The 30/30 Project: June 2021

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

Donate to 30/30

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
rising sun
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
some Saturday,
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
            whistled visions
            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
goodbye,

            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
            hollow bones,

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
            and watched
            the sun set
            for him and me
            and everyone.

 

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
Hollow holes
And spin it

I don’t count how
Many they grab

The smallest beads
Of sweat
Are transferred,
Left behind
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
tomorrow.

I’m in the middle
smiling ear to ear
hating every moment of this
the annual convention
charade.

 

Fairytale / by Heather Hallberg Yanda 
 
A dragonfly follows me
out my back door on this
 
indistinct late June day, though
the dragonfly’s own presence 
 
is truly distinct. Its dark wings 
flutter, like its own shadow,
 
and when it stopped for a brief
respite on a porch railing, 
 
when it alighted on my
arm then the nearby lilac
 
branch, I know it summoned both
mystery and myth: for it flew 
 
from the distinct space between
a fairy tale’s paragraphs.

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)

  1. 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.
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

Okay,
try to imagine yourself
in the Cretaceous Period.

You get your first look at this
“six-foot turkey”
as you enter a clearing.

He moves like a bird,
lightly,
bobbing his head.

And you keep still,

because you think that maybe
his visual acuity is based on movement
like T-Rex


he’ll lose you if you don’t
move.

But no,

not poetry.

You stare at him,
and he just stares right
back.

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.

“A model
Of absolute
Naked” / by William Overall 
 
The ego is dead
killer
 
What you got locked up is
Nothing, the little levers move his phalanges 
the toes drag across the clean floors
 
breath is invited 
to shape the
pose 
 
Nothing left but
A model
Of absolute 
Naked
 

Meteorites / by Meg Weston 

Oldest matter
                          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
             translucent orange
             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,
                                                 instead
                                                             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
                                            once again.

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 
empty down  
                         into shadows so fast 
did this happen I thought about clatter 
more on its way elsewhere   an alcove 
a near miss something without   me 
             my presence 

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—eskharahearthpan 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
to deliver.

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.

 
“Mithridatist” / by William Overall 
 
 
When 
sleeping, I am
not the poison king
 
I drift, talk show to host new age
the 
wounded 
faith always ready to save
 
Moments 
Argue less
 
Welcome to, mountain ground
down into modern brick
Where man moves
faster than God
 
Held hands out
their sleeves rolled
Neat
 
monuments that
Don’t dare wait
 
When will?
 
Too fast
for God or man
Or
The poison king
 
 
 

Ghosts of 1971 / by Meg Weston

for Blythe

“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?

Made new / by Heather Hallberg Yanda 
 
Post-pandemic.  So many
people have died, but our world
has been made new. , At first, we
meet at the coffee house: we
tentatively drink lattes 
while sitting six feet apart.
We talk quietly as we
rediscover our friendships,
our laughter, and we respect
our needs for space.  But there is
more than that, isn’t there?  We
look each other in the eye.
Everything’s a process, you
have always said, and your voice
triggers memories of things
that should have happened last week.
You touch my hand, a gesture
I find is surprisingly
intimate. more so than our
words now.  It’s all intimate
though, isn’t it? Everything
is fragile in its rebirth.

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  
            summer  roaming 
            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—

 
“Experts: it’s a wash!” / by William Overall 
 
   Bobby is trying
To learn Tracy 
   He always forgets to breathe in
   when he gets to 
   the seventh fret
 
I. The sane one I. The nicknamed I. The 
   bare thought under my own microscope
 
You don’t
Consider
Learning Tracy, just
  For fun
 
I. The tired one I. The only money I know is spent and spoken for I. the moon in a blue sky full of bats and hertz,
Buzzing billions,
Too quick to 
make a decision 
on 
and on
     
I. 
Gotta get a joke in 
or the day 
Is a wash
 
 

Cicadas Don’t Wear Heels / by Meg Weston 

‘cicadas, screaming, enjoying their short time to the fullest extent.’ Caely McHale

For Laura

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.

