The 30/30 Project: March 2021

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

Donate to 30/30

The volunteers for 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 30 / Day 30

To Remember the Great Wide Cosmic Source of All Life / Lines written and selected by Martha Brenckle, Neil Flatman, Kate Morgan, Phillip Periman, Jen Rouse, Aurore Sibley, Dvorah Telushkin, and Brendan Walsh

Butterflies are for men and women and all the roles performed 
between genders on many stages

 yearning to become something more than a pile of 
sunken nerves on  the wings of  aspiration. 

If all the world is indeed a stage and we are merely players — 
and the new physics is  based on  the most beautiful numbers 

then limelight and illumination is natural
for those who put aside the alienation and realize 

the relationof all real numbers seems irrational 
in the framework of the old underlying scheme 

What if your only language was shame.

A thousand crowns of bee balm. A vermillion 
we’ll describe as ripe. 

red rock walls in the canyon home to swallows

a murmuration of thousands
circling and diving like a storm cloud over the ocean.  

The moon and stars 
are bored by lesser sights. 

And suddenly all cares take flight and all we see is iridescent 
of kissing over a glowing beaker, just the two of them 

don’t ask permission

Shoulders wide enough 
To bear a multitude of sorrow. 

we kiss cold cheeks. hold your mouth there, even though i have to pee. you
walk me downhill to the penned-in

to a day’s slow unfolding, without trying to find meaning in the observance
of silence, sage, the pith of orange,

all cells fire into the darkness. Know hope.

Do You Wake at Night and Wonder What the Time Is? / by Martha Brenckle

For $2.95 you could buy a watch to tell time in the dark
but you need to be able to open your eyes to see time

Mrs. Quinta McDonald was buried in December 1929
in Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, New Jersey

she was one of 2,000 young women who died of radiation necrosis
from ingesting radium paint in Orange, Ottawa and Waterbury

buried in their best dresses and shoes, their wedding rings
they no longer feel time, the rhythm of clocks and pendulums

Only five of them received compensation, the only ones
who bravely took US Radium to court and proved their case

won their case in spite of business and politics, the progress of industry
the slowness of Public Health and Safety, the perplexity of dentists and doctors

the industry had to admit they had been negligent, had not met safety
standards. That the young women they killed were buried

and still radioactive. When once the challenge was to extract a treasure
now the imperative is to safely bury the greed and the waste left behind

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

She reached down
to fasten her shirt.
Lost an errant button somewhere in the night.
That’s right.
It popped off.
After we met.
At the workhouse.

her collar, she hurried through the parking lot. Lines blurred as she ran.
Everything blurred in the harsh New Andalusian sunlight.

Cowboy Ending / by Phillip Periman

Read Larry McMurray’s essays
“In a Narrow Grave”

dwell on the one
about strong women

consider your words
after his lecture on language

When I die
like a good cowboy

bury me
in a narrow grave

let each mourner
send a shovel of dirt

onto my head
silenced finally

at least they
will have the last word

Tears of Trees / by Dvorah Telushkin

My Hollow Eye
What have I seen?
As if tears have born a
Through my

Tears of Trees.

We cry
Shedding water.
We eat
And we
The sorrow unspoken,

god. 30 / by Brendan Walsh

found a wounded raccoon 
beneath a royal palm. a baby, 
it wanted that blade of sun cut through
the manufactured campus canopy,

so it sat like a tired toddler
against the tree trunk, looked at me.
its hobbled back legs stuttered, bent.
i spoke sweetly and it didn’t fuss.

a confused security guard joined us,
oblivious too, but caring, so we both
stared and speculated about its mom,

its injuries, its siblings. we’re born 
to translate the language of suffering. 
my baby stood when the sun moved,
tender back legs elevated, crawled
towards another patch of warmth. 

Poem 29 / Day 29

They all died too young / by Martha Brenckle 

She remembered inside the bakery it smelled
like yeast, ginger, cinnamon, and coffee, sparkles
of sugar on round white cookies like diamonds
butter like gold and a yet unmarred childhood

so different from the smells of sickness
and rotting bone, evil breath from a decaying jaw
and she wonders why anyone would be her nurse
or would bring her a cookie to remind her of childhood

She had so wanted to be an adult, to work
make money and fill her hope chest with quilts
and linens. She would have stayed a child a little
longer, savored the sun and moonlight and birds

But who would have thought working would make her sick
and take away her dreams, the last time she danced and laughed
the last time he touched her hand, touch has faded away
like a moth landing and taking off

Poem for the End / by Neil Flatman 

Absent yourself 
from every line, each word 
until you’re gone. Pull faces 
from the clouds, run 
a stick along the railings
ring the changes on the way.

I am undissolved; a grain 
among the leaves 

at the bottom of the cup.

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

Butterflies are for men and women and all the roles performed
between genders
on many stages yearning to become something
more than a pile of
sunken nerves on
the wings of

If all the world is indeed a stage and we are merely players —
and the new physics is
based on
the most beautiful numbers

then limelight and illumination

is natural

for those who
put aside the alienation
and realize
the relation
of all real numbers
seems irrational
in the framework
of the old
underlying scheme

funeral pyre / by Phillip Periman 

back of the studio/gallery
a vacant lot
corner of 13th and Jefferson

don’t ask permission
just stack the wood
in a six-foot square

high enough
large enough
to burn me up

yes, like the holy spirit
my smoke with fly up
the direction of heaven

wrap my body in a Navajo rug
the resale value never
what it should be

douse it with gasoline
you can fill the can
at Toot N’ Totem

just across the street
where i would go
for a snickers

by the time
the fire truck arrives
i will be half gone

let the city
figure out what
to do with the rest of me

Wallpaper / by Jen Rouse 

Let’s all make a pact to keep women away from wallpaper. Whether it writhes in mirrored
yellow figures, or traps one’s brain in a collective mushroom consciousness of evil. Even if you
really love ferns and want them everywhere. Avoid the wallpaper. I give you this permission for
the rest of our time here. Gather what you can. Seeds you’ve saved through winter heartbreak.
Bulbs from the first house where you remember peace or passion. Your grandmother’s lily-of-
the-valley cheering you on. Walk away from the wallpaper. Split new earth open with all you
have. Take notes for the hands that will follow your hands. Plant and press and paint. Study each
cell for a better day. Look carefully for the plants that will sustain you. Never let them name you mad.

What I Like About the Piano / by Aurore Sibley

It is an orchestra and a drum,
Melodic, harmonic, percussive, 

And there is Chopin and there
Is jazz, Joplin and Dr. John,

It can soften a rain-soaked
Afternoon and it can liven up

A starry night. The piano is 
Solid and grand, more than

A piece of furniture, rather
A companion who talks back.


Death is a Sunset / by Dvorah Telushkin 

Death is a sunset.
A slow fading.
Darker yellow.
A chorus of birds.
Bidding you.
The unending ripple.
A colored ripple.
Of slow breath.
Sinking breath.
The gurgling in the throat.
The gurgling sea.
A river unleashed.
In powdery colors.
Your crusty eyelids
The perfect ball of quiet fire.
Dipping wide your nostrils.
That final brush of lavender.
Rocking Boat
Rocking wildly on the waves,
Sails flapping
Between Earth and between.
The perfect round, blood-orange ball Heaven.
And then,
In a glance,
The ball is half,
And then one quarter,
And with no
Apparent movement,
After a final strip,
A hot pink cap in the sky,
There is nothing.
Only the remnants of color
Remind us,
That once you too,
Just moments ago,
Were warming us.

god. 29 / by Brendan Walsh 

rugged clouds northeast this morning:
i field slept-on texts, try to write poems.

purple achy horizon, heat returning.
where’d you go that monthlong winter, friend?

a student asks, this early, if we can zoom-meet;
she struggles with a paper about the round house. 

i absorb cold brew, shower towards some level
of pretend-presentability, half-listen to a spanish

podcast, brush and dress and blend protein,
so busy misplacing gifts as obligations. 

yesterday, a woman told me that she admired 
my commitment and energy. i wish for less of both. 

out the door at six thirty, a cliche of cardinals
(the correct collective noun, i believe) 

lights the courtyard pool deck; their songs
bounce between units, and yes, i’m crying again. 

Poem 28 / Day 28

The Kusers, New York City, January 1925 / by Martha Brenckle 

Theo took Hazel to New York City
on the train. The train ride was agony
but seeing a specialist seemed hopeful

Dr. Blume, one of the first oral surgeons
pioneered dental X-rays for diagnosis
found Hazel’s jaw riddled with tiny holes

he couldn’t explain until her asked
about her employment history
until he asked what she did at US Radium

and Hazel told him about lip pointing
and luminous paint. He asked for the ingredients
to the paint, and told it was not a cooking recipe

After many visits and two painful surgeries
Dr. Blume diagnosed Hazel with “poisoning
by a radioactive substance.” Theo’s sterling

sliver of hope died when he heard “little chance
of recovery.” Grace Vincent, Hazel’s mother
had watched her daughter’s suffering

and did what mother’s do, she fought back
she filed a letter, a claim of compensation
US Radium should pay the medical bills

and a another amount for Hazel’s mouth of pain
Us Radium decided to act: Mrs. Vincent’s claim
was bad for business, and the other girls were talking.

