Welcome to the 30/30 Project, an extraordinary challenge and fundraiser for Tupelo Press, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) literary press. Each month, volunteer poets run the equivalent of a “poetry marathon,” writing 30 poems in 30 days, while the rest of us “sponsor” and encourage them every step of the way.
The volunteers for May 2021 are Christopher Ankney, Karen Arnold, Alejandra Cabezas, Karen Cline-Tardiff, Cynie Cory, Janel Galnares, Batnadiv HaKarmi, Nathanael O’Reilly, Kalliopy Paleos and Patty Seyburn. 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
the world at war requires holding / A Cento with lines written by the May 2021 30/30 volunteer poets: Christopher Ankney, Karen Arnold, Alejandra Cabezas, Karen Cline-Tardiff, Cynie Cory, Janel Galnares, Batnadiv HaKarmi, Nathanael O’Reilly, Kalliopy Paleos, and Patty Seyburn
Rock Me Amadeus / by Christopher Ankney
In a wet wind, the gray clouds train
across the morning, the Eastern Kingbird
finally introduces himself at the feeder,
shakes his slick cap, stands tall
in his charcoal suit against the gusts
like a man that runs for bus stop’s cover
only to avoid the storm’s best shots
before moving on. I’ve been singing
“Rock Me Amadeus” all month
just for this moment. He looks like Falco
entering a room he knows he owns. He’d bounced
the crows and osprey from May, this maestro
from another land, roping off his square of sky.
It makes me laugh like Tom Hulce’s Mozart,
like the Kingbird laughs – I failed choir
without singing, having watched Amadeus
in Music Appreciation and conducted an A.
I only needed one of two to move on
to high school. I never should have told
my mother this; she said it didn’t matter
if I went to concerts since I had talent
in my brain, and she could then work
the nightshift without worry. I was stuck
at home, practicing my baritone with MTV
and Rice-a-Roni dinners. I told my son
this story when he refused to practice
violin, skipped his virtual lesson to draw
his world of dinosaur parks, also stuck
at home. I told him it was okay to fail
because third grade should be about learning
from mistakes. Instead, his teacher allowed
him to make up his recital. He plucked
and plucked out Mozart’s “Twinkle,
Twinkle” melody. I was overcome
by the obvious simplicity – and squealed
a baby Wolfgang squeal – clapped
like wings excited for the song’s flight,
which the genius has re-tuned
from the French nursey, ““Ah! Vous
dirai-je, Maman,” or, as I may ask,
“Ah! Shall I tell you, mother?”
Let the Kingbird decide when its time.
Documentary May 29, 2021 / by Karen Arnold
PBS shows a film, My Grandparent’s War
really our parents’ war –
the older one – our grandparents’ distant secret
known only as fragments – ambulance driver
suffered from mustard gas – history’s dead end
not much to go on
Today we discover that we appeared
before the war ended
our place in the “post-war baby boom” –
Watching pictures I kaliedoscoped
a world viewed in tatters
news of A bomb explosions
followed our coming
ironically forming bedrock for peace
survive — annihilation
launching the tension backdrop of our lives
Hiroshima, August 6, 1945
66,000 dead, 69,000 injured
255,000 persons pre blast, 135,000 after
Nagasaki August 9, 1945
39,000 dead, 25,000 injured
195,000 persons pre blast, 64,000 after
Numbers omitting suffering radiation sickness:
nausea and fatigue
loss of hair two to three weeks after
decades of cancers
Gary 67 days, Karen 36
catching our breath
before war’s cessation
Tlalocán / by Alejandra Cabezas
Morning / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
As the coffee percolates in the next room
I reach for you, but your side of the bed
is empty this morning. You are about 600
miles away (it’s actually 575 but exactly
but it’s not like I’m keeping notes). I
miss the mornings when you would
rise, add cream and sugar to my mug,
sit it in the windowsill on my side of
the bed. I would turn my head to see
the banana trees and the struggling lemon
tree and the elephant ears you planted
just for me. I would catch a whiff of
you as I reached for my coffee, entice
you to come back to bed for just one
moment more so I could snuggle
against your chest, throw my leg
over yours. I’m sad for the mornings
we were too busy to share these
moments, a rush to work, to duties
and obligations. I cherish those
mornings when you would smile
and climb under the sheets for
just one minute more. Today
it is just me, rising to add cream
and sugar, climbing under the
sheets for one more minute. To
check facebook, to read emails,
to write you a poem you’ll never read.
Reissue / by Cynie Cory
It is hard to walk the promenade
There is so much time in delay
The lunar monkey is on display
The shadows on the tennis court drink Gatorade
It is invitacious not to say
The ravaged heart is underway
The ticket to Michigan is to blame
The evocation navigates the underpain
The disorder is in fact explained
The smell of ghosts and private swag
The surface temperature of lemonade
The needle on the record plays
Melody’s Echo Chamber, Rolling Blackouts C.F.
A cardinal toward the window swerves in red.
Duplex / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
My breath got lost somewhere in a forest.
My daughter’s arms are incipient wings
Bones of my daughter’s arm, a folded wing
She hatched between the waters and mists
The firmament hatched between the waters
stars glisten above, fish flicker below
Schools of fish dart into constellations
I lay my daughter down in a basket
I send my daughter downriver in a basket
lurching on waves. Spray spits her face
She lurches on the waves. Spray spits her face
It’s the loneliest sight I have ever seen
The loneliest sight I have ever seen.
bird-child, drifting. I know she will get lost.
Dump Pile / by Nathanael O’Reilly
Three days before their lease ends
the college students across
the street start moving out, ditch
three stained mattresses beside
the curb, spend the day building
the dump pile, adding grey rugs,
a busted-up brown bookcase,
tiki torches, a black bed
frame, purple cornhole boards, white
plastic bags bulging with used
beer cans and kitchen refuse.
Cats and squirrels climb the pile,
sniff and investigate, claw
the unloved unclaimed remains
of another academic year.
Vanishing in the Grove / by Kalliopy Paleos
Tomorrow the olive trees will be afire, just as they are now. They will awaken and be alive, making their milk, aflame with the dry juices of their leaves, drenched in heat and soaking in light. Tomorrow and again, and then another day, and then more. The breath of the trees brilliant. Tomorrow I will not see them as they are. Tomorrow I will see them in dimness and see them blurred as in the wind. Tomorrow I will have forgotten them, lying still in my rowboat on the calm waters, but they, they will be innocent. As they are now. They did not know me, cannot then forget me. Tomorrow the light will saturate my eye and wet me through with the intention of the Lord, but I will not see. Tomorrow the leaves will continue, each and every leaf its own life just as if they had names, each fishlike slip just as if they had faces and hands. Their days shall be plentiful and pulsating, speaking and speaking and speaking life, life, life, life, and yet each time a completely different word, as one moment rolls into the next moment, and onward and to tomorrow, and again. The leaves will have watched the sun and seen the hooves plucking along. They will have tracked the birds and counted, keeping records of each pine needle on the ground. Tomorrow the leaves will have greeted one another and heard each other’s paces and flickerings. They will have seen the moon and known the moon and felt its departure. Tomorrow the trees will froth and flounce, their crisp shadows striking the ground in the masterly pools of light, each ray a dart alighting on its axis. Tomorrow – and even now, evening comes and swallows us up in its delighted blue arms – tomorrow, I say, the chirping and chirruping and zinging will chime through the trees, and not only the leaves but the flakes of space between them too, will answer, courteously, carefully. The trees will have withstood the bleating that flows through their bark like the lowing of a man in agony. And I will not have seen. I will have forgotten. I will have grown black and charred as the soot found in some urn deep under the earth, and down into me the friendly, curious faces will peer, and they will wonder in their gentle hearts whom I may have been.
Poem 29 / Day 29
Vision of Justice / by Christopher Ankney
Humanity strikes a lightning path,
the tree of life thrives by its willful roots.
Rivers carve their way through stone.
Man like nature, awes, meanders, stumbles,
& at times must be earnestly questioned.
We must strive to build our union
in the image of our sacred laws,
value equally where we have faltered.
No longer do we see justice as blind.
Here, we use our eyes as our creator
intends, with great respect for all
life, with a heed to our imperfect
pasts, to restore our creed daily,
to make of our actions a better society.
Water and light twenty or so ways / by Karen Arnold
Current patterns wings across
the river’s dark plateau
making water say
yes, light, you are here – feather-tipped
as if you could rise in flight
The trees double themselves in water
When clouds cut noon to grey
mist scrims parallel and opaque
a vaguer twilight of midday
waiting for the right breeze
to call its trail in air
Can’t the wind inhabit us a little
pull our minds away?
Mist plays the trick of variation
Light lays in current lines at black island’s edge –
energy fallen to sea roots the sky
brushing the darkest stone
The silt of glaciers icing Alaskan light
Like light over slightly agitated water
lines and curves waver on the round oak table
The hollow under my arm is a room where
rhythmic darkness of poplar leaves
Onion skin sky stretched over Diana at the full
crescent-crowned sister of Apollo
Dark goddess Hecate
familiar of ghosts, the moon’s shaded plains
Land intaglio etched –
light fluoresced across night sky
Spring keeps light
in shadowed crevices –
lies in tangled roots
till sap shoots up the trunk
Fall rain settles the issue of cold and damp
brings them to sit in trees when leaves are gone
November nights – frost can harden dirt
There is no light
Summer rain drags afternoon heat
deeper into evening
Light or water
proof of senses – open
lure us on
Pseudo-Ideology / by Alejandra Cabezas
Yes, little boy that I am. Can’t help
the tunnels between government and church.
Oh, you’d rather secular me? Can’t believe
Marx is theory nowadays. I
want to tell you all about how I ran away to abolish
ownership and sentiments. Can
you believe I drink beer now? Political sentiment.
I miss how we used to fuck in
underground bars. Moments of legend. Unknown
to our parents and martyrs. Great,
big statement your music is. I’m so good at ambivalence.
In between politics and economics,
you’d win. But with your tattered jackets. I’d still undress
Two Kinds of Leaving / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
you walk into the anteroom
hand reaching for the
silver bar across the glass
door ready to push
you stand there a moment
frozen in space in time
I’ve been here waiting for you
beyond that door up the stairs
one more barely latched door
the air sucks around the outer door
whoosh snick shut
sweat-stuck sheets on my back
blanketed from the knees down
I try to read Ocean Vuong
fall into another country
a different America
escape from this ennui
you know how my hair will look
sleep-matted haloed on the pillow
you know how my breath will smell
menthol lip balm last night’s wine
silence inside the anteroom
street noise quieted
the brain ticking off reasons
up the stairs or
you pivot in the small space
brace your eyes against the sun
push the outer door
join the street throng
disappear into obscurity
Frontier / by Cynie Cory
Fables of Wayfaring / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
After Terrence Hayes
I thought we might as well tell fables of wayfaring,
empty our minds to a desert lit by a distant
pillar of flame. I thought we might as well tell of the furnace—
how it bakes the skin, hardens it. Shimmers the air
like a dare to walk through the waves, sway towards
its outstretched blaze. At daybreak, its rays turn to spray–
the mist that watered the garden, back on that day
we first gulped breath. Mouth to mouth ventilation,
stimulating respiration, lungs inflating like a balloon.
One river bifurcated to four distributaries.
I thought we might as well billow like a sail, glide
down the tributaries. Only one glimmers with gold
that lines the shores as we climb out of the split waters,
but maybe the four merge again, empty into the same story.
Gazing Across the Street / by Kalliopy Paleos
I thought they were going to be boring
but then I realized
the wife never looks up
and the son calls the father
I prefer it when there is pain.
It means there is resolution
that their angels are negotiating
above their heads
while they scream at each other
with the TV blaring.
I can’t wait for them to
get to know me better.
Spring is coming.
And he checked out my tits yesterday
which made me sad for him
because I’m old.
Likely, they believe in nothing
while all around them
the spirits are pleading
leaving pennies on the driveway
making them look up
when trucks rumble past the house
with big letters that read:
Madness there must be
and across the grass
I can feel the sorrow.
But you know I don’t mean the angels
with the harps
It’s the white dragon from the red planet
and the swimming space-dolphins
who are in attendance
helping the mother to bed
turning her sleeping pills to sugar
cutting the wifi on the son’s porn binges
Whispering orders to me that I should
perhaps dust my bookshelves
commanding me to turn
my cheerful gaze
Poem 28 / Day 28
Chicago Theatre / by Christopher Ankney
Down by Macy’s on State
and Washington a book wept
for sinners, unkempt preacher
muffling Guster’s “Jesus
On the Radio”[i] while I smiled
and widened my path to catch
the train, clenching the ring
in my pocket, worth my entire
savings. We got back together
on this album, my driving down
to Nashville to have my John
Cusack moment, the stupid
young Cubs fan leaving daisies
at your doorstep. We both wept
when you said yes, turning around
at the computer from reading
the poem I wrote to ask for more
than ten thousand gratitudes –
ten thousand good mornings[ii],
a lifetime of rolling hills
and deer pressing their noses
to the pavement but always
holding for the passing horn.
[i] From our favorite band’s album, Keep It Together
[ii] From my mentor James Reiss’ poem, “My Daughters In New York”
After school / by Karen Arnold
On the far tip of land
we are at lunch
Across the channel skipjacks ride
their raked masts looking
oddly off center to strangers’ eyes
Prows of watermen’s boats face us
their small twin windshields – their low-slung lines
a grey confusion of piers and pilings
suggest the coast of Maine
eight hundred miles north
but watery, lobstermens’ crafts
keeping their own watch
Seasonal restaurants near
old counterweight drawbridge
are closed –
We are the only dining room customers
others stand at the bar with beers
balances the coffee pot and chats
She has grown up here
mentions her grandmom’s a Murphy
as if checking our origins
We agree on the afternoon sun
welcome after a grey week
We tell her about
making Japanese hand-bound books
writing poems at the middle school
Artists-in-Residence we say
This windy 20 knot day
drove us to Tilghmans –
sun skipping rippled water
reflecting on us
She’s from Bosman –
back where the road forked
to the island – if you’d veered right
you’d a passed my town
on the way to water’s edge
“I live in the suburbs,” she says
“not right in town”
Her remark makes sense of
screened in porches
with gingerbread trim
passed over on our route to
shuttered summer houses
empty along a sheltered scoop
of brilliant blue
an unmistakable departure
for us, sandwiched between
traffic and malls
each ordinary day
We are trading stories here
Sacrifice / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
I am an open wound
beneath your citrus words
Still in tremble in anticipation
when you show me the shaker
and baptize me in salt
I am a rusty lock
decaying under your salt air
I let my pins tumble loose
as you grab me roughly and
shove a thin knife inside
I am the hanged man
set to gallows by your rope
Yet I extend my neck
as you count each twist
of the hemp rope
Root / by Cynie Cory
Up through the palm fronds
the happily ever after
police helicopter circles
purple irises at the window
because there is always something to find
in Fiskadoro’s sorrow
the hummingbirds came and went
in the contradiction
not much is possible in the new world
Untitled / by Janel Galnares
for my Tupelo May 2021 comrades, a poem created from imitations of my favorite lines of their poetry
When I wake from a 100 year sleep
like a beast in a winter haze
I realize I’ve missed everything
and no one has missed me.
I gravitate towards the nearest tower
where I take notes on a world
that still believes in owning things.
My disjumbled body comes to, revealing an irreversible ache,
cheeks still deep with their imprints of death-sleep.
My private dream-imaginings left to rot
in the unchartable corners of a misfiring brain.
All ritual lost, memory bound
to the past’s translucent shadows. If there is a city
free from sleep’s infinite curse, I will find it.
I will stalk my life like a freak of dreams.
I will walk any way I choose,
ignoring the myth of the bliss of forgetting,
and write everything down.
Intermittent fasting / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
My father has stopped eating—
at least that’s what my mother says.
Says she’s done with cooking,
since he hardly touches anything
He is proud of the disappearing
bellyfat. Of shrinking. Hours of eating.
Every fast day but Yom Kippur,
my grandfather called my mother
cajoling her to eat. The children, he said.
You fast, she said.
It’s easier, he answered, when you are old.
He said he’d starved
long enough to see
no holiness in lack
yet fasted Monday and Thursday
and Monday again. I thought
he kept the ancient abstinence
as he kept every tradition
with trudging care: How he tied
his shoes. Washed his hands. Ate
his small slice of toast. Only
later did I learn
it was penance—for living
when others did not.
The bachurim, his wife accused. The bachurim—
the young yeshiva boys in his care who turned back
at the border, ran for home,
while he chose to continue and cross. Their death
is on you, she said. She saw ghosts everywhere.
She said it was tit-for -tat that their son fell. Couldn’t speak.
Would have no children. My grandfather soundlessly
took up the burden of blame. Dragged it
as he bore the body of his friend
over the Siberian plain. Returned
to hunger, and the taste of grass.
Lit a candle, in case no one was left
to light for them.
Easier when you are old to let go. To watch
the letters float above your face
and finally release the names.
Border Run / by Nathanael O’Reilly
Run through Fort Niagara State Park through green
fields and tree-lined avenues past the shaded
cemetery down to the boat launch, lust after
Canada across the river, close enough
to swim to, but forbidden for now, back
up the asphalt slope and past the brick lighthouse
towards the Coast Guard station, north past the fort
to Lake Ontario’s shore, pause and dip
digits in the brisk water, stand in the wind
gazing across the blue at Toronto
in the distance, remember locked-down friends
just twenty-seven miles away, resume
and run northeast along the shoreline
through ankle-deep green spring grass in bright
sunshine, battling the wind, enter the woods,
navigate trails through forest floors quilted
with blue wildflowers, tread soft trails homeward.
air soaked with moisture
Cross back over the river of Hades
such as yours
be granted passage
through the labyrinth
of the dirt
past the wandering worms
and the softening dead
Climb up into the springtime
and chase away our sorrows
We’re counting on you
The slivers of flesh
petals of white, of red, of pink
In you must we be consoled
Even the mouth
by the flowers
panting like a cheerful dog
at the coming scent
Rolling in the fragrance
Oh dearest, here come the flowers
though winter lied and said
they were dead forever
Let us run
on our sore bones
to greet them!
Poem 27 / Day 27
Cleansing / by Christopher Ankney
The night sky is replaying Blue Angels,
filling the pool with cicadas. I need you
like a pepper plant needs soil and sun.
You remind me not hold out on eating
snacks, and you say it cutting through
the years of knowing: the sky sounds
like it’s detonating souls. I say I savor
things and you walk out the room
but your voice broke the speed barrier.
I’m hoarding food like my childhood,
like the mountain of outgrown, dated
clothes she made of the room I left
for college. Blue Jeans Mountain, Bell
Flower Dress Peak, Corduroy Creek.
The newspapers piled on her coffee
table, her Salem 100s daring forest
fire. When I call it savoring, you
call it savioring. You saw we can always
buy more, you allow that here. I crumple
the bag of chips, lick the powder keg
off my fingers. Are you happy? Thank you.
Untitled / by Karen Arnold
a turgid afternoon
swirling trees in wind
until sun breaks through
Memories of my Sanctuary / by Alejandra Cabezas
Whenever I needed balance, I would head to the coast. I’d collect purple shells and line my spine with them. I prayed each and every vertebrae would breathe new life into the emptiness. I am Ixchel, I would tell myself. I give life as I transpire. And I’d lay flat on the sand. I loved feeling the sweat drip from my forehead. The men were always wiping theirs’ off, pretending they were too busy to feel tired. But my village drained me. I always had to have my head up, skyward. And I loved the earth. I loved how cool it was. I loved how hot it made me. This is what volcanic stones feel, I’d say. Ever envious of the elements, I had my shells to clad myself. I’d weave them into a necklace if they were broken.
“You look like a peasant,” my mother would say. “You spend all day toasting yourself like corn under the sun. It’ll make you dry and brittle.”
But I knew this could not happen. I was divine, I was sure of that. I had never met my father. And he was no warrior lost at war. He had to be a god. That made me a goddess.
Fire / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
“Asleep she was a painting of a fire. Awake she was the fire itself.”
Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear
Dressed in orange
silks and sheer lace
you recline upon the chaise
unaware of your lovers’ desire
Red hair spills around
your deftly sculpted face
highlights of orange and mace
imitating the dance of a well stoked fire
Yellow sun streaks into
this most languorous place
forming highlights on your face
but not stirring you from your respire
Wake, my lady
and let us talk of those
things only lovers can know
the futures we have dreamed as one
Arise, my lover
and let us walk into rose
gardens and crush the shadow
of any doubt, all hesitancy undone
Dance, my soul
and let this dream tableau
manifest itself as we undergo
immolation while our hearts melt as one
Swarm / by Cynie Cory
Love your neighbor as yourself / by Janel Galnares
We live in a bad neighborhood
often hear shouts, maybe from the
unmedicated schizophrenic who lives to the left
gunshots every night coming from any direction.
You give up calling the police every time
but not on staying away from windows,
double checking the locks,
bringing the dogs inside
dead bolt behind clacking claws,
yelling shut up when they bark
but grateful for the warning.
We live in a bad neighborhood.
Too bad to walk children in strollers on the sidewalk
without drugs being sold up the way on any given day,
my husband asks if the woman
who left the house next door was a hooker or not,
to the right a man’s scared shitless one morning
by a visit from his ex lover’s new boyfriend
who strides in with a machete hidden in his trenchcoat
and so am I when I witness this
from a neighborly distance of a few feet away
as I walk out my front door ready to leave for work—I thought.
We don’t exchange looks
before I’m back inside behind double locked doors,
and I run late to my job
because I don’t leave until after I hear her scream,
“Good luck with your small dick!”
and his retort, “Don’t think you’re ever coming back!”
At least they’re all alive, I thought, as my hands took the wheel.
In the pandemic my husband and I
stayed locked inside even more than before.
At first I was sent home to teach kids on the computer,
he was furloughed.
We had to up the internet speed for the video to work
in our old house made of white-painted brick
and us on the other side
staring at computer screens
afraid to go to the store
afraid to talk even to the “nice” neighbors—
they might have the virus.
What is a bad neighborhood?–
where you wait for your turn of bad luck,
“mind your business,” listen to the helicopters spin
searching in silent light
and you never learn your neighbor’s names.
Where you learn who you want to be locked inside with,
who makes you feel safe from the outside world
which I’ve heard is at least half-terrible.
Where some carry more of its burdens.
My baby has your eyes / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
changeable waves ringed in gray,
the easily discolored skin–
hers welts to the touch.
A gingy, the midwife called,
as her head crowned, red
hot—but it was just blood
matting her colorless hair.
She still wants to turn back,
trek up the traitorous passage
back to the watery world that burst
leaving her beached
crying for the tide.
She burrows into my chest
like she can drill herself back into belly.
Your hand, immense, would cover
the whole snake of her spine.
Her twitching unease. So far from
the plodding calm that moved on
and didn’t look back—
or did you peer back?— as you dived
for what the deluge had swallowed
fathom-deeps world of bone, blood, and coral.
