following paths
through the grass towards trees far in the distance,
running over my stomach and each step on my skin
like raining only in the path of the spider,
startling cold pricks.
There is nothing stable in the world—uproar’s your only music—
the spiders laying eggs at the tree line,
the frog laying eggs at the creek’s edge,
the grass dying beneath me because I laid in its embrace, ecstatic,
too long, with the crush of my fleshy adoration heavy on the ground.
Meteorites / by Meg Weston
we can touch
pieces of dying stars
everything is made of this
simply star dust.
I pause in the rock museum
in Bethel Maine
transfixed by crystals in their cases
gemstones of outer space.
I’m seeing rocks older than the planet.
Older than the granite of Maine’s rocky coast
My bare toes in summer trace white lines
ancient magma intrusions
in boulders on the shore.
I came here to find my footing
discover roots in granite plutons
or tourmaline, our native gem,
I’m connected to the stars.
Oh, there’s Muonionlustra here!
10 million years old
found in Sweden’s Lapland
(where my mother’s family’s from)
A fractured moonrock found in Connecticut
(where I grew up)
I studied astronomy in summer
at the Museum and Nature Center
I begged my parents to buy me a star globe
projecting stars on my bedroom ceiling,
I slept peacefully tucked in
under my artificial night sky.
New stars being born in Orion’s nebula—
this comforts me now
like that blanket of stars in my bedroom.
I’m feeling small again
knowing a universe of time
that began long before
and continues long after
I’ll be long gone
I’ll belong to the stars
Beneath Orion’s Left Hand / by Heather Hallberg Yanda
All day yesterday,
I weeded the garden, which
at winter’s darkest,
rests beneath Orion’s left
hand and near a colonnade
of sugar maples.
All winter long, Orion —
we are friends by now —
has watched me amble up this
pathway beside frozen lavender
and daisies. All my
life, Orion has watched me
with this sword and shield
at the ready — vigilant —
for whatever evil may
appear. Till Summer
arrives, and the warmth frees us
all — frees Orion —
by sweeping his beloved
stars into the waiting sea.
Poem 11 / Day 11
A Long Time Ago Now / by Susan Kay Anderson
and a third coldness
–from “Eolian” by Caely McHale
Not feathers but a metal cup
flew by my cheek nearly hitting
then was gone what did I see
where was that place near shelves
was it stairs and the cup was falling
into shadows so fast
did this happen I thought about clatter
more on its way elsewhere an alcove
a near miss something without me
I Place My Palms Together and Press / Clinical Breast Exam / by Lynne Ellis
Floating on my pecs, my fat flexes and jumps.
It’s early in my diagnosis, before the words have come in.
Come in, like my breasts did at nine.
I haven’t learned bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, or MRI-assisted biopsy, or needle introducer.
Or even, I’m afraid.
Years ago, after a bad bike wreck, I learned to talk through the scar on my mouth.
Scar is Old French—escare—for scab,
and before that, Greek—eskhara—hearth, pan of hot coals.
It was heat that learned to live as pain, jumping into the skin
before we even had a word to name it.
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 11: The Journey / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
51 Archangel of Death, what should I inveigh;
Am I a victim of this day’s melee?
Coughing on blood, slipping into a daze,
Light fades to darkness as I slip away.
52 Am I awake, or is this a dream haze?
Enveloped by beauty, raw with amaze,
I can’t find words to express what I view,
Eyes fully open and wildly agaze.
53 Where has thou now bringeth me hitherto,
My thoughts are on fire, my mind all askew,
A vision of woodlands radiant green.
Could this be Heaven or just a pass-through?
54 Where is the battlefield internecine?
This place is different, far more serene; everywhere,
Oak trees and ferns here abound;
The fields once before me now are unseen.
55 I stand here perplexed, completely spellbound,
Surprised, astonished, amazed, and astound.
What is this place, and what happened to me?
My body uninjured, without a wound.
Morning / by Annie Goold
Embattled by purple rocket, the snowdrop holds her own,
her head downturned in preparation for someone’s strike, hers
or theirs. She’s tender but not without a sword. Meanwhile,
the Sakaki tree is wearing mirrors again, looking on
for her a witness in the sky or from the ground, wherever
it may come. She’s rooting for the snowdrop, echoing dream
with her own buds. And in her own dalliance with flair,
the briar rose attempts mediation, swiveling pink from a white
cup, asking for peace. However, she doesn’t ask: she requires.
Not / by Brice Maiurro
After Big Thief
It’s not the window
that glares across the way
like an old box television.
It’s not the bird
that you yanked
from the hands of death.
It’s not the gift
that you forgot
It’s not the humming power,
nor the once was a river,
not the gun in the safe,
nor the hand that is itching,
not the winter of humans
nor the summer of anger.
It’s not the wheel made of squares,
nor the road made of patience,
nor the hangnail of violence,
nor the moon watching all of this.
It’s not the lingering feeling
that nothing has happened,
and we’re all still in March
and we’re dying for nothing.
It’s not the fist of a father
in the hand of a child,
and the shake of the ground
like everything’s listening.
It’s not the window you drew
on a flat piece of paper
nor the box that it’s in
somewhere deep in the water.
Perhaps what it’s not
is a soft invitation
to never surrender
and to subtract out
all of your losses.
Ghosts of 1971 / by Meg Weston
“Don’t worry about the ghosts,” he says
and tells me how to find the keys to the cabin.
Lights come on automatically at dusk
wind creaks through pine planks.
Footsteps wander across the floors
in the early morning hours.
There’s a knock at the cabin door,
and no one’s there. All alone
in the pines and birches, a Cecropia moth
grips the screen door, eyes painted
on its delicate wings. Slanted light filters
through windows, falls on an object –
the birchbark vase with feathers,
pinecone candle mostly melted,
a spider crawls up the bronze crow’s beak
peering down from its perch in the loft.
Darkness as scarce as silence, the highway
buzzes beyond the trees, insects closer in.
The trip here a long car ride past peeling
white houses with American flags.
A confederate one too. I’m following
a sleek black BMW 7601i traveling down
rural roads with potholes everywhere
passing through hell on the way to nowhere
I stop to pee behind ferns on the side of the road.
“Write about 1971,” Blythe asked of me.
But how can I write about that shadowy time?
The year I dropped out of college.
The year my father gave me a camera
told me to take a photo class.
My mother signed me up for weaving
at Brookfield craft center, she finished
my half-woven cloth. I had no patience
for handicrafts. I had no patience for anything
that summer, typing invoices at a trucking company
at night so I could sleep all day, or wander in a pot-smoked
haze, seeing the world through my camera lens.
The world outside meant nothing to me then.
I don’t remember much, confusion foreshadowing
death, both parents gone in the years that followed.
Their guiding light now peering through pines,
staring at me in the black eyes of birch bark.
How can I write about that year,
without invoking ghosts?
Poem 10 / Day 10
Young Summer On The Beach / by Susan Kay Anderson
Did it bite or beg for water?
— from The Tower, Wild Apple / by Annie Goold
May I say
river so clear so double summer wait
forward and circling hot and cold
charm and energies so who will
slow time down
on the this beach
bare feet running
in the freezing sand
barely warm that’s
with a small dog
alongside the wind
anything else gone
what took forever took its time
the bonfire blaze windy laundry
these were footsteps and splashes
just like home just like relaxing
a laugh is imagined between steps
the sea so close always a friend
Let’s take a picture let’s love this
more than before let’s find this
forever this chasing in waves
Blood Draw / by Lynne Ellis
My phlebotomist’s earrings are upcycled IUDs.
I want this kind of joy in all the gear we use
to manage our biosex-fem bodies.
In sixth grade I found my name
scratched in red on the school Kotex machine
(as girls we are so awful to each other).
I’m taking the shame out of my body and checking it
into a Quality Inn with a Welcome Conference Attendees
marquee. Shame will stay cuffed to the bed
until it learns how to be good.
I’m taking the shame out of my body and tossing it
in a box with countless useless objects:
ballet slippers, locked diaries, bathroom scales,
coin purses, tiaras. Makeup goes in there too, and clothes
one size too small. Most of the shoes.
All my self-doubt.
All the things that no longer fit
are leaving my body with the force of my heartbeat.