Untitled / by Neil Flatman

on the river road 
by the zebra crossing 
the jaguar waits 

(in the UK, a zebra crossing is a pedestrian crosswalk)

Palm Sunday / by Phillip Periman 

This year the folks
at my modest church
the one set back behind
the baseball field on Bell
began to read the poetry
of Emily Dickinson for Lent

Now I have never considered
that New England recluse
Christian—but more like my aunt
who served tea and madeleines
with her spiritual advice
during my once-a-year visit

I can imagine her however
watching Him ride by on an ass
wondering in the window
of her second story bedroom
if He like Death would kindly
stop before turning toward eternity

Of Monsters. Of Plants. / by Jen Rouse

She dreams each night that her arm extends into the shape of a lily. The scent reminiscent of
hours spent in her grandmother’s garden. The color extraordinary like the poisonous purple sister
flower in Rapaccinni’s Daughter. Her mind is Hawthorneian. But Edgar’s heart beats in the
floorboards. Or in the lily pulsing where her fingers should be. The scent sounds like a fluttering
heart. When she sears her lily hand to yours, a trickle of bloom becomes you. In that moment
that extends between worlds, a choice must be made. Or has it been made in the floorboards.
Where you are certain you have met each night. Her scent like lilies beating time in your dream.
When you wake what kind of hand are you holding?

Bear / by Aurore Sibley

Yesterday I drove over Pacheco Pass, 
where the red-tailed hawks soar and 
the hills are in their spring bloom, all 
clover-green and peach fuzz, though 
there is still snow on the Sierra Nevada 
Mountaintops, a deep dusting of white 
that sometimes lingers into summer. 

We went there for the dog, whose 
name is Bear, and is unfathomably
similar to our old recently deceased 
dog, just a different color, and young.
He was born around the same time 
that the other one died, actually, as if
reincarnated and now returned home. 

Seeing the mountain tops made me
want to get closer, maybe just keep 
driving until we reached them so that
we could stand at their base and marvel
at the snow, and the green, at the old 
and the new, the past and present, and
the mystery of time that is so fleeting. 

Recycle Our Lives / by Dvorah Telushkin 

Our plastic cover
From a birthday card.
The container
For my sesame seaweed.
The cardboard
Flower box from my sister, Dafna.
The water at the bottom,
The flower food.
All wrapped
Presentations of Love.
The forks from the salad bar.
Our lives.
In instantaneous fulfillment.
The café latte cup.
The top to keep it warm.
In a moment will be tossed in a
Bin. Recycle. Use. Reuse.
Every time I open the dark green door
Of our hallway,
Before the stairwell,
Three re-cycle bins,
Every time, perhaps fifteen, sixteen, seventeen times a day,
I lean into the heavy door
And lift the white lid
And hear the paper bags
Swallow up corks from the wine bottles.
Every time I hear
The groan and crumble of
Kashi Whole Grain Cheerio Boxes,
The crackle of glass against glass,
I cry.

god. 28 / by Brendan Walsh 

you’re brown and you use more sunscreen than me.
it’s about aging; you say, have you seen these white
people down here? you saw a woman at aldi’s, skin
like leather, darker than you, so i apply another layer.

at the liquor store yesterday the cashier couldn’t 
believe my ID, thought i looked ten years younger
than the number. she said, i’m drinkin whatever you’re
drinkin and i felt like a timeless spirit visiting earth.

we don’t thank the sun enough even though it kills us.
you put a scrunched-up tee shirt over my face, rub-in
a fourth handful of lotion to my chest. water’s perfect.
we’re both passing out. you massage the hard lines

calloused on my palms. my tattoos are burning, 
but goddamn through the thin veil of this shirt
your skin is primed and sparkling with sea-wet lotion. 
you look so good in that bathing suit. 

Poem 27 / Day 27

The Opprobrium of Birds / by Neil Flatman

September mourning, and from the apartment window
mist hanging from the trees. The sound of not cars 
and no contrails. Scent of the downstairs neighbour’s 
wisteria; cool as jasmine, dark as tuberose. Yet another 
moon loiters in the corner of the day and somewhere 
in the background, a dream in which someone climbed 
out of their life and someone remained to grieve. Toast 
pops and tumbles to the counter and you stumble from 
the bedroom dressed in sleep and confusion at how 
early the world can be. A blackbird is discussing how 
confusing it is to be happy, a wood-pecker hammers home 
his point but you can always rely on the wood pigeons 
to disapprove of some poor soul. You bad, bad Katy…

the benefit of reading a novel about a funeral home / by Phillip Periman 

at bedtime
i search for a book
without a plot
or one so mundane
i puzzle how
the author managed
to convince a publisher
to print its improbable
story—puts me to sleep

my dog slumbers at
the foot of the bed
during the night
he delights in
in climbing up
onto my feet
he may not get
the gist of the story
but he will know
whether i am alive
slightly dead or deceased

Your Moral Garden / by Jen Rouse 

Sin and thorn, keep your
hybrid thinking tight
in your throat. Flutter
a handkerchief if
anyone gets too close
to your deep knowledge.
They will come for
the tulips first, the wild
life of the pansy, the flirty
fronds, the contraband.
Insatiable for insect-
catchers. We are one
Freud closer to the
criminal mind. The cruel
indifference. The angst
of a poppy. The heartache
carnation. Whatever has
been hidden will rise
again. Grand Design be
damned. So instruct with
a bouquet of purple violets–
so much lies in the tie
of the knot, the choice of
delivering hand.

The Up and Down / by Aurore Sibley 

I want to think that it was beyond your control, 
like the time the tornado touched down and 
leveled the neighboring town – the yellow sky 
and whipping winds passed directly above 
our three-story brick and mortar while we lay 
under the cabinets on the cool basement floor, 
my mother prostate over our small bodies, 
the radio warning while the little town just 
three miles away became a flattened wreck 
of rubble, wooden boards and leveled houses 
and missing barnyard animals. I kept a suitcase 
packed and ready under my bed after that, 
for the next time. Tornados took things away,
though there was always some little thing left
intact. It was the building of the storm and 
the quiet after that I liked best, not the during. 
Tornados are like skipping stones, disturbing 
the surface where they touch down. Children 
don’t know how to make sense of their geometric 
tendencies, their ripples or their mood swings, 
when to expect the ups and downs and ups 
of a parent who is something like a tornado, –
all that panic and then the desolate quiet after.

god. 27 / by Brendan Walsh 

crying, listening to ross gay read
obsessive gratitude, i drop to the floor 
to do burpees and in doing so
show love to the cracked tile that i’ve hated
for its crackedness, its brokedown deadman

discount condo quality. though it holds me,
has held me through all this heartbreak.
it, like all things, is of earth. polished stone,
grout caked with nineteen-seventies dirt.
fuck it. i don’t have time; i’m sweating

and huffing, weeping at a poem. the bedroom mirror
is filthy, but in it’s gauzy reverberation
i look like a warrior. thank you, mirror. thank you
tall trapezius and shoulder veins. thanks coffee
spit from the janky espresso machine.

you too, mess of the painted countertop, also janky; 
in fact, all my life’s in disrepair. i am not concerned,
though i am hungry, which is a kindness
my body grants me even in the unbearable evenings.
it says, feed, so i do. it says breathe, too.

Poem 26 / Day 26

The Afternoon She Loses Hope / by Martha Brenckle 

She walks outside to the edge of town
and there are small fields with cows
this part of Jersey had been dairy
farms when her mother was young

She watches the birds overhead
flying in their own powerful
geometry. The shadows of wings
make patterns on her cheeks

Radium has scooped out the solidity of her bones
left them moth eaten and wavering at the edges
She yearns for horses and oceans of buffalo
a cowboy to scoop her up and make her future

She stops at the fence to look at the cows
one, brown faced, walks up to the splintered rail
leans over and sucks on the sleeve of her sweater
petting its face, she’s surprised by the softness

In Orbit / by Neil Flatman

above, nothing but / the naïveté of stars / romancing the dark 
beneath, everything / dusk’s daily ritual / undressing the light  

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

Structure is not always a slow death.

Sometimes it is necessity.

Desire unchecked is ruin.

It must be balanced by wisdom and purpose.

proper attire / by Phillip Periman

looked at the folded shirts
hanging in my closet

six months since
i went to work

a new revelation
no necessity to buy

anymore shirts or ties
unless my pandemic

waist means I’ll
need a new one

for my funeral

Solanum Baretiae [1] / by Jen Rouse

Imagine a ship named star 
and a vine you will eventually 
claim as bougainvillea, 
the captain who keeps you on 
in your slight disguise. Your fuck boy 
who can’t quite live without you, 
calling you his beast of burden.
You unburden yourself of children.
Replace them with plants.
To circumnavigate the globe of 
desires. Beyond the rule book
for women. Which you refuse
to read. Sail on. We name you 
nightshade that sounds of sun
from all your travels. Somewhere
in Port-Louis pouring out
liquor on Sundays. You tip
your cap, wipe down the bar.

[1] A nightshade named in honor of Jeanne Baret, a botanist who disguised herself as a man to sail as the assistant to botanist Philibert Commerson on Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s global circumnavigation (1766–1769). Women were not allowed on French naval vessels during this time.