Morning Light Unspools / by Heather Hallberg Yanda 
 
before me: threads of shadow
and light stretch out, create
each hour’s new angle, moments
which will repeat: this notebook, this
cup of tea, my dogs snoring
nearby, but my thoughts, these
words, even the dogs’ sighs
will never be replicated.
 
There is too much pain in our world — never
too much peace — people have never stopped
hurting one another: they have no idea
the singleness of this moment, of each
moment.  What more do we really need
than Mozart on the radio, a friendship
with great depth, the words to understand
ourselves and others, and to be aware of
a single leaf caught in late June wind
pirouetting on the sidewalk?

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. 

 
“Bugs and Beatles” / by William Overall 
 

Let’s cut the commercials before we cut the diamonds,

Kiddo
 
       It’s ok,
       Just throw 
       The money around
 
        You got those feet
        For more than kicking pebbles
I’ve seen em
        Get groovy late at night
 
 
Kiddo, 
You can untangle 
The Christmas
 lights later on, after you
Blow out the candles
       Baby, drink your drink, 
Eat at your favorite twelve dollar cake
 
 
It’s ok,
            Press any key, let’s continue
 
Sing sing, kid, 
 You got those skinny fingers, 
     they
Know how to hit cold Ivory and comb through that curly hair
 
           Now’s the Time to get small,
Flip with the planet and get dizzy with
All the other bugs and beatles chasing the light
 
 
 
The Light / by Meg Weston 

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.

Part Science, Part Miracle / by Heather Hallberg Yanda 
 
Its scent is almost intoxicating, when I pour
the yeast and warm water — part
science, part miracle — into the hills
 
of flour in my bowl. I stir it till it grows
too thick for the spoon and fold it with my
hands until yeast and water and flour
 
become one soft but solid living
being.  By the window, looking out
at the hills I love, I place the bowl
 
so the dough can sit quietly, rising
imperceptibly, breathing through this
present moment. I punch it down,
 
remind it to sit quietly again, to breathe
through the new present moment —
snd it does, as I do, even when I
 
place the loaf into the hot, waiting 
oven. Part science, part miracle, the entire
kitchen exhales around me.

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.

Perfect chairs
in perfect red rows
and before the show
had had a chance to start
the roof
suddenly
caved out
beneath us.

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
beside you.

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
Wicker tablemats
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
Uniform thing

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
This thing

It’s so insignificant, so buried
Outnumbered and 
Ordinary

This formless in
Uniform thing

I haven’t seen much
Beauty inside myself in
A while;

But this thing is
Beautiful
And this
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—
Mine.

Undercover as Himalayan Balsam
Touch-me-nots
Kiss-me-on-the-mountain
Gnome’s hatstand
Copper tops, Indian balsam
Policeman’s Helmet, Bobby Tops,
Jumping Jack…

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
and hummingbirds
Impatiens can fertilize themselves
without ever exchanging pollen—
aggressive competitors
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.

 
Early Sunday Morning / by Heather Hallberg Yanda
 
I’ve always loved how Sundays feel
different from all the other days.  Early
this morning, I am listening to my
yard awakening to June’s rituals:
blooming phlox, papery poppies
lolling in the breeze.  I love how
this day has been set aside for set aside
for welcome, love, peace, silence.  I am
certain the hummingbird intones shouldn’t
all days be for welcoming love, peace,
and silence?  Every day, the birds remind
me, is the beginning of a new year
(tomorrow is, after all, the first day
of a year from tomorrow): every day we
have the chance to be our better selves,
to allow silence to carry our heaviest
burdens, to hesitate before we express
anger or frustration, to forgive, to be
forgiven, to see the God who exists
in everyone.  The morning ripples
with possibility.  In the light breeze,
the maples and I genuflect
the most primitive altar.

Poem 7 / Day 7

Home / by Susan Kay Anderson

          where 

 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 

                                                the world 

                                                imaginary & 

spills clean and quick 

through basalt and ash banks/pink drifts  

                                                The highway cuts through 

NOW 

              last summer green shade deep river rocks smooth 

            each stop 

                                                a world  

                        of green smell 

each day a life             was it lived?      was it a dream of oceans 

                                                                                                their waves 

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 

mud puddles 

            past gardens their alleyways                     the river    melting 

his tracks 

                          clouds     right behind your 

breath on your neck     the strong smell of 

                        you never felt so seen 

                                    W 

                                    H 

                                    A 

                                    T 

     the popular term             those    hands 

stain     your body    their thick coffee grip  

                                    FEATHERS    

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

            bandage clothing
                        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
every time,
just most times.

