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 September 2021 are Barbara Audet, Seneca Basoalto, Kristen Brida, Jane Hammons, Sharayah Hooper, Olivia Ivings, Alicia Rebecca Myers, Kimberly J Simms, Andrew Walker, and Karen Warinsky. Read their full bios here.
If you’d like to volunteer for a 30/30 Project month, please fill out our application here and warm up your pen!
Poem 30 / Day 30
I am not a street photographer / Cento by and from Barbara Audet, Seneca Basoalto, Kristen Brida, Jane Hammons, Sharayah Hooper, Olivia Ivings, Alicia Rebecca Myers, Kimberly J Simms, Andrew Walker, and Karen Warinsky
I always assumed the soil was a canon
from which your body would explode into
have you come to prove to me that
I was wrong?
or are you here because of skin?
staring at the moon’s crenellations
in its several bodies
how fear surrounds a dialect
The scissor wind angered its seams.
new webs curtaining paths.
wintry air biting them into fluidity
It’s impossible to extract reliable details from you.
Out into arroyos
in the grave of a blanket. outside,
I put aside romanticism in favor of grit
between my expectations and physical evidence
—reality, and me.
I promptly spit them out with
no time to think of the voices we’ll never hear again.
Best lives, she heard,
right to the edge.
With no boundary between a world
and its afterglow.
But get ready because when it comes
you will cry, but you have to
push through that part
and you’ll get to the good part
which is, for the record, more crying,
winter is a warning of recurrence. Perhaps
My future is just
a cover, the same
It is difficult
To pause a rapid racing
Horse from charging on.
What you call
a desire for
the ability to.
James / by Barbara Audet
In known Delaware
Photographs to breathe once more
Bring back essence James.
Brother, boards ship alone
Engineering all of space
He seas beyond us.
Ship’s direction now his own
Raising one last sail.
The Shape of Grief / by Kristen Brida
Car on Fire / by Jane Hammons
My father is driving us down the Old Dexter Highway. It leads to the Y-O Crossing then U.S. 285. Our farm is 10 miles south of Roswell and 60 miles north of Carlsbad where his parents live. When you grow up out in the middle of nowhere, distance is important. Flames spark from the engine of a car parked, hood up, on the side of the road. A family huddles off to the side. My father makes a smooth U-turn and pulls up behind it. He does something to put the fire out. Scoops water from an irrigation ditch. Or smothers it with an old blanket from our trunk. This is not a memory of my father as hero.
It is dark and windy. Mom screams at Dad who is in the field baling hay. My older sister and I crouch at a window. The tractor’s headlights stream out like beams from the movie projector at the StarLite DriveInn. Mom stands on a narrow step near the driver’s seat of the tractor. We can’t hear what they are yelling about. Dad roars over the wind and the noise of the tractor’s engine, the baler’s knife blades set to cut, the tines ready to grind. Mom returns to the house, knees stained green by alfalfa. Blood threads down one shin. She is wearing cutoff blue jeans, her long blonde hair falling out of the French roll she twists it into every morning. She looks like a movie star in the kind of movies we see at the drive-in.
We get out of our car. The family gets in. Dad drives them to their trailer near the Yucca Bar and Lounge on U.S. 285, one mile east of our house. By now he probably needs a drink. My mother marches us across the highway toward home. We won’t see our grandparents in Carlsbad. She won’t be a woman with four kids standing by a burned-out car on the side of the road. With her we walk the distance between dread and knowing.
At Nineteen / by Olivia Ivings
Your old man mistook
a freezer-burned strawberry
for a bald, disfigured bird—
it was a disconnect
of reality and notion.
A stick-and-poke needle
mined caves into flesh,
and we realized
what we should have done.
Could we afford this trip
if we only bought Sonic slushies?
The most familiar conversations
manifest on the stoop
of sleepy streets.
It was all so sophisticated,
like eating barbeque nachos
The End / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
The day has finally come when I can put anything I want
in the poem! Say the poem insists on rose
cardamon: I’ll add it. Earlier, I called the Hall
and Oates hotline to listen to a tinny “Maneater.” The poem
needs no transitions! That number is 719-266-2837.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
In the interim, I thought a little more about my mortality
and how heightened creativity might be a mid-life
crisis. Now the poem is a motorcycle. I’ve always loved
the sound of lhasa apso, so let’s throw that in. I’ve written about
the house before but not the elder care. Moving on, there’s a rich
metaphor to be had in the chip shortage, all those cars sitting
in lots without semiconductors. The poem would like
you to know —–
I have no understanding of computer memory. Not a bit.
Not a byte. I like to deflect with word play, or maybe it’s that
I actually go deeper. This is the moment in the poem in which
I shock you: I’m bisexual heteromantic! The list goes on
and on of things I haven’t yet written about: ice swimming,
pyramid schemes, the way not having siblings means
I have no thesaurus. Ok, ok —
The poem is giving me
not-so-subtle hints that it’s running long, so in
conclusion, the end never is.
Poem 29 / Day 29
The Lottery Prayer / by Barbara Audet
Selfie ekphrasis / by Kristen Brida
on a run
on a sidewalk
a gold leafed
mirror for the taking
my blue eye
steps out of frame
of my face.
my ataxic gait,
a black band
on my knee.
my blue eye
out of frame
The Taxidermist’s Daughter / by Jane Hammons
Five days a week the school bus stops at the house with Taxidermy painted in letters that drip like blood down a jagged board nailed to a dead pecan tree. Nipple. Spine. Clavicle. Breath. Through the worn fabric of the sisters’ dresses, everything shows. The youngest girl a year ahead of me in school her little brother the same age as mine. We clear a seat press ourselves together uncomfortable no sister sits with us. The two older girls quieted by the shunning. Not the youngest loud and boisterous. She asks to copy homework. She cracks her gum offers us sticks from her grimy pocket. Her eyes light blue like ice water running beneath them purple rings shadow the depths. The boy his face caked with snot finds a place with other boys. My brother. Once the taxidermist came swimming his whole family uninvited in our reservoir my brother pushes me off the raft we’d made from old fence boards so he and the boy can imagine themselves fishing fighting off sharks castaways from a pirate ship no sisters. The parents beneath bright striped beach umbrella hidden under hat and cap. Greasy paper bag picnic on tattered towels. Clothes the sisters shed like litter on the banks. They swim in sagging underwear. Before one school term ends the family disappears. The house remains vacant. Taxidermy fades. The pecan tree continues to die. Years a decade later the newspaper writes her story held hostage her father brother in a trailer years of rape and torture until she gets her hands on a gun and fills their bodies with blue gaze bullets tried for murder. She is found abused defiled driven mad. At last innocent.
Hemidactylus Turcicus / by Olivia Ivings
“I saw you, but you were walking fast like those tiny lizards.”
-text message, 9.28.2021, 10:51 a.m.
I’m a thousand Mediterranean geckos
wearing an electric blue hair tie
and black maxi skirt, but we (this body
of pink, semi-opaque reptiles) haven’t figured out
how to detach our tail and hide when someone
spots us, or worse, tries to move us
when someone’s mother finds us wriggling
across the kitchen floor. But, oh, how we slink
past groups of men handing out palm-sized copies
of the New Testament! No, we never get by unnoticed
or without some pamphlet, but it’s been months
since some unapologetic child stepped on us.
The Bottom of the Rail / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
Today, I ran past the public pool
still filled with summer water.
Leaves are only just turning decadent,
copper and scarlet, plum-trimmed
edges everywhere. Aromatic brooms
line the supermarket entrance.
Shoppers sniff them through their masks,
cinnamon bristles poking nostrils.
Pumpkins brazenly suggest it’s time
I realize who I might be if I kept
a tea light lit inside me.
I go down to the basement
and unbox last year’s costume.
The detachable raccoon paws smell
moldy, but I insert my hands in them
anyway: I need to get a feel for what
has changed. Back upstairs, I fix a snack
fit for a scavenger: two jicama tortillas
sprinkled with cheese and microwaved,
then topped with corn nuts. This fall
is different because I’m writing again.
I walk around buoyed by intent,
so that when I put on a show about
truckers whose vehicles have flipped,
and the men talk excitedly to the camera
swearing the bottom of the rail’s
about to open, I nod in agreement.
Magnetic / by Kimberly J Simms
German execution birthed Magneto
from a patriotic Jewish refugee
into a magnetic mutant who can flatten
blocks with a wave of his gloved hand.
Pandemic hysteria sported metal spoons
flagging arms of TikTok influencers
espousing magnetic powers post vaccine.
A metallic taste across swollen tongue,
refrigerator magnets stuck to vaccine jabs;
apartment bathrooms lauded as science labs.
Ok, So It’s Like Calvinball but Slightly Different Rules / by Andrew Walker
we’ll begin at seventh start,
high school rules,
get the pitch from the siderunner
and go all the way up,
past the overthere line
before you stop for the hit.
But get ready because when it comes
you will cry, but you have to
push through that part
and you’ll get to the good part
which is, for the record, more crying,
but it’s a better kind of crying.
Once you start, let some air out of the ball
to catch the tears in the dimple you’ll make,
it makes them easier to carry
across the bummerzone
to the winsquare. If the other team
pulls a halt-and-launch, pause
where you are and scream,
guttural, like we used to
when all of the weight
of the world we tried to build
comes crashing in like the enemy
team. They’ll hold you harder
than you’re used to when they hit,
but break from it the way you breach water
and you’ll be there soon, feeling
like a fresh bath and a new kiss. Trust me
and go on hikehut three, okay?
Pond Tanka / by Karen Warinsky
the pond, still and calm
we paddled slow and silent
through summer’s last day
sudden gunfire nearby
Sunday in America
Poem 28 / Day 28
A Punishment of Days / by Barbara Audet
If I take account,
weigh up in favors met,
charity dispensed, true gifts
of a weightless kind,
wrapped in solace,
all the happy days,
the sad without deep sorrow days,
the days of joy,
all those discounted
bright twists of sunrises,
I should bear smiles,
the length of all my years.
Why then, do the unsought
mired passages of days,
bleak and chambered,
like death-compacted insects
in wearable amber beads,
capturing failing DNA,
these memories a brutal abacus,
of sordid self-assessment,
Why do these dehumanizing
days of anger
tally highest, tally large?
Wound your mind, break your heart,
bring a taste of bitters
daily to my morning coffee.
I’m just shopworn,
a life accountant, stumbling,
rendering awry, columns inked
with fraud to self receipts
of days spattered dark,
even as the brightest sun
calmly, sent its rays
across my unaccepting,
And then a voice,
sings to me of blue’s potential
to drain the smiles from living.
I’m surprised by recognition,
the music’s punctuation,
her words, melody,
reach my emptied heart.
Songstress to patient:
blue your initial diagnosis,
not plain iron lung consumption,
arguably easier to treat.
what color harmonies
Ethel died before
rampant, no rhyme,
no blue laminate
to overlay my vocals,
low slung, hardy,
but always out of tuned reality.
Am I blue? Am I blue?
Only if I choose to keep
coloring with broken crayons,
paper wrappers torn from trying.
Ethel seeks me out,
to accept a blessed curbing,
of my not quite innocent,
recalcitrant to reason choices.
I tried to live large late,
and ended, anger’s offspring.
Evidence, a sea of groomed,
above my own,
wielding codified ego bruising,
feigning proud welfare checks.
Fool you were to let them freeze
dark lenses on each iris,
an operation you thought
complete and irremediable.
by you can’t restrictions, restraints,
rules you bedded down with,
laughter in the background,
because you desperately danced.