It Was My Mother’s Job To Wash the Bodies / by Aurore Sibley

She left her teaching job to work 
in a nursing home, because someone 
needed to be with the baby both day 
and night. My father stayed in journalism, 
took the night shift at home. This way,
one of them was always with the baby. 

She would care for the infant all day 
and then put on her uniform in the evening, 
bring the residents tea or hot chocolate, 
visit with them, clean out their bedpans, 
help them shower. She got to know them, 
heard stories and anecdotes about their lives. 

When they passed away it would fall to her
to clean and ready them for the undertaker. 
She would give the newly deceased a 
sponge bath, her strokes gentle, loving,
reverent, for she had known them. And
she has never minded death much since.

His Mother of Pearl / by Dvorah Telushkin 

Why does a mother
Her son?

He is hers
And hers alone.
He is the one
Who worships her.

Just the way
She worships herself.
Deep inside herself.
Just the way
She knows
She really is.
A beauty Queen.

All women
See themselves
Deep down

As perfect pearls.

After the oyster
Is split open
As all women are split open.
We are that shining gem.
Hues of pink
Milky white, yellows and beige.

Split us open
And let us shine.

Our sons
Can be trusted
To do this.

Our boys.
They will
Protect the pearl.

They will forever
Know its value.

Cast your nets
And try to love them

Let all the fish
Swim in.

Cast your nets
As far and wide
As you can.
Stretch out your arms.

Because you
Can never catch
And you can never posses
What the mother of pearl
With fierce secrecy.
Behind a shadow of gauze.
The ephemeral
Jeweled crown
Of her son.

god. 26 / by Brendan Walsh 

fiddler crabs fall from mangroves
into pocked mud. a wild metronome. 
click-quiet-click, click-quiet-click,

their bodies bounce and recover.
there’s no word for reverence 
that feels adequate. this isn’t sunrise

or a flock of ten thousand cranes,
yet the ground makes music of 
clumsiness. crab colonies climb,

drop, dig, pick algae from roots,
their faces all abubble with progress
that deadens only a second, until,

mud scooped from their periscope eyes,
they set off towards another tree.
i’ve been given so much in this life.

Poem 25 / Day 25

Manya Sklodowska, Warsaw, Poland, November 7, 1867 / by Martha Brenckle

in little shoes, she followed her father
who taught Physics and Mathematics

the small experiments she conducted
in the garden in Warsaw, concentrating

on pieces of glass reflecting the sun
counting the seconds out loud, measuring

angles and watching balls fall until winning
a gold medal in gymnasium in 1883

transformations do not happen in a moment
becoming Marie Curie took all of her life

Biersteifel Rules / by Neil Flatman

“The stiefel (a two litre glass boot), has to be passed on to and drunk by everyone at the table. Before drinking (and when saying ‘farewell’), one must knock on the table (first with an elbow, then with the fist), and then slap the stiefel to greet it properly. After this, you cannot spill anything! The trick is how you hold the stiefel to avoid spilling it. If you place the tip of the boot at pointing straight outwards from your chest an air bubble will form and it will spill in your face.As you are passing the stiefel to the next person, you will have to say “Tschüss“ (engl. Goodbye). You have to pay with an additional stiefel for every mistake. Otherwise, the person drinking before the one finishing the stiefel has to buy the next one. So be careful who is sitting next to you! Once you have finished a stiefel, do not forget to lay it down on its side.”

We were in the Eisenbahn playing bierstiefel when we learned he’d gone. The game took a turn when someone came in with the news he’d locked the study door and loaded just one cartridge in the service revolver. Everyone and no one was surprised. The fact he’d folded and tacked a blanket across his collection of poetry alone, led someone to suggest that all verse should come accompanied by a health warning or weed. Another (himself now gone to an aneurism), said we’d each been left a book and there was speculation as to who’d been left what: one of the collections of Rilke, a pristine copy of Tranströmer’s “Great Enigma” or the only dog-eared book in the bookcase, Heaney’s “Death of Naturalist.” I remembered the first time we played: he was sat to my right – nothing really to speak of but long in the limb. I should have known what was coming by the sideways glances and play of smiles on so many lips. I took a sip and passed it on. A litre and half. He said “You know your problem? Du sehst das glass halb voll” How language mocks us. And someone remembered the time they were about to pass the boot on until it was stolen with cry of “Forfeit!” And they slumped back in the sitzbank saying “You took it too early!” To which he replied “No, no my friend, you saw too late.” 

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

Kisses are
than wine
we fall into each other
like weights fall into
a feather bed.

I long for your embrace
colliding like atoms sparking
in the night.

Dreaming of you in silence
Consuming you flesh and bone
to know your soul.

Feather Exceptional / by Phillip Periman 

Preen Peacock
the white queen
will reign supreme

Fan your tail
wiggle your colorless ass

Spread those feathers
fly into your dreams

Just when the multicolored
rear-ends seemed destined to breed

She appeared on the scene
with a white he, completely clean

Now decide between exceptional
rhythms, narcistic ghosts
neither wolf dog man or bird
spirits dark, damp, depressed

Oh America—the witch-seer tells us
Never bring a peacock feather inside.

Transportation of Plants / by Jen Rouse 

To get the snapping jawed
across the Atlantic. To fill
the salons. Kew clamored.
To flourish without care
in a curious case. Kept
from sea air and mercurial
climates. What would they
do to discover you? A frenzy
for the feeding. To own
just a moment. Of pure
spectacle. To believe
you were created just
for their pleasure. Open
wide. Destroy the new
world order. And then some.

The Bat Ray / by Aurore Sibley 

There was a tug and a heave 
and a rising excitement. The 
fishline flexed and taut, yearned
to belong to the sea, but the
fisherman held strong, reeling
in his prey. The creature like
a winged thing fought for
the flight of the water, the 
slitted gills undulating with 
the tide. The fisherman 
reeled it in, but it was no fish,
and there was no purpose in 
its demise, so after marveling 
at its size, its dark coloring 
and its scorpion sting flailing, 
he cut it loose and tossed it,
shell-shocked, back into the sea. 

Polished Wood / by Dvorah Telushkin 

My mother
Gave me
Clarinet lessons, but
I never learned
To play
The clarinet.

Because I had no breath.

Now I see
What the breath
Can do
Transform and
A piece of
Polished wood.

god. 25 / by Brendan Walsh

on my twenty-first birthday,
my friend left general clinton’s pub
after midnight,

drove off the side of a cliff
in his old black pickup. 
winter’s first ice,

windshield prettied 
with snowflakes of frost.
his wipers never worked.

cigarette between his lips.
but he survived.
a slanted tree caught him,

hugged in the driver’s seat,
femur-snapped, dozen drinks deep,
engine hissing steam,

edged toward the end-of-it.
all our lives 
we’ve barely avoided disaster.

Poem 24 / Day 24

Dial painting paid better than nursing / by Martha Brenckle

Even on a cool evening, neighbors left their windows
open. She heard the McDonnell’s youngest practicing
piano, his older sister singing Who’s sad and blue,
who’s cryin’ too, Just like I cried over you
so perfect, a few clouds gently floated in front
of the stars, the voice in the air like a small
sliver of hope. She had filed a report at
the Department of Health on Franklin Street
her fatigue, the aches in legs and feet
were a sickness caused by her job, she knew
even though no one would say it out loud
and she walked and breathed in a constant
flickering fear like a movie reel, she would die
like the other girls. Why else had the supervisor
stopped lip pointing? There wasn’t enough acid
in their mouths to spoil the adhesive. Safety
precautions started too late. Hope dissipated
like wisps of clouds who’s crying now

Workshop / by Neil Flatman

They pull things apart: the love 
songs of grasshoppers, a bridge 
over the dry river, a cloud of gold 
cinquefoil; their five-petaled flower
all too easy to dismantle. Potential 
misspelled – Potentilla. 

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

I fall into
all the pieces
of you.

You met me
standing in
the rain.

Slow moving
hands know every
inch of me

We become fluid
like the rain.

found wandering / by Phillip Periman

my father reported
she went wandering

thought we had lost
her this time for sure

someone who knew
her walking

stopped her eight
blocks from home

my wife felt he
was unfair to her

old fashioned man
that he was

unlike me
he never left home

after I did return
we discovered

when we played
dominoes with her

even without memory
she would win

The Botanist to the Florist / by Jen Rouse 

British soil knows
best, especially in
death, such funerary
virtue. The broken lily
on her urn, snowdrops and
a nation at her feet. So
much to be said in a
grave’s white blanket.

Never turn tulip (shhhhh
trollop) or buy the flowers
yourself. Debauchery is
a ranunculus kiss, in the
raining hands of a delicate
florist. We are not, and will

never be, exotic foreign
words unsovereign. We
fill our beds with sturdy
stock. Hide our secrets
in the hedgerows.

March Dance / by Aurore Sibley 

I gave myself this task,
words are words are 
words, but that’s not 
the important part.

What’s necessary is the song,
the gesture, the water-colored
canvass, the offering,
a blossom and a seed.


