The 30/30 Project: March 2021 Pt. 1

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 March 2021 are Martha Brenckle, Neil Flatman, Kate Morgan, Phillip Periman, Jen Rouse, Aurore Sibley, Dvorah Telushkin, and Brendan Walsh. 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 15 / Day 15

“All made possible by the magic of Radium” / by Martha Brenckle

Radium is drawn to bone, bonds and guts the marrow
irritates red blood cells, so they won’ reproduce

This explains the crumbling teeth and cracked jaws
the fatigue, anemia, the pain in spines, arms and legs

A mistake the doctors made is thinking that having a name
for something is the same as understanding, as knowing

Some dentists guessed tuberculosis, pyorrhea, rheumatism
nothing they did stopped the disintegration, the infections

Radium was a powerful whirling force inside their bodies
a cast of green ghosts, a genie left out of the bottle

US Radium Corporation denied the occupational hazard
their young bodies remained radioactive long after the funerals

Two Dreams of the Little God of Snow Globes / by Neil Flatman

II. 

Although we’ve fallen 
into the silence 
of strangers once again 
there’s still a moment 
I hold you  
gentle as a songbird; 
at the party 
in conversation with 
the one who finds it hard
to hold eye-contact, 
the one you listen to 
another quietly disdained 
for pretending to attend 
while mouthing what 
he wants to say 
and the one who jokes 
that in another life 
you were a spy. 
And somewhere, between 
the gossip and the cock
tails, the canapés 
and knives, you make 
a line for me until the world 
turns upside down. So
let me set this straight: 
first, the moment, 
then the falling, snow 
now silence. 

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

Many moons past your 
tears fell burning the garden green

the dream grew stronger
as the golden winged ship 
passed our way

many moons past

the dream grew stronger
as the golden winged ship 
passed our way

as my mind was freed 
from mental slavery  
my hand was made strong
by the hand of the Almighty

the dream grew stronger
as the golden winged ship 
stationed in the bay

the dream grew stronger
as the golden winged ship 

liberated us from materiality 
and atomic energy 
we rose wiser from the pit 

none can stop time
from becoming eternity 
and the ascension of soul to Spirit

ides / by Phillip Periman 

look things up
on the internet
mix up the words

ides is not this year
the date of the full moon
Palm Sunday’s fame

nor is it exactly in
the middle of the month
nor Kalends the first

file your unemployment
claim at ides.illinois.gov
see how much they care

but if you go to
https://
ides.org

you will end up
an international disaster
hoping for Lake Charles¬

with Jesus Christ
in one of their
five focus areas

These ‘Queer Flowers’ [1] / by Jen Rouse 

Because plants
are not proper.
We know them
to be messy and loud
and riotous in
color. Holding
tightly to their
stories. Unna
med—the fertile
fingers of the
first finders,
the doctress-
es, the healers
who knew them
well before the
spectacle. Unfold-
ed. Perfect for the
Gothic. In their
‘Murderous prop-
ensities.’ Place
your man-
eating tree
smack in the middle
of your haunted
mansion. Begui-
ling. The way
the undead
beckon. With
evolution on
their breath and
the promise
of a woman.

[1] Grant Allen (1848-1899), Canadian science writer and novelist, described insectivorous plants as “queer flowers,” “floral femme fatals” with “murderous propensities.” In Smith J 2003. Une fleur du mal? Swinburne’s ‘The Sundew’ and Darwin’s Insectivorous Plants. Victorian Poetry 41: 131–150.

Fish Out of Water / by Aurore Sibley 

In a canyon off the Kiwi coast, in waters 
thick and dark, like grade-A maple syrup, 
not sweet but frigid, salty, shark-infested –
I went to face my fear, as if it might melt by 
being met, as if it were indeed courageous to
seek adventure among fish larger than myself.

They dressed us up in wet wetsuits,
soaked cold from a previous swim.
Twelve strangers set out across the water
until land was a mirage, an imagination of
the past, everywhere just the churning and 
slurping of waves and gray fins bobbing like apples.

One by one the adventurers dove into the 
unknown – I watched them carefully for signs 
of a misdiagnosed school of fish, but there were 
no screams, no sharp or gnashing teeth, and
after eleven, I was twelve, so I dove into the water. 

The shock of ice, ice cold, the gurgling of a snorkel 
not quite fitted, and directly in front of my body, 
now suspended in the water like a tangerine slice in
Jell-o, a gray dolphin paused before darting away 
from my water-curdled screams.

Over me, under me, flying past and around me, 
-I am supposed to be thrilled, to flip myself 
around, whistle playfully, make eye contact, 
gurgle in singsong, but before I can gather my 
wits they have passed, and I am left treading water.

We scramble back up onto the boat, drenched 
and marinated in salt, again and again we follow
the roving band, disperse ourselves into the deep 
gray of the ocean, flip our flippers, goggle through 
our goggles, snorkel in amazement, guffaw 
and somersault with enthusiasm.

The third time underwater, I become curious and
forget to scream, sputter a few fervent “Hello’s”
at passing fins, until a dolphin swims right towards
me and stops directly underneath, touching me,
and I spread my arms like wings.

For a moment, he lingers there, as if holding me,
then darts forward into realms where I cannot follow. 
I am so engrossed in their company that after the last 
straggling creature flurries past, I finally raise my 
head above the waves to find that I am at least two 
hundred yards away from the boat, or any other 

human being. A moment only of complete knowing 
that if I give in to panic, I will be swallowed 
by an Orca whale – then I swim as if there were 
no other race, just steady, determined strokes 
to get me back to something solid. 

I am not devoured, but delivered up onto glorious 
planks of wood, the twelfth again, and shivering, 
shaking, quivering, quaking, I soon learn the value 
of the throw-up bucket. 

Reeling as we make our return on the gently 
rocking waves, I realize that like time, you cannot 
hold water in your hand, that melting does not mean 
dispersing, its just alchemy, shape-shifting, water 
spilling, – it shifts and shapes and all life makes.

Pale Pink Dusk / by Dvorah Telushkin 

Pale pink
Brushed across
The blue Hudson.
Tip toes
Plum grey.

A silent tap dance.
Slow and
Rippling.

All the lights
Across New Jersey
Twinkle.

A crystal necklace
One buys in Woolworths.

Pale rose pink
Defines
The single bird
That flies
With carefree
Ignorance
Of New York
Sorrow.

god. 15 / by Brendan Walsh 

a new study posits that proximity
to a wide array of bird species 
increases happiness across age-gender-race

which makes me think
whatever god is wants us
to be adorable 

and reverent and always listening
yesterday i taught a brief history 
of the armenian genocide to ten students

most had never heard of nearly
two million herded into deserts
beheaded shot starved left to vultures

we inherit so much devastation 
even if it’s not our own 
it is ours to carry it has to be

so let us lug it around outside
early enough to catch the first songs
let’s make of this a mourning dove 

a flock of green parrots 
hidden-chirping in the mango tree 
across the street

Poem 14 / Day 14

1917 World War 1 / by Martha Brenckle

Production increased when America entered the Great War
more instrument panels for planes and the soldiers
liked watches that glowed in the darkened trenches

1917 the war production at Radium Dial stepped up
the bosses scolded if the girls slowed down
keep up, keep up and at the same time limit waste

until they couldn’t keep up and the girls recruited
their little sisters and cousins, some as young as 14
where else could they make this kind of money?

enough to buy shiny new shoes, fancy dresses, hats
with feathers and new hairdos, trips to the cinema
and they were taught to tip their brushes with their lips

When a supervisor noticed that radium salts collected
in the crucibles of water the girls used to clean their brushes
the water bowls were whisked away, so no water

but plenty of saliva, as they tipped brushes in their mouths
the radium salt sought out and bound to their bones
and like artillery, broke bones down and left holes in their bodies

Two Dreams of the Little God of Snow Globes / by Neil Flatman

I.

I see a church. The shabby, little 
wooden one I often confuse for another 
built some long ago by, well, I’m guessing, 
monks; the sky genuflects but among  
the murk I know they’re sodden, trudging 
through the bars of sleet, porting stout boughs 
like that which Jesus had to bear. I feel 
a twinge of guilt. As though responsible 
for their suffering and the weight of the cut 
trunks they drag through the leaves; the bow 
waves of a thousand tiny sins – whispering 
confession.

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

Fear is a thick blanket
providing my security.
It suffocates me as it says,
“It’s so much safer in here where it is warm;
do not venture into the cold.”
But if I cannot breathe, I cannot exist for long.
I take a deep breath, and inch out from underneath it
big-toe first into the unknown.

In Heaven / by Phillip Periman 
“Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.” Pope Francis

I said, “…if the world is meaningless” not that it was
        in heaven they don’t sing all the time
please don’t ask me to give you the meaning of life
        the world is a beautiful place to be born into
I cover the camera on my computer as Zuckerman does
        just when everything is fine

Thursday is laundry day for my friend Charles who quit
        not always being so very much fun
left these flat high plains for the east side of the Hudson
        waiting for the discovery of a new symbolic western frontier
his iron will flatten all the shirt’s wrinkles, an argument that
        We are the same people only further from home

We have the major question of whether to use the white or the blue
        illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness
detergent marked Tide which in the affairs of laundry become the
        engines that devour America
folding his underwear, coupling his socks he declares them clean
        if you don’t mind a touch of hell now and then

                                                        (in homage to Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Sundew [1] / by Jen Rouse 

First, be smart about the slaughter.
You are pretty in pink, shiny and
slick in the middle. All the moths
and butterflies adore you. I watch
as they become fertilizer at your
feet. But it’s your mouth really,
full of dew and so desirous—

You quietly fold around small
bits of beef. Aware that I am
courting your attention. Each delicate
hair aquiver when I place a fly
near. I will observe your short-
term memory glow before me, and
call it sensitivity. To digest.

So alike, we two.
Even Darwin
will take notice.

[1] Mary Lua Adelia Davis Treat (1830–1923) made great contributions to the field of botany. She was also known for her work as a naturalist, entomologist, and author. She had over a five-year correspondence with Charles Darwin, discussing, primarily, their studies of carnivorous plants.

Eleanor / by Aurore Sibley 

At ninety-five Eleanor is the most 
beautiful woman I’ve ever met.

Currently, she is editing her husband’s
book on physics, to be released next year,

while finishing her own book on spirituality 
and art. Her paintings hang throughout 

the house, where she still lives independently.
I think she may live forever, or at least

a full century. She is timeless and ageless
and yet born in a time and of an age, 

like us all. I would like to shine as 
brightly if I am blessed to live so long, 

to continue to contribute some small 
bit of beauty to the world, to inspire

some younger person to embrace 
life at every age, to fill a whole era. 