Who should care the less
when the stone of you
is battered, naive, tone deaf
to snide whispers
in the hallways?
You reeled, awakened
with your phantom child’s
pinned note on your gown warning
passers by, your stature’s senseless.
When you were all ready bent
beyond a stand up posture, a busted cane,
splintered by ambitious arthritis
of the mind made fatal
by encouragement’s deadly reach.
Why with blue your dominant feature,
would you agree
to sink so wholly hollow?
Ethel, I hear the moan in your song.
I am forced by breathing slowly
to listen intently.
Beware the want of accolade,
not knowing its corrosive power,
the unregulated, tasteless, odorless, poison-labeled
sure and certain to kill, drug’s grip?
Imposing anew review of days
more leveled, more grounded,
I hear Ethel urge me to self-graduate
to a higher education, label free,
a reimagined temperance,
if punishment’s the key,
a punishment of days of joy.
Beautiful inlaw with the last letter my friend had written me / by Kristen Brida
I can’t stay away
from this brilliant
upset, the drunk
honest bits that keeps
if nothing else, your life
remembered for me.
Can you come up
to me and tell me
I hate to keep
‘you’ and not Taylor
I have to stop
having you be
I want you to
stop being an aside
to being a remember
I want to cease
I hate to remember
the same small
handful of your life.
pandemic sleep awake / by Jane Hammons
lightning burst like a projector malfunction film lipping dark spots the white screen I thought
the sun forgot to rise
time between flashes grows longer the flashes too I thought
the sun won’t rise
or maybe garbage truck (the thud of heavy metal dumpsters hitting the ground is not the usual bellyrolling boom sound of Texas thunder)
(was I in California? I forgot)
earthquakes can thud or roll
between flash and boom
check my phonetime
stay awake sleep awake pandemictime
rotation and revolution
Inauguration Day / by Olivia Ivings
I wake too early, grope for the lights
and mourn those who didn’t survive
the last four years.
On TV, flags fly crisp on their poles,
wintry air biting them into fluidity,
but the sun glows.
My grandfather is at a funeral home;
Mom told the undertaker not to make
her dad look undead.
The mortician is a pro: my grandfather’s eyes
are open, slightly crossed, staring at something
the living can’t see.
His muscles slack, shins bruised, middle finger
calloused, hands clasped over his breast
like the president’s
hand over the Bible in assuming ownership.
Greensperson / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
On movie sets, someone replaces shrubbery
to reflect the passage of time. I used to happily
not know anything. Like a fake
silk flower, or a real one tipped forward in its pot,
I only gave the illusion of being planted.
In my twenties, I made it my job to transform
New York City into a fanciful landscape. I could
augment any natural light with the right bird
of paradise. In my local pub, I perfected a game
where you take small talk and adhere it to bare
trees. It didn’t occur to me that I might do more
meaningful work, like care politically, or pay
attention to actual winter. I hooked up a lot
rather than nurture my burgeoning thoughts.
Stronger than Gravity / by Kimberly J Simms
The way the green pasture hugs my bare feet,
the way the early leaves caress my face,
the way the soft mist writes across my skin.
You rest your tired head across my knee,
your tendril arms hold fast, attaching slow
breath to my heartbeat, unintended orbit.
Still / by Andrew Walker
The New Earth / by Karen Warinsky
When things went south that time
psychics and channelers
informed me my thinking was faulty.
They weren’t wrong and the realization
of how much I didn’t know
surrounded me like quicksand
as I struggled for truth.
No longer in the bog,
now I think
there’s not time to fulfill my quest for knowledge
getting there taking longer than any childhood car ride,
stuck in the backseat, hot and annoyed.
The new earth, 5-D, 9-D,
duality, M-theory, string or brane,
pull back far enough and all is a pulsing blob,
making me wish I was 12 again,
standing in the foyer of the church,
everything hushed and holy,
looking up at the big painting of Jesus,
feeling comfortable and happy,
feeling like I understood what he wanted me to do,
that I could
do those things.
The yarn of the world is tangled,
a skein tossed into the bottom of the basket,
hard to unwind,
and we tug on pieces we can see, that are close to us,
but wonder if we have time to get it undone,
lay it out in a line, wind it up again, carefully,
knit into something useful.
Life’s dark glasses prevent clear vision,
can bring us to a place
where faithful steps
can still walk a hopeful path.
Poem 27 / Day 27
Leaps of Faith / by Barbara Audet
Back to school jump-tastic.
A dearth of harm.
I did jump.
I will jump.
I am still capable of jumping
Long down the chalked sidewalk.
She played along
in concert with September,
her weathered friend
of metamorphosis trees
and gourds in taking modes,
taking back the calendar
to rule the balance
Lent breaking finally
by August end,
to, by leaps, stop the pain
sustained by living
more hours harmed
to her variant rhythm,
second by second,
in this world
on permanent hold,
Blaming the oddity
of comic cells,
she could only provoke
irritation in the family circle.
Exclusive to herself
damp bathroom towels,
in the red then white,
or was it the other way around,
Ford Galaxy 500.
Jump. Jump. Jump.
Accepted her inclusion
made purposefully uncrowded,
pink with gold specks wallpapered room of her own, privilege
based on sex alone.
It raised sibling ire
how well she knew.
Saw it on the faces
of those who bunked in layers,
and thought her
not so special just for
irksome differences of birth.
Boys don’t jump.
So she had to jump, jump, jump, jump, higher, higher, into books, growing up and in,
escaping face to face
judgment of her-ness,
let the rope whip
catechism made memorizing chants an easy game,
one Mississippi jump,
down the Mississippi Jump down the mighty Mississippi Jump where the boats go push, Jump.
Her words cast
surely no affection,
so simple love
What had she
to be sorely
Jump. Fall. Jump. Jump.
She was always cold,
could not fall to sleep,
not for monsters
tucked to spring
from the white semi-gloss
but some unknown
that kept her eyes
open in the noir left
by TV’s turning off,
in her nighted
up the metal trellis
acre of a home.
Jump. Jump. Jump. Trip. Jump.
Grass grew fast in autumn.
Her father home
from Bismarck or Des Moines,
with Empirin-tousled migraines,
his menu of olives, butter
and maraschino cherries,
pushed up his muscled sleeves,
fired up the electric lawn mower, his chosen spit in the face of not so modern methods in a cul de sac of tradition murmuring staccatos,
gas mowers, all in action,
he with Southern Comforts rebelling, cut the grass down.
Ask to try.
When you’re older.
Instead, here’s a heresy
for your whipping, fast mind,
a birthday gift, a Jumping Jack,
a toy, so aptly named,
the only man in your life,
to wrap the ankle like a chain
to pull you forward,
swing it round,
your leg and
Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump.
The long rope’s better.
This jump confines, intimidates.
The ankle grabbing whirlpool swallows the joy of jumping.
Like Dad, jump in place of living.
Watch me, Dad.
His first girl child,
What does he do with her,
version of himself,
minded her green gingham dress.
Monochrome school photos
show just a dress. Bangs.
A nose always Dad-like.
She recalls the dress once more.
Verdant play of squares
with cotton lace and buttons.
Bare knees, unseen in the cellulose, though not for trying to raise an elastic deficiency of sock
over the only time in her life
Photos can jump now.
They jump her back in time
to that dress, trimmed lawns.
Cars long gone to scrap.
She glances at one knee,
decades down the chalk challenges,
the old duck-shaped scar.
When did that happen.
A jump long forgotten that took away clear tissues and left just a tissue marred duck
to share her struggles.
Never wore green
NORTH TOWARDS / by Seneca Basoalto
You said this is hallowed ground / where buckling branches
outgrow their trees every fall spill
spill your hips
are sharp as you crawl between my legs, I take shape
I am the grass / I came from soil
I hold the earth against my spine & spin myself
through your sternum / I see the flocks of siskin
hearding the firmament
a note of umber in the shadow from where they pivot
releasing their wings to our pupils / I become this thing
with you / wide awake & forgetting the art of sough,
you said only spirits can hear of your holiness
like it’s a threat / I pretend it’s a promise
if I breathe, you breath / if you eat, I eat
I lose my sweatshirt in the sun as it filters through
your fingers while they claw against my mangled knees
NORTH towards heaven NORTH towards neck NORTH
you said people have died here / with ropes / being slung
side to side by the breeze that collides off the creek
I asked you why you wanted to take me to a place
where the living had gone to die / you said
just because they were alive doesn’t mean they were living
we are not a people, but a purpose / moving into alignment
crush / by Jane Hammons
purple high tops
legs like kindling sticks
black hair tufts
at your neck
yellow gumball helmet
candy apple red
you speed past
my son and I
he smiles at me
his love for you
tugs the orange socks
at circle time
Stargazing II / by Olivia Ivings
Tonight, clouds barricade
the sky, but I can’t forget
the cloudless night I saw
Jupiter. I want to see it again,
this time in Lubbock’s June.
I’ll hold a pretty girl’s hand
and listen to Buddy Holly.
I won’t use my air conditioner;
because I want to remember
being a newborn: naked
and vulnerable. Eve was the first
to realize man’s obscure truth.
Like me, she was told life began
with Adam—Eve only the product
of a rib, naked and evil. I’m no scientist,
but I trust experts when they say
there are more trees on Earth
than stars in the Milky Way
and that the warmest years on record
happened in the last twenty-two.
Cicadas emerge and die. We know
things aren’t looking good.
Weird But Lullaby / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
Dinosaur bones were mistaken for Olympic rings
Gum chewing makes helium fall from a cloud
The sun sits tall without clothes on a riverbank
A group of slingshot hummingbirds is First Flight
A flung coin is when you see colorful scents
Most loot actually buried its pirates
The air around horns weighs a whopping nest
Home is the length of a warm fingerprint
A space suit is born about every two seconds
Your heart is so ice skates, so Rubik’s Cube
The bones of many icebergs are a circus act
Still-life attacks take quick-handed depth
Little armored one, one-quarter billboard,
The world is enough when a mermaid stands.
Cluckingham Palace / by Kimberly J Simms
It started with a bright Belgium Hamburg
curious, slight spotted hen with bright eyes.
Then the feather-footed Cochin rooster,
with fluffy black feathers and red comb.
The bearded polish hen with mohawk crest.
The silver laced wyandotte too pretty
to pass up, too rare an American breed.
How many chickens is too many? Ten?
Fifty? One hundred? How many eggs per day?
Blue, brown, gold. There always seemed to be one
more frizzle, one more Ameraucana,
one olive egger, one buff laced Brahma.
Pandemic unemployment, stay-at-home
kids. Panic buying chicks offered control.
Pets who make breakfast. Fluffy yellow dotes.
Their cheeping calmed our anxious souls.
Unboxing / by Andrew Walker
In my parents’ basement I unload
boxes of missing body parts, pieces
of myself sawn off and put away
in an act of forgetting. Old books,
sewn with too-long hair, bound
in blemished skin; LEGOs cut
from teeth put back together
in a misremembered smile. An anatomy
of what is no longer everything. When
my mother finds the bin with my head,
she breaks and holds it close to mine,
with tears in her eyes. From her mouth spills:
oh you’ve changed so much and my head
in her hands thinks: there are oceans
between what has changed and what has grown.
Petroglyph / by Karen Warinsky
O world of tangled troubles,
tribes, flags and furies,
with drought-full summers,
winters bleeding into April,
swampy back roads,
fumy asphalt city streets…
I want to love you!