We long for the immortal. Spin chains
of eyes and hair and skin. Your eyes,
excavating my face, as I
excavate hers. Trying to deny
that none of my children
will know you
How can we help you? / by Nathanael O’Reilly
your well-being is our priority credit card
payments only stay six feet apart whenever
possible safe travels commitment to care EXIT
ONLY no cash BLUE ZONE maintain social
distancing masks required together stronger
SAMEDAY TESTING COVID-19 TESTING
welcome to Buffalo Niagara International Airport
masks must cover your nose and mouth update
your ID for domestic air travel nonstop Orlando
falling for free WI-FI NONSTOP ROUTES ground
transport airport lounge the club mask wearing is a federal
mandate ideal you weight loss center SmartCarte
restrooms potential fines begin at 250 dollars what
to expect from the COVID-19 vaccine prefer
ordering from your phone? PLAY DRINK
EAT wash your hands often mobile ordering
available now! please CHECK OUT HERE thank
you MEZZOGIORNO how can we help
you? cover your cough or sneeze welcome
to the Philadelphia International Airport the Federal
mask mandate is in effect thank you for your
cooperation BETHLEHEM STEEL t-shirts watch
up to ninety out-of-market games a week EXIT
Note: All text found in the Buffalo Niagara, Philadelphia and Dallas-Fort Worth airports on May 24, 2021.
CONTENT WARNING: Violence, infanticide
11 Next Month and Getting Taller / by Kalliopy Paleos
This is the last of it
The final cusp
of her freedom.
I am sickened by
the nights she will spend
the awful shapes
her mouth will make.
It isn’t enough
to make me want
to strangle her
– or rather, it is
To spare her
the breath of a man
who does not see her
at whom she is staring as at the moon
sliding along her skin
But I cannot
Not only am I not allowed
it is also wrong, apparently
Her life is to unfold,
sweetly, on its own.
I am somehow to accept this
She has a birthday party
to attend on Thursday
That will be a start.
I can drop her off
at the bowling alley
leave her there for a few hours
And I just remembered
we have a wake that same evening
We’ve always made it a point
to bring her to such things
Just as we force her to play
she must be prepared
Oh yes, and I promised
we’d make ice cream
Time is running out.
Had You Been Paying Attention / by Patty Seyburn
You may have noticed last night’s
Super Flower Blood Moon,
a cosmological coincidence,
unparalleled: May’s full circle
at its closest point to earth
during orbit coupled with
a lunar eclipse. The result?
round red orb in our planet’s
shadow. Quite a spectacle.
Have you noticed how much
the Greek and Roman gods
like to show off now their
powers to catasterize those
they deem worthy? Even
the deities loved their dogs –
take canus major, Laelaps,
one of Orion’s hunters,
containing Sirius, brightest
of stars. Oh, Bright Star,
wrote my lovesick Keats,
pining for Fanny Brawne.
I would live in the sidereal
margins – perhaps near Vega,
a point in Lyra, Orpheus’
harp, if it meant my loved
would look up every now,
every then, find me, gesture
toward, know I’m there.
Poem 26 / Day 26
Our Mothers Are The Same Age / by Christopher Ankney
Your mother ran with you
on her bike, recording
the distance. Your mother blared
Simon and Garfunkel. She’d be appalled
by Gene Simmons’ tongue – my mother’s hands
would be all over the anaconda
leather chaps, the caked
on persona. She took my sacrificed
ticket, went to Fort Wayne
with her younger brother,
while I sat up in bed missing
the concert, forgetting anything
to do with AP English.
Like a kid handed cotton candy, she slapped
both hands on my bed and licked her lips
talking of the Demon at 2am. I fell asleep
during the exam, smeared jelly donut inside the first
answer set, the result not good enough
for college credit.
My mother would say this poem
shows how much I hate her,
sitting her to the woman she blames
for taking her baby boy away
from her – she never understood her pyrotechnics
instill a kind of permanent adrenaline, like a classic song –
that remembering her, I think, is an unfinished story, just wishing
there was a way to break through the past
and line it up with something a little sweeter, like it was me
who got to enjoy my childhood
instead of failing splendidly at being responsible.
Cantata / by Karen Arnold
We are a tribe
collecting ourselves as we go
heals the rag and bone shop
of the heart
makes bridges we cannot cross without
excavates darker days
of longing or broken hope
My tribe speaks true
knows the art of losing
so clings to phrases
offers a meal without
the bitter taste of loss
unleashes color-floods around
the ways we
love breathe celebrate
read consecrate steal affection
revisit the past
avoids casting our world as a B movie
hard-bitten – full of borrowed pain
seeks solace from
cheap scraping against one another
We are a tribe of see-ers
writing against old angers
without denying them
refusing pain as life’s ultimate qualifier
following sound toward radiance
Home / by Alejandra Cabezas
I don’t know where I heard that you don’t really belong to a place until you bury somebody you love there. I’ve only lived to see one loved one die. It’s a blessing, you know? Dying in your own home. But my father’s home was wherever he buried those he loved. And I can only hope he’s resting where he belongs. Will it count if my grave is laid on top of his? And what about my mother? By virtue of death, she belongs somewhere else. Look at that, another home to belong to. What will I tell my children when they ask me where I’m from?
“Where the city meets the sea,” I’ll say, “that’s where I’m from.” But I’m not sure it’s the place where we belong.
The Body Is A Temple / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
The bruise was a flower opening
its petals across her belly, her thigh.
At the center – a needle prick.
Hope comes in the form of
hCG and sharp pain, nausea,
bloating, fatigue, hot flashes.
There are moments where sadness
comes in crashing waves,
she almost drowns beneath them.
She got the courage to jump:
into the life she always wanted,
the NYC apartment in chrome
and black and white, skylit.
Sharp edges a warm embrace,
cutting deeper than he ever did.
Her dreams didn’t happen in color.
Loneliness didn’t include the
friends she was surrounded by,
it was her personal friend.
Standing outside the club,
huddled and smoking, so retro,
so gauche, so satisfying.
Music pumped through her
black leather top, the denim
jacket, the 1992 style du jour,
hiding the needle marks beneath.
Front 242 beckoned her back inside.
The snow began to fall,
she was cold inside and out,
her insides turned to slush.
Bruises spread across her face,
around her neck, down her back.
The scars beneath scars beneath
scars were like landmines,
his touch setting off bombs,
destroying her intentions.
It’s impossible to run away
without legs, a destination.
She set herself on fire,
immolation the only exit.
Probability Zero / by Cynie Cory
I saw her as a portrait of a backlog
snuggled up to a waste bin
like a piece of furniture. I forget her
backwards grin, southpaw pout.
Heck, she was an actor in a French Noir,
most existential, a deeply scarred
anti-hero you meet in a bar. It never dawned
on me, the familiar plot, a snake
striking from her mucked interior.
Afterlife Reception / by Janel Galnares
after Anne Stevenson
I receive the dead in mirrors
of sleep. They appear
to accuse or confront.
I lose the dead
in daydreams of sleep.
While being counted, they vanish.
I echo back into corners
of uncovered mirrors, tucked away in dreams.
I answer my dead with silence.
They confront me with prayers.
I judge them. In their mirrors only dreams look back.
When the dead find me in my dreams, I tuck them into bed.
We say our prayers: that they may leave my dream
and join in the afterlife.
Logistics: How to Reach Shelter in 60 Seconds / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
“This was the border—the apartment was built to withstand fire,” I say.
“Mortars, not missiles,” you say.
We tap the walls, gage the concrete, hear where it runs to plaster.
No to the stairwell—the trapdoor could blow off.
No to the bathroom, with its slit eyed window (Shrapnel, you say).
No to the living room—flimsy later addition.
No to the storage room–behind the building, too far to run.
Time the seconds. They will be ticking.
During the Gulf War we slept in my parents’ closet, bundled between blankets, shoes, and the rotten smell of spilt UHT milk.
No to the closet. Rickety wood, and narrow.
Maybe to the entrance hall, between the bathroom and bookcase. Just wide enough to all crouch together.
I’ll put the baby in the carrier, then grab the two-year-old—
You say you’ll take the two-year-old. I should wake the four-year-old.
I say it’s faster to carry all three.
You say we’ll try to wake and carry simultaneously.
Then we both say Chana.
Eighty-five year old neighbor, deaf as a doornail. Her door facing ours. At night we hear her hacking cough. Will you stand beneath the flimsy trapdoor, pressing the bell again and again?
“The old girl still has a lot of fight in her,” you say.
I nod. We both look away.
Because we know that when the world explodes, there is always the someone you grab first.
Youngstown, NY / by Nathanael O’Reilly
Kids ride bikes along the paths in Falkner
Park on a warm spring day as parents watch
from nearby benches. Couples stroll across
freshly-mown and edged green lawns, recline
in the shade of oak, sycamore and plane
trees. American and Australian flags
rustle in the breeze outside the house
facing the park as the homeowner mows
the lawn between the sidewalk and the street.
A walker in a yellow, blue and pink
sundress stops to chat with the lawnmower
man, gestures broadly. Moms push kids on swings,
dads stand with arms crossed beside the slide. Small
boys play shirtless in seventy-degree
weather, embrace the approaching summer.
Elderly couples stroll paved paths holding
hands. Yacht masts on the Niagara River
pass in the middle distance, heading north
for Lake Ontario and Sunday afternoon
sailing sessions. A cannon fires at Old Fort
Niagara, sends reports echoing through
the town, across international waters,
reenacts a fragment of border wars.
I am not Rapunzel / by Kalliopy Paleos
Poem 25 / Day 25
Revival: Before Thanksgiving Break, 2015 / by Christopher Ankney
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
–William Wordsworth, “The Table Turned”
Two students argue there is no evil,
that Hitler could have been a good guy.
I tell them about Stalin renaming
all the textbooks Stalin’s Guide
These two young men say they’re just books.
Just books. I try to be funny and say,
No, they’re unjust books
not worth the paper they were printed on.
I then ask them if six million
is a big number. They say yes. I ask
how big. They say, Life changing big.
I ask, What do you mean? They say
they could live their entire lives off
that much money. We were reading
Wordsworth’s plea to go back
to nature, and here they’ve hit
on what he calls our “meddling
intellect.” So I quip, You know the cliché,
Money is the root of all that’s evil,
but that’s not quite right, since
money, too, is a what man has created
from our own labor, our own worth,
and what we design and then assign
to those around us. We hear all this
talk of communism built around economy –
I ask them what it means to them.
They say they should not have to give up
their freedom, and we all agree.
I want to add, but don’t,
they’ve already given up
their vaguely realized dreams
of what free means when they unattach
it from the existence of society.
Instead, I go back to the poem and read:
“He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
She has a world of ready wealth….”
What is man’s nature other than to accrue
wealth and power? Of course, to understand
what’s in a book is an understanding
only balanced by what we live and think.
So I tell them my studies of Soviet regimes,
and before that of Nazi Germany, and then
of my first trip to Europe, the steps I took
in the camp, Terezin’s quiet, fifteen years
of reserve, the still echo of that limestone crush,
bending over to tour through the tunnels,
and contorting my body to thoughts of that
nothing – that nothing that steams
like those engines around Eastern Europe
that delivered women, children and men
to their ends. Six million endings in a single
sentence in a book. That sentiment we repeat
so that we do not repeat. When they ask
what about the SS soldiers and Soviets
who delivered those deaths, I know I’m plucking
feathers off the traditional turkey to say,
even the former gunner wants to stand down
now, to my firm answer. Yes, yes, yes:
Evil exists. One action may not define a soul,
but people can be evil as people can be comedians
Fall / by Karen Arnold
Postharvest / by Alejandra Cabezas
An avocado is a
love letter. From
Julia to my mom.
She hasn’t spoken
a word since her
husband died. Not
a thing that wasn’t
auspicious, like a
or being born on a
leap day. All she
cares about is
decay. But I’ve
given birth to
plenty of things
And I’ve seen
how my mother,
lets her most
us. The wait
kills the hunger
when the heart
sun. For this
As my mother
looks at me and
says, “this heart
has been fed.”
Roadmap / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
I spread the bamboo milk lotion across my
fattened belly, feeling the subtle valleys
where my stretch marks have charted
their own landscape across my body.
This road wanders across the spot where
your hand first touched our daughter
as her foot pushed against my skin,
making her first mark on the world.
The valley over here travels to the
east then turns down, in solidarity
with my blooming pregnancy but
remembering what I was losing.
Starting at my navel is a highway
leading south, a route you had
taken many times before, but now
I follow it back to the center of me.
Up farther I stumble across the road
block of the second incision from my
gall bladder surgery, the scars you
washed as I cried in the shower.
Each road on my body leads me
where familiar places feel like
home, where I wander among
memories made, memories to come.
Once Pilot / by Cynie Cory
Code name: Runaway, preexisting hum
of foresight, blacked-out, contagious, return
to the crash site, the clean-up crew is done.
You can’t unlearn the missing lake, sure
I know your location, I watched the plane
leave the ground then pitch, roll, and quit like hell.
Smacks of what you wanted, to entertain
your post-verbal mind with bone-flesh landfill.
Thanks to you, summer is like bed sores, reeks
of charred bodies. I observe the hours
when you’re not home. I wait for weeks, weeks, weeks.
I turn into a handful of flowers.
I tell myself I dreamed you fell to earth.
Beside me, you could see what you are worth.
I / by Janel Galnares
am the leaves of an ancient redwood
thread and needle to many bits
which spool, tumble, bind and bob
the wandering way my
weaving hands spell songs
thinking of home
Playing with Gravity / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
Mulberries crushed to mulch
their sad sweet scent
which wafts over the bench,
where an old man beats
the berries down, as the children
scramble to catch them.
The pendulum swings
back and forth, counting
down the moments
to blast off, when the swingers will
“break the moon.”
A shadow nets trails beneath
ready to catch them.
Behind, my toddler weighs
himself against nothingness,
feels the sinking ballast
of his body. Futile kicks
against the floor are not enough
to break its hold. No levitation.
The baby is also weighed.
Found wanting, she dangles in the air.
Bond Lake / by Nathanael O’Reilly
Meet in the parking lot near the picnic pavilions
after sunrise, shake hands with fellow runners, catch up
on the week, stretch, empty bladders behind poplars. Set
out on the four-mile loop east-southeast along Lower
Mountain Road, loosen muscles, control breathing, find rhythm
and stride. Chat with fellow runners about past races,
family news, the passing of old boys. Turn right onto Townline Road,
cease chatter and prepare for the long climb up the hill
to Pekin. Crest the summit, slow heartrate and breathing.
Cross to the west side of the road and turn into Grove Street,
pass through the village to Upper Mountain Road, turn left
and run west towards the Niagara River and Canada.
Turn north onto Meyers Hill Road and speed downhill, pass
ploughed fields, sycamores, oaks, ash, maples, poplar and pine.
Run on the shoulder alert to passing pick-up trucks,
step over dead mice, squirrels and racoons. Turn west
onto Lower Mountain Road. Pass green fields, asphalt-paved
driveways, parked boats and RVs, acres of mown lawns
punctuated with trampolines and aboveground
pools. Pick up the pace along the straight to the parking
lot, cheered on by birdsong, pause your watch, grab a water
bottle from your car’s windshield, hydrate, recover
for a minute, head back out for another loop or two.
When the loops are complete and the miles logged, cool down
with cold breakfast beers from the cooler in the trunk, trade
race stories and personal records, savor the weary
satisfaction of miles banked, never regret a run.
The Divine Self / by Kalliopy Paleos
How can I not want it? Myself with a golden halo, myself in the blue sky, reclining as a blue body comfortably in the vacuum of space. Sitting gingerly upright, out by the river with Jesus (who advises me to be relaxed) watching his Adam’s apple smoothly shift under his skin as he laughs at me, though gently. I crave the pleasant swish of my dreamcoat, its collar sewn with the dreams of fish and Akashic secrets hanging in a fringe of glass beads from the hem. I could look down at my poor mortal sheath and cheer myself on as if it were some sort of turtle race where no one is allowed to win. It’s such a common wish, I know. So why should it not be granted? I’m told it is already mine, but I’m still somewhat concerned.
Ode to Six Kinds of Fire and Five Mother Sauces / by Patty Seyburn
Let us all praise lists.
Let us all praise catalogs.
Let us all praise dockets and inventories
and while we’re at it, taxonomies, categories.
Family trees, though mine has a short stump
and few branches. The magnolia trees
that bracketed our front yard
far more abundant than my history.
Let us all praise fire.
Fire used to have nuance.
Fire used to have a variety of purposes.
Fire that eats but does not drink – normal fire.
Fire that drinks but does not eat – a fever.
Fire that eats and drinks belongs
to Elijah. Fire that likes both wet and dry
on the temple altar. Fire that repels
fire, the purview of the angel Gabriel –
my favorite angel.
Destroy, create, inspire, illuminate –
big verbs. I am a mother. I mother.
Can we all praise mothers?
Like Samson’s nameless mother,
I know the laws of burnt offerings
and how to make the five mother sauces
essential to French cuisine,
as pronounced by Marie-
(of course) Antoine Careme,
Bechamel, Veloute, Espagnole,
Tomato and Hollandaise.
(Hollandaise late to the game, mainstreamed
by Eggs Benedict at Delmonico’s
In 1860, or at the Waldorf in 1894).
The first four involve roux (flour, butter)
Then dairy, white stock, brown stock, tomato.
They all seem simple and are all complex.
Flame – fire – required for all of these sauces.
Let us praise these sauces.
And again, fire.
Fire required to sterilize the needle needed
to extricate the splinter Fire required
to prevent a greater blaze, clearing out
old, dry brush. Fire required
for Prometheus to steal, making us less
dependent on the gods. Fire like
the mother. Fire is the mother. Fire required
for the forge
so tongs can make more tongs.
Let us all praise descending order.
There are four types
if friction (static, sliding, rolling And fluid),
and three types of faults (how rocks respond to stress) –
normal, reverse, and strike-slip
(If you don’t count culpability)
(if you don’t count flaws).
And when we go less than that,
You and I either become
separate poles or singular.
Let us praise one of something.
Poem 24 / Day 24
Kepler’s Mother Was Made A Witch / by Christopher Ankney
“I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the
thoughtless approval of the great masses.” – Johannes Kepler
being a woman she upset someone with power, the county advocate
her son a genius who believed his discoveries God’s voice
perhaps she boiled the cabbage a little long or spit on the earth
perhaps this is why he obsessed over measuring the planets
after she turned down his propositions, he put her on trial
where man can pay back the church for funding
she died in october, the witch’s month, alone in a forest
his accomplishments building cathedrals out of the stars
six months after her son helped her avoid the burning stake
and a bridge to walk between faith and science, safely as a man.
Birds I have read with Dr. Russell / by Karen Arnold
I always walked to class the same way
that summer we read Salinger
several days I passed a baby bird
flattened on the sidewalk
all possibilities lost
Seymour Glass said, “A bird in the closest
thing to spirit that there is.”
It was too hot to breathe
Wrens scrabbled in dust under hedges
Mourning Doves walked off the sidewalk
I thought of Naipaul’s town
in the bend of the river – making uneasy peace
with the bush – naked in light
Hearing Celine in my head
I appreciate the mockingbird
he agrees with everyone
The Night is Hot, Let’s Wait Together / by Alejandra Cabezas
I’m the person that waits. Legs propped up against the sky. The frost blue bumper burns from when my mother tried to run away. “I am a machine,” I tell myself. But I know full well that I feel like a singular part. I never run. On coffee or dreams. I’d rather stay put. I love me a broken-down piece of garbage. Like my telescope. Can never focus on the moon. But I know all it’s craters from imagination alone. The tool is merely conducive. To what I already know.
The night is hot. Let’s wait together.
rabbit / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
you call me cute fluffy
compliment my speed
watch me emerge
from my burrow
a fresh-fur bunny
you say it is a race
we will run together
you lag behind as
I gain distance
I feel safe seen
now you compliment
my agility my tail
I think of our friendship
you talk of my hind limbs
bring me grasses and seeds
speak of reproduction rates
my body becomes your temple
you have groomed me for this
since the first race
from the Domesticated Animals collection
The Changed World / by Cynie Cory
Cohabitation / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
The small spider crouched by our door
has been joined by a large one.
Shriveled raisin body, taloned legs.
I’ll get a broom, my husband says.
Three more near the ceiling.
Webs rolled like tinsel chains above the stairs.
We need a fumigator, the neighbor says.
Intricate lace torn to the floor.
Split seams. Broken loom.
Never hurt a spider, I was told–
Patient predator that eats
more than humanity’s
combined weight in prey. Yet
who do they hunt?
Not the small red ants
that sprout from the cracked
kitchen tiles. The colorless
moths, fluttering ghost-like
through the room.
The fruit flies that spin
whirlwinds in the still air
the black ants rising from the floor.
Mosquito bites erupt in a crown of red
round my head. A path of raised spots
climbs the baby’s leg. Worms
peek beneath the apricot seed.
Our lone fish swishes
aimlessly around his bowl.
The second one leapt out.
Time after time, I placed him back again.
Morning, I found him staring
listlessly at the ceiling,
gills crawling with ants.
Put up screens, my friend advises.
Entice moths with pheromones–
their paper wing flail helplessly
in glue. I move within
this roiling mass.
Wonder, who weighs more?
O’Hare / by Nathanael O’Reilly
Masked crowds form long lines at security
checkpoints, Starbucks, bathroom entrances,
restaurants, convenience stores and fast food
outlets, social distancing abandoned.
Couples en route to Costa Rica
and Hawaii get hammered at crowded
bars, down doubles of Grey Goose and Patron,
sip twelve-dollar draft beers, pay tabs with crisp
Benjamins. Passengers charge phones, stretch necks
and arms, placate children, sip coffee, eat
overpriced food, cough discreetly
into elbows, wheel carry-on luggage,
dodge beeping electric golf carts,
watch soundless reports on CNN
about Israel dropping bombs on children.
Tantrum at 53 / by Kalliopy Paleos
Poem 23 / Day 23
What is my God doing? / by Christopher Ankney
Washing blueberries and thumbing the random stems.
Avoiding the mirror’s praising claim. Voyeur morality
not a thing, getting rubble off dying children
does not raise our spirits. Impassively binging
on compounded atrocities man has made of ego.
Transitive should be life. Watching must perform
an outcome. Meeting of the conditional,
if there is life on the other side of dying.
May Cruel May / by Karen Arnold
the green riot of
we call spring –
really an inundation
early flowers, cuing
the verge of
into pollen-laden weeks
of ariel sex. –
to what’s coming –
gone as leaves
swaths of rigid trunks
filament bushes curved
toward earth, echoing the globe
molting dry nests
framing limbs beyond –
sighs of relief
unfolding of deck chairs
the din of approval
I am unmoved
canopy months when
travel requires faith
in underlying order
Bucalcoholic / by Alejandra Cabezas
Even the simplest of doughs is overbearing when
you’ve been starving for days. I took a bite off
a sweet tamale and almost choked on sugar and hate.
Haven’t eaten much anything that isn’t saltwater
or sentiments. Gospels make me cry. I sit on the floor
and pray with dogs. Coffee is sweeter when
made with corn. Cinnamon has the power to predict rain.
I know it’s coming when my tongue spits
out spite. I’m an expert curse-writer. When I save my
appetite for schnapps. I feed on the acidity
that builds up like an internal tide.
and then we slept / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
it was the peaceful sleep
of a newborn baby who
has barely opened its eyes
it was the dream filled sleep
of the teenage girl who
fell in love with her first
it was the deep body sleep
of the laborer who has
completed a full days’ work
it was the comfortable sleep
of two lovers who feel each
other’s presence even in sleep
it was the relieved sleep
of the parent whose children
are safely tucked in for the night
it was the sleep we had missed
while we were in separate beds
in separate places unable to sleep
Why This Is Not A Story / by Cynie Cory
After “Radiation Prayer” / by Janel Galnares
Partial golden shovel for my mentor, Katie Farris. Thank you for always supporting my work! Sending love.