The Corpse / by Dvorah Telushkin 

There is a corpse
Inside my body.
Cold and rotting.
Stench rises
Through my mouth.
With foul words.

You can smell the stench
Of the corpse
When I speak.
For many years
She has been dead.
For many years.

But I cannot bury her.
We don’t know
Where to bury a corpse that is inside a
Living body.
She cannot even be pulled out
Or cut out. Or burned. Without killing me.
She cannot be mutilated,
This stinking corpse.
Annihilated and abandoned.
At the bottom of my pelvis.
Intertwined among the long
Large intestine.
Being pushed up against
The intestinal wall
And spreading
A corpse with
Open eyes.
Wide open eyes,
That stare out
And still search
For their unlived

god. 24 / by Brendan Walsh 

today, i’m amazed by mammalian innerworkings,
particularly how i’ve stayed alive and conscious
thirty-three years despite extended neglect.

i rise and wake; all night my organs churned.
where is their sleep? please grant the lungs-heart-
liver-kidneys one hour of absolute stillness.

how often death is an excuse for visceral rest–
heart and kidney failure, lung cancer, honestly
when was their last break? when’d they last sit,

look up at the sky or tune out and watch tv?
imagine the poor pancreas spitting enzymes
incessantly–no car, no computer, no coffee makers,

no machine but the machine we live inside: 
it runs brilliantly, no human hand could build it, 
carve carbon into pleasing shapes then stuff

wet stuff inside and set the clock. somehow 
the thing runs just fine, even when it’s not perfect.
for instance, feel the sun bake the white stucco  

wall this morning: just touch it with your fingers 
or press your face to the fresh heat, and in the alley
you borrow breath from air, heron, robin, wren.

Poem 23 / Day 23

June 1923, Helen Quinlan, North Jefferson Street / by Martha Brenckle

She watched the dusk from her window
blue sky breaking down, growing dark
Two birds sat on the back fence, flapping
heaving their wings. All she had to watch
for weeks she lay in bed, the pain washing
through her legs and knees, what was left
of her jaw throbbing, listening to an ocean
she had never seen, her blood and breath
matching the tides. She asked her mother
to remove the mirror over her dresser.
Her bedroom walls painted a soft green
she wanted to look like forgiveness,
not the kind of consequences that rippled
and flowed beneath everything like a sigh.

Forgiveness / by Neil Flatman

Evening; and as the machinery 
beneath the stage of the horizon 
gears up to roll the curtain down 
and what passes now for daylight  
illuminates a universe of dust 
motes on the air, I give you wild
flowers: Heartleaf Bittercress 
and Bastard Toadflax, Hoary Aster  
and Buttercups by the dozen 
you hold beneath my chin. 

This Land Is No Longer Wasted / by Kate Morgan

Give. Compassion. Control.


That Shakespherian Rag is so elegant
so intelligent.

The drops of Jupiter do not eclipse these drops of rain.

Listen as the thunder speaks and
brings its lightning to the chalice.

Listen as the thunder speaks; for she speaks loudly.

Birding / by Phillip Periman 

         “Old age is a flight of small cheeping birds” W.C.W.

when we realized
how old we were
we went to Wildorado
where sandhill cranes land
in a drainage lake south of the feedlot
full of black, brown, spotted, and white
cows eating corn mixed with molasses
even on days that aren’t holidays

the evening arrived
in silence with the cranes
whirling swirling overhead
they flew low into the wet marsh
mingled with lesser flights of geese and ducks
the cranes have five feet wing spans
and bandit masks of red and black
keep their feet wet all night in the lake

neither they nor we know our fates
any more than the fattening herd
destined for our plates
hamburgers or steaks bar b q’d
we watched and lingered in the smell
of dust and excretion which
reaches our city neighborhood
an aroma—not quite enjoyable
of what both feeds and kills us

Variations / by Jen Rouse 

Actions of other
organisms might
mis/shape you.
Turning one tender
head of rhodo-
dendron to sturdy
shrub. Fire in
design and conse-
quence. Borders
beget trumpeting
wildness. In varia-
tion. Your genes
split and split
again. The perfect
pattern for china.
To adapt in ponticum
purple. You are
stripped of crown,
with the hiss of
invasive at your
heels. Only in the
garden is there such
certainty in dis/order.

Sent to Coventry / by Aurore Sibley 

Is there anything more beautiful
than silence? The way two people
can be with one another without
speaking? Or the sound of butterfly
wings, sunlight, birds in flight.

Silence can be terrible, too, a tiger 
prowling, a shark stalking, a black 
widow, blindness or, the nothing 
of The Never-Ending Story. 

I’ve known those who rather than 
fight for the words that would 
deliver them, prefer silence. Deaf
and mute, there is no reconciliation, 

and like the King’s soldiers, we
are sent into Coventry. The absence
of noise may be lovely, but is there
anything more terrible than silence? 

Underbelly / by Dvorah Telushkin 

You see me now.
A tiny shutter opened
On my world.

An underworld.
Like peeking into a subway grid.

Just a rumble
Under the street.
But the earth
The earth knows
That people of all kinds
Trample and trod,
In her belly.

And you got a glimpse.
You saw me.
And you rolled the shutters closed.

god. 23 / by Brendan Walsh 

the wipers slap away humidity
collecting on the windshield
she’s monologuing which i’ve learned

she does over the four days i’ve known her
she says she’s pretty psychic–
triple pisces energy–she analyzes

my birth chart: i’m so sagittarius 
it’s laughable but that’s not the point
i’ve been a skeptic for too long

i say i can’t believe you figured me out already
she says the universe wrote you i just read 
what was already there

and i’m ready to believe anything again
what have i learned 
that can’t be unlearned

Poem 22 / Day 22

Ghost Dancer / by Martha Brenckle

the story of a fan dancer
who painted her limbs
and breasts with radium
paint even when she knew
it was making her sick
she would drop her feathered
fans when the lights vanished
a lightening bug to catch in a jar
like a spirit impossible to keep
floating away from the stage

A Brief History of Palmistry / by Neil Flatman

In the image the whale corkscrews out above the ocean
body glistening as the water round its fluke appears
to soften at the seams.  

In the recording, the drummer lays down a five four beat 
the trumpets and the keyboard riff around without apparent plan 
or grand intent other than to consume what fuels them. 

He no longer tastes the paraffin on the tongue, but somewhere
in his throat it lingers like an aftertaste no matter
how hard he breathes. 

Back when the trains had slam doors the carriages smelled
faintly of almond and green tea, and often, in summer 
when they passed the playing fields, cut grass. 

Which is all a faint recounting of a world preserved in amber
when what I wanted, in your absence, was to tell you I could feel 
you right here – between lifeline and writers fork, reading.  

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

being in the position
of power is sweet
and so are you
  so are you

we told the truth 
to strangers
we hardly knew
  we hardly knew

our love was no lie
it was no lie 

 this doll stood on a music box 
  you turned my key

unsure of its reality,

you’ve got my heart
 split celluloid ticks on
   love’s first kiss
       passed us by 
  with the ghosts of the dawn

time passes quickly
now you are gone
and I know without crying
you just weren’t the one

being in the position
of power is sweet
and so are you
  so are you

we told the truth 
to strangers
we hardly knew

we hardly knew

another old man died / by Phillip Periman 

i received a voice message
call me i want to talk about john
john was the caller’s same age 88
a dutchman born in Mexico

his wife had been away at a funeral
MJ aged 83 once the high school queen
died alone—husband gone for many years
beauty gone also—for a long time

in Dallas my classmate LeRoy
raking leaves fell over dead
they called it a heart attack—massive
i suspect occlusion of the left main
the artery when clogged
nicknamed the widow maker

the 95-year-old banker shared
the dumpster in our alley
walked his Jack Russell terriers
around our block at noon daily
outlived five–outlived his friends, too
so lonely he left the hospital
with his infection untreated
to die at home in quiet peace

today the beginning of spring
a beautiful windless day of 72º
winter being left behind
too cold and too old
tomorrow 90% chance of snow
then in 3 days spring again

Cells / by Jen Rouse 

I was the kind of child who loved drawing the beauty of science. I might’ve been a perfect
Victorian lady of plant painting. It’s true. Except, maybe, for the well-coiffed part. The neatness.
Perhaps moral precision would’ve been my downfall. Hard to tell. Definitely of the having-one-
very-good-woman-friend variety. Tough and up to the conversations of men. All this if the
asylum hadn’t nicked me. But, even then, so many gardens to paint. I should probably tell you
that I’ve never kept a plant alive. And for 30 years my brain tried to kill me every day. The
skeleton cactus on my windowsill is proof. I remember making a plant cell when I was young.
Out of a genoise sponge. It was turn-your-teeth green, a bright springy cake that looked as lovely
as its name and the sounds of science: mitochondria, membrane, reticulum. I’m not sure I ever
really made meaning of any of it. So many extraordinary ways to enter and exit the light.

Spring / by Aurore Sibley 

The sun came out this morning as if knowing
that spring had officially arrived. Already the
temperature is up ten degrees and there are
breezes and birds, and new buds on the trees.

