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
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.