the 30/30 Project November, 2022

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 volunteer poets for October 2022 are Tiffiny Rose Allen, Lu Chekowsky, Ahja Fox, Sarah Haas, Moira Hegarty, Barbara Krasner, Jonie McIntire, Anna Mitchael, Shane Morin, Mary Ventura. 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!

Day 30 / Poem 30

I am a forest, thinning itself / A Cento

from the inside out, as a mother is supposed to be

No to the feeling of feeling 

On the wide wet rock in the massive tank

The mine shaft is lonely, 

Nonpoints of origin, a stranger

and you are much to near 

No to the silence of snow

My strained eyes squinting in the sun—mesmerized. 

I tell you what I swallowed

A microbe crawls the circumference of the world in twelve hours. 

look for trees that resemble ancient ruins 

The only house I ever loved

A small little 

the mighty heads of cotton grass slump like stepping stones

In autumn, the heads of the shrubs,
                                      as tenacious as a nest of scorpions,
                                                                             burst into golden swells becoming
                                                                                                                     a forest of giant flaming brushwood

how should I spit out the Black Sun
and light myself from within

Now I could understand him
in any language he chose

Cento lines by and from Tiffiny Rose Allen, Lu Chekowsky, Ahja Fox, Sarah Haas, Moira Hegarty, Barbara Krasner, Jonie McIntire, Anna Mitchael, Shane Morin, Mary Ventura

Anxious Hope / Tiffiny Rose Allen

I often feel like my anxiety inconveniences other people more than it inconveniences me. Like my reaction to a situation is worse than me handling the feelings that arise within me. 
Maybe it is a mixture of both, who knows? 
I travel miles just to come home to myself, and I’m glad that I have me. I embrace my beloved new beginning and I do my best to set everything else free,
yet still there resides anxiety. 
What am I to do but continue on like there is no sticky glue stopping me from being how I want to be. The fear will always surface, I know, the overthinking and the mess, but so will hope and love and joy, too. 
I guess I must push through it, right? I don’t know how else to handle other than to ground myself and know that I am on the path of what I know to be right to me, and for a few moments here and there, when the imposter syndrome resides, I find that I am happy, and there is worth in the perseverance. 

TIME POEM #1 / Lu Chekowsky

“as usual, i’m not doing so well 
with the passage of time,”
you wrote.

i nodded, half-awake,
hip knotted.
blurry bright blue cellphone
light at 4x zoom, 
in bed. 
not even yet quite awake.

morning kneck crick, check.
hormone swirly sick, 
you bet.
just another scary, wrinkled morning; 
soon, the mirror inventory. 

i didn’t want to be
inside this day either.
i’d prefer the one before.
or the one before that.
but. i fell asleep
and found myself here.
no going back.
two roads diverging
and all the rest.

the passage of time 
indicates movement forward, 
a passage on a choppy sea –

but how can i feel movement 
when the same days repeat?
coffee, kitty litter,
opening the blinds. 
morning jobs. 
you mean to tell me this is how time works?

“i feel you,” i type back
with numb thumbs.
what’s so dumb 
is how the first thing i hold 
in my precious, finite mornings, 
is glass and plastic.
the clock, not stopping.
marching forward
onto my face.

Anatomize a Name and Maybe Get Closer to the Secret of  Life  / Ahja Fox

My name                              (Ahja)
was and is a premonition
of slopes

Trapezoid, topsy-turvy U,
a steep water slide, and 
half pipe 
morphed into cyclical bow

It’s a wonder my last name came

an X signifying an end,

yet the sticky click between the back
of your upper gums and tongue 
screams ‘remember me’

I’m a name of trimmed truths—
inspired by the last lover’s 
apology letter 

rather than

the shaman mystic who
stopped an unaware to-be-mother
with wheatgrass falling from her shirt

Ahja, you both beckon me and shoo me off
to the masses

When your mother dreamed the sea void
of sharks, she must’ve not thought 
about you (and your strange throating)

She saw a woman sink, sink 
into the dark and now I wonder

if my name was always an idiom

or is it a kingdom still lost


Goodbye  / Sarah Haas

I remember when I became this 
personal object moving relative to your 
frame of reference. In the absence of 
every external force acting upon me, I walked 
out onto the ice unwitnessed, 
such an odd way of not saying goodbye, 
like how, in quantum physics, 
the observer just closes their eyes 
and everything goes back to how it actually is, 
how that applies to marriage, too. 

To me in my little warming hut 
winding an old fashioned auger 
into a floor of ice. It takes everything I’ve got
to make a hole and even then it’s a hole 
too small to loose myself in so I drop an
un-baited line down instead. 
I’m not even hungry. 
I don’t want to eat fish. 
I only want to hunch over the stupid pole.
To forget everything that isn’t me. 

The ice calves. And she drifts 
into unfrozen waters. There is no sure thing. 
Not any more. Just a man on the shore
no longer her husband confusing 
her for who she used to be, his, 
the mother of his son who looks exactly like 
his father offering to save her—I want
whatever you want—his final attempt, 
his hot breath melts the ice even faster. 

ARS POETICA  / Moira Haas

I don’t know poetry, 
even though I write poems,
once I memorized the mythology of the muses,
but I still don’t know poetry.

I feel the heat of the sun on my scalp
sweat dripping into my eyes,
making me squint,
but I don’t know the sun.

Should I tell poetry
face to face I know where you came from, why you exist, why we read and write you,
that I know all your secrets, even your feud with Plato?

But poetry must be the oldest word in creation
as old as Mama, 
in utero and in vitro utero,

like thimbleberries melting on the tongue,
standing on a marble plinth,
a memorializing cenotaph; your burial place unknown,
yet decaying, 
in cerebrums
and the eardrums
of an ant

If I ask poetry, 
Who are you? poetry answers in a faint whisper as soft as the wind that brushes my cheeks in fall and as unintelligible.

Only when I cup my ear with a seashell does poetry answer
with the language of the ocean.
I have no beginning or end, no alpha or omega.
I am the wastewater of the star fragments 
that live within us all

Color Wheel / Barbara Krasner

Sage is the color of my favorite sweater
Thyme of my favorite blouse
Central Park is the color of my walls
            in the space where I create
Olive the color of my favorite sheets
I used to think blue was my favorite
            My world growing up was blue
            Navy carpeting
            Royal blue and gold flocked walls
            Cobalt and white playroom floors
But it’s the color wheel of green
and it all started with your winter jacket
and your 1971 Plymouth Sherwood Green
Duster, or was it April Green?
Yet when I walked into your office
it looked exactly like my living room
was then, sans the Broadway play posters.
But maybe when I was blue, you were green,
and when you were green, I was blue.
We were never meant to mix.

How November Is Like Climbing Denali / Jonie McIntire

Denali, Alaska, USA … The altitude, awful weather, relative isolation and punishing temperatures all pose a serious threat to those who attempt” – Rough Guides, The Hardest Mountains to climb

Oh the hopefulness on day one…
such excitement! Maybe you wrote
a whole extra page or finished
shockingly early in the morning.

In the first week, you are rationing,
tidying your supplies excitedly,
checking everything twice or more,
waking early to hit the trail.

By week three, you’ve most likely veered
you are perhaps questioning your prior
assumptions. The characters you’ve built
are off on their own, the storyline broadened.

In the fourth week, you’ve got the bends,
though you aren’t sure how that’s possible.
You fingers are a permanent chill.
You are becoming haphazard and ravenous

for light things… cheese puffs and 90 minute 
Christmas movies. But then, there you are
typing out your last few words after a month
you never thought possible. And you catch

yourself not wheezing through the thin air.
And you have so much to edit but you are
whole at this moment, this shining frigid
night, looking out and seeing every possibility.

Con Sambras / Shane Morin

part four of four parts after Red’s Intro (Canto III)


The world tires, tucks herself in blankets
Laden with innocence, serenity
Surrounds her in silence…mankind slumbers at last, 
she has peace

We remain-
    We dream, we sleep, we lie, outside natural selection awaits transcendence

Will mutated nucleotides lead to our own suicide?
Will theorized strings play for us at the turning tide?

See, we feed, we live, we have no less
We fall deaf

We are hybridized humans, cybernetic sloths, zombified
Screen time digitizes our fragile minds, cobwebbed chemistry
Our strained neurons falter

We plead to the Heavens, “Save us all!”

Too busy to listen for the Cosmos whisper, “Save yourself…”

Nine-to-fives devour our lives, the future left to lie untilled, until
Decay invades our yesterdays and tomorrows
Mental health enters atrophy, we simply
    breathe, we burn we die

We cry into the shadows
    “Save our selfish world.”

Day 29 / Poem 29

Feel-Through     / Tiffiny Rose Allen

If it bothers you
It bothers you 
It bothers you 
It bothers    
To the thorn 
To the evergreen 
To the little nuance 
A tincture 
Different understanding 
It’s all changing 
I’ve grasped the ropes of living and I’ve decided to follow it through
No matter 
The disposition
No matter
How judged
I feel. 


oh! my 
little sweet potato 
butternut baby corn,
blueberry baby.
my sweet summer squash.
squish me!
my mashed potato love, 
kiss me on a gravy boat,
in a sea of stuffing –
sausage and souffle, 
asleep in a coma of carbohydrates 
and sodium;
your cranberry red sticky kisses
are what i want,
please whip us up 
a love restaurant.

In Looking at the Tired, but Rare Picture of Myself (Glowing) in The New Apartment   / Ahja Fox

I’m happy, but I’m lost
in the burgundy sweater
of always being needed

I find the lint of it 
in the shower and budding
against my towel even after 
I do my sordid dance to dry off

jangling at the dining room table
is my voice, birdcage snot
against the “peace” that is
my mommy-girlfriend ditty

I expect my fresh chocolate
moles to sprout suzi-q stems
like wonka cherries

(like little girl marmalade
the shea butter lathers me
into being honest, abrupt)

I hold my eyelids up
by prayer’s scotch tape

and the smile, chinks
against the wine tumbler
of future destinies

this hardwood-glossed 
knows how to corset an angry body, tight

I’m happy, but I’m lost—
somehow suffocated by the sleeve
sof my favorite burgundy sweater

help me

Unbecoming  / Sarah Haas

Winter is the most 
feminine season, 
barren and reduced 
to shape and silhouette—

The afterbirth :: The Crone. 
Or: a body returned 
to itself, by which I mean
no desire, but for more 

snow. More and more 
and more and more 
dying, which is distinct from 
death. Don’t bury me 

in dirt. Bury me in layers 
of ice. Freeze me in silence, 
the sound of me being
Me. Proof I am 

alone :: no footprints, 
just impressions of 
night, from the wings of 
mysterious and flightless nights 

spooked by shadows, 
even the Moon an impossibility, 
a casting dark, a shadow of 
Winter when even sun is shadow, 

the day but one big dim
light bouncing off of ice bouncing 
off of snow bouncing off of
everything :: a reflection 

of some body else’s body 
refracting something else’s 
light. Postpartum. 
Bundled, in layers of 

fleece and down, of fat and flesh.
A soft pastness :: self-possessed. 

Java  / Moira Hegarty

Java in my morning chalice,
jambosa, plums and apple roses

bathe me in crystal diamond rivers 
thread my feet with ankle bracelets;

eyelashes drenched in birdsong soup,
earlobes whipped by flightless bees,

into the tropical rain jungles next to 
old Thujsrenmikhi’s house.

My Yiddish Lexicon / Barbara Krasner

Mamashaynele: what Holocaust survivor Hebrew School teachers say as they pinch your cheeks
Mishigas: fighting with siblings over the meaning of Mama’s will
Narrishkeyt: knowing the man you’re about to marry is the wrong man and you go through with it anyway*
Nokhas: when your son and his wife have children of their own and you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night; also when your child gets into the college of choice; also what your divorce brings to your parents
Punim: a face only Mama could love
Shlemiel/Shlemazel/Zhlub/Vantz**: what your mother calls the man you married
Shlep: taking out the garbage twice a week and the recycling once every two weeks
Tsoris: when your child doesn’t get into the college of choice

*Your father also told you not to marry him right before going down the aisle to the chuppah, but you don’t remember it
**Vantz means bedbug

American Logic Problem / Jonie McIntire

In order to pay for basic needs like housing, food, and healthcare, each person needs money. In order to make money, your basic needs must already be met. Try to figure out who has access to employment, which jobs pay enough to cover basic expenses, and who gets to control everyone else’s lives by hoarding the money.
1. Matt (who doesn’t own property in Wyoming that landlocks public land but who does know the hunter being sued for millions of dollars for tresspassing) works 3rd shift (and his union steward is not Jeff who is dating the company floor supervisor).
2. The woman with the baby (who isn’t Karen) can’t afford a car. The nearest bus stop (which isn’t on the block near her apartment) is next to the abandoned gas station (which isn’t on the block with working street lights.)
3. Tyreece, (who has applied for all of the jobs but only got a call back from the one he applied to under the name “Kevin”,) worries that information isn’t getting to him because whenever his name is typed into a smart phone, predictive text changes is to “Terence” or “three certain.”
4. The restaurant with the Help Wanted sign in the window is not the one paying workers for sick time (which is not the same as “flex time” or “personal time.”) The job that pays enough for rent and healthcare is not in retail.
5. When Anna’s boss (who is the one who who is also a preacher) grabs her thigh, she isn’t the one who can afford an attorney or time off of work. The MeToo movement has not reached hourly workers (unlike the gig economy aka “always hustling” movement which has.)
6. Louisa (who isn’t the one with employment-provided mental health insurance) has missed work because her panic attacks have gotten worse since the pandemic. She is not the employee who has time off available. man who makes $2,537 per second is not the one making, distributing or purchasing the products he makes money off of. The turnover rate for employees at his warehouses (who are mainly living very close to the warehouse, which is not in an area of elevated income) is over 159%.
7. The man who makes $2,537 per second is not the one making, distributing or purchasing the products he makes money off of. The turnover rate for employees at his warehouses (who are mainly living very close to the warehouse, which is not in an area of elevated income) is over 159%.

Good LIfe 29: Nineteen/ Anna Mitchael

They will tell you this love is misguided, untested, dissuadable, destructible, and destined for flames. Remind them, love is patient. Because you know the years have been hard, take their hands. Put your mind on the cushiony quadrant of faith that makes it possible to believe in what doesn’t make sense. Feel your chest chittering under your favorite striped tunic, because even though calluses in the corner of the soul are often classified as symptoms of aging, you’re believing somehow you can avoid it. Whisper to them—softly, ever so softly—that they were the ones who taught you love is kind.


Con Sambras / Shane Morin

from Red’s Intro (Canto III)
third of four parts


There’s a majestic crash
Steel fuses to asphalt

Pedestrian natures evaporate
Flakes of winter, Engine 5 blares down Central
Ethanol and adrenaline pour out

The triple-paned glass stays the chaos
…just sometimes.

Alabaster falls upon innocence, shadows sing cantos
Darkness chants
Errant memories invade streamed consciousness

Two fucked up marriages, job to job, daughter displaced by fate, Bullit burns my veins
It’s simply everything

I’ve become collateral damage, steel and flesh
Amalgamate and fade

I will survive in negative space
She asks, “What does depression feel like?”
    I say, “It feels like this.”

by choice / Mary Ventura

we’ve been together for sixty years now
married for a bit less
I would count only fifty-three years because 
stood at the mouth of crossroad i found myself
I picked me up
holding in both palms
cherishing as if holding a new born
steady by my side
that was the seventh year
i didn’t find myself again
there is no “again”
i never had myself
there is no “me” to turn back to
that’s how torn i was
but there was you
steady by my side 
since you agreed to go to the mouth of the volcano with me
i knew i’d finally get lucky
finding you
and later 

Day 28 / Poem 28

Cento / Tiffinay Rose Allen

lines from Barbara Krasner, Jonie McIntire, Anna Mitchael, Shane Morin, Mary Ventura, Ahja Fox, & Sarah Haas 

I hire a photographer to capture
If you mix enough sugar and enough water
you can taste summer, 
I went from stage to stage
And became Divinity, genderless
on the eve of a nearly rectangular full moon
I wear the universe’s poetries down into a grave
no longer an illusion but the promise of the 
perfect wave in city after city of disillusion

LOVE POEM #5  / Lu Chekowsky

this morning
the three of us scattered:
a pound coin from england.
a few gold yen i’d carried back from japan in a wool coat pocket.
about fifteen rocks Anya gathered for you from the Hudson on Father’s Day;
all black, grey, marbled.
two shiny stones from sue’s memorial;
one with the word LOVE engraved in cursive.
an oscar meyer memento hot dog penny,
spread wide in a press.
a plastic bracelet from the CSA
we live too far from now to belong to – 
and a penny from 1975.
we tossed them into our leafless bushes,
placed them carefully at the foot of the zen frog,
made wishes with each release;
as if our backyard were a wishing well,
endless and giving, our history and promise.

A Cento of Funeral Flower Messages  / Ahja Fox

With deepest sympathy.
May God be with you in this time of sorrow.
May you find comfort and healing in the love of those who remember with you.
May my condolences bring you comfort and may our prayers ease the pain of this loss.

Our deepest sympathies go out to you and your family.
Please know that we are thinking of you and your family during this time of sorrow.
Our hearts are filled with sadness and tears, but our memories are filled with smiles 
of the good times we shared over the years.

Many friends come into our lives, but only a few leave with their footprints on our hearts.
Loss leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.

Always the most beautiful flower in the garden.
[name of deceased] was so special.
[name of deceased] brought joy, happiness and laughter to all they met.
You will be deeply missed by everyone, my friend.
Time may pass and fade away but memories of you will always stay.

When a person becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.
Hugs and prayers for all at this difficult time.

Wishing some small comfort.
I’ll be thinking of you always.

Mine is just a simple prayer, God bless and keep you in His care.

Self-absorption  / Sarah Haas

There’s something 
about a woman lost 
inside her own mind.

Her eyes downcast, 
talking to no one 
In particular.

Eye contact, with 
a man in particular, 
would ruin it, her: 

The world 
of her 
own making.

Swords   / Moira Hegarty

Santa Fe, Sunday afternoon, late fall, 
through my window miles of empty blue meadow sky
 a gaseous curtain, hemmed with clouds
 that line up in horizontal rows of baguettes,

unfallen manna I can’t devour,
pool together and pause. I measure the progress of their pilgrimage
 against the verticals of glass door framing
where they and the earth come to rest.

Along the top of the orangeade stucco wall 
a ray of sunlight, a wide dagger crescendo to the north,
decrescendo to the south, guards
where a bleak coldblooded metal table and four chairs

wait like buried artifacts to be unearthed from a hidden vault,
collect what they can of raking sunlight.
I know I should be doing something
but I’m not sure what it is.

I look for the baguettes
To watch them graze the lowest portion of the sky 
clear the tops of trees, 
but they shape change, melt away, and forget how hungry I am.

You Say You Want a Revolution   / Barbara Krasner

Songs about changing the world
blasted through our bunks and
upheaval outside our world
infiltrated. Nah-Jee-Wah camp directors
insisted on a new solution
for the camp’s evolution: Going co-ed.
Nah-Jee-Wah was no longer the female
institution I knew and loved. No more
pajamas to the mess hall, no more
skinny-dipping in the lake. Would
we have to worry about infiltration
of pubescent boys in the mikvah too?

Count me out!

I don’t want to make any contribution
to any destruction. This camp
decision ruined my memories,
broke tradition the way I understood it.
Nobody asked me to see the plan. No one
bothered to invite campers into the conversation.

In 1969, man walked on the moon,
no longer a figment of imagination.
Thunderstorms caused destruction: a tree
fell on our bunk. Another
tree split in half horizontally.

Count me out!

It’s not going to be all right, here
or anywhere.

How Two Minutes Sounds   / Jonie McIntire

  “The body is only totally still — totally silent — in death.”
        – from “The Silent Treatment”, by Caity Weaver,
          New York Times Magazine, November 27, 2022

Of course, the tv, volume 40, almost the end of the last episode of Andor,
but also the clock… clock… clock… in the living room, echoing up the stairs.
The gurgle moan of the fridge and plastic wrap slowly unraveling its fist
in the trash. On the couch, the allergy-driven sniffle snort of a college student,
equipped with laptop click… click… click… and the low whisper of Youtube or
TikTok or whatever the latest thing is where people play video games and chatter
endlessly. The curls in his hair fall just a bit as his head turns slight, a soft sound
like a touch glancing. Across from the tv, a can of beer with its hollow bubbles.
Breath and the wet pop of a knee bent just to relieve a building tightness.
A dog, nails clicking across the dining room, tail a whoosh of quiet joy,
tongue a waiting drip of hunger. Cars on a wetness of street, slick… slick…
slick… two from opposite directions meeting doppler-loud just in front of the house,
one a tick… tick… tick of brakes or belt and the other a failing muffler rumble.
The fwush-lighting of the furnace in the basement, jeans thumping
from the dryer, and the washer jetting a rinse cycle. My pen sounds like
nails on canvas, the page with its own woody hush, my breath, my blood
like a drum, the stomach a chemistry set bubbling. The light above, an electric
hum. The sound of air like static, a white wall of noise. My teeth touch
their dull enamel, their tinny sound a little like the pop of bullets
exploding like silver balloons all over the city.

Good Life 28: What’s chosen    / Anna Mitchael

Where could I get an alarm
that goes off for blue skies
A sunshine-monitoring device primed for:
The child who reads his book like a prize
Walking circles on sidewalks meant for straight lines
Naps, chosen not stolen
Whipped cream from the can for breakfast
Your face at the angle that takes me back to when we met.

I imagine the siren on this alarm
—for maximum efficacy—
would sound like the high C of a sparrow.

Con Sombras / Shane Morin

from Red’s Intro (Canto III)
second of four parts

The yellow walls decay before me
Sulfur suffocates the spider plants

My child-like height overshadowed by long halls caked with asphalt

If only…

If only the walls were white like baker’s icing
I’d relish my childhood spiral- the ghetto gingerbread homes, my friends confectionary-
Mom’s alcoholic breath cornellis

If only…

Snowflakes fall lazy upon the Atlantic, I spot myself
Treading along, I toss a life jacket
I fight to grab it…

the boiled past    / Mary Ventura

i crawled my way out of that boiled water
leaving a trail of venom
some are still oozing from me
LOOK what’s in front of you! 
it’s future 
the once chased pursued grabbed drooling-all-over future
why am i still looking back
why can’t i get the kumkum sound out of the wicked mind
let the venom dry 
what’s so inevitable about the past
i want to crawl into my planned future 
for once 
without looking back

Day 27 / Poem 27

Night In / Tiffiny Rose Allen

A soft cat’s affection
A small pet to let the little one know it’s loved 
A warm night in
Listening to the crickets outside as I lay awake and wonder what I’ll do tomorrow. 
An inspiring approach as we count out all our free time 
Our rest time 
And our mornings.

BLIND ITEM POEM # 16 / Lu Chekowsky

boy band beatles 
                                                       girls giddy giggles
teen twitchy tickles
                                                       puberty pimples 

one of each
                                                       choose all five
pick me pick me
                                                       squealing screeching 

wink in camera
                                                       eye sparkle 
                                                       lipgloss lip smack pheromone 

slow motion 
                                                       dream panty 
liner cream
                                                       making a scene

suits and ties
                                                       open flies
not eighteen

you can have them all
                                                       we want you

you can buy them all
                                                       we want you

you can put them in your tight pocket
                                                       you’re beautiful

The Millionth “I Love You’ in the New Apartment / Ahja Fox

(in considering the tadpole’s transformation)

we mold our bodies. into horny lip. and muscular tail. toe to head. and toe to head. in the middle of our bed. our daughter creeps. the yolky eye. of our love. swelling. we hook our fingers. and then our spines. gesturing. to split the fin. where water always meets us. us. a transmuted verbiage of one’s. self. we dream a night rivered. in rippling. wanting. to gasp. at the redawning of our bedroom. but. our skulls spread broader. and our tails shrink. shorter. and our mouths are fitted. just right. to plug the flood of our words. with a spoon

The Founding of Rome  / Sarah Haas

Romulus watched the god of the sea
Erupt through the goddess of the earth. 
Hooves on the land, a Roman heartbeat. 

Romulus threw a party, and the party was good: 
the men got drunk, the women danced, the calvary leisured like gods. 
Romulus commanded his Roman men withdraw their swords, 

The ensuing battle was ruthless. Bloody. Lasted for days. 
The men turned warriors dancing on the earth. 
The women and children watched. 

Until eventually they could watch no more. 
Until they rose up. Until they walked to the center
Until they stood with the horses. 
Until they extended their arms the distance between sword and sword. 
Until they submitted, agreed to become Roman wives, a submission it was named:

The Abduction of the Sabine Women.
The Kidnapping. 
The Rape. 
The Founding of Rome. 

Distance / Moira Hegarty

            The day murmurs, I’m moving to Nashville, Tennessee. 

Hands go up to cheeks. Lips turn into Os. Didn’t I know that more than miles separate here from there?           

But I’m a songwriter

            You can’t get the New York Times in Nashville. Yale graduate. All he needs is a wing chair and a pipe.

Not true!            

            Nashville doesn’t have an airport!

Not true!             

            Where will Louisa go to school? 

They have them!
I teethe on their words and sculpt a living room lamp with newspaper and frame it in a corrugated box, a ration pack, 
absent without leave.  

Missing furniture leaves carpet imprints and ugly tongues. The piano’s chords diminish in a sirocco misty blue aura and ask why? Have you lost my mind?