My son has grown six inches in the last year
and my daughter is no longer a young child.
We have all aged since closing our doors and
retreating inside for the better part of each day,

for a year. Spring the last time around was
like a sudden winter, an unexpected blizzard
of fear and worry, and loss upon loss upon
loss, of income, community, friends, family,

even our dog. We were shuttered despite the
blossoms and the summer heat, the changing
seasons. But this morning I pulled off my
mask and lifted my face to the sun.

Behind the Veil / by Dvorah Telushkin 

Mourning comes uninvited.
We never enlisted you.
The loss of Tammy
After she wed.
The bride being veiled.
We lost you behind the veil.
My Tammy.
My friend.

In rage
I let you go.
In rage you splintered
Like vapor
Behind an invisible sheen.

Now you peek through the lace.
Whispers over hidden telephones.
Hidden car rides.
Mourn for the loss.

All loss.
Mourn for the dead mother
That never lived.
Mourn for the chained father
That died while alive.
Mourn for the uncle
That does not speak.

Mourn for their vanished love.
The splintered love.
Mourn for the veil
That masks them whole.
For the thin veil
That can obscure full canyons.
Delicate lace
Caverns of fallen hearts.

god. 22 / by Brendan Walsh 

a big wet, 
angsty breath 

deep from my lungs’ 
pink silos:

seven silver fish 
jump in unison 

over the surface 
of the lake.

Poem 21 / Day 21

In Shadows We Live / by Kate Morgan

When in the changing phases of my life
I fall in misery–my heart seems dead, 

My sinew and tendons 

Crumble in the cruellest month
Breaking me down to an indescribable oblivion–

I come to see the beauty in the turn

Beyond materiality.

Even in the shadows lurking
lives the light we know,

the light we die to self
to see.

Ancient Medicine / by Phillip Periman 
           “Look at the serpent of bronze and live.” Numbers 21:9 NRSV

mumbo jumbo
the witch doctor chanted
look at me, look at me,
look at me — and be healed

read the old stories
the ones the Hebrews
and the Evangelicals share
Israelites fleeing Egypt
isolated in the desert
cursing hungry
blaming Moses

attacked by poisonous serpents
the origin of the isolation
of imagination
a dry desert
dust over all
no roar of vacuum cleaners
for the reptiles to hear

We stared at the serpent
bronze immobile
read the old story
two questions
how could one believe
a mere look could cure
where in the desert
did they find bronze

Good Student of the Earth / by Jen Rouse 

It seems I have always been quiet—and here, even in the roar and squander of the city, I have
listened. I have become. These hands. Here we are now. With only these hands. Undulating fields of
fierce and soothing herbs, a kind of language shared between us. Healing the wounded and broken
in the thick and humid mist, with the tenderness of breath and touch. And you would’ve thought I
might’ve added god there. To the list of what is needed. But god is what is given. It is what you do
with your piece of the given that matters.

How did you hold that sliver under your tongue? In what shape and shadow? In what silver moon
and sun and beaded fortune? Were you a good student of the earth? And did you hold her face to
the splendor of the last light?

I have lived the question. With each turned leaf and mortared root. Where in the body does your
god take hold? Where is the poison of regret? Listen to the blood song, the delicate balance of plant
and raindrop. How it thrums in your chest.

And when you have slept all night in the desert, when you have given everything to the hive, when
you have cradled the last remaining bits of your sanity and asked only for an end, look once more
for a teacher. I promise. Someone else will come.

I’m sitting here drinking my coffee / by Aurore Sibley 

while several hundred children are climbing over each other 

in a room with a capacity for seventy-five. My children 

are still sleeping, the sun is shining, it is early morning, 

temperate. The cats have been fed, while five hundred 

mothers and fathers are crushed together in a room with 

cement walls and four toilets, wondering where their 

babies are, or if siblings might at least be caged 

together, or whether an American man in a uniform 

is mistreating them, just because he can. My coffee

is warm and has cream in it, and there is fresh bread. 

I can hear my son snoring lightly, my daughter’s arms 

are splayed across the pillows, they are safe and sleeping 

soundly. I am well, while three-thousand people seeking 

asylum have only found disgrace, pain and inhumanity, 

are sleepless in this promised land, this country of the free.

The Well / by Dvorah Telushkin 

In Waterford, Maine
I climbed down a well.
For a book,
To describe
The bottom of the well,
I climbed down,
As Bill,
The strapping rancher,
Shoulders wide enough
To bear a multitude of sorrow.
With bill,
I could climb down.
Deep down.
Terrified at first.
Terrified to look.
Terrified to step in.
But after 5 feet
I felt safe.
Cool, cold, chilled yet safe.
Flying spiders
And moss
And cobwebs
It all passed by me
Without fear.
The sturdy stones
Were a bold comfort
Like sipping a cup of tea
I leaned against the cozy rocks.
Cold chilling and warm

I go to a prison
Dark and wild
Murderous men
Vile hands and arms that slaughter.
But to my utter shock
An energy filters through
An energy pure and white and light and loving
Flushes through my veins
Burning out the hate.

How does descending to the abyss purify us?
How does the descent somehow uplift?

Will the Angel of Death,
The Angel we dread
Also lift us up?
On his coal-black-fiery-wings
And carry us?
Carry us to a place of Burnt-away fear?
A place much less dreaded than we think?
Unimaginable now.
Unimaginable always.

god. 21 / by Brendan Walsh 

they chugged prosecco. passed egg yolks back-and-forth between their mouths to imitate a scene in a japanese movie. they were too busy making out to get to know each other, too busy tearing off clothes and biting necks. the man was younger then, younger than he’d been in years. she was kind to him, slightly older, tiny. she was leaving in a few weeks, laid off and anxious for another climate. he was grateful he didn’t have to love just yet, that he could cherish a good, brief thing. their last night together, she made molé, they drank liters of sparkling on her balcony, watched thunderstorms miles off the coast.

the nearby tower
             flashed half-sun, half-storm, pinkgray.
             warmth. and always rain.  

Poem 20 / Day 20

1923 Ottawa, Illinois / by Martha Brenckle

their workspace welcoming airy and bright
the old high school a grand brick Victorian
arched windows, high ceilings and soft light
the studio holds the high-pitched chatter
the laughter of teenage girls, sisters, cousins
the only time they were quiet and focused
was painting the clock faces, tipping their brushes
and tracing the numbers, not to make a mistake
that would be pointed out in the dark room
sent back to be redone with a bit of embarrassment
the radium paint demands everything from them

Mispronouncing “Count” / by Neil Flatman

In another life, I lived a year in barren Anatolia with Aysun 
who wore brass-belled ankle bracelets that chimed a trail 
of seeds wherever she went. She had a snappy dog whose name 
she mispronounced as, CuntCunt this, Cunt that, and together 
they rode the Dolmas every day. No destination, just because. 
And because the conductor loved her more than any other 
he gifted her the tang of sweet, sharp lemons which she mingled 
in her hands and through her hair to his delight. One night 
she took me to Pamukkale and in the salt eye of the moon, 
dissolved into a blue nazar; that a mortal may see moonlight 
through a god. I said that dog should have another name 
but from this life it seems just right. 

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

Rivers Cuomo 
croons this 90’s tune
“My Evaline, My Evaline”
as we drag into the late 2020’s.

I do not yet know that this is love, but this is more 
than just a sentiment uttered once by a drunk Ke$ha.

“I like the cut of your jib.
But most of all, I like your beard.”

Sawdust flecks
and a Dremnel tool 
give way to a light sneeze

as Burning Man regulars
build desert stage sets on the 
Arlington, Texas 
Christian Science
Libertarian Feminist

green extension cord 
coiled as a snake 
in tall grass hissing 

branches sway
   outside my window
as I lie here 

Of the ever lost 
Nova Scotian
her progeny’s toil
in so-called “decline” 
making gourmand Chèvre
and muscadine jam
for existence
in the Bayou. 

I mourn the scent of
Magnolia Soap
and milking goats
and pick up my patchouli,
cooking a kosher vegan 
dinner for 20 people
who know metaphysics
can cure any ill
but a factory farm
filled with nine year
old Zapotec speaking 

Dossal / by Phillip Periman 

the dough and the dah-sell hiding God
elaborately decorated jeweled and painted
plain and simple white lace or washed linen

the new priest removed the one Bob made
out of his love of God and his lifelong mates
Bob left the congregation and so did we

the world is full of places with natural dossals
ones that cannot be removed or replaced
red rock walls in the canyon home to swallows

To Grow a Monster / by Jen Rouse 

A clandestine marriage. A bit
of Cryptogamia. How a vegetable
and animal make “histories of
a marvelous kind.” [1] Some will
story you birthed a lamb
-like god, in full golden fleece,
creeping across a faraway land,
feasting. To be flayed and furred
for royal shoulders. Others conquest
and find you succulent. Stripping
you flesh from stalk. Gothic against
a nation’s wealth. Are you fern
or cotton? A terrible lamb shaped
by whose hands? And for what
purpose? Let your yellow down
protect you. Rise small root, through
the monster of empire. Rustle small
fern, fable and all.

[1] Maria Jacson’s description of a tartarian lamb in her Botanical Lectures by a Lady (1804).

Murmuration / by Aurore Sibley

A finch came to my window this morning 
and tapped at the glass, as if to say hello. 