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 10: The Longing / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
46 Oh, how I long to look upon her face,
To touch her cheek and hear her voice of grace,
My wife, my subduer, my hearts affaire,
And in my thoughts, her image I now trace.
47 I saw her in the courtyard standing there,
And though I tried, I could not help but stare,
Such grace and in every step of her stroll,
Then she blushed and captured me in her snare.
48 Her father, the Sufi, who saved my soul,
Her hand, though virtues I need to extol,
And by the grace of God, it was all clear,
Taking just a tender-hearted cajole.
49 My beloved wide-eyed gazelle come near,
And tend these seeping wounds of your Amir,
I may not return from this woeful plight,
So, I close my eyes with thoughts of you, dear.
50 It’s time I recite the Shahada rite,
There is no deity but God, I cite,
Muhammad is the messenger of God.
And of my deeds, I pray good things they write.
June / by Annie Goold
It’s a new beast
to depend on the weather for work.
Points of requirement are sun bound,
demanding sweat and spines and my questionable
knees. The lamb’s quarter and sour
dock are laughing at us, growing waist high
before we can catch up, and the daffodils
and irises have spent their spring bells to limp
wet ghosts between the furies of bottlebrush
burning from the bed. I’ve begun to shed
my coat as well, my hair lightening, my skin
darkening as the hollow mulch gets another dress.
Rain, a faultless obstacle, brings two points, too:
either a mean-muggin’ thickness to cut through
as it rises from the drying ground, or a cold
knocking, the kind that whips a tarp down
the road. I listen to my partners’ stories
of previous storms or mishaps from old winds,
trying to learn and respond at the same time
taking on an accent without gs that catches up
for it with extra syllables. What is it
to learn the earth from your knees,
to swell and wring prayers along a day’s water?
Once more, I tighten the laces of my boots,
looking for green amidst green, for answers
to what I’m not questioning in the first place.
Once More With Feeling / by Brice Maiurro
But you have to understand I am a
byproduct of my environment and
my environment is almost always
being overseen by a band of string
instrument-playing humans who
are sliding along with friction
up and down their violins, violas,
cellos, and so on presenting me
with an overwhelming human
experience where everything
feels so goddamn important
and crucial ever since Eliza told
me if I want to lucid dream then
I should observe my waking life
as a dream being hyper aware of
the symbols and imagery and
synchronicities that are going on
around me and really that was it
for me and since they told me that
all that I’ve experienced is one big
vivid dream so yeah I’ve been crying
a bit more these days and holding
my friends closer and I’ve been
really trying to listen to everything
including this haunting string
orchestra that sneaks around behind
me playing a painfully beautiful
soundtrack to the melodrama of my
existence wherein I talk to my father
and he says he loves me and he is
proud of me and wherein I cry at
just about everything and maybe
most of all this incredibly heavy
feeling that this is all happening which
personally is what I like to believe
because nihilism is simply such a bore
and there’s all this music playing
that they’re so quick to pick apart
while their hands are so busy
not clapping for anything.
Eolian / by Caely McHale
I saw her standing in the treed dark,
upstream, unsure in the current, washing herself clean.
I felt her feel the coldness of the air, the different
coldness of the stream, and a third coldness. I saw her
say O! O! with her pink sweet mouth, tongue
scraped of tastebuds, jaw dropped rounded low
like a divine entrance. Do whatever you were going to do—gently—
she tells the stream, she tells us,
she strums a nearby, sudden harp—
Cicadas Don’t Wear Heels / by Meg Weston
‘cicadas, screaming, enjoying their short time to the fullest extent.’ Caely McHale
They don’t need to wear stilettos
males court the females with a chorus
of throaty hums—billions of Brood X
emerge near Laura in Princeton.
Each day she records the magic of music
growing louder. Magicada Periodical Cicada
(some say See-kah-duh, some say See-kay-duh
Like some say to-may-to, and some say to-mah-to)
A sexy, salsa dance, an orgy of reproduction,
red eyes glowing, lurid wings rustling,
hips thrusting, males drumming,
their breeding cycle a phenom of sex
recorded in the annals of university lore.
Buried underground for seventeen years.
What were you doing seventeen years ago?
Wearing heels and make-up? Dancing up a storm?
What’s been feeding underground that might
be aching to burst forth at any moment
in an abundance of ecstasy?
We spent almost 17 months buried
in our houses, fearful of the virus,
while pandemic raged across the globe,
and now we’re stepping out.
Advertising tells us we’re roaring back,
1920’s style, an orgy of extravagance,
But some of us still shyly greet strangers,
still wear our masks, and look outside in gleeful
pleasure at bugs dancing our eruption of desire.
Poem 9 / Day 9
A Dust Ash Place / by Susan Kay Anderson
I crawled at last,
I leaned my back against this tree of oak
–from “The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 8: The Charge” by Haider T.L. “Nick” Gildred
Saw my hand move or was it
all grasses rust and milk tough
in the land they call Nonpareil
Fair Oaks specifically in a row
giants in a frozen circus beneath
an old volcano its knob lording over
see the swale valley and its violence
ripped out trees the firs bombed out
landscape all green from the new road
But up above a vast desert a map
quite disrupted and open the rivers
with nowhere to go their ways fast
look for shade for anything else
Where to put the fish the salmon
Whale / Genetic Mutation / by Lynne Ellis
Now which of your loves would you admire
without their mess of flaws, if sunlight
had never reached a finger into their genes?
And where did your irreplaceable love
live, before the atmosphere evolved oxygen,
before the sea spat out its first quadraped—
naked, suddenly heavy, confused as hell
at gravity? That life exists at all
is one of countless common accidents,
one chance collision of free-radical
with DNA bond—a few protein groups
made to change. Just this, again and again
forever, then again, Amen. That’s all.
The true face of God is not Heavenly
Father, but hippopotamus who left
its feet behind, fused its four toes to fins,
floated off into warm, buoyant, water.
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 9: Reprieve / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
41 Ya Rab, what images those thoughts convey,
As Aslan fought and bled for you this day,
Allow this mortal a moments reprieve,
To ascertain his morality play.
42 I sense Aslan that you wantonly grieve,
For whom you desire and whom you achieve,
Is it this life or that of Paradise?
A martyr’s reward most can not conceive.
43 An earthly lust leaves men’s minds to devise,
But it is in Jannah where lies the prize,
The love of family fades to sublime,
Love most your Creator is my advice.
44 Life and creation are fleeting with time,
Endless Heaven is the first paradigm,
Listen for the summons, do not neglect,
Comes the end, hear my harmonious chime.
45 Until the bell chimes, let’s pause to reflect,
There’s much to examine in retrospect,
What holds you to life that you can’t let go,
Show us those thoughts in prestige you protect.
The Tower, Wild Apple / by Annie Goold
As I snap the skin
of a Granny Smith with my teeth,
the rushing froth racing down my chin
without negotiating, she tells me a story.
Two good ol’ boys were talking, one a seated
passenger, the other a caller hanging loose
on the window, leaning into the cab. The stander,
then, threw a live bull snake in the truck,
and it quickly disappeared into the seats
despite it being as thick as a foreman’s forearm.
They hollered and hooted and did all the things
you do when someone throws a snake in your car,
but they couldn’t find it. Two weeks later,
while driving, the snake reemerged from between
the seats while the truck was in motion. That’s where
the story ended, my teller snorting her way through
a cold pork chop. I laughed but wanted more.
How exactly did he get that enormous writhing out?
Did it bite or beg for water?
Was there mercy in either direction?
I was left to imagine, as my partner finished her
cigarette with one, long, final pull,
a hard screw of it beneath her boot,
and an easy blow out in a turnabout,
still laughing a little through the cloud.
This is not a poem. / by Brice Maiurro
It is too damn hot to read Pablo Neruda.
The lighting is all wrong.
There’s no sound anywhere.
The world is turned down, sent to bed,
left to cry into its soup.
This is not a poem. It is a catastrophe.
Burn it when I die.
Portal / by Caely McHale
The portal from this world
Is the man-made water feature closest to you
At this moment, overstuffed
With algae and lily pads and understaffed
By tadpoles who have yet to grow their legs,
The water is always cool,
The water is always heavier than water,
The stones surrounding the water feature
Are always slightly loose and tipping.