            We crumple into the swollen Corolla in the driveway, an overstuffed olive, an aneurysm ready to burst

Boxes that once held spirits, tip, clothes drape and fight with wire hangers, sauce pots, frying pans, picture frames clink, jab. Clay flower containers, minus the geraniums, nest, enough books to open a used book store. A guitar’s neck cranes. The tang of beach sand comes off a teenager’s bare feet that press into the glove compartment. Gray tabby howls and rings my neck, claws dig into my red, white, and blue tee.
It’s okay!

Steering wheel blazes, tires inch backwards, angle, straighten, and roll down the street 
we used to live on.

Azaleas, rhododendrons that brand the front yards of story book houses, salute as we parade past where god plants sod lawns; sprinklers spit, choke, gasp. Bertie and Carlos unload toy red trucks, bandanas drink sweat. Gas motors rev on lawn mowers. Cut grass moans, bleeds, flies.

 Turn left at the corner then turn right
Disable the rear-view mirror. Roll down the windows. Hit the gas pedal 
and don’t look back.
894.3 miles ahead,
At noon, on a day in the middle of July, a cool wind adorns my hair with clusters of rosettes.

Betwixt and Between / Barbara Krasner

Between the gap in his front teeth
he whistles a mournful tune
of abandonment by his father,
marked by the breach in his own front teeth
through which obligation has escaped.

Between the bones of his shoulder blades,
dashed hopes settle in like bedbugs,
needing a professional to clean them out.

Beneath his ribs his aorta races
as he throws back a dozen or so
Coricidin pills, wanting to numb his pain.

In the back of the police car,
he curses himself as he
sways in and out of consciousness.

Toward him comes the nurse
with an IV and non-skid socks
plus a bottle of charcoal to neutralize.

Down the hall he hears a voice.
It’s her, she’s come. My mother
will save me.

On Buying a Raffle Ticket for a Pet You Don’t Have and Drinking the CBD Tea / Jonie McIntire

She could hear the comments,
Her mother’s voice asking why
Her grandfather’s voice saying stupid
But it was a store anniversary
And the tiny turtles were clustered
Resting on each other’s backs
On the wide wet rock in the massive
Tank on the other side of the bearded
Dragons and she was still full 
Of pumpkin pie and maybe if she won 
The 500 gallon tank she’d get 
Some of those little turtles after all.

Good Life 27: The one that got away  / Anna Mitchael

The only house
I ever loved
had tiny bedrooms
not enough bathrooms
drafts in the winter
spotty ac in summer 
the kitchen window
faced the alley 
with a sill 
just the right width
for resting a pie.

Con Sombras / Shane Morin

from Red’s Intro (Canto III)
In four parts


In my periphery
Spectral faces sizzle
Daylight infiltrates shadowed factories, atonal hammers strike untuned heart strings, sustenudo
    pedals press the ribcage, con sombras the ghastly staff cuts the dust

It’s nothing…I feel temporary
Faces pass, erode as wax statues

Glossed eyes melt, jaded smiles blur to
A numbed sneer, arms deteriorate

They’re all temporary        (we’re all so obsolete)

Chords slice the silence, a mad symphony echoes
Across the vacant halls
I stand impermanent, wavering

I swear it’s nothing, a twilight trick of the seasons…isn’t it?

Purple Sun / Mary Ventura

the capitalized i was holding the megaphone 
students listening 
being out there i wasn’t afraid
wasn’t aware either 
i believe this giant ship won’t sink
at least not on my watch
little did i know
how much power plays in the show
i was holding the 
in the hope of soothing 
the sprouted sparks before 
it was too late 
never was it a dialogue 
both sides need to embed me in the shrine of curse
who accepts that owns real

Day 26 / Poem 26

Wandering    / Tiffiny Rose Allen

And so I wandered down the path, the hill, and everything turned out alright. 
I didn’t stutter, I didn’t fumble, I just witnessed it for what it was and I,
I realized in the silence that it was okay to be loud,
It was okay to be different or the same from yesterday or any other day, and I delected and delighted in the fact that we are all just wandering and doing what we can
To feel and find out where we need to be, as we should be. 

FRIENDSHIP POEM #1 / Lu Chekowsky

the way your hip popped out of the socket. the way it had to be popped back in by a team of five people. the way the nurse popped the walker into place in front of the hospital. the way the word trauma was used while the trauma was happening. the way the pharmacy shut the gate on me at 1:30 because it was time for their lunch and we waited in the car for them to reopen eating good n’ plenty and red hots like pills. the way i had your driver’s license in my pocket so i could buy your controlled substances. the way i had to look down to tell them your birthday. the way you assumed i’d pay for it and then i did.

the chemistry of our laughter; your adrenaline, our history. the chaos of back then.

the way — how once we got you home. — you pulled yourself up and out of the car, superhuman, and called for pepper, who i am afraid of. the way we discovered the water had run out for her three days ago because you were supposed to be home by then. the way the cat who has a cyst on her side ate tuna on the counter. the way a friend left mushroom stroganoff on the stairs, next to a creek, bubbling. the way the pink sunset lowered over the farms of the taconic. the way we talked about how no one but us was good enough. the way twenty five years passed. the way we spoke with the glass front door between us because pepper was growling at me, protecting you; salty. the way i left you alone after metal was placed in your body. the way it was my job and not at all my job today to save you. the way in which i wonder if this is the theme of my life.

then, after: the way jazz was playing on vinyl when i walked in the front door. the way Neko’s water was filled, the way food smells of chicken and stuffing and gravy floated in the air, the way i knew the bills would get paid, the way i knew my heart would be tended. the way i cannot control anything. the way the past is the past and sometimes the present. the way i made my way from there to here. the way the window was between us. the way it is no longer this way for one of us.

Modern Mystic / Ahja Fox

Musician is woken up midway through brain surgery to play the violin to ensure parts of the parts of her brain responsible for intricate hand movements were not affected during the procedure.” —from a ‘MedicalTalks’ post

A remarkable sensation—
to feel nothing in the brain
while playing the violin.

To feel nothing in the brain.
Only left hand, right hand
strumming to produce pitches.

Violin literature never mentioned
the tantric puppetry or possession of idle 

It didn’t note how the melody notes
every fissure pulled over knuckles,

The brows still flex their focus…
though the eyelids are flitted over
into dream.

Air is cut by el + bow.
Nevermind the prescription bracelet
and grey-diamonded dignity gown.

A spotlight bears down into the brain
(the blame for incitation) 
but the real show, the marvelous mystery
tucks itself below the chin, calling 
for a way to string out.

The Good Wife / Sarah Haas

I wake up first, already in a mood, the kind that ruins 
the day as soon as it’s begun. My husband gets up, but 
just to pee. I yell to him anyway: Don’t ruin the brisket 
by smoking it on the grill! Because: I’m a good Jewish woman
I say, or at least I’m supposed to be. My husband should be 
able to cook a good brisket, too, the kind that falls apart 
in your mouth, meat dissolving into fat until you can’t tell 
the difference. When he says nothing. I wonder if I should 
apologize. A good wife, I think, should be like the brisket:
Easier than you’d expect; A pleasant surprise. 

Dear Ms Hegarty / Moira Hegarty

First, I do not hold your gender against you. My close friend and someone I greatly admired was the accomplished and intellectual woman, Lou Andreas-Salome, a psychoanalyst and author. I also admired the poetry of Erika Mitterer, a woman who knew how to write from her heart. Further, gender and age mean nothing when communicating by mail! If you’ve read my letters to Kappus, you already know some of my most inner feelings about life and writing poetry that also apply to your poems. In brief, let me quote myself: “I know of no other advice than this: Go within and scale the depths of your being from which your very life springs forth.”  I’d like to suggest reading one of my poems, originally written in French, Chemins qui ne menent nulle part (Paths that go nowhere) 

Paths that lead nowhere
   between two meadows,
   diverted from their goal
   with art, one might say,
   paths which often have
   nothing before them
   but pure space
   and the season.

My advice to ask yourself, ‘must I write,’ is still at the heart of everything. You might also read Philip Sidney’s A Defense of Poesy and Astrophil and Stella (1) that admonishes the poet to “Look in thy heart and write.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Max Krasner Finds a Match / Barbara Krasner

Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match
           I hire a photographer to capture
            My likeness outside my store
            on Newark’s Market Street.
            Crisp white apron, sales book
            in hand, surrounded by neighborhood
            children, and signs of affordable
            prices and S&H green stamps.

Find me a find, catch me a catch
            The matchmaker Mama hired
            makes a postcard of my photo
            and hands it out to prospects
            like she’s playing gin rummy.
            Mama says, “You’re in your
            forties already, it’s time,
            past time, to settle down.”

Matchmaker, matchmaker, look through your book
            The matchmaker comes up
            with Chava Zuckerkandel from Galicia.
            Her photo shows a noble nose,
            ample bosom, a bit zaftig.
            “She’ll know how to cook,”
            Mama says. We agree to meet.

Make me the perfect match
            I take the tubes to New York
            and we meet with the matchmaker.
            Chava goes by Eva now. And what
            do we talk about? Hoo-hah, not
            marriage and babies, but business
            and real estate. She’s a butcher’s
            daughter and she knows how
            to calculate, she’s gone to school.
            Not many Jewish girls do.

            Mama would rather Eva cook.
            Mama would rather Eva be a Litvak
                        like us.
            But I like a girl who’s shorter than
                        my 5’6” with a head
                        for business.
            We’ll be great partners in business and life.

We sign the ketubah. Her uncle pays for the wedding.
We pledge to each other under the chuppah.
She puts her hand on my shoulder for the photographer.
We’ll set foot into the America we’ll claim together.

In Twenty-Five Days, Not One Lemon / Jonie McIntire

Even though the rough skin is still never rough
and the right slant of sun is Meyer-bright
and the slicing itself is an awakening.
The roundness like an egg with nipples
at times, or too thin skinned big store stale.
In Ohio, a known exotic, accessible but only
by truck. Even the corner mart has the little
plastic ones that squirt a hazy approximation.
If you mix enough sugar and enough water
you can taste summer, hear festival bees
follow you to the fry stand. Remember how
as a kid you would take a slice and suck,
like some puckered dare, and the ones
hanging off glass edges, corners dipped 
like toes into iced tea might just end up 
on your plate if you asked mom sweetly?
The pulp so much like sour muscles or pulled
tears, you could feel the membranes burst
for the tart that made eyes squint and lips
purse. You learned the good ones give a little,
yield when you hold them tight and squeeze.
And then one day, a lime. This next door thing
somehow foreign, reserved for salsa or maybe
taco night. How you could taste the green
and it made your mouth water to think of it.
And it wasn’t like hot sunshine, not the same
squinted thing, but a new kind of bright.
Like basil from the garden or a new friend
recently moved to town, a neighbor with an
accent or a trampoline with netted sides.
But then at some point orange juice in a box
was faster and some kind of nuts pressed into
bar form become breakfast, some fried bits 
with beer became dinner. And you wrote in your 
journal still but it was more lists and less 
musing. More action items and less reflection.
Until you looked over all 25 days
and couldn’t find a single lemon anywhere
and your mouth felt so dry and it was like
you could taste the hardness of the past year.
And sour is just nothing like this bitter.

Good Life 26: Putting on a Show / Anna Mitchael

I went from stage to stage
Watching people put on a show
When I could study the audience no more 
Too much of myself in every face
Every place and posture

I finally turned to the ones being paid to play
Lucky bastards who get to tell the truth
Admit how hard they have worked 
Toiled and sweated and not slept 
for this performance of their lives.

5 Club Q / Shane Morin

There was a dance once
            Sacred and primal
Steam lifting from lovers
Like fresh mist, the sun
Gleaming off diamond skin

And the drinks flowed
As rivers, sweet
And our hands touched
            And became
Divinity, genderless

And sensuality soaked
Us with liberation
Our flag sheltered us

If this is our last dance, then

Let us sweat
Embedded in our love

lost of narrative / Mary Ventura

people live for their narratives
on the eve of a nearly rectangular full moon
I counted the eightieth nightmare of this quarter 
my parents never left
they are right
aren’t they 
I compose my poems out of reading mistakes 
a privilege for elder age 
same like short sighted people without glasses
an ambiguous world
like my nightmares 
composed from in depth sourcing of my memories 

Day 25 / Poem 25

Moments / Tiffiny Rose Allen

So a day for feasting is begun 
A moment to enjoy
Forget the pain and embrace the joy
That’s what they tell you anyway, 
Let be sound and sweet 
Let us delight and be bold. 
A Sweetness of all that is new 
Spending time with you.


The way the trail winds up even though it says it’s closed.
We trust our eyes more than signs, I guess?
For me, it’s always harder to go down than climb up. 
I lose myself.
Something about the knees.

The sheets, falling around you in the morning light.
Then, a frittata with leftover grilled vegetables, sausage.
Neko squeaking in the rainbows in the living room. 
We feed her turkey because of today and also, because she, herself is a turkey –
but only when her feet are folded under belly.

Get closer. I’m being sweet to you. 

Oh yes, what I’m thankful for.
Health. Arguable at times, but present.
A father who loves me imperfectly.
You, and how you care for me by letting me be free.
Poems in our entryway.
A puzzle basement.
Gobble gobble texts.
Friends who need and who don’t need.

Today, we fill our bellies with breads and meats and fish and gravy.
I am filled.
I remember nothing before today.
I am thankful for all there is that is mine today.

Find Me Devoid, My Darling   / Ahja Fox

Even God found himself in need of rest
after oragaming flaws into ferocious

Succumbing to the deep congested 
snot; the swollen, inflamed nodes
(of my body) makes me even more
seraphic after any feast

Living, is a melee
a system, written to grip
with sad song, with riveting story

No bubble bath will heal
the risen scars of my clipped wings
it will shampoo my joints into seeing
that another day may be ahead
long-born into artifact

What is a brother or sister if not
a labret composed of bone and shell?

If not a wedding attire ribbed into
warrior, what is the physical form?

I wear the universe’s poetries down
into a grave

(never acknowledging sleep
is a careless thing)

though there is always pulse and ache
to be had, guiltily, in the end

Demigod this beauty’s rot so you can
find me, a crowned constellation of blood’s
filthy jewels 

in the barrel of the earth

I’m coming tomorrow, fresh fire, fresh fire
to the coldest battle we’ve ever fought

*Note: The last stanza is inspired by lyrics and clipped phrasing found in Lacey Sturm’s song “Rot”

In Gratitude   / Sarah Haas

The other day, at Ross, I almost bought a gratitude board, a fake chalk board that 
might really work, I thought, through aisles of plastic clothes 
looking for something that didn’t, in the end, exist, 
something cotton or wool, my versions of superiority, 
this would be itching skin guarded by discount pima. 
It’s not that I needed more clothes but a new outfit, 
something a little less me, a little more manipulative, because 
yesterday I was born again because yesterday someone, finally, 
told me who I am, thank God!, everyone else too afraid to tell me 
and God, well he just sits there and lets me figure it out myself. 

A part of me always knew I would have a spiritual experience
at Ross Dress for Less, ever since I was a girl hiding in its 
then circular racks looking at the slim sides of blouses, the lint 
that, night after night, got pushed further into center, 
the feet of unsuspecting shoppersby, and above, 
Oh!, the light in which nothing could hide but me. 
So, of course I went to Ross to see me for who I really was because 
what I knew then and suddenly was that it had never been up to me—  
A person reduced to what they are regarded to be—
not this dirty coat tied around my hips but
this petroleum sourced polyester sh-acket two shades north of neon 

green. I put it on and looked at myself transformed in the endcap mirror, 
watched vermillion me spin and spin around into some other version of real, 
reflective like a sequin shining so much exterior light. Aisle after aisle
I thought I loved the thing, the thing and me, what we had become. 
But then I found the gratitude board and it was totally the new me, too, 
turning problems into a lifetime of thankful for’s—

how could I not fill in the rest with live and laugh and love those words 
as good as all the other words there on the shelf. And so it was that
the me I was supposed to be becoming died thirty minutes after being reborn, 
the real me doing that shitty thing that people do who need to 
get the fuck out of a store that sells words and and plastic coats— 
I left everything I ever wanted to buy draping over the word dream
just left it there for somebody else to put away where it belonged. 

My Dear Monsieur Rilke   / Moira Hegarty

           I suppose it’s audacious of me writing to someone of your literary stature as if an acquaintance. I got the idea from one of your best-known books, the collection of ten letters published in Letters to a Young Poet, which you wrote to beginner poet Franz Xaver Kappus in response to his request for guidance. It is one of the most cherished in my own library. Like Kappus, I am asking you for direction with my poetry, and have included several poems with this letter. Unlike Kappus, I am a woman and not young. I hope you don’t hold that against me! Besides our shared love of writing poetry, we also share a love of the French language. You acquired that love when, as a young man, you stayed with Rodin in Paris, and many of your poems were originally written in French. 

Mottel Krasner and Family Are Detained, 1901   / Barbara Krasner

The SS Statendam from Rotterdam
docks at Ellis Island. We finally made it.
I didn’t want to come. But what was I
to do when Bryna said, “Mottel, grab
the candlesticks and the featherbeds,
We’ve got to go to America!” That meant
leaving our daughters Doba and Malka behind
with their families, but we have
four children in America already.
Our family is split like the Red Sea.
Which side to stay on?

At sixty-three I’m too old for such
a journey. Still, I’ve learned over
the years to just say yes to my wife.
We go through all the inspections.
But officials grab me by the arm,
Bryna and our youngest, Hesia, too.
They say we have no documents.
We clutch our bundles like beggars
and are led to a caged area.
We are told we need to wait
for our son, Meyer.

We are in a detention center. Maybe
we should have stayed in Russia
where we knew the language
and knew who to trust and not trust.
We find places on a hard wooden bench.

We are called in for an interview. The
officials ask lots of questions. It sounds
like babble to me. But then a Yiddish
translator enters the room, and all becomes

Finally, Meyer shows up, a real American now,
with his vested suit he made himself,
a mustache and no beard, no yarmulke.
He straightens everything out with
his accented English and some money.
He holds his mother’s and sister’s hands
and leads us out of Ellis darkness into city light.
He takes all of us with him to this place,
Noo-ark. We are so far from home.
Will my bones always ache for it?

The Landscape of Our Thanks/ Jonie McIntire

Around the table, no deserts
and no beaches, instead a love of
trees and water, always water…
a true lake, one you can’t see past.
Maybe mountains but definitely
a city, artsy type, museums and such.
For a Texas aunt at peace within a storm;
For a boy grown man 30 years beyond his lifetime;
For an impatient woman made calm with a song;
For turkey perfect 15 minutes after expected;
For sharing that time in high school when you stayed awake & alert;
For three kinds of stuffing and three potatoes;
For pumpkin and apple pie delivered by interstate;
For cheeseball with bacon and every kind of cracker;
For dreams and nightmares of grandma’s house shared;
For beer and wine and fruit salad;
For wine and beer and a dirty martini just for the house chef;
For almost-50 year friends and newer neighbors and timeless relatives;
For three sisters, historically separate,
making plans.

The Good Life 25: Afternoon lessons   / Anna Mitchael

The ball of yarn is nowhere
to be found
Even though the clicking
of our needles is bouncing against
the walls of the room and flooding
down the halls
Even as the back and forth
between us constructs a blanket
I will curl under for comfort
all winter long
Every confession, a row
Every understanding, a pearl.

Imaginary Mountain    / Mary Ventura

Fuji was imposing for days outside of my window 
at this time of the year
I count a whole decade of 
living in Japan 
again as a stranger
like a snow-capped mountain bringing early light to admirers from afar
my dear wish to revisit those dire past
did I 
start living 

Day 24 / Poem 24

Mornings  / Tiffiny Rose Allen

A day to make, a day to see 
I open my eyes, still sleepily. 
A cat’s silhouette beckons for food 
I must get up, it is a day to enjoy 
I must get up, it is a day for being together. 
I open my arms and take in the air 
Lovingly, as I inhale the cadences of the winter coming in. 

ANXIETY POEM #1 / Lu Chekowsky

It’s the mold on the ceiling that will get you. It’s the carbohydrates that will get you. It’s poverty that will get you. It’s the interest rates that will get you. It’s the undiagnosed heart murmur that will get you. It’s the side effects that will get you. It’s the unresolved grief that will get you. It’s the man with a gun in a gay club that will get you. It’s the anger mismanagement that will get you. It’s the holes in the ozone layer that will get you. It’s the radon bubbling up from the basement that will get you. It’s the algorithm watching you that will get you. It’s the doom scrolling that will get you. It’s the virus that will get you. It’s the other virus that will get you. It’s the other virus that will get you. It’s the side effects that will get you. It’s all that exercising you’re not doing that will get you. It’s all the exercise you’re doing that will get you. It’s the second hand smoke that will get you. It’s the worrying that will get you. It’s the hormonal imbalance that will get you. It’s the ticks in the woods that will get you. It’s the screen time that will get you. It’s the lucid nightmares that will get you. It’s the recycled air that will get you. It’s the algorithms that will get you. It’s that fear of dying that will get you. It’s that passive aggressive tone that will get you. It’s the man with a gun in a WalMart that will get you. It’s the FOMO that will get you. It’s the regret that will get you. It’s the lack of planning that will get you. It’s the things you imagine everyone is saying about you that you fall asleep thinking about that will get you. It’s the thing of how no one in the whole world is even thinking about you that will get you. It’s being in the wrong place at the wrong time that will get you. It’s being in the right place at the right time that will get you. It’s war that will get you. It’s the wrong side of history that will get you. It’s the gum on the bottom of your shoe that you touch and then forget to wash your hands before you rub your eye that will get you. It’s rarely peace that will get you. It’s rarely gratitude that will get you. It’s rarely safety that will get you. Usually it’s the worst thing in the world that will get you. It’s how five minutes from now will get you. It’s how five years ago will get you too. It’s always about how your fat thighs will get you. It’s about how your sunken eyes will get you. It’s how your breath will get you. It’s usually about how you have no say, no say at all, with how death will show up or how it will get you. It’s about how it boils down to control; how not having control will get you. It’s about how you can do whatever you do and still, no matter what, you will be gotten. 

O! Envy, envy / Sarah Haas

Envy is an illusion, 
an auditory barber’s pole
continually ascending in tones
of super-positional sine waves. 
If the sound of the divine
is a thousand of these, but 
twenty-four is a decent replication, 
then it would seem that reaching 
to the pinnacle isn’t all that 
important, after all, the consequence
contains its own perpetual 
relief, a worm deep in the ear. 

If a woman claims she is 
a better weaver than the gods 
she will be turned into a spider. 

And if a man challenges God 
to a duel, he will be flayed alive 
and nailed to a pine tree. 

But if a god is envious then they craft 
a crooked plan animated by Envy’s own fury, 
her moldy teeth, her plates of rotten snakes wrapping
her in a black fog so easy to mistake for 
the world’s first sunless day in which all flowers wither. 

But isn’t it nice to become the crone, 
hunchbacked but still constantly ascending, 
a little harder to hear the tone. 

The noise of unanswered questions
no longer an illusion but the promise of the 
perfect wave in city after city of disillusion. 

In my garden sanctuary / Moira Hegarty

In my autumn sanctuary
I can see my autumn sanctuary from the corner of the living room couch,

a small patio through sliding glass doors;
coyote fencing, in need of repair, embraces it on three sides, 

a locust tree, with a proud demeanor, a bouffant of golden leaves, shades it.

One by one its foliage, tiny carved canoes, drops into the birdbath, 
red geraniums, dead headed and robust, spill woody stems over the rims of clay pots, 

An abandoned finch nest, tucked into the eaves, goes silent, its sticks and twigs transformed into an angled neomodern chandelier,

the olive jar amphora lords over the space 
with another rounded vase and garden globe, a congregation of pleasing spheres of various heights; 

the birdbath will freeze, the locust and geraniums will lose their color, a tarp will cover the vases, 
but the trio of tiny concrete birds will not fly south for the winter.

America / Barbara Krasner

My grandmother’s cousin, Evelyn, remembered
the day my grandmother Eva arrived in America.

Evelyn’s father brought her to their
Brooklyn home. Eva, an older cousin

from across the Atlantic, an older
cousin with a Galitzian Yiddish accent

and a satchel bursting with American dreams.
My grandmother was not used to inside plumbing,

a bathtub she didn’t have to share
with eight others for pre-Shabbos

washing in the middle of the kitchen
where the water would be heated.

Evelyn remembered, too, how two
of her sisters died while on the toilet.

The Passive-Aggressiveness of Distance / Jonie McIntire

Of course I screen my calls
but don’t mistake that for disinterest —
it’s more that you are not in front
of me than anything else!
This rejection is about proximity
and short time, about the distance
long-ago established. So show up
in your civilian clothes, your drab
greys, and kiss me when you
get here. I’m lonely in this castle.

The Good Life 24: Eternal being / Anna Mitchael

Legs like spandex pixie sticks
Facing forward, facing forward
Slowing down, slowing down

A car horn in the far distance
Closer, a child plays
The lobby door jingles
Are there  package deals, are there refunds 
Toward the front a water bottle falls

pricy metal on hard wood
So sorry, so sorry
Here’s a towel, here’s a towel

The heater struggles to remember its work
Water runs in the pipes
The teacher laughs more amusement than hysterics
Can you hear the angels singing, she asks
Me, who never speaks in class, finally whispers: I can

skin, a dress just chosen for a short time
How long, how long
Hold on, hold on. 