“Given the unexpected choice between / uncertain death and certain damage, / I find in the mirror a woman…” – Katie Farris
All that you have given /and all that has been taken, the / entirely unexpected / the gift horse of choice / and all the space between / everything we know and love, uncertain / for how long it keeps, not giving credence to the madness of death / until we are staring her in the mouth, our own mouth, and / on and on we live with this knowledge, certain / it will never stay, keep house with everything we love, even damage /substantiates our existence and I / see you in a dark hour and find / within / you all the / cruelty of a world in which a woman must face down every terrifying creature that finds space in the mirror / alone like Alice at the end of another adventure, what can be left but a / lookalike, doppelganger, mirror-image woman.
How to Mother in Lockdown / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
Be malleable. Infinitely
available. A cannibal—
your self the food. Give
what is left in regular intervals
to others. Self-sparmagos is not fatal. Split
yourself in two. In four if you are able.
Make a sticker chart. A pink star
for every word unsaid. Stop
your mouth. Count to ten.
Dive in the toilet to limit the damage.
Inhale. Exhale. Ignore the screams,
the knocks on the door. Let them be wind.
Let them be storm. Say: I can endure.
You don’t need to believe it.
Or want it. Imagine you liquid. Imagine you
molecule. This house a tomb. A womb.
You are splitting. Cleaving. Embed. Breathe.
Wait for what you will be
when these forty weeks are complete.
Defenestrate / by Nathanael O’Reilly
defenestrate fascists and authoritarians
defenestrate ignorant fundamentalists
defenestrate corrupt, selfish, racist politicians
defenestrate rusty bikes, tents and tennis rackets
defenestrate empty bottles of whisky and wine
defenestrate inflatable transparent pool rafts
defenestrate sour green grapes from the diseased vine
defenestrate excess clothes, jewelry, shoes and hats
defenestrate cardboard boxes and wire coat hangers
defenestrate venal exploitative billionaires
defenestrate mops, rubber gloves and vacuum cleaners
defenestrate homophobes’ useless thoughts and prayers
defenestrate your regrets and darkest memories
defenestrate your doubts, fears and anxieties
Pee-Pee / by Kalliopy Paleos
One a.m.? Three a.m.? Outside, black silence. I hold on to the walls as I go down the steps, mostly asleep but still concentrating: don’t fall, don’t slip, don’t think about work, don’t let it be morning. The thin panels of my dreams flicker dim. I only hope her little bed isn’t wet yet. I don’t want the bother, tugging at the stubborn sheets, peeling off her soaking footie pajamas. I want only my warm bed and primate sleep.
I push her door open, sniffing, but I can’t tell till I cross the room and get to her: yes – she’s still dry. I gently pry her up as if lifting a pond out of the ground. Her head falls back into the crook of my arm and I reach my nose down to her, inhaling her fleshy, nutty breath. I take in as much as I can as we cross the hall to the bathroom.
No one else will ever need to do that as I do. Breathe this breath into mine.
When this child is up and out in life, grown so old that the notion of her ever having had a mother is a mere abstraction, I expect there will only be strangers, paid by the hour, to help her out of bed. So she can pee. And how much will they be getting? And who knows what heart will assign her which nurse? And aren’t I just the same? Like me, they will only want – and so desperately – their own comfort. I can see her there, my little girl. Old. Elegant and frail in a padded pink bed-coat, no trouble at all to her helpers. Just like now. No trouble at all.
I shall have long forsaken – according to the scriptures at least – these tender nostrils. When I am in heaven, locked in the soundproof booth of paradise, banging against the plate glass, who will help her? Who will whisper all the loving words they can possibly think of into her sleeping mind in the hopes they will stay imprinted there forever? No one will carry her little body around like some divine tuber pushing through the dirt, a pulsing, sticky ampoule of life.
For even I, after laying her down in fresh clothes and pushing back her hair, wander eagerly back to my bed. I leave her to the darkness and drift off again into my own human indifference.
Ode to Neruda’s Odes / by Patty Seyburn
a chair a table a bed a guitar a dog a cat some yellow flowers
a cluster of violets a gillyflower (what?) a bar of soap a pair
of socks the (not just any) dictionary a pair of scissors a box
of tea the spoon the plate the orange the apple bread the
artichoke the onion the tomato, French fries
Many things merit his praise
Things I know deserving of odes: block heels pocket doors
Trivets triple A batteries horizontal blinds engraved watches
that no longer work a good pedicure mint the removal of
splinters wisteria vines that wind counterclockwise as a support.
Japanese wisteria climb clockwise. Then there are
twining vines that need little coaxing – take, honeysuckle.
They work in the direction predetermined by their genes.
Some innately climb in a haphazard fashion.
Some use their tendrils to latch on.
Some by aerial rootlets – they need no help – they will
attach and cling on for dear life, cavalierly smothering perennials.
The vines said it first:
no things but in ideas.
The vines, reaching, reaching: metaphor.
I pause in a house of idea
and touch the studded chairs, the stained fabric coasters, some faux
Pewabic pottery, a photograph of us in winter hats
though we hardly winter here
(as in travel and perform the season’s rituals).
I wish Neruda were here. When I am busy sewing
throw pillows of despair, he could cheer me
with tales of green plumbs and amaranth blossoms
with the cheerful wedding of a salad
with the promise of purpose and repose,
of proposal and repair
a strong dose of the attentive – a song
of praise – thank God for Pablo – we don’t
need Pindar, we don’t need Homer
(Keats, your barstool awaits you).
Poem 22 / Day 22
Algebra / by Christopher Ankney
—from Arabic: الجبر al-jabr, meaning “reunion of broken parts” and
Even the buffet plate involves math.
Odd how to fathom is a fading standard.
English is born out of the tangled
roots 0f all languages, unseen meanings,
which is how there’s an infinite
amount of ways to express love.
We were born as pliant as ghost sharks,
chimaeras, and we harden as we learn
to swim farther away from our childhood,
seeking knowledge from the mucky floor.
I don’t believe in arbitrary.
I believe the rescue from human folly
starts in unraveling reason from actions,
for it’s too simple to value
one boundary predicates all solutions.
We all begin as fractures looking
for pairings we trust will make us full –
we are proportions of some larger whole.
Some call it God, some call it a religion,
which some believe contrary to faith –
some call to a lover, a child, a broken stranger,
a dish in which the tongue has its fill.
Don’t tell me / by Karen Arnold
the old white guys
with some perfectly
persons of power
maybe a few women
in a green marble room
the meeting will
help them decide
the best course for
Israel and Palestine
blowing each other’s
cities and buildings
As my thirteen
year old daughter
used to say
This relates to me
How? I’m asking
amended – her
question – now
safe – a bit old
free of danger-torn sleep
please answer now
Your confab cites
Gaza – Israel — war
relates to loss
bloodshed, terror — but
I want to
such public attention
to trying to
will halt hate
sirens cut night
old people wept
day followed day
they settle for
no peace – no
settling or keeping
grief at bay
the way they
lean into talking
day after day
that they say
The Last Quail / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
The freezer was a treasure trove of game,
vegetables from a well-tended garden,
precious fruits carefully sealed in plastic.
Late fall through winter he would rise early,
take the dogs from their pen along with plenty
of shot for the day ahead spent hunting quail.
Bobwhites were taken down by that old rifle
and brought dutifully to his feet by the
old blue tick heelers, Bud and Roy.
Her knife found the joint where the wing
met the body, severed them deftly before
moving to the beheading, the skinning.
Sometimes the skin would come off in
pieces, other times the feathered skin
would peel off along with the tail.
She made quick work of the quail,
ensuring his efforts that day would
soon result in a full cast iron feast.
Some quail would be put up in the
freezer in anticipation of future
meals, the entire family gathered.
Hunting season ended early that year.
He clutched his heart and called her
name, collapsed in her arms.
The dogs were given to a new home,
the rifle was oiled and wrapped,
given to the son for his own hunts.
The game in the freezer dwindled.
Deer was replaced by black eyed peas,
rabbit and squirrel replaced by corn.
Today she takes the last quail from the freezer.
Today she remembers him like he was: coming
in from the hunt, the smell of winter and
blood mixing, his broad smile he saved
just for her and the new grandkids, the
dogs wrapping around his legs like the
good boys they were, her arms wide open
to receive his bounty, he always taking
care of her, making sure she never went
without, his stubble scratching her cheek
when he bent to kiss her, still courting her
after all those years, his laugh at the jokes
on Hee-Haw on Saturday nights, his white
starched shirt fitting a little too uncomfortably
for a farmer at church on Sundays, his deep
voice as he led the congregation in song, him
always bringing home quail for her to skin.
Document / by Cynie Cory
How can I last beyond anonymous
with this bruise inside my chest?
I want imperfection, not necessarily
Every day is an experiment.
I am not aware of my suffering.
If someone would see me.
I was on the bridge when the woman
leapt from an office building.
Your lack of confidence destroys you.
Don’t tell me about the boat,
it is always leaving.
Is this too private?
You could explain the peninsula
the way memory interrupts gender.
Frequently Asked Questions #2 (after Camille T. Dungy) / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
Does she sit yet?
When the buttocks contact the floor
we feel gravity—earth’s call
to the body, which spreads
and sticks with the weight
of its being. A covenant
that says we root, will sink,
not fly. That we breathe air,
and forget the embrace of water,
the incubator of fire.
This takes time. At four months,
a baby’s head will still flip back,
flailing for the sky
An English Tragedy / by Nathanael O’Reilly
After Ian McEwan’s Atonement
a young couple wrestle for control
of a vase on the edge of a fountain
unable to recognize mutual love
and lust, break the object of beauty
Aphrodite strips to her underwear,
submerges in the pool, emerges
triumphant, angry, saturated
water drips from her glistening body,
remains behind on the paving stones
evaporating like an absent father
meddlesome sister intervenes in adult
affairs, naïvely destroys lives, performs
the leading role in her one-girl play
mother retreats upstairs behind closed
doors and drawn curtains, denies
the reality of her existence
goddess in a green silk dress leads
her man to the dark library
for spontaneous bookcase sex
innocent man accused of a shocking
crime, convicted by class prejudices,
banished to prison, writes coded letters
Cambridge pals in black tie sip cocktails
on the terrace, discuss investments
keep calm and carry on with their privilege
Poem 21 / Day 21
The Etymology of Mother Is Dam / by Christopher Ankney
For Sara / by Karen Arnold
Pressed into skin
the warm musk
of waves caught
our hearts shared
Pulsed in dark –
at my throat
caught an echo
behind and unknown
in our song
we traveled on
as your name
you as a song
as the cadence
a tempo of
twining – into
Pearls in the Barn / by Alejandra Cabezas
dog / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
you value my loyalty
kick me for the slightest
perceived wrong response
my tail wags in appreciation
I lap up the water the kibble
the scant affection
put me in the kennel
keep me in my place
let me out at your convenience
on a leash
under your watch
don’t lick the neighbors
don’t get excited over friends
don’t be a dog
you know I won’t leave
won’t bite won’t run away
you know I’ll always be
where you leave me
from the Domesticated Animals collection
Nature’s Confidence (Reference Point) / by Cynie Cory
Frequently Asked Questions #1 (after Camille T. Dungy) / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
Is she a good baby?
The tree of knowledge of good
and evil stands at the center, entwined
with the tree of life. Once you ask
the question, you’ve already given
the answer. If she’s good, she’s also
evil. Which is to say, what is good,
but desirable? Which is to say, what is good
but what you want
It is good to be held. It is good
to be suckled. It is good
not to be alone. It is good
to keep watch all night
and make sure a werewolf
isn’t crouching by the door.
It is good to scream
I am here. It is good
to demand, Answer.
Good is chomping down
on sustenance, and saying Mine.
Which is to say, that what is done
out of love is always beyond
good and evil.
Australia / by Nathanael O’Reilly
After Allen Ginsberg
Australia, you beautiful tragic stolen continent
Australia, you gave birth to me, raised me with heat, sweat, bushfires and drought
bathed me in Pacific and Southern oceans, pummelled me with surf,
caught me in rips, dragged me with your undertow
fried me every summer, blistered my shoulders, gave me skin cancer
Australia, you taught me cricket, soccer, rugby and Aussie Rules
taught me racism, misogyny and homophobia
taught me jokes I can never repeat and try hard to forget
Australia, you celebrate your white heroes with parades, statues and songs
kill your black heroes in police custody
took Truganini, Namatjira and Archie Roach from their country
stole children from their mothers, fathers, aunties, uncles, grannies
Australia, you racist bastard, when will you stop living in denial?
Australia, for how long will you let Rupert Murdoch control you?
When will you stop electing selfish, ignorant, lying, racist, misogynist
private school white boys who exploit your resources,
sell your water, clear your forests, open cut your land,
sell you out to their rich mates and foreign investors?
Australia, for how long will you stay in bed with America?
Australia, for how long will you suck up to Mother England?
Australia, for how long will you lock up refugees?
Australia, for how long will you abuse human rights?
Australia, I am ashamed of you
When will you put into practice the values that you profess?
When will you actually give everyone a fair go?
Australia, I am sick of your fucking hypocrisy
Australia, open your borders, you selfish bastard!
Australia, free Palestine!
Australia, free West Papua!
Australia, end colonialism!
Australia, you bastard, I miss you
I miss your cities, towns, beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes, bush, highways, bridges, railways
I miss your white sands, red rocks, deserts, eucalyptus skies, brown paddocks
I miss your cobblestone lanes, trams, cafes, pubs, bookshops, libraries, galleries, gardens
I miss your pasties, pies, pavlova, vanilla slice, fish and chips, beer, wine and coffee
I miss your noisy birdsong sunrises and blinding big sky sunsets
Australia, I am yours and I am not
Australia, will you ever take me back?
Halandri is all Apartment Buildings Now / by Kalliopy Paleos
Take her away. He turned his hollow face to the wall. I can’t go if my youngest is here. He will die in the whitewashed house he built stone by stone, in a bed just big enough for him and his wife. Each green leaf in the garden twittering, casting its own rustle, cooling the burning sun. His wife, muttering gently over the low marble sink outside, scrubs old sheets. Where is she again? Tell her to come in.
Remember the snails small as olives he cooked over the gas flames? Or the morning we’d been fighting over that one swing? Him, approaching with some rope and an ax as we held our breath, pigtails still bobbing. Not one word, but the wood chopped in two and the rope thrown over and us so scared we didn’t dare touch the two swings all summer long.
I’ve only told strangers about that time, long after he was gone. Of all the summer cousins, only me awake. Desperate to pee. But the tiny plastic toilet is past the hallway, past the doorway of that bed where my mother, his youngest, now sighs in her sleep. Everything is silver except the sky which is black, every leaf in the garden a hollow lens. Right through my forehead as I lie there, a message comes, mind-to-mind: My little heart, I’m right here, in the kitchen. Please let me see you. Slate floors still warm. Three wooden divans, around the big table and chairs. I waver in the threshold. By the icon of John the Baptist, the oil lamp glimmers. Next to a worn Greek copy of Gone with the Wind, the black telephone waits on a leather Bible big as a pirate’s chest. Papou, Papou, I can’t . . .
Poem 20 / Day 20
To Masculinity / by Christopher Ankney
Her belly parted like the Red Sea
and out came our second little god.
For his elder brother, the tiny hands
of his deliverer warned, That leg
better not hit me; I’m piecing your wife
back together. This was after I mistook
his planetary head for his entirety —
and now he reads to me his Book of Gods
about the splitting of Zeus’s thigh
to birth a son — what my wife felt
with him, because the truth of Greek
gods lost in our own bruised humanity.
the mistakes we craft by those we hand
control over the faults of our machines,
our inexplicabilities in why we fight
reason for the triumph of a moment—
what we call glory is the body doping
itself to mask the pain of conscience
and how in the finite settings of our time
we putty up mountains rather than trench
for the comfort of walls. What is a man
who doesn’t offer himself
to his lover at full throttle fragility,
what is a man who cannot offer
his own body to grow his child away
from all the plottings
beyond the roads outside his temple
walls — what is a man who watches
a woman’s cry as sole bearing of wound —
as when truth only starts for a man
when a baby worships its first breath,
yet the nurturing we demean as cravings
as when the sky has sobbed and left darkness
the gift of rainbow, it is no miracle, pain
and joy, for they exist as gods
exist as we cease
to grasp the toughest men pull children out
of harm, acknowledge
the world at war requires holding
the child, holding the scar.
Note / by Karen Arnold
I’ll see you Thursday
not to be confused
I am supposed to go
the distance traveled
why this is important
how the love of paper
kindles desire or
suggests possible character
where stories well
or how long it takes to arrive
Food Chain / by Alejandra Cabezas
I’d pull the shrimp out of my stomach for a woman like her. She’s the color of shells. Scattered across the sand. Burning red. Fragile white. Purple clams stuck down my spine. I’d eat anything without a pair of eyes. Nothing is more exhilarating than the system. Nervous at my teeth. I keep scallops in between kisses and smiles. Fertility is my biggest secret. In the mirror when I shut down. My freckles dance like starfish. And I pray for a return to the freshwater. But mangroves are a one-way street. I was made a goddess on a boatride. And now the men won’t touch me. They pick away at fish from the rocks. They’re scared of anything that doesn’t dance when killed. For a woman like me, I’d give into the current.
We Speak In Code / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
There is an unspoken language between us women
Those of us with war stories
Those of us who know a bruise under a smokey eye.
We gravitate toward each other
Yet we are alone, through necessity or fear
Somehow we find each other online
In a recipe group or a busy mom life hacks Facebook event.
“You get it.”
The secret password to let others know
That about 37 months from now we might
Let you know you’re not alone
It’s not an easy language to learn
There are half spoken words and stuttering starts
A turn of phrase which could be interpreted 6 different ways.
We speak in code and transmit in the Morse dots and dashes of
slightly widened eyes and low throat coughs.
Somehow we bond over unspoken feelings and hard truths
Knowing we will never tell the other to “leave, just get the fuck out”
Because we can’t do it ourselves.
Looking for Water / by Cynie Cory
“Yo no tengo soledad” by Gabriela Mistral
I am not alone / translated by Janel Galnares
The night is abandoned
from the sierras to the sea.
But I, the one who cradles you
am not alone.
The sky is abandoned
when the moon falls to the sea.
But I, the one who holds you
am not alone.
The world is abandoned
and the body, forsaken, continues on.
But I, the one who cuddles you,
I am not alone.
Untitled / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
Sirens wail all day. My baby screams endless staccato barks. The oomquats are so ripe, they fall at a touch. A deeper orange than the apricots than the apricots green-blushed yellow. I pull te branch towards me to reach the highest ones, the ones stained peach. Four in my bag. When I let go of the branch, it doesn’t bounce back. I’ve split the branch. Ugly irreparable wound. Amputation. Sack heavy in my hand. So much abandance. Why do I feel like crying? My son runs ahead, blows dandelion after dandelion. The winged seed float in the still air, above the petal-strewn path.
Forebears / by Nathanael O’Reilly
Lords, masters, descendants
of a gregarious race,
makers of pots, farmers
from Hailstone Hill, bright-headed
Irish warriors with dark
eyes and unkempt brown hair,
Irish chieftains of bright renown
from the alder grove, wise
protectors, dark strangers
from the woodlands, peach
merchants from Normandy,
silversmiths from Germany,
dwellers on Northumbrian
horse farms, gifts from the raven
god born beneath willow trees.
Adieu, l’Île d’Yeu / by Kalliopy Paleos
How light he feels! Just like a slim, silver fish. . . The old fisherman, a bit shy in my American hug. Oh, I was with them again, the adoptive sister, an almost second daughter. The boats on the shining water and lingering dinners, these had meant life itself! To be in love with a family and the kind faces all around them, to bask in their smiles again.
After so many years missing, I still hear the father’s rumbling voice. Here’s our second daughter . . . Walking along the port side-by-side with my soul sister. She said, You never know what will come. The mother had recently passed. I’d answered, Yes! ‘You must live your life’. Then a siren sounded. I was loved by them, by the kind faces and friends all around them. You never know when a siren is wailing, from across the glittering water, at you.
It felt like living again, strolling by this sister’s side – the siren rose, but neither of us knew. We’d been talking of her mother’s ashes, and I so grateful the old fisherman had called me, called me to Yeu. We understood it afterwards, in the waiting room: we’d been musing on the preciousness of life when that siren blew. Chattering about the call months before: It’s time. Come if you can. The fisherman, ready to bid his beloved farewell. I missed her too.
That morning, beaming, he said, Look what I picked up by the side of the road. A yoke, to carry water from the well, just like when I was a boy. I’ll polish it after lunch. Then I went for that stroll. Then the siren blew. How light he felt. An old fisherman a bit shy in my American hug. A slim, silver fish from the waters of Yeu.
Ode to the Panhead Engine / by Patty Seyburn
Two cylinders, two valves per cylinder.
Pushrod V-twin. Wishbone frame.
Replaced the Knucklehead in 1948,
replaced by the Shovelhead in 1965 –
in other words, you’re out, obsolete,
but somehow, beloved – ah, youth,
its powerful nostalgia, love of regression,
or maybe, expertise – if you can recognize
this artifact, if you can appreciate what
once was progress, the covers resembling
upside-down roasting pans, perhaps you are
not doomed to repeat your mistakes,
be they Harley-related, road-side, bed-side –
beauty is not always the future, says
the guy at Cook’s Corner on the Softtail Fat Boy.
Poem 19 / Day 19
Ode To Failing At Parenting / by Christopher Ankney
Blessed are the advice lines, little hacks
coughing up anecdotes about preciousness
and maintaining patience,
which only drive the pins deeper
into our sore knees bent to bows
working to clean up these boys’ little forests,
little villages, their making dioramas
of our floors – the dining room’s Kandinsky,
the playroom’s Pollock show, a splattering
of Legos and dog kibble – even our queen
in her nearing end projects defiance
to a pittance of structure.
They’re playing chicken and I wonder
which of us is James Dean, which of us will
rescue the other from hopelessness
as the windows whisper summer, taunting
the outside’s handsome sun. They do not mean to,
and they don’t, but we feel like it is them
that does it – it being, crushing our inability
to contain homeostasis while we stay
home, always home, not for plague or pity,
but because we are the doctors in love
with our little monsters, our puppety parrots,
who perceive just how far out in the bay
we will let them dream
before we pull them back
to us, pointing out the buoy line.
Equation 56 / by Karen Arnold
The Shore / by Alejandra Cabezas
Today my best friend and I built sand castles. We talked about words with epicenters and the ways in which different types of fruits hold different types of seeds. Am I dispersed or have I been displaced? The only place that feels like home is underneath the palm leaves. When you let yourself float everything becomes a river. And what a lazy stream I’ve chosen. Hoping never to have and face the waves. But the foam seduces me. The way she dissolves in my hands. Like the flesh of the coconut. He’d take the entire day to open it. I take the water and go. I took a little stone home. Sand dollars bore me. I hate the economy of memory. This is what we’ve built. From disposed nothings. If for a second, kings of the tide.