The journey through the portal is short and painless
And travelers arrive dry and intact
To a rock outcropping overlooking
Long purple grass in all directions, rising, falling,
Grasses like waters but with buzzing, the wind
Blows with intention and in rhythm an echo of flies
Rises, falls, above the echo of grass
Emanating from the uneven, soft ground.
What are you meant to do
After you have arrived? It’s impossible to say.
The patterns the flies make with each breath
are kaleidoscopic in nature.
The sound of a human voice would be wildly quiet
Here in the buzzing, so you wouldn’t bother speaking.
I can tell you what I do in my time there,
Of which there has been plenty
Linear and non-linear, curved, folded, deep—
It’s not exciting. I think about echoes, count them—
The ground, the grass, the flies,
The original babbling pond and the water features
Crafted as homage, cicadas and their casings,
My parents and their children, my dreams of my old home,
The walls and the inside of those same walls,
The rabbits and the rabbits,
And of course the snakes and their skin,
Our insides bumping into our skin.
Let’s cut the commercials before we cut the diamonds,
Advice from the Natural Eye workshop by Eddie Soloway:
“There is no bad light to make a photograph”
Notice the shadows play on the pavement
in the harsh light of mid-day the leaves become
coins thrown in the street, imagination
stretches like afternoon shadows, elongated
tree trunks take their turn in the spotlight.
Sun disappears in a soft haze of color
even sunset blurs into scattered sunlight
civil twilight, nautical twilight, astronomical twilight
finally darkness falls except in Iceland
now, approaching solstice
one day fuses into the next in a pink and purple
transition so silent I don’t notice the page
of the calendar falling off the wall
the polar opposite of Alaska in December
where once I drove from Wasilla to Fairbanks
destination wooden hot tubs, winter nights,
the aurora in the sky, but midday, midway, darkness
fell like a band of robbers stealing daylight
just past Denali, where the road was empty
and the snow kept falling.
I gripped the wheel and kept on going
Until the first motel I found, never reaching
that perfect spa, that perfect night, those northern lights
understanding darkness for the first time
alone, thoughts of slipping into the night
no one knowing I went missing.
Darkness now preserved in thoughts
just as much as sunlit days. Any
light can make a memory.
Poem 8 / Day 8
Probably My Body / by Susan Kay Anderson
there was that moment
I placed a hand
–from “Pain Body” by Lynne Ellis
dreams with coffee and cream
probably my body behaves then
under the sheets under the weight
of whatever it is we call sleep
panthers we ride out until
bears and horses carrying us
to the edges and then right back
away from what has been tamed
by the old mill pond the gates
fences now borders and lines
where once was all forest
When a Wasp Kills a Caterpillar on the Fennel / by Lynne Ellis
All life competes for distilled sunlight, but still,
you have to mourn for undeveloped beauty.
Mourn the molt—when skin becomes chrysalis
and the fragile insect dissolves to lamp oil.
Its body knows the ancient spell
to demolish and rebuild its soul’s own house.
And if Swallowtails carry the human dead,
continent to continent on this Earth,
which missed spirit will stay wrapped
inside the grave, waiting for her ride?
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 8: The Charge / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
36 Ten thousand we stood in battle array,
Prepared to fight and die for our proud Bey,
Across the field, the mighty Mongol swarm,
We charged full gallop to the deadly slay.
37 The sabers rattled like a thunderstorm,
Screams of dying men were the battle norm,
This day was painted by the crimson fray,
Men fell as if leaves in a raging storm.
38 Bright banners trampled in the mud and clay,
Such carnage a poet could not convey,
And neither side would give a writ of right,
Whilst more, their enemy remained to flay.
39 From morning through to afternoon’s daylight,
Both combatants staggered into the fight,
Weary men battled toe to toe steadfast,
With no advantage in this woeful plight.
40 At last, the sounds of battle ushered past,
And on my hands and knees, I crawled at last,
I leaned my back against this tree of oak,
To look upon the bloody field aghast.
King of Coins, Oak / by Annie Goold
Whereas the phoenix prairie fires cinder
the wild rye and cordgrass into rifted straw coals,
God’s vessel, the impenetrable bur oak, stands,
an anchor of reaching, bare blue-grey above the smoke
like some magnificent ship upon a foggy Christening
for the New World. A summer rain
slakes the fire dancing giant, cooling his frilled neck
in time for the next drought. Lop the bottom branches,
my Aunt informs me of a sapling, so that it can breathe
without fighting. I hesitate. If a fresh arm spouts, is that not a sign
that a challenge is ready, even if only to hold
those who seek refuge, the begging hope
of a spent child calling taller folk? He the teacher
and she the student, the two arbors listing in their loving,
devise a quiet lesson: distance between doesn’t stop
two parallel lines from moving onward
or gently swaying with each other in the wind.
The Play / by Brice Maiurro
We all gathered
to watch the play
on the giant roof
of the giant house.
in perfect red rows
and before the show
had had a chance to start
And in the death
of this dream
I reached my hand out
for your hand
and I kissed your hand
and told you I loved you,
and when I woke up
I grabbed that same hand
in bed together
in the basement
of our home,
where dreams can’t
make us fall so suddenly.
In the waking,
I felt no sense of terror
but a reminder
of just how okay
it can be to fall
with the right person
Sister Wheels / by Caely McHale
Two rabbits, jumping over one another
A fox, vixen screaming—at first, perhaps a bird, but no, a fox
Another rabbit, watching the first two
An old dog with blue-cast eyes
A pink thistle-head in a ramekin of water
Three unidentified flying objects, one circular, two twisted, in formation
Less tadpoles in the pond then I remember
My father with ideas for poetry—“Sister Wheels” or “Three Rabbits”
My mother with ideas for poetry—the intimate nature of memory
Three rabbits in my house, two made of iron and one of china
A folded umbrella filled with wasps
A long-suffering magnolia tree
My brother with memories—we climbed on the roof and looked down the skylight
into the kitchen, he says at night, he says we three looked down and saw our parents,
and they say they didn’t see us there, and I assume we must have crawled back across
the roof with its dormant summer heat and fiberglass shards and through our bedroom
window missing a screen, and I assume we slept through the night because there were no
Cicadas, screaming, enjoying their short time to the fullest extent.
Formless / by William Overall
This thing is mine
This formless in
I don’t know where it is from
But right now I know
Where it is
It is with me; and
It is mine
I lost sight of it for so
Long I really just
Forgot I ever had
It’s so insignificant, so buried
This formless in
I haven’t seen much
Beauty inside myself in
But this thing is
Thing is mine
Invaders / by Meg Weston
Battling an invasion
that came from the Himalayas
crossed the mountains of Kashmir
journeyed here to Maine.
Disguised by many names
I’ve been calling it Jewel-weed
but it turns out that it’s
Impatiens Glandulifera (a purple flower)
Jewel-weed is Impatiens Capensis
with its orange flowers,
or Impatiens Pallida
(yellow flowers) all
beginning with impatience—
Undercover as Himalayan Balsam
Copper tops, Indian balsam
Policeman’s Helmet, Bobby Tops,
Did I say Gnome’s hatstand?
I like that one.
These hooded flowers
colonize disturbed habitats
another name for our garden
once home to tall oaks and maples
that keep reseeding
attempt to root out dirt beneath
our tomatoes, eggplants,
roses and herbs.
pollinated by bees
Impatiens can fertilize themselves
without ever exchanging pollen—
excreting toxins to weed out
competitors we’re trying to grow.
Recommended remedy: pulling
and cutting, manual tasks,
Sisyphean fight to hold the line
against the invasion—
not my strength I dare say
I tire of the effort
to keep it away
Look at its strong points:
you can make parfait or jam
use it to relieve itching and pain
feed the bees and the hummingbirds
and strangle the notion
of any control
over “our” backyard—
the invasive ones, ourselves.