I want to love you with the outstretched
arms of the Chilean petroglyph man,
300 feet of him reaching out to you, to us,
arms stretched like a horizontal road to nowhere,
body spread open, bare,
his back against your rough soil
shouting his message to the sky:
I am here!
I am here!
I want to love you
as the ice caps melt,
and fire devours forests.
I want to love you like the
geoglyphs dug into your soil
thousands of years ago,
love you like the Atacama Giant,
his spiked hair grabbing moonlight
pointing the way to the seasons,
love you like the white horse glyphs of England,
galloping on ancient hillsides;
run with them into the future.
Poem 26 / Day 26
If Ogden Nash met Will Shakespeare for Coffee on Salisbury Plain / by Barbara Audet
Will I prepare for a winter’s day?
Snow is first lovely and may cooperate.
Tough shins will brake new, still stiff, sliding boots on ice.
Sweet Davey’s leash will hold him up,
but is too short to save my backside’s fate.
Guess what, it’s hot, too hot, September,
for eyes, indulging, bulging at forecasts fine.
And though I sense a changing bitter wind,
it’s still too nice to bring on the Christmas hymn;
State fair, county fair, festivals on chairs that do recline;
Map out my pre-blizzard days (in Texas?!)
with iced tea under wide hat brim;
Shakespeare’s emboldened claim
that summer will live on, is mere whim.
To smithereens dashed moments when you order
pumpkin decorations you boast of;
Death can brag all he wants, she wants,
of controlling deadlines hence;
I must retreat this summer love,
for one now waits in line
to purchase party platters to host, love;
Thus summer stands
not half a weary Stratford Avon chance.
So long as women cook and clean and prepare for Sant’r,
Raise a cup of mulled cider cinnamon cafe au lait,
and can the lovesick banter.
Nancy / by Seneca Basoalto
Counting the cream of wheat spoons would take too long,
they’ve all become sticky with maple and mascarpone
—I consume and resume to count the different bird calls
outside the screen door from the one tree in the pintsized
patch of green you share with the upstairs neighbor
each thought of you still feels like escaping into
the summer, waiflike and absorbed into the wooden
floors, inhaling the Elizabeth Taylor perfume you’d
always spray while dressing in the morning as I color
and sing along to Eureeka’s Castle — a sharp trail
sifting through the pink tiles suffusing the bathroom,
past Campbell’s soup bowls and olive green appliances,
spilling onto the 1970’s velour sofa you slept on every
night since your divorce from Tony — two empty bedrooms
and still across from you on the loveseat, I fall asleep
mid–sentence while babbling about nothing, and you
knew I would never outgrow such a quirk
—falling asleep while watching HBO made you feel
less alone even though you preferred life in cigarettes
without a man, without the exploitation of labor,
without the responsibility of perpetual endurance,
without the crying and caring for three children
this is my memory of you, beyond them
being called Ninny instead of Nana, Nancy, Granny,
motherdaughtersisterwife, but now you’ve become a
whole different person, the person you choose to be
the choice to splurge on Newport’s and nothing else
—the way you tuck sheets into cushions just to fold
them up every morning before you’ve even had a
single sip of coffee — you flip your eyelid inside out
because you can, because you know I deserve laughter
you said wandering down Garfield Ave was dangerous
but you would have us wait an hour in line for the only
authentic Italian ice in Bridgeport, and you knew that I
would always have my juicy watermelon syrup dripping
down my romper, gooey bits looped through my straggly hair
you were the only good part of my childhood — I say this
so you can know that I have taken all the imperfections
once pointed out to you and shown them love within myself.
Ars Mythos as Philomela / by Kristen Brida
Source text: The Nightingale: a conversation poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Close your eyes, you might almost
Weather Journals / by Jane Hammons
In some form I’ve kept them most of my long life recording in poems, photographs, letters, journals tweets the planet’s moody undulations where I am and why and why what happened happened though I cannot exactly say (until scientists give us the words climate change)
—thus a poem
(traumatized still by #TexasFreeze2021 I haven’t yet written words for cold abandonment greed only screamed texts to family before the phone died no electricity gas gone car dead no water the snow the cold alone in my condo
so start here)
California Storm Journal 1995
We did not forecast these extraordinary conditions.
We cannot go back in history and find anything like this.
National Weather Service
bodies bloat in feces filled backwash
toxic waste breath blossoms
homes wash away
towns pour down gutters ditches
out into arroyos
into forms newly carved unseen on any existent map
days later cars in muck bodies slime
It takes 7 days to locate the last 2 girls
16 and 17
dead in their
Camaro and Ranchero
swept up in what appeared to be waves
They were not near the ocean a lake
any significant (until it was)
body of water
On TV and in newspapers we watch their families weep
attempt to turn away from cameras
Show us your face
so that we may know
We do not suffer
(an antique couch is not a daughter)
Turn away try
you are captured
in the newspaper
I’ll cut you out
and wear your face
like a badge
like a warning
It shouldn’t have happened here the mayor the farmers the ag experts say
this is irrigation country
Empty freight cars stacked
like children’s building blocks
replace (temporarily) the washed-out bridge
Trucks carry workers out to the fields
teenagers in cars
Forward motion forward into the future
always a future
Until we are finally and forever
The Lady Eve / by Olivia Ivings
Light from my neighbor’s car
pools in the window, stretched
by my astigmatism.
On TV, card sharks aboard a ship con
some rich (naive) guy—he educates
them on palming cards.
Like Fonda, the soldier I’m seeing thinks
we are par the long course; he streamlines
his efforts for a wife
until he learns I’m not. In three weeks,
the guy I saw twice will be too dense
to recognize me,
dressed in a nickname and drunk
on Southern accents at a bar.
Soon, he’ll marry.
They’ll go to Tulum, turbulence intensifying
with each confession. He’ll leave to find
the better lover,
despite already being married to her.
What Didn’t Come to Me / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
after Jane Kenyon
You sold the last
of your wedding china
to your estate planner.
We never ate off it,
locked away in
a Williamsburg hutch.
When you called to ask
if I wanted it,
I said I couldn’t drive down.
2020 is Falling Down / by Kimberly J Simms
London Bridge is stuck open
stuck open with bascules jammed
My Fair Lady
London Bridge is stuck open
trapping barges in the Thames
My Fair Lady
London Bridge shall we fix it
shall we fix it with science
or sacrifice My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady delta is rising
delta is rising, rising
pick the watchman
My Fair Lady
Soldiers bones line the foundation
line the foundation
My Fair Lady
London Bridge is closing down
closing down like 2020
2020 My Fair Lady
Outside, every sound is a gunshot / by Andrew Walker
a wound, a reason to bolt
the doors and bury myself
in the grave of a blanket. Outside,
even the sun blares bloody,
dripping a warning onto the soft silk
of my home
of my presence.
Given time, all scars heal
but tomorrow has never been a promise
offered to my weeping hands, so I salt
this open field, raze the temple
and pillage the city that I, for so long,
mistook for a body.
Moment with a Monk / by Karen Warinsky
Mid-day, released from work
ambling home through those ancient Japanese streets,
tiny rose bushes hugging low stucco walls,
housewives bearing babies on their backs
lashed on like a living backpack,
occasional cats ignoring everyone.
Corner turned and you, imposing and 6 foot tall,
rattan hat and flowing robes,
striding with purpose straight down the street.
Sensing my presence and slower pace you
looked up, lifting your hat
and for a long moment we stared.
I half-smiled as your thoughts about me
crawled around your face,
saw you question your very existence in that moment.
You, a 30-something educated monk,
suddenly snapped out of your certain reality, and me,
a young woman let loose on the world,
pretending to teach English,
strolling slow in a floral skirt and pink sandals
in your country.
Poem 25 / Day 25
For Ruth Who Did Not Live for the 9th / by Jane Hammons
I was running to class late
the first meeting
when you appeared
big pawed muddy dog
you knocked me off my feet
I got there late
young radiant limber
all the things we used to be
was talking about Nia
based on Isadora Duncan’s dance
and I knew you had sent me
Your 50th birthday party
at the Greek Temple in the Berkeley Hills
you danced with young women
you’d taught as girls to Isadora Duncan dance
You still had one breast then
Pregnant with my first son
I read a poem
others sang or played an instrument
told a story presented you with something handmade
the kind of gifts you’d requested
Class ended the instructor said give thanks
I did for you
who sent me to dance
you were home
I knew you had cancer
You’d had it for years
forever since I’d known you years and years
We’d meet on the street
you’d say come to Bali
tell me about your house there
and your cancer
I’m on my 8th you said the last time we met
as if it were a chapter
in a book you were writing
You thought I wouldn’t know you
something as human you’d never been
It was you
I know you
big dog beautiful
Camping for a Grade with My Undergrad Archaeology Class, 2017 / by Olivia Ivings
I know nothing of camping,
but Emerson is a great place
to freeze on an October morning.
Perhaps most own a sleeping bag,
but a hammock, seven layers of clothes,
and four pairs of socks cocoon me.
Above Lake Allatoona, the sun rises
over the smog-smothered biofilm.
This is supposed to be a meditative practice;
one must wake early to hike and observe
new webs curtaining paths. If I were better
at camping, I’d be like those at the site to the left:
coffee percolating, eggs frying, and piss
sibilating as it hits a tree. Instead, I’m glazed
in dew, utterly unaware of how to start a fire
(or identify the trees shrouding their offspring
with leaves, feeding sprouts the right amount
of light, manipulating photosynthesis).
I put aside romanticism in favor of grit,
turned earnestness in for existential dread,
and I wish I learned to tie knots
or that I had a genetic pull toward it (I don’t).
I want to hike through something steep, teeming
with the organic, the real, the nourishing!
I don’t know how to purify water or distill thoughts
from mind to page. I’m familiar only with park trees
with caged rootballs to protect concrete,
but park trees don’t grow deep or wide enough
to become old-growth legacies. Heaney knew
how to predict the rain and prepare for the downpour.
The cost of my comfort lay where the fire should be,
with the old mail and twigs we piled yesterday.
The Line / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
A Shell in my Pocket / by Kimberly J Simms
white moon in clear sky
shrimp boat on the horizon
pink sunrise serene
rhythmic lap of waves
orange butterfly dances
salt breeze realigns
five dolphins churn deep
fins surfacing joyfully
through golden flecked sea
Metaverse / by Karen Warinsky
I am not a gamer.
I’m trying to live in the real world,
not the synthetic one,
stripped out most Red Dye #4, 5 and 6
from my diet and makeup,
eat fresh asparagus
not canned (thanks Mom)
not the boxed ones,
try to be honest, not fake,
I do remember playing Duck Hunt
back in college
and getting quite some satisfaction
from blasting those electronic ducks into oblivion,
as they flew across the big screen,
that pastime part of “digital antiquity” now.
Living in the Real World takes effort.
So many books to read,
news to absorb,
truths to find,
but we’re beckoned into the Metaverse
where our virtual lives might be more successful
than our real ones.
We have more than one foot in it already:
do you shop online?
did you make an avatar for your profile?
have you Zoomed?
are you Blue-toothed?
Have you fingered an Oculus? or put one on?
The Metaverse: another fun distraction
keeping the focus off of voting rights
social justice, the environment.
I mean, that’s the point of it, right?
Maybe when I’m really old and can’t move too much,
no longer holding big thoughts in my head
I’ll find Mario, Halo, Zelda,
spend my time in the metaverse,
hang out with some simulated friends
as we tie ourselves to the blockchain
and hold on.