Entwined / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
how you see the oranges and yellows
and pinks as they burn through the
lingering night tenuously holding onto
the fabric between water and sky
where you walked and skipped through
the cornfields on your way to school,
soft silk and hard stalks crushing to keep
you nestled in their rows and furrows
between our lips about the first time
you fell in love, how she broke your
heart into a million pieces and how
you learned to sew them back together
touch the edges of all your broken pieces,
prick myself, cry and bleed over you, so
you understand I know all of you and
we are joined too tightly to be unloosed.
Story / by Cynie Cory
Couldn’t you see the lake in her eyes,
the strength of the waves that pulled
the interface of her longing,
the pathless opening of
She arrived at herself,
leaving the speckled sky –
so many eyes watching
her resilience and shame
broken like a glass
in the hurry. She lasted
South, another peninsula
carried her, (hopeless) (weary) –
the night sky could not
offer her more than nostalgia.
In morning, the arrival of birdsong,
pale through the palm fronds
and new gardenias, the flicker of sunlight.
[I live, I grew up, I was born at the altar of money] / by Janel Galnares
“And when they bombed other people’s houses, we // protested / but not enough..in the house of money…” – Ilya Kaminksy
I live, I grew up, I was born at the altar of money.
I notice every detail, the texture of its raised relief,
the marble spill, the structural holds,
each deliberate cut in stone.
What has been sacrificed here,
who has shared at this table.
Am I a descendant of the apostles,
ancestral memories of breaking bread,
wine in golden chalices?
Now, at the altar of money there is a 4-star merlot.
I drink it and enjoy the bold flavor of the grapes.
On the altar of money is a car of precious metals.
Guards constantly surround it, protect it from would-be robin hoods.
On the altar of money is a boat named after my mother.
She is buoyed eternal upon a dried up lake.
The altar of money is an empty home
never pleasing enough, its aesthetic always changing:
on the altar of money
I was born
I pay worship
we all do
and upon the altar
with enough green for our families
to outlive us
the value disintegrates
as our bones mush to dust in the mortar-and-pestle
for a would-be elixir.
After the Omer / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
The Omer count enumerates the fifty days between Passover and Pentecost.
Each day aligns with one of God’s mystical Sefirot:
kindness, power, beauty, eternity, glory, foundation and kingship.
Yesterday was nine and forty days,
which are seven weeks to the Omer–
wait till starlight for the fiftieth day.
Are they shooting at you? my husband yells
Sirens wail. My baby shrieks
staccato barks—festival of the weeks
of harvest barley, then wheat.
Make an offering of waves. Each
night, I counted the day, tore
off another page. Sprinted through
the Sefirot—Hesed she’beHesed
kindness in kindness. Passage
through the desert; tear open
the sea. Hod she’be Hesed. Leave
behind the unleavened
offer succulent loaves, that rise
and breathe, and double themselves.
Dried wild wheat line the streets.
My daughter gathers a sheaf. Moon-
scythe mowing down a golden sea.
Murmurs of mourning. Glory in glory.
Fires scorch the mountaintops–
a time of reaping. Gather first fruit:
loquats withered. apricots bitter.
Lemons tight green fists. My daughter
a field. Tight bud of baby.
Seven weeks since we prayed
for rain. I dream of dew.
Malchut she’be malchut. Sound waves
explode into sight. The soul departs
but the body revives, and I am
so tired. Eternity tired. Power
a fist. Offer fermented air. Kindness
curdledas cheese. Unfurl the Torah,
now the reading, baby’s endless
screaming. A fermenting
of weeks. Breath, mowed down.
Give ice cream. Give treats. Wait
for flowing night, with no more
careful counting, just another
sunset blur, days dying each other
vermillion and azure. Dive fifty cubits
to dream, and wouldn’t it be nice
to have an underwater path
guiding our way between
these drops in the deeps?
Tears & Music / by Nathanael O’Reilly
at the Barrowlands in Glasgow
Christy Moore sings Missing You
I’d give all for the price of a flight
brings middle-aged men to tears
Christy Moore sings Missing You
at the Point Depot in Dublin
brings middle-aged men to tears
as the crowd sings, a drunken choir
at the Point Depot in Dublin
Christy sings Fairytale of New York
as the crowd sings, a drunken choir
connects through words and music
Christy sings Fairytale of New York
as the crowd shares sweat and tears
connects through words and music
loved ones and strangers embrace
the crowd shares sweat and tears
sings I’d give all for the price of a flight
loved ones and strangers embrace
at the Barrowlands in Glasgow
Stitching / by Kalliopy Paleos
Flames with voices in them. Had she dreamt it? She could never tell, but recalled them clearly, with the same grasp she used to hold brocade from slipping under the presser foot. Dammit, brocade can smell fear. The touch of a threaded needle, a metal pulse in perpetual conversation with her pulse. Watch her work! She has eyes in her fingertips… Handball against the cement walls, the chain link fences and burning hot benches of summer camp. The pale green gown, her very first gift, flowing like a sunlit stream over the glowing skin of her very first friend. The sparrows. Seeds they peck at, flitting from one moment of dear life to another.
Red flames, which she wouldn’t remember because she had never seen them, only the firemen, waiting for her to get home. The one with eyes dark as the woods and face so rosy, sparkling with tears, that she started taking off her clothes by tearing at them as they tried to explain, explain it to her, using words like father, words like fire. The rasping pull of chiffon under the machine needle, her stifled curses when it snags yet again Why any idiot would wear organza. . . . Wisps of scrap thread swirling to the floor to be swept, and twelve stories of filthy toilets to clean, seven stalls apiece and four sinks. And seagulls, beak gripping a sealed mussel shell, soaring higher ever higher, dropping it onto the stony sand and again, sweeping the skies and letting it go until finally the shell breaks and the flesh inside is devoured. Canisters of gasoline in the garage, waiting as innocently as any other household poison. Armbands on the fine wrists of the handball players, taut palms translucent in the living sunlight.
Poem 18 / Day 18
Like a Stone / by Christopher Ankney
Chris Cornell, 7/20/1964 – May 18, 2017
bellies swollen on a gallon
of milk a day, the gut pain
of poverty and intolerance,
my brother and I learned to stare
out at the landscape and see life
stained mahogany like a pine deck
a beauty made of knots and accent
because of your notes –
the sharpness of a needle point
entering skin, a palimpsest
of angst and softness
what was different
about the suffering, prescribed
drugs flipping a switch in enough cells
to make a permanent eclipse
on your eyelids –
somedays I get so tired
waiting for the dark to fade –
I have to believe the mountain
top provides – I have to believe
it is not the light we seek
in climbing, but to taste the air
in our lungs at different altitudes –
I am trying to save you, Chris,
figure out what sirens sang you
to let go with the darling buds of May – no,
I am trying to save my sons
before they fathom life is not the hand
that picks up the stone
but the beautiful stone that is grasped
and skipped over a shimmering lake
into exhilaration before it drops
acceptant like an anchor
and finds its bottom.
Lunchtime Ellipses / by Alejandra Cabezas
The way you hold your mother’s hand
makes me think of the way I hold my
mother’s hand. When we read off each
other’s menus we’re psychics. Picnic
table telepaths. Betting on the strings
of life to hold, at least ourselves, the
two of us, against the tetrarchy of last
names. I want my daughter to have a
daughter. I don’t want to know a spouse
the way my parents did. Reproduction
is a thing of artists and their works.
Delicacy is unknown to my hands.
My touch is big and brass. If I were
a man I would always pee on the
snow. But I am a woman of the sand.
I’ve always been bad at writing my
own name. I want my grave to be
indiscernible from the earth. Tell
me you’ll sit on it and hold your
child’s hand the way we both
hold our mother’s hands.
In My House / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
The windows are broken:
you see your opportunity,
climb in and look around.
A pile of books, all Rumi and Gibran,
a broken chair with wobbly legs,
my heart out in the open.
A coffee cup chipped on its side,
hand drawn postcards never sent,
my glasses on a bedside table.
A box full of half-penned poems,
laundry still needing folding,
my sandals like soldiers by the door.
For Love with a line by Creeley / by Cynie Cory
Looks like the lemurs ate the tigers, / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
the man beside me whispers
to his son, as a masked
lemur crouches by the glass.
Dried wheat grows wild,
covering the Sumerian Tiger
exhibit blanched beige.
The ears fall, unheeded–
enough for a mola salsa—
the sacred flour cake of first wheat
baked by the Vestals to comfort
the earth. Grey muddy concrete
in place of the pond. The striped tails
in the trees belong to lemurs,
lemurs, and lemurs again.
They bounce the branches
and fill the compound with
ghostly cries. The exit is blocked.
The man outside says both tigers died
during this long year of pandemic
when the zoo was locked
and locked, and locked again.
Lemurs, named for the Latin lemures—
the unwholesome specters
of the restless dead. They
should have been exorcised
during the Lemuralia, held
during three uneven days of May.
The 13th is past. The feast would be done.
Repeat nine times, “Ghosts
of my fathers be gone!”
Yet still they howl, unpropitiated.
Elegy for a Farmer’s Wife / by Nathanael O’Reilly
In memoriam Betty Doreen O’Reilly (1928-2017)
Before you sold the farm and retired to town,
you took me for walks around your garden,
gave me fresh milk in the dairy, cooked farm-
raised dinners of lamb chops, boiled potatoes,
peas and carrots, served homemade rhubarb pie
and ice cream for dessert. For decades you slipped
five-dollar notes into my hand, closed my fingers
over the cash, shushed me when I said Thanks, Nana,
but you really don’t have to, told me to buy
myself something nice at the shops. Every time
I visited you served tea, coffee scrolls,
BBQ Shapes and Arnott’s biscuits, always stocked
the pantry with favourites. When I was old enough
you poured chilled glasses of Pa’s Carlton Draught,
treated me as an equal. You picked my mates and I up
from the railway station in your four-wheel-drive,
helped us pitch the tent at Surfside 2, rapped along
with RUN-DMC, joked It really is tricky!
On Thursday nights you danced with Pa at The Whaler’s
Inn, stayed fit and kept your marriage ticking over.
You walked Logan’s Beach, spent hours exploring
rockpools and caves, kept an eye out for migrating
whales. You filled your lounge room with framed photos
of your six children and fifteen grandchildren,
kept a grandmother clock on the mantel piece,
hung basketfuls of laundry to dry in the wind.
You wore green woollen jumpers, tan slacks and sensible
flat shoes, kept your hair short and practical,
a farmer’s wife until the end, lost inhibitions
as your mind faded, swore, laughed and farted
at family reunions. I still see you at home
feeding chunks of raw beef to magpies on the porch
in the sun, always giving, chatting, joking.
A Few Questions for the Missing . . . / by Kalliopy Paleos
. . . Oh, yes, here’s one:
And where the fuck were you?
Through what worlds
were you driving
that it took all the dark night
to traverse them?
wet and alive,
were open the whole time –
seeing what faces?
with their cigarette –
Nowhere to turn
in this little bed.
Staring at the bathroom door across the hall.
Oh God, I’ll be punished
if I get up again.
Already got my drink of water.
The very sheets pulse
with my listening –
for the garage door
to rumble my guts open,
and the jangle of your keys
the iron in my blood.
Chasing, chasing, chasing you went.
Could you not stay
Poem 17 / Day 17
The Carpenter Bees Dispute / by Christopher Ankney
You plink off the bay window like pinballs –
I mistake your fat body for goldfinch shadow
like me you find colonies oppressive, piddling
days away in artistry we cannot praise, perfect
circles – how may coins will it take to replace
your occupation, what poison will unblanket
your larvae, dear mother, you should never
have chosen our fascia, made your boring
like a middling run-down roadside motel,
no vacancy means both full and empty
depending what side of the window
one looks from – who is the bee
and who is the keeper, not a question
of ownership, but of what we have rented
from the earth – time, time, time
Seriously? / by Karen Arnold
Today the sun took a break
despite being predicted and
I am not sure what
may turn up
So far the week has brought:
a run in with
a Colorado sister
I didn’t see coming
the end of a strange
story collection where
a nameless man offers
rooms in France
storms to be outrun
dead friends conversing
to carry out – because
lack of planning
ruled some days
Clouds for tomorrow
and heat may rise
checking the titles on
a full DVR
Coastline Relics / by Alejandra Cabezas
Tell me about the time
you caught the crickets in between
the soundtrack of the universe
For how envious you’ve been of
glass bottles in the sand
getting picked up
by dreamers and bloodied feet.
The billowing of childhood
to cracker jacks and blue jeans.
But I love the way your
waist dents after
Makes me hungry for
stories and silhouettes of
naked nothing. Expired
plastic with your dreams.
Illusion of Youth / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
I still see myself as 32:
Tan and scrunchy saltwater hair
From swimming in the ocean.
Throwing a sundress over my swimsuit,
A pair of tennis shoes, then
Straight to work waiting tables
At a little diner on the water.
When I drift off to sleep I’m
Still in that skinny body, not
Sweating and breathing heavy
Just from walking the dog.
I’m not coloring my greys
In my dreams, I’m not even
Thinking about my wrinkles.
Somewhere in my mind I
Hit the pause button on aging
And think I’m still invincible,
Staying up all night, getting hit
On at every club and karaoke joint.
Then I wake up, fast forward to
Smack in the middle of not quite
Old but not that young anymore.
Thankful I’m still here after
Trying to destroy myself for so long.
Vertigo / by Cynie Cory
The boardroom made me famous for what I wasn’t.
What struck me was the sunlight had no view
without me, it arrived like a theory
about why I didn’t want to write this
from Brighton Beach in the future.
It made me sad as a gymnast after amputation.
She was in Rio de Janeiro with her mother who practiced Santeria.
I felt dizzy on the boardwalk in the rain
and fell into a theme.
The moon burns to help you suffer
what you already know:
grief will never end
A birch tree cracks
in subzero, the moon repeats the shoreline
You don’t remember? It is in you,
the silver trespassing figure,
the agitated lake.
Relax, this is your home.
You are able to achieve what you’re learning.
There is an opening, a softening
for what you lived through.
The packets of light hold the information.
Generosity flows to the generous.
Unclench your heart, it is conceivable that you are home.
I was born of the stone of rebirth, emerald,
birthstone of good fortune, youth’s fire,
new growth in springtime, decay obscured
and passion the infinite kiss of the soul
I was born a nature sign, the bull, meant to carry
on, take charge, delight in flowers
I was born strong, into this solid soldier’s body
soft and grounded, one with the lilting land
I was born of this earth where
I think free, claim its problems
as my own to share in the solving,
lecture in a soft voice
I was born to free others, was meant to speak my
thoughts and empower others to dream theirs alive.
Protean / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
I snail, my toddler says. Snail.
Two minutes ago, he was a horse.
Tomorrow he will be a whale.
Marbles. Dog. Tadpole.
Spider. Raven. Duck.
We start as eukaryotes—
world of one,
bound in a membrane;
brushed by celia
that swirl round
our surface like snakes.
Lost in this grassland,
we can’t find
our way back again.
Tight ball enwrapping fissures.
Amnion that glints
like tree sap or slug trail.
In the next instar,
we flicker like fish
in the rock pools of Ein Prat,
pink flesh of the desert wavering above us.
Mermaids with incipient feet;
a voice so beautiful, it is lost with gills.
Then we sprout fine hair
like spiders, eyes rounding
then bare again, covered only in clay.
No wonder then,
a baby’s bones feel so tentative
their eyes a changeable storm.
And we worship
Their very inscrutability.
Sixty-Five Degrees North / by Nathanael O’Reilly
Akureyri aurora borealis
ballerina shimmers, glows,
cavorts, quivers alien green,
dances in Arctic skies above
Eyjafjörður’s snow-covered slopes.
Far from fracking rigs and refineries,
glaciers thaw, retreat, climb
hillsides, escape increasing warmth
inland. Thrill-seeking tourists
jump into frigid sapphire water,
kayak through sublime fjords,
lakes and bays, hike and scale
mountains. Luxury rental cars
navigate narrow rural roads,
open doors in crowded gravel
parking lots, release lengthy
queues of eager tourists
racing to photograph
Thingvellir, Geysir and Strokkur.
Urgent fans rush to the erupting
watch ruby lava surge towards
excited risktakers. Amateur filmmakers
yell elatedly, fly filming drones
zooming to sizzling deaths in the crater.
Keys / by Kalliopy Paleos
Grownups in the kitchen. A jangle of keys. In two minutes they will call: Find your shoes, honey! This will take until it gets dark. Maybe I forget where I put them. Maybe my sister and cousin hid them again. And my glasses. Keys, a censer with silver bells, ringing the blessing of departure in my father’s hand. Actually, how would you girls like to sleep over? I am silent. The next morning, my aunt tells us. Mommy and daddy left for Greece last night. They will be back in a few weeks. They didn’t want to upset you. Now go play.
I never want to take off the ruffles of my bridesmaid gown, but if this reception goes any longer I will cry in front of everyone. The keys appear from under the flap of the suit pocket, jingle sweetly. But we aren’t going. He growls to my mother, You take the girls home with your sister. The dancer needs a ride. The splendid shsha-shsha-shsha! of the belly dancer’s coin belt, swishing alongside the jingling keys. I want to tell him it’s such an angelic ringing, together like that. But they leave without looking back.
Later, my leave-takings are careful. I say where I am going, and that is where I go. I hug before leaving and upon my return. Sometimes I play with my keys, to savor the rushing. Of weddings cakes and Sunday dinner, of another lady’s perfume and the taste of metal on the tongue. I hear music like the censer’s chime, in church on the day he was buried. Through the wailing and squabbles of the funeral, my ear tuned to it alone. I’d watched it swing, spreading its wafts of smoke, a ting-tinging like a key opening the wooden door to the universe.
Bowl of Asks / by Patty Seyburn
My account of praising language deep
in arrears, I have double-downed
and halved my gratitude.
That word looks like “halvah.” I was friendly
with the Halvah King’s son,
who inherited the recipe and crown,
who married such a pretty girl.
Without the mottled moon, what would I do?
Without window-frames, without
enclosures. Without FM radio
that has taught me
timing, I would not know how
to tell a poor joke.
goes out to those of you
whose shifts start at civil twilight –
I might still be driving
down I-75 from Flint to Tampa,
just to understand how
a freeway ends.
And if it wasn’t for
the music, I sang along
in 1981, I don’t know what I’d do.
Poem 16 / Day 16
Saramago / by Christopher Ankney
Jill watched as an old man sneezed into a handkerchief, placed it back in his pocket, and arched his back forwards to a crate of navel oranges until he saw a little girl clap her hands, reach into her own pocket, and pull out a small tube of what must have been hand sanitizer, for the old man half smiled out of the left side of his mouth while his right half tightened in what appeared to be slight embarrassment. Jill watched as his hands accepted the gift like holy water, made prayer circles out of his application, spoke words too unclear from under his thick gray mustache but that must have appeased the girl, for she gave a slight hop and then a curtsy—and then the man curtsied back, surprising himself and the girl and the girl’s father, who then tousled the girl’s hair to indicate his pride and—perhaps, Jill speculated as people do when they get lost in watching others living around them, perhaps he imagined his daughter was the son he had wanted, instead, but never admitted to his wife or even himself—his fulsome love for his daughter’s preternatural kindness towards others so immense that it mostly quieted those moments he is appalled by his own capability to have shockingly uncivilized thoughts.
Arrival / by Karen Arnold
Skunk / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
you judge me on appearance
you know my stripes
in your woods in you farms
I’ve been hunted before
i learned survival tactics
but you’ve been hiding in the trees
you swoop down
I only see the sun darken for a moment
before I feel razors in my back
before I am lifted from the ground
before I can think to defend myself
from the Domesticated Animals collection
Weak Crush Mighty / by Cynie Cory
Close my eyes / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
A desiccated leaf curls
round itself like a boat–
I want to climb inside
and zip the body bag,
drift down the street
in Chiron’s skiff
coins covering my eyes,
and let the wind blow
Dear English woman, / by Nathanael O’Reilly
because you were half an hour late for our first date
& kept me waiting alone on the Underground
platform (& I was young and easily wounded
& didn’t fully forgive you), you will never
know about the depression in my chest, the names
of my parents & siblings, where I went to school
& university, the names of my former
girlfriends, the titles of my favourite books, the name
& location of my birthplace, the story
about my ancestors who lived near Stonehenge
& were shipwrecked at the end of their months-long
voyage to Australia, how fast I can run a mile,
how many poems I’ve written, how many pancakes
I can eat for breakfast, how I smell when I wake,
which side of the bed I sleep on, whether or not
I sleep naked, how long I spend in the shower,
just how big my feet are, that my favourite colour
is blue, that I keep a bottle of eucalyptus
oil to inhale when I’m homesick, how many scars
I have beneath my clothes, exactly how blue
my eyes are, how many grey hairs I have grown,
how I spend my time & money, the content
of my dreams, the kind of husband & father I am.
Poem 15 / Day 15
Interstitial Spaces / by Christopher Ankney
Your body like a granite countertop
wiped clean, its smoothness belies
durability, its coolness shocks
the fingers’ paddings. I was washing
the peppers and the counting garlic
cloves when you said you miss the smell
of things, even the urinated backstreets
of Chicago, the dumpsters dank heat
from leftover dough and sauce. I told you
about an article on smell therapy whose author
apologizes for the likelihood of Saint
John’s wort-level success instead of confessing,
I was thinking of the moment I knew first loved you:
you crossed the finish line, your body reeking of ammonia
and silt, the clay our bodies were shaped
from. From. To. Your team held each other’s
shoulders, conference champions. The sweat, rank,
body after body pushing out what wasn’t wanted
from the space between your own cells. To think
the human eye sees its own body as whole
while the mind lists all the things either let go
or needed to. Today, when I get home from a shakeout
four miler, drenched by the humidity and sun,
I pull off my tank, crumple it up like a towel
and offer it to you, and plea—Recall this—
and you try with a grin to bring yours back
through the memories we attach to things.
Dances with Wolves / by Karen Arnold
“There are a lot of hearts on the ground”
our legacy of
Dust Bowl okies
wars in Syria, Palestine, Israel
litter the streets
cause voices to
lay grief in the air
hcarts in rubble
to join the dead
in the ritual of
carried in blood
and bones, faces
of the head
a gap-tooth smile
Sirena / by Alejandra Cabezas
I find stars at the end of every barrel.
They’re the wooden nightboats where
my dreams elope. Night after night when
the shellfish, lonely, cling to my tummy.
The fishermen have been asleep for hours.
Back home with their wives and little,
plump children. I am left hungry. Nothing
to feed on but salt and the aftertaste of
sex. I swallow fish whole just to keep
myself from singing. The last man I
loved taught me how to crawl in between
stones. Handy trick for when the waves
wash away the roughness of their surface.
The way I stay still when kissed nowadays.
I save my sounds for beneath the water.
When the jellyfish sting I orgasm. Women
like me are like corals. We open up our
stomachs just to eat.
Velvet / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
The night wraps itself around us,
the warmth of a distant flame,
the plush of a velvet throw,
the silence of the space between breathing.
You are light from the shore,
a snug harbor shielding from waves,
a smooth stone in my pocket,
salty wind across darkened sand.
Lay with me here in this place,
only the warmth of ourselves and stars,
only our skin between us,
only you and I revolving in this universe.