Poem 7 / Day 7
Home / by Susan Kay Anderson
moon is the sun breathing stars
I am there drowning a little
in HUCKLEBERRIES in summer low almost invisible
up at the top of the world
spills clean and quick
through basalt and ash banks/pink drifts
The highway cuts through
last summer green shade deep river rocks smooth
of green smell
each day a life was it lived? was it a dream of oceans
during Utopia beside a lake camping
during the song about the ocean
drowning beyond tears he had cried ( back then )
he was still alive
when everyone else danced around
jumped for joy even
I guess I am already there*
This is where I will be*
Those miles he walked in Eugene grit gravel a million
past gardens their alleyways the river melting
clouds right behind your
breath on your neck the strong smell of
you never felt so seen
the popular term those hands
stain your body their thick coffee grip
point the direction
from where visitors might arrive
W H A T
do you tell them now?
the moon inside your cup
*created from lyrics from The Talking Heads
and inspired by Helen Frankenthaler’s Walking Rain lithograph (1987)
Pain Body / by Lynne Ellis
after a Stasia Burrington print
the ink is thick across the page
dissonance mars sheet music
important words are redacted
a ghoul with crumbling teeth
demands my breath attention
its mirror human holds it by the cheek
lets it sit down a kitten
tiny cats look fragile
they are all claws & bite
for hours they battle nothing
air crazy & hallucinating
but still there was that moment
I placed a hand
heavy on its fur-spine
careful like it was my own muscle
& on my palm I felt
a diagram of feline skeleton
white on black
elastic bones the clawed thing rumbled
climbed me as a ladder
to reach the windowsill
its pads emitted traction sharps
zinging through my teeshirt
I would not be myself without
all my nerves to feel this world
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 7: Reconsideration – Azra’il / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
31 It seems he’s more complex than at first glance,
Perhaps this soul is worth a second chance,
A soul that found his way to God, Amin,
Is this a man of faith or circumstance?
32 My task is not to judge the lives of men,
But to collect their souls time and again,
This angel does not deem by Shibboleth,
But on the scroll, all deeds are scribed by pen.
33 I’m Azra’il, the Archangel of death,
I come when you’re poised to take your last breath,
Men fear the sight of me and my decree,
And when sands of time have stopped, I cometh.
34 The thoughts you think are crystal clear to me,
And all your life are entries I can see,
By the blink of an eye, your thoughts display.
Only what God’s written I can’t foresee.
35 Turn now your thoughts Aslan, back to this day,
Let us experience all your dismay.
Bring forth the carnage and the blood-soaked field,
And all the sounds and horror of that fray.
Queen of Coins, Chrysanthemum / by Annie Goold
Present, prescient particles
unzipping to an organ’s order,
she’s true to each tender piece,
furling along the ledge. At the heel,
along the thumb, an orange thrum:
an understanding peeps out in waves
like a busy, fifing bird, and I follow
the sense, the aerated intelligence.
Her answers reside under leaves,
so I slake my ankles in dew.
What sugar! What grief!
What to offer for this patience?
Her dawning leavens the day
by the velvet of a child’s lips,
unwrapping each piece while knowing
time’s requirements. Even if for only once,
I am blessed by her slow burst, the dazzle
of goodness’s gracing, the ardor of final friends.
What I Don’t Need of You / by Brice Maiurro
I don’t need you to always
be nice to me.
I don’t need you to buy me flowers
for my birthday,
or to waste your money
on a paper card.
I don’t need you to tip me
just most times.
I don’t need you to smile,
or pretend you want to.
If you don’t wanna dance,
If you wanna cancel
because you’re afraid you’ll be a bitch
then please cancel,
be as much of a bitch as you want
and bring your truest version of bitch
I don’t need you
to take the easy road in the conflict,
I don’t need you
to go easy on me.
I don’t need you to write a song for me,
or ask me to be your child’s godparent,
and most days,
I’m happy to listen to you talk about yourself
I don’t need you to make space for me
on the train,
I’m happy standing.
I don’t need you to hug me hello
every time we see each other.
I know what I know of love
and I know I know enough.
I don’t keep score of it all,
I’m far too busy
and way too bad at math.
But what I do need you to do,
is to remember that we are here
and we are in a war for the soul of humanity
and I need you
that we are here
to fight like fucking hell.
Houses / by Caely McHale
There was a house hanging from the beams—one round window and a green roof—
I called it a hummingbird house until I was informed hummingbirds don’t use birdhouses.
It must have been an empty home, but the twine that hung from its foundation like roots ripped
from the ground gave the scene a sense of organic life,
as though the house came into being, grew older and stronger, from water and dirt and sun.
The hummingbird house did have a neighbor—
What I had perceived to be a spider’s egg sack began to shiver and shake in a rhythm not of any
wind—a fly, perhaps, that does not want to die.
I wonder what is inside the hummingbird house, how it differs from what I have imagined, a fly
that does not want to die, sitting very still, singing very quietly—
“Sit sit sit, now speak!” / by William Overall
You gotta train your wishes
Like love hungry Chihuahuas
Or else they’ll sneak up on you
Or as the polite people say
Make a “boo-boo” somewhere it doesn’t belong
The ol’ tricenarian brain isn’t as equipped as it should be but I’m finally getting both sides of the sword
and both the top and bottom lip of the kiss
and I may squint or grunt sometimes but I got some people helping me train the brain and the heart
and the wishes
It’s all about the sit and the stay and the pink studded collars I keep tied to it’s short leash
The hardest part though is that it’s golden skin time again and I’m tryin to grow some courage around
and there is so much to wish for
Barking and biting at my ankles
Sit sit sit, now speak!
Lost songs / by Meg Weston
In a restaurant in Italy
they dine on the songbirds.
A delicacy – so delicious—
they say, crunching the tiny
bones and heads in their mouths,
spitting out the beaks.
Ignoring the pending extinctions.
The birds fly paths of migration
traveled hundreds or thousands of years,
trapped in the nets and served up
on the table—a dance of hunter
and hunted. Predator and prey.
Unaware of their pending extinction.
Fewer birds fly over each year.
Fainter songs, more haunting.
The delicacy more rare Illicit,
illegal, more costly and sought after.
Our greed more evident—
accelerating our own extinction.
I listen now for ghostly echoes, lost songs
that wander through the waves of air,
and wonder that I didn’t know ‘til now—
a third of the birds in the world now gone—
industrial sites once breeding grounds
food becomes scarce, as climate shifts.
And me? I continue to drive my car,
eat red meat, travel far too often.
I’m afraid it may too late, my eye once blind
now seeing our pending extinction.
Poem 6 / Day 6
Best Western / by Susan Kay Anderson
of smoke a smokescreen What is
we were in the fire Just nine miles
up the road the fire Even at the motel
breathe but more two-by-fours
thin veneer paneling of the Best Western
the AC just brought in more
from the fire we watched on TV
the wires so crossed sparks jumping
cables a branch ungrounded into trees into vast Cascadia
The Amateur / by Lynne Ellis
My handsome friend eats chocolate with more zeal
than anyone I’ve ever known. He bites
the squares for breakfast, even. Devotee,
but not a connoisseur, a true lover—
he’d tap it at his faucet if he could.
Cocoa flavors the air around his lips.
On Feb 15th he serves up red foil heart-
shaped boxes. “This is dinner,” and he grins.
“So we can eat our hearts out, ya get it?”
Each person must invent their own love-language.
When he picks up my post-op meds, mid-May,
he also picks a drugstore truffle box.
Its print design a gold script acrobat—
this single word—Congratulations.
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 6: Reminiscence – Aslan / by by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
26 I have crossed many plains and windswept seas,
There was no Pasha I sought to appease,
No Sultan, nor ruler I gave Salam,
Rabiy only, I fall to my knees.
27 Raised by the Sunnah the Ummah Islam,
To faith, I gave neither poise nor a qualm,
Then in Allamah, such virtues enshrine,
When encountered, he of greatest aplomb.
28 His teachings were like a seductive wine,
Of my Beloved, One true God, divine,
Absolved, I prayed with much joyous acclaim,
If a martyr’s quest, I would toe the line.
29 Crusaders and Mongols thought they could tame,
With rape and death their legacies of shame,
This cruelty is what Allah abhors,
Thus, my sword was Al-Qahhar’s vengeful flame.
30 Not all my life consumed by bloody wars,
There is also a wife this heart adores,
Into this world, a family we’d raise,
But life is a test; when it rains, it pours.
Cincinnati / by Annie Goold
Restrained as a flood of petals,
we dally in a land of cobbled granite.