Cento / Mary Ventura

you’ve been trained
you let the wind shred

it’s getting colder
bone on bone

no to the silence of snow 

dance in the sunrise 
where they know me now and say there’s no change 

Now I could understand him
                    in any language he chose 

I’m ready to be judged
to be seen tragically wonderful

A cento with lines from Anna Mitchael, Jonie Mcintire, Tiffany Rose Allen, Lu Chekowsky, Sarah Haas, Shane Morin, Moira Hegarty, Barbara Krasner, and Ahja Fox

Day 23 / Poem 23

Another Moment of Your Time / Tiffany Rose Allen

I hope the next time you think of me, 
Because I know you will 
I hope it’s with joy, I hope it’s with fondness 
Just as I have for you.
It really was meant to be for a time 
But time is not always, in some instances.
I don’t believe in goodbyes, but for now I’ll tell you that I did love you, you know?
But now it’s time for me to go, it’s time for me to be happy again. 
And I’m going to be. 
I hope you’ve found your peace, I hope you’ve found what you needed, and I hope that you are glad. Wherever you may be, thanks for the moment of your company
Thanks for the moment of your time.

BLIND ITEM #15 POEM / Lu Chekowsky

Let’s get ready for blood/entertainment.

Money’s on you in that penguin suit; suited up in suites.
Tickets to the battle of the century/decade/year.Tuxedo on a Tuesday. Lone silver fox purrs silk into eardrums.
Hype man forever our man type. Violet lights; highlight violence.
Golden chords; angels in cheap seats. Bodies bounce on ropes.
Let’s get ready for sweat and circumstance; for one thing only on this one night only. Forever in your corner. Rolls off the tongue. Lightning spark ignites the room.
Rumbling, wilding, fighting; no man is more known for one thing only.

Prayer Upon Plead (after “Today, God” by Starr Davis)  / Ahja Fox

In bed, God
I will be grateful

for the coming snow
the thaw that is summer

for the trickles of heat
that come from me in spurts

and in spirit
through the night


I will kiss the sheets
in their worness

but, I won’t kiss the ghost
of the man who once laid there


I will ache
for moo-llenium ice cream

devil’s cake and beauty creams
until the sun, until some-

one texts my phone saying,
“This is the time you breathe,

deeply.” Ooo Whoa, God, why
is the creaking so loud when I’m awake?


I won’t ask you
in bed, God, I won’t beg for better sleep

I won’t dismantle the headboard 
calling it ‘grave’

though, I will do it in my poetry
God, and I’ll write the natural disaster

the silly tragedy
the epic journey 

of a hurt woman
in hot pink or zealous blue 

in bed, I will be like the widow
out of bed, I’ll weave new stars

new mo[u]rning

because, God, I need this miracle 
a script and erasure of sound

In bed, God
I’ll find a way to be grateful

No, Not At All / Sarah Haas

Say no to the flock of nuthatches.
No to the silence of snow. 
No to the feeling of feeling: 

But, yes to the infill of explanation. 
Yes to agree to disagree. 
Yes to dismissal’s dismissal, yes

Yes to the no to dissent,
and to the no of no, 
no to this incessant noncompliance, 
no this word of denial: No, 
we are trying to be free. 

But, no to freedom, not really, 
not if it must accomodate so many no’s: 


No, just say yes: yes to the chatter, 
yes to abnegation, 
yes to the open door. 
Because yes, there is always more room at the table, 
but: no, not for you. 

Sisyphus  / Moira Hegarty

every pattern on the sheet vinyl floor’s embedded in my brain
every square, every rectangle made by the intersections of lines 
of dull green, duller orange 
and dullest gray, a flat surface more like a steep mountain,
with a metal bar for each shin and hip
 as I walk to room 3201 ICU.

I follow its path today like yesterday and the day before 
the ping of the elevator, doors fly open, 
passengers, steely, insular, go their separate ways; 

off on the third floor,
make a right with the green line on the left.
follow the arrow straight ahead to ICU;
phone in to let them know I’m here to see you;
nothing has changed with you; but they say that’s a good thing, 
ten minutes later I leave,

.turn and follow the hospital hallway 
under the sign that says ICU
towards the one that says elevator
follow the orange stripe on the left 
make a left, wait for the ping,
toward the red exit sign
out into the sunshine
until tomorrow,
when I return and 

follow the squares and rectangles on the sheet vinyl floor
in the south wing of the hospital
the dull green on the left, the duller orange, and dullest gray surface,
although if you look close there are tiny sparkly specks of a myriad of colors,
my feet flat, my shin bones ache, all the way to room 3201 ICU
where they know me now and say there’s no change.

Not a Family of Drinkers  / Barbara Krasner

Krasner’s Gin once graced the shelves 
of my father’s Shop-Rite, but we never
drank it. We did not drink whisky
or Passover wine. We did not cheat 
at cards, and although
my grandfather boasted about
being a ladies’ man, he wasn’t.

I come from a family of do-gooders.
My grandfather was the first store owner
to launch a milk drive for the poor
in Newark in 1915. My grandmother
led drives for milk funds for
Displaced Persons in Europe
who wanted to settle in Palestine.
My father and uncle donated goods
to campaigns for American
soldiers in Vietnam.

My grandfather belonged to the
Workman’s Circle, my uncle
the local Lion’s Club, my father
to the Jewish War Vets,
Sanford L. Kahn Post 538
his brother helped to establish.

I never heard my grandfather sing.
I barely remember him talking.
I just recall a graveled voice,
raked over the hardships of
emigration, assimilation,
and acculturation. I never heard
him speak Yiddish. I do remember
the desk he gave me as a birthday
present. I kept it for many years
because he gave it to me. I learned
Russian, because he came from Minsk.

I wish I could sit in his living room
now, me on the couch and he
in his easy chair caddy-corner
to the Amana, and have a conversation.
Now I could understand him
in any language he chose.

Tuesday Night Lights  / Jonie McIntire

Everyone knows
the best margs
are at Tres Amigos
where Tuesday night
tacos and well shots
are a buck each
and the patio area
is just fenced off
parking lot with umbrella
but you can take
a tenner and get full
and shitfaced and not
worry about the broken
washer or the second call 
from the school counselor
or the cancer. 
And the way home 
is a straight shot
up a slow street
and you’ve driven it
a million times.

Good Life 23: Where rubber meets road / Anna Mitchael

Please no more strangers
discovering each other in the rain.

Rosy altars where people
with wrinkle-free suits and faces 
clap and cheer. 

Passion pushing bodies against
walls and parked cars—
objects right where you expect
them to appear. 

Show me a bone-tired man
under too-bright
kitchen lights who can’t find
a thing to eat for dinner.

Embraced from behind
by a woman who has fought
every desire to be
anywhere but there,
now offering to make chicken. 


Scars / Shane Morin

This scar? Age 4: try wrapping a black cat around your arm as a scarf. That one
I palmed a knife blade, saving it from tipping in the sink. This one from shaving fennel,
The licorice blending with blood, a bad day to be a hangnail. These three my students
Say make me look like a failed cutter, the raised layers linger from years
Of seared flesh.

That one’s a reaction to rejections, her words honed to sever tendrils. This one
Triggers panic attacks, Circuit Court chambers smack of bureaucracy, the gavel thunders, ribs crack.
The poetics fail to save from alienation.

Some days I fade into the cityscape
Among the other scarred hearts, streetlights ablaze,
Hundreds of suns along the asphalt. On these days,
I try to meet another’s gaze, to see
The sad smiles afloat in an ocean.

Maybe then these scares aren’t so countless,
Maybe then moving from bed to living room to door doesn’t feel futile,
Maybe then the rain won’t remind me of the winter chill.

owning  / Mary Ventura

galloping blood
held within by miles of my skin
but such a boundary couldn’t contain my memories 
they extend their touch
asking for a refund from the future 

Day 22 / Poem 22

To be  / Tiffiny Rose Allen

I saw you in the garden 
I saw you in the mirror
A vision 
A little clearer 
A moment 
A little nearer 
A point 
A place in time to wait 
A patient retrograde 
A wave hello 
A hello 
No goodbyes 
To be 
To be just a little free 
Means so much more to me 
So much more 
To me.

CENTO #1 / Lu Chekowsky

I used to look good in shorts, even hot pants.
(When is it too much blood?)

My little thoughts getting lazy. Be my own darling.

Any dream ongoing becomes a nightmare.
Here is even more sweetness where they touch.

Somewhere between the condemned 7/11. A low-slung sun nudges to equinox.

I would be happy if I could have a forklift for the feeling that even with all I’ve gotten, I’ve missed something.

(Lines from poem drafts this month by Barbara Krasner, Shane Morin, Tiffiny Rose Allen, Anna Mitchael, Sarah Haas, Ahja Fox, Jonie McIntire, Mary Ventura and Moira Hegarty)

At The Writer’s Conference I’ll Never Name / Ahja Fox

heat reaches for my throat,
speaking a future I never see

and if you ask me why
I couldn’t even purr,
couldn’t even bite

into the fruit
and chocolate left
on my dorm room pillow

I’ll begin the whisper
of nothing sweet

I’ll begin the thankless
task of stacking
my poetries into
small binds, saying

no matter their potential
expiry, are just that,

a keep for sake 
of moment, hopefully 
a happy one.

I gloss then regloss my lips
in different mirrors for this open-mic,

hook then unhook
my hoops, dreaming it was this, 
effortless with my bra

I could do with a little

in my double-tenant, single occupied space;
so I shave
eyeliner into sink one
while spitting skittle drizzle into sink two…

I’m ready to be judged
to be seen tragically wonderful

How to find the tallest tree in a forest / Sarah Haas

Do not stand on the top of a peak 
To look for tall trees. The tallest tree is 

found from the ground. No need to search 
every unsquare inch, but strategically, 

walking along the edges where water is 
when there is water which there is not. 

Do not be seduced by the thickest trunks, 
usually already stumps. Instead, look up, 

the canopy too high to judge, a perspective 
you are ill-prepared to take. Remember: 

the math you forgot how to do. 
Pace out pythagorean theorems. 

Or, just look for trees that resemble ancient ruins: 

too thick bark and trampled roots,
rusted signs subsumed by thickening years, 
someone else’s already indiscernible initials.

How quickly your immortal feats are lost to time. 
Apologize, and know that this is all there is, 

this living and saying sorry all the while. 
Do not get lost in your sorrow, do not become 

like this tree, the standing dead. Leave, lest 
you become useful, too, useful and all used up. 

Uncle Abner / Moira Hegarty

On tiptoes, 
her thumbnail scratches the frosted window pane,
a starry night sky opens in front of her

a genie rises from her breath;
together they search the heavens for Santa Claus;

his sled leaps over the mountains, but it’s only the shadow of the snow, 
the outline of reindeer, the branches of trees.

 Santa Claus never visits her on Christmas eve anyway,
until someone knocks on the front door.

Grandfather lets Uncle Abner in, Odinic, an upside-down tree, hair as wiry as a scouring pad, trousers draped over his oxfords, 
he’s no longer a Christian Brother.

he brings with him the frigid air of the unheated porch,
 moves past the unlit Christmas tree in the corner, a year’s supply 

of cold cuts and apple cider, and expels his breath in frosty dumplings through smiling lips; 
he ducks under the door frame, and digs in his pocket like a brown pelican. 

for a small, worn book, her eyes open wide;
they bunch up on the couch like a baked pie crust 

“The owl and the pussy cat went to sea . . . “ 
Uncle Abner reads slow as honey. 

He closes the book with a slap and puts it in her hands, 
a string comes undone from the binding. 
She bounces on the floor like a high bounce ball, twirls her skirt, spins like a merry-go-round. 

Was It You? / Barbara Krasner

Was it you who killed my family?
I scour the faces of elderly gentlemen
with brocaded coat collars and walking sticks
on the streets of Konstanz.

Was it you who killed my family?
Were you a member of a killing squad?
Were you a guard at Treblinka or Belzec?
Do you remember my cousin, Rina,
the partisan, in her khaki clothes?

Or were you used to seeing us naked
with only the tattooed number as
identifier? Did you pull out gold teeth?
Or did you betray the family in the flat
next to you? Did you steal their linen
tablecloths and lie about the monogram?

Was it you who killed my family? Did you
gouge the mezuzah from the doorpost
and claim the house or flat as your own?
Did you tell yourself we weren’t human?
That we were unworthy of life?

Was it you who killed my family? Your
gaze meets mine and you tip your
cap. You mutter, “Guten Morgen,”
and I reply in kind. Maybe it wasn’t
you who killed my family. But I bet
you knew about it just the same.

let myVariable = “Love is Complexity” true; / Jonie McIntire

We are.       But then
                               we are      not.
We are one from two, from
                                           four or more.
Maybe more than one.
   First version, second version, third
like programs from the same source code.
                     But then
       we find other programs. We make
Family 2.0 and add          updates,
                   or rewrite bits. 
                                           We find glitches
and try to fix, but so often
                            we are written in repetitive code,         we don’t understand     our own
             variable names.
We leave so much unsaid, don’t know how
            to backup ourselves or     each other
and then the upgrades —
                     the way language changes
                     the time passes
                                  and our focus blurs
everything at our edges
until we are so many lines in
                            and we’ve started to lose
our primary codes
                the versions we relied on
      even the share ware and open source
bits that               all at once         seemingly
until we are standing, phone still in hand
staring out the kitchen window at the solid
blue sky, feeling our own heart beat in 
and out like a cursor, a thin thing hard 
to notice until it blinks or dissappears.

Surrender / Anna Mitchael

There you go,
walking through
walls again. 
Next time, 
take me with you. 

The Fuckery of Sisyphus1 / Shane Morin

Is the forgetting
The boulder smoldering
Under the burden

Of futility
            Of running      
Up that hill with the unseen
            Horizon, barely within reach

You and me ˂ the idea
            Of “we” slip
Treads threading silt,
The lifeline severed
As we serrate

The thumb dangles

The rock rests upon
The base          only
To be rolled up            again

Such fuckery

  1. Kate Bush. “Running up That Hill.” 1985

over / Mary Ventura

I’m trapped in your smile
reciting the rehearsed ordeal
over and over,
amazed in your smile
wishing the journey of yours doesn’t contain any of my trace
start over

Day 21 / Poem 21

A Dreaming  / Tiffiny Rose Allen

And so the clock runs out as I run to type this page, but 
I don’t fret or worry 
As the new day begins. 
I soften and I sway as my heart opens again
A feeling I thought would never quite return 
Until I saw the rain and loved it like the sun. 
I open up the curtains to peer into the sky and so,
A song begins again. 

NATURE POEM #1  / Lu Chekowsky

  1. The sign on the trail reads: Introduction to Oriental Bittersweet. I always read the signs. I want to know the warnings, the history; I want the education. Nothing is as simple as a sign on a preserve. To me, they always read like someone who loves me – like the two grandmothers I never knew or Mr. Rogers – wrote it. Dear child, let me explain to you, in simple terms, where you are. It makes me want to sit, cross-legged in a circle and quietly listen while a little girl slowly brushes my hair.

  2. In junior high, the teacher that touched my breasts without asking taught us to do cemetery rubbings; how to take the lead of a pencil and press the mark of a tombstone. He explained to us how you can do this on highway memorial signs and coins too. He had a story about searching for treasure on the beach with a metal detector. He could always find his way, follow the signals, he said. There is always someone who will be lucky. There is always some way you can take the markings in your pocket. You just have to read the signs.

  3. My screen name on the site where I met my husband was Bittersweetiepie. I wanted to warn him that I was more than just one thing and it wasn’t always nice. I wanted him to know I was sour and sugar. Push and pull. Dark and light. (Though, let’s be honest, I’m more bitter than pie these days.) Pure rhubarb in his side, I fear.

  4. Back to the Bittersweet sign on the trail this freezing, bright morning. Two enormous crows circling above me, screaming. It felt like a warning? All the leaves were off the trees. Another sign? I am pulled to the wooden spike in the ground. I see it can gently teach me something simple; something I can understand. It does. Here, there is the idea of invasive, the idea of the vines; the idea of the bright red fruit berries that birds devour.

  5. Let’s address the elephant in the nature preserve. Oriental. Is this a word we want to still be using? When I see the sign about this bittersweet vine, I know I want to write about it on sight. but I’m already worried about if I can use that word in my writing; as if by using it I will seem as though I were somehow endorsing it. I do not endorse it. In the warmth of home, my skin still cold from the walk, I look up oriental bittersweet. I learn it is native to China. To Japan. To Korea. I want to be clear, I am not defending the sign, but it was dated from ten years ago.

  6. I learned from the sign this morning that in this case, controlling the bittersweet means cutting down the mature vines; it means minimizing seed. What you don’t want is for the bittersweet to monopolize the light; to smother the forest. There will be no trees then. Only vines and too much sky. No matter how succulent the berries, there is still such a thing as too many berries.

  7. That’s the thing about these bittersweet vines, I learned today from a sign (and now I’m an expert) – the vines, they wait patiently for the trees to die, and then they grow fast over the death to form new pathways. After death, they take over. Death clears the way for the bittersweet.

The Mermaid vs. The World / Ahja Fox

Green skirt and belly
bead, her ancient blood
carries a distinct smell
and taste.

Her fox mind
is slithering, divine and yet,
we pray she endures
the “inevitable”
cutting and skinning
of a fish’s scales
because eyes 
can never just look


They clamor, admire,
stipulate to touch

the saxe blue 
of an unending blue

(so there is no proper table 
for their gluttonous buffet).

Void of color and stars,
she is sacrificed to the sea
of myth now.

Donning serrated teeth now,
the people net ropes against
their life’s rocky boat 
in fear
of meeting her and her medusa
like anger.

There isn’t a revenge plot
to spoil—

the mermaid is right
to paunch you of spine.

Spinning at Roughly 1,000 Mile per Hour / Sarah Haas

Straight exes spinning into queer years spinning into 
straight marriages opening into opening land spinning 
land that was spun out of promises spinning broken 
spinning breathless spinning for the kind of apology 
that actually spins sorry into those promised pastures all spun out of grass 
twenty-three starving turkeys spinning into identities like 
vegetarian or married because I’m the only one who goes down
on my husband spinning fibers out of the only child
spinning into the only person I can actually hold because
I don’t know how to spin myself into useful yarn 
spinning always clockwise, always clockwise, spinning 
clockwise again so that I can finally ply these parts of me against 
time spinning backwards into mysterious tastes 
coming undone like I like you spinning into I don’t like you 
spinning into a bleak and unfounded want only for heavy cream 
whipped into everything I hate about spinning all there is 
into just a few discernable certainties spinning mysterious 
past days spinning into these days spinning into future days 
in which I don’t exist but spinning into just one good thing done 
but every made thing spun out of spinning pain is 
coming undone hundreds of un-spun fibers lining these 
impecable wool floors where I’m not trying to sleep but not 
sleeping because how is it possible that I’m still but still spinning. 

SUMMER / Moira Hegarty

wide-eyed summer
I want more of your green wood 

In morning sunlight a half smile aprons your lips 
renewed in a macro lens of dew 

Heat steaming the grass in a straw basket lifting from the sidewalk,
drain my strength, renew your fairy wand 

you promised to sustain my escape
before the autumnal house tilt descends 

dismissing the summer wind, 
tipping the green grasses gold ,

abandoning us for harvest festivals;
I hear your faint cry coming from the pond 

in a corner of the forest at midnight 
in foliage as green as absinthe pining like a crybaby;

sung outside my window – from a dog star morning
sung outside my window – from a field of groveling wheat 

wide eyed summer your name, even in daylight
will always be unspoken.

Sixties Somersaults / Barbra Krasner

You purse your lips as I tumble
across your bed to show how nimble
I can be. We do somersault rolls
in Miss Honey’s class and I love to jump
on your king bed for practice. I fly
across the mattress, giggling with glee.
But you stand there, tight-fisted
and tight-mouthed, afraid I’ll fracture
some part of my body or your furniture.
I hop off your bed and give you a kiss,
try to make you giggle. You squeeze
my hand and your eyes squint as you smile.

Three Sheets to the Wind / Jonie McIntire

The thing about liquor is
it’s so much lighter than land
or sea; it’s the quick way
to turn yourself to water.
It’s the pull 
of a bottomless pit.
After a while of falling,
nobody seems to see you.
“Object blindness” it’s called.
Something of your skeleton
goes missing. The sheet
of your skin becomes a sail
you let the wind shred
as it rushes.
Why should I be afraid
of falling?
What I fear
is a flat surface. 

The Good Life 20: There’s no going back / Anna Mitchael

You’ve been trained 
so well to doubt and deny
But your heart 
won’t let you turn and go
Like attracts like
But no one wears your straitjacket  
Your mind inquires after
logic pride shame 
And what people are gong think
(in that order)
If only you can keep
your cheeks from flushing red
If only you can keep 
your tongue from wagging
If only you can keep
your heart in the lead
You will find yourself among them
lost in song
When you emerge you 
will be new.

The very stranger  / Mary Ventura

the beginning of Camus’ L’Étranger
shrouded me with a multitude of guilt
how could someone capture my thoughts so accurate
in the future 
budding chills
I imagine myself as Meursault
standing in front of my mother’s coffin  
no tears
an imposed guilt submerges me 
why can’t i feel the designed sadness
when i needed you, you never come, 
you stupid tears
but then i remembered mother’s tale after the visit to her murdered aunt’s funeral 
she did not shed one tear
although the aunt was claimed closer than her own mother
“when people are in the deepest grief, they have no tears”
that’s what it happened
so it’s ok
I’m fine, I’m just in the deepest grief
“I can’t believe your uncle’s performance, he even said ‘why did you leave us so soon’ in tears to our aunt. Pretentious!”
so perhaps when people are in their deepest grief, they can still tell who’s there to pretend
“what a pity my aunt got murdered, right before the murder, I wanted to transfer my jobs to Beijing, because she was planning to do so.”
so perhaps when people are in their deepest grief, they can still mourn their own plans
“my aunt was such a prestigious figure in geology, and she gave me gems and that makes other people jealous”
so perhaps when people are in their deepest grief, they hold on the old gems physically 
I don’t feel that guilty anymore
I am just my mother’s daughter 

Day 20 / Poem 20

Kind of hoping  / Tiffiny Rose Allen

So I wake in the middle of the night and I don’t know the type of song I’m hearing
I hope to find something good from this let me count my kiss let me count my faith my fears and all the rest. 
My tempting crest of courage as I keep taking a step forward even though I’m kind of nervous kind of hopeful kind of like I’m hoping it’ll all go well. 

LOVE POEM #4  / Lu Chekowsky

Things I Think About When We Kiss:
Chipmunks under the deck. 
The new Zen frog.
What did we say that night to each other in Japan?
Hum of the radon fan.
How time works.
Neko sweet toe beans.
How sure I was no one would love me.
The thermostat.
Doing too many things.
Literally nothing but warmth coming up from my toes.
What I was wearing on the bench that day.
The concept of love.
New woods.
The inside of your mouth.
Menthol deodorant.
The knock on the door.
Can I hide from the party?
How having a body means I get to be close to you.

Bath Time in The New Apartment After an End of Summer Miscarriage  / Ahja Fox

You admire your belly button as I drain franken-duck of water. 
I want to ask about mummy-duck’s whereabouts, but know 
you will just smile in response. Only seeing one in the pair 
of twin turtles; their rubber-red backs open-palm splaying 
in the small nodule of last week’s mind, I puzzle.

I puzzle, never exactly knowing when things go missing, just that 
they’re gone. Hoping I’m as watchful as the thing that eats 
the hawk, I often hate how the world will continue on without me.

Daughter, you’re glowing more comfortable and confident 
in your room, alone (in your shower cap, yellow-dinosaured 
and non adjustable).

You want a million kisses after I wash your hair, stare me 
down when I jump across the rug’s inkiness to the toilet.

I’m thinking back on these twin turtles, on my last deja-vued thought: 
that you lugging them around, one turtle body to each breast, mirrored 
the mourning of any mother.

Still…I know better than to entertain ghosts seemingly born of premonition. 

Returning to you, and your 11 bathtub friends, with a fine-tooth comb 
in my mouth, once again, sends you into a splashing fury. 

Only one twin turtle bobs up and down—barely surviving 
the wake of you 

and your sudden awareness of everything that is lost.

We know not what we are  / Sarah Haas

The original swindle was
        selling, fake diamond rings
painted to look real. 
        The jig required only a fool 
to answer the swindler’s cry for help, 
        to enter their dark and dirty stall, 
Designed to isolate a person 
        from their own good sense.
The swindle was presented as a gift
        Take my word for it, 
And with an outstretched hand
        the swindler complained 
About the momentous weight 
        of so many precious gems, 
The truth that all the other fools
        were afraid to tell this specific fool. 
In recognition, the fool knelt
        in sorrow, would give anything
To relive the swindler from the burden
        of guarding so many real things.  
Before the fool bought the ring, 
        the fool asked for forgiveness. 

The fool renters the street proud
        to have been been shown
Their ignorance. In their  
        newfound knowingness, 
The fool wants only for proof of the 
        value of the diamond they deserve.
The fool hurries to procure an
        appraisal: a worthless 
fake. Foolish innocence pits against 
        foolish phoniness, the fool babbles false
claims of the real. Back on the street, 
        even the sun is a conspiracy 
hiding behind the facade of weather, 
        the lifting fog, the fool’s burning skin. 
In his real pain, the fool returns 
        to the swindler to confesses 
his confusion. Enraged, the swindler accuses 
        the fool of betrayal, says: 
I am such a fool to believe that
      a fool like you could be saved

Frog  / Moira Hegarty

leopard frog hides his secrets from the cowslips, 
marsh rose wheezes to kingcup, hissing on the breath of 
marigold, sea lavender cooing and chirring 

Watch the old tadpole’s breaststroke! 
Slicing the swampy pool, the mighty heads of cotton grass slump like stepping stones, to the tune of bog warblers and fen sparrows. 