Eight Lines / by Cynie Cory
Heart-racked, I cannot tell you
how the fluorescent lights blamed me
with their loud coins like glass
crashing over us, slow and fast.
I held him in my arms as he collapsed.
I could not think to pray or sing. Inside his
ear something insincere. I had already
Unfinished Pandemic Sestina / by Janel Galnares
It was March, and the invisible illness spread like wildfire.
Schools, bars, and restaurants shut their doors.
Delivery and take-out was on the rise.
Grocery stores closed early, by curfew.
We adorned our weary faces in every color mask.
The internet and streaming services kept us entertained while inside.
Schools went on infinite digital recess. Prisons spread corona like lice inside.
The earth turned like meat on a stick, the sun all-consuming in its hellfire.
People protested mask-wearing with sayings on their masks.
Behind closed doors, families asked delivery drivers to “please leave the food by the door.”
People who took to the street to protest police were arrested for being out after curfew.
Police militarization on the rise, Trumpism on the rise.
Racism rampant, fueled by demagogues in office–on the rise.
Comedy news was about all we could do to keep sane in insane times spent inside.
Delivery times dropped off after 10pm, to not be out after curfew.
The desert drew itself in flames, prayed for God in the fire.
The bathroom has a door, the bedroom has a door, the house has a door.
But what protects us? Our saddened faces covered by masks.
More than a year later, CDC declares those vaccinated could be liberated from masks.
People remove masks in celebration. A new kind of nudity on the rise.
Swung open to summer, a summer later, a late summer, open doors.
Those who had quarantined, who had spent all year inside
come out in a daze, Plato’s second allegory, looking at the world anew like it’s on fire,
and it is, saying this is not fine. And more men stay on the street after curfew.
The growing number of homeless men and women on the street after curfew.
The manufacturing of every kind of fashionable mask.
People gather once again to share pandemic stories around the bonfire.
Disatisfaction, poverty and debt is on the rise.
We’ve examined the worst-case and we’ve seen its bloody insides.
We’ve read the tea leaves, welcomed a new future with open doors…
“Brooding over the deep” / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
This year, I will be created–
myself the brooding waters
call for the wind
to stir above them.
Tell space open.
Tell time divide.
Out of the vacuum, grow wings.
This year I will pull upwards;
beak a hole in the rakia—
let the upper waters rain down
let the lower water rise.
In the deluge, I will make me
an ark, and find room
for two of everything.
This year I will drink me full
lie on the bruised earth,
skin to skin with no name.
Call the blessings of the deeps within.
My mouth a beak, I will
nest never-laid eggs in my navel,
and wait for them to hatch.
1992 / by Nathanael O’Reilly
Woken by my cat at 5am, I let him out
the back door, empty my bladder, slide back into bed
beside my sleeping better half. I lie in the dark
remembering a brilliant year: Saturday night
parties, pub crawls and sleepovers; Sunday morning
pancake breakfasts, nursing hangovers with black coffee;
long walks to the train station; basketball and volleyball
games in the eastern suburbs; winter weekends
in the mountains; sleeping on mates’ floors after drinking
and dancing in Santa Fe and The Metro ‘til dawn;
taking the train into the city with girls to shop
for vintage clothes at Dangerfield; interstate weekend
road trips to concerts where we staked out the front row,
hands grasping the stage shoulder-width apart, girls between
our arms bathed in Rexona, sweat and beer; daytrips
to the beach to surf; midnight games of pool; beer runs
to the bottle shop; lying on floors in the early
hours sharing whispered conversations and body heat;
splitting the price of a tank of petrol; parking
in dark cobblestone lanes; resting legs and shoulders
against each other during quiet rides home; sharing
books and albums with passionate urgings, burning
incense in bedrooms; sneaking out of formal dinners
to act on desire; calling dear friends from payphones
on Sunday evenings to ease loneliness, express
long-repressed feelings, destroy distance; writing essays
and studying for exams until two a.m.;
sitting with gorgeous friends during lectures;
celebrating birthdays in cheap restaurants and pubs;
sleeping on each other’s shoulders in backseats
while cruising down broad suburban highways;
sleeping at friends’ houses after missing last trains;
listening to The World Won’t Listen in the record
library; queuing overnight to buy Pearl Jam
tickets; moshing, singing, dancing, sweating, alive!
Heritage Speaker / by Kalliopy Paleos
Self Portrait as the Phrase, “Never Mind” / by Patty Seyburn
Your origin eludes me
and the hot etymologists
are not much help.
No, Nay, Never says the Wild Rover, promising
to return home and settle down
but since he’s been saying this, lo,
since the 1600s, his credibility is low.
The Never Never, a moniker
for the Australian Outback, full of folk-memory,
until the phrase auditioned
successfully for the Lost Boys.
Never Mind the Bollocks crooned the Sex Pistols
(testicles and nonsense)
with such a conciliatory spirit
and two decades later Nirvana shrugged
(the baby’s penis on the album cover):
nevermind. As in: go to hell, we will
figure it out without you.
What Kurt Cobain figured out,
we will never know.
When I say it, tone is everything.
I could mean: really, it does not matter.
I could mean: I will do it myself.
Two counts of misdemeanor indifference
so the phrase could be claimed cavalier.
To mind: to listen. To mind: to obey.
Two words that matter combine
to make one phrase
that does not.
Poem 14 / Day 14
At 15, I Held My Mother Down Like A Cross / by Christopher Ankney
“This may be our only Paradise, depending upon your
beliefs.” – Sun Yung Shin
Once a year she liked to pretend we were Catholic.
Even then, we were always late for Midnight Mass
and sent to climb up to the seats in the rafters
tucked away like spiderwebs. Some years
we had the displeasure of standing in the back
where the creaky doors like the mouth of God
moaned our presence with the winter chill
an accusation of our otherwise absence.
This year, finally taller than her, I said no.
She flew at me like a fallen angel, like Judas,
so I held her down for everything, in my arms.
I didn’t want to regret physically hurting her.
I didn’t want to be hurt. I tried to save her
from becoming the enemy she made me out,
just a teen, who didn’t want to be
replacement attention for her lonely guilt.
Still, I loved the way “Silent Night” would cue
communion, the irony of the pews being left
once the blood and bread were taken and folks
hurried straight to their cars, off to sleep
to hasten the opening of gifts. I fell in love
too, with the way the raw and crackling
voices of the youth choir somehow stayed
on pitch, as if the repetition of the chorus
made faith itself believe any night could be holy.
It was never the snow I thought was pure,
but the fight against its accumulation,
the crunch and shuffling on the sidewalk,
the wetting of gloves, swiping the windshield
with our coat sleeves, all these borrowed prayers
we make under clouds and cranky breath
just to arrive back home, safely.
Let’s / by Karen Arnold
Jump a carousel
35 cents a ride
If we can’t ride run
sleight weight of a kite behind
Let it carry you up
feet on the firm ground
or walk beside me
we’ll make small leaps
when we can
After leaping lie still
I’ll hold a shell to your ear –
sliding for miles
Air will cover us
Hope / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
Don’t tell me there’s a ray of hope,
Hope isn’t sunshine or moonbeams
skipping across the landscape
Hope doesn’t come in a jar of wishes
like fortune cookies slips waiting to
give everyone their dreams
Hope sits in waiting rooms clutching
a paper cup half full of cold coffee
Hope shows up on the 6:20 flight
from BWI with everything it owns
crammed into a small carry on
There is Hope inside a womb where
death has come too many time before
Hope comes in on quiet tiptoe and
kisses a forehead before sleep comes
Hope doesn’t show up out of the
clear blue sky on a disconsolate day
Hope is always there waiting until it
is needed, always patient, asking
nothing in return but belief in miracles.
Yet the Universe is Expanding / by Cynie Cory
Untitled / by Janel Galnares
R. Shimon Contemplates Bird Hunting / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
…they saw a man hunting birds—
they heard a voice from the heavens call “Dimos dimos.”
and the bird would escape;
They heard another voice call “Spikula,”
and the bird was captured…
[R.Shimon] said, “If a bird cannot be trapped without Heaven’s decree,
how much more so the soul of a man.”
–Genesis Rabba, 79
As they ascend, they seem like stars
oblivious to the earth’s draw.
Yet a sliver of wood, sticky
with the blood of the saucerberry
whose gray leaves smother
the plain above the Dead Sea—
and they flutter like leaves
trying to flee the tree
only to batter to the ground.
A tilting mist-net glints silver
in dawn’s slow dirge. Barley there
yet now they are tangled
like flies in a web, who
leave their iridescent wings
dangling like dew drops
above eyelash legs.
Or a net shoots forth to scoop them
air turned water
they flail like fish
A captured bird,
eyelids sewn shut
can be used to lure others
with its desperate cries—
so cruelly are stars turned to snares.
Afternoon Session / by Nathanael O’Reilly
drop in from the platform, speed across the flat, rise
up the transition, turn backside into a fifty-
fifty grind across the coping, pump for speed
slide into a rock and roll, hold the pose for half
a second before turning into the drop, zoom
backwards and forwards across the half-pipe balancing
in motion, turn frontside and backside, slash-grind
the coping, boardslide the width of the ramp, pop
frontside ollies, kickflip to fakie, increase velocity
grab air, land on the transition, avert disaster
axle stall and pause for two beats, invert to handplant
boost with the left foot into boneless, become motion
embrace the rush, bail on a backside air, let the board
fly away, kneeslide down the transition to safety
Picking a Fight in the Garden of Eden / by Kalliopy Paleos
But that I may not this disgrace
Endure, nor yet leave loving, Love, let me
Some senseless piece of this place be;
Make me a mandrake, so I may grow here,
Or a stone fountain weeping out my year.
– John Donne, Twickenham Garden
That’s right John
Duck and cover. Play dead.
Ugh. If there’s any dainty pastry
I’ve eaten enough of in this life
it’s a tasty man who’s a coward.
I don’t care if a man jumps up
on the table when he sees a mouse –
If he could love a woman
who knows how to read the currents
well damn everything else straight to Hell,
I would have conjured enchanted forests for him to wander
Woven nights as bright as day, only more beautiful
Blessed and anointed him with the magical oil
the spirits left by my bed
– yes, right there on the blue table I got off the sidewalk!
And John, you know what else?
I know you don’t mind me telling you all this
because you decided to become a statue —
very feminine move I might add,
really kind of a turn-on if I let the idea penetrate
I mean, you are hard as a rock,
which is much more useful to me
than a whimpering dandy
making a spectacle of himself in the park
Hold on — what was I saying?
Oh, yes. That it’s so nice to sit here with you.
You’re so calm and patient, now
that you’ve had a good cry.
That really, even if I
were to see such a man
it wouldn’t do me any good.
I mean, you know my past.
For cowards, I’ve made mud huts
I’ve gone down to the stream to catch dinner
I’ve cooked over fires that burned my face
Lay down like a luminous lake in summertime
But John, even if he walked up to me right now
whoever he’d be
I’d be so sad – sad as you
because what they call virginity is no cherry
It is the blossom
and of that I just have no more.
John! Are you even listening?
Amplifier / by Patty Seyburn
I can understand being the girl – she looks
like me and talks like me, though without
the usual judgment, the usual critique
and I understand being the combination
man, part boy I liked but denied in high school,
part dead-friend, part barista, part cable installer
and I even understand being the city bus
because my mother and I rode it to temple,
where she worked, on the many snow days
even the day when we came home to find
the back door oddly unlocked and the word
Smile scrawled in lipstick by the thief
because in Detroit it is easy to imagine
one’s self any mode of motorized transport –
every third dad worked for the big three
and that was the meat, the starch and the canned
vegetable on the table, as well as school book
and annual drive to North Miami, the promised land,
but I struggle with being the waffle-iron
which shows up out of nowhere – not because
it is modern – I know time to be fluid –
more due to seeming insignificance – must I
interpret the waffle as creation? I use a mix
and non-stick spray though instructions claim
it unnecessary. And what of the empty
glasses-case on the counter adjacent?
Okay, I can work with that – no glasses
in sight, something about a lack of vision,
though the girl nor the combination
boy seem to need them. And must I be
the stainless steel kitchen sink? It is clean
and empty, too – I suppose there is a theme
emerging, but these props could also set
the scene and mean nothing more, could
they not? Are they symbols or archetypes?
Jung died just two years before my birth,
when my mother entered twilight sleep
at Sinai Hospital (leveled and rebuilt
in the suburbs) and emerged, middle-aged,
with an infant (how tired she must have been)
whom my grandma Rose, old world Ruchel
saw first and said, she was looking all around
and it’s true, I was, but I never dream of them,
I leave out the equivalent of cookies and milk,
but they are too busy sorting out that business
with my uncle and the pawnshop, watching
their programs and after all, the Jewish Center
Friendship Club won’t run itself.
Poem 13 / Day 13
Walking the Terrain / by Christopher Ankney
—after Robert Frost and Rudyard Kipling
Imagine one stretch of road from birth
to death. You take one road—just the one.
What does your life look like on this earth
where others try to define your worth
to make their own feel accomplished, Son?
Think of when we drove Wyoming’s steppe
and played, Is it a pronghorn or rock?
as Mom raced the stars until they slept—
outside, the terrain morphs with each step
so keep your eyes mimicking the hawk,
who filters the subtlest diversions
starting with the sunlight’s refractions,
who sees in man all his aspersions,
always try to be a keen person
and from miles away takes swift action.
Yet, don’t count on catching all your prey
with such ease, or believe you aren’t free
to be the prey—the road a dark gray,
requires you to dance the night’s ballet—
Let go, take on the world like a tree.
Rules of Travel / by Karen Arnold
Leave on a day
you have nothing else to do
Take all the books
you meant to read
enough socks to last
through several downpours
when you are out walking
maps to keep you from
a good jacket
an flexible tote bag
tickets for the ferry
who want to go
plenty of jokes
As you ride along
keep your hands
in the car
stop to get gas
when the gauge registers half
watch for turning trucks
read the route signs
take a bag of pretzels
and something to drink
a pillow for napping
the last banana
When you arrive
on the speed of your travel
look around to see
if the place looks familiar
does it match the photo
in the guidebook
Can you see a restaurant
across the water
where you can have wine
and watch boats come in
Unpack and go out
heave a sigh of relief
talk about people
and places you’ve left behind
Relax on chairs in the sun
Buy some pottery
Go to the lighthouse
Drive down a two-lane road
Think about the time
between this trip
and the last
Decide what to do next
Polyester Morning / by Alejandra Cabezas
My curtains are red—
I wonder why, desert rose,
she rose. Deserted I chose
the sandalwood. Scrappy
thing against my skin.
Thing. Thing. Thing.
I’ve made myself
from all my feelings of
red. The way men rub
themselves on me at
summer fling. Whoops!
Abyss of nothing ever
is blue. Today,
Pacific, Central, West
everything tastes red.
The Legacy We Leave Behind / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
A pile of newspapers turning to dust
stacked on the bottom shelf of the
little table beside the worn recliner
with the afghan she knit while you
were at work and she was unable to
sleep worried if you were making
it home after breaking the strike line
because you had two little children
at home who were hungry and
depended on you to bring home
money along with a surprise can
of Big Red and the paper with the
comics and crossword puzzles
we would get around to doing.
A rusted bicycle forgotten
behind the shed we drove four
towns over to buy so you could
fill it with all the broken things
we brought home from yard
sales on the weekends after
reading the paper on Friday
night and circling all the
good ones and putting them
in order of what we wanted first,
tools then electronics but
never clothes or baby toys.
Sonnet to Childhood / by Cynie Cory
Ghazal for the Broken Body / by Janel Galnares
The body, color of stained bruised apple, is so fragile
like the heart, bloody leaky pump, grows fragile.
Consider the head, shrouded in bone, how crushable
by the swinging fist, accidental factory switch, or plough, fragile.
The sinking gut, like a damaged drum, is swift to bring the body down.
And don’t forget the phalanges—and ears, nose, toes—too, fragile.
Like trust, good vibes, faith, like the silence in the room.
Easily broken. Like a family pact—nose goes—fragile.
This body, like this heart—the more it’s used, the tougher it pretends.
Like invincibility, a concept oh so—Janel knows—fragile.
Embryology / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
We begin as fish–
slitting spyholes in our necks
ocean whispers our inner ear
a voice-box made of gills.
Our eel-eyes journey
from the sides of our skulls,
lips pulled inwards
to fold the mountain range
of the philtrum
like the cascading curves
of the desert sing of lost
sea, that still stirs somnambules
beneath waves of sand
where scorpion dart.
like threadfins between rocks.
No wonder then,
our ribs are ship hulls
that ache for water’s touch
and our plasma pushes
the iron hemoglobin,
through canals that smell of salt.
Winter / by Nathanael O’Reilly
I split wood on the back verandah
while woodsmoke wafted from the chimney,
watched Aussie Rules on Sunday afternoons,
wore duffel coats, scarves, beanies and gloves,
ate hot chips, pasties and potato cakes
with soy sauce, wore two pairs of socks inside
the draughty weatherboard house, warmed the foot
of the bed with a hot water bottle,
slid into tightly tucked flannel sheets
under woollen blankets. I ate porridge
with brown sugar for breakfast, sipped port beside
the fireplace with my father while Carole
King, Enya and Van Morrison albums
played on the stereo, my mother
knitted in her favourite armchair.
I ate vegetable soup and freshly baked
homemade bread slathered with melting butter
and honey, rode my bike to school through frost-
covered neighbourhoods, breath rising through fog,
built cubbies beneath the old loading ramp
beside the railway tracks, hunted rabbits
in the paddock behind the abandoned
abattoir. I played kick-to-kick at recess
on the school oval, rubbed blue hands between
marks and kicks, sipped steaming tomato soup
from a thermos, skateboarded through town
in twilight before dinner under skies
streaked pink and blue. I woke in darkness,
left for school before sunrise, wore woollen
socks and jumpers with corduroy jeans,
inhaled the smell of wet wool from girls
wearing damp jumpers, tartan skirts and black
stockings. I savoured Mum’s shepherd’s pie
and chocolate pudding on my birthday,
slept in sleeping bags on the floor in front
of the fire, huddled around backyard
bonfires with friends, passed bottles of bourbon
and port, toasted marshmallows, danced in pubs
and nightclubs until dawn revelling
in the sweaty fug of friendship, sauntered
down glistening city streets through yellow
streetlight fog and misty rain arm in arm
with friends who accepted me without
reservations, hands buried deep in coat
pockets, drizzle beading on beanies,
scarves and faces in winter darkness.
Honestly, this woman wrote so little
it might as well be a painting
of dogs playing poker
Still. we wear such gowns every day
somehow people can sense them
under our clothes
And you can’t see her necklace
yet each of us wear the same soft capsule
around our velvety throats
For example, say you and I
each of us too polite
because of the beauty of the world
to get into the fine details
but in fact you’re going to die
as am I
Neither of us has read the message
in our capsule
The rules of the game
and when you’ll have to throw in your hand
But likely neither you nor I
will be torn limb from limb
by screaming people
Likely historians will not shout at each other
about whether or not
a rabid soldier tore off our labia
to wear as a moustache.
We’re not allowed to imagine that.
We mustn’t think of such things
our severed head
won’t be freshly made up
foisted up on a spike
gleeful parade past the Queen’s window
No, our hours are somewhat quiet.
We languish, playing solitaire
enjoying the fascinating thoughts
prancing through our heads
as we place our bets
and lose again.
If you could read your capsule
your mind would begin to dismantle itself
You’d perhaps find her lace handkerchief
somewhere under your own robe
and try to tell people about it:
we are one
Maybe somewhere in the drawer
of a pretty little desk
some pleasant afternoon
playing at being a lady
you’d find a silver pistol in the drawer
and realize you’re playing
As it turns out, a great deal happens in Worms. / by Patty Seyburn
There was Eleazar of Worms, also known
As Eleazar the Perfumer. He wrote a book
Called “Book of the Perfumer” though he
Had nothing to do with creating scents.
The numerical value of “perfumer” the same
As that of his name. Please don’t’ ask me
How this works – I imagine other words
Would contain the same numerical value –
Oh, wait, I probably have to explain
That letters in Hebrew have numbers
Attached in the mystical tradition – every
Faith has one, right? People who believe
Beyond what everyone else believes, beyond
What the senses can apprehend, a little
“sketch” as my son my say, supernatural
Rather than preternatural (I love that word).
It’s tempting, isn’t it? I believe there’s much
I can’t understand or know, am rational
(most of the time) or at least a rationalist
Like my rabbi, who is eminently reasonable
For a holy person, and may think me a bit
Of a kook. I am a poet and a bit of a kook.
What could Eleazar of Words have called
Himself besides Eleazar the Perfumer?
Perhaps his name also aligns with “potholder”
Or “maker of trinkets” or “beekeeper” or
“spectacle maker”? And yet, he chose perfumer,
Perhaps because learning is fragrant, even
Sensual, at moments. I am out on a limb, here,
But who will stop me? Who will save me?
Poem 12 / Day 12
“Principles of Self Defence” / by Christopher Ankney
—after Joshua Clover’s “The Nevada Glassworks”
Take a right on Killebrew Doctor
u-turn, u-turn ding-ding, take a left
on Killebrew Doctor. You have reached
your destination. The Mall of America
parking lot, it’s Wally’s World, nobody’s home
in the winter storm, let’s donut
before going inside for Starbuck’s and croissant.
The sun still shines on the cement,
a sweltering grey mirage, no Dromedary camels
to sultan us into gold’s escape. Tomorrow, Da Bears
hunt Norsemen in a bubble. For now,
the mall’s a game of four square. We won’t have time
to stop and kiss, but let’s enjoy this.
There are a dozen kiosks selling lust. There are half
more chasing us with must. Tom Tom,
can you come and guide us through
these doors? We sway so easily
to your toddler navigation. We like walking
through the mist; we don’t love leeches
selling speech, Buy this, tsk tsk. Do you want
to be a model? I don’t see it unless I squint
with the 40 0z pop behind my back. I don’t
see anything or anyone in 2006. Good ol’ Tom
found us a Doctor instead of Drive. Bad coding
like a bad poem. Will you fix me, dear, I’ve become
too obtuse? How were we going from there
to here. Is this a rhetorical question, a device, are we
the experimented mice? Mark Grace swung
a sweet bat in the ‘80s and then was in an elevator
complimenting your chesty shirt. Five star
hotel at a priceline buy! Don’t fret, I’m circling back
like a US diplomat. It’s 2021, no hindsight yet.
Diplo could sample the response, garageband’s
come so far. I don’t mean it, he’s such a lovely model
for Xennials. I wonder, would he scoff, Do children deserve
to act in self-defence? Would he confuse doctor and drive,
the technology less daft than the blue suited man
letting children die on his parched tongue, a belief
it must be done to save relations, he has time kiss
the parking lot’s behind.
Lily in love / by Karen Arnold
Antropología / by Alejandra Cabezas
White on White / by Cynie Cory
Right hemisphere stopped white and plotted
action, the center of winter can’t speak
how the rhododendrons have been murdered.
Well known, Truman Capote’s empathy
for the Clutter family killers, parallels
no one at the time, new emotions
must be brought to the left through words, details
to make sense of the trauma, if you can’t
talk, the emotions dump in the body
and like a strobe-light-memory-circuit,
cause disease. Look at the author’s brain
which was mirrored by the brain of Perry Smith.