Are murals ever not heroic?
However quick the traffic, buildings move slow
upon the hills, and sweat drips from my back
and down my thighs like the yolk of a galette:
wending from the center, smiling through cracks
in the sky to eat the town below.
We marvel the red-eyed cicadas sizzling
the sumacs, wafting their bodies about
in tandem with mulberries and burnt-out dogs.
Back at home base, butter clams,
garlic, and Lion’s Mane for breakfast
as men happily starve on TV. It doesn’t need to rain
to saturate this day. I’ll take it.
Cartoon Vulture / by Brice Maiurro
Watching me sit down to the table
with a glass of wine,
and a sparkling water,
and also a cup of iced passion
she says to me,
a little bit of everything,
a sure tell sign of ADD,”
I always saw this
as some manifestation
of me being a water sign,
finding comfort in a family
of water in all forms
My friend sitting right beside me
across the sharp corner of the table
continues to watch me through the dinner,
observing my manic fork
mixing the veggies into my rice,
observing the constant dance
of my jittered body
in my fidgety chair,
I am out of my body,
as I begin to observe myself
along with her.
Something in me wants
to stand up and yell,
mind your business!
as she looms over me
like a cartoon vulture.
Then it occurs to me;
this is not something separate,
this is not a trial,
nor a test,
there is no tally being kept
in the also-manic recesses of
my friend is enraptured
at the rare opportunity
to observe herself
from outside of herself,
and I caw
back to her
smiling my best cartoon vulture
“The monsters” / by William Overall
There is a black and white
In a congressional archive
In the photo, there is
A group of cowboys and
(Young and some old)
The men are in a row
Of approximately thirteen
Each man is holding
On to a piece of
What’s suspicious is
Sicily / by Meg Weston
Lemon trees are blossoming again this spring
despite the long winter, the dark nights,
the isolation and the solitude, the death
toll mounting day by day, the singing from
the windows, mortality astounding us.
PBS News Hour flashes pictures, a name,
an age, two or three sentences meant
to capture an entire life, and another,
and another. The one that mattered last
December I descended into darkness
for long winter months of sheltering in loneliness,
cold outside, cold deep in the ground.
Only one dug a hole of silence each time
I picked up my phone, saw your name in
My Favorites, began to dial, and put it down.
Only one caught my breath, visited me in dreams.
Now spring arrives with blooms and leaves.
The restaurant down the street opens with a special
Silician Style in June, and I pick up my phone again to call.
Remember when we stayed in the lemon groves
of that village in Sicily? We took the chairlift up
Mt. Etna and walked across black lava fields,
listening to the volcano breathe. Deep breaths.
Can you forget? Watching the movie Stromboli
with Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini,
we were inspired to go to Sicily together.
The four of us, you and Pete, Bob and me.
Pete gone now too.
It was the week before I decided to end my marriage
and you had no idea, yet you understood, in the way
that you had of understanding always, and helping
me to see. Never attempting to change my direction
(you said you knew better than that!), but oh how I miss
just talking, I miss your wisdom, I miss your scent.
You once told me that when you lose someone you love,
you must open yourself up to love some more. You’d lost
a dear friend to breast cancer, you brought home her puppy,
and then you reached out to me to take a walk,
and our friendship began.
I have a new puppy this year. Roger, my husband now,
(you said I finally got it right!) calls her a “pushy broad”
but I know that she simply pushes forward to get what
she wants and what she deserves, what’s rightfully hers,
as you always did, and wanted for me.
Etna erupted the week after we left, closing the trail
to the summit, cutting off the road we drove up;
villages on the upper slopes evacuated.
I thought you said it was safe! You said to me,
laughing, shaking your head.
You never really know, I said.
Poem 5 / Day 5
How Come You Leave Me Feathers / by Susan Kay Anderson
“…the space between letters in a sentence”
From “Ted Talk” by Brice Maiurro
Where I walk on Nonpareil
between Leatherwood’s barn
and the graveyard at Fair Oaks
there is the feeling you are here
with each step because walking
rain or shine let’s say mostly rain
the sun so blazing it is not the sun
what’s come closer this time this way
alongside the camas their valleys
did I say I missed you most of all
with these footsteps each one careful
small gravel I feel through my soles
Baby Names (for a Child I Will Never Have) / by Lynne Ellis
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 5: Retort – Azra’il / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
21 What vile confessions here you have revealed,
With words of sinful acts, not one concealed,
These wicked deeds which you accumulate,
I fear a fate in hell is one you’ve sealed.
22 It’s not the length of time that clears one’s slate;
What efforts have you taken to abate?
Only Al-Ghaffar forgives, I imply;
It’s prayers where you recapitulate.
23 By sword, you lived, and by the sword, you die,
And by God’s scales, your deeds exemplify,
Fear Allah for your soul will be unshod,
And come judgment too late to mollify.
24 His abbey is a Holy place of God,
What right of you to strike with iron rod,
The Holy Quran instructs to abstain,
A place of worship, warriors shouldn’t trod.
25 Though all your sins and crimes I do disdain,
Of these God will forgive, and none remain,
Allah is forgiving and merciful,
Repent and forgiveness you will attain.
Nine of Coins, Purple Saxifrage / by Annie Goold
Now that I’m back
in the Midwest, I’ve begun again
to drop my gs, sleep in my jeans,
constantly battle Lamb’s Quarter
hip-high. Sweat and sunscreen,
pruning shears laying flat on my thigh
like a gentle gun. I just barely missed
my fingertips with them, moving too fast
while trying to beat the rain.
My coworkers ask about dinner and lunch
during smoke breaks between tasks, and
I’m learning how to drive a plate mower
since my crew leader likes me more
than the other newbie. I can see
ascension, yet another property on a hill
where I’m granted access but not acknowledgement
upon passage, not that I really need it.
A stray smile and wave as I putter, the owner
walking inside or pulling out of the driveway.
I know my place in a new place, like a walking weed:
tapping roots only to head out and make way
for those manicured and intended.
But, it’s okay. I’ve gone unadorned for years,
and I’m in the moss and mulch,
giggling pink n’ purple with the roses in the sun.
Firepit Story / by Caely McHale
Every six months or so, my father, while looking out at the lawn, past the fire, past long grass and short grass, into the low hills that still create a valley, which is able to funnel sound in such a way that a house a quarter mile from us sounds like it’s right next door, so we can hear the beginnings of this strange family’s sentences only we can’t see them,
while he’s not actually looking into the low hills but right above their tufted peaks, which turn so bright red and orange, and into the sky where it has only started to settle into a soft darkness after a day of hard light, with a soft band of light tracing the tufts of the trees on the low hills that form the small valley where my childhood home was built, where I’ve learned to point out the big dipper and the little dipper but never remembered Venus or Mars,
while he looks over there he’ll ask me, always and without fail, Caely, do you know what that’s called? And I’ll say I don’t remember, and my sister from behind me will say gloaming.
“Play play Centaur” / by William Overall
I’ve joined a cult,
I’ve joined a cult,
We bleed coffee and smell like
The green frosting on black cupcakes
We only make war with eye contact
And we do a dance the last Friday of every month
You can join
Play play centaur
I’m thinking of getting back
With my old cult
They didn’t dance or bleed any diuretic
And they we’re always good to me
They battled alarm clocks and rent checks
And they had a scent of velvet romance
Always loud and confident and
It’s hard to commit to any
one saint or sin or cult when
There are so many ways
to wash your brain
Replay play play centaur and
I’ve joined a cult again
Fagradalsfjall / by Meg Weston
pilgrimage: n. a long journey, undertaken as a quest or for a votive purpose
My life has been a pilgrimage of sorts—
this obsession with volcanoes since childhood—
to see the earth in liquid fire, to witness primal
movement, beginning and end of time.
I climb the mountain, head bowed
paying attention to the narrow path beneath
my feet, my boot treads worn from many
other climbs. I fall on my knees, they’re scraped
and bruised before the steep ascent begins.
An old man passes me, a cane in hand,
white hair blown back he’s done this countless
times before – not here perhaps
but other mountains, other quests to see
the earth anew, a different view.