I don’t need you to smile,
or pretend you want to.

If you don’t wanna dance,
don’t dance.

If you wanna cancel
because you’re afraid you’ll be a bitch
then please cancel,
stay home,
be as much of a bitch as you want
or come
and bring your truest version of bitch
with you.

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
forever.

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
or goodbye
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
to understand
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
my-ce-li-um
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.

I Have Been Weeding / by Heather Hallberg Yanda 
 
someone else’s garden, wandering
among the stones, questioning and
answering the choices the owner made
about planting lupine here or daisies:
which best flowers, for her daughter
to see, when she looks out her window.
 
I think of the past owners, who chose
these stones, carefully stacked each one
atop another in this corner; who planted
day lilies, whose roots knit together years
before I arrived there. These flowers are
the silent witnesses to a son’s curiosity, 
a daughter who will question her adolescence,
before each one realizes the day lilies taught
the importance of patience and silence.

Poem 6 / Day 6

Best Western / by Susan Kay Anderson

          the wall   

of smoke         a smokescreen  What is  

              & actually 

we were in the fire                   Just nine miles 

up the road       the fire    Even at the motel 

               nothing 

                        to 

            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
tea,

she says to me,

“ah,
you two,
a little bit of everything,
a sure tell sign of ADD,”

I laugh,
I always saw this
as some manifestation
of me being a water sign,
finding comfort in a family
of water in all forms
around me.

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,
excuse me!
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
her mind,
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
smile.

“The monsters” / by William Overall 

There is a black and white
Picture

In a congressional archive

In the photo, there is
A group of cowboys and
Gunslingers

(Young and some old)

The men are in a row
Of approximately thirteen

Each man is holding
On to a piece of
Pterodactyl

What’s suspicious is
Not one
Of them

Is smiling

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

Baby Names (for a Child I Will Never Have)
I can't think of any. Maybe Laura, after my sister. Bay Laurels. Victory. The Poet Laureate prompts us for a list of five but I am caught outside. Maybe Persephone. Bringing Death. Maybe my lover's middle name—Alan. Precious. Alan, or Alaina, or just plain Al? Al, as in, Aluminum. Bitter salt. A name for a shining mech-child who will never have to die. Strangers have finally stopped asking if I want to have kids—                     as if that violence on my body could ever look like small talk. Immaternal, I tell them, no question. So strong, it's an orientation.       My own name means Cascade, Pool, and sometimes Snake. A mother names her child with her best dreams for their life. Is there a name      that means Without? That means Is Not / Will Not Be?

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,
Repeat
I’ve joined a cult,
Again

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

Rewind
Record
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
Absolute 
Romance

It’s hard to commit to any 
one saint or sin or cult when 
There are so many ways 
to wash your brain

Eventually I’ll
Rewind
Record
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. 

I stand in early morning / by Heather Hallberg Yanda 
 
darkness, as the new hours speak
to one another.  I walk –
for the first time in months – this
stone path edging my garden.
I love the seasons’ great wheel —
especially now — as it
turns spring to summer.  As if
to light my walk, Columbine’s
lanterns swing in the breeze, show
me how I can begin again.

Poem 4 / Day 4

Digitalis/Fairy Music / by Susan Kay Anderson

In the front                                                 of the house— 
ever                                                             so                          
                                                                    new cherries
their hearts                                                too green yet 


favorite                                                       starlings&digitalis   
witches                                                       fingers 
dead man’s bells                                       worn on the hands 
                                                                    of foxes 
                                                                    blurred outlines 


Do not eat                                                   this vivid     
(toxic)                                                             plant                                                                                                                        


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.

To ask—
Will our bones have need to learn
a tune with air for marrow?

To say—
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 

Hi everyone,

I’m hyper-aware of the carpeting from
The Shining.

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?

Too busy?

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
to everyone.

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.