Try again tomorrow, please / by Andrew Walker
I’m sorry but I’ve got nothing
for you today. Perhaps
tomorrow after a good night’s
sleep and a trip through dreams.
See? It just isn’t there and I
wouldn’t burden you with anything
so drab, so boring, so something.
Again, do you see? It’s really not
clever. I feel like a bad book
you were looking forward to reading.
What can I do? My pages
are tedious, my characters
two-dimensional, my prose
unsaveable. Come back tomorrow,
I’ll have something good. Piping
hot. So delectable, it’ll melt you.
Poem 24 / Day 24
Witches / by Barbara Audet
Wither the forlorn,
with hair askew,
Eroded grave markers
Stakes to bind them
Hair denied, removed,
to lesson, lessen,
calling her the
Witch of France.
in the flames,
in her pain
for her God,
their alleged God,
a convenient deity,
not save her
from this death.
Who felt her eyes
gaze past the smoke,
to a heaven
Her natural being
as her unfolding
brief to shadow,
now eternal life,
As each saintly ember
took to the air,
not to be retrieved
who saw no armor,
no leader of men,
in her fiery demeanor
at the end of days.
Her sisters, in centuries,
jabbed into their sides,
women whose pre-science wonder,
waxed dangerously wanton
in hard-corseted breasts.
Long-faced herb gatherers.
Condemned by age, ages,
its normally accumulated,
the major sin,
through which others
and be returned
If you dare.
Written up in Biblical phrases,
for suspecting life
was more than conscription,
was having awareness
for why the wind
desired in the dark,
and when rejected,
called bitch goddesses
in the juvenile press,
before gas was even capable
rough hewn altars.
for the sake
to their god
Of a Woman / by Seneca Basoalto
the body of a woman doesn’t make me a woman
—I would think only of self-flight and sour candy
you saw breasts and a period and thought to yourself
that I must be ready for a meaningless marriage
so comes your list of Army men I’d never met before
—I am not even out of middle school, I am still inside
still fractioning my green heart off to the skater boy in
my art class who buys me a slushie every day at lunch
no one in this family has ever allowed me to be innocent
—I am allowed to be full of ego and think that I am grown
as a mother, your role was to protect me, not enable me
to be reckless with the power and passions afforded to
the body of a woman doesn’t make me a woman
—but you found a way to turn your own daughter into prey
That funny feeling / by Kristen Brida
I take a bath, throw
a salt and green apple
bomb in—the sphere
disseminates and stains.
I strip slip submerge
head in water hair strands
attempt to disperse from skull
like dandelion spores.
The sound of a bomb
breaking is rain.
I am through
water and smothered in it.
breath as long as I can
pretend this is how
a world unfolds:
in its several bodies.
Next Door / by Jane Hammons
The small white clapboard house was full of canaries spatter of yellow across the room camouflaged in stained lace curtains and doilies perched like decor on teacups glass figurines pecking at soiled slipcovers. Mrs. Simer sold canaries because she was poor. Her husband murdered a man and went to jail. My great-grandmother was poor. Her husband was a drunk and already dead when I was born. All the women on my great-grandmother’s street were alone and poor. There were wars. Mrs. Simer never had any children. Only canaries. Once I pressed my hand in fresh sidewalk cement on the corner of N Kentucky St. Beneath it someone wrote 1957. I was four.
When Your Boss Says It Doesn’t Matter What You Call Guardians in Front Students / by Olivia Ivings
Lock your mouth
even if you feel your stomach burn the way it burns
when you’ve subsisted on black coffee for a week.
Your boss means well
when she says call every student’s grown-up a parent.
You know she’s overlooking at least one student:
she’s in foster care.
Her dad’s dead, and her mom’s chasing
the dragon and some guy called Clipper.
Don’t think of the shame
you felt when you brought your mom’s best friend
to Dads and Donuts. Instead, think of that time
the man who adopted you
phoned you the day your father crawled out of a Z4
like a clown to see you after twenty-two years.
Remember that your supervisor
was also once bullied for things she couldn’t control,
comforted by someone who didn’t have to.
Think of wall tacks, the way they’re planted into the drywall.
The Vine / Alicia Rebecca Myers
The Spoils of Progress / by Karen Warinsky
Her survival skills included
and 30-minute recipes.
She could adjust the Buick’s carburetor
and didn’t take crap off
surly clerks and salesmen.
She grew rose bushes, not vegetables,
mended, but didn’t sew,
leaned on modern conveniences;
Aqua Net for her hair,
Raid for the bugs.
She questioned nothing,
read no labels,
poured Red Dye #6 into the cake frosting
and put # 12 on her lips.
That was my mom,
same as most moms in my town,
cooking supper in Teflon and aluminum,
buying us Captain Crunch for breakfast,
telling us to be home by dark.
Stunned by an offering of raw vegetables at a party,
scared of the hippies in our apartment house
who kept offering me nuts and granola,
my awakening was slow,
finally finding the path to the herbs and fibers,
the hidden histories,
the lost knowledge,
the inner self,
the ways of natives,
trying to rectify my past
hanging from the neck of all the pasts,
and give a push forward.
I tell others I am afraid of the barber / by Andrew Walker
but that is not the whole truth.
I use it to measure the parts
of myself that I want disappeared,
as I’ve lost my toolbox (though even
twisted into the tightest braid it makes
for a lousy saw). If I choose
to doze in the middle of a bath, I can
simply noose it around my towel rack
and, like a mother, it will keep me
from entering into the pool of my
darkest thoughts. When I lie in bed
I can curl it into an almost-face, perfect
(and just scruffy enough) to talk to
until we both fall asleep wrapped
in each other. I guess when I say
that I am afraid of the barber, I am not
admitting everything that keeps me
from saying goodbye to even a single strand.
Poem 23 / Day 23
Summer Serenade / by Barbara Audet
Veiled, as if humidity were the fabric of my mask.
Lifted, as if descending front, newly cold,
could inflate collapsed lungs.
Arrived, as if the turning of the planet
righted the character of climate,
ending its thievery of time outdoors.
Released, as if the door opened
to no draft of hungering heat for the first time
in the history of summer ending
and autumn delivered.
Unhinged, as if the President,
all the kings and queens,
commanded leaves to drift in baths of color,
your spirit washed beside these,
with your mood so glued
to the workings of the weather,
degrees down sets you free.
Beguiled, as if the tiny creatures in your mind
could not nag you woken to the sense that mercury lies,
and you’ll regret the early celebration for broken breezes
because they smuggle winter in past the fall.
Self-Portrait as Delco / by Kristen Brida
“Ruin is formal.” –Emily Dickinson
when I left home, there was
the question of my voice
how if I am to demonstrate
my intellect and poetry
my voice must echo
that same sentiment
now all I keep thinking is
how fear surrounds a dialect
until it earns
Kate Winslet an Emmy.
In spite of this newfound fame
I let loose my throat
let my L’s glide
into any surrounding vowels,
my O’s propel forth
phlegm from my sinuses
shift my thinking from my voice:
a nasally garbage disposal into my own cadence.
Still, some changes
cannot be undone
I miss the way wooder
pools and flows out my mouth
I used to joke the phrase “Delco Poet”
is the strangest combination
how foolish that was, how I
did I not register that so much
poetry depends on a sound
Family Portrait: California 1938 / by Jane Hammons
up and down the state
of mud and rain
by the side of the road
Someone had a camera
In the dream / by Olivia Ivings
My grandfather rests on a kitschy hearse,
toes tipping out of a white sheet.
Two mannequins perch on the body
rather than the horses or the rumble seat.
The corpse glistens in oil when I pull the sheet back;
blood pools like any other rotting mass.
My grandmother has gone feed crows,
and my parents are watching my youngest brother
run a race while I stare at a yellowing shin,
thinking about how one might dress a corpse.
When the mannequins start jumping on the body,
I can’t breathe, but the corpse animates.
My grandfather stands, says nothing, but takes off
to watch my brother run.
When I wake to the sound of my dog pushing
my phone off the bed, my teeth hurt.
Bear Shreds Interior / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
Many times I’ve run
a non retractable claw along
a door panel. Before wreaking
havoc on upholstery, my glinting
eyes, the width of a beam
axle, rib you through the driver’s
window. Don’t leave anything out
you wouldn’t want taken.
I crawl inside to fatten up:
pry open your adolescence
to extract seeded cadence,
rip apart a dinner party
story just for juicy
measure. What I love most
about flying foam is how it lands
in patterns barely audible.
I never slash from a place
of aggression, only hunger
for the sound of polyester
tearing. Listen. It’s the music
of trucks and Colorado.
Hear chassis. Hear ouster.
Elk have Antlers. / by Kimberly J Simms
Tigers have tusks. Homo sapiens pack a punch.
Teen boys are locking horns in the locker room,
in the abandoned field, raw courage unyielding.
Planting their heels in their evolutionary past,
the proportions of their hands curl into fierce fists.
They’re seeking the bone of contention, rough and tumble
nature that’s evolved for male-male competition.
The bones in their faces designed for the siege.
Their upper bodies commanding weapon-grade force.
Their blood is rising like sap in the oak.
Keeping Summer / by Karen Warinsky
Yes, yes, it’s the first day of fall
but I am not rushing to put out pumpkins,
slap a leafy orange garland around my door,
drink pumpkin ale.
Why the hurry?
The recollective cold
and dreary dark days are coming.
Can’t we just use our sense and will power
to keep the fawns,
the green soft grass,
the shoeless, fleece-less summer
one month more?
I’ll willingly kill the mosquitos,
sweep up those prompt, premature fallen leaves
from the steps,
the end of the driveway,
and brush them off my geraniums,
my potted ivy
just to see sweet Sol’s face
shining back at me, his loyalist lover.
I want my windows open,
my ceiling fan turning, humming its quiet refrain,
restraining me from worry,
keeping the mood light,
the summer sunset in the sky.
when the phone rings, I get anxious and bite at the tips of my fingers so I rarely ever pick up but / by Andrew Walker
to my ear
or a clock
I don’t know
how I know
but it is
and I breathe
with it like
you get it
i get lost in
click in my
throat when I
I hear my want
by the always
and I close
Poem 22 / Day 22
An Earth in Motion / by Barbara Audet
To move from roof to sky to roof once more,
tasks the insecure to risk a loss of footing.
Dispersion by design snubs its nose
at protecting emotional property.
Determined, fear suspended,
requires steady flows of liberty.
Sky to roof. Hearts rendered up for social viewing.
Steps taken, one way underway, those in transit fight,
hands pressed up against transfixing natures,
the secure, the More,
whose business is to disempower generations
stained, oppressed, cross-checked off
by motion robbing, taxing ambiguities,
resistant to release the Less
from make mine macro, make mine micro bondage.
Roof to sky. Restrictions apply.
Diaspora is man kindled.
Holding the lead, man most mean.
Whips burn. Ropes burn. Chains burn.
We’ve gotten so good at setting skin ablaze.
We do it in courtrooms. We do it on horseback.
We do it with words, with slurs,
with anger rapt with that tone of righteous rapture.
All to tie down, keep pruned the branch of privilege,
sprung from guarded trees, a putrid forest of humanity
passionate to limit the size of its stark love affair with fireside security.
Who are we really?
Sky to roof. Policing, policy for senses.
And on two days in September, how can two,
such diverse in thought, meaning, flights take off at once?
A rocket speeds past the rim of Earth, its cargo, average men, average women,
exploding to a place where other worlds can see them,
see them cast their shadows on a plane below,
its cargo, media moment dregs, diaspora reneged,
on a heading to potential death, definite obscurity.