Eleanor sits in the sun on a lawn chair 
for a few hours every day – maybe

this is her secret, or maybe it is simply
that she has always chosen love, and 

gratitude for the life that she lives
for as long as she lives it. 

A City in Mourning / by Dvorah Telushkin 

A numbing shadow
Has swept over N.Y. City.
A consumption.
We are all wearing it like a cloak.
The mourning process
Is never immediate.
It lingers and it
Follows us.
We all detect the unknown
In one another’s eyes.
A stretching shadow.
The mourning
Grows.
Elongates.
“Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah”
The prophet Baptist on the corner
Is ringing out again.
Piercing our sorrowful air.
But we move past him
Brush against
Each other
Listen to the story of Liza’s
Friend who was late to work
Because he was reciting a morning prayer.
Thirty men were saved.
Mourners cling to every miracle
Like children
Trying to catch a soap bubble.
We reach out our little hands, hearts.
And knowing full well it will burst apart,
We try to capture
The magic.
Try to clasp
The fragile ball. The multi-colored ball of soap,
In our fleshy fingers.

god. 14 / by Brendan Walsh 

i make strong coffee, eat butterfried eggs,
walk outside to a sun so gregarious
it tucks me into dirt studded with wild

tamarind pods. stupid sentimental me. 
the air’s kind to my colonizer body, 
skin that won’t withstand. 

where i’m from: irrelevant. 
years ago, we went to ceremony 
at an Abenaki man’s house down

the block. humid night. he built 
palm frond fires, passed an herbal pipe,
cried, told stories, hugged me, said

we are all indigenous to somewhere.
the sky, owned by no one, stretched wide
like the mouth of a giant turtle. 

Poem 13 / Day 13

The Curies Bicycle Across the French Countryside / by Martha Brenckle 

She came to Paris as Maria Sklodowska
and expected to work hard, to think, to discover
as a newly named Marie. Did not expect to meet
Pierre Curie in the lab and changed her name again

Their honeymoon a bicycle trip
through the French countryside
fields of lavender spread out before them
slanted morning light turned dew to diamonds

Driven to discover with math and physics
she had neglected her body until the pull of muscles
in her thighs as she pedaled reminded her
that logic and reason don’t solve everything

Years later, she will miss accepting her first Nobel Prize
tired and sick from her pregnancy and Irene’s birth
unable to travel to Sweden, she will feel like her body
betrayed her, her gender betrayed her, the world shut her out

On her trip as Madam Pierre Curie, before the couple
imagined the element they would discover in uranium ore
before they imagined cancer cures and X-rays
she bent to pick a stalk of lavender and thought this is enough

Spellbound / by Neil Flatman 

(after Hass, after Trakl) 

September night / the moon / going down 
Honeysuckle                         {enjambing}             
the air 
(muzak         from the rooms of the heart)
Honeysuckle                         {enjambing}              
the air 
September night / the moon going / down 

Marjoram: A Tanka / by Kate Morgan

Sweet and smooth leaf
graces my eager palate
not quite a mint
not quite coniferous,
only grown in fair time

Healthcare 2021 / by Phillip Periman 

OWNED
by the hedge fund in L.A.
and its executive’s need for profit

OWNED
the gleaming glass walled hospital
by the hedge fund’s need for profit

OWNED
all the doctors, nurses, social workers
by the hospital’s need for profit

OWNED
the patients and their children
by their employers need for profit

OWNED
by the insurance company in blue’s
closed door rates it needs for profit

GONE
the nuns and the pastors care for the body
as well as the soul–no need for profit

FREE
diseases to destroy the bodies’
health without a need for profit

FREE
all the viruses to mutate and increase
their dominion without a need for profit

No. Really. Not Everything is a Man-Eating Vagina, She Said, to the 18th-Century Male Botanist / by Jen Rouse 

Because how could something
dare defy classification and
not be terrifying? Not be other?
Not take the shape of what you covet
and want to control? Insectivores.
You sit in your overstuffed
colonizer suit and remark upon
the irritability of leaves. How can
a plant make you prey? The swamp
sweat clings to your brow. Your palms
tremble to touch the milky hairs
of the mouth, once more. In letters
to your bros, you are predictable,
predatory. You call the carnivorous
by a name too ugly to eat. It
taunts you with some showy
blooms. They are selective and
tiny goddess mock you, whisper,
come closer. You use your best
schoolboy Latin: Dionaea muscipula.
It doesn’t matter. So much
of you is already missing, and
you will never take it home.

Touchdown / by Aurore Sibley 

My son puts on his football jersey to watch the game.
There’s a lot of hoopla – the ball flying across the
living room, hard dives into the sofa. There are
devout words of encouragement towards the men
in their padded uniforms – he’s all in – and I marvel
at his enthusiasm and wonder where this
lust for football comes from.

Maybe it’s that brotherly male bond, that strange
tough but physical love of the teammate, the desire
to belong, or the archetypal father figure of a coach
that believes in you. Maybe it’s the need to
land hard, to feel the boundaries of his body,
to meet a hard challenge, to win the game.

Whatever it is, my son is convinced that he was
put here on this earth to run with a ball under his arm,
to catapult it across the sky in a graceful arc,
to catch it somewhere on the other side of the field
and make it come to earth, to perform this cultural
ritual, all to grand applause and cheer.

god. 13 / by Brendan Walsh 

winter immigrants land from weeks-long flights.
gray-winged and honking, shy and flamboyantly red.
let’s indulge in their names, fuck it, there isn’t enough

time for all of this ennuis: bronzed cowbird,
ruby-crowned kinglet, marbled godwit,
ruddy turnstone, semipalmated sandpiper,

whimbrel, pomarine jaeger, eastern phoebe,
ash-throated flycatcher, cedar waxwing american redstart.
northern rough-winged swallow, blue-headed vireo,

short-billed dowitcher, solitary sandpiper.
the world asks you to love it; sometimes,
you have no choice, so you hold it dearly.

Poem 12 / Day 12

Burlesque / by Martha Brenckle 

a costumer when asked for special effects
mixed radium salt and adhesive
stuck it on feathers and butterfly wings

it became part of the stripper’s tease
a dancer’s glowing belly, tap shoes
and gloves, the conductor’s baton

in a theater’s absolute darkness
radium light is like the moon
subtle and soft on the stage

Loie Fuller’s Radium Dance opened in Paris in 1904
a tissue of twinkling lights, sweeps and swoops
across the floor, her dress saturated with radium salts

Francita did her “Voodoo Conga”
at the Post Theater her body glowing
when the lights were shuttered

the English Pony Ballet with luminous shoes
glowing jump ropes and synchronized steps
imitating horses’ movements with exact precision

one young dancer painted her whole body with radium
and died from the burns in 1936

Morning Glory / by Neil Flatman

We fucked before 
sunrise. How crass 
to say fucked, 

when it was more
tender; I of the loom 
through the warp

of our self. 
And when it was over
and you lay in my arms

we remembered 
that place in the dunes
by the boardwalk 

where wind pulled through 
reed grass like earth 
between plough shares 

and you asked if I saw 
god’s face in the clouds.
I said no, just the head 

of a horse drifting 
south to the tune 
of a plump, smiling cherub

blowing his horn 
over the sky’s unmade bed. 
You see, you see 

him wherever you look. 
Me? I see hard-wired 
pray animals. 

Success: A Haiku / by Kate Morgan

Roots from woody stem
enchant me as I muse to
planting in fair soil.

On this Day in History / by Phillip Periman 
                                 (March 12)

On this day as on every other
privileged men made history
women served them their food

Someone unknown decided
who should be famous
the rest of the world waited

Gandhi walked against the salt tax
Hitler invaded Austria
Turman’s doctrine gave aid to Greece

133 women became Anglican priests
US post office first delivered mail
Coca-Cola came in bottles

on this day in history while
we speak only to the young
those ideas that inspired us

we remember what we dread
in these last days of old age
we forget how impressed we
were with what we desired

A Fairy Spot of Ground [1] / by Jen Rouse 

Perhaps the way this garden
plays in light and shadow, in
slurping fountain majesty, in
clandestine benches tucked
into cascading foliage, in the
night blooming jasmine scent
that masks all others,
              Perhaps the way this garden
turns its pale petals to the nape
of your neck, its nestling mosses
against your breast, its elegant
fortress hedges behind your
supple spine,
              Perhaps the way this garden
lingers in divine memory, in
the softly hanging jewels of
bleeding hearts, in the body
you are so certain bends its
silhouette out of the mist
              this garden so designed you
for every breathless bloom
and its suspense.

[1] Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700-1788), famous for botanical illustrations, often referred to her garden design work as a way to create “fairy spots,” her ideal place for female friendships to take place.

On the Anniversary of Sheltering in Place / by Aurore Sibley 

There’s a little bit of hope dawning these days.
For instance, my children might be going back
to in person learning two mornings a week, and
I might be eligible for the vaccine before long.

Of course, this is all conjecture and hope, so far.
We continue to look out of the window at the slant
of sunlight while zooming, imagining what it
will be like to go outside and talk with each other

without wearing a mask or standing six feet apart.
Will we remember what it’s like to laugh without
turning away and covering our mouths? The new
cases are lessoning, and there’s talk of returning

to work, to school, to restaurants. But will we
fall into each other’s arms, or will we step
slightly back, in fear of whatever variant we
might be exposed to if we stand too close?

Who would’ve thought that the whole world
would shut down for a respiratory virus?
I imagine that when the damns break down
we will be like a school of salmon

swimming upstream, awkward and disoriented
as we navigate a busy sidewalk or a crowded
roomful of people for the first time in too long.
The Earth hasn’t seemed to mind our absence.

There are places that are repairing – I hear there
are dolphins in the canals in Venice and you can
see the blue sky above Beijing. Yes, we are all
parted, separated and estranged, yet I’ve spoken

with more of you, old friends, than I had in ages,
loved ones reaching out, strangers smiling from a safe
distance. We’ve all been in this together, while at
arm’s length, we are closer for having been apart.