And sometimes the cormorants at the seaside
just sit and stare when I walk past, unbothered.

There is a great horned owl who lives in a big
cone pine near my house. You can hear him call 

at night, though I’ve never seen him. The humming-
birds and the songbirds are visible, though, and 

frequently a hawk flying high in the sky overhead. 
Once as I walked past the sea, there was a swarm of 

Sooty Shearwaters, a murmuration of thousands 
circling and diving like a storm cloud over the ocean. 

Where Are You / by Dvorah Telushkin 

Where are you now Victoria?
I can only bear to think of you
As gone
If I can think of you somewhere.

I see you in Heaven when I close my eyes.
You’re on a hill.
Distant faraway smiling.
Always on a hill.
And always smiling.
As If you are truly happy there.
But where is it?

I can’t bear to walk past 86th Street.
I cannot see the window dark.
When Edna comes the lights are on.
But she will leave in four days.
So where will you be then?

I cannot think of you as nowhere.
Then I couldn’t hold the sorrow.
Without you I cannot live because you
Protected me.
As surrogate grandmother
You protected all of us.
With you, I didn’t have to be motherless.

Please my darling,
Be somewhere.
So my eyes and face don’t burn
From falling wet tears.

god. 20 / by Brendan Walsh 

i misread the exit to efland as elfland. how whimsical. driving twelve hours, my eyes like over-walked feet, over-gripped hands. eight hundred miles scanning, but the road’s clear north of west palm. it always is. this in-betweeny i95 stretch, central florida until virginia, not-a-lick of jammed road or siren. the defroster’s never used in florida, even on the coldest mornings. this far north, north carolina december, the tired volkswagen coughs for sight. windows down, coldair, the night opens over the goat farm and the nearby post office is a remnant of longgone times. i find you in the creamery, cleaning up. clouds submit to the winterstarred pitch, we kiss cold cheeks. hold your mouth there, even though i have to pee. you walk me downhill to the penned-in herd, rustling and huddled. 

the lone buck bleats, stinks
of kerosene, his own piss.
two does taste my palm. 

Poem 19 / Day 19

Marie and Irene Curie at the Battle of the Marne 1914 / by Martha Brenckle 

German siege cannons overran Belgium
and scattered into Northeastern France
through the countryside, killing soldiers and civilians
ripped the roots of lavender bushes, leaving holes

that became trenches full of water, mud and disease
the battle at the Western Front lasted
three years. Marie Curie knew her research
needed to be put on hold during the warfare

She had her stores of radium locked in a bank vault
far from Paris, the city that adopted her and her family
but Marie does not sit and brood. She designs and builds
a smaller X-ray machine to be used at the battle front

Knowing it could not be carried to the front lines
where it was needed by medics digging for bullets
adding more pain and scarring to young men’s bodies
Marie constructed a “radiologic car,” top heavy, hulking

This car contained the X-ray machine and a darkroom
a dynamo made enough electricity to produce the films
where the dark spaces left by bullets and shrapnel appeared
Marie saw more need and used the funds from her Nobel Prize

organized women to raise more money, soon there
were 20 “Little Curies” driven by women trained to operate
the X-ray machines. Marie learned to drive and change tires
fix engines, clean carburetors. Her love of France and its people

never stopped in her lab. Marie and her daughter, Irene
drove their radiologic cars to the front and X-rayed soldiers’
wounds. Not content with her “Little Curies,” Marie built
radiologic rooms at army hospitals and trained more women

in anatomy and medical arts, in the safer use of X-ray machines
because many had been burned in the rough conditions at the front
When Marie looked out from tents, she barely recognized
the lavender fields she and Pierre had bicycled through

One for Sorrow / by Neil Flatman 

(for Darren)

In the branches of the beech two magpies. Another struts
across the grass. I’ve seen them up-close; their coal cloak
blue, their white breast, white. The strut dude waddles
like Chaplin (his small chest out), while the pair pay him
no nevermind as he puzzles with the concept of reflection
in the gritty puddle by the bench. And for all the world
I think he sees himself for the first time from the ground.
In the same way that, in passing, death swings our gold
watch from his chain and says, “Not yet, my friend. Not yet.”
And suddenly all cares take flight and all we see is iridescent
purple-blue in black, annihilating white.

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

The rivulets of fire in the grindhouse 
where they worked the strange, glowing metal were soothing to gaze upon. 

Hundreds of attentive eyes traced them as they flowed.

The melting pool glowed with red coals, 
but the tempered 
actinium coated 
steel glowed 
a brightly soothing 
white-hot blue. 

Nothing here was fertile
Everything here was sterile —
though the work and the pollution
dragged on for ages.

the art news of the day / by Phillip Periman 
                                          from the NY Times

an estate fight in the Louvre
not the Louies vs. Napoleon III
for putting parquet wood floors
in the Salle des Bronzes
nor for painting its walls
a reddish and black shade
an accurately restored color
Marron Côte d’Azur
if one is to believe
the chief architect
of historic monuments
with his position
independent of the art world

in 2010 Cy Twombly designed
a painted ceiling blue as the color
of the Greek Aegean Sea for this salle
whose floor at that time limestone
and walls of a pale stucco color
changed by some unknown
authority at some unknow date
Twombly died the next year
never knowing his roof painting
would one day crown a rendition
of a nineteenth century salon
with dark walls and wooden floor

imagine a leaked photograph
surreptitiously sent to Cy’s estate
whose lawyer admits they
“…hit the roof.”
(from an American an unsurprising cliché)
startling that the foundation
claims “droit moral”
a right to protect the integrity of Twombly’s
ceiling from dreaded dark red walls

of course, this palace fight’s
not about art but power
reappoint or fire the current
leader of the Louvre

the situation may best be
solved by offering a trade—
Cy’s ceiling to an American
Museum for a French painting
perhaps, a Renoir, after all
“Twombly was not Michelangelo.”

III. (“When the Wollstonecraft Women Come Out to Play”) / by Jen Rouse 

Anne Kingsbury Wollstonecraft

At the edge of my life,
I will board the boat.
To convalesce, they
said, the Wollstonecrafts
who talk of Cuba. And
send me on my way.

The record of my work,
not my supposed infirmity,
will rise again, 190 years
later. Voluminous. Layered,
this botanical cake of poetry,
plant, and paint. To be lost

perhaps is just to listen. To
the most important voices
of the past. They say, take
up watercolors. It’s peaceful.
I resist this diminished

chord and its smaller song
of myself. There is such a large
voice in Mantanzas. The language
of healing when so many have
arrived deeply wounded. Yes,

I listen and record each pronunciation,
capture elixirs and compounds,
emerging from bark and root,
front and fern. Paint the process
of the living. A manuscript

of citrus scent, setting here.
An angel’s trumpet. To return.

Colorblind / by Aurore Sibley 

Every spring the monarchs come 
to the central coast of California and
rest in the maple and oak trees by the 
tens of thousands. Sometimes they 
look like blossoms, or autumn leaves, 
or little sprites dancing in the shade.

This year they are absent for the 
first time, and the wildflowers
are also few, despite the recent rain, 
just a dappling of poppies and the
yellow sorrel flowers by the roadside. 

The Monarchs need the milkweed plant 
to lay their eggs, but we clear it to make 
room for new housing developments and
acres of pesticide soaked almond trees.

Even last year there was an explosion
of color along the coast, a Monet
painting anywhere you looked. 

What will happen to us when the world 
retreats to monotone greys and browns?

For the Monarchs are absent this year.

Falling Yalmulkas* / by Dvorah Telushkin

You sat with bowed heads.
Henry leaning in
To David.

The chairs of mourning
Where low
Your son – Phillip – sat on his.

In a house full of life.
Flowers & vines fill the wallpaper.
The wood walls.
The beige carpets.

David said he saw you
In a green light.
You were being carried
Under each arm
By two angels.

He saw you
Our Cecilia.
In the arms of angels.

Our Cecilia.
He said you passed
Right by the refractory station
Right up.

His eyes moistened
As if, when he told us
He saw it once again.

And his head lowered
And Henry bowed his head.
And the velvet yalmulka
On your head – David –
Slid off.
And the black suede one Henry’s head
Slid off.

And for a moment.
I sat in the happy
Dance of the
Both of you
Catching them
In mid-air.

Catching the
That forever
Reminds us
There is an
Eternal G-d
Reminds us.
Reminds us.
And you catch them
In mid-air.


god. pantoum. / by Brendan Walsh 
for the insistence/persistence of Dustin

off a1a beyond a palmthick hedgerow, 
nude bathers even-tan their under-there’s.
even though i am one, i’m too prim to admit:
in this dangled spreading i see the will of god.

nude bathers even-tan their under-there’s,
beach cops roll past in rattling atv’s, unbothered.
in this dangled spreading i see the will of god
to make us ridiculous, loveable, and soft.

beach cops roll past in rattling atv’s, unbothered.
we joke, drunkenly, they should all be bottomless.
to make us ridiculous, loveable, and soft,
we need first to disarm, disrobe, lick the sun.

we joke, drunkenly, they should all be bottomless:
release the postured pistols, cargo pants, black boots. 
we need first to disarm, disrobe, lick the sun,
off a1a beyond a palmthick hedgerow.