Humans marching, loaded into a ship again,
one crew on its own, one crew pushed by man, again,
carried by machine again, this time on air currents
that can either save or send to perdition.
Roof to sky. Unending.
Animals once knew how to win a sweepstakes route endeavor.
Defying hazards, on two feet, on four feet, they island’d over,
maneuvered in, ahead of hold you back mechanisms.
Over and over. Clawed for each
and every square inch of Earth’s substance,
soils, loams, clays that lodge under overgrown fingernails.
Created a vocabulary for what we live in,
live on, ought to share more of.
Earth’s inventory’s no longer up for grabs.
Oceans. Lakes. Ponds. Pools. Reservoirs. Rivers. Flora. Fauna.
Words that harbor deep desire to control, resent competition.
Fathers, blistered feet led us before, beyond familiar shorelines,
to shores that bore the mark of familiarity
at one juncture or another.
Roof to sky. Who are we really.
Toes & Tall Tales / by Seneca Basoalto
I know too well how tempting the grave can be
when your husband who was placed inside of his
has found a way to take flight into your room
your bed, where he can’t sleep / next to the pillow
that belongs to the man who murdered him
who only comes to visit four times a year
bearing banter against mood rings at solstice
forget about my spine
how I spin under sheets
it’s the pills that tame me
then take me to wonderland
I always assumed the soil was a canon
from which your body would explode into
have you come to prove to me that I was wrong?
or are you here because of skin? those who are left
to dawdle are said to be tied to something remaining
here on earth
all these toes & tall tales / I’ve always had a loose
tongue, you said you loved / & maybe this is why
you cannot go, being written again & again into a poem
if so, just know that someday I know I will get mine,
scratching / & still alive, like Alice burning in her casket
Notes on a harvest moon in the city / by Kristen Brida
night shifts, the moon
moves towards the skyline
spire, a blade
halves the full moon
twinkle and provides
an image on my phone
a tree turns into a
shadow of itself, behind
a flameless and burning moon
I lay a hand
on my apartment window.
I spread my fingers
so the lights
from the Liberty tower
pool in the spaces between them.
Bergamo (March 2020) / by Jane Hammons
Obituariusa: record; death record
in L’Eco de Bergamo
in a viral video Giovanni Locatelli
over the whisper
of obituary pages
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
folded one over the other
rectangular portraits faces of the dead
laid down the cards dealt
Bergamo (June 1986)
Driving down from the Alps
we stop because the rain is torrential
and we’re lost
In the hotel room, I read NYRB
he reads Rolling Stone
we fall asleep to bells tolling
bells tolling wake us
sunshine and we are on the road again
we drive to an old part of the city
where the post office is on a hill
a white horse swishes its tail below
in a pasture
the earth is red
bells tolling tolling bells
L’Eco de Bergamo L’Eco de Bergamo L’Eco de Bergamo
Work From Home / by Olivia Ivings
Hawks and squirrels tip-toe
across the fence like funambulists.
They don’t break bones, create
blood-bubbling canyons like I would
if I tried to follow in their likenesses.
I’d plummet into buckled concrete,
even at my best: tall, akimbo posture
and fly-aways tucked into a skull-tight ponytail.
An orange cardinal stands on the bay laurel.
My knees straighten, mouth widening
in joyful adoration because something
so dingy exists. None of my friends believe me
when I tell them about the encounter
over pints of warm beer; Google validates
what my eyes have seen.
Light in Its Prime / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
When a woman ages, it isn’t just that a network of fine cracks and intendations overlays her skin to give her a webbed but familiar appearance; her entire facial infrastructure falls. Bones lose mass and drift. The orbital rim widens, causing a sunken, tired look around the eyes. Fat travels south and pools in paunchy pockets at the jawline. We shape-shift, seemingly overnight and in individual fashion, from oval to square, from heart to bog. Most difficult to accept is how a single miscalculation from my past, a sunburn from an impromptu beach trip, can manifest decades later as loss of elasticity. Now, when I observe my forty-four-year old face in the mirror, I catch sight of how I appeared at thirty. Transient luminous threads. What elicits fear is the disconnect between my expectations and physical evidence. As a child, I thought the word was ultraviolent. It’s a myth we gaze up at the sky and wish upon the light from long-dead stars. Visible stars are still very much alive.
Hard to Give a Shit These Days / by Kimberly J Simms
With nods to Lou Reed and Wilfred Owen
Hard to hear St. Paul’s bells, this constant parade
of funerals, this is no time for shaking hands,
no time for us to disengage. There is no time.
Only the monstrous anger of the nurses,
drawing down the blinds, with patients drowning
from covid-corrupted lungs, each day another thousand,
a shortage of hearses. There is no time.
No consolations, please. The janitor is teaching
math to fourth grade. If you could hear the cacophony
of children wheezing, parents brought to tears.
The white-collar bankers spent a spring indoors,
the news droning on, but no one wants to hear it anymore.
No one wants to be here without you.
No time to think of the voices we’ll never hear again
while maskless politicians salute their flags
clutching Miami, Boise, New York in a black garbage bag.
Omission / by Andrew Walker
“Jesus is just a Spanish boy’s name” – Frightened Rabbit
Cupped in a palm like a wafer, my body
is washed in prayer. I hold god
in holy hand—though I am white
I am told I look like Jesus,
though I am full, I am told
I look starved. I have drowned
in wine and tasted my blood,
I do not float upon the surface
of this sea but grasp at any arm
reaching out to touch me. Perhaps
winter is a warning of recurrence. Perhaps
winter is the reason I still find
my fingers folding over each other,
each breath a countdown, taunting
the parts of myself still afraid
of what comes next. Perhaps
it is my own omission that traps
me here, ties me to a faith resurrected
each time I see the shadow of a cloud
consume a mountain. Every April,
when the snow only hides at the peaks
of ourselves, I do not tell those
who bring me gifts for my birthday
that I was born on Easter.
The Case for Hope / by Karen Warinsky
All we have really,
inviolate and sacred,
is this feeling
rising in our chests,
radiating from eyes and smiles
(real, virtual or an elbow touch)
that we can go on.
Imagination lifts us to the future
and we pave its road
with golden bricks of envisaged experiences,
encounters with friends and strangers,
chances to right what is wrong.
That is how we do this.
That is how we conquer our current despair.
Poem 21 / Day 21
Penny Thoughts / by Barbara Audet
God paid me
for the privilege
of living low today.
just a shine
on the asphalt,
Lincoln facing forward,
(no coward ever he,
whether man or minted).
with my clever
tip of the toe,
flipper girl with style,
just for luck’s sake,
to hold on
but that is the way of it.
I don’t know why.
these wayward, wayside
Though hardly copper,
—copper in name, now.
Should I dare
to make a Federal case
of altering how it came
to rest, from hand
or a game of pitch
against the curb
to the curb
I date myself talking pennies
at the curb, I know.
I never flip a dime
or urge a nickel over,
or heaven forbid
are salary worthy.
I stoop proud for them
I won’t spend them.
Mom says hi in my head
as I bend to bring
the dime to home.
Dad says hi in my head
with a nickel necessary curtsy.
A quarter reminds me
of buying full bags
of penny candy
to take to the drive-in.
Spaghetti red laces,
than a puckered mouth.
Keen sight gifted,
by way of introversion,
Coins on the ground
are a lost art,
scant and far between,
too many wasted in wishing,
leaving few to find
for fortune’s folly,
these stingy digital days.
Aubade as Gus / by Kristen Brida
(as requested by Katie Richards!)
I stretch and regard the sun
my eyes blink, their shine
twins the morning light.
I go up to my mother’s desk
I chew her African violets
I promptly spit them out
I clean my mess, scratching
the mahogany in the process.
My father locks me out,
at which point, I pound on the door
as if I had been abandoned, until
one of my subordinates caves,
and feeds me my breakfast
forty-five minutes ahead of schedule.
Today they appear
to have bought me a new bowl.
They have placed it by the television.
It dispenses my food.
But they are still sleeping?
Still, I will throw
my mother’s AirPods
I will pry open my father’s
dresser and swat his socks
until they say goddammit Gus
and gesture me to my new bowl
for I still need them to regard me
for mama to receive my head butts
before I dare grace them
before I curl up between them
like a shrimp scrampi
and rest my peeties on my papa’s arms.
Scans / by Jane Hammons
I scan my sister’s ashes.
And other things.
Her jewelry. Scarves. Baby teeth. Hair.
I want to write a memoir.
Bits of bone. Tissue. Bits of me. My kidney that became hers.
One of her earrings—Tiger’s Eye—rectangle with a circle cut out of the center I plug with ash. The scanner fills it all with light I shatter like a kaleidoscope with my photo app’s healing tool.
I want to write a memoir.
Instead I’m looking. Seeing. Rearranging. Knowing differently. Learning. Breaking. Healing.
A necklace. Turquoise. Coral. Silver. Her colors. Also red. In her last years she turned to purple black. The last gift I gave her was a bright orange vest. Faux fur. To keep her warm. To brighten her (did she want to be faux warmed and brightened?) She was always cold, losing weight, not eating so she wouldn’t have to adjust her insulin.
I polish her jewelry scan filter fade crop. Manipulate.
I want to write a memoir.
I upload the images to edit instead. Play with color. Saturation. Exposure. Bringing out scratches on the surface of my scanner. Scratches made by her bones not reduced to ash.
My sister’s ashes cling to photographs contracts and other documents I scan.
I want to write a memoir.
The ashes won’t have it.
Untitled / by Olivia Ivings
Crumpling under July’s humidity,
I notice a few fireflies blinking
on the unlit path. I’m a thousand miles
from Nacogdoches and your parent’s
concrete floors where we sat,
making plans to skip class.
We were supposed to stomp
the Psalms during a square dance,
but instead, we went to the Indian restaurant
across the street from our Episcopal school.
Tonight, I’m thinking about you—
your moon-round mouth widening—
singing the opening words
to “May the Circle Be Unbroken”
with the choir during chapel.
Remember when you broke your arm
falling during a hike past Lanana Creek?
Your left limb halved like a blood orange;
juice pooled beneath papery skin.
America Is / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
Written using language from an 1987 textbook found on a sidewalk in Ithaca on 9/20/21
Freethinking Headstone Wounded Kindergarten
Conscripted Skyscraper Supreme
Barbeque Primary Stranger
Forever Dollar Gilded
Second Fortune Found Poem / by Kimberly J Simms
Do not give up, the beginning
is always the hardest. A new
path will improve your true timing.
Your strong ability to trust
fuels your ability to love.
Your yesterday is unjust
but your tomorrow has new truths.
A former flame will return home.
Beware, don’t throw away your youth!
Send a letter to squash an old
dispute. Your heart will skip a beat.
Remember, in all things be bold.
If you don’t like today’s fortune
a new one can be told.
Hidden Sugars / by Andrew Walker
Cupping candy in my hand
I wait to see the colors
fate has chosen for me, wanting
blue or yellow, understanding
they will all taste like chocolate.
I carry it with me as I leave,
in hopes to find somewhere I can
enjoy my sugars in silence, without
direction or attention. It would be
a place well hidden, like my candy,
space where form is not sealed
behind melting rainbows. Wandering,
I feel lost but not homesick,
anticipation claws at the corners
of myself, revealing the blood (the sugars?)
beneath my coat. When my stomach
grumbles, I find a spot behind
a bench advertising a weightloss
pill, plastered beside a belly
that looks not too different from mine
and lick what remains from my sweaty
palm, savoring the light crunch
from the shell,
or maybe bone.