Hats over Hearts: The Heroes of 911 / by Dvorah Telushkin

I see the
Wives
With their husband’s hats.
I see the six year old Irish boy,
O’Conner. Shawn.
John Tierney, Their souls should be a blessing.
John Fanning.
You are standing and looking out.
Mary Grace for her husband Robert Foti,
Robert and James and Alycia.
But you don’t see.
The air before your eyes
Seem blank.
A sandy beach.
Empty
Of any landscape.
I image that
For the rest of your lives
You will be attempting
To build
Sand castles there.
Attempting to build
Definition in the sand.
But all that will crumble
Within a single wind.
Inside a wave.
And the navy hat
Or the blue hard top policeman’s hat,
The hat of the lieutenant,
The red fire.
This is what is left.
This shiny badge.
It covers your heart now.
And it will cover
The years.
And I fear you will grow old
Clinging to this receding
Shimmering
Symbol.

god. 12 / by Brendan Walsh 

poem for the parasitic jaeger

we kind of screwed you with this name. sorry.
if it’s any consolation, it’ll be
millions of years til you’re evolved enough

to comprehend human language; by then,
you’ll probably be extinct. no harm done.
your other name, arctic skua, stings less.

you’re parasitic because you steal food
from the mouths of other birds, tactics we
understand well. our lives are built on theft.

we took rivers, grabbed land, ripped fish from sea.
stole freedom, stole the dodo’s existence
with portuguese muskets. we killed off

entire generations of our own
in wars based on the concept of theft.
we did you dirty, parasitic jaeger–

classic example of the parasite
calling the parasite a parasite.
steal it all, my friend, whatever you can

fit in your bladed black beak.

Poem 11 / Day 11

The History of Radium / by Martha Brenckle 

The discovery of radium was hard work
the Curies teased tiny amounts, silver slivers
from pitchblende mined in the Ore Mountains
performing many separations of one metal from another
breaking ore with corrosive acids, strong alkalis and hard labor
to dissolve, precipitate, filter, wash and painstakingly measure what they found

Knowing that they couldn’t measure anything
without impacting the world; radium is ancient, its uses still young
it swirled in the early universe, a jumble of colored postcards and streamers
cooled and solidified, as the earth rounded and grew green and blue
radium haunted, a genie in the bottle, sparks that spit in the darkness
put your hand through a whirl of stars and feel eternity

Something About Zebras / by Neil Flatman

“Knowing this is their last 
time, hones each moment 
to an image of a future 
past they remember before  
it’s created, as need
weasels its way between 
reluctance and anticipation;
her neck, his breath, sun 
dapple falling down the wall 
until the stars look back.”

From: “Moments Past”  

Dancing in Our Sleep With Brilliant Ghosts of Dawn / by Kate Morgan

It bothers you to think that that there is one kind of healthy. Or one kind of prosperity. Or one kind of free. Hegemony of any kind bothers you greatly. 

Few understand why. People like to believe there are certainties–not understanding that a relationship to anything objective shifts in subjectivity depending upon one’s location to an inconvenient truth. 

You find yourself dropping philosophy bombs in a businessman’s world illustrating how the imaginary realm affects how we interact with the real things around us, explaining how perception actually alters reality. 

You debate whether the imaginary realm is being affected by the material realm around us, and whether the material realm is responsible for the generation of ideas, or if there is some process of creation not connected to anything we see.

You know that not even the best men and women really can answer that question with any certainty–so the conundrum remains in the realm best quantified as “unknown.” 

There are so many things to quantify as unknown. When it comes to the space of ideas, we are both free and we are chained–and we are terrified. We deconstruct spaces and ideas, and then reconstruct them, but we don’t always know how to start a solid build. They keep crumbling into dust when put to the test of practice. 

Night sets on a non-descript planet orbiting Alpha Centurai. 

But it is noon here. It will always be noon here. Until it isn’t. It might be four o’clock. It might be five. Maybe midnight. But it will never be Alpha Centurai, and you will never be able to touch the rings of Saturn in your sleep as you dance with the brilliant ghosts of dawn. 

Love passed you by for most of your life. You didn’t know where to find it, or what to do with it when it found you. It scarred you in a place where you were pricked through with thorns, where you beyed like a wolf at the moon. You knew, that in the end, the eternal problem lay some place to be resolved. It lay some place deep within you. 

You never knew how to make it all work until the wound was torn so deep the flesh couldn’t even hold the thorns in anymore. It took you too much time to heal. You wanted to believe in things again. Not just anything, not just fleeting things, but plausible somethings pulled out of the nether like a comforter just pulled out of the dryer.

You stared at orchids and perfect blue buildings dreaming of a place where you could dwell in peace. You eventually learned that you could only seek it exactly where you were.  

It did not come to you until you learned to say:

I love you even though

you are a pain

wedged in my heart,

deep within my soul.

I love you even though I won’t return.

I love you though our time was short.

I love you, even as I am moving on.

It did not come until you learned that love transforms the bearer, as much as the beloved no matter the circumstance in which it’s stirred. 

As you are moved by its forces, the stark emotionalism of the early 1990’s breaks over the horizon like an Instagram filter. It colors this dark night of the soul with the light of hope.

You long for comfort. You slide over to your faithful stone, your life, your rock. You pick her up in your arms. You wonder how you could have ever done without her. 

You call out to her. Mara, darling, you are bitter. Miel, my dear one, you are sweet. 

She changed from day to day. You never knew which to call her, but you always knew her name. She helped you understand the important things. In her arms you knew the truth. 

The truth is that there is Spirit. There is something more than the constant abrasion of the place between faith and doubt. There are values. They are whatever we choose them to be. They are real, and they are fuel for the candles we hold.

There is life. And it is a sacred flame. It burns in an eternal dance. 

You drink it in. It becomes you.

Following the String Quartet / by Phillip Periman 

through the sequences led by the first violin
music in my mind felt bereft but lingered
in a string quartet the cello is the biggest fellow
the second violin makes Russian music on the radio
then the tiny woman puts the viola under her chin

it is as if the church organ suddenly grew strings
such size, such tremolo, sonorous sounds sustained

after playing the concert each returned
home: Romania, Russia, Mexico, Chile
their absence made silent abstract sounds
I wasn’t sure who preferred the American
music written by Antonin Dvorak in Iowa

Approaching Death like a Botanist / by Jen Rouse

Finger to finger with lake-
suckled cedar. Chewing the
spicy needle of a giant
pine. Would you feather
into the frond of a fern?
Or make your final bed
against a blanket of
mosses? To return again
to discovery. Wondering
what you will grow with
your best cells shed? How
else to greet fear but by
waiting for the ghost of
a birch to walk you from
this place. You remember
her best, dressed as she
always is in her trailing
gown of cloudy skin. Take the
hem of her. To the edge
of every forest. Tell the most
beautiful story of something
risen from ash and loam.

Alice / by Aurore Sibley 

She was someone with a wide smile, 
open arms, the kind of matriarch 

who helped to raise her children’s
children, and their children, too;

one of those family fixtures that
everyone counted on – Aunt Alice,

Grandma Alice, always pies and 
flowers and words of inspiration.

The family gathered a few days ago
and sat with her in her final hours, 

celebrating a life that was long
and full – I didn’t know her well, 

but she was one of those people who
was always there, who remind you 

of childhood and old friends, and
days that are far gone. Her passing

reminds me, that death is just
a chapter closing, and like we’ve

learned this past year, family
is a whole world – and circles

find their closing, and winter
always returns to spring. 

The Corner
Hear O Israel* / by Dvorah Telushkin 

The corner
Where you slept
Has expanded.

The 4 foot high elevation
And the 8 foot long
Length and width 3 feet.
Crowned
The carpeted child stairway.

Your bed.
Elevated over TV and closet.
Our nightly ritual.

The Shema.*
Hear.
Listen.
The Lord is Our God The Lord is One.

“You shall love the Lord Your God with all Your heart and with all your soul
And with all your might. Teach this diligently to your children when you walk
On your way when you lie down and when you are awake. Keep them as a sign
Over your forehead over the doorposts of your home and of your gates.”

We did this my son. I obeyed the Living God.
We recited these words for 14 years or more.
In this very spot of your elevated bed.
You recited them to your wife.

You courted your first love
In this room.

And you introduced teenage drugs
Into this room.
Poetry of Death.
On the walls
On the radiator covers.
Goblins and creature drawings
Naked women enlarged and laughing
Nakedness in boats and caves
An Arpeggio of grotesque delusions.
In our sacred spot.

Hear O Israel The Lord is Your God The Lord is One.

On the walls.
Carved into our built in mahogany
Desk
Metaphors and Poetry of Death.

And now
Fifteen years later.
Standing in my prayer room.
In the exact same spot.

Our Blue Royal Purple Prayer.
Our shalshelet* chanting
Is being repeated.
I am begging God to protect you
In your spirit world.

The corner has expanded
To the infinite.

And I will spend my years
Turning Death
Into Breath.

…………………………………………………
*Translation of a Hebrew prayer
*Name of this prayer; “LISTEN” – (Listen Children of Israel) cornerstone of the prayerbook
*Holy Chain (of souls)

god. 11 / by Brendan Walsh 

iguana and sun and palms 
reflected in the pond

i seek divine tableau 
on my lunch break 

what else do you have to give
what more to ask 

a patch of short grass 
to bare all i’ve carried

orange sweet sharpness
torn open in my hand

a flock of goofy ibises
peck and shit their way past

dead friends breathe
through me 

hello will g, hello ai lon
open lungs open 

i promise i promise 
this is the world

Poem 10 / Day 10

Beautiful Smiles / by Martha Brenckle 

The fatigue and bone pain
crept up on her slowly
like winter and aging

With a half-life of 1600 years
radium could take its time
turning bones into honeycomb

For Mollie Maggia, sure she would get better
the anemia and sudden weight loss
were a small worry, but it hurt to smile

She had a painful tooth pulled
the socket didn’t heal and abscessed
everything her dentist did brought more pain

The radium made itself known in her mouth
Dr. Knef, her dentist pulled more teeth
hoping the abscesses, the dark pus would drain

He thought she had rheumatism, pyorrhea
tuberculosis, he pulled another tooth
and part of her jawbone broke away in his fingers

Dr. Knef thought it had to be phosphorous poisoning
an accident at US Radium, the Industrial Hygiene
Division completed its investigation and found no phosphorus

Mollie’s broken teeth and infected jaw
blamed on incompetent dentistry
no one thought of radium

🚫  This Message Was Deleted / by Neil Flatman

Time’s arrow frozen in a dew drop      hanging  
from the sapling by the path. Bright           sun 
reading autumn’s final postcard from   abroad. 

Does every body cling? To      the            finale 
both knowing. This remnant, this.             faint       
pulse.             Evaporate is to prise     as dew is
to the earth.                                           I’m lost. 
Forewords. To interpret             this       silence.

when day begins / by Phillip Periman 

picky & prickly
without a sound
the moon sets
down in darkness

inside my head
the committee
meets one more time
determined to write

to broadcast silence
to the undisguised
indifferent citizens

rather than struggle to roll
an ancient stone uphill
into the dough of life

i slightly stretched inside heated blankets
desired sleep more than food or notice

When the Wollstonecraft Women Come Out to Play, Cont. / by Jen Rouse 

II.