A woman with a baby in a pack in front;
my camera’s in my backpack, my tripod slung
across my shoulder, we each have burdens
carried on this journey, this vow
to feel the heat and see the world aflame.
A line of people, multi-hued, move slowly up;
the slope is steep, we climb still higher, the sun
goes lower, the clouds now shaded orange
in purple twilight, earth’s pulse visible
in the plume that rises to the sky.
Reaching the ridge, the people settle
some spreading blankets, some moving closer
all watching the lava build up in jagged edges
of black cinder cone, until it spills into a river and
thrusts in the air with unspeakable force.
Where else can we witness the earth in creation?
The trek going down descends into darkness
Sleet and rain wash us clean for the final half mile
I’ve witnessed the earth in the throes of creation
I’m humbled and blessed, and I’m ready for rest.
Poem 4 / Day 4
Digitalis/Fairy Music / by Susan Kay Anderson
In the front of the house—
their hearts too green yet
dead man’s bells worn on the hands
Do not eat this vivid
in grasses of figwort Fingerhut
settling with bees
can you hear me small fairy cup filled up
songs to hedges to light its midges
invisible sundown thimble
unsewn unseen undone
Passage / UWMC Radiology / by Lynne Ellis
after Erika Brumett
These are parrot tulips, yes?
The X-ray seems to sway
on its stems, a monochrome
bouquet along the wall, tall
to the acoustical tile ceiling.
An artist’s macro photograph
of a common thing, spring-
seen. Flimsy. When blooming
in the early garden, it’s a buffet
for bumbles, a hummer’s
water cooler. O’Keefe herself knew—
at flower-center even horticulture
calls the structure ovary.
In dark relief, stigma
and anther are exposed,
protective petals wimpy,
whispering a hint of the body
to patients, stolid, in the hallway.
Will our bones have need to learn
a tune with air for marrow?
pistil spread on ultrasound view—
Oh, let me be empty as a bloom.
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 4: Confession – Aslan / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
16 In my youth, I drank the spirit of wines
and took pleasure in zestful young felines.
Driven by desires I could not undo,
Shaytan held me fast within his confines.
17 Though of these grapes their innocence, I knew,
I took pleasure in taming of the shrew,
Then cast aside and treat them with disdain,
Never giving thought to fond heart, I slew.
18 Does time forgive sprightly young men so vain,
Who each knew their wrongs yet could not abstain?
Iniquities and sin my life adorned,
Now I’m left to ponder life with disdain.
19 From petty thief to mercenary’s sword,
I rode the Steppes, with and against the horde,
My weight in gold for my venality,
And to this deed, a gave a full accord.
20 I lied my share and cursed in blasphemy,
And led the raid that burnt an abbacy,
My sword indulged itself in crimson wine,
There were no bounds to my brutality.
The Lovers, Peony / by Annie Goold
The light of two binary stars loosens across the lake.
Once, I tried to lie to myself in my personal journal. I couldn’t,
because I memorized the lie down to the page of the specific
book in which I wrote it, and I preemptively apologized to my following
journals as a result. There’s a wilderness hemming the edge
of your top lip, and I watch the teensy constellation under your eye
smooth and swell with sleep,
the greens and greys of dawn whelming into daylight without a hitch.
Ants have worked their wax magic, and the hefty blooms summon
the summer holiday like the queen to her loyal subjects,
drawn by the very smell of her desire.
Crawl closer, Love. I have nothing to say.
Ted Talk / by Brice Maiurro
I’m hyper-aware of the carpeting from
When I see it, or things that resemble it,
in real life, I lose it a little bit.
I really love animation that has that little
click between moments,
the ones that have less frames-per-second,
I find it incredibly beautiful.
It’s like a wake-up call that you are watching a film.
That the story you are watching was handcrafted
painstakingly by someone in a studio.
I have no concept of how many hours that artists,
especially cartoon artists of old,
spent putting together scene after scene after scene
of the near-same moment in a film
so that it could come alive for an audience.
In some ways,
it feels like some sort of warrior sacrifice,
like you are dedicating countless hours of your life
where you could be doing anything else
for a shot that your personal loss will be worth it
to generations of people to come after.
I don’t know if that is healthy or not.
There’s the common good,
and then there’s loss of self,
but I’m very American
and terrible at discerning these things.
My house is always the last house on the block
to take their recycling bin back to the house
after recycling day.
Does that mean we’re lazy?
Are other people just militant about it?
Is this another common good thing?
Sometimes I think that love resists definition,
that it is the space between letters in a sentence,
or a well-held ego in the nest of the bird of time,
you could say, and maybe I should say too,
it’s a feeling, it’s a feeling.
What I do know of love is this,
a friend of mine sat beside me at work at a call center
for years, or at least what felt like years,
I talked to her once a week and she told me
what size her baby is now,
a peanut, a banana, a squash,
she was family,
that way that the people you work with
come to be family.
One day she was bringing her lovely children in
for trick-or-treat at the call center,
and then one day she was no longer working there,
she was in my messages asking me for money,
and then it wasn’t long after that she was dead,
shot to death along with her husband
in a back alley off of South Broadway.
She was a ghost to me before she was a ghost
I said goodbye twice.
I don’t know what I’d say if anyone
ever asked me to give a Ted Talk,
but it might be something about love,
and when you’re worried you’re leaning in too much,
lean in a little more.
The Sweater Curse / by Caely McHale
Today I hate the spaces between me and you, the crown shyness of skin.
If I could share a body, I would.
Can I train my fingernails to weave around your fingernails, like a climbing vine?
When I knit you a sweater, a strand of my hair will sometimes fall out and into my working yarn,
but I never pluck it out.
I just keep knitting as tight as I can.
I love two things: repetitive motions and closeness.
The sweater curse suggests that the relationship will unravel before the last stitch is bound off.
How many things can we hold together with yarn and hair?
I actually love three things: repetitive motions, closeness, and climbing vines.
Let the vines weave, let us weave—weaving is so patient, so quiet, the coming-together is so
patient, so quiet.
“Copper Penny Bardo” / by William Overall
It’s long for this world
ask the airways, tune into any
small station or any old tube
Turn it up and plug your ears with it
You just ride the airways
if you get lost
with the rest of us
flip out with your heavy dimes and brand new nickels and
apply inside the vacuum
It’s that story again, where sitting bear put his son’s bones in a bag and I’ve got some
dried up fruit and my transit tickets in mine
Which war are you more interested in?
Listen to the static between this broadcast
that’s where you don’t have to read to eat the info, little happy rock and roll saint
Ask the copper penny bardo, oh child of noble abundance, Mercury is for the other kids, so it’s single file all
the way to the coast and this no man’s land grows watermelons so big you could live in em!
Your compass points west now
toward the eternal antenna you’re
currently dialed into,
we’ll be right back.
Whooper Swans / by Meg Weston
The day filled with wild swans
in the skies and in the ponds—
a memory of driving, fall, mountains
and fjords of Iceland, ice forming
on mountain passes, a family
of Whooper swans climbed up
on too thin ice one by one,
struggling, graceful, moving across.
Another memory—walking, spring,
southern Iceland. The pond no more
than a puddle. Strong wings bristled
at my intrusion, rushed from the brush
to enter the water, swam in circles, each
movement an arc of grace, thrusting
his neck forward, gliding his full white body
back and forth, his eyes on me
a movement – a pair of Phalaropes,
a nest in the grass beside the pond. Could he
be protecting their not-yet-hatched young?
I want his powerful wings and elegance
to remain in mind, save my nests of unhatched
ideas from threats before they are ever born.
Poem 3 / Day 3
Each With Its Own Sand / by Susan Kay Anderson
The best part of the beach is afterwards
just like a job when it is over
in the shower
water spraying the naupaka
at the edges of the cement its drain
cooling off cooling down
in the bowl that is Waimanalo
happy is not even a word
but what is the walk back
now you don’t mind it at all
away from the immense
they said it that way to say
the ocean and all its food
We just go to the fridge
to get what we need
snacks is what it is
pieces of moon
stuck to the skin
My Pre-op Nurse Says Choose a Good Dream / by Lynne Ellis
And in this dream the wooden dock
moans a sick sound like the bowel
of a galleon, and we tip into the black
water filled with cars and combine wheels
and our fellow summer vacationers, and I
take my last air to dive toward a cyan light—
and the pressure does not fold me, I swim down
out of the mayhem of legs, where I am warm,
and the water is my favorite thermal blanket—
the closer I get to the blueshine the easier it is
to breathe the water, in that dream way
that we can breathe the water, or grow gills,
or make homes inside a Goodyear. And why
have I never tried this before in my life.