The Other Cheek / by Karen Warinsky
There becomes a point where it is too red,
and turning that cheek
requires the whole body, too,
and the mind,
and the ability to walk away.
The offering plate of love and friendship
in ways you never imagined
you must stop,
though you persisted long years
with talks and compliments and gifts,
all pushed back at you
until any feeling
or sentiment for the person,
left your body,
a bird off a limb
an evaporating cloud,
and you won’t return
though this forgiveness seems accomplished,
you are removing yourself
and your cheek.
Poem 20 / Day 20
That Dickinson Woman / by Barbara Audet
Dear Emily D said funerals seared her brain,
set her reeling toward a failing plank is life disaster,
while others, only mourners in her way,
saw spectacle rehearsed alone.
Dear Emily D said her broad heavens tolled,
but the churching crowds were deaf,
walking, kneeling, hovering, happily
drummed out of pulsed religion.
Dear Emily D saw costs for regal’s clothing,
accounting chalices, robed robin mouths
open for drops of worm meat,
we all must envy as we starve.
Dear Emily D sheltered a smile
for knowledge so profound,
so awkward in her era of weighted gowns,
when unvapored women were diseased if sane.
10 HABITS I WISH I COULD QUIT / by Seneca Basoalto
Following my father underground / as if I have fogottom that he is the living embodiment of an escape
room / the painting whose eyes move when you move / something about a black light will unleash your
Responding with haste / undermining the tangible muscle of comfortable desperation / I recognize that
vein & the twitch in his eye / it is just like mine
Rationalizing why I should not let go / move on / break free / only learning how to count so I can
understand years, ages, and history / how many sutures have come loose from where another white
man mutilated me
Spinning myself into a sadness / as if I couldn’t stop seeing the ghosts if I would just tell them goodbye /
but I don’t and I won’t / I am a globe
Appropriating eternity & calling it loyalty / love, without self interest / just tunnel vision set to repeat so
that it replays until plans become 6 feet of mud on a damp summer afternoon somewhere in the humid
Purposely killing your garden & laughing when you cry about how these are our children / I throw
bluebells at you so you can wipe your tears / as it makes me uncomfortable & we both know I cannot
Peeling the film of opiates from my buck teeth as my father begs for me to let him lick it off instead /
ignoring the presence of the man he murdered so he would not have to cancel his proposal / okay, go
ahead & lick me clean
Stealing hearts & diamond rings that I will never give back but do not care enough about to not misplace
/ yes, I will marry you / yes, I will love you / but I refuse to be happy about it
Miseria / her haunts / catching them like the fireflies of her youth & eating them whole / we cannot live
like this / with only an idea of ecstasy
Calling my father by another name / daddy / Desi / old man / captain / killer / cry baby / volcano /
husband / secret / epitome of all & yet never being enough
Petrichor / by Kristen Brida
After the party, we waited
for our ride back to the city.
The moon’s jeweled jaundice
turned thick pines into gossamer
and I had mentioned how we,
usually surrounded by glass and light
pollution, never get to see the moon
and how I did not realize this
until I saw this distant yolk.
You had nodded along
as if this yearning for the moon
was an inherent fact
I had said something about the smell
of rain mixing with asphalt, grass
and exhaust residue,
how I loved it. We were both
staring at the moon’s crenellations
when you had said there is name
for the scent that follows the rain.
When called it petrichor
you twinned the sky.
How you brought me language,
another word for something
I sought to name, and you
know how I love to name, to call
I felt a form of burning
Real Estate / by Jane Hammons
I have written stories poems and essays about places—the farm I grew up on—a house my
children and I lived in (once a man broke into the basement and shit on the floor!)
The story of my folks’ house—a second home to my children and to me—I have told mostly
with photography. Birthdays. Holidays. Summer vacations. Weekends. Many many days
decades spent on the beach. Sand waves body surfing kelp crabs buckets sun screen towels.
If I were to write about that house on Santa Cruz Ave now
I’d write about decline decay and disrepair
grab bars to steady the wobbly
walker in the entry way
raised chairs for shower and toilets
I prefer to dwell in memory
Today I dealt in real estate after weeks of emails New Listings for Jane!
Hearting things on Trulia. Driving by houses to see if I want a further look.
Today I looked then tallied for all interested parties my worth
accounts and assets
phone calls followed and texts emails e-signatures on documents
The house I hope to buy has been home to only the couple who built it in 1993.
On paper we are Seller and Buyer
But in that house they
raised a daughter
in the garage
restored an old Chevy truck
in the backyard
dug a well
The listing for my parents’ home will someday read
location location location
walking distance to Seacliff Beach
all that can be said for the raggedy bungalow
trying hard not to fall apart before they go
The lemon tree gone already
hundreds of lemons their juice tart—blossoms sweet—glorious the meringue pies
Near the front door under the eaves, friends placed a bench in memory of my brother who died
when he was 40
Upstairs in my folks’ closet my sister’s ashes sit in a tub on a shelf above the shoe rack.
In the side yard beneath the kitchen window the rock garden my mother insisted on moving
from New Mexico pieces of mica lava flint and grinding stones
I’ve invested in that real estate but memory and story are not tendered in exchange for an
abode. And so I turn to Seller’s home.
If there are poems about it I will read them.
If there are poems in it I will write them.
This is my offer.
Ode to a Bookshop / by Sharayah Hooper
I love to be surrounded by words,
the scent of them printed on paper close enough to touch.
Spines against my fingertips
feel like home.
Every twitch of my eye beholds a new story,
a lexicon to latch onto.
I inhale sentences and absorb images.
Heros and villians alike
dance around my shoulders in an epic battle
that continues long after I close the door behind me.
Parasomnia II / by Olivia Ivings
My grandfather is in this dream.
He has spent fourteen years
in a casket, body
filled with formaldehyde—
it’s turned his breath ripe, death
-rot so sharp I can smell
it even in my dreams.
His dry eyes have decayed,
but he still has a lisp
when he says his Sweetie
is the finest lady
this side of the divide.
Beautiful Music / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
The way to play the theramin is to never touch
the instrument. Interference creates melody. Even
swaying can alter the electromagnetic field.
Our house shakes from the vibration of trucks
on the deteriorating highway. I mostly feel
these tremors in the bedroom when I set out
to write, distracted by the sound of a circular
saw or the shadows made by moving hands
in videos of theremin players. I prefer not knowing
what will come next. In fifth grade, when I got
my first period in Morehead Planetarium,
it suddenly made sense, the way a curved mirror
gathers and concentrates light. The distance
between what I intend to write and what
I actually do is a kind of confirmation
and faith in prospect, in span, in air.
5 Balloons in the Sky / by Kimberly J Simms
It’s Sunday afternoon, and I notice five foil
balloons sailing above the oak canopy.
My mind immediately pictures a tearful child
wearing a party hat, the bright stars, hearts,
and circles slipping from chubby fingers:
birthday candles on a cartoon cake, streamers,
the squealing of tag, the excitement of presents.
Then my mind goes to a white country church,
heartfelt remembrances scrawled on slips
of paper to be bound to each balloon,
a memorial for a thirty-something mother.
Two distraught girls trying to write final words
to lift up to heaven on the wings of a foil balloon.
Are these shines in the afternoon sky
more remembrances from youngsters left behind?
How many balloons will sail from 120,000
Covid-19 orphans in a world that is so unkind?
That Hole / by Karen Warinsky
Feet solid on the ground
ethics held fast
most challenges faced
I was immovable, committed,
sorrows didn’t break me.
There it is some days,
the hollow center
that never filled with
chores or books
or movies or children.
It yawns like a bored lover,
a pang I try to fill
on this page,
this keyboard’s touch
my truest companion,
letting me pound out truths,
sometimes create what I’d like to be.
The David Byrne Clause / by Andrew Walker
When David Byrne flippy flops himself from the Hollywood Pantages stage and onto my living room floor, my American instincts kick in and I grab the baseball bat I keep by the front door in cases of intruders or Mormons and begin playing whack-a-mole with the tiny man in a big suit and find myself thinking that for a man so difficult to pin down artistically, he isn’t very versatile when it comes to dodging the blows of a person afraid for his life and with his last breath he chokes up something nebulous like a lyric or a curse and I ignore it but maybe I shouldn’t have because when I wake up the next day I find myself trapped inside his massive suit, spacious and hanging from my limbs like icicles from a tree and I find myself speaking in tongues and shaking anxious and growing smaller inside the suit (or maybe it is growing around me) until I can slip through the threads and I am lying on my floor, naked and afraid of my shrinking body just like before, same as it ever was.
Poem 19 / Day 19
A Tale of Two Women / by Barbara Audet
One barren, dull
as dank dishwater
once halted, then intensely urgent,
a prison ticking
of maladjusted clock hands
around a doomsday circumference
swept past, upended
the forward motion
of two Barbaras.
Never met, never to meet
except by 70 point headline histrionics.
Byline states circumstances
of the younger’s death, strangulation.
Her last squeezed to finality breaths
whipstitched in a time-corrugated
lead type permanence,
just before the murder moment.
The elder Barbara’s unwilling
… could it be,
no, mere pure survival,
miles down the lone,
now always lonely
except by her still beating heart.
If One lived the Other died.
Not a Potter prospectus
for literary stomachs.
eardrum rupturing truth.
A Mayan-worthy disappearing act
of sacrifice, of fatal mayhem
misconstrued by officials
in the early day.
She was never a missing person.
She was a precious victim.
Bones reaching from a roadside
for Pennsylvania spring air,
available for reconsideration
of a life stolen.
The elder looked
into his face three times.
Can I get you a soda from the machine over there.
Her parka hid her face.
Can I give you a ride into town.
The shadows made her appear younger than her years.
The bus looks late.
I can help you.
The arrow missed its mark.
winged past her shoulder.
My God, you are too old for me
to waste my time killing you.
I need another.
Recognition of type, flesh not metal,
the mutual end of a child,
loss of innocence of all.
Two Barbaras greeted
his black truck driving death.
One hid from him in her book of Sherlock Holmes stories.
The other whisked from a schoolbound street,
her backpack on her shoulders,
no defense against hand-wrenched determination.
His open trench coat over black T-shirt.
His crooked teeth.
FBI profiles, warn
serials sport facial deformity.
The elder sketched him in her mind.
Transcribed the terror into pencil scratchings,
faxed his features
to an ignoring band of badges.
She just ran away.
Pay no attention
to the Barbara
behind the screen.
The parka princess will return.
Her lady in waiting is just overly nervous.
He circled them like any prey.
Came close enough
to leave her
when the child
was taken in her place.
cold wild / by Seneca Basoalto
snow settles in the desert
even if it doesn’t survive
camping out in ashen feathers
of peregrine that have circled
that they would think there
is anything left here, on my
from where I once howled
that was something I could
have become a coyote
instead of a woman, eating
flesh, & not just bargaining
for its safety
a small part of me still holds
out hope for how I am earth
I have to believe
bones that are cold can still
find a way to rush the wild
UNSETTLING / by Jane Hammons
thrown for a loop
(another failed romance)
I’d planned to retire early anyway
(I hadn’t planned to move)
but 30 years in California I thought, just go
that I went in the direction of the failure was coincidence
few dared ask if I moved to Austin because of him
(he lives in Houston)
I bought a place
(first time homeowner at 62!)