Though she never
says to mother is to
be white with white
daughters, M. encourages
only their botanical
leanings, looks past
the hands that plant
survival gardens from
seed, body and blood
embedded. The woman-
slave rhetoric persists.
This thick Protestant
discourse. Not the vindi-
cation of all women
but those who break free.
The imperative emerging
from action. From a morals-
soaked narrative, she will
call herself abolitionist.
She will be wrong.

After Fire / by Aurore Sibley 

The roses on my tabletop are fading,
although it’s spring. Outside,
the flowers are bursting into bloom,

poppies and wild iris, shooting stars
and skyrocket. On the blackened
hillsides, the colors are like flames.

We have a pair of coyotes in the neighborhood,
and a mountain lion sighting now and then.
You can hear the highway on one side

and the ocean waves crash on the other.
We live right there in the in between.
I’ll be forty-five this year, and I always

think of that as half-way to ninety. Not
young, not old, just in-between, and
lucky to be alive, like the coyote and the lion.

Haiku / by Dvorah Telushkin 

Death is a lie mask.
Veil draped from birth over eyes.
Tearing sight away.

god. 10 / by Brendan Walsh 

we give the hotel a fake room number
access a private patch of beach chairs

this guy luca runs game on every woman 
he sees in english or spanish he swings

misses again and again reminds me
of hunger this afternoon we freeze 

despite the late sun we sprint east ocean
to-our-nipples luca sees a stingray flap

its magnificent barb and cartilaginous wings
i imagine sudden and sure death 

the water must take what it can we’ve robbed
so much it’s starving too the day descends 

water’s warmer than air now we sit 
cradled in sand until night inks the great sea

Poem 9 / Day 9

Tipping brushes / by Martha Brenckle

the nimble fingers of young girls
were perfect for dial painting
the portraits of miniature clock
faces with a Japanese brush

wooden handle held with delicate fingers
they were taught to sharpen the tips
between their lips as nothing else
gave the bristles a fine enough point

On the Nature of Daylight / by Neil Flatman

Like Tuscany, but with highways that switch back like the yellow brick road in the context of orange farms, and orange pickers labouring in soft, broad-brimmed hats. A-frame sprinklers that stalk close to the earth quarter the ground that leads on to hills, and on the backroad to the coast, blue oaks look down on tarmac and unrepentant char that refuses to retreat. They happened on a restaurant like an open barn, but with a concrete floor and a communal table made from the trunk a young redwood. And while her husband introduced his bifocals to the menu, she went somewhere else, where a young girl walked by and the colour of a wood-panelled pickup reminded her of the astringent coffee she’d had over breakfast – wondering if ‘astringent’ was the proper word, hinting (for her), at dark chocolate or olives, fresh blackcurrants and sage or vinegar or very cold water. And how strange that America still drank its coffee from a flask, absent crema, where memories of nutmeg and burnt umber, the pith of orange, and somehow, her grandmother’s pantry, were kept. The girl had an open face that reminded her of the weeping, wooden statue of Our Lady of Akita, who bleeds oil from stigmata in her palms, said to have miraculous powers that she herself was in need of for the knee that ached whenever the temperature dropped below ‘warm’. Days can heave by on small revelations. By her hand had appeared a glass of cold white that was beaded with sweat (as she recalled how the girl (now out of sight), moved with the grace of water), and embodied churned butter under a sharp, rusted nail – which is to pay proper attribution to a day’s slow unfolding, without trying to find meaning in the observance of silence, sage, the pith of orange, or burnt umber, burnt umber, burnt umber. 

Return of Spring / by Kate Morgan

dark shadows
pass over
  a gilt wall

flat of shovel
sinks into
  the clay

bulbs of irises
 and tulips
wait to bloom

magpies sing 
blessing odors 
of wet earth

Last Week / by Phillip Periman

You did not leave me to solitary travel
even though you a mere puff of feathers
could have flown the 3,000 miles alone

We don’t have unlimited time together
we might fall to the earth again this time
without the vultures of Asia to fly with us

When the professor of English was asked
if he believed in magical realism he responded
ever since I married Jane I have been living it

Beauty seasoned with compassion helped us
scatter his ashes after the pick-up T-boned him
dead on a clear bright Friday afternoon

Last week he came back to the kitchen counter
saying to all who looked closely, listened consciously
beware the devil will be back: resist, resist, resist

When the Wollstonecraft Women Come Out to Play / by Jen Rouse 

I.

Ignore the sleepy poppy and
Rousseau. Salvation slips in through
the pulse of a tulip. Be there
with purpose and chlorophyll
on your thumb. You are not exotic.
So cultivate a different strain
of beauty. Rip out the delicate
flower and her luxurious decay.
Dear sister, they will think to
rediscover you centuries later,
anyway. So live. Keep Linnaeus
in your pocket and Wakefield
as a bible. Shall we? Ignore
the sleepy poppy, and instead
suckle our daughters on science?

Poison Oak Leaf / by Aurore Sibley 

I have to remind myself 
not to touch the oily leaves
of the poison oak plant, 
they’re so pretty this time of year,
glossy and spring-leaf green.

It’s been almost a year since 
I last saw you, or spoke with you
or made love to you. Our love
was still so new, so glossy 

and green. I had no idea that
by touching you, it would
leave angry red marks
all up and down my soul.

Stairway to Heaven / by Dvorah Telushkin 

Hugging the painting to my chest.
Walking down Broadway.
A snowman or a ghost
Descending.
A midnight blue
Stairwell
Carrying a lady in Victorian black,
A disembodied head
A profile of a man ..
All in a file
Down the staircase.
Three foot tall painting.
Haunting
And Alive.
Over everything
Is a big white dove,
Flying with outstretched wings,
Crossing the stairs,
Flying with courage and vision.
Our dove.
My boy’s high school painting.
I’m showing it to your guitar teacher
Who is passing me.
We both agree that a a white frame will
Be best.

And as I stand at the frame shop,
The owner is handing me
The receipt
Corners of frames being swept away
Corners of life
Flying by
I am signing my signature
Our midnight blue

And on the radio
Is Led Zepplin
“And She’s Buying a Stairway to Heaven.”
And you are here.
My partner.
We have stumbled onto the perfect title.

god. 9 / by Brendan Walsh 

back from the urinal i ask her
if she believes in god because 
we’re five beers in and beginning

to feel religious she says she does
only as comfort in the hard times
which for her have been often

she feels stranded in miami 
her family is in puerto rico she moved
for a man who quit her 

she needs something sturdy to hold
i say god is everywhere and whatever
you hold onto you’re grabbing god 

she finishes her beer and touches
my left leg come let us rejoice 
that even a hackneyed newaged god

is god if god is everything 
the split bill and credit cards 
god is a villain too we leave

and make out in the parking lot 
our hands prayerbent in the temples
of each other’s sweated backs

Poem 8 / Day 8

Radioactive / by Martha Brenckle

The scientific history of radium is beautiful. Marie Curie

Since 1910, it was manufactured for its luminescence
marketers called it “liquid sunshine,” beautiful light
it shone like providence, it burnished pockets
filled banks with the glorious angels of capitalism

The Curies knew early on it could shrink tumors
and take X-rays in hospitals and on the battlefields in Europe
They imagined in the night, lover’s whispers conjuring
medical miracles for the 84th most abundant element on earth

Never did they imagine this craze in America
radium the buzz word for a healthy life as necessary as water
it started with nightlights and toys and then became a cure-all
for gout, baldness, headaches and allergies

Radium commercialized, sung about in theaters
lined grocery store shelves with cartons of milk, butter, toothpaste
face cream and soap, cosmetics and cakes with radium icing
(although none of these products contained real radium)

Manufactured in paint, radium became dangerous
but only to the dial painters who didn’t know its history
of burned skin and tumors, who weren’t told what it could do
to the human body, to their bodies, even in miniscule amounts

Perhaps / by Neil Flatman

a poem
with occasional silence.

             Sun / light
             dappled
on a white / washed wall

in the lee of
an olive tree
             on Santorini
             where Jack mourned
             Linda

             (or so it seemed)
             even as they loved.

From the Caucuses:
magenta-purple primula

             P. Juliae
             bloom early, even
             in the poorest soil

             to avoid the heat
             of August. Love
shade.

Poets, Jack Gilbert and Linda Greg lived together on Santorini in the late 1970’s.

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

I loved you so much
I gave you all of my
scien.

Chemical reactions,
dopamine bursts–
all the trappings of a 
sack of meat filled
with glorious chemicals,
the arbitrarily assigned 
sense of pleasurable 
meaning

floating off in 
vapor trails
as dusk 
turned 
to dark.

Willingly, I gave until
the clothes, threadbare,
gave out.

The emperor stood naked,
save a Savalux cloak,
sinew, and bone. 

midnight / by Phillip Periman 

you woke me when you came to bed
you stayed up late because of Friday

in my dreams i had been to Las Vegas
Rome, and the London Bus’ upper deck

today / tonight could be Sunday or even
a repeat of yesterday—in a crisis everyday blurs

the FBI agent told the teenagers in the stolen car
to go home as all bad things happen after midnight

the violence of unwanted babies, the smashing of glass
extended lacerations leaving open flesh to sew

could it be still Saturday or is it Monday when
the mundane, the quotidian quells all who rebel

we must eat
it is so American
no work
no union
only the prospect
of a noon sandwich
without shade

Sara Plummer Lemmon, Botanist [1] / by Jen Rouse 

Substantial leather. Firm
calfskin shoes. A broad
brimmed hat with buckskin
mask. Fortunately they
bothered to mention a botanical
folio. But that came far below
their concern I might be taken
by snake or cacti from the
terrible mountain. Santa Catalina.
Tuscon from above. Not to
pillage but to document. “J.G.
Lemmon and Wife.” How many
times was I Wife? The rare
woman in “short suit of strong
material.” A golden poppy.
California sunlight. See me now.
A cup of gold. And brilliance.

[1] Sara Allen Plummer (1836-1923) was an American botanist. Her work kept her primarily in California and Arizona, where Mount Lemmon is named for her. She devoted considerable energy to writing the bill that would name the golden poppy as California’s state flower in 1903.

Spring in California / by Aurore Sibley 

I wear my mask like I wear my sweater,
off and on all day depending on the weather,

depending on the sun or shade of other people,
their proximity – I almost don’t remember

what it’s like to talk with someone without
worrying about our breath mixing, the invisible

threat of virus spreading. I’d like to throw my
head back and laugh unabashed in company

but I cover my mouth and speak muffled words
through layers of cloth. It’s true, you can tell

when someone is smiling by the slant of their eyes,
and we have developed new nuances in our communication,

a little dance of step back, step back, – and
didn’t we always dress in layers in California anyway?