But frog sings the bass anyway, 
ribbit, ribbit-ribbit, ribbit-ribbit-ribbit,
old as the hills mossbacked amphibian.

If Only  / Barbara Krasner

If I were to take my cue
from ancestors before me,
I’d hang onto secrets
like skeletal bones
clutching shrouds.

If everyone in my generation
were all queued up like
matryoshka dolls from eldest
to youngest, we might get
to the bottom of whispered
patrimony in Yiddish dipthong.

An ancestry line is a curious
thing. DNA can tell you
the person you thought
was your father isn’t.
That instead of being
100 percent European Jewish
you’re 50 percent Irish.

These cues only serve
to confuse. If only our
ancestors would speak to us
and divulge their truths.

Two Quick Poems About Love  / Jonie McIntire

1. The Waiting
there’s a threat of snow
you are still at work
and I’m decomposing
if tonight you
didn’t come home
how our love 
having halted at argument 
would rewrite itself
how blame 
like old red correction ribbon
would overwrite our years 
into smearing grey
how like a corpse I wait
while November
rattles our windows
2. When I Want To Say I Love You But Predictive Text Knows Us Better Than We Know Ourselves
        (a poem mostly written using predictive text on a cell phone)
I love you like crazy busy with work 
I love you and miss this one more day
I can’t find a good way to make sure you get the best of me 
I love you with all the features of my poems
I love you for having so many MANY Years
We did not prepare for this 
We are frozen and I will continue to keep you 
I love us when we get back from our own life 

Untitled  / Shane Morin

The lines, lines, lines
A rote memorization like 2 and 3 is 5.
Lies my teacher, mother, pastor embedded
An epidermal chip just beneath the skin.

                It’s nothing; I’m fine; doin’ great, and you?

Scripted, B-list actors
Staging fake melodramas for
An oblivious audience.

can I  / Mary Ventura

selling the Swansea Ballet tickets I bought half a year ago
wanted to be classy
remembering your grandparents that met in Kibbutz 
you told their tales — 
growing up and lived a cultured life
in Berlin
every weekend they’d go to listen to some musical
watch a show
until the city became a threat
a theater
they went through hell and out as holocaust survivors 
they keep on living their lives
I looked at them in admire across the dining table
told you 
I wish I had their spirit to continue living
you laughed
“can you get up everyday at exact six o’clock and start prepare your morning salad?”
“can you cut your salad cubes in exact same size every single day until you’re ninety?”
“if you can’t, then you can’t.”
when I bought the Swansea Ballet tickets
I was truly thinking about your grandparents 
no, I can’t

Day 19 / Poem 19

Colder  / Tiffiny Rose Allen

It’s getting colder 
We’re all getting a bit older 
I’m trying my best 
Taking the rest 
Open up the door now 
It’s time to seize the bell 
After it rings 
A new day is here
Let’s go now 
It’s time to 
Face the day 
Face the day
With passion.

BLIND ITEM #15  / Lu Chekowsky

princess of golden trash,
poodle pouf pop star,
blonde bird, bragging ‘
bout whiskey. 
dollar sign gone.
mouth sewn shut.
wrong doctor.
bad medicine.
hotpants rap.
simple sex smirk.
die young.
singing in 
girlie doodles; 
yodels too.
glitter princess, 
we miss you.

For the Distant Lover Who’s Heart I Carry: A Pregnancy Poem  / Ahja Fox

sun, moon, sun
you eclipse me
suddenly, your hands
around me, but I
turn my face

think planet of
what brews inside
my own belly, you’re a
god superseding
my bones and I’m
shaking like a racked
bottle of coke
in your gifting

so relieving, yet
trilling, the name
dormant in the folds
of my tongue

i’m searching
the illustrious 
amber upon your 
cheek, repositioning
the stars in hopes
you may one day
like them

One-handed sonnet  / Sarah Haas

My horse is a tall ground dwelling horse, a
happy fool wasting time. Her name is Lark.
I don’t think Lark is happy, because Lark 
isn’t a bird but a horse without a 

frontal cortex. Usually, Lark is 
a steady horse with a long neck, easy. 
Earlier, Lark was afraid of: the dog, 
the arena door, its edges of light. 

In the dim of her unadjusting eyes, 
She bolted three times before I tried to 
stop her nine-hundred pounds with softening 
hips, one tightening one losening rein,  

us, turning in circles turning until 
Lark and I turned into an afterthought. 

QUARRY / Moira Hegarty

My father’s words, exhaled from his open mouth. 
high cheekbones slashed like quarry rock

he liked confirming the openwork of his beliefs
the ones I too am supposed to hold dear.

From the pit of his throat his abracadabra 
Of jam jars and ginger beer, of yellow houses and hollyhocks 

of a quarry we once owned, 
wandered like an explorer in search of the northwest passage

 while mourning doves and I return to the romance
of torn paper hearts and a lonely bedroom’s torpor,

on the dresser a sepia photo of a seventeen-year-old boy/man 
watches me, one eye cast 

opposite the convex plane of his scope from the tear duct
one eye as cock-eyed as a porcelain doll’s,

and as gray as a piece of granite in a sidewalk
in a library lion, in a tombstone, from our family’s quarry

Infiltration   / Barbara Krasner

The tea ball steeps in my teapot
as homesickness seeps into
my bone’s marrow. I am
thousands of miles away
in a land where my kind
was destined for ashes
that would dribble into
the seams of the sky.

Deep in my bone’s marrow
are the DNA strands that make
me, me. Half from father, half
from mother. Now their bones
rest underground and my place
next to my mother is assured.
Without thinking, I wear the
same style nightgowns and the same
style moccasins she once wore.
It’s in my bones.

Through the glass of the wall-to-wall
window of my dorm, the Swiss alps
rise through sky’s pillows, an escape
route once for my Viennese cousin,
while his brother peered through
train glass windows to capture
the faces of his parents and sister
he’d never see again.

The Alps stretch out their arms
to bring us in close, to protect
us against unnatural forces.
But the mountains are also
harsh and unforgiving. We have
to earn their trust and learn
our way among them. My
knees lock backward as I
climb down to flat land,
my arms flapping.

The stones are like razors, ready to cut
limbs when humans get in the way.
But stones are preferable to bullets
and bayonets. They are natural
and don’t select. Razors cut deep

and make us weak, but we can
withstand the cut veins, patch them up
with bandages. We can regain
our strength among mountain
flowers and stretch blooming
confidence from week to week.

We regain weight as we wait
for aid and rescue. No chocolate
for us, it’s too rich. We wait
for American cousins to vouch
for us and bring us, not home,
but to somewhere safe,
where our Star of David
names won’t weigh us down.
In my dorm, even eating
Toblerone and Lindt, I lose weight.

I have to put the brakes on
eating. I want to spend my
spring break in New York
working to earn money I can spend
back here in the spring.
I spend my money on German-Russian
dictionaries in Berlin,
Not thinking about the history
of the city and the decisions
made here to break my people.

It’s a mystery why I chose
to study German and spend
a year in Germany. I wanted
to solve the mystery of my
Name, but this is not the right place
for that. I need to go to Minsk.

I am homesick for the alte heym,
for where I come from. Yiddish
is sweet on my tongue, a compote
of DNA, bone marrow, and shmaltz,
sweeter and richer than chocolate.

Cento   / Jonie McIntire

I’ll see the blue light behind my eyes when I fall asleep tonight
remember how often your mother moved when
when she was sick,
when I was ready for war
what it was to breathe when she
when company is around
when mouths are agape
I’m best when guarding silly secrets
pull them out when warm and dry,
the soupy batter when I pour too much
the blue soap that foams when I wash the dishes
I jolt sometimes while driving when
when in doubt,
when leaving the white
only hindsight, when it’s all I can do
rain clouds that floated in when
when she laughed

when my time comes, the sun shall forget
Lines from poem drafts this month by Tiffiny Rose Allen, Sarah Haas, Barbara Krasner, Shane Morin, May Ventura, Lu Chekowsk, Anna Mitchael, Ahja Fox, and Jonie McIntire

Good Life 19: Animal Instincts   / Anna Mitchael

Red says he would prefer to live
across the street and past the creek
the landscaping’s better and as
the Chinese proverb says where there
Is more square footage there are more bugs

I want to squawk like crazy, doesn’t he see
How much time I spent with him today
That love is easier to feel in small places
Our angle on the moon is so good here
Instead I tighten my beak and show him my tail feathers
Not all of us have to act like animals.

returning   / Mary Ventura

I went back
to that pool of dead water
mirroring only one reflection
never shines 
under the moon
i threw endless pebbles in
it never echoes
embarking on the airplane and arriving 
I found out it was again
not real
a trap set up waiting for that unguarded child
i fall into the dead pool 
alone with laughter
along with some shadows
weightless like hope
feather’s heavier 

Day 18 / Poem 18

I’d like to be how the flowers are 

The way they stand strong against anything
A namesake 
A fond futile emotion full of sweet perfume and a bumblebee 
Stopping by to whisper and tell me all it’s secrets 
I’d like to be how the flowers are 
A garden ever-growing 
Just like a small adieu 
Or a curfew after dark 
A singular little moment 
Of something to be present for. 

BLIND ITEM #14  / Lu Chekowsky

lil’ bentley. 
lil’ chauffeur. 
lil’ model fiancé.
lil’ drank.
lil’ stank.
lil’ miami protogé.
lil’ best.
lil’ arrest.
lil’ pill. 
lil’ grill.
lil’ neon kicks.
lil’ young. lil’ song.
lil’ small.
lil’ fun.
lil’ won.
lil’ big time.

Not Your Ordinary Art Class (Perseverance. Responsibility. Integrity. Dedication. Empathy)  / Ahja Fox

(for Ponderosa Elementary School) 

We strive, take PRIDE
in our voices, roots deep 
like the outside trees. 

Ponderosa. Ponderosa. 
Each scholar is a tall skinny 
pine extending their bark-limbs 
across the room. 

Alphabet letters

find us, linked in sound 
as we, each, should link in stark color. 

Stark in color, green and blue produce: 

withstand the unevenness 
of a broken pencil. 

The paint brush,

a wielded tool, 
grants RESPONSIBILITY, with hopes 
you make an image to 
reshape, redefine. 

INTEGRITY strongs itself against 
the blank background, begs the question 
everyone already knows the answer to. 

What is more beautiful than a backyard 
forest of dancing trees? 

It takes DEDICATION to finish, to sign 
the small corner of the canvas, painted 
yet still, unspoken. 


There is EMPATHY in listening, in 
putting your ear to a heartbeat 
not contained within the chest.

Respect nature—an individual’s art.
No one tree is painted with the same color nor technique.

Scrubbed  / Sarah Haas

On the day I forgave 
my mother, she regained 
her sight, she saw
the dirty house 
she’d spent her whole life 
cleaning away the sins 
of raising a daughter
in the house she taught me
to clean, always 
asking why I hadn’t 
mentioned the filth, 
bleached our last visit, 
if I was capable of doing 
what it would take 
to catch her in her descent 
into her mother’s dementia, 
but the only mess I’ve ever 
cared about is mine. 
Anyway, she said, enough 
about me, so I told her
all about how hard it is 
to be a mother. 

OCTOPUS ART  / Moira Hegarty

octopus painted on a ceramic pot 
imprisoned in a sea of clay
in a museum of archaeology off the coast of Crete;

for over three thousand years
you survived among the same coral, triton shells, 
and sea urchins urging you to set them free,

violent, twisted, buttoned tentacles 
extend to the edges of rounded rims but cannot rupture
the stomach wall of the ware.  

your eyes bulge wide open and gawk 
at visitors gaping back, 
nearby, the gentle swish of the cold blue Aegean Sea.

What Remains  / Barbara Krasner

All that’s left of the front yard trees
are pine needles and a few scattered
pinecones. The red maple’s leaves
now blanket the lawn like military tarp.

            The pine needles are plentiful
            but not enough to cover the trenches
            left behind by Soviet troops.

            I brought a pinecone home
            from the Leshner Forest,
            an emigrant piece of my grandfather’s
            Poland now in my foyer.

All that’s left of the front yard trees
now in mid-November are the memories
of their greenery that used to fill
my bay window. All that’s left
are bare limbs, desolate with despair
until they bloom again with hope.

           All that’s left are the specters
           of lives that could have been—
            had the Soviet troops stayed
            and the Nazi killing squads
            never arrived.

How We Are Conduits  / Jonie McIntire

A small dog shivers
not from cold
but condition.
When in doubt,
motion creates
energy which
we’ve defined 
as the ability 
to do work.
Which is why 
the working man
quakes, but the
union worker
makes electricity
into light.

Good Life 18: Sisterhood  / Anna  Mitchael

Somewhere not far away 
two women are eating lunch

They order salads
And speak of private schools
The trouble with finding good
help these days, shaking their heads,
wondering why it’s always this way.

Somewhere not far away 
two women are eating lunch

Forking leftovers from red lid plastic
while other people’s children
speak of video games and who
likes who today, taunting, “Not you.”
Why is it always this way.

Somewhere not far away 
two women are eating lunch

Air is on the menu, grief has
taken the space of food
The only word they can say is “why”  
can’t there be another way.

Somewhere not far away 
two women are eating lunch.

Tacos unrolled from safekeeping foil
In the cool of the rich woman’s kitchen
Prayers for their school children
to the God who gives and takes away.
¿Qué vas a hacer para cenar esta noche?
One meal at a time, we will make our way.

St. Charles’ Field  / Shane Morin

after Breaking Benjamin’s “Tourniquet”
I pace the cemetery
Lanes laying blame as
Putrid lilies, stems bending 
    In the chill wind
Life fails at St. Charles’ gate
    God has left me, has
        Left us
    To fend for
A love that once fell 
    Upon us 
As snow glides towards
Monuments and headstones
I rest my lilies 
    On your earthen mound, I lay beside
You, wrap myself in your shimmering
Innocence, undone 
I become what you glimpsed
    In late night terrors
I will make a home
    Of the ancient catacombs
I will lie down
    And slumber in the soil
I’ll tie your
    Red-ribboned tourniquet
Preserve what love has left
Bleed out vengeance
    From my eyes, blue wisps
Dance in the sunrise
God has left me
    To abide inside this hell.

the other side  / Mary Ventura

twelve years, it circles back to unfold my dear dream 
“it seems yesterday I had a dream of my own relationship, it’s extremely beautiful. and wordless.”
you know what’s also wordless?
at this age of my life
in any moment 
I could die
go to the other side. and meet
my mom
being in the same side of the world with her
 i wondered when can i escape, say, to leave
little did i know, the question should start with “whether”
sixty years ago i tried to leave
couldn’t do it by then
was only planning a fake one
i lost my mind in attempting to find a world where no almighty mom exists
even i will plunge into hell, i’d risk it
all of these happened 

Day 17 / Poem 17

Morning Dove   / Tiffiny Rose Allen

My little morning dove

An inspiring approach to taking forward steps 
Here we go 
Forward motion 
Allowing once more to open the door 
The door of seeing what is in store. 
A massive sparkle 
A leveling play
A swollen plea 
Full of peace
With bruises 
We bring in the joy 
For healing.

BLIND ITEM #13   / Lu Chekowsky

famous daddy,
party touching.
climb down.
montana dream.
rhaspy scream.
sweet on screen.
pop star dream.
can’t be tamed.
can’t be stopped.
sequin sweetheart.
little girl 
disney princesses.
both whores 
who broke

Bell Schedule ‘22-’23  / Ahja Fox

If it’s gone, you’ll miss it  / Sarah Haas

I held him inches away 
from one candle’s light 
in the almost dark I could see 
the porosity of every wrinkle. 
From behind him, I looked 
toward our shadow to discover 
I was perfectly hidden, behind 
his perfect map of one to one. 
So I took his shadow as proof. 
Because the day after tomorrow 
he’ll book a one-way for the only 
sexuality that’s left, the past, 
what horrified Persephone when
she first saw Hades, the eternality 
of spring green. It was shadows that 
saved her, brought her back to 
today is the day before yesterday and 
I’m tracing his shape on to the wall 
so that later I can look at him 
from across this same but empty room, 
knowing all the while that it’s only the devil 
who can snatch the shadow from your feet.

After Jean-Pierre Norblin de la Gourdaine’s “The Invention of Drawing,” an etching from 1773.

Cento  / Moira Hegarty

The afterthought of afterglows, 
Just faceless people abstracted from real people; 
And while I don’t remember it much, 
Laid against haphazard asphalt. 
From my soul, you travel all the way to the river of life 
To a lush green place where dogs play frisbee; 
Your quiet cries, 
And a shying away of darkness, comes with the blaring of white light, 
Lives like whispered songs. 

Lines from poem drafts this month by Tiffiny Rose Allen, Sarah Haas, Barbara Krasner, Shane Morin, May Ventura, Lu Chekowsk, Anna Mitchael, Ahja Fox, and Jonie McIntire

Tenement Blues  / Barbara Krasner

Peeling paint like ocean white caps,
a pleated sleeveless dress hanging from a pipe,
natural light from shadeless window bruises
the faded carpet, the first treasure
bought in America. Heaps of dresses cover
an ironing board: blue and white gingham,
navy polka dot, turquoise swirls. These
are the tenement blues, the reminders
of squalor and hunger and need to eke
out a wage to pay the landlord. Exposure
lurks everywhere: onto the street,
into the next flat, into the seams
of neat shirtwaists worn by immigrants
trying to dress American. They
go in groups to the photographer’s studio
to take a picture to send back home. The studio
is filled with tables, chairs, plants, and wallcoverings
that have never seen a tenement. The immigrants
know they can fool their cousins. They know
they can say, “I’m here and I’ve made it!”
Then the cousins come and gasp in horror
at the tenement’s soot and narrow spaces.
They lived in a shack back home but at least
it was theirs and they could keep chickens
out back to get their eggs and a good
Shabbos meal. They didn’t know from
carpets or paint. They barely knew blue,
because the shtetl only comes in shades
of grey. Together now they all cry
the tenement blues over a game
of cards on the rickety table
found on the street after an eviction.
They cover it with oilcloth and
congratulate themselves on their
thrift and ingenuity. Someday
they’ll move to a suburb
and look back on the tenement
blues as the good old days.

How Building a Community Is Like Watching Holiday Movies While Baking  / Jonie McIntire

We like to think that what is broken
gets mended with gold but mostly it just
sits there like run-over Milwaukee’s Best
Ice cans next to a highway. However,
glimmers catch our eye. A little free
library near a schoolyard, a stop light
where the kids cross to cornerstone, more
ramps at the Sidewalk corners for Larry
who wheels his way to the post office
to mail new paintings he lives to share.
They twinkle like shiny apples so easy
to pick and you could just swoop in,
“ploink!” and here you go, ma’am! But
then you find you are out of baking soda,
the jealous ex-boyfriend has shown up
at your hometown holiday fest and one
parent says what if someone puts porn
in the box, and some other non-parent
is terribly concerned. You’ve already sent
letters to the editor and city council
but nobody’s been killed by a speeding car
in your low-income neighborhood, so no
need for pretty lights. And Larry’s used to
dodging onto the street. One person, turns out,
isn’t enough. Which is why you are here,
mixer-deep in snickerdoodles, desperate
to understand how Chad Michael Murray
keeps getting work but resolved not to quit
until the hard-nosed executive saves
the family farm and the high school
sweethearts reveal their lingering love
and the single dad carpenter convinces
the hardened reporter that some things,
after all, are always worth fighting for.

Good Life 17: SOS From the Shallows  / Anna Mitchael

If it’s true that when I look at the ocean
I can find your touch in the turn
of the wave then a spray of that
same truth must be in this moment at hand.

In bottle number one: 
a gloomy taupey tort, 
You Don’t Know Jacques.
Oh, but I did, for an east coast winter
Snow falling for days 
Retreating to stem after stem
Until the trickling realizations froze
into a pile sturdy enough to stand on:
Not every Jack knows his trade.

Drops of Midnight Mantra dried
down the side of bottle two.
Didn’t I once drag a rocker to the yard
to study the underside of Ulysses?
Or was that a pregnant woman off
her rocker? Stop, drop and roll
is what the general said to me.
Stop, drop and call me
by my proper name: Ursa Major.

Never really in the running, the bottle
Brown to Earth still made it in hand.
The color of coffee beans
that coax me from my bed, teasing
The face of a boy I might have loved
if I had another mother.
Desperately seeking—is how the request
begins—an escape from suspicion
that the best has gone and
the rest must just be endured.

The trapped stories rattle while
water sloshes atop my feet.
Little soapy bubbles acting as though
They can make things new.
Don’t let me be the woman
who falls on these color swords,
stuck in the shallows forever.
And so I wait for a call from the deep.
For the spray to reach my face.
If you live there, you must also be here.
You must be everywhere.
You must be in reach of all ten
fingers and toes.
You must be able to hear me
desperately seeking a general
sturdy enough to stand on.

See, my wife lies in bed  / Shane Morin

Waiting for an answer to a question
Posed with one solution, and I say
            “I wish you were with me
            At the circus.” Instead of

It’s the carrying
Of the collapsed and collapsar,
The fourth step in AA, seeking
The source of darkness and love,
The red maple planted
Over the corpse of my former

It’s the surrendering of a lover
Upon the last exhale, the silence
Between gasp and speech. This love
Looks like fault-lined stars, etched
On parchment to chart a path home,
If home were the four chambers and aorta.

It’s the second date making out,
Not watching Interstellar ‘cause she too
Is a celestial body by which I exist. It’s
Submitting rejected letters of trauma
And the tracing of scars across cartography,
The tension between A minor and F major,
Only resolved at the Cadd9, the YouTube playlist
With only her name, on it lost songs and Iris.

It’s simply the truth impossible, yet
Within easy reach, the proton and neutron infused.

postmemory  / Mary Ventura

if they are not asking 
don’t tell
let memories flow back to the river where it came from
— my promises to my grandchildren
but I do hope they ask
please pry on your grandma’s haunting past
dig up those dusty poems on her mother
those inflicted pain
the mother’s mother’s mother
those jewelleries, those burned newspapers, 
those soldiers in 
Korean War
please pry on your grandma’s haunting past
and don’t worry
those memories will not cover yours
I won’t allow

Day 16 / Poem 16

An Inkling / Tiffiny Rose Allen

A cat’s meow, a little purr, 
A fond hello 
A new beginning 
A little hope brewing 
A subtle smile as we whisper songs of everything that home could be. 
A beautiful adventure of possibility and a journey 
At it’s wake 
Already begun 
We are. 

CHRONIC PAIN POEM #1  / Lu Chekowsky

a break 
from the regularly scheduled program.
jolt of lightning 
behind eye.
heartbeat pulse; 
lights on and off,
stiletto to the neck.
ice, heat, packs, pillows, curves, breath
an eleven out of ten.
caffeine. naproxen. ativan. weed.
exposed nerve root canal but in face.
teeth ground down.
bone on bone.
what it takes to hold my head up.

Echo, Echo  / Ahja Fox

I return to the siren-screech 
you call regurgitation,

twist bulbous skin into a new fit 
of belly for you to kiss on.

The lake never sang so deep, but I worship 
its small graces in space,  red-lit 
with eyes never devoid 
of hunger.

Inspired, I consume 
the triple-pronged leaves 
from my pillowcase (bathe 
my body in the plush body 
of an infant’s grey toy star).
I return 


because the war has been a couple decades 
long where my waters 

I’m a mermaid. I’m a mom.
Hovering over dusky 7am 
light, I forget 
which being I need to be first.


Pythias & Damon  / Sarah Haas

My friend and I are great friends. 
We live in a city where all these mean and selfish 

chemicals infiltrate our skin. One day, my friend 
speaks out about his pain, but only soldiers hear him. 

My friend is taken into custody and 
sentenced to an even slower form of tortured 

time; he wants only for another lucid hour 
to wish his mother goodbye. A friend 

should offer to take his place, but I do not. 
Instead, I watch the soldiers tie my friend down. 

I watch the soldiers inject my friend with the poison 
that convinces my friend he’s lost his mind. 

His mother comes, sits down beside me. Together
we watch his now irregularly beating chest, the hole 

where his voice used to be. We watch my friend 
mouthing the words How lonely does it get? 

My friend reaches into his empty pocket. We watch 
as he withdraws a clump of ordinary lint. 

We watch my friend twist it into a line of 
yarn that he knits into a sheep that he shears to the 

skin, exposed to the toxic air. And when the soliders start 
to laugh, we watch lanolin pour from their open mouths. 

Measles  / Moira Hegarty

Mary Louise’s pet turtle died suddenly;
We buried him in her mother’s rock garden.

folded him tenderly with layers of perforated toilet paper
and dug him a shallow grave among the candytuft.

The day after, we dug him up.
His golden belly still intact, no insects, no worms

we continued to dig the critter up with no results
then we noticed a small piece had melted away like an eclipse of the moon

we discussed life and death, after life and graveyards
until our mothers enrolled us 

in the summer playground program
and Mary Louise’s turtle completed the process of decay without us.

Insistence  / Barbara Krasner

You wave your hand in front of me
and say, “I insist.” But it’s just
your insistent, persistent way
of getting your own way. This
insistence and I have known
each other a long time. It insists
on being listened to, respected,
even at times coddled. Your insistence
knows when to insist and when
to persist and understands
the difference between the two
even if I don’t. It demands, commands,
and reprimands at will. Your
constant insistence wears me down,
so I acquiesce and insist you have your own way.
I wave my hand in front of your face
and say, “I insist,” hand you the TV
remote and go to bed.