White-out in the hemisphere-caught trauma.
The imperfect accordion hovers.
Tear / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
My shirt split today
just under the arm, a dart
above the breast
two inches too high
for the mourner’s torn heart.
My bra glints through, discolored nude.
The Japanese kintsukeroi mends
shards with golden seams.
Mourners pin the flap and leave
the middle gaping,
like a Bakōhan clamp burrows,
locustlike, into a cracked bowl
to declare the beauty
of broken things.
Those who see Jerusalem in her ruin
must tear their clothes. When my grandfather
came off the plane, he changed his shirt
and walked to the kotel lookout
to tear a tattered line down his chest.
Then put the shirt back in the closet
to be torn again.
I don’t want to throw the damaged away
but don’t know how to sew a smooth seam
or make beauty out of tears–
have not yet learned to offer brokenness
like a bouquet, to shove it at every passerby, say Here.
7 Cardigan Street / by Nathanael O’Reilly
on pasta, porridge
and bread, shared groceries,
studied huddled in sleeping bags,
blasted U2, Counting Crows, Crowded House,
and The Cranberries, danced with twenty sweaty
friends as books fell from shelves, read poetry
in the bay window seat, marveled through naked rendezvous
beside the fireplace, dunked on the nine foot rim, jumped
from the front yard brick wall, shared single beds with girls,
drank beer and port, shaved heads in celebration when the Mean Machine
won the Commonwealth Games relay, walked to the jetty to watch the sun
set over Lake Wendouree, stumbled home drunk from the Miller’s Arms through the cemetery.
Voltaire Confused / by Kalliopy Paleos
Poem 11 / Day 11
Ranchland Motel / by Christopher Ankney
we sat outside on stakeout mother cursing under
her breath not about crime of putting her children
through this not of letting a man smooth talk hands
on her back and cheek but because he’d gone back
to this other woman and now three decades later
what most bothers me is how a man can convince
women to call each other whores and have them utter
that misblaming as love that was more just desire
to not be alone to not wake up unable to trust why
the man is not in bed not at work and his unmistakable
fiero such a piece of shit a beacon on the highway
into the south of town right across from the scratch
off store keck’s where years later my brother would find
an abandoned garbage bag of instant tickets in the corn
field and would bag a couple hundred cashed in before
the serial numbers were traced and the sheriff waited
on a stakeout for my brother and mother their luck
from good to bad in a heartbeat because luck doesn’t pay
but no charges were made somehow because the deputy
had tape of the thieves and let ignorance and desperation
sway the law which is these years later a ticket to knowing
white privilege in a white town with a last name in the high
school rafters and the gossip that comes with dating black
men and spending nights at the bars on the outskirts like stars
fallen constellations of a childhood where the car window shines
like the call for help the glass between prisoner and person
the moment she came out of the room smiling on his arm
and I hear mom say that should be her and she busts the perfect
lips of this other woman like a scene on cable on the boxy eighties
sets that if they fell from the motel wall could kill somebody nearly
did years later when they demolished the ranchland and sold it
for parts and I wonder if the set my brother bought came from the room
we watched through the night when we learned how a man can boil women
in their own sweat and tears and come out licking his lips and move on
This poem is a dialogue / by Karen Arnold
North of Jordan / by Alejandra Cabezas
wildebeest / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
you laugh at my pain
me on open ground
you hiding in the grass
stalk me taunt me
my horns submit to you
curve up in subtle defiance
you call them beautiful exotic
does your flattery soften my defenses
do I bask in you gaze your desire
I have wandered the forests
my strength only keeps you away
for a season
Once We Were Formless, Before Stars / by Cynie Cory
We hold sorrow in the body
the left-handed crimes against nature
the sister in question who is incongruent
and grief ravaged
We walk like daughters of the Branch Davidians
through deserted mansions
whose corridors of starlight translate our hunger
and unbutton our shirts as though we are falling
R. Shimon Watches the Birds / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
R. Shimon bar Yochai and his son R. Eliezer hid in a cave for thirteen years during the period of [Roman] persecution, and they survived on carobs…until their bodies raised rust.
At the end of thirteen years…they saw a man hunting birds, and heard a voice from the heavens call “Dimos dimos.” and the bird would escape, and another voice call “Spikula” and the bird would be captured…
–Genesis Rabba, 79
The body can rust
shedding crusted rain
of breath and blood
Watch the vultures circle overhead–
the heavens also have caves
ready to swallow you.
A voice calls “flee.”
A voice calls “die.”
The pincers of the sky decide.
At night the dove swoops by,
olive leaves crushed in her beak.
Her feet cling to taloned branches
like there is no land in sight
like this is the ark, floating.
In the dark, her voice calls—
a warble of longing
reflecting of a
deluge of loneliness.
Moving Day / by Nathanael O’Reilly
U-HAULs reverse into driveways the day
before graduation. Students carry
possessions to and from rented houses
and garage apartments, move mattresses,
bed frames, headboards, suitcases stuffed with clothes,
empty liquor bottles, lamps, desks, record
players, speakers, flat screen TVs, BUD-LIGHT
signs, chairs, laundry baskets, coffee makers.
Landscapers manicure campus, curve shrubs,
trim hedges into perfect straight lines, weed
flowerbeds, edge pathways, mow lawns, blow leaves
and grass clippings, sweep pathways, set up chairs
and tables, erect marquees, clean windows,
polish rails and knobs, strive for aesthetic
perfection and Instagram readiness.
Parents arrive from all over Texas,
out of state and overseas, obstruct streets
with rental cars, bring gifts wrapped in purple,
hug sons and daughters, shake hands and bump fists
with children’s roommates in driveway moments.
The Medium Undeniably Channels my Late Father
(Pantoum) / by Kalliopy Paleos
Poem 10 / Day 10
Lot 21 / by Christopher Ankney
our trailer was a tin can an upside-down mountain forest
green above the taiga line inside we were dragons protecting
nothing no money under the mattress no valuables to pawn
just posters of new kids on the block my brother put lipstick
on jordan and who would’ve known both he and joey became
solo acts and donnie would grow up to be the lesser of two
brothers a cop on tv while his brother sang alone modeled bikini
underwear and became an action star while one renovates
old farmhouses on hgtv and the other one is somewhere quietly
off stage like everyone in this court
row after row looked like the stacked shipping crates of jersey
in ohio farmland and we wonder if the namer meant to be ironic
calling the court green acres since even the babies knew they didn’t
want to be there amongst the underemployed the escapees from
dreams of some life that always started with if I could just get
money if my ex would stop slashing my tires to get me fired
from the plant to show me she loves me more than the woman
she was left for she was left for being too friendly with someone
at shaker’s at the wagon wheel way on the other side of town
it still sits there two decades later zoomable on google satellite
next to a strip of woods and the dead fields and the passing bullets
on the highway the semis where a kid named jeremy once threw snow
balls as if trying to break an invisible barrier between us and the world
and smashed the windshield of a rig and we scattered like spiders
hearing the brakes screen screech like vacuum which must have been
the sound too of the semi that took two of friends clipped their bicycles
and left us to ponder their mullets in frames at the funeral home what
could have been if the adult was just paying attention a little more
we were a little government of white kids unregulated our main law
was to have fun escape 0ur parents their rules their lack of guidance their
ghostly attention to us their haunts their mistakes their seeming apathy
First Person Singular / by Karen Arnold
The critic says
…..stories touching love
you slippery fish
drinker of coffee
lover of jazz
ham and eggs man
where’s your Japan
without names wander
sometimes in and out
of their own realities
which we readers suspect
The young men
have vague memories
girls without names
schools where teachers
seem beside the point
to students or learning
Their careers are
unnamed and solitary
their travel solo
full of odd
If there is love
or connection it
emotional content or
the possibility of
named but mean
offer no context
as young professional
a foggy country
Lobster Telephone or
Young Woman at a Window
gray-white, girl and room
opening on a featureless
gray-white sea….his men
in bowlers standing
stiffly beside their
write life riddles
roaming in their lives
Persephone and Demeter Take a Vacation / by Alejandra Cabezas
at the yolk of it, once,
yanked away from the moon.
Leaps and lactates
like an antelope, jackrabbit,
jointed at its skull. Looks at
me with eyes of gold
and muck. Buried treasure,
perhaps, my mother’s pleasure
for eating tomatoes at
breakfast. Cult of domesticity
as we pull hyacinths from the
ground. Sip on beer and
laugh on papa’s deathbed. God,
forgive us, we didn’t go to church
today. We laid on the steps
of our home. Played poker and
gambled away our secret names.
Trifles, truly. You know the
things men and women call
each other. That’s why we make
ourselves hares and leopards.
Once a year we roam the earth
like animals. This Sunday we brought
the wilderness to our home.
Youthful Indiscretion / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
with thanks to Christian, PW, Melody, and Willie
Youthful naivete was no excuse;
we had been told better,
somewhere deep down we knew better.
But sex in the back of your
1967 Volkswagen bug was hot,
jumbled, contortionist chaos.
And we loved it, snuck off to
the parking lot between class,
hurried hands pulling decency aside.
Sometimes I forget how it felt
to be so urgently in love, or
what passed for love in 10th grade.
Some days I remember it all
so clearly I can still smell the fake
leather seats softening under Texas sun.
Blame/No Blame / by Cynie Cory
The tulips behave badly
like yellow ships believing
no one sees them.
Remember who you are
calls a voice from the balcony.
There is so much water, the body
sinks to birdsong-panic.
Waiting is for acrobats, says Chronic.
Listen to the crowd. / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
Erasure of “Hajj Crush: How Crowd Disasters Happen, and How They Can Be Avoided,” The Guardian, 03 October 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/03/hajj-crush-how-crowd-disasters-happen-and-how-they-can-be-avoided
impossible to turn
head wedged like an egg
into a box of others.
slip forwards be carried
chests and backs
a ragged patch of blue.
lack of space
beneath this empty sky.
the spread of fires
movement of crows—
try to stay together
shock wave travelling.
Denied the fallen
body to lean against,
a larger hole.
Buried in bodies,
perhaps bodies that you know.
Crushed by others
who have no choice in the matter,
the people who choose
Be aware. Look ahead. Listen to the crowd.
Melbourne / by Nathanael O’Reilly
home after leaving
home, you made me
an adult, showed me cobblestone
lanes, suburbs, architecture, pubs, gardens, trams,
gave me friendships, education, inspiration, concerts, libraries,
all-night parties, walks home through the rain, espresso,
record shops, bookshops, op-shops, nightclubs, autumn leaves, romance, conversations
before dawn beside the bay, dreams of travel and return.
Overturning the Cameras at the Temple / by Kalliopy Paleos
Poem 9 / Day 9
Your Song Makes The World Your Church / by Christopher Ankney
—to Willie Spence
we are the disciples of your preach we are the experience
moved by your human 0ur knees buckle at your nave we are
but knaves the kneeler moans our confessions of worthiness—
will you gospel our forgiveness until we are all the rained ashes
of the apocalypse
Edge / by Karen Arnold
Writing about Maine in my room, more hamster nest than working space….mind
running backwards to that first heart-stopping day on Pemaquid when Midwest
plains confronted ocean swells…..caught us so fast we sat and climbed for hours
picking driftwood, rocks and shells enough to be unwieldy….sat hypnotized as
noisy, foamy waves sloshed below us never hesitating, settled or inviting. Reliving
awe, a wind-in-face exulting urge to breathe it in, hoard the lift of light so clear
the edge of everything – clear to and also horizon – felt razor sharp, precise and
startling……sending Gary off to buy us dinner so we didn’t have to leave this
miracle so wrapped in sun and air it made breath other-worldly….is this a prose
poem or psalm to feeling free…..time gone but caught, transfixing then and ever
after…..seducing us to swallow whole the wide expanse its drama, thrust and
beckoning spirit where shore bound we embraced the globe’s one edge available
to us…..offering a footing voyagers set off from or longed for, point of land
sprouting a lighthouse…..faint attempt to signal safety that can never really be
assured…Pemaquid the place where instantly the urge to journey rises
unsuspected and unbidden but embraced…..invited by spirits of wanderers and
seekers to step off the coast of known adventures into the beyond.
Tomb Deposit / by Alejandra Cabezas
Nothing feels as empty as the trails of the earth. Where once, me and you, now runs a serpent. Bodied thing I am jealous of. With no arms to reach for you. No legs to keep me put. I love standing on puddles until the rain stops. There comes the sun and I find myself in a hole. Never had to carve myself out of the present. I stay, always. One day I’ll drown myself. I’ve heard all about this soil and its precariousness. No doubt the terracotta will outlive me. I am porous. Meant for permeability. My output is my weakness. Everything inside me is either wet or dry. Old things. Uncared for. Left behind in floods. Found drying in the sand. Nothing has ever restored its composition. Chemistry, I know. Nothing ever dies. But the sun and the salt will eat away at me. You have to believe me. I am withered. Meant to serve in the afterlife. There is none.
Starting Over / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
I want to give it all away,
the bullshit I’ve collected,
strip the shelves bare and
not look at it anymore.
Start over and forget you.
I want to strip the paint
from the walls and forget
about the nights eating pizza
in the floor surrounded by
brushes, rollers, and tarps.
Start all over from white.
I want to change the bulbs
in all the lamps so I can’t
see the light we shared,
the shadows in the corners.
Start with my own light.
Confession / by Cynie Cory
Blasted and broken sick by autoimmunity,
disguised by the private soldier in me,
the cure is not here.
It hurts to tell. It is a conduit
I cannot manage. Chemicals
will not help. The body
is white with fire. Strange,
exhaustion. I can no longer swim
to the island. The alarum of trumpets sound
like a door, subverts my purpose.
To have you for a mother / by Janel Galnares
This is the year I am the age you were the day I was born.
You have seen all my life and a life’s worth before.
(I bring with me, wherever I go, a childhood of your love
which soothes arresting self-doubt, anchoring the beginnings of dreams.)
I have lived as a part of all of the second half of your life.
From 30 to now, you have loved me, and I you in return.
(To have you for a mother is to know what it means
to never have no one on this earth to share it with.)
I remember nights and mornings you were present—all of them—
and even after harsh words, mine or yours, your love stayed always.
(Your love built our home, stability a home of the mind.)
And here is the result:
A daughter who hears your voice everyday (sometimes escaping from her own mouth).
A daughter whose life is guided by inherited wisdom. (If you don’t have anything nice to say…)
Who aspires to your degree of kindness—the deadly kind. (Kill ‘em with kindness.)
A daughter who loves you and the world—the world you’ve shared with her—as much as you do.
“A crowd at such densities behaves somewhat like a fluid” / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
To move as one
form and deform
at any force–
to flow through containments
shaped and reshaped,
unable to resist–
persist only in
digest the self and
dissolve. Primordial soup
of pupa and protein
fueling the fast-swirling imaginal discs–
if tucked in our body
we all carry
what it feels
to flow as flesh.
My ancestors / by Nathanael O’Reilly
left Ireland, England, Wales and Portugal
endured months at sea, crossed the equator
into new lives in a new hemisphere
were transported for life to Van Diemen’s
Land, escaped British rule, emigrated
in pursuit of dreams, survived a shipwreck
swam to shore, walked seventeen miles to land
purchased unseen before boarding the ship
to the stolen continent, built a stone
cottage, cleared the land, ploughed paddocks, planted
wheat, played music at dances and weddings
wrote poetry in cottages, classrooms
and fields, on ships and trains, married the sons
and daughters of fellow immigrants, raised
hundreds of children, increased their acreage
built mighty flocks, shore sheep by hand with shears
funded stained glass windows in the local
church, played Aussie Rules and cricket, won grand
finals, won scholarships to boarding school
and university, taught generations
of students, ran schools, joined the army, fought
Germans on the Western Front, survived years
in the trenches, mustard gas, wounds, returned
home to take over the farm, built bridges
roads, houses and stone walls, nursed thousands
of patients in country town hospitals
milked the herd daily at dawn and dusk, waltzed
and foxtrotted on Thursday evenings
at The Whaler’s Inn, walked miles of shipwreck
coast, exploring caves, rockpools and beaches
attended mass on Sundays, sent cash
to grandkids, built steam engines in Dublin
served in the RAF in WWII
spent years in Burma and Singapore
took the train to the city to visit
grandchildren, caught whiting at the surf beach
wore suits tailored from wool grown on their land
drank beer, wine, sherry, port and tea, ate peas
potatoes, carrots, cabbage and onions
from their gardens, peaches, apricots
nectarines and mulberries from their orchard
drank fresh milk from their herd, ate beef and lamb
raised in their paddocks, baled hay, repaired fences
and windmills, swam in the Southern Ocean
populated small town cemeteries
Sunday Unto Itself / by Kalliopy Paleos
It is evening. And here is the platform.
We have arrived again with our thin paper tickets at the station that is Sunday to await the dark train that is night. The dank walls whispering always but they are still strangers.
The fine leather of our shoes crackles as we step aboard and leave and stare out, coats brimming with mice. Arriving and leaving again and again careening and shuffling
until we reach the old stone well and how well we know it, circling it carefully. We know the moon – a belly – has sunken deep in. And at the base of the well in the wet, living dirt, the saplings. These we never remember.
They have at most three leaves yet, at most four. It is here we settle down in the dusk together. It is with these leaves we must converse as best we can as the darkness eases itself into something we can breathe somewhere we can remain.
Poem 8 / Day 8
Valence / by Christopher Ankney
Particles attract each other
when one has a need from loss
and the other a need to give
but neither is conscious
which is which, what is what,
and that is the bond, love,
the sacrifice of two to make one,
the recurrence, an iteration
of maker, let us worship
Compound, bow to the salt
made of your tongue
and my saliva, drink the water
made of diamond
and bone. What lasts
is what the soul eats, says
a translation of the great dead
poet. He had a clear mind
singing what comes down
the mountain, through mist.
Our vows on the hill of the cross
country course: our Gott, our
God, we call Hypothesis, our faith
tested through litany, we name Law.
Travel / by Karen Arnold
North to Maine
up the coast from
in pollen and wind crazed storms
past muscular New York
where early green
just remembering the
flash of sun in leaves.
North to Maine
marking old settlements
in a day
terrain that tried the hardy
cities barely holding on.
North to Maine
south to north
an annual flight
from full blown spring
to just beginning
from the present
North to Maine
season to season
we gain the momentum
toward rocky shores
toward the edge
of carrying on.
Too Long / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
How much longer will we
let them spread lies,
our desire for unity
and fairness letting
them undermine the
fabric of our country.
How much longer will we
let the schoolyard bully
push around while we
try to make excuses
and say “well, he’s
just acting out. he’s
really nice if you
got to know him.”
How much longer will we
be blind to the fact they
know they can yell and
scream us into silence
while we smile and
think it will all turn
out okay in the end.
How much long will we
refuse to call it what
we all know it is,
the truth plain for
everyone to see,
how much longer until
their screams and lies
drown out the truth.
Why I am Not a Visionary / by Cynie Cory
Impermanent / by Janel Galnares
Less than halfway through my life—
(on average—we’ll see)
and I am thinking that a lifetime is quite enough.
I won’t get to do or see everything within that hallway space
but on what days am I able to get everything I want to done,
days spent working are waiting for a day to rest—
and then the workday swings back into gear
and vacation would mean days spent saving
instead of in recovery from the Pompeiian avalanche
of bills neverending—utilities, gas, TEP, phone, rent, food, medical, school loans—
that will never be paid in full—
so then it’s back to work again
trying to do something that makes
everyone’s work a little easier, everyone’s life a little better
including my own and yet every little change requires so much effort—
but Sisyphus, my brother, I don’t hear him complaining
so I steady my feet, I keep on but I am driving
and then I am sitting and my hands are typing and
every day another poem
another 8 hours of shoveling us out of it all
the ground sinking from the weight of it—our world our bodies gravity
pulling us ever downward
maybe the point is
we will only be done when we can no longer do the work,
I say, because I must have a reason
to get up every day, to write a poem.
But that’s not it. No, the point is this:
my loved one’s face
when I do an extra thing he asks—something so small:
like getting him water or heating up dinner
after a long day of work for us both,
and we take turns taking care of each other,
and our dogs are at our feet again
just happy we made it home
and I seal it all with a kiss, stealing the memory away
from eternity’s impermanence.
Sufficient / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
This time, whatever R. Eliezer would destroy
R. Shimon would heal.
“My son,” he said, “you and I together are sufficient for the entire world.”
–Tractate Shabbat, 33b
Don’t be afraid to cut
the dead cells away
the curls will regrow
after they clumped in drains,
making the bath regurgitate,
suds spinning outward;
and the refracted light
broken by the rain
can laser back to white again.
Overhead. a torn sky
any of which can ignite–
as day, which peeks
from night’s back corner.
We marry in dark soil
spinning a chrysalis
after shedding our final skin.
Ride / by Nathanael O’Reilly
ride a tram up Collins, cross King, William, Queen
ride a suburban train from Flinders Street to Seaford
ride the buzz after pints of lager in the beer garden
ride the slopes of Purgatory on a rented snowboard
ride the bus from the railway station out to campus
ride the ferry from Manly to Circular Quay
ride jetlag around Rome on the sightseeing bus
ride a black mare bareback through downtown Santa Fe
ride the wooden rollercoaster at Luna Park
ride the cymbals while drumming in a garage band
ride the overnight ferry from Rosslare to Pembroke
ride new Spitfire wheels on the half-pipe, increase speed
ride the V/LINE from Southern Cross to Shepparton
ride four-foot waves on a longboard at Lahinch in June
My Programs / by Patty Seyburn
Oh, I love about-ness.
I watch before I go to bed – probably
a bankrupt idea, if I don’t want
to create a subconscious
minefield where odd behaviors are amplified
but when else can we save
the innocent and stare
into the guilty’s high-definition eyes,
press the pause –
they benefit from a good soundtrack –
(Wistful music playing) say
the subtitles – pathos but not too
maudlin, in case it turns out
to be a good day.
The Fun of Revulsion / by Kalliopy Paleos
Thank you broken heavens for raining down even on me, the unjust, on these divine days I am allowed now to sit on the cushions far from the bubbling pus, the seething pit that it must be your amusement also to leer at. Thank you for this leisure, so far from the shit-show and my own whorish nights pounding the pavement to get back to my own pathetic hole because bus fare must be better spent and I’m not going to face that penis again and so taking my rump through the streets on my own two blistered feet no matter what. Thank you for this grey day of solace and luxe I coughed up every nickel required so now if I’m mired in ease and bile, stinking of my own piss well I slap a grin on this mug and say fuck all those suckers out there I’m just going to sip this concoction and watch the silvery drops drip along the panes because frankly my dear I don’t have to give a damn.
Poem 7 / Day 7
“Après moi, le déluge” / by Christopher Ankney
—Roger Bannister, upon being the first to break 4 minutes in the mile
He does not miss people. He asked neighbors
to consider the caterpillars, leave foliage to house
quiet creatures through winter, but they rather call
the HOA to police the spring’s speedwell, chickweed,
buttercup – the black medic – he let them bloom
in their marginalia, his yard unworried
about the clean presentation of force.
He doesn’t understand prim gardeners, the need
to force wonderment into classic shapes. He manicures
his routes to avoid running into the men paid to shape
somebody else’s lawn. He views construction
as a lacking, the opposite of what is innate,
which he sees on his run the breathe itself,
the giving back in an exhalation, a happiness
in what is not inside us, in release, of what isn’t
supposed to be there – which is our fill of the earth.