Poem 18 / Day 18

The Curies in the Shed at the School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry, Paris / by Martha Brenckle 

Rain trickled in from the glass roof
the room was cold and wet most of the time
Marie spent days stirring a boiling mass
of pitchblende with a metal paddle

The Curies separated polonium from the ore
but the element left behind gave stronger rays
than uranium. Marie knew the ability
of the element to glow did not depend

on the arrangement of atoms in a molecule
but on the interior of the atom as the nucleus
disintegrated, the interior of the atom a sun
a miniature sun that in crumbling and fragmenting

gave off heat and light. When they finally separated
radium from uranium ore, they knew this discovery
would change everything, but before the academic honors
the publications, the Nobel Prize and the publicity

they had this moment in their makeshift lab at night
the radium giving off a delicious light in test tubes
like Christmas candles, it lit the joy in their faces
and they had this moment of birth, of clasped hands

of kissing over a glowing beaker, just the two of them

Singapore Sling / by Neil Flatman

Sweat licked down each rung of spine; languid
cat in the shophouse door as they walked
the evening into night. She said he may be all
that and a bag of chips but in the end outrunning 
twenty years was a marathon without a starters 
gun or tape

By way of moving on, he said he felt his life 
wither on the vine, which led her to think 
of, but not mention, the black grape she’d eaten
that morning (shining as though blessed
by rain), while he considered the word obsidian
one he believed only poor poets used. And in this 

way they passed a man weighed down 
by a weight of cardboard across the saddle 
of his bike, a stray white dog, a funeral procession, 
silent, all in-step, a ten-legged dragon clapping 
its wooden teeth to the sound of symbols 

and a drum, incense: agar and sandalwood 
from doors adorned by unfurled girls, their laughter 
ringing. All the chakras of the universe humming 
softly in their cups.

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

According to Diogenes, 

a youthful Heraclitus spent time

in the temple of Artemis playing “knucklebones,” or “astragaloi” which depending

on one’s place in Greek society,

could have several different meanings. 

Children often threw them in the air and proceeded to catch them. 

Women played a much different game with an oracular function, hoping to invoke the favor of Aphrodite.

Men used them with the type of numerical functions often attributed to dice. 

The “book” from which “fragments” attributed to Hertaclitus are taken has also been said to have been dedicated to the temple of Artemis so that the Grecian public would have access to the text.

There is no account of which version Heraclitus played, but the myth states: 

“The budding philosopher found being asked to write legislation burdensome on account of the constitution being fundamentally flawed, or “ponera.” 

The letters Diogenes quotes for this information as supposedly exchanged in writing between Heraclitus and Darius I are now considered forgeries. 

This set of anecdotes does, however, pose an interesting point of contemplation in the sense of classic fable — and in the famous quote attributed to Heraclitus: 

“Time is a game played beautifully by children.” 

the shed / by Phillip Periman

the shed is full
of stuff I saved
for those days
of unexpected need

rummage in the corners
find a treasured tool
stored for thirty years
blanketed with dust

use them or lose them
now I cannot remember
what function remained
when I put them away

Selenicereus Grandiflorus / by Jen Rouse

Root-entombed, a Queen who listens
to lamented day and courts the moon.
Encanto. You are legend to Tohono
O’odham. Old-Mother-White-Head,
there to remind of faith as fragrant
as your bloom. The vanilla-scented
desert opens out from you. We answer
when our daughters call.      To white men,
you were immediately a mystery. A hypnotic
riddle. A trick-of-the-night virgin to
undo. Cerea! they called you, stung
and outwitted. Never to sleep, but to call
your ghosts, slip them through the veil.
The slight touch of bat wing. Hawk moths
at your open throat. Complete and opalescent.

At Home with Children in a Pandemic / by Aurore Sibley 

We always think our own experience
so extraordinary, but loneliness
is a relative thing. And these days
aren’t we all a little lonely? I have 
the children’s pitter pattering, their 
slap-dashing footsteps, their squeals 
and their sibling torrent of bickering. 
I have their wildness and their innocence,
their laughter and their tears, – and they 
have mine. They keep me company every 
minute of every hour, every day. And 
there are times when there is really 
nothing more that I need. 

G-d / by Dvorah Telushkin
For years
Were the
Town crier.
You cried out.
And were heard.
Five six blocks away.
“G-d!!!! G-d!!!!”
Upper West Side.
I saw you everywhere.
You look like a Baptist priest
From another era.
And your voice pierced the streets.
With a pause for Winter
And touches of
You rang in our ears.
Like Jonah of Ninveh!*
Like a gentle Jeremiah.
Not to
To Remember the Great Wide Cosmic Source of All Life!
Until today.
When I saw you walking.
Shuffling in loose tan shoes.
Moving your lips.
Carrying your pamphlets.
But your voice.
Where was your voice?
Within your

*Prophetic character from ‘The Book of Jonah’

god. 18 / by Brendan Walsh 

sturdy wind the whole ride home nearly tips the volkswagen rabbit. she’s a classic: 2009, second-to-last year
they stopped making them. at the farm, i pick up raw milk and a dozen fresh eggs, nearly buy a couple
goose eggs but can’t justify the expense. people are starving. i’m no king. pass by the asian market, whole
plaza of smells-like-elsewhere, but i don’t pull in for the banh mi, the larb gai, the chinese bakery. breeze
blows palm detritus onto sheridan street. we weave around it. funny how i don’t feel lonely until i’m home.
today, i realize i’ve obsessed over absence so much that i can’t observe nowness. realized yesterday, too.
carry the milk and eggs three flights up, my boots echo the stairwell. oh, loneliness. 

drink the sweetrich milk 
balcony windows rattle
it’s the same hunger

Poem 17 / Day 17

Death of Pierre Curie at Quai de Conti / by Martha Brenckle 

There is one yellow leaf
near a dark rain puddle
sketch the leaf by tracing
his hand and drawing webs
between his fingers

because in nature so much
reflects something else
I was not supposed to be left behind
alone in my thoughts is more painful
than the spaces—home, lab, his chair

our bed. He wrote, “it would be a beautiful thing…
if we could spend our lives near each other”
and I married him and he promised
to be with me always. I smell the scarf
he left on the hook by the front door

in time his smell will be gone, photos will fade
Who crosses the busy Rue Dauphine alone
at night, alone in the April rains, without looking?
A small slip in the street I try not to think about
his head crushed by a carriage wheel. I cannot scold

him for forgetting his scarf. We both have
radiation burns, I thought we would die
together or if not together, close to the same time
what do I tell our daughters? Irene who is so much
like him. Who will teach Eve to tie her shoes?

A Poem with, Somehow, Chicken Rice / by Neil Flatman

The question of how rain had begun was in the air.
As was the thought all sequences of words were
already contained in the keyboard or the screen (some 

considered it a sacrilege to imagine them anywhere 
other than the pen, not giving due consideration to 
ink, or the constituents of ink; the varnish

on the freshly scraped hull, the violinist applying resin  
nervously to the bow). They had agreed upon a cycle:
rain fell on the mountain, sang itself into bright streams 

to the ocean where it relented under the sun until
enough became a cloud and so on, and so on and so.  
But that was no solution to the question of beginnings.  

The weight of what remained unknown was incalculable.  
One considered tuna salad versus falafel while the other said 
someone had proposed that time was an illusion; lunch time 

doubly so, as they passed the Kopi shop and the smell of steamed 
eggs mingling with that of the bitter Nanyang coffee always taken 
with sugar. On the opposite corner, the hawker opened up 

his stand. Someone had said he must have another job, 
the market only open on Fridays, but it seemed he was famous; 
his chicken-rice the recipient of a Michelin star. He moved 

with the learned precision of those who care nothing for being 
watched. Focused solely on the angle of the wooden awning 
that protected customers from rain, he notched the latches 

with nimble hands while casting his eyes above for clouds. 
At this point you’d be forgiven for expecting a return to the lunch
time pair under parasols outside the Thiang Hock Keng 

temple on Telok Ayer, or mention of the way humidity 
flags in expectation of a storm, but while those were the words 
that got us here, they won’t bring things to a close. 

Untitled / by Kate Morgan 


That’s all she could ever do in situations like these.


In the blink of an eye

She almost said it out loud. 

The grass swayed in the breeze, innocently, deceptively. 

Beneath it there was pain lurking, waiting–shadows that were obscured by lush greenery that sprang up after the last engineered rainfall.

The stormwinds had howled on stronger than anyone ever thought they could, even for this time of year. The grass was highest she could ever remember. 

The pain burned like the fire of ten thousand suns. It burned for hours. 

“I can’t help it that you’re bitter. Everything you say shows it.”

Forty Days. Forty Nights. Only she wasn’t an Aramaic-speaking messiah in the desert. She was a twelve year old who signed up for battalion. 

“They powered their vehicles with gasoline, then?” 

The idea was strange to Moira. How could anything derived from something dead bring what humans built to life?

The pool outside the citadel reflected its spires and towers imperfectly.

Each ripple in the water another break in its seemingly impervious exterior. 

They’d breach it. 

She just knew. 

She could always trust her gut. 