Catie Our Catie / by Dvorah Telushkin

The truth is
Catie,
You lived
For us.
The truth is
Catie,
You shopped for us.
Our Christmas
Hannukah.
You decorated
Our auditorium walls.
With Stars,
With Snow,
With Ferris Wheels.
The truth is
Catie,
You offered Hummous,
Crackers,
And yogurt-
Raisin melts,
To all our residents
Who wrote,
Who sang,
Who prayed.
Wheelchairs
Carrying double amputees
Great minds whose muscles
Betrayed them.

The truth is
Catie,
Every Kaddish* prayer
You chanted to
Mary Anne
Your mother:
Perpe tua Luceat Ei
Perfect light shine upon her.

The truth is
Catie,
You moved like
A spinning dreidl;*
whirling and turning,
Twirling and Swirling,
Criss-crossing our stage,
Swimming through New York City,
Bearing gifts,
Bearing scarfs,
Bearing books,
Bearing beads.
The truth is
Catie,
You fully lived
For us.
Like none could dream.

Oaktags for the
Sick.
Oaktags for the
Days of birth.

Sapphire Stone borders.
And hearts that beat
Inside the boards.

The truth is
Catie,
You lived fully, selflessly,
For us.

And with wide open hearts,
we join your singing
To Mary Anne;
Requiem Aeternam
Dona ei.
Eternal Rest Grant Unto Her
Domine. O Lord.

Requiem Aeternam.
Eternal Rest.

………………………………………….

*Memorial Prayer
*Chanukah Toy

god. 8 / by Brendan Walsh 

she planted green onion 
split stalks from the grocery store

folded their ends into soil 
in a week they grew abundant

quadrupled their yield in a tiny pot
shaded on the balcony 

when she left the stalks dried
he stayed inside and sketched

cartoon faces and sulked 
when he went to the balcony

after months to survey devastation
a single thread of sturdy

wild grass stood rigid
where the scallions had died

skinny tower in the unwatered pot
and he didn’t consider metaphor

what could it teach him other than 
the growing will grow despite him

Poem 7 / Day 7

Granite / by Martha Brenckle 

The earth where you were born
chock-full of small pebbles and rocks
left behind by old mountains and long ago glaciers
gave farmers sore muscles as they tamed the wild
made stone walls. There is nothing harder than granite

You’ve lived here on the sand for two decades
ever hopeful or more likely needy, you search for rocks
the beach softly yields to the ocean
washing up bits and baubles, broken shells and seaweed
nothing that suits your desire to harvest

You find two egg-shaped rocks near the pier
mapped with lines and veins much like your hands
You hold one in each and squeeze for strength
but they are not the same
and you are not the same

Trouble With Trees and the Moon / by Neil Flatman

Through fungi in the forest loam oak roots 
share sugars with a nearby birch?  
No.

The fat man dissolving in the thunder-head 
injects himself into the conversation 
setting light to the horizon one final time. 

In a posed Daguerreotype a boy in shorts 
and postboy cap appears to steer a bamboo wheel along 
an unmade road with a length of cane. 

In the reflection; vermillion, favoured by Caravaggio 
cuts from just beneath the knee to water so hot 
her skin pinks in a line from just above the nipples down. 

Mark Ronson says       Baby, tell me what’s on your heart.
America         says       Give me just a second to breathe.

In the Blue Mountains of Oregon; honey fungus 
two and a half miles across, the largest living organism on earth 
is apparently delicious with chilli in spaghetti.   

In the heart of the business district: a paper on the relationship 
between the value of the market and the philosophy of the Dao 
lies in the gutter.   

The suggestion they plant lavender either side the of path 
and honeysuckle round the door, was a good one. 
Just ten steps from the gate, its creaking hinge. 

A young girl backward slalom-skates 
the empty boardwalk in an Old Skull T. Every arc 
a soft shalom into what would have been a crowd. 

In the amber of the angle-poise the tweezers 
hold a cog-toothed wheel. Time was he’d have inserted it 
without the lens. But there are limits. Sometimes 

say it simple, true and slant: 
a single oak / the moon looks on / 
silvered birch. 

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

Morning marches in
  without the slightest
       tremor.

There is no stain upon the curtain
   that hangs by a thread 
    on this rod,
no blemish rests upon 
these worn 
and weary
hands.

This room is sullen, 
   somber without your
presence.

Whiskey glasses 
         full 
  of 
m a  r  b l  e   s
stained with 
  hard*water
       line 
   the mantel,
 formed of 
concrete/block 
and–perma–sto–ne.

Pictures stand
 in a 
line  of  acetate  frames
the liminality of
silver halide
long 
dissolved
 ashes form
as
flames lick 
  limestone 
  under a 
banner woven
from spent atoms–

C8H10 + 2(C9H12) + C7H16 + 2(C6H3Me3) + C6H14
+ C6H12O6
+N2 + 59(O2) -> 
41(H2O) + 
32(CO) +
 25(CO2) 
+ 2(NMe3)

— particles 
 labor for 
a breaking of 
  the dawn.

REPENT / by Phillip Periman 

so off-putting
why should I

so full of my beauty
both brainy and brawny

the world—my oyster
though I am not a catcher

when I was in my twenties
no problem to pitch, hit, throw

in my thirties the real flu laid
me so low I pretended to die

every decade thereafter
saw my mind and body go

until late in life looking
back at all its stages

I discovered in the gospel
the original Greek—metanoia

meta for change and noia for mind
meant to repent, to change heart and mind

so hard to switch my beliefs
to embrace the erosion of life

repentance left me bereft
weeping for what had been

Nigella damascena ‘Miss Jekyll’ [1] / by Jen Rouse

Here the hardy, the devil-in-a-bush,
the bird’s nest, the garden fennel.
You call on Turner[2] for a cacophony
of drama and spectacle of color.
Self-splitting from plant to brush to
drift, a border to kiss the edge of
of the wild. To love one you must
know both. Love-in-a-puzzle. Kiss-
me-twice-before-I-rise. Fill my eye
with strong reds and desirous
yellows so “grey and glaucous
foliate looks strangely cool and
clear.” [3] Know your ghosts by
your darlings. Love-in-a-mist,
jack-in-prison. Your father calls
you a “queer fish,”[4] but you are
Nigella damascena. Miss Jekyll
Dark Blue. Miss Jekyll of the
saturated geometry. To be right
“from all points, and in all lights.” [5]

[1] Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932), artist and writer, known for designing hundreds of Victorian gardens, bred a handful of hardy plants to sustain them, including Nigella damascene ‘Miss Jekyll Dark Blue.’

[2] Jekyll was encourage to study JMW Turner at the National School of Art in South Kensington.

[3] Jekyll G. 1925. Colour schemes for the flower garden, 6th edn. Country Life.

[4] “Great British garden-makers: Gertrude Jekyll.” Country Life, January 23, 2010

[5] Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 156–7

Giant Steps / by Aurore Sibley 

Mr. Lewis was a bassist.
He’d played with McCoy Tyner,
Sonny Stitt, even Thelonious,
all back in the day.

Class consisted of stories about
playing in Montreal or Paris,
alternate chords for standard
songs, – once he said, “Come on,

let’s take the bus,” and we all
followed him out the door,
down to the wharf, where
we ate tacos and listened

to the house band – he had
a gig, see. Herbie was diabetic
and his temperament fluctuated
with his blood sugar, whereas

his bass fingers were consistent.
He taught me to listen, to really
listen, – how the quality of the song
depended upon the silences in between.

He played the same venues that
all the other ragtag musicians played,
where we sang melodies and traded
fours for tips, blended into background

noise. He told us how the audience in
France had been silent when they performed,
every note like sugar melting on Parisian
tongues, the applause grandiose.

I visited him again on his deathbed
in Minneapolis, years later, after the
cancer had metastasized, and tried
to sing to him the words he’d written

years ago, though he was already
unconscious. “Life when we were kids,
was like playing Giant Steps,”
and the cycle of fifths spun around.

Tapping Toes / by Dvorah Telushkin 

You danced
To L’cha Dodi.*
You danced during
The Amidah.*
You touched the velvet curtain
That shields our Torah.
Like a slow wind.
You danced.
Slow swirling arms.
Your movements
Defied death.
Instead you danced with Life.

“The Light and Fire of the Baal  Shem Tov.”*
Whichever suitor came courting.
You offered your arm.
Your spine.
Your tapping feet.
This spiraling DNA Hexagon
Just kept moving.

You became part of the Romemu liturgy.
The air we inhaled.
With deliberate
Abandon
You framed our songs.
Crystalized our prayers.
Gave eternity to our Barchu,*
To our Adon Olam.*
And we.
We remain your
Witnesses.

…………………………………………………………..

*Liturgy for Friday Night Service
*Ditto
*Founder of Chassidism
*Call to Worship

god. 7 / by Brendan Walsh 

found a little bird in the field outside my classroom.
couldn’t fly, could barely stand. looked sick.

shivered in my hands as i walked it to a pondside picnic table. 
red-warty muscovy ducks waddled over. iguanas in palms. 

egyptian geese threatening to charge, even a lazy water moccasin. 
campus was silly with life. my friend came out to help. 

the little bird’s right eye was swollen, nearly popping out.
we named it popeye. i brought it into my classroom,

put it in a cardboard box, filled a bottle cap with water.
we researched. its blue-gray coat, plump body, tiny size,

indicated a blue-gray gnatcatcher. easy enough. a name
that fits the description, that is the description. 

we sprinkled a pulverized granola bar at popeye’s feet. 
it looked forward, dignified as a hunger-striker.

a biology teacher inspected on his lunch break, diagnosed
an infection, predicted a quick death. popeye dropped

five minutes later, noiselessly jerked its little neck. inhaled once.
my friend took it outside, placed it beneath a honeysuckle bush.

i’m tempted to say we all become meat, but meat too
becomes the soil and the soil the palms and plants.

how could anything have a name worthy of itself?