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 3: Angel Azra’il – Moderator / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
1 Born into this world was not your choice made,
Yet, here you are, and in no haste to fade.
Why clinch so tightly to this no man’s land,
When death awaits you here within the shade?
2 Why not reach out and grasp this boney hand,
Does not a blissful sleep lie neath the sand,
And there await the Recompense resigned,
Is that not, after all, what God has planned?
3 We do not long to leave this world behind,
Though in the grave awaits a peaceful mind,
Devine retribution none can foresee,
When all your sinful ways, Allah, will find?
4 And so, you sit beneath this Sessile tree,
Mooting over idiosyncrasies,
Your vexed thoughts are as a wrath filled vessel,
Lord guide him to the sacred path, I plea.
5 With a thought, a Mountain You can level,
Or drown the land with floods to dishevel,
Cleanse too the stain of sin that blots his soul,
Seek not this lamb to test or bedevil.
Death, Lodgepole Pine / by Annie Goold
In Olympia Washington, there’s a banner
that’s annually adhered in the summer
to a small viewing space on a bridge.
It reads The Salmon Are Back!
And when we were first getting to know
one another, we walked the downtown
area’s vistas and oddities, with one walk
ending at the bridge. The same size as the seals
waiting to devour them twenty-five feet away,
a fist of fish slapping off one another,
their undulation an intentionally mindless jockey
back out to sea, where they’ll die by a smaller, bolder seal.
I turned from the scene to your face, to your reaction to
this placid crisis below us. I can’t remember
how you looked, but it’s enough for me to have held your hand that day.
Everything else has been a trove of fortune.
Nocturne No. 1 in D-Flat Major / by Brice Maiurro
And one night there was a shadow outside of my window.
I unlatched the hinge and floated through to the other side.
I floated over the brick houses of Congress Park
in search of the shadow I sensed, if only by that same sense,
that sense that we have yet to give a name to.
That sense that guides us to up and quit a job in a fit of rage,
or to kiss the right person at the wrong moment.
That sense that hovers over us as we lay awake in bed,
in the middlest moment of the endless night.
It was that sense that led me there to float above the porch lights
and with the gut of my gut seek out that shadow that came to visit me.
Beneath the lamplit trees there was no shortage of wonderful shadows,
but it was a particular breed of haunting and whimsy
that called to me silently in the spaces between the trees,
a something that carried in its shape a foreign intimacy.
As I hovered over seventh avenue, a car swept by.
I latched on convicted as it sped down the corridor
at a speed beyond what is common for the seventh avenue stretch.
The world buzzed by me, a collection of fragmented moments,
a man sipping coffee at a window in the dark and I was left to ask why.
I wasn’t left long, as the car rolled onward unflinchingly
crashing into the blackest cat to ever wander a street at night,
and the cat did not stop,
nor did the car I had held onto,
the night tore onward,
at the tail of the car that drove to elsewhere,
I stayed with the cat that lied dead in the street
where there was no one and nothing but us and timeless,
and I watched as that shadow that I had hunted softly
surrounded its broken form, unbreathing at the intersection.
It was then I felt what the shadow I was after was,
as I witnessed the intersection of haunting and whimsy,
when our souls are no longer in the bodies we’ve moved through
with such a beautiful negligence and such an ugly grace.
Structure / by Caely McHale
The structure of the dream that became poetry:
The dunce the
Runt the baby
Calf in my hands
Once a head now
I woke up but we thought we knew where it was going.
The structure of the question that became poetry:
How fair is it to make an animal a symbol of something?
Is it not itself?
Is the creature in life not the opposite of the phantom in poetry?
What is the difference between regeneration and rebirth on a bodily scale?
Or generation and birth?
What could one cut cleanly through if not something newly born?
How can the whole be so much smaller than its pieces?
Where’s the poem? / by Meg Weston
Is there a poem in that kiss? I ask
my husband as I set off to write.
I’m looking for inspiration.
A poem in the adoring eyes
of my puppies because I made
them scrambled eggs this morning?
No bacon? They seem to say. Sizzling
fat, the smell up our noses – that’s
what it takes to make a poem!
Search the dirt on the stairs I climb
to my desk. They need sweeping.
Peck through the pile of laundry
that needs to be washed. The bed
that should have been made by now.
Perhaps I’ll find it staring out the window
among broad maple leaves spring green
bouncing with squirrels’ acrobatics–the leap
from branch to delicate branch that bends
until the squirrel scrambles up to safer heights.
The mountains and the harbor call—a sailing ship
from afar might have a cargo load of poems
a treasure to unload—
enough to feed these pages
for 30 days or more.
Poem 2 / Day 2
Chiemsee, Meine Gute / by Susan Kay Anderson
I ask her about the Chiemsee since there are millions of pictures of it everywhere calendars clocks postcards what have you all the kickshaws buried in the rubble of lives smoothened hard to let go where there were actually two bombs one on their bomb shelter and one at the train station where the flower shop was and vegetables that Tante minded before her bomb fifteen minutes later what a narrow escape maybe this is why maybe that we will never know imagine
The king lived there and was shot in a little boat one person was supposed to take care of him say that he was not mad and that is how they kept it going until they had enough and then he was shot and died he was you know the way someone is when they wake up the workers and say they must go on a carriage ride to watch the moon through the trees I forget the word for it
slow down my pals
do you see the sun
shining a little dim
just when I thought
my idea so grand
Low Tide at the Double Bluff Off-Leash Area / General Anesthesia / by Lynne Ellis
This tideflat a body on a table—
inert like that but alive
with thumbprint crabs all waiting
for the water to return.
Dogs play past the kelp line,
paws unmindful of the barnacle crunch.
It can be hard to look
at heron-eaten Dungeness, or
clams unzipped by gulls—
stuck for good in an empty laugh.
What is the body when the self
is suspended? Ask the moon.
Ask anemones. Ask the sand
slipping quietly down the cliff face.
“I was once rock,” it says, soft
underfoot. “Swallows filled me
with their brood-holes. In ten-thousand
years I will be the seafloor.”
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 2: The Field – Protagonist Aslan / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
1 From under shadows of this Oak, I sit,
Observing fields of flowers counterfeit,
Their reddish color glistens surreal,
Is this the fate of men as Holy writ?
2 Such perfect poppies crushed beneath the heel,
Mowed down by blades of sharp Damascus steel,
A harvest that would leave weak hearts fainted,
Their mother’s tears and pleas could never heal.
3 My face and hands as if henna painted,
The sweet copper scent, which now smells tainted,
I long the taste of water to sustain,
These bloody wounds, I’m all too acquainted.
4 Hear not the sounds of agonizing pain,
Young men whispering Shahada amain,
Their bleeding arms and body slashed and gashed,
And then to lay amongst the martyrs slain?
5 This field is strewn with hopes and dreams now dashed,
Flags lay on the ground that once to pikes were lashed,
Only birds of carrion stand to gain,
Who won the day? I ask, not least abashed.
Pagliacci / by Brice Maiurro
Beautiful and ugly thing it is,
you know, to
breathe, not breathe and people who
opt not to see, and moment when
mail comes Christmas but just a bunch of
ads (Christmas) and throw
it into the fire and doesn’t work.
Expected a pleasant flame of crisp papers,
Surrounded black smoke of plastic
smells a backend deal trading planet for
moment. Fire alarms go off, firemen
don’t come, living room
your giant house alone you
could turn on the national public radio, you’d
have to know the national public,
and not today for doomscroll,
then feel bad for not today for doomscroll, to
the park to the people the people aren’t people
at all. Lizards, summer sun of
misery, ticking tallies invisible prison,
inside is a blind spot
the earbuds, drown
time in nature in the city,
a cooking show when hungry. This
all a cooking show
hungry. You’re hungry. You want
it all switch the song
national public radio it’s everything
you expected, what you thought you wanted,
shift mind list of all
things you could be doing (you’re not.) All
things could be but not. Walk to the
Seven to snack, radio
exposing you truth you wanted until you
heard it and Seven you, well,
hungry remember the thing in
the Seven most nutritional (the
carpet) where you pay
taquitos. And person isn’t
there. Clock on the screen
praying handful of
gods piece of tape cover up the
time tick screen. Walking
around Seven not want the store
you think suspicious
person counter not there.