The Evidence Box / by Karen Arnold
The clues are all in the box
collected and catalogued
to help figure out what happened
First item: the hour
between ten and eleven
in the morning
when you checked the calendar
Second item: not wanting
to go to the appointment
too tired, too reluctant
Fourth item: phoning
to say you couldn’t
make it because
you didn’t feel well
crossing out the time
Antología / by Alejandra Cabezas
I know you’d light my house
on fire without a second thought.
my father’s will, would be, perhaps
thing with which
through my gut
at the fill
fuck your mania.
Many a woman
you turned into
scared, you were,
of what corpses
you need her shut
between your lips
at bedtime when
I am ridden for
tales. Tell me
all about your
on this thing.
Pulling Weeds / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
I wrap my fingers around the base of the weed
Tug gently and wait for that slight pull,
When the plant finally frees itself, root and all.
There is something satisfying about this,
A triumph of order over the weeds.
So many times I’ve tugged gently,
Extricating dandelions from sidewalks,
Purslane from among the lantanas,
Even thorny brambles from the fence.
So much time has been spent ensuring
The yard and garden are in order.
This past year we let the wildflowers go.
We didn’t cut our wild country acre,
I didn’t tame the thistles along the road.
Butterflies and dragonflies filled the yard.
Looking out the bathroom window I
Was delighted by deer munching on
The heads of the wild sunflowers.
Hummingbirds found refuge among
The bee balm and summer lilac.
This year I only weeded the porches,
Stray grass pushing up between the boards.
This year I find satisfaction in the wildness
And the eruption of life in all its disorder.
Cortex Says / by Cynie Cory
Do not tell me the cliff is not safe.
Have you seen the wilderness behind me?
Should I not return, fight off the thieves at the border.
Walk with this stick, hold it without danger.
The storm will arrive even in blindness.
Do not draw near, I live here at the end of the example.
Nothing orbits, the fixed endures.
There a no laws of change, no transformation.
Heaven and earth do not reform.
There is much compression.
Thunder of duration, extreme and unswerving.
This is the period at the end of the sentence.
Arizona House Passes the “Unbiased Teaching Act” (May 5, 2021) / by Janel Galnares
Crush Point / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
An Erasure poem from “Crush Point: When large crowds assemble, is there a way to keep them safe?” by John Seabrook, published on January 30, 2011 in The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/02/07/crush-point
Images of the Local / by Nathanael O’Reilly
A perfect white Range Rover
with pink personalized plates
proclaiming BOTOX DR
reclines in the shade of live
oaks on an affluent street,
smooth, fresh, clean and glistening
like a wrinkle-free forehead.
A five-foot stack of yard
signs from last weekend’s
local elections totters in a corner
beside the neglected back door
of the Presbyterian church,
red, white, blue, brown, black,
useless as expired remedies.
Smackdown at the Disco Saloon / by Kalliopy Paleos
Sorry girl, tonight’s the night
You can fritter those songs away with your girlfriends
I’ll gather you up to my flesh just the same.
You can shout from the back room
Many a requiem been stifled back there
Fawning and clawing at the hem of her skirt
He almost clipped her ear as she ducked
And fanned her fingers over her face
He growled through the bream of gin
You’re no good to me in a funk like this, bitch
Oh, she thought. This is what they mean by chaos
She tiptoed forward
The smack was prompt and lasting
You gather that dirt in your mouth boy, then kiss my heel.
Nightshift / by Patty Seyburn
The Four O’ Clock flower Mock Orange
Angel’s Trumpet Moonflower (witches weed)
Evening Primrose Night-blooming Cereus
do not respond to day’s incentives
perform their big reveal
late afternoon or dusk or at dark
when the evening pollinators
emerge (bats) (moths).
You must stay awake, witness. I do. I do not
know what compels their contrary
nature, only that the planter knew
to provide something alive at night – then,
the primrose rises, says
look at me, don’t stop looking at me.
Poem 6 / Day 6
Reckoning / by Christopher Ankney
— “I felt abandoned by the one person you don’t want to be abandoned by,” Alexi Pappas
She scuttled like the six-lined race runner
that crossed the patio from under grill cover
to the flower bed. She lied
about meeting Garth Brooks
at a horse ranch, swore Kenny Rogers
a family friend through her
father. Her teammates learned to pace
her lies with smiles
that kept their own secrets away
from Coach. Logic escaped
on the fly, but the mechanics
like the magician’s code,
the sleight of hand to remain unspoken,
becomes a slight, the ruining
of desired adulation. Adulthood a thing
to put off in college,
like studying each day
for organic chem, because knowing
how life is bound
to be formulaic lacks appeal.
Her bones began to lack density
because she was giving her food
to the birds,
because she fed the door pockets
her spit up
as if they were her fledglings
and she, her father.
Eventually, winning wasn’t enough
to ignore her tricks
so well practiced and so understood
she found herself picking
the locks of her jacket in a race
against the water
she used to crave after a long run,
that now felt like air
hiding from her lungs, to find
who was no longer there.
Palimpsest / by Karen Arnold
Baptist Sunday school
Free wheeling outdoors
Minnesota lake fishing
De Kalb cornfield college
Theater costume shop
Director of plays
Reading and reading
Anti war, Civil rights believer
Leaving the fold
Making God over
Reading and reading
Opening and opening
Above and beyond
Cipitillo / by Alejandra Cabezas
Gular Pouch / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
every day by the bridge
this hunger cannot be sated
snapper when the hunger
my pouch enlarges
you prefer my thin beak
Forensics / by Cynie Cory
She’s everywhere like a pen you can’t replace
in a Paris taxi before her
sucking oysters outside a corridor
Brodsky’s Mary Queen of Scots inside my coat
* * *
The cat was inside the porch screen
scraping his nose
as though I didn’t see the simple punctuation
when it started
the cypress trees leaned across the lake but would not break
* * *
Fifty-three egrets in a single tree like evidence
How could it be? The sun was high
when I placed a hand to cheat my eyes
Your voice carried words that I have memorized
Gunshot in the Dark Times / by Janel Galnares
3 shots fire to the South
followed by 2 more.
A helicopter’s propellers hum.
The city’s at war with itself
every night lit up
pointing fingers at the people
A gun is the eye of judgment looking down
the long hall of a country and declaring
one man’s sentence for all.
R. Shimon Subsists on Carobs, II / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
How can it be
that green and succulent as a pea
it is unripe?
Must we harden
before we can grow sweet?
In the first year, heartwood
thickens; it may sometimes fruit
at six. R. Eliezer says it takes seventy,
then another year to brood
over its first hatch.
When Honi woke
from his seventy-year sleep
the carob yawned above him
like a cherub stretching from a nap.
a falcon preparing for flight.
Kharuv—from the root of kherev—
scimitar-shaped, a threatening
rattle. Or from khurva,
–mouth a wreck
of broken teeth. Or maybe from
from Khorev, arid, acrid–
fruit of famine
whose fibrous skin
is as weathered
as the tree that bore it.
R. Yohanan said:
I saw a child
with carob honey running down his arms.
An open wound.
As other trees drop leaves
in flames of yellow and gold
it blooms pale, petaless, catkins.
All night, the seep of semen
wafting the dark with dreams
of spent passion.
The pods shake, then fall.
Stranger Healing Dreaming / by Nathanael O’Reilly
(Van Morrison cento)
I’m nothing but a stranger in this world
and all the leaves on the trees are falling.
I think I’ll go walking by the railroad.
With my pen I’ll write my song among the rolling hills;
I just need somewhere to dump all my negativity.
Did you ever hear about Wordsworth and Coleridge?
Suffering long time angels enraptured by Blake.
For the healing go on with the dreaming.
When that foghorn blows, I will be coming home.
When you’ve given up hope and you’re down in despair,
meet we down by the river, meet me by the pylons
and we’ll walk down the avenue again.
Say goodbye in the wind and the rain on the back street
and I’ll be satisfied not to read in between the lines.
Sources: Astral Weeks; Moondance; Cyprus Avenue; Rolling Hills; You Make Me Feel So Free; Summertime in England; When Will I Ever Learn to Live in God; Got to Go Back; Into the Mystic; Spirit; You Know What They’re Writing About; And the Healing Has Begun; Madame George; Sweet Thing
Envy / by Kalliopy Paleos
the curling swirls of the hair
spinning its whispers
the very marrow of the brain.
filling the forest of the mind.
Gazing down from their majesty
onto the faithful worms
inching through the dirt
within their own silence.
The birds feed upon the worm
and the worms upon the bird.
Devouring, devouring, devouring.
Poem 5 / Day 5
Our Children Are Still Having Fun / by Christopher Ankney
They can still imagine robot arms
with retractable shields
and scream Tail! Snout! Demon head!
hunting Baryonx and Stygimoloch
in the rain as red bellies echo
evil laughs, covered, deep
in the overnight growth. The skunk
cabbage metastasized faintly quicker
than the dog’s veinous tumor, a quarter
bulging from her haunch. Yesterday
nothing was bleeding from the surface.
We climb the curve up to the retaining
pond, its rim of goldfish and frog ignorant
how free they are, the sky their crown.
Starwort cluster like cells, but the kids
kid. They shout A bouquet of stars!
right before they ask if this is her last spring.
May the Fourth Be with You
Another take / by Karen Arnold
In a galaxy far far away – 1949
trading Polk Street, Chicago
Itaiian, city neighborhood
deserting– for corn fields
half-suburban Emerald Avenue, Harvey
post war brick Cape Cod
peaked roof, four rooms, attic, basement
four years old – baby sister – mom and dad
rows of onion sets on black soil
seven houses sat each side of our street
back yards ran into a iot of stalks
Queen Anne’s lace, Cornflowers, milkweed,
We named an edge drainage ditch our canal
filled with cattails, occasional turtles
Grass snakes, garter snakes, mice…..prairie staples
our thin leftover slice, vegetation that
bordered Halsted Street’s four lanes
Flipping rocks I learned snakes, dry skin
Slim bodies grabbed fast behind the eyes to avoid being bitten
We romped – we dug – we ran
under sky – under clouds –under sun
watched seasons from plowing and manure
to planting, growing, harvest
smelled earth – damp green stalks holding dew
pushing up tassels
squatted…..in corn tunnels
hide and seek running…..nicked by sharp leaves
tripping on clods
Summers we skinned knees
roller skating till legs vibrated
tuned to jump over rough spots
parked bikes under old willow pavilion
dwarfing our houses in bad-boy, Jackie’s back yard
Just 8 or 9
propelled wagons kneeling
pushing forward in wagon trains (no pun understood)
circled a safe camp
dusk after dinner electrical sundown
streetlights closed frontier
In a galaxy far far away we walked
four lane Halsted Street
to Birches cinder-bloc store cave-dark and cool
hot August days
7 cent sherbet pushups
5 cent Original Popsicles, cherry
Crossed Halsted to buy
59 cent glass-gallon milk – 29 cent Wonder bread
Midwestern’s counter linoleum slick
adding machine clacking our totals
Later, we’d moved, my mother got cautious
sending kids solo across busy streets
then she was young – 28
no one close to her had died
In a galaxy far far away
We rode the bus – our tinny change
clattered the glass collection box
three block town, Harvey, twenty minutes away
stretching from Penneys to bus station
both side of the street – a bakery
Shinners meat market, sawdusty and damp
Lilyan’s dress shop, shoe store to fluoroscope
tarsals and phalanges swimming , green neon light
Dusty Roger’s jewelers held my birthstone ring
two small rubies, angled….set in real gold
the Rexall Drug palace home of
fountain Green Rivers, Cherry Cokes
where mother allowed the plastic fingernail purchase
a twelve year old’s longing
Clark’s Soda Shoppe, port hole window door, vinyl booths
served tuna sandwich triangles on toast
hamburgers with ketchup, crisp pickle rounds
In a galaxy far far away
11 and 12 – summer meant bikes— free and fast
down two-lane roads – by fields – or side roads
five/eight small house claims
past two-story farm houses, back among trees
drowsy now, weathered….main farming days gone
driveways to empty barns, buildings back beyond
Unwatched we owned the world,
chose routes with no interference, never afraid
August brought harvest and into September
dust blew between stacked onion sets
dark children and parents bent picking
their prim white shacks tiny lined Dutch-owned fields
Passing on my school bus I knew, even then, something
kept those children tied to the earth
no reading or resting, no riding free
Woman’s Bible in the Rainy Season / by Alejandra Cabezas
Men love to smoke the color blue. In May, the halls of homes grow damp and wet. When there’s nothing else to do, they pull stories out of their belts. They collect women like one does talismans. Think it’ll help them ward off death. Hope to leave children behind like feeding stock. Did you know hens can be tricked into eating sawdust off the earth? Then they’ll lay little wooden chests. Painted green. Spring. For their secrets. Women grow less trusting every day. I tell them the key is in dismembering. Men and their preachings. The severed ones make good messiahs.
Scorched Earth Policy / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
“…I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. ” Christopher Columbus
I show you my jagged edges,
the laces no one else knows.
You explore my frozen tundra,
the heart I’ve kept cold so long.
You map the curves of my body
with your callused fingertips;
experienced in cartography,
The valley of my clavicle is
marked by a single freckle,
an X guiding you there.
Your words whisper across the
waves of this swelling desire.
I succumb, unaware as you
mine my defenses, siphon
precious metals from my hills.
Bored of the same geography
and the now-named rivers,
you set off for unexplored lands,
leaving behind your flags.
Self-Portrait as Swirl / by Cynie Cory
You once arrived like a theory, the wind of your body
moved through the garden, again and again.
I cannot look to it, I tell myself, I cannot crush the root.
It was final, you were always coming, you didn’t imagine
that you changed the earth. Your grief disturbed
the early morning cardinals near the window
where you had lost your courage. The private
is just rubble, the parts of us irretrievable.
The end will not be long, I said, but I didn’t believe it.
In Passing, Here on the Earth, For All Our Days / by Janel Galnares
after Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Thou art not lovelier than lilacs, —no,”
You are not lovelier than the starry-eyed jasmine
that ornaments the streets of my nostalgia.
Nor the pine-lined woods or desert canyons
of my adolescence. No more beautiful than childhood’s magic—
no, you hold no more awe than discovering a peaceful ladybug
or eyeing the eyelids of a butterfly’s wing-flutter.
You are no more wondrous than the cooing dove
who sings every morning, shrouded in mystery by leaf-cover.
But you are just as marvelous as all these things
that kept me joyfully entertained before you came.
Before I knew it would be you would bring
all the sweeter, better splendor here.
And more, you may accompany me now in the looking
and observe all our passions together, in passing.
R. Shimon Subsists on Carobs / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
It is a tradition, mouth to mouth,
directly back to Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai
that the carob tree that grew for R. Shimon by the cave
would turn into a date palm [others say a fig tree]
every Shabbat eve.
When you eat,
week after week
the same hardened smile
with rattling teeth
that the unyielding core
can wrap itself in sinew
grow flesh anew
and sweet beneath
skin that gleams;
that the shriveled trunk
of a seventy-year brood
precipitous as a fig
whose purple shirt
whose open palms
press every passerby.
Semi-acrostic separation blues / by Nathanael O’Reilly
For Paul O’Reilly; after Mike Scott
I spent 2020 sitting at my desk in my study,
saw the daily life of the boulevard through the window:
the traffic, walkers, runners, landscapers, delivery drivers,
crescent moon, thunderstorms, autumn leaves, February snow.
You spent most of the year within five kilometers of home,
saw your wife, daughter, son-in-law, grandkids, manicured
the garden, pruned rosebushes, pulled weeds, trimmed hedges, watered lawns.
Whole communities raised their drawbridges, dug moats, locked gates, afraid
of the invisible threat. We sent words and images through
the air, across continents, beneath the sea, watched the same
moon, waited for science to save us, for the borders to open,
the governments to cooperate, for reunion to make us
whole. We survived and endured, turned our focus inward, dreamt
of recovered times, learnt to appreciate the local,
the homegrown. We stand in our backyards hemispheres apart,
moon shedding light on us both, golden, silver, pink and blue.
Content Warning: Rape, sexual assault
Some Girls are Just Born Ugly / by Kalliopy Paleos
The flower that was to have blossomed did not. What blossomed was the eye and the flower of the mouth, giving off pollen, and the perfume of the saying. He raped her. There’s no one to call? I’ll understand when I’m older? What really blossomed was the mouth and the flower of the hand, banging through the walls, and the perfume of the knowing. You’re going to die, you know. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Here, smoke two. What really blossomed was the hand that broke through, and the flower of the face hard enough to stop time, and the perfume – lingering in my nostrils still, thank heaven – of the parched streets, the bleached houses, the pale green Citroëns waiting so calmly, scent of fig trees at just the cusp of damp sunset. What can I give for all to be well? What can I give so I may know nothing and be loved?
Dear Vija / by Patty Seyburn
I like your giant pencil. I like to imagine myself the holder of the giant pencil. I also like your pink pearl Eberhard Faber erasers, which I am told you crafted from balsa wood or oak. I guess you do not care if they do not erase. Erasing is overrated, I agree, but the erasers are a lovely color. I am fond of pink. I also like your graphite drawings of waves, though they are small. Scale intrigues me. I would like to own one of these drawings but I guess I will have to content myself with seeing them in a museum, like everyone else. Why do people want to own art? I think this is a personal weakness. We should want to share the experience with others, but I would be happy to arise each morning and look at your rendering of a part of a wave. Mario says graphite has varying degrees of softness and can be almost oily. I do like a good gray. Like Payne’s gray. I admit, I don’t really understand why you sculpt an object and then paint it. Is the original not meritorious enough to deserve your painterly interpretation? You need to make your own? I think you have a god-complex. See, I lower-cased you, because you are not God. Not that I know who God is. What God is. Just in case, I am upper-casing. Calvin Tompkins says that you “erased the line between figuration and abstraction.” He does not find erasing overrated. You are a virtuoso, a term I first learned when I met Paganini (not in person). I think you can make anything and then paint it. My father drew car doors and windows. You two may have had something to talk about. My mother could also draw. I did not inherit this talent. I think you have an “anything you can do, I can do better” complex. You can thank Irving Berlin for that, the Jewish composer who also wrote “White Christmas.” Your complexes have taken you far, and I’ll admit, I’d pay admission to see your work, and wait my turn to sit on the lone bench in the room so I could sit and stare, trying to see into the piece’s soul. Do objects have souls? Do imitations of objects have souls? What a pain in the ass I am. I am learning new words: grisaille, tromp l’oeil. Okay, I knew tromp l’oeil, but I had to look up grisaille when Mario said it. I can’t be accountable for all words. Really, I’m just the holder of the pencil.
Poem 4 / Day 4
Whiteousness [Mr. Nice Guy] / by Christopher Ankney
I love this neighborhood, how everyone knows
everyone and looks out for each other like
family. How’s my brother Collin? Oh, he’s tryin’
hard, thanks for asking, he’s tryin’ real hard
to overcome the Oxy. They say his left ankle
shattered like a 1000-word puzzle when his bike
flipped. When his bike flipped he was, you know,
goin’ fast down 50, weaving the traffic
like one of them movie stuntman, but he wasn’t drinking
and I love him. I’d appreciate it if you keep this
between us. How are your sons, still in love
with lacrosse? Do you need any extra equipment
because it’s just sittin’ in our garage. Of course,
of course, anytime you want to go out on the boat
just bring a six pack and leave the wife and kids
at home. Just kidding. I really do think we need
to watch the gates better at the beach, though. These teens
walking around the Cape don’t live here, you know
because I’ve never seen them. Yeah, the Cape has grown
by the hundreds, you’re right, used to be twelve houses
and a den of foxes and a den of coyotes and all the dirt bikes
you could dream of. Now it’s a bunch of split levels and boy
oh boy the house of my childhood cost nearly half
a million. Those kids don’t live here, though, and we know
they’re from across the creek, just down the sidewalk
that wasn’t built until just recently. Of course we want
anyone to be able to live here, too, but you remember
when Collin picked a fight with the downtown kids
and that’s it. That’s what we’re seeing now. Now
all these kids with their hair and their shorts don’t have
any parents making sure they grow up respectable,
callin’ out to nice ol’ Mrs. Withers, you remember
her, the woman who said two boys kissin’ in public
should be expelled from school faster than a fox
caught in the chicken coop is shot? Well, we all
laughed because we know how passive we have to be
now that things aren’t sayable anymore.
Tribal Notes / by Karen Arnold
tribes in a study
talk of death
of the names
of their dead
most often missed
known only as Red
to work mates or friends
Wyoming born, lanky
easy in life
In a crash
hard to know
remade her scene
Anna the Danish one
Lily the Swede
Joe her short husband
Hazel and George
These last five
one/two cycles in
and some dim
Clutch of mom’s brothers
Roy, Harry, Joe
hardly well known
Ohio family dad’s
only visitors rare
waves of connection
thinner than air
Last to go
mom of my man
the oldest, the farthest
brief but wide
how the gap
in their ears
by voice or
or holding them near
stories between us
over the years
spun in dreams
and wild hope
held so dear
La Virgen / by Alejandra Cabezas
Come winter, the river rocks grow sad.
Unwilling, they make way for stream and man.
Brave, he sails up, to the Virgin’s grove.
We’re not sure if she’s Mary. Him and his hymns
won’t let us think. Silly, the rain on his back
asking for silence. It’s all ritual when it comes
to the body. From birth to her breath putting
out the last of his candles. It’s always the same.
They leave with a fever, delirious. And when
asked, have no truth to tell.
a cowgirl’s lament / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
tellin’ me honey you sure do fill out thim jeans
assumin’ I ain’t never broke a colt
youwuz some kinda cowboy sittin’ on that stool
fillin’ out them wranglers like theywuz made f’r ya
sumpin’ ‘bout a full horse trailer and th’ highways
tellin’ me you ain’t gotta lift a finger – juss ride
findin’ them roads that weren’t on th’ map
fillin’ up own truck stop coffee n’ greasy eggs
summer done fell in’ta fall cumin’ on winter
gas prices wuz risin’ but th’ pay wadn’t
tellin’ me darlin’ it’ll all be cream own peaches
figurin’ sumthing hadta give in or I would
ain’t no smell like orange blossims in the groves
still ridin’ shotgun off th’ road but on the range
anoth’r gig n’ anoth’r gig until ain’t none left
tellin’ me you ain’t gone without yet
but I’d goan without fer 17 months n’ 80,000 miles
them wranglers gettin’ looser n’ time getting’ longer
too many colts t’ break but you ain’t a colt
and I ain’t gotta lotta breakin’ left in me
Sequence/No Sequence / by Cynie Cory
Broken hearted, the fluorescent lights twitched
in her Coca-Cola, outside air slipped
through the door like Ava Gardner, I swear
I didn’t have the knowledge, the future
was episodic, like I was outside
in the rain waiting for an ambulance.
In my hands I held out my aorta
and my superior vena cava.
Her eyes were silver spaceships clearing earth.
How could I not love her in a bottle.
All these months I wasted in denial.
There are other ways to cope, I don’t know.
I took her shoulder in my mouth and hummed.
A gurgle, a suck, then she sighed oh love.
What is love if not worth a try / by Janel Galnares
What is love if not worth a try, friend?