Poem 6 / Day 6

Sabin von Sochocky, Newark, New Jersey, 1919 / by Martha Brenckle 

studied with the Curies in Paris, France
intimately familiar with radium’s hazards
(scientists knew radium was harmful in 1901)
invented radium paint which he named “Undark”

in von Sochocky’s labs at US Radium, safety protocols in place
his workers covered their chests and bellies with lead-lined aprons
often warned of the hazards, the possibility of burning skin
the young men picked up test tubes with ivory-tipped forceps

upstairs in the studio, teen-aged girls mixed their own paint
a small pinch of radium salt mixed with zinc sulfide
glue and a little water, stirred in white crucibles
the chemical reaction made the paint glow

the radium dust was everywhere, on their hair and clothes
it was costly for the company and they were warned about excesses
taught to use their lips to soften and point the brushes’ hair
because it caused less waste than wiping cloths or water

von Sochocky seldom walked through the studio, when he did
he hurried through the radium dust that swirled in the air
and settled on the girls’ clothes and hair and shoes
they had to brush themselves when they finished their shifts

the poor working-class girls always followed instructions
wondered if they would glow in their wedding dresses
such a miniscule amount of this wonder element
Marie Curie found could shrink cancerous tumors

the girls linked arms and walked home the long way
their skin glowing like Rappaccini’s much loved daughter

It Will Be / by Neil Flatman  

the kiss by which all others in your life will be judged and found wanting
(Anthony Hopkins – “Our Hearts in Atlantis”)

After Forest Gander

starling-shimmer on the stillness of the lake / the molten shoal 
the fast curve-ball

at the water’s cusp: loosestrife and woundwort / walking up the stair 
to meet the hurt that isn’t there

remembering who you imagined you might be / scratching at 
the page until it’s torn

§Chiff Chaff, Skylark, Blackbird, Thrush§ / notation 
on this morning’s stave 

re-arranging the furniture when the house is 
eerily still / the blistered roof of a burning mouth.    

What to make of all this / honey in a handful of baked salt.

Fidelity and Loss / by Kate Morgan

Some ships never lost horizon’s sight. 

Sweet icebox plums are eaten secretly.    

Smooth satin; soft caresses. I’m lost. 

A flurry of kisses enveloped me.

Bands of gold broken, vows undone. 

Louise and Emily / by Phillip Periman 

Louise—pronounce her last name
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
  to rhyme with click
       Are you nobody, too?
received the Nobel prize
Then there’s a pair of us—don’t tell!
but could not give her speech
They’d banish us, you know
confined by COVID to her bed

she had it printed electronically
How dreary to be somebody!
read virtually so all the world
How public like a frog
would know her fame
To tell your name the livelong day
she quoted Miss Emily’s poem
To an admiring bog!
perhaps the very first one I learned

By a Friend to Youth [1]  / by Jen Rouse 

first they will
make you small
in a time when
holding the sky
is precarious at best
and unavailable
if you are wrong.
you will always
be wife before
winner. a professional
amateur. so start your
studies of Wakefield
while you can, and
if we are “pleasant
and familiar” let that be
understood as capable
and determined. how
will you choose to break
open to evolution?
spark to spore to cell
and photosynthesis.
turn a lily to the lens,
slip from field to forest
like a moleculed
goddess. and begin.

[1] Sarah Hoare (1777-1856) was a British poet and artist known for her scientific poetry. Her “A Poem on the Pleasures and Advantages of Botanical Pursuits” was included in one of the first botany texts written by a woman. That text was Priscilla Wakefield’s An Introduction to Botany, in a Series of Familiar Letters, London, 1796. Hoare’s poem also appears in a collection of her own work with no author listed. Instead it is said to be written “By a Friend to Youth, Addressed to Her Pupils.”

Super Bloom / by Aurore Sibley 

This time last year if you walked at Butano or Henry Cowell,
there were regular signs of spring, green things and blossoms,
there was no wasteland of ash or slow-burning embers
underfoot. Mountain lions usually stayed in their habitat, and
the freshwater birds didn’t mix with their salt water cousins.

This year, I see ducks bathing in the Pacific Ocean and
Mountain lions in the hedges of our neighbor’s yard, (true
story). The ash has mostly washed away, and the black
hillsides have begun to sprout new life – there is no

permanent damage. There are rabbits and hawks, as before.
And all the undergrowth that was burned away has made
room for new growth. But there’s a kind of scar
across the land, a tentative worry that fire could erupt

at any given moment and send us all packing. There are
the singed branches of trees that should be blooming,
and a confusion in the wildlife. Still, if the rain comes
there could be a super bloom yet – colors that delight,

ice plant and poppies and blue lupine. This time last year
was a kaleidoscope – and no one knew yet what it was
to wear a mask in order to breath, or what a black sky
was like, that day that the smoke covered up the sun.

Two Candles / by Dvorah Telushkin 

Two candles.
Towers.
Dangling on a tree branch
Outside the window pane,
Through liquid glass.

Two candles.
One father.
One son.

Rocking to the right.
To the left.
Watching the contained fires,
Rock North
Rock South

Juxtaposed over bony branches.
Dancing on fingertips
Trees that welcome you.
With no leaves
With no birdsong.

Mimicking
Colorless
Domineering
Tempest tossed
Winds.

god. 6 / by Brendan Walsh 

for grattan

joyous this duck soup not the flesh or broth
the green onion stalk the soybean paste funk 

permanent stench our clothes carry even 
in winter we’re alone now in the oritang restaurant 

on gawngju’s oritang street we call duck soup road
grat and i are foolish on soju and cigarettes

last night i watched him chain a half pack 
overlooking the mild city from a tartopped roof

so this soup makes music in our lungs 
rivers through bone into numb places some nights

we’ve been so drunk we feel particular viscera
like it’s skin most mornings we puke and rally

hike a while and we are lonely together which makes
loneliness a question of god and whether or not

you can ever be alone in this city this country
fecund with soup and afternoon quiet specific

as language 

Poem 5 / Day 5

Dangerous Numbers / by Martha Brenckle 

in Marie’s lab
safe, peaceful
glass bottles sparkle
like the inside of a snow globe

tinkering teasing
a small sliver of silver

she names it polonium       (atomic No. 84)
after her native country

(84 protons and 126 neutrons

                      it has a half-life of 138.376 days)

she names it radium         (atomic No. 88

250 times more lethal than arsenic
                     it has a ½ life of 1602 years)

she names pure radium’s behavior
           radioactive
                     the interior of the atom like the sun

1911, the French Academy of Sciences closed the door by 1 vote.
Amagat said “Women cannot be part of the Institute of France”

Marie died in 1934 of pernicious anemia

in 1922 the first dial painter died
Mollie Maggia whose death certificate said syphilis
She was 24 years old

Wabi Sabi / by Neil Flatman

For Matt

Wearing-in mourning’s lack lustre suit, I took 
a walk: heather, like tiny toffee-brittle christmas 

trees, the rust-curled edge of amber gorse 
illuminating the way. You should’ve been here 

a week ago. You said the Japanese had a phrase for it; 
Beauty in the contrasts of decline? I saw that 

goth girl on her morning walk:                  all pale 
skin and thistle lips, and                              the sky 
was hauling heavy goods, each cloud            a bruise

racing to get anyplace that isn’t here – as though 
from up there the world’s just another small town 

where time’s the dream you want to wake from. 
But stay and linger here with me a little more; careless 

through the market stalls. The way you have to 
touch the clothes and steal the fruit. 

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

“Why are there a bunch of little blue flecks on the floor?”

“No reason. Just be careful where you step.”

“They’re sharp. I can feel them in my feet!”

“I told you that you should be careful.”

“You didn’t tell me they were glass!”

“You didn’t tell me you were barefoot.”

“You should have noticed.”

“So how was work ?”

“Good. The same. I don’t know.”

“Have you seen the super glue?”

“No. Last I tried to use it, the cap was fused shut anyway.”

“Why do you need it?”

“No reason.”

Night After night / by Phillip Periman 

night after night we debate what words to use
elongated speech does not make your eyes gleam
inside you permanently imprisoned glows
an unworded essence which I fell into

and I will again

remember when your long hair hung beyond reach
not separate from but a flag of furious
freedom to fly outside the limits of love
memory the sole remaining majesty

no solace for me

A Lengthy Performance [1] / by Jen Rouse

Bring me the tide and the sky,
delicate feathers of the sea,
each winged alga suspended
in Prussian blue. Iron and sun
memory-carve you.

Here is the divine light
where art and science
meet. Not to create a
likeness but to capture
in contour the vibrant
life itself. Symbiotic.

Cyanotyped.[2] Your sorted
gentle cells. Sewn image
to text, a woman might see.
Beyond words. To bring
you this choir of many.

[1] From a letter botanist and photographer Anna Atkins (1799-1871) wrote to a friend, describing Atkins’ work of creating cyanotypes of over 400 British algae for what is consider the first book to be illustrated with photographs, entitled Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843).

[2] The cyanotype technique (or blueprint process) was created by Sir John Herschel–a family friend to Atkins. Atkins popularized the technique which involves using iron compounds in conjunction with UV light. The image remains white where the object blocks the light. When the coated paper is washed with water, it oxidizes and creates the cyan-blue contour.

 

Call Me Crazy / by Aurore Sibley 

My brother lives on Hollywood Boulevard,
rubs elbows with folks whose names
are bigger than their backsides.
The glam, the glitz, must be fun for a day,
but give me Birkenstocks, soft meadow breezes,
I’d rather schmooze with my cat, that
crafty fellow nuzzling my ankle,
all tufts of fur and tuna breath, than have
my picture taken with Spiderman for a dollar.

Dead Souls / by Dvorah Telushkin 

People often speak
about
The Eternal Soul.
“The body may die,” they say.
“But the soul lives on.”
To where,
Nobody knows.
But it may also be,
In the unseen cavern
We call
The soul,
In the place
Of no space
No Time,
It is also
Feasible
That the body lives on,
But the soul is dead.
No burial is required.
In no time no space
The burial
Splinters
Like a firework
On New Year’s Day.
A crackling.
Unheard.
No sound.
Luminous Pink
White bursting sparks.
Happy New Year
To the dead soul.
The dead soul
That appears to live.

god. 5 / by Brendan Walsh 

the text message, sent in haste, a small typo,
says “how beautiful is three moths off?”

which was supposed to be about summer, 
but is still absolute in its poetry, 

which makes me believe that language
is an element akin to god. remember

on mosquito-soaked july nights,
sneaking liquor by the back porch,

half-drained vodka bottles stashed under leaf piles,
three moths off the faint yellow dome bulb 

flapped like pillow cases into hotmidnight. 

Poem 4 / Day 4

Ottawa, Illinois 1921, Her New Job / by Martha Brenckle 

The Ottawa Times listed the position
“Girls Wanted as dial painters at Radium Dial”
After the Great War the company bought
the old high school and built the offices and workrooms
It paid well, much better than any other job she could hope for
and her family (11 siblings in a two-room house)
needed whatever money she could earn

The studio—like an artist!—was filled with light
and she was taught to tip her camel haired brush
with her closed lips until the point was very fine
“The company won’t pay for smudged watch faces”
She was assured the paint was perfectly safe
Their supervisor drunk a bowl of it as the new girls watched
“In fact, it is healthy and will make your skin flawless.”