I didn’t intend to stay
so long in Texas
then COVID made selling moving finding a place to live
then vaccines and Austin prices balloon
I land in New Mexico
(grew up here; home? don’t know)
13 days until the lease on my sublet ends
I have no plan
(I’m 68; I do have a will)
I have been a lot of ages
but have not
found the number that
Parasomnia / by Olivia Ivings
Mom drops me off in a convent.
All the rooms look like hers:
yellow walls, red curtains,
but the tub brims with blood.
A nun steeps in hemoglobin
and uses a claw cracker
to break my friend’s nose off,
drinks from his skin-wrapped skull
like a tourist drinks
a rum cocktail out of a coconut.
Extrospection / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
Sliver of expired finishing powder
Vintage enamel box with naval scene
Moon’s anorthositic cratered highlands
Camouflaged fawn separated by design
Hairline-cracked blue cornflower casserole dish
I wish I wasn’t distant as a daughter
Some Things Stay Dark / by Karen Warinsky
The heart of her story is worse than mine.
Don’t think I could have survived that
or shared with readers.
I keep most of my pain
share what feels safe
though the darker stories lounge in beach chairs
around the pool of my mind,
sometimes ask for a drink,
know they don’t have to move much
to get me to respond,
just a wave of a hand.
They have no deadlines to meet.
No place they have to be.
Know they can’t really be evicted,
though I have tried.
Time didn’t heal all wounds
but they have faded like a magazine
left in the back window of a car,
sun bleaching out the color,
and those random tears that come up
during melancholy songs or sad movies
can be lived with,
wiped quickly so others don’t see
what I carry inside.
I E X A M / by Andrew Walker
Neither number one nor number two
are actually better but I say “one”
because I have tricked myself
into believing this was a test
I could fail. When the doctor
asks me to read the third line
I see I A M N O T
I say I A N M C T
and he scribbles a number somewhere
before staring deeply into me.
After, I am trying on glasses
without my glasses, glancing
into a reflection I cannot recognize.
When I pay the kind woman
at the front, the receipt says
“1 Arm (1 Leg will do)”
and in my indecision, I lob
off both and drag myself
into the sunlight that looked,
more or less, exactly the same.
Poem 18 / Day 18
Autumn Thespian / by Barbara Audet
Wiping off alcohol airbrush
before citrine dressing room lights,
interrupted by violet-braced shadows.
Eye by eye, lash, brow.
Her skin clean, raw, new.
Her costume minded
to her hips,
of hours spent
at the whim
of paying customers.
Wands, cups, pages.
Practice hallows divination
to manage rent, lights, food.
Silver protein strands
reflect the woman
behind dramatic myth.
with all in range
staring at the face
behind the makeup.
The show goes on.
Capote / by Seneca Basoalto
I live in venerable skin of temple, fermented & miscarrying
damned & haunted
by the eradication of how all at once you existed,
then all at once, you did not
alabaster emblem is your mouth
coughing & leaving earthquakes along the potholes &
sidewalk weeds / you snuff the paparazzi with pelicans
invading chin and belly / a bellow of monologue
stampeding the ball of your fist like Capote
and a guilty catholic priest
as empty pizza trays lodge
like lust inside the pockets of your cheeks, decaying teeth
as one by one you lost Leo sunrise for midnight in Cancer
the script presumes this is why it’s so easy for you to understand the classics, mocking men who don’t dare
as you dare / intrusive baritone & indecision barrage,
the alphabet of erotic timing comforted by a youth
rottingly raised in sleepy hollow banks that revere
the way you come to life against a farmhouse sink
inside a house you broke into
in a town no one can pronounce
I authored my worth from how stiff your bones became
when your fingers were plump & turned air to plums
& I puckered my strep throat to siphon your life like maple
from stumpy legs that knotted roots with the libertine
I did everything to deserve how traumatic this all became.
At the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History / by Jane Hammons
I am only interested in Oppenheimer-related artifacts and information
obsessed for much of my life with the man who fell in love with New Mexico
a sickly child he rode horseback
recovered his health
again and again
In his published letters and his poetry Oppenheimer writes of beauty
river sky sunrise towering trees bird songs colorful sunsets
easy to love
I look at weapon casings identical to those used for Fat Man and Little Boy
the handsome man
deep poetic eyes
romantic tousle of untamed mad scientist hair
sexy knee-high rider’s boots
Oppenheimer wrote no words of love for the Jornada del Muerto
dry xeric shrublands
no poems for this section of the great
Chihuahuan Desert or
no horseback rides in
no poems for the Fra Cristóbal Range
no San Andres
In Los Alamos Enrico Fermi calculated the odds of incinerating the entire state of New Mexico:
1 in 100
In the mountains where theories were developed plans made bombs built
Oppenheimer’s brother Frank designed
Outside I find the replica tower—the thing I came to see—holding its replica of
The Gadget: the tower is higher than I imagined; The Gadget smaller. I feel nothing.
Exit is only possible from the inside. I hurry through educational interactive sections of my
history—Cold War Cuban Missile Crisis Fall of the Berlin Wall Yellow Cake.
It is a display of toys—Lionel Trains—that slows my departure.
Radioactive Waste Flat Car (1985)
Three Mile Island Boxcar (1979)
Burnout / by Olivia Ivings
Eventually, summer’s heat wanes,
and winter emerges from a low-lying fog.
Even in the subtropics, people cover their cacti
in sheets a few nights a year.
The orange trees open like hands,
displaying the fragrant fruit to a blue sky
before dropping them to rot in the weeds.
Three dead birds lay splattered
in the road this morning. Two are barely recognizable,
the other somewhat whole.
It’s like Polluck and Dali made a love-child
on the asphalt for some unsuspecting jogger
to see. They lay open like flowers
and drain across the canvas. When moving
fast enough, the view is surreal,
but this isn’t beautiful.
It’s gruesome; bodies so destroyed
they’ll never experience rigor mortis.
Will the scavengers even know to eat them?
Who scrapes the unrecognizable dead
from the places they are forced to give in?
Hot Peppers / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
Without announcing it, I leave the dinner table
to go in search of hot peppers. A hollowed-out
black walnut like a motorcycle helmet nearly trips me,
but I remove my shoes, plunge a big toe
into its crevice. I think about my parents
selling their home. I bet they were elated
when they first brought me back from the hospital.
At night, I go through my son’s folder
and stuff his artwork into the trash, hide it
at the bottom, because minimalists teach us
process matters more than paper. I’ve bitten
into three peppers already and can’t find one
hot enough. I call to our feral cat
over the hum of an emerging brood
of bigger cicadas. Riverbank grape vines
overrun our brick oven. Earlier on the phone,
my mom said, “Do you want
the butter churn? What about those flowers
preserved behind glass?” I can’t visualize,
so I asked her to describe them in more
detail. “You know. Pressed.”
I want to make this easier for them.
I agree to take what I can.
The Clermont Lounge / by Kimberly J Simms
The legend of Atlanta and the Clermont Lounge
aka Blondie, an entertainer since the eighties
crushing beer cans with her ample gifts
spouting spoken word with each twist of her hip.
Fringed fushia hot shorts shake it.
For sixty-four years she’s been making it.
Now she’s spiritually guiding the new generation,
tricks-of-the-trade with a dose of salvation.
She’s a spark who’s no dumb blond.
Gyrating over race barriers; she’s an Atlanta icon.
One Dream / by Karen Warinsky
So, now I’ve had a dream about you,
which is more than just
during the day
what it might be like
to be in your orbit,
or have you in mine.
It was a short dream and
fairly easy to comprehend.
We’re standing together in a house.
A party or some event was happening
because there were several people,
but suddenly it felt menacing
and then there were loud sounds
and pieces of the house were shaking
and wind was blowing outside and
we grabbed onto each other,
a sincere grasp, a grasp of survival,
and I told you…you know…
Bloody Mary / by Andrew Walker
On my 27th birthday I whisper
Bloody Mary into my mirror
but three times and I am
still alone. As a child she came,
replacing my body with hers
and though I could not see her mouth
I knew that briefly she smiled
and whispered my name back. Now,
on my 27th birthday, I sit
to watch a scary movie
in which a woman is trapped
inside somewhere but I fall asleep
and wake up in the bathroom
looking so deeply into my ghost
I almost jump. Instead I smash
myself through the glass in hopes
to disappear the image I conjured.
I fall fast and frightened,
grappling with every shard
of glass that holds me within it.
After my hands are bloodied
and the falling has stopped
feeling like falling, I close
my eyes tight—
turn out the lights—
spin through the air
and whisper the name
of everything I am frightened
to call myself.
Poem 17 / Day 17
You exist inside a spring that can’t be replaced / by Kristen Brida
After Your Lie in April
The summer a friend of mine
died, I spent my mornings sleeping
and my nights listening in loops
to songs we had sung in the car
on the way home from Sunday breakfasts
with last night’s alcohol grated
through our voices.
I spent my nights listening
until the language fell through itself
and the music was no longer
an invocation to memory.
Then in the winter,
I walked around the neighborhood
My hands dug into my pockets
I tore away at the slow build of grey lint
I let the lint bury beneath my nails
The stars glittering
in spite of the lampposts in the distance.
I’ve never felt worse before,
and still how each star glistens
like cherry blossom petals in the rain.
I watched my loud breath
a silk screen over Pleiades my vapor no match
for the hot blue of Pleiades.
N. Scott Momaday Read Remember My Horse / by Jane Hammons
As the commencement speaker at my 1975 graduation from the University of New Mexico
Scott Momaday read
Remember my horse
Next to him on the stage was his mother
Natachee Scott Momaday
together they spoke Kiowa
Remember my horse
I didn’t understand
but I listened
Remember my horse
mother step father father step mother sister brother-in-law grandfather
I was not the first in my family to attend a four-year university
but I was the first to graduate
Remember my horse
My grandmother who made sure I went to college was too sick to attend
she was too drunk to attend
When Scott Momaday started reading that poem I wanted my grandmother and her sister my
who like me and Scott Momaday attended UNM
but just for two years then married
I wanted them there
they would not understand Kiowa
they would not understand Cherokee
the language they were born to forget
except for a few phrases
they taught us as children
but they would have listened
the way I listened
My Auntie returned every year to Tahlequah where she and her sisters were born
and brought back cornmeal from Golda’s Mill at Bitting Springs a place that no longer exists
where it used to be is behind a private fence now
Remember my horse
I can taste her sweet cornbread
when she fried corn cakes she left fingerprints in the batter
I ate them
I had not planned to attend my graduation ceremony but I was the first and my grandmother
walk across that stage and get a diploma
She knew she would not be there she was never anywhere but in her kitchen with a glass of
vodka looking out the window
She did not know Scott Momaday would be on that stage she would not have known who he
was until he stood and spoke Kiowa with his mother and then she would know he was a poet
who brought his mother to a ceremony at his alma mater and spoke Kiowa with her in front of
hundreds of people who could not understand
Remember my horse
and she would have been glad
and I was glad
Ode to a Crowded Highway / by Sharayah Hooper
The asphalt is constantly speckled with automobiles
of all shapes and sizes and colors.
Cherry red lights illuminate pathways
and white blinds through mirrors.
It is enough to make your knuckles pale.
But in the chaos that escalates to a silence
that can fog the brain,
a song is sung, a story is told.
My Dad and I On the Way to St. Petersburg, On the Way to Nowhere / by Olivia Ivings
It is a straight commute from Sarasota.