Honoring Our Dead  / Jonie McIntire

What we say at the funeral needs lightness,
after all, there’s a dead body here and we’re all
dead bodies who haven’t found our home.
But I’m a terrible liar and it’s hard to explain
that a love poem can reveal all of your worst
moments, can in fact highlight them and call them
wrong, while still mourning the loves we’ve lost.
I can celebrate the rare maple candies, the pie
crust cookies, the grandmother of chicken and
noodles while telling you about the two hands
hollow pop of boxed ears, the booming voice,
the always disappointed eyes and swinging purse.
I can love the grandfather who used shame
like fists and plaster, who flat of the hand
surprise attacked the slower kids, so much
so that I can still see all of us, even now,
orphaned and oddly groundless, ducking
heads, throwing up arms and weaving.
What I can tell you is that I can’t save anyone.
But my grandparents were a gift given to me
by a daughter who fought to love herself
and kept fighting until she learned the bravery
of kindness. We honor our dead with 
honesty and with forgiveness, not for all
their cruelties, but for the love they couldn’t feel
during those hardest years. We bring to light
the bright moments without letting them
cast shadows on the darknesses we still carry.
We bury our dead slowly, over and over,
until only the love that is growing remains.

The Good Life 16: For Those Who Want to Rise Above  / Anna Mitchael

Didn’t you see what they did 
five minutes ago 
I was crying in the stall
and now you want me smiling
with my other cheek ready
for the next blow
I feel myself holding on for dear life,
or at least, the only life I know
You keep whispering:
This is how you let go.

Skin  / Shane Morin

Verb: stripping away of flesh,
            (IE, to flay, to immolate)

I am the dearth of negative space
The abyss where lack echoes

Scars trail along
the epidermal underbelly

Like the lacerated grey matter
Each trauma a step towards the precipice

Leadened eyes lead to sleep lead to
2:18am lead to restlessness lead to
Facebook browsing lead to more sleep,
            Only convulsed, lead to

Skin lined with muscle memory and illogic
The why a chorus of obliteration

go tell the mountains  / Mary Ventura

Yes, yesterday comes in pairs
one on my left and one on my right
bailiffs of my brain
they stop me from dreaming
murmur instead, this is what you deserve
if yes, i’d stop dreaming
take what i’ve been offered
if yes, i’d stop living
serving instead 
but i’ve been wronged, so wronged
i pierced my scream to you all
deafen shouts 
to the cotton bailiffs who raised me
one on my left and one on my right
i’ve been so wronged
yet i’d ascend to be higher 
go tell the mountains
           the loess
do set me up, then
blame me for being upset

Day 15 / Poem 15

Pockets of Summer / Tiffiny Rose Allen

My pockets of purple my pockets of blue the flower pollen dancing 

The wind 
A small little 
I open the meadow like the clouds curtains
Up up up up in the sky 
Wind billows and brightens up the sun 
Opens those little sleepy eyes. 
My little sleepy lullaby
From a subtle summer day 

LOVE POEM #3  / Lu Chekowsky

since you’ve been gone you’ve sent me: 
photos of meat in bread 
meat in noodles
a bunny skeleton 
neon rainbow highrise 
mountain top selfie of two old friends
poutine détour fin
keith haring rain dance
basquiat at the guggenheim
leonard cohen afterworld
sunny side up dizzy art wall record
madonna at the danceteria, 1983
19,107 steps
and now is the time.

since you’ve been gone i’ve sent you:
photos of two golden nipple pins
a sushi selfie of two old friends
zoom room of saturday night poets
neko at my feet
jury summons with a forwarding address label
yet another mirror selfie of two old friends
three alex katz paintings seen at the guggenheim:
       1.   a cut out of a nebbishy fellow in a green blazer
       2.   six identical portraits of his silver-haired wife in a little black dress
       3.   a profile featuring a prominent nos
and a question to you about where an umbrella might be.

A Celestial Night in the New Apartment  / Ahja Fox

(after the November 8th Total Lunar Eclipse)

it’s a monday night when you decide 
you can’t resist me

consummated fires,
I’m the blue that sends 
your body red, flaming 
up up up

something lunar,  eclipsing 
the ordinariness 
of our family home

but we miss the miracle 
for another one—
our girl climbing the bed at the seams

when we return outside, the sky
is howling

our eyes, wolfing against 

midnight’s egg-shells

 I want to metamorphosize (like this)

shed the scarf,
fold it into tiny frame
for our ghosts to sleep on 

could I inlay the depression within 
this sweater, dust it 
in life’s fragile ash and be 
an angel?

of desire,  I am
my bones only 


dear moon, why do you take 
me down so good?

I keep breathing, feeling
life’s answers for me will manifest,

a percolating black-violent dream

would you keep this pit 
a little while longer, my love?

I have so much emptiness to filter 
out of our [living] room

Lost  / Sarah Haas

I let you disappear into me, forgave you 
your identity, let you dissolve into your 
original tumult, you, standing again
at the center of six trees, afraid, because 
each is as vaguely familiar as the next, but you,
you can’t remember any of their stupid names. Sarah
stop bemoaning your precious 
categorizations, you are me and we are 
Lost in a barren of six trees, surrounded by 
six hundred thousand more, none of which 
you bothered to notice. In your endless confusion 
you assumed I’d look familiar, the blank slate 
you’re always rushing to fill in with wild imaginations 
while you wait in one line after another until, 
thinking you’ve found yourself at the front, 
you act like you know what you want—  
again with that chicken coop of yours, for example. 
You must think desire is a kind of map but a map is a kind of lie 
that you hurry past, pulling out your wallet to 
pay before you even know the total because
the cost is always justified if in the acquisition of your values. But
if value is just a purchase or a debt, then value has nothing 
to do with the cosmic arithmetic, the trust of 
counting, one plus one plus one plus one until you get to six 
anonymous trees that are only a circle because you are still
here enough to hold the center. You wandered too far into these wild woods, 
dusk filling in as specks in your eyes, yes, the ones that are always there 
but that you’re always looking past. See? You didn’t even notice that
for once you aren’t wondering what to do with your hands. 

Hektor’s Helmet / Moira Hegarty

the glaring flash of sunlight 
on his father’s helmet frightens the little boy;
light years away, another child waxes 
before a cartoon and learns about fear. 

someone put fire on the dog’s tail, she cries
her mother pushes her thumb into the cookie dough 
and fills it with raspberry jam. 
A tear hangs on her dark lashes, dew on a cobweb. 

The woman takes the floury apron off and
dandles her baby over her head, 
this is the savior of the world
she proclaims to the canisters and bowls

she places a warm cookie in her daughter’s mouth,
crumbs trace the bowed lips 
and fall onto the kitchen floor to mingle 
with dust devils and mushroom clouds

The Trolley  / Barbara Krasner

All aboard! My grandfather
steps up onto the South Orange
Avenue trolley to get to his
Market Street store. The trolley
swings and scratches underfoot
and overhead, threading its way
along cobblestoned boulevard
past turreted corner properties
and apartment houses. Max holds
tight onto the kosher lunch his mother
packed. He marvels at the three or even
four-storied buildings of white, red,
and orange, their flounced green-and-white
striped awnings once he gets
to Market Street. Billboards
painted on building sides announce
Newark Business College, Bambergers,
Kaufman Hats, coffee, and seltzer to
aid with constipation.
At The end of a busy day, he’ll
take the trolley back home
where his mother waits
with a big pot of something
that’s been stewing all day.
He wonders if life will always
be like this. But it’s not.

All aboard! It’s Saturday night
and my grandfather leaves
his wife and kids behind
as he climbs aboard the
trolley from his new home
and store in North Arlington
to Newark to play cards
with his brother and sisters,
where they talk about
the Old Country, how glad
they’ve come to America, and
what news they’ve received from
those they left behind.

On Buying Baby Aspirin When Under 50 Years Old / Jonie McIntire

More than a daily worry for thin
blood or aging, this medication aversion 
roots down to old blood, to my mother’s
teenage midnight Aspirin overdose,
to my grandmother’s too often Tylenol, 
to my inability to open a wine bottle
without draining it, to some basic 
insecurity like a fear of the pizza man —
being willing to make the call and bark
the complicated orders, but terrified 
to face the man for any final payment.

Good Life 15: Winner Take None  / Anna Mitchael

I’m stomping through
this stupid corner
of this stupid world
More angry than I’ve ever been
Yelling at everyone I see
you, him, her, the barren hen
We only keep ‘cause she’s so cute.
I’m stomping through
this stupid corner
of this stupid world
as righteous as I’ve ever been
That pothole won’t take me down
nor your cries of “Ann Boleyn.”
Prayers: desired, but not required.
In the end every know-it-all wants to claim
We only kept her ‘cause she was cute.
I’m stomping through
this stupid corner
of this stupid world
more dangerous than I’ve ever been
Sword in my pocket, air in my shoes
Your efforts, though, ultimately will win.
Souls are the only real loot
Listen if you dare, is yours crying:
They won’t keep you ‘cause your cute.

Elegy for 19 Bluebonnets  / Shane Morin

Today the buds of bluebonnets bloom crimson
The youthful shoots draw to the roots
The running streams of blood
Today prayers to your Jesus fail

His eternal slumber shared by children.
Blessed are those gone too soon
For theirs is the inheritance of lost dreams

Today, I awoke to a world unknown
To a nation bathed in young blood

They say the pen defeats the sword
Yet trauma tears the flesh,
The talking heads speak of death       Again

And we are left to wonder
If these words permeate or stain
Like veins in concrete classrooms
Or if they lay 6 feet deep
Alongside Robb’s brightest stars:
Their luminosity squelched in thunderous bursts

So I lay these lines and 19 bluebonnets
At the altar of humanity and walk away from hallowed ground

Fear of the Holy Chalk  / Mary Ventura

chalks were holy in my eyes
as lots of things to a six years old
when leaving the white illustrating traits on the contrasted blackness 
snail trails of teacher’s wise index finger pointing
i gazed in awe
after class, i sneaked to the podium
picked the chalk butt up secretly
caress it
feeling its silky texture
never would i know one day i’d dwell in Europe
rich in chalk
an ancient wealth among 
black gold
little would i know i’d been kicked out of the family 
lack of Chineseness, or Shininess
my mom’d refer me as the European
Chinese culture and tradition were introduced to me as if anew
am I new
was i new
this choice is to begin anew
I can still feel the chalk
residues of the Cretaceous
cold and far

Day 14 / Poem 14

The Mirror’s Life  / Tiffiny Rose Allen

Gazing at the moving world 
Can I too, move as you? 
Can I whisper in the locks with keys and open every door 
Or should I answer the telephone as it rings,
Open a window for the birdsong 
Exit every greeting with a fair and fond “Hello?” 
Maybe I am to paint the seams with the light reflected off of me 
As the sun goes down and hides behind the darkened drapes, a mere rainbow’s greeting for a while. 
I move just as you do throughout the day, I’ve studied you more than anyone, 
The way you move your hair behind your ear, the way you check your eyes and fix your coat, 
The way you take just a moment to admire yourself and the way you check your hair when company is around. 
I’ve studied you, I’ve seen you, so up close, so personal, so provocative and conservative, I’ve seen you in your glory and I’ve seen you at your worst, I’ve seen you age and grow and throw the flower pots out of rage…
I’ve seen you pick up each and every shard of me, as I lay upon the ground 
I’ve seen you gasp as you place your finger to your lips, 
My last bite
As I gave you nothing but the love of me, my time of day, my time capsule. 
My reflection was always you, and you come back and place another me where you had once placed me before. 

BLIND ITEM #12  / Lu Chekowsky

woke up checked my money 
a few more zeros today. boring. 
nothing like power to the hundredth power.
nothing like two billion people to lean in on. 

legs crossed dainty. check.
hair straight shiny. check.
face tough smiley. check.

ready for the day.
algorithm humming.
face well-tuned.
if this doesn’t work out, i’ll go live on the moon.

what glass ceiling? 
no such thing.
moving fast.
breaking things.

i’m a boss, bitch, baby, lady.
in that order.
take that, boys. 
i’ll show you bringing home bacon.
frying it up in pans. 
i’ll make you forget i’m not a man.
i’m not a man.
i’m not a man. 
i’m not a man.
i’m not a man.
can you see? i’m not a man.
i’m a well-oiled advertising machine.
capitalism robot.
dick-slinger like you.
i got your number.
i’ll take you down.
i’m a street walker on hacker way, USA.
i’m well-metaversed in what it takes to win, in being thin.

Swamp Monster Sacrifices Self to Town  / Ahja Fox

after Justin Wiles Murder Case

The thread unraveling the whole red garment
is 3-ringed, neat, & baby blue.


The collection of photos
    1. Maxillary
    2. Mandible

This thing bites down like all humans do.

Who knew that some hand would emerge, pointing right 
towards Lake Bixhoma.

A head was found along the bank with its mouth 
sutured tight against a rock.

Some murderer hung by his string:
Body caulk matching between the head
back to the house…

A body shop named “Choppers”
and a bunny’s disarticulated neck—

The boy/ the creature,
big-mouthed & salivating

said “get dead”
meaning; to become…

With guzzled memories 
of grandma and fishing,

he drowned the real monster in fingerprint, 

                                                                           in birth name.

The Question  / Sarah Haas

My greatest fear is that
there are no problems.

Who would I be then? 

An onlooker who watches on
as a thousand birds are killed

What would become of me if

the rattlesnake is allowed to live 
in the yard where I let the baby play? 
If we are okay, then 

is whatever happens enough 

to keep me here, writing like it mattered? 
Or, is it that hope is dependent on this 
always something being wrong. 

Shih-poo  / Moira Hegarty

The breeder said your mother was a white toy poodle,
but I can’t tell looking at your
cookies-and-cream coat,

your no-nose profile, a tail that genuflects behind you, 
a jaw the size of a bottle cap that could open a can of beans. 
All three pounds of you take after the lion dog, your Shih-Tzu father.

Your day begins with a nip and a grrrrrrr at your toys and my fingers;
you look everywhere for your mama’s tits, even under my shirt.
You were yanked away too soon for a quick sale, 

you strive to make a life for yourself;
in the grass a pine cone hangs from your mouth, 
ants and trash on your tongue, you try to eat rocks,

rid the neighborhood of pear blossom petals, 
to make up for your loss, but it’s harder than you thought.
You’re not exactly what I had in mind either. You’re not my Bobby.

With your head cocked, asleep in the crook of my arm,
 I stroke your wiry coat and whisper,
 It’s alright little lion dog, together we can love our pain away.

The Right to Choose  / Barbara Krasner

Pull the lever, my grandmother
told herself as she boarded
the train from Brody
toward the sea. Just as she
had opened the door of
their thatched-roof stucco
home for the last time,
leaving the bewildered
faces of her parents
and six younger siblings. America
offered a variety of choices
beyond her cousin-filled shtetl.

Pull the lever, my grandmother’s
aunt in New York demanded.
Decide which man you want
to marry. The one from the Catskills
or this storekeeper from Newark.

Pull the lever, my grandmother
cranked as she selected Max
the storekeeper and married him
under the chuppah. She pressed
the keys on the wooden
register and kept careful records
in the ledgers as her butcher
father had taught her to do.

Pull the lever, Max told her
as they stepped out of the cab.
She walked along the sidewalk
of the Hackensack courthouse
in 1928 and became an American.

In November 1928, my grandmother
pulled the lever for the first time
to elect a new U.S. president.
Whether she voted for Al Smith
or Herbert Hoover, only she knew
the choice she made.

Very simple / Jonie McIntire

some days 
words like lobster bisque

tater tot thoughts

Good Life 14: Course correcting  / Anna Mitchael

The rope, when I finally recognized it, was:
Bacon lined up in the frying pan 
I wouldn’t have to clean
Children watching the clouds
An owl in the yard, my tree
His exit from the room, our house
when I was ready for war

Disguised so well, I came close
to not seeing at all
How far would I have made it 
on my way to Tarshish?
My determined march to the
westernmost mountain?
The ill-planned voyage to swallow falls?

Their eyes are full of scorn, two steps
backward is what they hiss 
while I wrap fibers 
around my waist, 
then begin to tie the knot.
How can you give up control?
No way to be angry 
now that I’ve heard the call
so I smile and pull: It’s a cinch

Daylilies  / Shane Morin

After Stone Broken’s “Wait For You”

I lay and wait for you, love
The lush wake rushes
In the air, anticipation swirls
To the depths of the sea

I lay among the blades-green
Swaying in the breeze

Daylilies paint the mundane sky
Burnt orange and rustic tinges,
The blades fade to dulled wheat tips

Days merge with nights, blurring to days,
Golden stalks stretch beyond
Their blossoms blend into constellations

I wait for you, the workdays pass
The culinary redundancy passes
Time melts into a slipstream
Daylilies envelop my earthen bed
As I wait for you
    To lay beside me
    To curl around me
        As a dawn fog
    To be that essential
        That daylilies fall away

A daunting journey  / Mary Ventura

Past, Present and Future are standing in front of me
I gaze into Past’s eyes
enmeshed into Future’s calling

i run towards Future’s calling
gulping air
as if a fish choked by water

but stopped in parallel with Present
as she walks with me
shoulder by shoulder

I touch her, then
I was touched
tears gurgling out of those dark sockets

since Past kept my eyes

Day 13 / Poem 13

Afterthought / Tiffiny Rose Allen

I see the sidelines and I see the galaxies and what they said to me

Bright shining 
The afterthought of afterglows 
I saw the little wagon 
The one with the broken wheel 
The loud assortment of better terms 
And better ideological 
The wagon holding the flowers 
As it creaks along 
Jutting past the stones and the dirt on the road 
To a concrete 
State of mind.

BLIND ITEM #11 / Lu Chekowsky

who could have written a better hook? you topless. three air cannons shooting eggs at your chest. we tested on interns to make sure no one would get hurt. sixty million people watched you mugging for the camera. the hair and makeup artist snickered at your acne scars but oiled you up on demand. you shimmered in the strobe, just meat and muscles, a whirl of projection / tweets / trends / a lunch for the lunch-less / a snack of a boy. we’ll eat you up you pretty little thing. see through this, he threatens and lifts up his top. blinding nipples of diamonds and dollars and dreams shoot out of his chest like cartoon lightning bolts. the world goes blind. you hungry bastards. happy now? we eat so much we eat we binge so much we eat we eat we get sick and we fucking love it. this the american dream. heartthrobs beat out of our broken chests. each person is just empty calories, a whipped cream macchiato cherry. a whiskey shot to the face. stomachs are always the product, only the good ones though. i’ve always known what gets them drooling. i know how to make soup from the bones. how to fry up fast food emotion. it is always a very happy meal.

Word Recognition, Comprehension, Fluency/ Ahja Fox

(for all the YA books that changed me)

I don’t remember the last book I read. 
It must’ve not had a teen girl in it, 
one with a single mother or father 
who worked more than they could love.

It lacked the best friend they questioned, 
the boy they questioned more…

There wasn’t a car accident or 
missing classmate so

it must’ve not been gritty 

A million little tragedies the teen girl has 
gone through in all my selections:

Story of a girl.
Every. little. thing. in the world.
and by the time you read this, I’ll be dead.

The last book I read
didn’t take me out to dine.

I never got rid of my indoor fur.

I assume it was just too neat. Too sweet
to offer me something honest
to chew.

Was it even worth reading

if I forgot…?

I don’t remember 
her long locks of crises burning her
neck in the shower.

What it was to breathe when she 
thought she couldn’t.
What it meant to know, in every book,
there was a survivor born.

Bred in me is some kind
of storm to discover.

I don’t recall seeing her, but I think
she still haunts like any ghost.

*Note: Stanza 6 is a cento composed of YA novel titles by Laurie Halse Anderson, Sara Zarr, Nina de Gramont, and Julie Ann Peters

How crude / Sarah Haas

But mostly there are days when it’s only abstraction. 
Just faceless people extracted from real people 
not allowed to exist. There are no images, no mothers 
to create them, only colorless and tasteless things 
robbed by claims of the known. The best that can be 
done, like actually done, is to not allow them 
to be hated too much, to resist the conspiracy 
of undead words, to deny the pleasure of your debt.

David at En Gedi / Moira Hegarty

he presses into the wall rendered invisible 
draped in shadows beyond the glow of the arched opening,
 he can touch Saul’s legs, smell the odor of leather sandals, belts,
and sweat, the skin of his calves, and piss,

footsteps mold the earth beneath him, the dust rises and covers him in a fine cloth of soft powder. A shaft of light sieves the grime from the desert floor to funnel and swirl
until he can taste 
its bite on his tongue

pomegranate pits unearthing the soothsayer, of wool, of linen, he cuts a square of frayed fabric from the royal weave as he places it in his hand, milled gold threads, flickering speckled bird, glint from a blade point, returned to its sheath in the cave that will not taste blood  

The Long and Short of It / Barbara Krasner

Once I saw the movie Get Shorty
and while I don’t remember it much—
it’s already popped from my short-term memory—
I do remember I saw it with colleagues
from the ad agency when I was the client.
My time with them was short, though,
because our company split and we
didn’t need the agency anymore.

At 5’9”, no one’s ever called me Shorty
and if they did, I’d give it short shrift,
because I don’t cotton to disrespect.
I’m glad I’m not short, because I can easily
reach the high cabinets in the kitchen
and the shelves in supermarkets, but
don’t make me bend down to the floor
for lower shelves. It just makes me
short tempered and no one would relish
me being short with them.

I used to look good in shorts, even hot pants,
when we called them that, especially
when purple and matched with a maxi vest.
The tops got longer and the bottoms
got shorter and the principal once made
the girls kneel on the marble stairs
leading to the third floor to make sure
their skirts were long enough. That
exercise was short-lived and no longer
practiced when I entered high school.

The principal certainly had his shortcomings
and his morning PA announcements
became shorthand for shortened homeroom.
There was no shortage of announcements
and our shorts and short skirts appreciated it. 

When A Loved One Is Grieving / Jonie McIntire

Your friend’s heart,
set out on a slab —
everyone they know
and don’t
watching it breathe
through its valves,
watching each other
cry for what they
didn’t know.
And here I am,
arms hollow,
my words puddling
cold at their feet.

Good Life 13: Animal Instinct / Anna Mitchael

What insurance plan
will fix the bird’s leg

How will the rattler
finance repairs
on its den

What retirement plan 
did the night owls line up
(Who? Yes, you)

Social guru
George Castanza
Says what separates 
us from the animals 
is money

And the studio audience
laughs like hyenas
who were just asked
if they would like
to purchase a protection
policy with that

It won’t catch as many 
chuckles but here’s
a different theory 
for what divides us:
fear of tomorrow
(Who? Yes you)

Rt. 108 to Nowhere / Shane Morin

Somewhere between the condemned 7/11
And the faded double yellows
            Laid against haphazard asphalt
The Lamprey whispers, peers seductively
I gaze back, moonlight refracts
A Dali painting, fading persistence
Against the lightless cityscapes

Left with a faulty compass and
Nonpoints of origin, a stranger
In a land once intimate

The rediscovering a lingering bitterness
On a pallet accustomed to honey.

If nowhere is here
How can I find you?

Happiest Day / Mary Ventura

of my life is related to you, my little fox
from my soul you travel all the way to the river of life
drinking moons on the wave 
from all the items I laid out for you to choose 
A promised life path
A funny tradition for a year old to crawl to their attraction 
you chose the electronic screwdriver 
as if you knew how our promises would be yours
to fix 

Day 12 / Poem 12

Within and Without  / Tiffiny Rose Allen

A card thrown here

A card thrown there 
A planted seed 
A tumbleweed 
A different direction 
A current contradiction
A different ideal 
And a fountain 
Somehow in a field 
In a different dimension
Another direction
Another pastime 
Perfect cycles 
Of pink and purple hues 
Looking in the within and without 

BLIND ITEM #10 / Lu Chekowsky

i’m going down to 
the place below the equator
to a lush green space where dogs play frisbee
and there are silver swings
gonna give myself a moment a beat
gonna give myself a little treat
going down there

the faces of kind people 
will be all around me
the kind of people who never stray
friendly humble people
who keep their bedrooms neat
who are sweet

i’m going down to
that place i love
little astroturf wonderland
i finally won’t have anxiety

and everyone i love will say hello to me
they’ll be glad i’m there
and i’ll be glad you’re there too

i’m going down 
i’m going down
i’m going down
gonna finally be ok
gonna see if i can finally be ok
gonna finally see if i will be ok
there will be big breasts everywhere
there will be sex growing from trees

so come on down to this place 
to where i’m going
where it’s hot and sunny all the time 
come on down
come on down 
to this place 
gonna meet some good friends 
of mine
gonna meet some good friends


Impact / Ahja Fox

The highways, greyed with flurries, melt
before you die

The snow kisses your lashes deliciously 
just after its innocent blunder

An apology
is offered by cold embrace

And a shying away of darkness
comes with the blaring of white light

The guttural sound of an engine narrows
itself into the void of life—what is life but a single second
or sound?

You sound of grieving, of grasping, all your tendrils and tendons
attempting to seize an unseen thing…
but the engine cuts off, the roaring settles into slumber
and “life” continues falling
a million miniscule drops into night

Eventually / Sarah Haas

Some day, there will be no words, 
only hindsight, when it’s all I can do 
to fail to describe the tip of 
a finger sliced to the bone, 
the nausea of looking at ink 
as it spills from the wound, 
the color of a carved pumpkin’s black
arrant rot, of flesh shriveling into
a rind to be tossed into some forgotten 
corner of the yard where language must be, too, 
forgetting itself in its jealousy of the real. 