Home, lock your door, you close
your blinds, and bathroom, and see
yourself, mirror, think “tomorrow has got
to be the thing.
Tomorrow will be
the thing. There is a
something inside of me,
and I will find it. There is
that will turn the light switch
back on. I can
feel my heart thumping through
all of this,
and I know
that somewhere nearby,
music is playing,”
and you turn
on the water,
and you splash
the running water on your
and you watch the water
turn all sorts of pretty colors,
as the clown makeup drains
slowly down the drain.
“Kansas” / by Caely McHale
In a car driving fast
wondering at the difference
between fog and mist
this matter of emotional quality
this dialogue between the landscape
and the one with eyes
this act of naming
I ask the landscape— are you lonely or are you waiting
The hill opens its mouth and tells me—it’s only waiting
So I know it’s only mist and I name it mist
and I annunciate the t
and drive past two interesting highway signs:
a garden of eden is two stops down
from a sylvan grove
of all places
The cows readjust only slightly
when the hill opens
its mouth to talk
like dogs being pet as they sleep.
My hands / by Meg Weston
These hands are not weathered with work
in the fields, or scarred like a carpenter’s;
blue veined, papery thin skin, a callous
or two on the index and middle fingers
where I’ve grasped a pen too tightly.
My grandmother’s hands made pie crusts—
lattice-work across a cherry pie, or the base
for her lemon meringue perfectly browned
peaks of sugary confection hot from the oven.
Her hands made food with love and heat.
My mother centered clay on her kick-wheel;
shaped pots of all sizes, mixed chemistry
and fired the powdered glazes in a kiln.
The powder turned liquid and dripped
down the walls in layers of color.
Her hands made bowls that I still use.
My brother once made a doll cradle for me,
painted it a turquoise blue—the Caribbean sea,
summer skies, countless toys, repaired
and repainted. A color that is still my favorite.
He didn’t grow up to be handy though.
My father made a table out of oak, cut
his fingers off with the table saw, the red
drips on the floor my mother thought was paint
until she saw he held his fingers in his other hand.
He taught himself to write left-handed.
My hands pulled prints in the darkroom,
put poems on a page, picked up stones
left in the wake of lava flows, perfectly polished
and pockmarked where the gases escaped.
My hands rubbed against rocks.
My hands are not hands of a maker—they’ve
put pen to paper, and held the hand of a friend
as she lay in her hospice bed with her perfectly
polished nails—her final touch a heavy weight
like a stone in my pocket.
These hands have served me well.
Poem 1 / Day 1
It Wasn’t But It Was / by Susan Kay Anderson
between the sun and here the space
especially at night when June bites
roses climb my thoughts red magenta
in the afterglow
of the pandemic we breeze by
everything important and now nothing
except for breathing and what about those
gone now left somewhere behind
somewhere so close by
Diagnosis / BRCA1 / by Lynne Ellis
Here comes the new
info. Hornet swarms blow
out the windows. Keep
your cool. Cover your
mouth with a hand &
breathe through the bee-veil.
Lay out that plate
of figs & cake & damn
the flies. Damn each
rotten seed. Pinch wasps
at their waists & dodge
the stings. Go out
to the brood boxes
& brush them with dung.
Ready your honey claws
for the pollen war.
The Sessile Tree Rubaiyat
Part 1: Opening- The Sessile Tree / by Haider (T.L. “Nick” Gildred)
1 These fields once were a virgin wilderness,
Where mighty Oaks grew strong and vigorous,
Their canopy Sun’s light outcast reviled,
Cradling all life beneath with tenderness.
2 Men came to these woodlands to tame the wild;
They hewed until its dignity defiled,
Left there in its place a field of grasslands,
A single Sessile tree they reconciled.
3 Upon a hill, this single tree now stands,
Surveying barren fields that cover lands,
This Oak, mother to the forest she bore,
Still grasps the earth beneath with roots and strands.
4 She lived now for a thousand years or more,
Outliving all upon these lands of yore,
And though her offspring have since long gone mute,
Content to wait to spread her seed and lore.
5 The passing of time to a tree is moot;
It takes more than a few days to bear fruit,
Ten times the life of any man who lived,
Yet, man fells the forest beneath his boot.
Judgement, Easter Lily / by Annie Goold
I bought a peace
lily to purify
the air in the bedroom,
where I’ve been gathering
the courage to ask you
to marry me.
My mother just told me
each time she lost an important person,
she used to give the family
a peace lily. Initially, Jesus
was lost after he rose from the cave.
Not from himself or father
but from his mourners.
They could not find him.
But I’d bet on that first night he was dead,
someone was checking the stone door like a dog
beginning to waver on its certainty
that you’re coming back. Somebody somewhere
couldn’t imagine a life further than Christ
and so lost nothing
after his momentary physical death,
meaning no figurative death,
only a permeable boundary,
cycling forever through osmosis.
I want you forever.
I get you forever.
The Candlemaker / by Brice Maiurro
For Danny Mazur
There is a candlemaker,
tucked away in the story of a room,
he takes the remnants of what was,
and moves it into form,
through the work of holding,
he gifts it into the grace of maybe,
he carves it into the shape of home.
And when the wind blows in,
perhaps it laughs at what he’s made,
a dry wick as still as an unfulfilled promise,
an idea of something that you cannot prove exists.
But out in the wild world,
a spark is born in the dry night,
unseen, unknown, unspoken,
it wanders along the sides of highways,
holding its truth out to the wind,
hoping to hitch a ride to anywhere.
The spark moves across plains,
mountains, deserts and dust storms,
in rainstorms hiding beneath the trees
until one day it arrives
at the flick of someone’s soft thumb,
wrapping its maybe against the wick of the candle
and birthing its maybe into a flame.
fire can go almost wherever it wants,
when a someone with a dream
of what cannot be seen,
patiently holds onto the flicker
in the core of his open eyes.
“Human High Strangeness” / by Caely McHale
We see a tree without his crown,
we see him laying down,
we see more clearly
the snake holes in his trunk,
yellow tails hanging out.
In a slow-drowned world,
there’s no moral high ground
on the final sunny mount.
Guilt doesn’t help
We stepped in the creek
and felt the mossy rocks,
as soft as rocks could be
to the soft bottoms of feet,
went on enjoying the earth machine.
I was in Iceland in springtime, arctic terns
circling overhead all day—
a day that lasts and lasts turning
twilight towards midnight fusing
pink into predawn light at three.
Aerodynamic angel wings soar in the air,
slice the wind with vibrating screeches of song,
lifting higher and higher—a dance of breeding
time in this land of moss and tundra,
pumice rocks, and windblown shores.
I hear them circling my thoughts long
after I’ve left for home; I imagine following
their journey, across the Atlantic, tracing
the coasts of Africa and South America as if
they knew this route before the continents split.
To Antarctica where they winter on the ice pack
in the Weddell Sea, flying over 50,000 miles each year.
In a lifetime they will have traveled to the moon and back
three times over—disappearing from my sight,
I wonder where they are now.
These winged creatures like angels passing through,
like all the people who have passed through, and passed on,
circling to land and linger as long as a summer day,
or only a moment to touch my heart
and migrate on with their journey, leaving me
to picture the globe, see magnetic traces of flight
that crisscross this earth—hear their voices
and songs. I look up to the sky to follow birds,
paths of migrations, memories, thoughts, imagination
circles down to rest here with my pen on a page.
Infinite Gratitude / by Heather Hallberg Yanda
I want to walk this path
quietly, breathing in
whatever this moment
offers: my steps’ sound,
the pebbles I disturb.
I want to hear the tall
grasses move by the pond’s
edge, as my breath ascends
and descends the ornate
labyrinth in each lung:
the maples ahead move
in the same cadence. I
have had the privilege
of carrying stories
others hold, but these hills
carry mine: we all bow
with infinite gratitude.