The paper watch faces are so small, she thought, as she pointed her brush
dip, lips, point, she painted numbers as smoothly as she could
the only time she paused was to tip her brush to a finer point
She really didn’t like the taste of the paint and vowed never to drink it
Some of the girls painted their fingernails at lunch, some took paint home
On her way home, she passed St. Columba and looked up at the spire
this close to the church, she felt a blessing on her new skills

She reached for her front door handle
her fingertips glowed in the dusk

Mid-Night Meditation / by Neil Flatman 

I felt, more 
than heard the sound of her 
wings in my jaw           

bone, like thunder 
outside of the river
of sleep. Snowy 

owl in the bough 
of the bordering oak, still 
ghost of the small 

hours, warden of the watch 
tower, calling out 
asking who

is the caller, and who
here is called to
distinguish. 

Untitled / by Kate Morgan 

This temple
has forever been 
the province of men.
Edifice captured 
by power hungry eyes
seeking to control 
the source of life;
appropriation of a 
legion of obelisks
risen to greet
a monolithic sun.
I may not be perfection,
but I am beauty,
petals imperfect 
encircling a wild rose.

This house in which I dwell is old.
Cracked, chipped paint adorns the crown moulding,
patinas of peacock blue and mauve
untouched for almost a century
are caked with cobwebs and dirt.
Candles in the heavy, leaded windows
lick the sills with wax and flame that have spilled over
from when I last lit them.

It is burning,
and I don’t care.

Perhaps my feet shouldn’t wander so aimlessly.
But if I leave before the floorboards crumble,
they won’t be pierced 
by the arrows of regret.
All that glitters 
is not gold,
and nothing old can stay.

this year—Lent / by Phillip Periman 

the first twenty-seven days of march
religious sacrifice

then on the twenty-eighth
a transient victory

palms waving did not scare
the donkey

in march we won’t wait
all night

for the betrayal at dawn
which Peter

hearing the cock knew
and when

he saw that the carpenter
turned and looked at him

he wept

J.M. Cameron [1] Befriends M. North [2] / by Jen Rouse 

On the day she wears the green
shawl, I am certain marriage is
still not for me. “Yes, that would
just suit you,” she fusses, having
split the fabric into something shared.

I want you to know
I leave everything
where it belongs.

Nepenthes northiana named my
name. From the limestone mountains.
Borneo. The light opens wide to
this new pitcher plant. It sings
on my canvas its full-throated
bass. My only place, here,
is inside the landscape.

Where she drapes me with
this ornamental sun. Beautiful
Julia. Don’t we always stage the
natural? Order the sublime.
She takes down my braids.
And I become her virgin
Mary of the coconut palm.

Hypotonia / by Aurore Sibley 

My daughter knows all about
The American Revolution. She
is nine, and can sing every word
of Hamilton, the musical, (so,
can I, if I’m honest). She cruises
on roller skates and climbs tall
trees with meandering branches,
is verbally precocious and knows
her times tables forward and back.

When she was one, my daughter
hadn’t reached certain milestones yet,
-there was PT and OT and questions
about whether she would ever walk,
neurology appointments and interventions,
-but she decided that she was damn well
going to swing on those monkey bars, just
like all the other children in her class.
She has the work ethic of a child twice

her age – they said it was benign, congenital,
all I know is that she practiced like a symphony
member, didn’t give up until she landed,
figured out her motor control, how to put
the next limb forward, again and again,
and again. I marvel at her every day, at
how some strengths are not measured
by how taut the muscle is, but by how
much effort goes into its small exertion.

The Stems Are Alive / by Dvorah Telushkin 

The stems are alive.
But the flowers have faded.
Burgundy.
Matted Gold.
Gold becoming yellow.
The vase
is green glass.
Jade becoming tourmaline.

Emerald leaves
Bow their heads;
Long succulent leaves;
Arched
Like a sacred dome,

The stems of the tulips:
Fertile and lush.
Basking in the mint gilded
Water.

‘Don’t toss me into the garbage,’
They plead.

‘Our flowers may have dried
But we
Are still drinking
Even becoming.
Please glory in our salient
life-giving pastures.’

god. 4 / by Brendan Walsh 

for katie and courtney

oh, friends, i’m delirious with nostalgia.
stupid with the thought that once, long
ago, but not so long i can’t trust my brain,
we sat on a patio along the intracoastal,

drank kalik gold, that bahamian beer
which tastes like a drugged summer. we
were sad then, sad and always laughing,
for if you’ve been sad long enough then

you know how hilarious it is, clownish even,
to look upon this one-good-fruited-earth,
abundant with oysters and dolphins, lemons,
bleating gulls fighting over french fries,

yet see only the lack in your own chest.
ignore the everything for the one thing.
and only now, in the future’s sure light,
do i realize how goddamn slaphappy we were

to be together and there, beerful and sweaty,
horrified and woozy about tomorrow
but still greedy like a bait fish for the next moment:
forgetting what it was that made you so forlorn

until the net scoops you up, and the air nearly
suffocates but there you are for the first time
wide awake and sundried, taken somewhere
else by a bigwarm invisible hand.

Poem 3 / Day 3

Luminous Lives / by Martha Brenckle 

still children at heart
they bought the paint home to play
painted their nails, faces, eyebrows

Turned off the lights to eerie green mustaches
strong teeth and lips glowing in the dark
radium paint sparkled on their party dresses

They were flapper girls
bobbed hair and cheek curls
dancing the Charleston on the way home

Laughing in rebellion as they walked past
St. Columba’s spire, the women inside reciting the rosary
giggling in joyful novena because there was a party on Friday

They laughed as if a whole other world
existed inside them, so deep and wide
they couldn’t see its edges

Prince in the Pandemic / by Neil Flatman

I.

A thousand crowns of bee balm. A vermillion we’ll describe as, ripe. 
And from another bench I overhear the man say, I’m tired of always 
coming here. Four months and every day’s the same. 

II. 

Honey bees rise and fall tirelessly from one flower to the next. Pollen-cloaked, 
a bumble bee drifts through the crowd: lilac, red yarrow, hummingbird sage; 
the roadmap to a dance in a sequence of ultraviolet shades.   

III. 

Distractedly, the woman says, But it’s so beautiful. Almost straddling 
both universes. But then, on snapping back says, As are your eyes. 

IV. 

To which he replies – The more I look the less I see.
And she,                    Babe, the trick is to look generously.

V. 

(In a world so long ago I forget who we were;  a friend, acquainted with the joys 
of psilocybin would’ve said, What you see is what you mean). 

VI. 

A young man wearing taupe dungarees and roller-blades with a boom-box 
on his shoulder, playing Let’s Go Crazy, whose lyric, “we are gathered here/ 
today to get through/ this thing called life.” wins the haiku of the year. 

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

Porch light
shines wistfully on
planks of wood

Crisp peach
crunches between 
my teeth.

Not quite 
ripe, 
but still lovely

I sigh and you laugh.

The Moon and Stars 
are bored by lesser sights.

Tribute to Lawrence / by Phillip Periman

“my newest poems are always my favorite poems”
said the man who had to be Italian because his name
rhymed with spaghetti even though his first language
french learned from a woman who was not his mother
his second english with which he read all the classics
in the library of the wealthy couple in bronxville where
his “mother” worked as a governess while Lawrence became
simultaneously an eagle scout and a juvenile delinquent

over a century
I never met the man
every time I went to San Fran
I walked into the City Lights
seeking illumination by osmosis

one Sunday in DC i read his poem
I Am Waiting as part of the mass
accompanied by a jazz trio
the piano player could not believe
that i changed some of the words
for me it caused the rebirth of wonder

if i had been in San Francisco
when Ferlinghetti turned 100
i would have stood on the corner
reading aloud I Am Waiting without
changing a word totally embraced
by the arrival of the rebirth of wonder

In the Secret Garden / by Jen Rouse 

When the botanists &
poets [1] come to tea, they
trade monogamy for
illicit gossip of poppies—
wanton, Darwinian [2].

Allowed to document
the flowers, they crack
wise about their new
language, lush and
unencumbered. Linnaeus [3],
god of plant sex, how
they worship at your
salty altar. Lick at the
edge of order. Paint
in oils. Formidable.

For this unwatched
moment, even the wind
is promiscuous. Notes are
furious in the margins. To
document the undone. And
so they choose their forest
suitors. Without blush
or proper etiquette.

[1] Anna Seward (1742-1809), poet closely connected to the Lichfield Botanical Society, including Erasmus Darwin, who saw the necessity of writing about the sexuality of botany, but maintained that it was “not strictly proper for a female pen.”
[2] Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), renowned for his long poems that overtly explored sex and science. Enlightenment reformer. Inspiring grandfather to Charles.
[3] Carl Linnaeus, known as the “father of taxonomy.” In 1753, published what is considered a starting point of modern botanical nomenclature, the Species Plantarum.

Phenomenological Observations / by Aurore Sibley 

Notice how the madrone coils,
unfurling its bark towards the sun,

take, for instance, the five limbs of the sea star,
how they reach in all directions,

or the way the common garden spider
hangs its web in the sunlight, –

we’re always reaching towards
the light, just as it reaches

towards us. And there are the creatures
that fester in shadow and only grow

in darkness and damp, the viruses
and black widows, bacteria and

molds. They also boast a kind of
beauty – do they relish their purpose,

or yearn for transformation? Do they
shapeshift when discovered, like secrets

dissolving when shared, dispersing
when aired? And if every life form

is a dance between form and function
then who takes the lead?

Two Parts of You / by Dvorah Telushkin 

Dearest Ben,

A part of your
spirit
Now
was with us.
Your dream was our dream.
Our dream was your dream.

People only imagine that
Your hard earned
money- your scholarship –
Was overshadowed and crippled
From drugs.
It wasn’t true.

A part of your spirit;
Boy spirit –
Angel spirit –
was aligned
like Jupiter behind Saturn;
Illusory
Between stardust
15,000 light years
Away.

A part of you was with us.
Inside us.
While another part
Was splintering
And fracturing
Into Tiny
Sparks.
Shattering
Behind unseen
Unfathomable
Galaxies.

god. 3 / by Brendan Walsh 

an egret over dawnpinked dark.
fetid smell. punch of air. gray distance.
below its tucked white neck

and dual miracle wings, the earth isn’t
a joyless rock, broken city, miserable apes
migrating between mobile and stationary cages.

it looks forward and across: wavecrests,
tilted canopies, millionfooted schools of minnows,
the croaked rattle of other egrets waking.

we only understand how close an egret is to god
when we see one land, from absolutely
nowhere, on the edge of a turtle pond.