It had never been wrong before. 

And even if it were, there wasn’t any other option. 


One Year Anniversary / by Phillip Periman 

just one year ago on St. Patrick’s Day
we settled into our seats on flight 49
Paris Charles De Gaulle — Dallas
that morning still free to come home

for thirty years we spent February in Paris
with winter whistling grey winds walked
along the Seine alone accompanied by gulls
too cold, too wet to lunch or dance, ok to dream

last year as the month dwindled towards 28
the news in French and in English became
repulsively repetitive reports of respiratory
regrets—cough, fears, shortness of breath

on the TV pictures of people dying in the streets
of Milano—intelligent Italians in respiratory distress
no respirators, no hospital rooms, no control
of a vicious virus unseen and unparalleled

just one year ago on St. Patrick’s Day
when we landed in Dallas, Texas
text messages popped up on our phones
announcing the first two cases in our town

my friend John told me how he feared
my wife and I had brought the COVID
with us—another European threat arriving
to destroy the resident natives’s peace

Mimosa Pudica / by Jen Rouse 

What if your only language was shame,
and that made you a curiosity? And what
if what they thought was shame was also
electricity? And what if the laws of physics
were really always poems to begin with?
When the only option is to turn away,
fold each leaf up in explosive unison. You
are nyctinastic! Hold your breath and let
all cells fire into the darkness. Know hope
in the smallest droplet of water. If we call
this a defense to keep the beasts at bay—
are you mechanical or vital? What if you
were always beautiful but no one told you?
Instead they inflicted. Called you names.
Sensitive. And defined themselves as not.
How you always moved their small thinking
forward. Humble plant. Fighting into light.

Wisconsin / by Aurore Sibley 

Where the stench of the pigs is a normal, 
sweet smell and the mooing and baying of cattle
rattles like old broken records, and the heat 
of the sun pours down deeply, until the wild, 
wind-clouds come churning and flailing their quick 
spit of rain on the fields – and the damp earth is glorious, 
bare feet sinking muddily, thunder rolls out of the sky 
quick as lightening, and here come the cats mewing 
for food – up the front steps, past the creek-creaking 
porch-swing, they stretch, and they scratch and they 
sit at the door – the twilight brings flittering fireflies 
fluttering, they mingle with mist and drink from the 
dew, illuminate home and my childhood there.

Sánto Antonío / by Dvorah Telushkin 

You looked at your
Wife’s casket, Antonío.
I see you look over to her.

The others drop.
With bowed heads to their knees.
But you.
You glance left.

The high ceilings arch over us in all of
Christ’s Glory
Marble. Stained Glass. The smoke of incense

We stand and sit to the Spanish speech.
The preacher’s regal robes sway.
Amid the fumes and rattling words.

“Palabres del Diós,” words of G-d.
You peek furtively over
To your sleeping bride.

god. 17 / by Brendan Walsh 

duck in an alligator’s mouth
do not struggle little friend
we’re all food for someone

statue-necked sandhill cranes
trumpet and rejoice they sing
alive alive alive alive alive

their mates nod and dance
peacocks flash a herd of hens
across the bridge a dozen tube-nosed

softshell turtles sponge air 
from the pond’s vague surface
what gave these eyes and ears 

what made life move this way
holler that way: i crouch by banyan roots
and a crane screams alive alive

Poem 16 / Day 16

The East Orange, New Jersey Superfund Site / by Martha Brenckle 

The promise of sparkling health and lights
the element Americans couldn’t get enough of—
through the turn of the century, and past the time
of the Great War— is difficult to throw away

The factory cracked open 1,000 pounds
of ore every day to find enough luminescence
to keep their unprotected female workers busy
the management wore gloves, masks and screens

When the factory was forced to close
the radium and radon was dumped nearby
forgotten on the floor, sprinkled throughout
the girls’ studio, embedded in their bones

For 36 years the radiation spread in the soil
contaminating commercial sites and homes
houses like those the girls grew up in
made their own families and passed away in

For 8 years the government remediated the factory site
now deemed safe, there is a green park and new homes
the Watsessing River flows behind the factory property
on its way to Newark Bay

Aldeburgh Beach Blue with Lucy in Pink / by Neil Flatman

She treads carefully on the uniform stone 
swathe. Her voice, a faint evaporate
on the prying wind they share
with strangers and their dogs. He’s fluent 

in cliché. Says, Fool me twice. And, Love is 
blind. But mostly, keeps his counsel with the roiling 
surf. She says, Emotion is a tide, and you must 
anchor in the leeward cove. He hooks his day  

moon to a passing cloud. And at the seam   
the twined hem where the ocean must relinquish 
what it holds, he finds a bottle, bleached and empty 
and casts it out with what remaining anger he can 

muster as the stampede thunders in. Its voice 
would call him if it could. 

Untitled / by Kate Morgan

When Leda finally woke, she brushed aside a heap of feathers, 
still covered in the remnants of the evening’s 
lucid dream. 

Sighing, she mourned the loss of Agamemnon, the things she could no longer remember, but could swear she once rightly knew.

The swan was gone. 

All graceful imaginings of the night before flew out the window with him,as the cool March air blew in through the crack where it remained open. 

She got up, brushed them aside, and slowly walked to the shower, shivering. 

Ode to Iris Lawrence / by Phillip Periman 

                  March 17, 1943 – September 18, 2018

What is important about a life       home

Born in the North Heights
Grew up there
came home
died in the same house
she was born in

What is important about a life        education

The first Miss Black Amarillo in 1955
Graduated from the Black high school
George Washington Carver
with honors in 1960
Went to Washington DC
studied at Howard

What is important about a life        access        justice

Allowed to drink
from the colored only fountains
She participated in sit-ins
at the Kress Department Store
on Polk Street

What is important about a life        entertainment

Walk-ins at the Paramount Theater
the majestic one where Sybil danced
and ukuleles played in the 1950s
the anchor on the south end of Polk
the most neon lighted street in America

What is important about a life        work

the first “African-American female”
hired at Fedway Department Store
famous for the first escalator in Amarillo
Now home to WT’s nursing school

What is important about a life        love

Gave birth to a daughter
Taji Rachaun
loved her father John
later loved Elton

What is important about a life        faith

a member in good standing
Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church
If you drive by any Sunday,
her lady friends can be seen
in all their finery

What is important about a life        representation

first Black female chairman
Potter county Democrats
County commissioner Precinct No. 4
elected national member
Democratic National Committee

What is important about a life        teaching children

English at
Tascosa High School
“YES” program
Amarillo Independent School District

What is important about a life        remembrance        mourning

cut down by pancreatic cancer
even in 2018 incurable when
discovered late and spread
gone to the lord

What is important about a life        thanksgiving and praise

Iris Elaine (Sanders) Lawrence
nice, quiet, and always gracious
she trusted her Lord
in the direction
He led her

What is important about a life        making the world a better place for

Herbarium / by Jen Rouse 

So close          you press
each leaf         light the page with
intimate knowledge    this place
no matter         your marriage or         its absence
your children  or their            deliverance
this ground      grows you       home
you will fall through people               but
the forest flora            will restore you          
settle order      through the seeded stars         book upon
book you carefully weigh       and measure
what history will hold
                                    and hold you back
to know where you are           and what held
you there         to gather together
each detail                  a petal a pod as perfect
as something collected can be
to share the system     divinely
secured            and so cemented                     unbruised
in centuries of the collected   it only takes
this moment    turn to the hill             bring
only what you can carry         need

Almost Equinox / by Aurore Sibley 

There’s a sort of hard, yellow light
in the sky this evening, and the air
is cold and sharp. Spring, they say
is just around the corner, and the 
blossoms on the trees concur. 

In a few weeks my children will
visit their grandparents for the first
time in a year. We’ve learned to feel 
so grateful for the little things, and
there may be tears when we arrive.

There is more rain coming this week,
and the ground is almost saturated.
This never lasts in California, but for
the moment, we feel almost content,
as though we could exhale. 

As Jerusalem Burns / by Dvorah Telushkin 

We sit
Over cappuccino
And croissant.
Looking at blood dripping from
Teenagers faces.
Blood from your eyes.
Chewing the buttery flaking bread,
We sigh and moan and rush to read
The Op-Ed.

Maybe someone got an idea.
Maybe someone can do something
A white dove.
A black crow.

Someone. Something.
We can’t just sit here.
Suicide bombers.
Limbs lingering on street corners.
Flakes of flesh.
Mouths that can
Never again
Sip tea.
Our own jaws
Hanging loose.

Until the newspapers
Napkins fold.
And we shake the
Crumbs from our
Dana Buchman suits.

god. 16 / by Brendan Walsh 

the pothos overtakes my condo
writhes and wraps itself around
chairs dressers photos of oceans

i water it more pour window light
its leaves multiply darker green
i sit beside an extended vine 

in hours i’m enveloped its thousand 
fingers intertwined with my arm hair 
feels good to be strangled by life

gently extinguished quietly overwhelmed
don’t ruin the ground with my grave
we aren’t just ourselves we’re food

for something else always will be
the pothos grows up to my bed 
sleeps a while then opens the front door

Click Here to Read the First Fifteen Days of Poetry.