What is greater than to unravel for another
and once undressed, newly nude and unbothered,
fly toward an unknown imaginary ending?
And yet, love is also about staying at the helm.
Yes, you must love yourself more than any other,
never lose your itch for self-made wonder,
never settle for less than love’s overwhelming candor.
Dear friend, I wish you love’s nightly cure.
Like the ocean, for it’s everlasting pull to be pulled to you.
May it heal and embalm you,
may it shake you awake with fits of passion,
may it be a dream, each night, you willingly surrender to,
may it give you serenity, security, may it never betray you.
R. Shimon Reduces his Betrayer to a Pile of Bones / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
Rabbi Shimon went out to the marketplace and he saw Yehuda ben Gerim.
Rabbi Shimon said: This one still has a place in the world?
He fastened his eyes on him and turned him into a pile of bones.
–Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 34a
He could see the bones beneath the flesh
scaffolding delicately balanced with sinew
could see how easily it could collapse in a heap
how standing is a feat, and walking
a continuous fall, caught just one moment
Major British Writers Midterm Exam Textual Identification Section Erasure Poem / by Nathanael O’Reilly
Bedtime / by Kalliopy Paleos
You are not dashing. No.
Except sometimes a light
falls on you, or perhaps you
fall through it
coming up the stairs
and you render it so brilliant
that I cannot have you leave this room
that there is air and then there is space.
You are not dashing, no.
And you come up the stairs
and so you always will
and the light will wane
before you do
and when the stairs will creak and fall apart
we shall be long gone
and we shall have light
and we shall fall through it
easily as the swallow glides.
Words En Route / by Patty Seyburn
I would like to write a poem about
prepositions – did you notice
that I ended that line on one?
I am fond of prepositions.
(Less so of adjectives.)
There are more than you think.
When you add up prepositions and
prepositional phrases. A preposition serves
as the little bridge to an object.
a fording, if you will. (Will you?)
A conduit. I also like synonyms, even when
inaccurate. Sometimes a word can be a preposition
or an adverb. Do you love the pluperfect as much
as I do? I think I am nostalgic
for diagramming sentences
though my hippy 70s education
did not teach me to do so. I think
it was a loss. I also know NO
geography, though my husband says,
so what, you have world maps and GPS
in you palm. On your phone.
He’s got a point. Ah, progress.
My father liked progress, did not like
stick-shifts. He said: drive an automatic.
He worked for Ford Motor Company
most of his life. People in the industry
do not tend toward
nostalgia. Myself, I am a looker
back, but I do not romanticize
the past. Wait. I have strayed from
my parts of speech.
In the to the of the with the
over and under versus via
save since near minus like
from for notwithstanding
there are many more, they’ll take you
where you want to go — where
do you think that might be?
Can we get there
from here? I fear
Poem 3 / Day 3
Content Warning: Suicide, self-harm
Suicidal Sonnet / by Christopher Ankney
- It started with Dead Poets Society as your mirror
- Teenage girls in prep school are praying mantis, biting heads
- Around the World parties with vodka and grape Gatorade
- The bathroom walls of a luxury hotel can’t demure
- Practice your sport in your safe room with positive thoughts, cheer
- The cassette tape therapist’s voice drones on like morning dread
- Like the padded walls of an asylum, a life misled
- Your son’s eyes discover the ocean like a pioneer
- After the tenth job rejection, you utterly forgot
- Promise there will never be an unlocked gun cabinet
- Promise you understand that everyone has a blind spot
- Promise your boys what you can, and be fully adamant
- Shoes are a funny thing; they unravel with a bad knot
- Yet, open wounds on your body lead to its sacrament
Holding Pattern / by Karen Arnold
One of the characters says,
My brother died young
the brilliant child
anyone dying young
What if my father
slim, tall dark-haired
had flown his B-25
into an airborne
firestorm – died
my way into the world
after the injection
of an antihistamine
when he was 35 and
rushed to the ER
Or had kept
after that summer
he had walking pneumonia
and the doc
said, if you want to
live, stop now
He would never
have trucked between
Ohio and Indiana
camper, his open
moved the family
from a post-war cape
into a 60’s
and a den
or taken off
After his plane
fell from the sky
one sunny December
day in Indiana
with half a life
Those left behind
his years as
a myth that
Pancho Tercero / by Alejandra Cabezas
Lives in a small adobe house.
Moved all the way from Nicaragua to fish in this small-town port.
His wife is tired of pulling scales from within their pillowcases.
Her biggest solace is making coffee for the seamen at noon.
They come and tell the children about pirates and sea-wolves.
One day the ocean got sick.
Bubbled and bubbled it did with the smell of death.
For six days the whole town starved.
Pancho went to the mountains in search of a miracle.
All he saw was sky.
Kept a cross and handkerchief in his hands.
Thought he’d trap angels with his courtesies.
Meanwhile his wife went into the ocean.
All Sara could smell was salt.
She screamed into the foam and prayed for sustenance.
Mountain Nights / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
The frogs scream across the mountain,
the valleys filled with trebles, altos;
watery melodies under darkening skies.
We standing, watching the sun
shamelessly display her gilded violet.
Blackened mountains shy beneath
our gaze, the sun, the lightshow.
A bat flits between trees and
feasts on mosquitoes which
feast upon us – the endless circle.
Wrap me in your arms, my lover,
I give you my sun, your mountains,
your never-ending melodies.
Like a Dream / by Cynie Cory
A prediction was trying to find me.
It was the opposite of logic.
I was distracted, like Hamlet after the ghost of his father.
I had already entered, but I didn’t remember
what it felt to be a daughter,
this figure yearning on the precipice of burning –
the tenor of the interior blurring.
Is this the correct translation?
Pantoum for My Grandmas Who Died of Old Age and Loneliness / by Janel Galnares
How lonely it must be
to live in a mind that can no longer remember–
what is left of the life and self
when yesterday, 10 minutes ago, 10 years ago disappears?
My grandmas lived in minds that could no longer remember:
one of my Grandmas would say, I saw four quail today, then seven, then ten,
10 minutes ago, yesterday, 10 years ago, all fading quickly
or repeated diagonally, out of order, random images in her old picture show:
I saw four quail today, then seven, then ten, she would say.
The story would change–like the tail of a fish, it would grow
or repeat, the random images of her life in her fading picture show.
We recorded their stories years before, thankfully,
because the stories were changing, dissolving too rapidly
because they no longer could tell them.
We recorded their stories years ago, I am grateful. How lonely it must be
to live in a mind that can no longer remember your life.
R. Shimon Purifies Tiberias / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
R. Shimon said: “Since a miracle occurred for me
I wish to repair something.”
–Tractate Shabbat, 33b
You can build a skyscraper over a grave
but can’t escape the stench.
Charnel permeates. Watch
for the place
where the lupines won’t grow–
a knob of bone
pitted as almond rind
resists the hairline roots.
It curls at the base of the skull,
beneath the tefillin knot.
Or perhaps it is the fused dimple of the sacrum.
After all, heads and tails are the same
after the snake-spine has fallen away
and the snake swallows its own tail
in infinite regress. They say
there is a city the angel of death can’t visit.
Its doorway rends a tree,
that stutters around it.
Step lightly and feel the give
of the soil, it’s hard fist
its soft embrace.
May Day / by Nathanael O’Reilly
lawns and leaves wet from last night’s rain. puddles
on sidewalks and driveways. cars and trucks cruise
the boulevard in packs, released by traffic
lights from the intersection, tires whirring
fizzling, spraying water. mufflers grind
against the speed hump, squirrels burst from oaks
bound to the cover of shrubbery. beads
of water cling to auburn leaves. a blue
jay glides into the yard, settles on the black
wrought iron railing. water drips from the gutter
on to the porch steps. footstep-sized puddles
glisten on blue-grey paving stones, damp boughs
and limbs undulate on the easterly
breeze. a neighbor strolls the sidewalk returning
from the 7eleven with steaming
coffee and a bag of donuts. cyclists
stream past, heads down, pushing hard towards
the river. landscaping crews pass in trucks
towing trailers crammed with rattling lawnmowers
edgers, trimers, leaf blowers. a college
girl shuffles past in an over-sized grey
sweatshirt, backpack hanging low, bouncing
as she heads towards the library. unseen
birds tweet, chirp and sing from treetops above
the roofline. Audis, Jeeps and Toyotas
rest in driveways, silent and still. powerlines
sway between oaks, magnolias and crepe
myrtles. a ginger cat sits on the sill
of an open window, nose pressed against
the fly screen, ears erect, head swiveling
January / by Kalliopy Paleos
Oh, I could reach up just overhead, rip the fleshy eyebrow
off the dead face of the not-sky, drop it oozing onto the snow
Black windows glinting in the pale face of the houses
confess the slowly unfolding murders within
High holy days finally snuffed out,
the cloak of indifference slides comfortably
back onto the skeletons of sleepwalkers
who shoulder it easily, considering themselves fortunate
How to keep from digging my hands into the crawling eye sockets
of the black morning, and not howl at the silence of the one
faint figure trudging at me towards the bus stop
We all have our tickets. Even in the waiting for what will never come
I must board the dim bus, hear its crushing wheels
bow down in the yellow haze, careful on the steps.
Poem 2 / Day 2
Take Your Own Advice / by Christopher Ankney
I love my wife so much I let her fail
at measuring and buying things believed
to improve our daily lives. She will nail
the answer if given a chance, relieved
I do not resort to her parents’ move
when they with all their love paid a tutor
after one seventh grade math test. Love
does not always require a straight shooter.
My wife loves me so much she lets me tell
how she dropped a bike on her face, the scar
faded like those days where she had to sell
kitsch, golden booty shorts, and Drakkar Noir,
for she gets to share when I cut my thumb
on a peach can and when I stole her plums.
Orthopedic Associates / by Karen Arnold
wisps of conversation
I’m here for a leg that
refused to do its work
some of my muscles
threw up their hands
There is a gambling trip
planned by a man
whose arm had a
problem it couldn’t solve
His therapist says
she loves to gamble
offshore on casino boats
A woman barely
within my peripheral vision
lets me know
her knee hurts
by the way she slumps
after each repetition
I hear of
weeks after surgery
an increased angle of mobility
achy but not sharp pain
two more sets
I feel less strain
I can do ten more
I am sidestepping
down a narrow half-hallway
a green band forcing
my attention on feet
like a kinky sex prop
monitor my seemingly
while light floods the larger
room sending me
its coded messages
uncertainty or resolution
The last lap
I pass a stairwell door
already thinking of
climbing onto a table
flexing my pelvic floor up
alongside perfect strangers
as they surrender limbs
A sign next to the door
says “Area of Refuge”
in text and Braille
in case crisis overwhelms
even the blind on their
journey to recovery
would finish everything
Birth Name Unknown / by Alejandra Cabezas
One would think I’m made by men. Conjurers, the devils in their minds. The lusty ones are all the better artists for that. Couldn’t carve a piece of wood if I asked them to. They love to paint pictures no one else will see. Maybe they believe their own tales. They’d have you think the spirits wait for them. As though we have nothing to discuss amongst ourselves. Them, when we’re angry, of course. But I’ve taught my daughters to walk around naked when the moon is full. It’s good for their skin and temperance. I was never very good at holding back. Carved my own wrinkles trying to make myself an ugly thing. A thing that lasts. From the way men speak of me. You’d think me godlike.
penguin / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
Tell me how you suffered
You tell me its for the best
how you are sacrificing
my inability to fly
keeping me here
It’s all black and white
with you with us
Two months I forage. I fatten
Two months you plan your departure
Tell me where you are
when the lions come for us
Center of Light / by Cynie Cory
The Year the World Ended: 2020
after Czeslaw Milosz, “A Song on the End of the World” / by Janel Galnares
In the year the world ended
brushfires in Australia raged on,
Iranian general (Qasem Soleimani) was killed in a U.S. drone strike,
Kobe Bryant and his daughter (among others) died in a helicopter crash,
Trump’s impeachment trial began,
and the World Health Organization announced the novel coronavirus.
And this was all just in January.
In the year our world came falling down around us
Trump was acquitted after five months of hearings,
Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape and criminal sex acts,
mass shootings continued ad nauseum,
and the pandemic triggered a global recession.
Sports seasons and the Olympics were suspended/postponed
so the mainstream had nothing to distract themselves with at home
from the viral videos of white supremacist-backed murders of Ahmaud Arbery
and George Floyd, and what could only be imagined of what happened
the night Breonna Taylor was killed—shortly after midnight on March 13, 2020.
The country exploded in noise: protests, riots, whatever you call it
and families bickering. Trump vs. Biden vs. Bernie—for myself,
I reported a coworker who called black people who follow #blacklivesmatter
“ignorant” and my police officer brother and I are still at an impasse.
By July Confederate statues were coming down
and in August the west coast was on fire, again.
Beirut continued experiencing civil unrest, a massive explosion killing 190 people
at least, and their ongoing socio-economic crisis persists
while the U.S. death toll passed 200,000 by September.
Public figures Chadwick Boseman and Ruth Bader Ginsburg both died of cancer,
while Trump and Melania tested positive for COVID in October but—spoiler alert—live.
Joe Biden won in November, the same month people were discouraged from traveling for Thanksgiving,
and the CDC advised against traditional family gatherings.
I dropped off Thanksgiving dinner for my soon-to-be mother-in-law and father-in-law
and two brother-in-laws.
Love is the light at the end of the tunnel: I married on December 11,
the same day the COVID vaccine was authorized for emergency use.
Though it was at this time Trump supporters were planning their raid on the Capitol,
for a moment hope remained alive.
How did we survive the end of the world? Did we?
Some of us did. It remains to be seen.
There is no reason why some of us live and some of us die.
There is no plan, no logic to the way of this world.
As of now, over 3 million have died worldwide.
And of those who expected differently, not enough weep.
As long as they have air in their lungs,
as long as they do not fear the police,
as long as their loved are still alive,
they still do not believe it is happening now.
They may or may not survive this end of the world.
Their kids may or may not experience the next one.
When worlds end, people become unwilling martyrs.
Only empires have to end in ruins.
This is not the first end of the world.
It won’t be the last.
Lag B’Omer, 2021 / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
Rows of pyres line the parking lot.
In Delhi, I read, wood has run out.
Here, milling kids, guitars, and hotdogs.
As the sun tires, they light the fires.
Thorns and asphalt shimmer–
My daughter cries. Smoke is in her eyes.
Rebbi Shimon, it says, incinerated
without flame—fine ash coating like memory.
Gone. Shut the windows
block the smell,
pull the curtains on the red shimmer
the distant pillars of fire
the split no sea as wave after wave
of people crash. The morning smells of
smoke and aftermath. Bodies laid out
in their white sheets.
Removal / by Nathanael O’Reilly
garbage, recycling and yard waste
bins stand in the gutters lining
both sides of the boulevard
on Tuesday evenings and Wednesday
mornings. the first truck arrives
before dawn, wakes sleeping residents
sends a mechanical right arm
out to grasp each bin, lift it ten
feet above the asphalt, invert
and dump its contents before
dropping each hollow empty
Blues for Medusa on the Street / by Kalliopy Paleos
Got these snakes popping out of my head, yes I do.
You know what? I was even born with ’em too.
And all my snakes, they lookin’ right at you.
See, I didn’t notice them at first.
Had these silky soft snakes since birth.
But I kep’ hearin’ folks say, Oh Lord, look at her . . .
So come on and look at me now.
Come look me up and look me down.
My arms wound around you, and snakes too – round and around.
Always had these snakes whispering in my ear.
Oh, these snakes got a new joke every day of the year.
We real good company, so why not spend some time here?
But me and my snakes know nobody’s coming.
Something about us – too curly, too stunning.
All we can do is laugh hard while you running.
I got these snakes crowning my head, always will.
All morning with my snakes staring by the window sill.
At night I feel them breathing, so serene, so still.
Come and touch these sweet snakes, they won’t hurt you.
We can lay down in the flowers and grass and the dirt, too.
I said give me a try, oh these snakes they won’t hurt you.
Poem 1 / Day 1
Do you think deer are wearing Kevlar vests? / by Christopher Ankney
I think of Sandy Hook each time my bay window sings
the high-pitched squeals of elementary kids, lucky
their classroom windows can open into escape.
When I was their age I was lost in the woods
and lost on the playground, the back of my mind
learning how to navigate absences, unending endings.
When did freedom become planning exit routes
from rug time? My wife, finally able to run outside
after a year of worrying about the air, traumatized a deer;
it jumped out from behind the car on cinder blocks
a few houses down. She wanted to leave a note
on another neighbor’s car window when the juvenile,
shocked by her suddenly there, split the road
in half and crashed into the driver’s rear.
I was in the middle of whispering to the birds, I mean no harm
with my telephoto lens, although there’s something beautiful
in being unable to capture them at the feeder.
My father’s brother lives in Sandy Hook, principal
at a private school. I have never shared a room
with him outside of the funeral home my father’s
ashes were bowed to. Yet, the year I spit into a tube
to attempt connecting dots between tragedies,
my only success was reading the article my uncle wrote
about Sandy Hook, its living trauma, five years since,
the panic that breaks linearity. So when I heard
the President whisper about deer and Kevlar,
I saw the author photo of my uncle’s chipmunk cheeks
and the untamed eyes despite his age, and thought,
This is what I will look like if I make it that long,
which is about as clear as all the lines I’ve tried to draw,
which is about as clear as the lines even pre-Greeks drew
on the night sky, which any of us ever do in looking up
to navigate what may appear before us, below us, and fade.
April 27, 2021 / by Karen Arnold
April’s pink moon waits offstage
Newscasters alert us
tomorrow and the next night
a Super Moon hangs
224,791 miles beyond
not the usual 238,000
She appears 30% brighter
14 % bigger
a cosmic second closer
if we figure in
planetary time not mortal
so – does the different
king tides pulse
higher over earth or
fix us – steady
anchored from sun
to shore as
bubbling oceans flatten
I call Mochiko
whose full moon
wonder unveils Li-Bai’s
sparse beauty dancing
in her ears – Chinese poems
her Japanese father cherished –
inked by an artist
fated centuries ago
to lose his life
reaching to pluck
the shimmering moon
whole from the Yangtze
into the watery dark
of death instead
Over Rehoboth’s shore
our super moon
guazed with flimsy
shreds of cloud
lays down a flickering path
burnished orange, swollen
thinning her brilliance
us to give over
threading our days
like beads we arrange
navigation toward light
may start with amazement
Don Felix / by Alejandra Cabezas
Cares little for the whereabouts of his mistress.
Spent the night soaked in florida water and rue.
Cured his maladies in a single day, he did. He called
on God, once. Meanwhile the women beat their
breasts, or so, he’d have you hear.
I was there. From behind a colonel’s grave I took
the macho out of him. Frightened men are incurable.
Worthless their cocks and tales. I’d much rather
hear it from Mariana. Marianita, he calls her. And gives
her corn cobs the size of her head. Can’t a woman
ever fetch water in peace? We need no wells where I come from.
She could walk around naked for all I care. Don Felix
would never miss her. He’d find another one. Inmune, this time.
Impotence and citrus make a bad pair. Mariana, do not think
me a worthless beast. Your great-grandmother made a
many like me. Gave us life, she did. You and me. Children of the
tallest tales. These men couldn’t make a story out of the
starriest sky. You’d be better off with the wise ones, Mariana.
Peace / by Karen Cline-Tardiff
wide expanse centered
dream-colored grass beneath tender feet
wide heart-breaking sky
who do you worship here
beneath cotton boll clouds
inner voice silenced in your throat
is this the god you were trained to believe
knee-bending worship at this moment
understanding breath between seconds
who speaks into your lungs
peace treaty of id and ego
untamed wildling recognized
peace passeth understanding
Before You Cross the River / by Cynie Cory
Lie down in the shallow water among the stones
When the deer come to drink
You will hear the flash of tongues
As coins falling
How is it that you do not remember from where you have come?
Earth and heaven have changed places
Open your eyes to your blindness
The center disrupts the world’s darkness
It influences everything
When the small departs
Light disrupts dark
Where Love Grows / by Janel Galnares
Find yourself someone for whom love is sacred.
For in a house with sacred love,
all may be revived.
I’ve lived before in a house where noone tried.
Where nothing would bloom.
Find yourself someone for whom your love is sacred.
Plants wilted under a perfect-toothed sun.
In this house, nothing would revive.
Nothing once whole survived.
Succulents grew mold and spider mites ate healthy blooms.
Find yourself someone for whom love is sacred.
Where the heart cannot be denied.
Disease may have already touched half a tree but
the other half revives the whole.
In a home where your whole body and heart lie naked–
every unsuitable urge satisfied.
Build yourself a home within which love is sacred.
Within the walls of sacred love all may be revived.
R. Shimon Leaves the Cave / by Batnadiv HaKarmi
[After being sentenced to death, R. Shimon and his son] went and hid in a cave.
A miracle occurred: a carob tree grew for them
a spring of water welled for them.
They would remove their clothes and sit covered in sand up to their necks. …
They sat in the cave for twelve years.
Elijah the Prophet came and stood at the entrance to the cave and said:
Who will inform bar Yoḥai that the emperor died and his decree has been abrogated?
–Talmud, Tractate Shabbat, 33b
After being buried
for so long
you come to know
the earth. How it eats
bones. Can find the shards
sharp as teeth
biting the soil,
so desperate to remain.
Know the earths’ maw
her windpipe tunnels,
the arch of her maxilla.
How she holds
you, careful as a crocodile
carrying her young, balanced
between her jaws, to spit
into a welling stream.
Know that sometimes the grave
is a nest, holding the body
like an egg, safe. Know
how the skin can rupture.
Know how to call,
Let what is down come up
Let what is up, go down.
Know that we mingle,
decay, humus, seeds,
cradled like a carob
ready to sprout.
Nemesis / by Nathanael O’Reilly
pollen drifts from the oaks, floats down
to the lawn, travels on the breeze
across the grass, turns from yellow-
green to brown, collects in clumps, balls
at the foot of retaining walls
loses stickiness, turns crunchy
blocks gutters & drains, fills cracks
between concrete sidewalk slabs, coats
parked white cars & black trucks, drapes
itself over bushes, hedges
& fences, sticks to black letter-
boxes, clings to the fur of cats
attaches to running shoe soles
& laces, stealthily enters
homes through back doors, insinuates
itself into living rooms, kitchens
bedrooms & bathrooms, irritates
eyes, attacks nostrils, triggers
histamines, sneezing, headaches
brain fog, dripping noses, transports
male oak DNA into gaps
& fissures, fails to fertilize
Fair Lawn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary / by Kalliopy Paleos
Party-colored crochet from this year’s kindergarteners wrapped sweetly around the tree trunks.
Admittedly I have chosen too hot a day.
The hawk alights easily, both he and the branch enjoying themselves.
I wander with bludgeoning gaze, demanding consolation.
At the slim green elbow of the stream. a tiny glistening skull and blackening little frame giving themselves to insects.
Grass ought to roll out eternally, for my succor. That’s what I was taught to believe.
The clover thick and warm as fur in the sunlight.
More than eight steps through the corridor of lilacs, a driveway and sacs of mulch.
No cardinals. They must be at some other gathering.
Only a three hundred degree arc of woods around the cascading willow; at a complete circle, houses and doors- slamming.
A duck drifts by, watching. feathers brilliant.