Poem 2 / Day 2

After Work at Radium Dial / by Martha Breckle

she hangs her work smock
on a bent wire hook behind the kitchen door

it flutters, shapeless snowy sprays
when her children pass run by ready for supper

at night, the apron glows like fireflies, insects
faerie wings, smudges in the dark, a child’s finger painting

Waiting For the catch / by Neil Flatman 

I could show you
an image of the oarsmen
from the bridge
over the river. I could
explain how, when
simultaneously, they
glide on wheels beneath
their seats, momentum
slows, and they appear
to sink at the stern before
the catch. But
you’d be hard pressed
to see it from above.
Instead, maybe:
the gloss on this
morning’s water
as though held tight
by surface tension, how
the heron stalks, upright
to minimise its shadow
in the still sleepy light,
and how, from here
each stroke breaks
with the present
to leave a record
no diamond could extract.

Have you ever wondered
why it is, a kiss
pierced by an arrow
is the universal sign
for love, or felt the tear
of sinew when torn
out? There’s a thought
that time lives
not in an arrow
but a box: past, present
and the future in all
three dimensions, or
if counting time itself
as one, then four. In this
moment the tell
tales of the oars
peel out in static
waves as they refute
the speed of light
and the heron has both
struck and hasn’t
struck, and his
reflection, still,
now quivers
in the wake.

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

Dragonfly flits
  to dragonfly
skirting apple blossoms,

Drops Fall–
  Rain
scours the night. 

Petals surround
the sun
in fields of gold.

independence day / by Phillip Periman 

hooray— wait a minute you say
oh no honey— in Texas
we celebrate March 2nd
as the day we ran
Indians off ancestral lands
and Mexicans to the other riverside

this taught narrative
I first heard in 4th grade
learning the pledge of allegiance
to the Texas flag
our version of manifest destiny
began Texas swagger
we think will never end

even if this winter we had no
water, heat, accountability,
nor straight talkin’ politicians
we still had swagger because
everything is bigger even if
the best worse means we won
the contest for most days without
heat, running water, veggies,
or bread in the grocery stores

Curator of Mosses [1] / by Jen Rouse 

To split and split
again the small
hands of water.
A kaleidoscope of green
stars: Polytrichum [2]
to root. She dreams
of all the ways air
might move through
and against, sputtering
to life in front of her
lens. Listen. What silences
itself in winter will
call out like a spring
mistress. 170 times she
will name you bryophyte
constant embryo of the
ground. She will claim
you as her very own
xeromorph. Hush now.
Evergreen. Unbranched.
Slide into the sandy
forest floor with all
your fingers. Breathe.

[1] Elizabeth Gertrude Knight Britton (1857-1934) wrote 170 papers on mosses. She was a renowned bryologist and one of the co-founders of the New York Botanical Garden, where she was an honorary Curator of Mosses.

[2] “Polytrichum (also known as common haircap, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks, common haircap moss, or common hair moss) is a species of moss found in many regions with high humidity and rainfall.” In Edwards, Sean R. (2012). English Names for British Bryophytes. British Bryological Society Special Volume. 5 (4 ed.). Wootton, Northampton: British Bryological Society. 

Red-tailed Hawk Sighting / by Aurore Sibley 

There was a red-tailed hawk
perched on the shrubs ahead of us,
unfazed by our slow approach,

You saw him right away, but
it took me a minute to discern
his auburn feathers from the brush,

The air smelled of artichoke and
sea salt and the sun blazed brazenly
for an early March afternoon.

Just a few days ago we sat
in front of the same ocean
and I had a moment in which

I thought the path before me
might be barren, that maybe
I had to go it all alone if at all,

-and you opened your arms and
let me fly away without question,
without grasping for talons or feathers,

and that’s when I understood that
sometimes it takes a minute,
to see the things that are right there.

My darling Ben / by Dvorah Telushkin 

My darling Ben,

But you didn’t die as an old man.
You died as a boy
A 27 year old child.

I told everyone; every teacher and tutor and shadow and emotional intelligence therapist
I told them,
You were from
Another place.
I told them you had
Mystical Understanding.
Could Access Realms
Beyond realms.
Secrets hidden
Within secrets.
You understood that
Moses inherited sparks from the first two brothers in Genesis.
Cain and Abel.
Reconciliation sparks between the murderous brothers.
You saw
With
Other-worldly eyes.
You saw planets
In dialogue
Through sparks of
4,000 year old light.
You saw beyond
Our world
And this may have been
A great gift
But also
A great Weight
To manage.
As you travel now
Beyond your world
To places
We humans can
Never know.
Please
My darling son,
Remember.
Remember
That I
Always
Saw
You.

god. 2 / by Brendan Walsh 

swim slow, dear one
break the surface slashed gray

no more hands to slap and carve
your softblubber hide, you sweet ancestor

i am sick for you; our cruelty is unnatural
we weren’t born this way; we’ve got

the same mother though you sprouted fins,
whiskers, ate to a floating silent bulk

we mastered articulate fingers punished by brains
the size of seven oceans; sharpened stone 

then steel then built boats that roll over your back, 
cities to shade the slow steps of your migration 

when you swam beside my kayak i was worried
you’d tip me but you never did, precious traveler

you breached and breathed with piston power
then dove off while i waited and wondered 

at the wet rubber of your tail

 

Poem 1 / Day 1

The Curies at Home / by Martha Brenckle 

Marie carries their tea from the kitchen
steam sprouts from under the tea pot lid, rises in front of her face
reddening her cheeks and nose

But no, she tells Pierre
the tray hits the table with a bang, cookies bounce
They mock the science

He slowly moves the newspaper away from his view
on the front page a photo, a gypsy with a glowing ball, her hands floating around it
A séance, that silliness makes our work seem trite

He looks around the dining room
as if seeing it for the first time, should he light the candles?
Pierre sighs, Oh, let them have their fun

Radium amuses people, it is a novelty
Let them have their little miracles and glowing balls
He brings a teacup to his lips, sips

Before he bites into a cookie, she made his favorite
Pierre reaches over the teapot and pats Marie’s sturdy shoulder
You, Marie, you see what is possible, what is at stake

The muscles in Marie’s shoulder twinge
and tense, remembering the hours spent pounding pitchblende
She thinks, I did not work to add sparkles to life

Smitten with the Buddha / by Neil Flatman 

“It’s hell writing and it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is having just written.”
Robert Hass

Striving is a source of suffering according to the Buddha. That, and the pasts we hide
from under blanketed night. I bought a collection by Tranströmer intending to write
poems like that; bare and direct, or maybe it would be simpler to say, clarity is sparse;
From the window all the market stalls – as though that were the sum of their purpose
to be, without rainbowed mackerel or the contrast between oranges and the glister
eyed plums – in a deserted square under a racing, grey sky. Would that it were the blue
of lapis lazuli unearthed in the treasures at Bamiyan where silent statues of Gautama
stood until ruin fell on them in a single week, smitten? from existence by an explosion
of obfuscation over the definition of The word. Of love there is only so much poetry
can say; Spring on the wind in the canopy of pines. Embers fade quick when they rise
from the flames. And there’s an elision. Not of sound in a word, but the shorthand
of time that chimes between reader and narrator when the hour is struck. Eventually
I found myself in the pages of Hass; digression and dispersion: faint music in the bell
curve between smitten & smote.

Driving Weather / by Kate Morgan 

turn wheel
left

veer axle
right

deep tread
smooth groove
black ice

count each
breath
to home–

a string of lights
slung over our
    front porch.

beginning winds / by Phillip Periman 

will the web of my old age
withstand
the winds of march

once i wove
a web
wonderful witchery

which now whipped
away in march whirls
survives only as the

unraveled silky strands
that fed me once
the best of beasts

remnants
vanished in the
sun’s reflections

can no longer
be seen
much less eaten

Pteridomania [1] / by Jen Rouse

Observe. Meaning: the first
to notice. Where a foot
softly falls. A skirt drifts
to forest floor. How removed
are we from the word
discovery? They will call
this madness. When a
woman collects, classifies,
succumbs to science.

They said: but ferns
are safer than novels
and gossip.[2] Until they
weren’t. Until, of course,
the hysteria began. Because
doesn’t it always begin
when they give us something
to do? And, perhaps, we’re
good at it? To be kept
in your Wardian cases [3] or
to be keepers of our own
selves? Press, dry the maiden
hair, the curly-grass. Watch
as the fiddlehead unfurls
to the touch. Send your social
reformers out to find our
spores, light in the air. Pray
we never touch down—try
as you might to catch us,
here in the mist, evolving.


 

[1] Fern mania in the Victorian era. The term ‘pteridomania’ was coined in 1855 by Charles Kingsley in his book Glaucus, or the Wonders of the Shore.

[2] Attributed to Kingsley.

[3] Wardian cases were created by Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward in 1892. They were tightly-sealed glass cases for growing ferns. Much like a terrarium.

Little Wheel, Big Wheel / by Aurore Sibley 

The dogwood flowers are blooming,
giving everything a hopeful air,

I know it was snowing in Texas last week,
I know that fire is a season now,

but the moon rising in the sky tonight
looks like the moon of a thousand years ago.

Isn’t that funny? How some things are constant,
and other things just bloom or burn.

Today I went for a walk in the woods with
my daughter, and we came to a thousand-year-old

tree that had fallen, several years ago now,
and has since sunk slowly into the earth,

becoming its own trail, bridging together two larger
trails that were previously separated by a ravine,

and we walked across it, traversing the decaying
bark that has made the soil beneath it

a magical, unexpected world full
of life, so rich and ripe and new.

The Old Man Dying / by Dvorah Telushkin 

I don’t see
The dying
As “the dying.”

I see them
As angels.
As the dying man or woman
Lay dying
They are actually
Giving Birth
To their
Angel.

The Angelic Spirit
That hovers outside the body
Also
Hovers within the body.
Curled up.
Squished up.
In a ball
Outstretched and then
Rolled up like an eggroll.

Our Arch angel
The one surrounding our heads,

Comes to escort us.
Comes to show the way.
Comes to the dying
So they may live.

god. 1 / by Brendan Walsh 

take this day which
even if i showed you a photo
you wouldn’t believe

is 10am on tuesday
a lone sandpiper weaves through
rows of royal terns who look like

very serious bald men
all watch the water
they too understand morning

as luster in their bones
sargassum piles at the ocean’s lip
the biggest gull scans for silver fish

bits of tossed-out bait carried inland
we squint banner planes gulping overhead
i say we and mean it say we

but mean balanced eastwind
not enough to make us shiver
and the woman heeling sand

and the dolphin pod two miles out
the coconut husk the hardened coral
the couple smoking on a leopard print blanket