The inundated landscape, flat with swamp,
a tower, billboards, and bahiagrass
could possibly be teeming with displaced birds.
My dad can’t notice any of this, though;
his eyes are drawn to road—Diogenes,
a cynic, deems this act unnatural.
My father reads so much philosophy,
does not believe that climate change exists
but wants a dinosaur when they return.
It takes an hour to drive to the museum.
He talks about the Christmas lights at home:
I’ve got to get them up tonight. You’re home
for three days. I tell him I’ll help instead
of saying nobody cares, which we both know.
What Are the Chances, What Are the Odds / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
A boy gets head lice six weeks into quarantine.
His mother meticulously takes a comb to the nits,
sticking them onto pieces of tape. She folds the tape
back in on itself. The boy likes to soak toilet paper cores
in sink water and flatten out the cardboard,
adhering diamonds to the wall in desultory patterns.
The name of his most recent installation: People Floating
Near the Sun. The last time they left the house to go hear
live music was a performance of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”
He captured a ladybug that landed on his program
in marker: a living, spotted creature dumbly wandering
beside its rendering. Sometimes, she looks in the mirror
and sees her own mother. In the upper-left corner
of her reflection, more cardboard diamonds.
Going Biblical / by Kimberly J Simms
I’m vexed by the walk-up ATM.
It’s out of money. I kick the wall a little
and a yellow locust lands on my boot.
I look up, checking for a red sky,
wondering if some revelation is at hand.
The caelifera have sung their mild
melodies all August. This locust
a potential Hyde to the hoppers’ Jeckyll.
Back legs violining a pheromone
that transforms solitary souls
into gregarious monsters in hours.
Stronger, louder, darker, faster
than their former grasshopper
selves, they assemble in millions;
they can block out the sun.
It’s disheartening to contemplate
the anarchy of their transformation
from solitary dunces into a super-charged
plague subduing the horn of Africa.
I ponder this pandemic pressure-cooker,
pheromone cocktails rising in our bones
as we rub our palms cannily, throwing back
our masked faces, lungs tingling while the worst
rise up in swarms of passionate intensity.
Flowers / by Karen Warinsky
We stand like flowers in a field,
faces seeking sun.
Finding that jovial warmth and lazing there is bliss,
but we cannot stay;
practicalities take over, demand attention,
so we sweep the floor and straighten the bedclothes,
cook the food and pay the bills.
Just as we understand how to live,
how to enjoy,
to see as an artist sees, feel with an artist’s hands,
we are pulled from that sundrenched field,
tossed onto an empty plot and told to move on,
our demise making way for new plants,
When It’s All Gone, Something Carries On / by Andrew Walker
for Scott Hutchison
I listen to Craig Finn sing your song
but there is less sadness in his voice
than the rivers that poured from you.
On a podcast I hear your name
and find my past self. I’d like to think
that I am making tiny changes
to my own Earth, walking further
from the version of myself I saw in you.
My future is just a cover, the same words
interpolated through the breath of someone new.
Poem 16 / Day 16
Thrift Shop Introduction / by Barbara Audet
he walked, no cart.
An older man,
an aging Cagney
but in face, Cecil B. DeMille.
Looking for new business.
Funeral planning business.
What was it about me
that he gathered
glassware that dated my preferences for living?
I cannot remember
after three hours
who spoke first.
I spoke last.
a need to set
my life’s end
world in motion.
It was no pick up.
It was a pick me up intro.
Came to San Antonio
to read Louis L’Amour
to get warm.
of his clothes,
all of them,
paid no more
than fifteen dollars.
to our meeting.
When a car dies,
the funeral impresario
seeks old ones,
I knew at hour two
his driving retinue
for three vehicles
worth of his life.
Canadian, New Brunswick,
Prince Edward Island.
the Pledge of Allegiance
With no encouragement
does it well with the medium,
large shirts as audiences.
We both acknowledge
plethora of siblings.
My Canadian soul
at first thought
on the shelves.
He had his Judy still.
I told him
about my loss, Edward.
Judy might be worried.
one heart attack
two years before
The nerve damage
in his face,
His brain is chancey.
black him out
His grandchildren twins.
My children are unmarried.
My dog is twin less,
I say foolishly.
He hands me his card.
Old sales pros
do that still.
Cards are quaint.
Did I know
panic for him.
I bite my lip
about to say
have no need
for funeral services
He slides a photo
of a heron
from his wallet,
the conversation past
the awkward blink
of nerve-damaged eyes.
Once, in Canada,
he, Ernie and Laurel,
a Stand By Me worthy trio,
those never out
Near where he shot
of the heron
that he carries
with death’s clients.
You might be a Virgo if / by Seneca Basoalto
the pandemic doesn’t inspire you like it should,
you feel fine, just fine, alone, in front of the television,
an entire pot of coffee, touch–starved
but still fine, just fine, you’re not sure anything has really
changed because you haven’t left the house but you
COUGH / cough / coUGH during
the best part of Hoarders, now you have to
rewind, and it feels like a chore to pretend
that you feel different than you did before
when you always kept 6 feet of space
between you and strangers near the ramen noodles
at Target, but, you want to go to Sephora and buy
mascara because you’re out, though you’ve
not been out, still doing makeup at 10 a.m.
because self–care doesn’t stop just because
your neighbors might be dying, as if it’s
your fault they don’t realize you have
chronic depression and rely on a good face mask
to talk you out of poisoning your food
and dropping dead with your head in the toilet
wondering who the cops will think murdered you,
wondering why you’re wearing your fur coat in the middle
of the night and why you’re watching a show Netflix is
saying you’ve already seen, boring ass baby
you don’t even enjoy cleaning, you just love how bleach
reminds you of nude bodies in California swimming pools,
shut up for once, try something new, do something fun,
take a risk, play with yourself during Rick and Morty,
no one will know, NO ONE IS HERE,
why can’t you just let your guilty pleasures be
regular pleasures, who hurt you, COUGH, why
the hell COUGH are you like this COUGH
just enjoy your succulents and eat ice cream for
breakfast, no one cares, you’re literally dying
from coronavirus just eat the ice cream and
do some drugs, you got fired anyway, you have
nowhere to go and nowhere to be, you’re not an artist
you’re a goddamn statistic and you’re not productive
you won’t ever be productive stop trying to be productive
you’re giving yourself a migraine, WHY do you always
do this to us fuckin Virgo ass bitch, fresh air is fatal,
time isn’t real, truth is exposition, you suck at calligraphy,
you’re fine, okay, you’re just fine.
Portrait with where the lights don’t hit / by Kristen Brida
When a friend of mine
died I could only see
the invisible intervals
everywhere. I couldn’t look
out of a window
without wondering a body
‘s impact, a car without pretending
it swerved out of the street
and into my body.
It was impossible
this new plane of seeing,
or rather, this plane
I had always ignored
The Grief Thesaurus / by Jane Hammons
13c hardship suffering pain bodily affliction
from injustice misfortune calamity
from PIE (Proto-Indo-European) root *gwere—heavy mental pain sorrow
21c PPE (lack of) Zoom (sub for f-2-f) dream (hallucinatory sleep)
from injustice misfortune calamity
from PTSD (Prime-Trumpian-Social-Disorder) root *kleptocracy—voracious family greed theft
on phone with nurse with no PPE no sleep
to feel fever when there is none pain where it isn’t
sleepy all the time
to feel sore throat maybe seasonal allergies maybe seasonal maybe
what season month year day is it
take temperature once twice three times four
sacrificed to the insatiable reality show maw
Florida / by Olivia Ivings
Fall’s morning breath spreads
across the panhandle.
We’re close enough
to Georgia for cool weather
but far enough that we’re sweaty,
shivering comets traveling too fast.
A garbage truck peters
down the broken street.
A wildflower opens its eye
to a fast-food wrapper.
On her porch, my neighbor sips
iced coffee while her dog chews a leaf.
My single friends have pets
and spend their days drinking
espresso in coffee shops,
dreaming of publishing books.
Turkey Tails span the logs
lining the trail.
Trees canopy the walkway,
but between the branches,
scavengers circle, looking for rabbits,
broken and rotting.
In the creek, families sift
for shark’s teeth.
Saltwater hasn’t brimmed
the dip in two thousand years.
COUNT EACH BREATH / by Alicia Rebecca Myers
If you throw a coin into a fountain
full of fish it will make those fish sick. Gasp
at the surface. The flaming fan of a red
mosaic guppy, the vinegar shine
of a wheat penny.
The last time my father hauls the hulking
bucket high above the tank his body
lingers. He hovers — feet apart, bird on a
copper wire feeling words run underneath.
The air collects with such
intensity of living.
Are you Working Tonight? / by Kimberly J Simms
1999, London UK
I’m standing in line for the loo
in the Turkish bar in Stoke Newington.
It’s after midnight and the pool tables
are populated with a strange mix
of post-gig hipsters – drummers, singers,
comedians, and poets – and middle-eastern
immigrants. Our group of misfits has spilled
over from the Campden Head’s stand-up poetry.
The guys are drinking pint cans of EFES,
while I’m having vodka and cherry juice.
The forty-something man with a check scarf
around his neck, quietly questions:
“Are you working tonight?”
I obliviously answer, “No I work in marketing.”
“Are you American?” He is astounded.
“Yes,” I drawl in six syllables, “South Carolina”
“Kuwait.” he offers, “What you doing here.”
I tip my drink, “What are you doing here?”
“I can’t sleep. Nightmares from the war.”
I look at the group of olive-skinned men
lounging around the last pool table.
Turkish asylum seekers, secularists, I assumed.
But a new influx of refugees streams into Britain daily.
My mind briefly flutters to missiles and machine gunfire.
My British beau takes my elbow as I exit the water closet,
steering me back to our group. “What he’d want?” he worries.
“To sleep, I think. Oh, and a prostitute.”
The Deer / by Andrew Walker
after Maggie Smith
In the yard—well, in the tree
in the yard—hangs a dead deer
but I am not sure how it got there
or how it died. His eyes look alive
and his antlers hang half molted,
part dull brown fuzz, part blistering red.
When I approach the deer, shockingly
fearless, I find ringlets around his nose
and for a moment briefer than air
swear I feel his sticky hot breath
leech to my skin. I am unsure
of how to get the dead deer down.
My father was never a hunter,
and when he fished, he gave
the river back what he had borrowed.
When I call him in hopes that he holds
the answer to my question, I only
get a robot, telling me that the person
I am trying to reach has not yet
decided to set up his voicemail inbox.
Halley’s Comet / by Karen Warinsky
I missed Halley’s comet in ‘86
no idea why,
but I did watch May’s Blood Moon eclipse,
not from a romantic outdoor vista,
but in bed with my laptop
accidentally seeing the word LIVE on NASA’s website,
an electronic, crimson shout
that the rare red moon was in the sky,
like the comet, an infrequent visitor.
Persuaded, I watched with thousands
keeping vigil on this Super Flower Blood Moon,
this Hunter’s Moon
this chance at renewal,
pictures of its sanguine circumference filling the screen,
chat box comments from my fellow humans,
people I’ll never know
catching my attention.
Many of them obviously young,
their funny screen names and avatars beguiled me.
“I am lonely,” one said.
“I am scared,” said another,
dozens of scrolling comments tethering us to this moon
and I typed
“I love you guys,” in a gush of abandon,
wanting to hold all their hands,
let them know as they sat in Greece, in Australia, South America, Asia,
than an American woman living in the darkest of days
saw what they saw,
felt what they felt,
wished also for better times.
Thanks for following along this month!