 
Silence has its own music / by Heather Hallberg Yanda 
 
Because we live in
this loud accelerated
time, I find myself
looking for reasons to take
a long exhale.  I want to
 
feel damp leaves on my
face, when I stand here among
maples, who teach me
stillness, remind me silence
has its own music.  I want
 
to remember
I do not need things.  Instead
I will find joy, when
I share poems with new friends; when
I glimpse a pink ribbon waving
 
in a toddler’s hair;
when my dog greets me with such
happiness; when I
recognize a phoebe’s call
as it floats across the sky.

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  
refrigerator 
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:

Grazing pasture
Little masterful
Time slipfall
The dunce the
Runt the baby
Calf in my hands
Once a head now
A healthy
Body, hooves,
Overlarge eyes.
Our kitchen
With scissors—

             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?

“I know survivors of these
What-If Machines” / by William Overall 
 
And you’ve built it

The What-If Machine
more powerful than prayer and patient erosion
 
And omens everywhere smile with the
wrong number of 
delicate teeth, eyebrows with too much
brow
 
I know survivors of their What-If
Machines, though
most of them don’t know 
they’re survivors, myself
I am still being chased around
 
we’ve built it so 
the main focus is just living while
we’re locked in,
panic isn’t going to work
and we’ve already tied prayer into the
pretzel that it is
 
Damned if we did and
A dollar if we didn’t
 
And proof is still always everywhere
dancing like a drunk child, small and
absurd and completely
impossible to ignore
 
But I know survivors of these little what-if machines,
so what if you turn out to be one too

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,
(someone’s hungry)
                                    inside is a blind spot
            thirty-some years
                                    clip in
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

a something
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
face,

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
in Kansas
of all places

The cows readjust only slightly
when the hill opens
its mouth to talk
like dogs being pet as they sleep.

“Writing about Janus-face again” / by William Overall 
 
Janus-face got me again
So I don’t know if I’m blue or red
 
What’s concrete is the
Whistling I recite to toy
With silence
The only sound Janus really likes
 
But now Janus has me living yesterday
And tomorrow
So I’ve lost a day in between
Which turns me yellow or white
 
 
My tattoo moves
around all the time because of J*
She thinks it’s funny to bother me
To turn me up or down, So
I memorize weather reports and rehearse them in the quietest places I can find 
Doesn’t matter if they are close 
by or far off
 
Keeping with space or time,
I haven’t heard from her or even thought
Of her in a while, but she’d be happy 
To know,  I’m
Writing about Janus-face again
 
 

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.

Teach me to walk slowly / by Heather Yanda Hallberg  
 
Teach me to walk slowly
so I can understand
how precarious Time
is.  Show me the window
where sunlight and shadow
bend across our faces
to announce the season.
When we open our doors
to welcome the solstice,
help us count the bright new
minutes as they spread out
before us.  Keep tempo
with the rain’s metronome
when you play violin
by this open window.
Point out the hellebore
whose buds grow through Thursday’s
snow.  Walk to the pond, watch
as fog unfolds its wings

Poem 1 / Day 1

It Wasn’t But It Was / by Susan Kay Anderson

between the sun and here    the space     

                                    sticky 

especially at night       when June     bites       

midnight 

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.

And fire,
well,
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
anything immediately.
We stepped in the creek
without shoes

and felt the mossy rocks,
black-green,
as soft as rocks could be
to the soft bottoms of feet,
went on enjoying the earth machine.

“Con-ta-gious!” / by William Overall 
 
This guy has a guru brain behind
Hard candied eyes
Blue eyes, the worst
Ones in the bag
 
Surely watermelon flavored
But behind them, feathers are torn apart
Before they ever have the chance to
Be a part of a wing, let
Alone slice wind and defy
Gods’ math
 
This thing is pure guru mush
A bowl of instant enlightening
Oats, oversoaked, undercooked too slowly
 
You can see it sloshing
Around behind those blue
Marbles passed down from his sage ‘ol Dad
 
They blink and roll and cross
and squint until he smiles,
and says “Con-ta-gious!”
 
Now you smile and
Now you don’t know why,
Because now you’ve got guru brain, too
 
 
Arctic Terns / by Meg Weston 

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.