BLUE HYDRANGEA / Moira Hegarty

except for the wicker chair my mother sat in, a plaid blanket over her knees
when she was sick,
my father’s and mother’s house
didn’t have garden furniture, 

no concrete patio,
lawn chairs or picnic table,
only a small patch of grass,
that tickled bare feet between toes

parading over it in summer 
with ants and spiders and bees;
a crab apple tree, arms bent under the weight of blossoms in Spring, 
lowered its limbs to become a child’s playground

a trellised grapevine, leaves devoured  
by Japanese beetles, gave us homemade jam anyway;
on the north side stood marigolds and zinnias, gold and red and seasonal
and a multitude of steadfast violets and dandelions,

but on the south side was a row of hydrangea, blue ones.
The shrub grew in a flourish of pom-poms 
between our yard and our neighbor’s 
with its brick driveway and metal chair set

one outsized blue hydrangea spanned both yards. 
With polite smiles we shared it, watered it, and picked bouquets 
but in secret it was ours, its blossoms, fireworks summer and fall, 
a sight to behold on disputed territory. 

Truth / Barbara Krasner

Truth died after a short period
of denial and abandonment.

Truth died and couldn’t protect
us from bullets and bayonets.

Truth died and no one’s tongue
knew its language anymore.
Truth died, along with siblings
and cousins and ancestors.

Even the small truths, those
children with small hands

And big ideas, gave way
to conceited, bloated speakers.

A history of truth vanished
into burned book ashes

And the bodies of the people
who knew the truth.

Truth died, because all those
who remembered the truth

were too afraid to name it.

Why I Started to Write Poetry / Jonie McIntire

It began with Faith,
a fat girl and plain, 
but kind. Who snorted
when she laughed
and got quiet when
her dad came home. 
I found all around me
lives like whispered songs, 
that became the air.
Some songs never want
to be heard so they need
humming by someone
distant. What grew out 
of an understanding of Faith
was forgiveness at the altar
of poetry, where all
transgressions can be
released, where all 
pains can rise off of the body
and join a sheltering sky.

Good Life 12: Is Anybody Out There / Anna Mitchael

Your wobbly walk 
Your love-sick eyes
Your need-driven nights

Your quiet cries
Your ugly pleas
Your solves, all fails 

Your belief in 
your own strength for
your own bootstraps

Your heart, your heart
Your wild heart
Your heartbeat not

your choosing, yet
your wanderings—
yours alone?

Ars Poetica / Shane Morin

Poetry, I’ve hinted to the elitist Beats
           (And Naturalists and Seacoast Poets) is
The agonizing groan of Ukrainian sons,
Enveloping their mothers, as they did, once.

Poetry is the scalpel carving
            Humanity: delicately
            Precisely. Poetry is

a multiverse within a pen stroke,
godless and hallowed.

Poetry is morphology and
The living word. Blessed
Are the poets, for they are
Doomed to love fiercely.

Poetry is the Mic
and the Anxiety Disorder;
the Stage and the Trauma.

Poetry is the Technicolor voice
Kaleidoscoping into

you brought me to this despoiled world / Mary Ventura

never mentioned there’s joy to suffer 
since you deemed me of not deserving 
I saw you
I saw you both in my closed eye lids 
nearly a hug in the ritualistic black
you mock to abandon me 
to let go of your hands while 
I hold tight 
all dreams are swollen history 

Day 11 / Poem 11

Hurricane / Tiffiny Rose Allen

Hurricanes making it all go hazy 
Leaves blowing in the storm 
My little thoughts getting lazy 
I want to close the curtains 
some more 
The sun will be creeping in and 
all will
bloom and glow 
As it should 
As it’s been
As it will continue 
to be.

LOVE POEM #2 / Lu Chekowsky

diamonds are cliche
so let’s call the light tonight zirconia.

              priceless means it can’t be bought
              on TV or anywhere.

i know our love times this moon equals
the sound of every last crisp leaf on earth crunching under our four feet.

              holding onto stillness for dear life;
              the fearless deer haunt grassy medians in headlight bright
              but they do not want with us;
              and we do not want what we haven’t got.

quickly — hang the word POEMS on the front door,
watch language lick our plaster walls.

              won’t you stump me hard
              in our new backyard?

in the shadow forest, there is nothing to do but waltz forward,
pink light fading earlier, thank god.

              let me be clear.
              who you are to me is:

a meditative frog.
a cat eye slow blink.
snugs for all time.
a mantra for the mantle.

Existence, Always an Act of Interconnecting / Ahja Fox

(for the 23rd Annual Festival of Wreaths organized by Aurora History Museum)

A poet’s wreath is not a wreath 
without metaphor (the ribbon quirked 
into an odd but perfect angle). 
What an angel—artistry 
can be when we give     cheer 
to it. 

Break bread and toast 
to it…
          a loving welcome, 
                        a goodbye fear.

All wreaths are made up of 80% earth.
The body, ouroboros, olive serpentine,
inviting us, a breath of sugar dust, 
to feast on our own harvest.

I offer to you 
my conch shell, blue seed, 
and marbled ink
woven into entrance, into halo.

Two hands giving and taking,
circumnavigate a cold winter


In that same time, they evolve
galaxy into wheel/whirl/ring.

We are all capable of such
glimmerance, a remembrance 
of the objects that once patched

A poet’s poem can be found
in an unmarked museum of oddities 
and syllables—each of us 
living there, a donated treasure towards 
the grandness of community’s perplexing wreath.

Envenomation / Sarah Haas

The thief said
How can I help? 
The thief asked

For a glass of milk, 
that the baby was 
already drinking. 

The thief pinched, 
left fang marks on
my breast. Thieves

possess only 
what is already 
taken.The thief

induced contractions. 
My muscles seized, 
The thief was born 

into a life that 
was no longer mine. 
The thief said

everything is 
okay, a coerced

enabled by pain I 
took an anxiety pill. 
The thief said, 

I am happy. 

Calligraphy Pen / Moira Hegarty

buried alive 

in the side drawer of a writing desk

darkness sits like lead

until the drawer scrapes open; 

in the land of the midnight sun

a sliver of light increases

I alone am chosen, lifted, cradled 

by hands that remove my cap;

my lungs fill, my blood flows,

 starving for, and seeking the woody page;

our fingertips touch and ignite the spark of


a flat river bed begins, 

yesterday the heat of bones 

today a turtle’s shell 

a green crest, an endless breadth. 

the sea moans, under a blue brow,

 a pinnacle cramped by an injunction of poles

on pointe I follow a silt coastline 

inland, thirsty continents wander, tillable 

landscapes, nesting seeds

roots plunged downward, listen. . .  

the odor of sweet mud intoxicates

 urging branches upward

two bellies of sunlight on long legs

come out of the sea of all places 

two hemispheres overlap

collide, a burst of innate elements ablaze 

emerge from the soul of the beasts

destroying creation


six minutes: the hands replace my cap

the drawer scrapes open and I’m placed deep into the cavern of the naked city 

as reluctant as a Snowy Owl, 

the drawer scrapes shut 

and once again I await in darkness 

for the midnight sun.

November 11 – Armistice Day / Barbara Krasner

The world map needs to be redrawn
as once mighty and haughty
Austrian, British, and Ottoman empires
topple from dusty shelves and bloated battlefields.

The poppy field at Flanders sparks a song.
Wilfred Owen writes that to say it’s
sweet and fitting to die for one’s country is a lie.

Death              is          death.

War is not kind. Loved ones weep. Bombs
do not care who they kill, only what.
Trenches are troughs for corpses.

Armistice quiets the argument. Wear
a poppy and be satisfied. But armistice
tosses blankets on hurt, humiliation,
and greed like a tarp over writhing bodies,

waiting to heal enough to strike again.
There will be war again
                                    and again
                                                           and again…

Six Years of Aprils / Jonie McIntire

I chose a random month, really. 
Left my corporate job six months
after the first entry, when we still 
owed on the house but not the car.
Perhaps because both kids are Aries
or there’s some silly, chilled wet hope
to springtime, some hope for new
life. Either way, I tracked what we had,
what we owed. Just one spreadsheet
among an absurd of others… most
cost-effective beers, doggie outside 
time – dry food vs wet, blood pressure
over the years. The first year, 
still working, both kids in school, 
we owed so much more than 
what we had. The next, I found
food preservation and mended 
blankets. The next, we fixed our
roof, to the debt of ten thousand
but we were “lean” as the capitalists
say. Cold house in winter, warm
in summer. We stayed threadbare
and fixed our broken things, even
some of the mental, the medical
(thank God Adrian works for a Union.)
At some point, we passed equal,
what we owed was less than had,
and each bill got easier to pay.
Then one April, we’d paid it all off.
And all the while, the empty houses
next to us got filled with the most 
wonderful renters, young and so busy
and we saw so much more clearly
how we live in eternal April,
how we know we’ll never really
go hungry, will always be able 
to emerge from our caves, like
a miracle, unscathed somewhat,
like some kind of chosen people,
hardly aware of our fortune.

The Good Life 11: Heavy lifting / Anna Mitchael

I would be happy if I could have
a doll and a fire truck and a sister. 

I would be happy if i could have
a car and no curfew. 

I would be happy if i could have 
a degree and a job that sends me around the world.

I would be happy if i could have 
a promotion that lets me work from home. 

I would be happy if I could have 
a partner who is decent in matters of bed and humor.

I would be happy if i could have 
a baby and how soon do babies sleep through the night.

I would be happy if I could have 
my baby in an ivy league university

I would be happy if I could have 
early retirement and on-time returns on my investments 

I would be happy if I could have 
one last hoorah, anyone still standing is invited.

I would be happy if i could have 
pine wood for my casket, make it the finest.

I would be happy if I could have 
A forklift for the feeling that even with all I’ve gotten, I’ve missed something.

She is / Shane Morin

After Slipknots “Vermillion, Pt 2.

The essence of disquieted dreams
Flesh of my flesh
Mind of my mind
The one fantasy anchoring
Between paradise and purgatory

She is a melody
Only I know the notes to
The vibrancy of foliage blazes
Shimmering in the descending sun

The waking days take
The form of constancy

She, the architect
Of delta-wave dreamscapes,
Lays beyond my touch
            Ethereal, vaporous

I will her
            To exist
She evaporates

I lay in fields

my sentence / Mary Ventura

was to write sentences
like those cuts I saw on those arms 
they were arranged in such an order like sardines in a can
I know they were trying to put their pain in physical shapes
feel them 
objectify them
touch them
tangible them
those cuts as if shallow canyons 
carrying generational weeps
passing on
the voice 
Will you, will you catch me, if i fall?
I turned my head away
to mirror my story 
for those a thousand and one days
like moon 
borrows its light

Day 10 / Poem 10

Pocket Watch / Tiffiny Rose Allen

Waiting for the clock to turn 

My pocket watch keeps stopping 
I’m winding the gears letting things go 
Don’t break the spinner 
Don’t break the fold
Just flow 
It moves 
Forward and backward 
Upon it’s chain 
Tethered through belt loops and 
Tick tick tick
The hands move on and on 

Blind Open #9  / Lu Chekowsky

cruel, funny woman
laughs from the crotch,
likes men to like her
fuck feelings frailty.
lady stuff in the muff
girl, can’t you take a joke?

i tell it like this.
it is 
like this.
i like to tell it.
i tell it 
like it is.

first woman to fart fuck.
astronaut in pussy space.
sinking patriarchy’s loose lips.

belly roll control top tights. 
roasting myself on smoky flame.
hate me. pay me. it’s all the same.

which came first, bile or bite?
born professionally impolite. 
big bitch street fighter girlie lady baby.

i’ll hate you
‘til you love me.
and you will.

No Rainbows or Butterflies, Just Song at 5 Months Postpartum  / Ahja Fox

You try to rock out to your pre-life anthem
but the bed’s creak has made you 

You still your body, pursue
the ultimate sneak away


the baby fusses, spreads 
little feet, thumps a bless-ed chorus
into night

After playing the little star
who doesn’t know what they are,

umbra finds you again

Google, Define: Mom’s Guilt

‘it’s natural to wake your daughter for the sake 
of being human,’ a voice automates,

You try to be 
of a higher being 

         than that

honest, in how you’ve fallen; sacrificed
or suffocated your girl-song 
(into the crease of an unlinened bed)

You body still, an adjective
like a rig-out rather than a mouthpiece 

and the synonyms rattle out,
old change—
A stray, yet familiar figure.
Buy this 5th inner babushka doll, intact!

Still you pussyfoot around the rasp
of the bed, send kisses into the dreams
serpentine and watermelon

You love her, tempering
your leaning off into bed/ swift side; swift side/
a sound only the selfish could mimic

Even God had to laugh about it—
allowing himself to commit 
a little sin
so he could be a better person 
for his children 


If you do this dance tonight, you’ll be 
a twinkle in tomorrow’s young, nebulous eye 

Your jerked swaying is anything but
a nasty song

It’s a reclaimance, a down-trill of fugue

𝛔𝛖𝛍𝛗𝛐𝛒𝛂 / Sarah Haas

Maybe being original is the same as being inevitable. The pregnancy of one word with a multitude of meaning. After all, I begin with I, the name you you inhabit, too. I and I, a series of coincidences, of linear circumstances, a city of sticks referring to themselves, a disaster of exceptional people. A chain reaction, or an inherency, of the self. This being inside of another being outside of every other being. I, who am the accidental aftermath of our collective youth. A conglomeration of our collective of misbehavings. I moved away to here which I used to think of as nowhere so I could look back and toward and down upon. Now I see: causation, the way it contains responsibility. A memory in reverse. How awful it is to play God. To create a world over which I’m doomed to preside over so many other lives. But I am not I am not God. I am a woman who is also wife who is also supposed to be mother who is supposed to be wise as in morally capacious as in the opposite of ignorant as in too generous, like a dream that gives all of itself away and all at once, always with a hot pot of stew on the stove. Laying the last bowl before another unexceptional guest like me I say: I made this just for you. Without finishing the first serving, the guest assumes the name I call myself, says: I think I’ll have another. But for this the I which is no longer I will need to kill another cow. Any dream ongoing becomes a nightmare. There is no escape, only accidents or fate. Maybe there isn’t a difference. 


plumped spears of grass stun me
in my blind 
close to the oasis, 
my hourglass;

between blades,
my microcosm lit by stars,
broody for the chase.

I long to greet
the fat of the wildebeest,
to watch it fall on the hill;
my lips gush for the folds of its flesh.

A giggle rises in the lining of my swallow,
a pinwheel in the airless meadow,
and I am not childless; I have a son.

The clouds on my son’s coat pleasured me
when he dissolved with the moon to find his own allegiance,
his belly hung with his mother’s custard. 

The crescent shape of his body
glossed on the floor of the den
wanders aimlessly with the
fragrance of his butter.

He survives in his new home
at the end of the line, 
hungry, devouring left
over fragments
of masticated bone.

His ears burned by catcalls, 
he waits shamelessly for them to die;
he is clever as a crow my son,
my blood pulses in his veins.

I am not childless;
you antelopes, elands, foxes, fish
gazelles, zebras, anyone’s eggs, 
snakes, hares, birds and insects,
lizards, waterbuck,
impalas, jackals,
lions, and other hyenas,

I have a son

Bosnian Village, 1995 / Barbara Krasner

We were playing that day
until we heard screaming
whistles from above. They hit
the hill. We older ones scattered
to cover the younger ones. We scattered
into our mothers’ arms. They screamed
at us. “Take the pears,” they cried,
pressing them into our throbbing
hands from the tree in front of our building.

“I’ve come to say goodbye,” our neighbor
said. “Take the pears,” the mothers insisted.
We filled his pockets as he left for war.
He never came back to his son or to eat more pears.

We were forced to move away. Two years
later, we returned to a bombed-out home.
The pear tree lay splayed and shattered.

Political Limerick / Jonie McIntire

Our state is a bed full of preachers 
Who love babies, bullets and breeders
    The pulpits do ring
     With the rightest of things
Til we’ve practically packed up to leave her! 
But you and me, we ain’t conceeders
And the left includes all kinds of dreamers
    We fight for our kin,
    Know women aren’t sin
And we stand by our workers and teachers.

AU  / Shane Morin

Maybe an AU isn’t such a long walk
Maybe the vastness among the stars
Is closer than our skin, electrons knock
The walls we build, 93 million miles and
The grimoire

Etched in sojourners ink. Perhaps it’s that
The globe rotates in ways our love explains
Centrifugal spins distill shit from the soul
And missteps made become laughable,
From here

We take another step towards death, take
A left at Mercury’s retrograde, our
Wings drip wax as our wills wane,
Dark matter draws us to the edge

Hydrogen collisions leave ashes of Eden
The freefall of gravity fuses us to stardust
Our eyes imbibe insignificance and the infinite

never earned / Mary Ventura

I still remember the day he died 
numerous journalists were waiting outside 
drafts ready 
once they get the news
it will be breaking 
i was waiting for my parents to ask me
how does it feel to interpret for him 
a giant name since i learned the word “international”
questions never came
they keep on living
i should keep trying

Day 9 / Poem 9

And so I wait for the dawn

The storm of sudden subtle facts
The blowing of the wind in the deepest darkest skies 
Thunder pounding
A siren’s cry 
A miniscule affair 
A lingering jar 
Filled with air 
Filled with dreams 
Filled with different
A multi-talented multiplicity
A field of green the wind blows through as a bird flaps their wings  

BLIND ITEM #8   / Lu Chekowsky

i’m on my knees when you appear
born from fluorescent office light 
eiffel tower of fashion all cape and bluster 
bowing to the emergence of you
wall of velvet and leather

in my numb hands are sharpie scrawls 
on the bottom of ten thousand worn manolos

kate / gisele / iman / naomi / christy / claudia

me, banished cinderella to the shoe closet
not in their shoes exactly
but close enough to smell cover girl model ghost feet 
rosewater and oxygen and lettuce leaves
swimming in DNA of hammer toes bunions fetish masking 
tape identities scuffed on bottoms
feathered around me
skinny seance

they are names just like yours 
a famous single stamp of one equaling 
the glamourous weight of you 

we both know i should not be here

so when you reach your satin gloved hand down 
like a poster of god in a cloud 
i reach back up
a fat cinderella annointed

you look me in straight the eye
the only one here who knows that 
fat isn’t contagious per se
i am a fashion plate of macaroni and cheese
from the steaming midtown lunch buffet

and you say, with sharpness and slithering for something bigger than both of us
(can anything be bigger than both of us?):

why do they have you on your hands and knees in here, darling? 
don’t they know who you are?

Letter from My Wiser Self (An Erasure of an Email Sent from a Pediatric and Family Health Navigator)  / Ahja Fox

told in three parts

Hello Ahja,

I would like to speak/ with you 
the Navigator/ working
 a moment, a family/ 
free of charge

 I am here safety of your home to:  
any changes to your

Other ways in which help

will look for you,

The Substance of Shadow  / Sarah Haas

Instead of writing I look
out the window, waiting
for a wasp to kill with a book.  

Progress is not marked by lines 
but by corpses, by how many  
times I have to clean the glass. 

The wasps aren’t dangerous
but solitary, like me. They build
nests of mud, feed on spiders. 

But a mother is supposed to protect 
the child against every possible
threat. But maybe if I hadn’t

the black widow that bit me 
while I nursed wouldn’t have
survived in the shadows. 

Hungry Beach  / Moira Hegarty

I walk barefoot 
over crimped sand dunes, 
the sun, melted butter at dawn.

I don’t see them, 
the dwellers beneath shifting sediment 
monitoring my every move;

an arrangement of tossed, leisure chairs
a work of gestural sculpture sits in front of me, 
until a gull perches on a metal arm and opens its mouth. 

tracks of a mother loggerhead sea turtle, whose trail I’m here to note,
 have parted a dark ribbon of seaweed by the 
water’s edge,

I follow her looped path away from the gulf’s hem and her return to it. 
She led with her beaked nose, dug into the sand, pulled the weight of her heavy head, spawned dozens of eggs, each containing a baby sea turtle, and buried them

in a rounded tell, to remain there
for ninety days, until they hatch, 
and moonlight seduces them back into the perilous sea

The Mining Life  / Barbara Krasner

I ride the mine car along unstable tracks
to destination unknown. Headlights
reflect against stone walls and just when
I think I’ll crash, the track bends either
left or right. Deep inside this mountain
lies a rich mine deposit that I want to claim
as mine. My life depends on it. But
the mine shaft is lonely, hollow, void
of anything animated except the tracks
and the car. Sometimes the wheels
scratch metal and sparks fly like a mini
Fourth of July. I wish I could say this
is a diamond mine, or gold or silver, or copper.
Even salt might satisfy. But this mine
|is just the charcoal of life and the dust
fills the marrow of my bones and future.

Election day  / Jonie McIntire

To make dog food from scratch,
You need to bake two small
Pumpkins. Scrape out the flesh,
the overly sweet and too slimy mess
Surrounding the seeds. Isolate
The seeds if you can. Rinse and spread
On pan. Roast, sprinkle with salt
If that’s how you like it.
Bake the pumpkin halves until
Soft. Meanwhile, brown ground turkey.
Don’t let the seeds get burned.
Pull them out when warm and dry,
Scrape into a brown bag. These
Are not to be fed to the dogs. These
Are for you to snack on as you drink
Beer later or whiskey or tea, if you’ve
Resolved those issues.
Add broth and rice, green beans
And peas. Not canned. Frozen
Is fine but canned adds crap
You don’t want. Pumpkin should be
Out of the oven by now, and sweet
Potatoes in. Maybe add chicken
Liver to the stove top, with the peas.
The dogs, by this time, have taken
Notice. They smell all the things they enjoy.
The meat, the starches, the sweet
Potato. They wait by the handmade
Gate leading to the kitchen, licking
Their lips, whimpering a little.
Just like you, they are waiting, knowing
Most likely, they will smell everything
But they still won’t get what they want.

Good Life 9: No Guts No Glory / Anna Mitchael

Let’s backtrack
to where you said
the career would bring
fulfillment and start
with a new agreement
where we only tell the truth
the whole truth
and nothing but the truth
as measured by how it sits
in the unique up and down
viscosity of our own guts.
I will take a long silence
over a long decade.
Your true feelings over
what feels good
in the moment.
“I don’t know” will not
get you to the top
of the ladder but that doesn’t
mean it’s a step
In the wrong direction.
The sound
of closing the laptop
for the last time
is a click to some,
for others it could be
the ferocious first
chord of glory.

Epistles / Shane Morin

After  5FDP’ “Remember Everything”

Dear mother,

            I’d be lying if I said
                        “I’m fine” if
By “fine” I meant

Memories of us scrape against
The walls of my cranium
Etching carbon copies
            Of you, like
Funhouse mirrors, melted
Under your withering gaze

Dear Father,

                       I love you like a moth to flame
Degenerate wings over
Scarred blades, the stiffness
Of your embrace

Leaves sawdust and charcoal

For temporal displacement,
            You asked

If I wanted things
As if this life wasn’t an awkward hug

As if lived experience was anything
But what we loathe

As if dysfunction was genetic,
            I reply
I remember nothing
            And everything.

背井離鄉 / Mary Ventura

i carried the well 
attempting to leave my hometown
over and over again
later learned I could call myself 
        telling me, no, you never 
        carried the well you turned your back 
        to the well
i should apologise
i should have compassion toward YOU
i should carry the well
if you’ve been raised by “you should…”
will you still be able to parse through life as a wholly 
formed Person   
or just a piece
a well-carrying pawn
the well dried up long 
it’s stones on my back
I kept carrying 
truly like Sisyphus
YOU agree or not

Day 8 / Poem 8

The Blues  / Tiffiny Rose Allen

My blueberry flavored coffee gets me ready for the day 
Monday, Tuesday, So it goes…
A new week ahead 
A new opportunity
To find the joy in all the possibilities. 
My blueberry flavored coffee makes me feel like today is the best day
It is the best day with my blue coffee mug and my blueberry coffee and the blue sky and the blue 
The blue soap that foams when I wash the dishes 
The blue from the denim that I wear 
As I go out into the world. 

BLIND ITEM #7 / Lu Chekowsky

it’s time to smear your stomach with glycerine. 
my pockets are filled with pistachios. my stomach is a soft butter roll. 
you are doing pushups. method acting. 
plump up pecs. maximize thighs. red eyes.

but really. what am i? a piece of meat? 

you say to me, face to the floor. teeth exposed saliva comic con snarl.
my problem to solve. 

of course you’re not meat. you’re a star. 

hearthrobbing in my chest. little silver moon lie. 
the usual kind. get back to work.

you are the star, i say again. 

he’s twenty three. playing a teen. scripted sweat.
yellowed white tshirt pits. spit shot in wet grass. 

i want an xbox. 
i want oreos. 
i want chicken wings. 
to make this ok i need a lot of things.

i list your demands into my phone.
i’ll see the blue light behind my eyes when i fall asleep tonight. 
will hear this song on repeat. 
ear worms for breakfast on a balcony over la cieniga. 
fireworks behind my eyes. no surprise.

i am riding your demands. i make magic appear out of mist. 
at a horse farm in the california desert i function.
remember this at bonus time.
dvd commentary. nondisclosure signed.

a pack of rescued wolves howls in a cage pacing.
we are trained for safety. 
this is hollywood. we are trained.

no risk no reward. shoot schedule to keep.
mologue to myself.
hair taped to knuckles. 
everything. pretend.
we are losing light. 

we are losing light.

Q&A for My Period Panties / Ahja Fox

When is it too much

Maybe once the blood blooms
into an odd square

that slants into a room

Sadness looms my body, soft
while it molts the thick lining
of madness

Can I vein destiny into bouquet?

Won’t we know its too much
blood once the flowering filigree
designs a pulse that boom, booms
through—suddenly alive, suddenly
a’ shimmering

Only in memory, nevermore 
in the current moment

I think of how my mother said:
It’s not about how much, but
how dark I bleed

Some ghost just stay 
wanting to tell their story

Every story is a lie  / Sarah Haas

Even this one, about a blade, a cutting 
of spring green grass. Which is me, 
I explain, my attraction to this and every meadow, 
Swarming in the breeze, an ocean

In the desert. It is not a choice to live 
with or without an ocean view, my hands 
in the lime earth searching for fossils, ancient 
columns of anemones, my pockets heavy with 

entire civilizations persevered in rock. They say
the grass shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t have survived
these centuries of ongoing drought, these too acidic 
soils drier than dust, not the story we are telling 

but water’s way, its animating every narrative, 
these always ongoing propagandas of the self. 
So don’t believe me when I tell you I am good, 
even when I point to my petrified depravity as proof. 

Don’t get Burned / Moira Hegarty

somersault into the future, Jack 
a spiraling tumble,
through the magnetosphere

a fireball over the sun
on a candlestick
but don’t get burned,

listen to the leaf’s advise 
the stars’ hymn to an ant
if you can’t clear the flame

go back to four dripping walls 
before you crash into the sun
and get burned

we could jump together
leap hand in hand from the roof 
over galaxies, like cows,

over the flames
of newborn stars 
skimming WR-102,

flares, out of control prominences,
licking the split
into the abyss of a black hole.

Stricken  / Barbara Krasner

It strikes me now that an increasing number
of people are stricken with new strains
of COVID-19. I still wear my mask
in the classroom, doctors’ offices, and
supermarket. But I don’t observe
many people still sporting their KN-95s
in black or white or medical blue.

It strikes me that we’re coming up
on three years of the New World Order,
where people sitting in little boxes
is not to be mistaken for Hollywood Squares.
No tic-tac-toe strategy wins against COVID.
The booster struck me hard with an
auto-immune disorder that’s incurable.

It struck me with rabid force, that red,
sulphur ignition of itchy flames
that attacked my skin from within.
If only I could strike a match
and make it go away. Instead,
I take steroids and open my veins to infusions.

Blue Lupine  / Jonie McIntire

It takes a tap root to make a hearty flower,
Years embedded in rustbelt urban
Something bright as a violet sky in your 
Mind’s eye as you watch your city struggle
And rebuild. Only the wild seeds, soaked
A bit in Maumee river shallows,
In deep Toledo mud will spread,
Until one day, in the middle of the city
You love, you look in every direction
And there it is, the inescapable beauty
You planted, bright and blooming in every corner.

Good Life 8: Lost in Translation / Anna Mitchael

Take the job of translator
from my mouth without delay.
In just the last hour
I’ve heard that
faulty gatekeeper say:

I’d kill for your kitchen’s pattern play
With those boots on you’re going to slay
Girl, you get more gorgeous by the day

It makes no sense.
Must be some kind of verbal disease
when the whole time
my soul was 
kindly asking, please:

A walk in a park with slowly-changing leaves
To see squirrels volleying invisible foes and seeds
One stanza of that familiar birdsong, “It’s good to be free.”

Tomes  / Shane Morin

after Puddle of Mudd’s “Blurry”

Dear Bella,

Surrogacy became the norm
Like streams of fire
            Cascading across the night sky

Codependency the familiar tongue
Of a language forced
            To extinction

ONE weekend

            The collateral anxiety
Breathing toxic oxygen

I held the Otank thinking
I was asphyxiation

There’s a leather-bound volume
Tucked away, forbidden

The timing of truths
Is a funny thing
The punch line delayed,
The faces blurry

So, I write things in cuneiform
I etch reality between wedges
            A life behind life
            A truth shadowing truth

I’m sorry

            Forbidden knowledge is cryptic, I’m sorry

The Tome is locked, the key
Embedded in flesh. Someday

The scalpel will be given.

I promise.

Coral and Chickens / Mary Ventura

i remember the coral branch on the bookshelf in the childhood apartment
stretching in a little bonsai pot
perhaps it’s sponge coral 
with the knowledge I have today, I know it’s a sponge coral
i remember coral’s pink fading colour with little tentacle on it
a bit scary
i could see it only in my mom’s arms
she held me to see those little things
fluffy miniature chicken too
i clenched them in my tiny fist, killed them one by one
my mom repeats the claim
I saw once on an old photo
those colourful miniature chickens
these irrelevant memories still haunt me
as if reading 80 years old Atwood versing her own mother
in a blizzard 
I don’t know whether I miss my mom or if so, how much
does prey ever miss their predator ?

Day 7 / Poem 7

Kind of Funny  / Tiffany Rose Allen

It’s kind of funny kind of not 

Everything I’ve got is 
A little louder little quieter 
A little bit more or less the same, 
A little memorandum
 a souvenir 
and keepsake 
A little different from how we used to be. 
I sigh
And I come running 
A nice alliteration for the celebration of things
Falling into place. 

LOVE POEM #1  / Lu Chekowsky

i guess the dog is leaving you said.
i didn’t see the dog until you pointed to the dog.
i saw water. white flags. foamy sea.
incredible what the drones can take in you said. 

i think of what a drone would see of you and me. and for now, she. 
under the robots a technology covenant. a sky spy. buzzing modern chuppah. 
can the top of my head portray love to the naked eye?
this art couldn’t have been made before now you said.

from above, seeing something about a family maybe. three phases of man.
all skin and hair and color and waves. on the edge of a rock.
naked feet on floor now. squeaky soles. you under an arch. fingertips reaching. 
electric jolts into a piece perhaps about surrender. 
now it looks like a screensaver you said.

i wished you were wrong, but you weren’t wrong.

Numerous Definition 3 / Ahja Fox

Trauma is coming home from surgery convinced I smell like sex, is binge-watching conspiracy tv shows like I expect to see myself in one; it’s the shoulda coulda woulda put my phone [recording] under the bed, it’s the pick then lather of skin that casts me forward into shuttered home bombed again tomorrow, tomorrow.

On realizing my baby will no longer smell like a baby / Sarah Haas

I am comforted by the success of
Febreeze, invented to bind to odors,
a tactic of elimination. But consumers
proved incapable of noticing absence.
To market researchers they said they hoped
to smell the breeze but which they couldn’t
describe, naming other scents instead:
powder, and grass, and salt, and soap,
all of which were combined and added
but none of which were allowed to linger.

Arroyo / Moira Hegarty


Call it a dry creek bed, gulch, wash, wadi, in the southwest we say arroyo. A word as ancient as ancient grains, it describes a lengthy drainage system lying rather un-exotically like a colossal pastry shell but whose double r’s are pronounced as if blowing a kiss.

In the evening, I walk to the overlooking bridge. Below, the arroyo straddles the desert floor slung like a hammock and equally as lazy. Tiny spooned groundswells wrinkle the surface between sloping walls of dazed sandhills burgeoning with clusters of chamisa. In autumn, the heads of the shrubs, as tenacious as a nest of scorpions, burst into golden swells becoming a forest of giant flaming brushwood. Woven together in a tight weave of knotted fibers they sprawl beneath me as luxurious as a plush Persian rug. For a moment I am lifted up and believe I can walk onto it across that hollow place where otherworldly teachers have been appointed to instruct me on the secrets of secret dwellings, the mysteries of life that draw vegetation to the bareness of the arroyo.


I listen in on the peculiar high-pitched song and call of a shy spotted towhee screaming at itself, rustling leaves under the long arms of the pines, in search of insects. Above a family of crows flaps their wings like silky black sunbonnets in the wind, and hawks pinned to the sky, shadow the rocking cradle of loose sand wedged alongside of and beneath apartment complexes and the highway, searching for a stray rabbit. 

In spring a trace of incense from pear blossoms and the earthy aroma of the thawing soil hint at a bouquet redolent of childhood. I breathe deeply, lining my lungs with the subtle perfume of the arroyo, as fresh as newly washed linens hanging on a clothesline, exceptional for a habitation cleansed by air and sunlight rather than rain. 


In late fall, the sweet-scented smell of snow floats down from the rounded crests of the cloud spotted Sangre de Cristo Mountains and seasons the air over the arroyo. I remember the first time I smelt snow. I had nothing to compare it to, except that something triggered a memory of the kind of day that clamped my nostrils, and I knew it was snow, that the scent of snow could be bottled like any other natural scent.

In July thunderheads billow up in the east over the Sangre de Cristo, an armada of angry gods ¾Titans, Giants, three-headed dogs, wielding thunderbolts. Monsoons fall in blinding curtains of rain, eclipsing the sun, overflowing the arroyo. I watch the white-water rush flow out of control, taking with it everything in its path trees, shrubs, squirrels and mice, cars, and human life. In disbelief, the flash flood withdraws on the heels of a frightened hummingbird as quickly as it came. The day after a newspaper headline tells of a body found miles away from where the person was last seen. The sandy sleeve of the arroyo has a new system of embroidery sunbaked into a hard, dry lip, until the next short-tempered monsoon descends to dictate the order.

When I look over the bridge and daily contemplate the evolution of the arroyo through the changing seasons, I’m unsure of the future but can imagine the past. At the beginning of the provenance of water on the earth, the ground was baptized in a cloudburst. For the first time a torrent was captured by a land formation and transported off to distant seaways, quickly flowing, in an illusion, a mirage of power, a looming phantom in a variable drop of rain.

Precious Ore / Barbara Krasner

I take my mother’s hands in mine,
hands wrinkled with age and Ajax.
She knows me though she doesn’t speak.

Her fingers, red and swollen, bloat
with water like her lungs and legs.
She must cross soon, she knows it.

But she holds on and her filmy
eyes lock onto mine. Don’t let
go of me, they demand. We’re

scared to go. I ask, do you see Mama?
She drops my hand and raises her arm
to a specter I can’t see. It’s okay

to go, I say. I will take care of everything.
I mutter, “Peace,” until her breathing
slows and she closes her eyes for the last time.

Pear Custard Pie / Jonie McIntire

In this custard pie, fresh pears drip from your grandmother’s chin. The custard is a secret your great-uncle sneaks from a midnight refrigerator while shushing an aging basset hound.The prep time takes generations, but only forty minutes to cook. Your neighbor will have opinions about salt but use the Kosher, even if you aren’t Jewish, because it dissolves slowly and patiently. This isn’t the time to worry about flour. Use the regular, bleached even. Who cares. What’s important are the eggs, the milk, the pears. Use the ceramic bowl for the batter, the one saved for the noodles when chicken and noodles is made. Crack the eggs carefully. Some shell will get in. You can surround the eggs, never let them out of your sight, think you handled them just perfectly and still, shards find their way in. Be patient. Pick them out where you find them. Use your hands to mix the batter, feel the butter that you let sit out long past in-laws thought safe. Feel the way egg and vanilla, flour and milk all become the same liquid but they keep their own sweetnesses, their own bitters. Use a fork to whip in some sugar. Keep at it. Quick and sweet like surprised kisses, like unexpected joy. Be especially careful with the pears, with anything that grows and so easily bruises. Remember how you and your cousins fought for favor and only found much later that nobody, after all, was really keeping score. Keep your knife sharp so as not to pull too much at the flesh. Arrange the pear slices in a 9 inch round pan, fanned out. Let some be thicker or more frail, give each some space but let them overlap. There is even more sweetness where they touch. You might think you know how each will cook, what their texture will be, but they take on the flavors around them. Remember how often your mother moved when she was young, state to state, but still with your father, who only lived in the one house, how they formed that delicious complexity, so strangely alike after all. Pour the batter like your great-grandmother’s quilt over the nestled pears. Oven, already warm at 350, will let them set, the custard and its fruit, until golden as winter grace, kissed by summer vacation sun. Let it set for a second, on the potholder you made with the plastic loom that your aunt kept, even after all these years. Make a pot of coffee, get out the deck of cards or perhaps the Chinese checkers, and savor.

Good Life 7: Light Years / Anna Mitchael

It was a light year

not because the days
held less heaviness

or because they sped
by like a flash

but because this was
the year the lights came on.

After a lifetime of looking
finally you could see.

Parsecs / Shane Morin

3.26 lifetimes arrive like
A court-ordered parenting plan.
I float between weekends
Leaving this blue pixel for darker shores.

The pock-marked dark side feels safe
There’s no hate nor love nor night or
Brighter skies nor whispering nor rain.
Just refreshing desolation, like

Sweet suffocation within the vacuum.
The solace a needle reading absolute 0
I live, a suspended molecule lost,
A vagrant between interstellar destinations.

Devour / Mary Ventura

I chewed the Sun into crumbs
stars peep through the gap between my teeth one after another 
dripping down from my lips 
i was made lisp
the Sun melted all the sweetness in my stomach
since then
my life was made bitter
how should I spit out the Black Sun
and light myself from within?
be my own darling

Day 6 / Poem 6

Day Drive / Tiffiny Rose Allen

An adventure brewing 
A grand entrance 
The green from the brush whispering secrets to the concrete pavement on galaxies of different ideals
Car wheels 
Exhaust, steering wheel, 
Turning corners and singing to the sky 
A daily lullaby 
A daily lullaby 
A daily step to take, a new chance to make

BLIND ITEM #6 / Lu Chekowsky

are you a person or 

an ethernet cable?

laser or machine? 

do you dream?

what do two billion people mean?

do you have the data to prove love exists?

is there a god? 

when was the last time you held a quarter?

do you have time to masturbate? 

what was the last thing you ate?

why are your t-shirts two sizes too small? 

are you humpty and dumpty before the great fall?

when was the last time you cried? 

have you reanimated anything that died?

what good are you? 

can you move slow? 

put things back together? 

have you even tried?

what is enough already?

are we fine?

can time well spent only be lost time?

in case this doesn’t come through —

this is a love letter to you. 

your eyes are black marble. 

you’re this century’s glue.

do you have the tech to tell if i’m lying? 

does it even matter what is true?

Intone: A Grown Woman Production / Ahja Fox

after Doja Cat’s Songs

Everything’s in lust here:
Percolating in loom a rainforest dew-wet
for the renegades. I renegade my sad bitch persona,
slip my form into a dress, unassumed
of danger and energy so bloodied.

I just can’t help but be legs of this couch, face of the non-existent clock—
when mouths are agape 

In Northern Light,  I wound my tummy into game, fowl,  fish 
so the goddess will take me; make me subdivision
equip  with playing hands and abstract sex

It’s a theory that my enemy will always have more meat hooks, more wood chips, and fewer things to chew. 

My army must be an army inside their own body,  a nesting doll of bite and clairvoyant crow. 

We just can’t help but be sexual, contextual; hieroglyph and typhoon.

 I’m a being who hasn’t been for years now,  won’t apologize for sucking down the air and swallowing the moon.

How I learned that discovery is always & necessarily mutual / Sarah Haas

I don’t remember learning how to knit 
only knitting one stitch after the next, 

following patterns dictating their version 
of time, a time from which form emerged 

less perfect than planned until I found 
myself following only the yarn finding 

the body’s shape as it appeared in 
every given moment of time’s version of 

itself, passing stitch by stitch: a discovery. 
The shape of: an arm in a sleeve no longer empty, 

Of a linear thread born of a wheel, of a fleece sheared 
From a body, of a narrative no longer a story 

but only what is. 

Spring / Moira Hegarty

A Kimo –  Israeli Haiku

a low-slung sun nudges to equinox

Aries at right ascension 

snow drops emboss and bloom

Inheritance  / Barbara Krasner

I can recall Sylvesterabend is the German word for New Year’s Eve,
but I don’t remember what I came into the kitchen for.

I can recite the names of all my great- and second-great-grandparents,
but I don’t know why I opened a new tab of my browser.

I rise in the middle of the night, well, I’m up anyway,
to look up the artist I can see in my mind’s eye but her name, Patti?

My mind snakes through
the never-ending to-do list until I see

indigo in my mind’s eye and then I know
I’ll fall asleep. It’s the mind falling asleep

while I’m awake that worries me about
my mother’s family’s history of Alzheimer’s.

I jolt sometimes while driving when the
road looks unfamiliar. I see myself

sitting with my aunt at her nursing home
on her 90th birthday, unsure how

to answer her question about why
she hasn’t seen my mother, her sister.

I can’t tell her my mother’s dead.
It’s not wise to upset Alzheimer’s patients.

She asks, “Is she holding her own?”
“Well, she’s not holding anyone else’s.”

She seemed satisfied with that.

Wind Advisory  / Jonie McIntire

75 is a straight shot down and I go
a speed not advisable, but I’ve driven this
route a million times. The wind buffets
everything out here. My arms are
ten and two locked. Another hour
and the wind has not let up.
My mother called last minute to say
she’s feeling too weak to join me
for the show, just go ahead and
use the tickets she set up at will call.
Weak is not a word she’s used to
but it laps at her now in unpredictable
waves. As the curtains open and lights dim, all around is talk of the wind,
almost unbelievable. What a night!
By the time the lights come on again,
we walk out into a soft late summer
breeze, a gorgeous night. When I arrive
at her house to tell her about the show,
I hug her with arms still a little jumpy.

Good life 6: A New Day  / Anna Mitchael

I could have thrown a truck
Or a man.
I could have wrung a thousand bells
Or a neck.
I marched into my dreams 
Incapacitated, though I did not know.
Slowly the nocturnal gnomes
went to work.
Manipulating levers and dials. 
Unrolling a catwalk of confusion
Erasing all signs of certainty
I could have sworn my second grade teacher 
was dead.
I could never have imagined a plane would swim
with dolphins.
When the mechanical rooster crowed
I opened my eyes 
finding once again 
the night had turned me
toward you.
‘Hey, there,’ you said. And like that,
I loved you again.

Like a Simile  / Shane Morin

Like a rusted Chevelle left to burn in a back alleyway

Like a birthed sparrow fallen from the nest,

    Never to soar with his brethren

Like a lacerated larynx, the mythic sphinx lounges in Giz, unloading, my

    Vocal cords sing morse code, the only means of speech

Like the Army beret, faded green, the O-10 braves faceless foes,

    Cowers as icy eyes glower back from refracted glass

Like suppressed memories, cortical logicians make sorry sentries to

    Geographies misplaced, ID and Ego sent to detention for rock throwing


Like lifetimes sentenced to supervised visitations, the hickory gavel

    Glances off ideal childhoods, awkward conversations replace

    The American dreams we once breathed

Like Bukowski, beat-nicking from town to town, from

    Woman to woman, a drunken stumble towards death

Like Death herself, scythe slashing at the essence she longs to possess,

    Slips through disjointed fingers, acid rains from sockets

    Where her life once shone

Like a grey wolf, I scavenge for scraps from other’s lives, alone

    I survive to stalk the abandoned hours, a vagabond

    Devouring the Earth.


Moon  / Mary Ventura

I don’t know what had to be done to not watching the same moon with you
I ask
raising my head towards 
the same moon
leaves trying to help
divide the moon in a whirl
hoping I could see it differently
            I could see it with my own kaleidoscope
            I would not to be scared sharing
the same moon with you
the footfall in my mind
smirks at me
chasing me for my forgiveness
where would i go to not watching the same moon with you
the moon looks into my eyes, saying
it’s already noon

Day 5 / Poem 5

Resilience / Tiffiny Rose Allen

Fragmentation unbound in a circular stairway of golden insight. 
Curious cats 
Sniffing their nose where chaos might invite. 
What an ordinary site 
Simple words strung out, 
Polished, worked upon, drawn and redrawn. 
An eclectic site of interstardom 
An evening of banding and bonding 

BLIND ITEM #5 / Lu Chekowsky

original sex taped

to walls

beat bop bratty 

pack collect all five

as famous as a man with a two

syllable name should be

human ken doll for all 

bendable smolder smirk 

too hot sodapop

bad boy’s gone good

the word is, as they say: approachable

saxophone slow slide

floppy puppy dog eyes 

snuggle stuffed daydream 

perfect boy heart 

throbbing smirk

prophetic genetics feeds

the machine wet

middle-aged dream

Scene: an epiphany about the ex-husband / Lu Chekowsky

Miss who you were becoming 
in my presence. 

But you shaved your head 
before I could ever glean
the old 
but preciousness of you—

You, in Iceman glasses.
You, a quirky-keratin of locks 
at the howl of sun.

I antique you. Keep you
in the fetishes 
of my memory.

Benjamin Button.

Figures I may have aged you

You never failed to collapse
into old habits, 
with new 
inexpensive costumes on.

Used to think raw parody was funny.
Now, I’m older, mumming
‘how sad’.


Marriage Poem / Sarah Haas

Mustangs are not wild
but feral; how to minimize
their disagreeable features? 
It is silly to keep on 
kicking against barbed wire. 
And if we cannot make wild 
horses, if not perfectly 
happy, then at least 
as happy as they can be 
under the present conditions. 

KISS / Moira Hegarty

in a downpour,
you wrap your jacket around my shoulders
cover my head with your book; 

our sandals squish and drown in the swirling, eddies of mud puddles swilling over the curb;
we laugh, run, touch and go, over glossy, pavement, 
fall together under a café’s awning

you twist me, wring me like a dishtowel. 
you try to kiss me, kiss and make up 
in your old hat way with my hand in your glove

let’s kiss, kiss and make up 
 kiss and whisper new lies.

My Red Maple Manifesto / Barbara Krasner

You, red maple! Stop
shitting your leaves
all over my lawn.

I know you’re pissed
that the tree service
cut off some of your limbs.

But that’s no reason
to take out your vengeance
on me. Own up to it.

Your branches were scraping
my roof, threatening
my windows and gutters.

Why can’t you be more
like my old oak? Growing
at a respectable distance,

providing ample shade
when needed and adding
distinction to the house?

But no, you youngsters
have no respect for tradition
or boundaries. You just do

what you like without
thinking about consequences.
Now you’re missing body parts.

I know it’s fall and your leaves
must unload somewhere. Please
release them to the west

to the no man’s land between
me and my neighbor where
they’ll pile up for the kids
and we can enjoy your droppings.

So Many Years Of Apple Dolls / Jonie McIntire

For an interesting

               you                            , a

little lacquer





          rough facial features with





     Finish                                   by

painting            lips



Good life 5: Burn victim / Anna Mitchael

I say it is sunny 
even while fog rolls in
I say we are in love
even as you turn away 
I say tomorrow will be better
even though I was burned on that today
I say dinner wasn’t so bad
with disappointment still on my tongue
I say this is the good life 
even though I was burned on that today 
I say tomorrow will be better
Even as you turn away 
I say we are in love
even while the fog rolls in 
I insist it is sunny.

Variations of Melting / Shane Morin

From Periphery’s “Lune”

The moments melt-
         Each a snowflake
         Fleeting, unique
Frigid winter eves ease into midnight
Obsidian assaults our eyes, devoid
Of light, horizons collide
Before sunrise, I hold tight
Like warm burgundy to bowled glass

Ice crystallizes our brief eternity
Tick-tocks come to full stop, flip flops
Our comprehension of four dimensions

In the beginning
         There was us
Undefined, sublime
         Dancing in and out
         In and out, in and out of time
I vowed immortality, to stave
The decay of telomeres

We age

X O cognac sits
The stopper unhinges
Years mature, dew drops
Distill until we become
Twice the lifetimes lived

I feel it love             coming on
Carving through brittle veins
         Like peroxide
Cleansing the decay

The moon drowns in the Atlantic
Waves and sand granules blend
An indiscernible beige

As do we
fall into each other
Entangled as ancient roots
Branched hands interlace
The sun swallows the sea

GOD / Mary Ventura

rejecting my name 
seems the final defence to 
the abuse
the name you gave me
as if GOD, 
                 creating and naming
                 pulling and pushing
                 locking and releasing 
                 baiting and training 
is it a good thing of being awake
being woke, enlightened about 
the abuse?
in reminiscent of a younger self
i know nothing of it
just kept living as a person whose body is dwelled by mawkishness
pains and banes
so goes on the life
until it stops when it stops
but no
I have to get to know about 
the abuse
something hard to unseen
something harder to unlearn
I wonder, can getting rid of my name, 
                get rid of the abuse?
                                the memories?
                                the saved fear?
then naked
like a new-born
waiting to be trained all over again
for life 

Day 4 / Poem 4

Resonant Occasion / Tiffany Rose Allen

Typing away on computer keys 
Help me pass the time 
I’m humming rhythms, secondary
Hmm, hmm, hmm
Let me whistle 
Tell me the time frame so I can plan accordingly to the time
Let me try to partake in the editions of turning pages and recitations 
Let me 
Let me
Let me decide what it is depending upon the mood of hors douvres served at midnight or 
And planned for more resonant occasions. 
Is this not a resonant occasion, to just breathe? 

BLIND ITEM #4 / Lu Chekowsky

cheekbones cut glass 
erection marble specimen
pose to breathe
                            what model are you?

for the boys and girls 
of americanapparelabacrombecalvin
crumbs are for lunch 
                            mind your shoe size, thighs.

pencil behind ear
bookish insofar as carrying a book
spectacles for x-ray 
                            vision in black and white.

billboard teeth godzilla 
feet times square 
heartbeat lucky boy life 
                            jackpot on elton’s yacht. 

when you asked me: who is the most famous person in your phone? 

i told you the truth: you.

Midwinter Solstice: An Ekphrasis  / Ahja Fox

between open-
palmed, cinnamus
winter beads 
an arctic 

winter minerals 
its snowmelt
a grand 

winter drifts 
sound body
sudden trundle

a crunch, a squish

a falling

for the flurry
earth’s halls

this first 
is synonymous

something raging
to come 

as belief

Horse Poem  / Sarah Haas

Marriage is the art 
of improving 
one’s wife beyond 
the stage of plain 
usefulness, of making her 
more amenable, easier 
to control, pleasanter
to ride, more graceful 
in her bearing and better
To look upon. 

I breathe in   / Moira Hegarty

through a cracked window pane, 

the breath that moments ago

you breathed out




my cheek.

I breathe in 

the fruited primroses 

where you walk, 

and dream 

of summer, 

piney cypress forests 


their arms 

over rounded heads

 of honeyed blackberries, 

a pleasant trace of mud 


by the one lane bridge.

If I were outside on the doorstep

on the other side of the jagged window pane,

where star trails 

guide me to you,

my boots 


dried leaves 

into powder. 


in winged polynoses.

The roots of swamp maples

lift me up 

until your breath 

turns me 


and I’m lost.

Cheeks flush 

in the ram shackled


I inhale perennial incense

behind the shattered 

window pane,

a song sparrow


a broad-tailed hummingbird 


the sky. 

and waits

for an answer that never comes

Fall Foliage   / Barbara Kranser

The red oak on the side lawn facing
the street drops its leaves like a lady
releasing a handkerchief and expecting
a gentleman to pick it up.

Hues of topaz, champagne, and pumpkin
litter grass, walkway, driveway.
Trees shedding their dead skin
for winter feels wrong.

You’d think they’d need
to bulk up for protection against
wind, frost, and cold.

I tried to preserve some leaves
over the last two years, placing
them between glass plates
as wall art. But these autumn remnants
browned and crumbled. How to preserve
their twilight luminescence? Shellac?

One year I took photos of fall foliage
along the Raritan & Delaware Canal,
created a scrapbook page. But the static
images couldn’t capture the spongy
nature’s mattress or its later crunchy pallet.

Growing up, I collected leaves
on my zigzag path to school—
chestnut, oak, and elm. The class
project called for identifying leaves
by shape. We ironed leaves
between swaths of wax paper.

How to preserve the dead skin
once vibrant and green?
How to preserve the past?

New Listing   / Jonie McIntire

Zestimate $255,000.
After grandma died, I grabbed the photo
albums,  photos in Dollar Store 
frames with Olan Mills pics. Random fridgies 
from haphazard travels — an aquarium
with sequin fish announcing Florida.
Magnetic frames with school pictures.
What we see on the third or fourth 
frame in Zillow is the skin wall, 
the seafoam green sheen
over our childhood. A fisheye shot
of the kitchen makes a landscape
made of dreams and perspective,
far different than her steaming
pot of potatoes setting atop 
summer-camp woven potholder
as she, bright red fingered peeled
and cut into a wide yellow plastic
bowl, the trick to her famous 
potato salad – a mix of burned fingers,
cheap mustard, onions diced in her hands
(never on a cutting board) and real mayonnaise,
the kind that goes as translucent as 
powdered potatoes when left uneaten.
She would have laughed at these pictures
of kitchen and basement. How in fifty years
they never looked like this, even when 
there were 5 kids toiling to make it look so.
She earned her layer of grease, her water
stains, and her oh so rusty corners.
Two bathrooms, four bedrooms.
One thousand, six hundred and ninety two
square feet. With a tree missing in back
where one son hung himself. A spot
in the front yard where the apple tree
grew that a girl running from hungry arms
ran to for top branches to wait and hide.
No trace of the holes in drywall from 
skulls smacked, to the remnance of doors 
with locks shattered under persistent weight,
their hollow innards revealed through
fist-shaped widows. No remnants of the sound
of boxed ears or repetitious slapping.
North Allegheny School district. No blacks,
except the children of the former residents.
This home is being sold AS IS. It has been
completely Power-Washed, the darkest 
elements already decayed in their tombs
or lost to unknown locations in northern Florida.
The walk-out basement no longer houses
snake, ferret, hiding child, stripper son with wife
who would become more family than any
other child. Close to Ross Park Mall, 
hospitals too often visited & the university
Dr. Korth & Dorothy graced for twenty years
notebooks and texts stacked, copies assigned
to education staff pin, scattered as much 
on campus as in the once-lavender room
turned from suicide son to home office. This
is where we lived and grew. Where she died.
Listed by Howard Hanna. Sold 10/25/22.

Good Life 4: Whale of a Time / Anna Mitchael

The whale was swimming today 
No spray on the horizon
I was sure of his presence, though
Just beyond what can be seen
Standing over the laundry 
I said his name out loud. 
Then, “Take me into your belly.”
The skirts and pants showed no alarm,
The children’s t-shirts remained in their
permanent state of stained. 
I, however, felt chills up my spine
To lie in the belly 
Not knowing if I might live or die 
Waiting to see if my particular sins
Would be forgivable enough 
to be spit out for a second chance.
I imagined the feel of inside-stomach-skin
Squishing and pulsing on the back of my neck
How the smell might make every breath
Feel like a penance.

Wound / Shane Morin

(zzyzx rd.)
Forgiveness like the bitters
Of a manhattan lasts
As long as the final 
Slow burn of Woodford Reserve
The road winds around
The scrawl of antiquated maps
Ley lines defining a face anguished
Doubts the only kiss felt 
Weeks blend 
Mending their way like 
Spidery veins along a skin
Funny how time never removes 
Only wounds.

postnames / Mary Ventura

my mom kept telling me how she was called by her mom 
“son of a turtle”
“walking feet cat”
“a dog in the manger”
“drumstick in town god’s temple”
as a child i understood those are insults but still
i wanted to be called those names too
to own those names in my mom’s recurring recollection seems sweet
i equalled insults to love
let me be “son of a turtle”
or that “drumstick” so i get heard
I only figured it out now
her memories overrides my reality since i can remember stories, names, locations, 
categories, events, 
I doubt whether I had real memories, of my own
not memory of her memories, postmemories
I couldn’t find any 
that she is not present
as a child i was never the leading role
a pawn at the outside
yet believed to be the luckiest princess 
i’d better be grateful
I did for three decades
costed almost my life
looking back
i was the luckiest
my memory carried a dozen decades

Day 3 / Poem 3

Future Paradoxes / Tiffiny Rose Allen

And so I opened the paradox
A grab bag of “What will others think?” 
I took the contents out and I—
Tossed them 
From me
From the societal 
Of limit. 
Now I’m in some form of the word 
A silent feather drifting, fondly 

BLIND ITEM #3   / Lu Chekowsky

i am famous for 
what’s behind me. 
for too bright diamonds.
for too white walls. 
tubula rasas at Nobu.
paparazzi flashes 
in yellowfin. 
for my children.
i am famous for 
thirty three 
for glass hair. rubber onesies. 
self. ease. for the men who get to love me.
and underwear. 
i tell you what i swallowed 
and you swallow it.
i tell you what i wore 
and you wear it. 
pretty only please. no ugly crying. 
the face that flinches first loses. this is what 
i am actually famous for. 

my sorrows taste like coconut my sillies smell like smoke / Ahja Fox

mount vesuvius became altar
when I was seventeen
a boy left me for hawaii
a boy left
with me his pumice-iced streets
here lies a beast with three implodent hearts
here, I am surgicalizing myself into honolulu
water is immeasurable but 
is it enough
Immeasurable, my purgatory
has ordered a million tequila tais
misadventure sometimes bleeds
into serendipity
but my islands are teeming
with colorful dead fish

if/then / Sarah Haas

If the self is a spectrum ranging from end to end then it begins as naturally as tension to the muscle, as laughter to a baby.
As naively, the self progresses, draws distinction, the baby’s first words a question: What’s this? What’s that? 
The beginning of comparison’s experiment almost arbitrary, the baby’s muscles contract, pick up that which caught his attention, a book that he reads upside down, for example. 
But he wants the other thing too, the cardboard tube, for example. 
The problem of difference: his hands are not big enough to hold two things at once. 
One must judge, then he must choose; he throws the book at my feet. 
His preference is based, I think, on pleasure, the tube he fondles, places on his lips, chews, tastes; the tube is good, so he gives it to me, watches me play a tube like a trumpet.
His hand reaches out with envy: he chirps for the tube, then yells for it, then screams to have his turn. 
So I hand it to him but it’s too late, he’s hardened, his fist clenches, the tube crumples. 
The baby cries harder, harder than he does for his mother, his desire for desire more potent than his desire for comfort or food or love. 
I desire only to comfort him, I try to comfort him, I give him my breast but he kicks me instead, scratches at my skin but cuts his own instead. 
This bloody child, injured by his own spoiled want, jealous of a world full of things that are not his because nothing is nor can be possessed but ourselves.
Who am I to raise a child?
I, who was doomed from the start. 
To everyone who asked I said I was overwhelmed with love. 
But while his eyes were still shut I looked out the third story hospital window, looked down upon so many rows of subdivided houses separated by fences and triple locked gates. 
I hated them for coveting what they already had, blamed them for making me hold the child even tighter, as if he belonged to me. 
I told myself it was out of love that I wanted to destroy it all, to beat the city to its bloody death, that to resent what was was a righteous return to the blank slate, as natural as tension is to the muscles, as natural as a spectrum that is actually a circle inside of a circle, an areola, a breast to which the child returns again and again.

Transformations / Moira Hegarty

trembling starlight spills
radiation like salt from a shaker

tiny seeds drop from branches

roll under my feet 
embed in the soles of my shoes  

tumble over the curb 
into the sewer grate to journey underground
with the untouchables, 

catch in an orbed web 
of a confident and poised jumping spider, 
on a loom of grass;

A microbe crawls the circumference of the web in twelve hours
and completes its life journey

a cloud, an unchartered, disputed continent, disintegrates. 
and I know there is something and nothing left to discover

Be a Dear, Watch for Wildlife / Barbara Krasner

Fog’s fingers stretch out
over Pennington Road
on Halloween morning.

The silver Honda sedan
in front of me can’t
have seen the bulk of the buck.

Flailed legs careen between
me and the Honda. There is
nothing that can be done

to save the deer. The Honda
driver doesn’t move, just as stunned
as the deer he hit. I imagine

him wondering whether
he should get out of the car,
check on the deer. Instead,

he bangs his head on the
steering wheel in the
burgeoning daylight. We

both proceed along the road
and turn into the university
entrance. He goes left,

I go right. He is not
going to have a good day.
Maybe he didn’t see the sign:

Be a dear, watch for wildlife.

Every Love Poem Includes At Least One Dead Body / Jonie McIntire

Andy Gibb, long before I knew about
love beyond flowing waters. But even
then I knew there was a difference between
true love and posters taped to bedroom walls.

Maybe because I moved often,
I didn’t think love was a thing
that waited. So when my loves,
each so different, lost themselves

in the emptiness of what they thought
had been built together, what
was there to say? We mourn these
dreams together when we hold

each other tight. We let starry eyes
see bright hope while making sure
solid ground is not entirely rough
and rocky terrain. Beyond all,

we remain a moving thing,
carrying our dead. We the living
feed ourselves on sunshine, on
fresh breath, on our joyous rebirth.

Good Life 3: Cyclic ‘n’ stuff / Anna Mitchael

My delusion is grand
My grandeur is imagined
My imagination is inclusive 
My inclusion is permanent
My permanence is self defined
My self definition is my life
My living is free
My freedom is artificial
My artifice is delusive.

Untitled List / Shanee Morin

(leave out all the rest)
The time I got fired (again)
Or when she learned of the affair
The marriage counseling like
Skinning myself through the eye
Of the needle, blunted and bloodied
Or the injustice of the gavel
Or the silence crackling over 5G
As dad admits nothing of age
Or sitting in on unfamiliar fabrics
Feeble attempts to upholster family bonds
Or the days that fade to 
Swiss cheese memoryfoam mattresses
Regulated sleep the aether of mythology 
When my time comes, the Sun shall forget the wings she melted when I dared to love her. The Earth shall erase my carbon footprint with volcanic ash, and I remain Pompeii.

pigeon man / Mary Ventura

a man sits at the bench 
nine birds came to him
on his head, his hand, his hair
he earns his joy from pappish feathers
how would i picture joy a decade ago, two, or three
that belongs to me, my joy
do i deserve it, even if i earned it
hard knock with 
tears & dares
do i ever deserve it, even if my
parents weren’t happy, do i
mind is tricking me like sunglasses is tricking birds
do i see my joy, mingled with pain all these years
tracing back
i’d wish i saw the pigeon man earlier

Day 2 / Poem 2

Aspects of Home  / TIffiny Rose Allen

To look towards what I once took for granted 
A fine floral mural beckoning me away from my computer screen. 
My lovely daily routine 
My strained eyes squinting in the sun—mesmerized. 
The lovely mundane aspect of being called home. 

BLIND ITEM #2 /Lu Chekowsky



Phantom Cries (the genesis of sirens)  / Ahja Fox

I risk wetting the floors into depletion 
because I swear 
I hear you crying…again,

your far screech-song tumbling into something rainbowly wondrous

When I make my leap from serenity’s shower,
you are often 
not crying

Though, fear vittles the day 
I am wrong 
and you are much too near

The women, in tiny-screen luster, blaze then aglow—

say never 
to offer

say never 
to refuse

When do I become a poison to you, girl? 
When do you gash 
me out, divinely, like a valkyrian hero?

You trampoline skinny legs against cheap bed springs,
giggle then art the playmat in one-eyed monsters (you clairvoyant 

You’re gonna teach me what it’s like to be toothless,

what it means to expose a neck, one song only
to an unforgiving sea

* Note: “Phantom cries” is an unexplained phenomenon where a mother hears a baby crying even if they aren’t. It’s theorized to happen due to heightened neurological and physical changes after a mother gives birth.*

The Meadow  / Sarah Haas

I am in a room within a room and inside of the room 
I am a forest, thinning itself 
from the inside out, as a mother is supposed to be 
capacious, mitigated until the canopy relents snow 

to the ground. It’s the kind of forest she walks into 
and thinks of the life she could build here,
a cabin of her own, with room for 
herself. If only she could stay, if only it were 

hers. In a way, it is, as everything she desires 
already is: these pinon pines, these ponderosas, 
this ongoing barren; this forest that is me. 
It’s not her fault: She’s spent her life 

window shopping, assuming every view is 
for sale. Of her every desire she says: 
nothing is mine, unless you are. 
So forgive me while I grieve 

the meadow I’ve carved inside of me, 
Reimagined into a suburb of houses, built to look
Real, a window above every kitchen sink,
just like she’s always wanted. 

Imagine it, she says, the two of us, 
standing here inside of the forest that is ours.
You will wash dishes;  I will dry them; 
together we will take in the view. 

So I do, imagine it, her looking out to see
the chicken coop she’s always wanted. 
And I, I will see the horizon, 
eluding me once again. 

Longing / Moira Hegarty

I search a field of blue violets
your eyes watching over me 
like they used to

The earth rises and lowers 
beneath the flowering dogwood, 
and drinks its scent from a clay cup 

filling the fractured soil with puddles 
of morning dew and pine wood
 and the stale tears of death

broken cradles drop from the sycamores, 
and crush the white buttercups 
in the field where they fall.

I comb the golden grasses like your hair once
and tighten each strand around my fingers
 until they bleed. 

On my knees by the water’s edge 
I search the lips of the stream 
endlessly for your mouth

My Bat Mitzvah Year / Barbara Krasner

The year I turned thirteen
I sported a new Junior 13
body instead of a Chubby.
My September 1 birthday
earned me a Bat Mitzvah
in white crepe with silver
threaded bodice from
B. Altman’s and panty
hose with silver Mary Janes.

Listening to my Haftorah
over the summer on a recorded
tape, I practiced and practiced
while at fat camp.
My twin would say it,
I would say it,
and then we’d say it together.

The year I turned thirteen
I entered eighth grade
at Lincoln School
with all new clothes
that normal girls wore.
My grades earned me one
of the honor seats in the back row
before, between, or after
Gary and Mike
depending on our averages
that term. In history.
In geography. In math.

The year I turned thirteen
I had a crush on Mike.
I’d known him since
first grade. He lived
three blocks away.
The year I turned thirteen
I didn’t yet know
I would date him
for five years after
college and that he would
propose and I’d say no.

The year I turned thirteen
I took out my seventh grade
photo and crossed out
my face so hard
the photo ripped.
Losing twenty-five pounds
in the mountains
of upstate New York
didn’t mean pounds
would be replaced
by self-esteem.

How to Activate Your New Relationship / Jonie McIntire

Erasure poem using Verizon activation letter.

Let’s form cities

1     our contacts,

2     our new instructions.

3     usage,
       to learn more.

Get out of you
and take a new 


Good life 2: Aspen in the spring / Anna Mitchael

If the aspen tree 
is the largest organism
stretching to the end of the chain
what does that make its namesake 
that can’t be contained by a continent
each mention leaving people breathless
with desire, at best,
at worst… well, in such polite company, 
we should not mention it,
lest you think we be heathens
and never invite us to your mountain home
we hear it’s so beautiful there in the spring.

Subdermal / Shane Morin

(Crawling In My Skin)

Is the way I describe
This persistent itch 
Like a scarab feeding, feeding
Feeding on flesh and tendrils,
Tendons snap, thwack 
Against muscle and vein
The sensation of
BP 160/40 and a need
To inebriate: noun. the act of
Ceasing the soul-siezures.
And if my eyes remain glazed,
At least the crawling ceases,
For a minute eternity, the creeping slows.

Beryl / Mary Ventura

schools of fish
banks of swans
the lake side wouldn’t miss me if I plunge
sun covers all
pathos and bathos

looking into the beryl on my finger
it reflects
the sparkling, the shine, the piercing light that
I was searching for decades
only to find out it rests on my finger the whole time

Day 1 / Poem 1

October Ends / Tiffany Rose

October flashed by in a sound 
On a wave 
On a record player playing bird songs and cars driving by outside. 
October said “This one is new” 
October said “It’s time to step into yourself.” 
Now, November walks in, making itself known 
Telling us all to lift each other. 

BLIND ITEM #1 / Lu Chekowsky

hot syrup smell air. sweet waterfall of hair. 
dark behind the eyes not a surprise.
mirror mirror in your hand
who’s the fairest of the land?
it’s the wicked witch, bitch. 
professionally pretty not 
for the weak. barbie out of the box 
plastic pants squeak. you’re a monster 
i’ve heard but i’m not afraid 
of what it is that is good.
ooooooo, what you can do in those red-bottomed 
shoes commanding the room the invisible gloom let me tell you 
where your arm goes let me tell you 
where your legs go let me tell you 
nothing. unlike you, my job 
is to be professionally invisible. 
in front of me is your face in this bright light 
i see but i can’t see. don’t worry about me i’m on bended knee i know 
my place at your pretty feet, my pretty. plastic pants squeak 
when you breathe you’re a doll who needs grease i will not 
say what i saw blemish on sculpted famous rich cheeks
scar on shiny chin forehead farm of organic eruptions pustule solidarity 
we will remove it later we will erase it later what is there is not there trust me i didn’t see you
my queen when that pink plastic mirror was in hand it was only your two faces here the only people here were the both of you. 

6th Saturday Morning in the New Apartment/ Ahja Fox

Your dad knows all the right equivalents 
for french toast.

He knows how to fix 
the soupy batter when I pour too much 
into it. 

He doesn’t shame me when I recover 
a few spatula flips too late. Just kisses me
when I say 

I am 
the sloppy drunk girl. 

I’m Pon-Bay Freeze and I “poetry” 
think—this is the metaphor of my generation:

the guilty chill of lustrous thrill never mine 
to inhabit.

I can be a happy wife, life 
of hope and reclaimant attitude—but I am waiting 
for the righteous person to point their finger in my face.

Your father tells me he doesn’t confirm 
his swift dash away into the bedroom 

it is better to not give the sad news 
(of anticipated sleep).

So he conjures forgiveness—the red-pink organ—
before going into open-eyed rest, the silhouette of you 
playing with your lovie in the near corners of his mind.

It’s chewing the cud with his quaint apparition 
of stress, an ever-sad fellow,

that I know october’s thoughts will visit
me a december pouring.

Stress. The stress.

O, your dad knows 
I’m best when guarding silly secrets—

and he keeps his 

Probably so I have 
to do.

Saturdays are the only days he’s honoring
‘letting the beast be 
himself for a week of good behavior’.

I get to observe
(no, preserve) him 
in a masterful syrup-stack

of runny egg yolk and brown sugar;
a little too much milk
and a frying pan of glee,

you wondering about the rigged world around us.

What’s happening is  / Sarah Haas

a poem that has begun without knowing it was beginning, language that was not yet emerging from a page which is either a place or the opposite of a place, either something or nothing, either way pregnant with its opposite as a pronoun, like how he contains she and they contains me and I contains you. We are God, we who are between nothingness and being, standing next to our director’s chairs, our faces covered in mirrors, our expressions reflections of the endless vast of the room which is ourselves. Empty. But for a wooden ladder aiming either up or down, the entirety of our singular worlds a crossroads which is not a set of choices but an infinitude of waiting to give birth, but in this world, which is the real world, I am induced, the waiting room compressed into a hallway delivering me into a room which is actually a room covered with water and blood, my water, my blood, my baby in my red wet arms, my husband saying look what you have done, but I cannot reply because I cannot speak because in the pre-primordial act language realized its own meaninglessness, was destroyed by itself, was reunited with the eternal collapsing of matter which is the eternal beginning which is the substance of shadow, the sameness of our silhouettes casting sometimes smaller, sometimes larger than its subject really is but providing proof of one’s realness nonetheless, at least until the light shifts, or until the sun sets, or until it’s high noon and I’m standing here alone and totally exposed, unreal but happening. 


Dragonfly, blue dasher, diamond eyed 
in last night’s dream, hovering the shell of the pond
with your spindle, remains of an insect on your lips
Queen Mab, wings aflush with the setting sun.

I sought you when I had no one; 
when the world fenced its easement against my orphan hood 
I drew your face on my heart
with a burnt twig and sprayed it with paste.

The curtain on the bedroom window blows softly; truth is outside.
Images of you, drone on a polychrome clay pot,
the scissors of your double wings fossilized in amber,
your myths on my pillow in your absence.

It took three hundred million years for you
to rebuild uprooted forests, to return breath to Halicarnassus 
to feed the jaws of thirsty riverbeds with nymphs,
but should we call you dragonfly or devil’s darning needle or naiad or something else?

The Fastest Painter in the World / Barbara Krasner

You said you bought a Morris Katz
during your Poconos honeymoon
fifty years ago. Your painting shows
a thatched-roof home with a pond
and ducks. You liked all the yellow.

I had a Morris Katz once,
bought in the Catskills about
fifty years ago. I whined to my father
to buy it, because I had just inherited
a pink bedroom from my middle sister
with pink shag carpeting and pink ballet
wallpaper. This Katz painting had a pink
background and brooding navy trees. It
looked like it took Katz five minutes to paint it.

A Holocaust survivor from Galicia, he learned
to paint fast. Broad brushstrokes with globs
of paint that now remind me of the Soviet Union:
looks good from a distance, but don’t get
too close. If I had looked more closely,
I would not have wanted this painting
with “Morris Katz” in attention-seeking
sized letters. We never hung it.
Yours has been hanging
in your living room for decades.

Critics called Katz “The King of Shlock
Painting.” He thrived at resort hotels
by making and selling his “instant art.”

He was just a kid during the Holocaust.
He couldn’t have learned his craft
until after the war. Maybe he started
at the DP camp. Maybe he thought
it was wise not to dwell on things,
just create a nice picture and be done.

How Changing Seasons Make Time Disappear  / Jonie McIntire

Like pennies dropped into a spiral wishing well in science center breezeway,
this year has circled into its narrowness. From January’s slow fear and
cold losses, the calculated making of plans, the casual crochet of wide
blankets unraveled slowly into awkward hope and strange brightness in April.
The countryside passed its time through car windows, beyond July heat
and into August tomatoes and so many traffic cones telling us where
not to be. My eyes became night-time wide, one headlight always just 
a shade dim. Who can sleep with all this potential energy? Until suddenly
it feels spent, and we unpack all these hastily packed bags of time.
All around us, bodies have dropped like leaves we’ve named, still 
so green. We try to slow to a walk already breathing November and find 
the birds too quiet. The herons have given up trying to catch us near the creek. 
I gravitate toward the couch, which threatens to eat me. With snow predicted 
I feel myself spin in place like a top, just edging to drop like an offering to next year.

Good life 1: Healers / Anna Mitchael

You told me you deserved a car 
that made you feel like a doctor.
I kept quiet because 
there was no prize for
the hummingbird who circled
my grandmother’s red feeder.
Rain clouds that floated in when
I’d thought they were gone for good. 
The leaves falling at my feet as
I made my way along the path. 
All of it, medicine that healed me.

Paralyzer  / Shane Morin

As if the road had ever been symmetric
The unionized linemen levy a 5-1 ratio
Squirrels scatter their stash among maples

I’ve been here, amidst symmetry
            Cold, calculating
                        S m o o t h e

Like the absinthe glazing
My tastebuds, rigor
The anise numbs

The sleek streets shimmer
People streak by
A fast-forward of society
Suits ‘n skirts swishing
            My life

           On pause
In an infinite playback
Your opinion, venom:
My paralyzer, my

Mouth of the Volcano  / Mary Ventura

I was lying outside a mouth of that volcano
locals call it “the beginning”
referring it as “her”

O I didn’t take a tent
pour me a rain made of fire
my intention
initially was to jump into that mouth
            meet myself inside
            melt myself inside
a decent solution after being diagnosed with
fear & pain

lava sloughed me like a snake
as if i survived the eruption
                        mind eruption sloughed me like a snake
sloughing into whose planned future

I didn’t jump
I’m in my 90s
telling stories to my grandkids — why

do kids ask for postmemory
as a kid i never needed to
it was poured onto me.