Welcome to the 30/30 Project, an extraordinary challenge and fundraiser for Tupelo Press, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) literary press. Each month, volunteer poets run the equivalent of a “poetry marathon,” writing 30 poems in 30 days, while the rest of us “sponsor” and encourage them every step of the way.
The volunteers for January 2019 are Dale Champlin, Tricia Knoll, Georgia Pearle, ellie swensson, MMThompson, and Viviane Vives. Read their full bios here.
If you’d like to volunteer for a 30/30 Project month, please fill out our application here and and warm up your pen! To read more about the Tupelo Press 30/30 project, including a complete list of our wonderful volunteer poets and to read their poems, please click here.
Day 16 / Day 16
January Junkyard / by Dale Champlin
What can I say about the sixteenth of January
that hasn’t been said thousands of times before?
When I think about the snowfields of my childhood
I remember tough going, how I would break through
the sharp crust and plunge into the soft under-part
up to my kneecap—just a few ice crystals sifting
past my rubber boot-top to my waterlogged socks.
I will point out childhood ¬landmarks. Teasel fields,
every sharp bristle limned with a strip of snowflakes.
In Pioneer Cemetery, tombstones sheltered beneath
snow pillows and ice haloed angels blew trumpets
into tinsel clouds. Blue sky reflected on pale blue
hillsides—dips and hollows blushed lavender.
We kids, skating on a shallow pond, last summer’s
swimming hole, peered through transparent ice,
to see leaves and sticks drifted to the bottom.
In small woodlots tree trunks rose like jagged pillars.
Branches dumped their loads of snow with a whump.
Black crows sifted by on wing-startled air.
In sheer silk-chiffon daylight I would call one
or another friend to come and explore the junkyard.
In January, rust, wheel and chrome shape-shifted—
transformed into a white comforter-covered playground.
Red foxes tiptoed through the aisles only to disappear,
we and they, wild animals living in the moment.
Poetry That Matters / by Tricia Knoll
It’s deep winter here. If days are getting longer, I can’t
tell. Out the window naked maples pitchfork the sky:
survival’s stand like scissors and wait. I notice two nests,
tumbled-up leaf-messes though I haven’t seen a squirrel
in weeks. A few tracks during a thaw. A month ago.
Gray squirrels, mice, a mink, a bobcat, two does,
red fox, flying squirrels, cottontails, coyote rambles over ice.
I have no idea whether any of them freeze to death.
Local frogs turn their blood to anti-freeze.
Their pond froze rock-solid weeks ago.
The ice fishermen set up shanties
on larger ponds to make pickled pickerel.
It seems too damned cold for tiny buds
to appear on the nodes of branches, but they do.
My slow cooker turns out hearty soups
I taste and stir, salt, taste and stir.
I suspect much will survive. That I might.
I am not so hopeful for children in Yemen.
The poem that stirs that pot – to feed them,
save them – has not been written.
16. / by Viviane Vives
I hold my crystal and my ring in the palm of my hand, over my heart. I’ve cried so much I no longer feel my belly, my legs, my mouth, my eyelids.
The world is dark gray. My gaze low, my hair dirty, my belly empty. Candle drops spread over the stone wall, dull and worn, cold, with rigor mortis, the candles in the window that did not bring you, the messenger tree that did not find you.
The sky falls over the house, the world comes undone over the new roof. Everything is what has not been these months, what will not be. Rushing down the canyon, under the cold wind.
The morning’s winter dew and the singing cardinal in the bush, with his being so deeply red, will they survive the loss of our bellies separated from each other? There is a space in the wind that does not know how to part from you, yet it must.
The sea drops over my head. I look like a crazy bird stupidly floating up and down the gray, cold, heartless waves. I will survive this even if I do not care. This is my silent and dark, my tenderness, and I didn’t know that loneliness can also be made of velvet.
The rain will stop, the heat will come, the storm will not leave a memory, I’ll scratch my own back, indolent, swaying on the hammock, over the garden, I’ll close my eyes, no longer think of you.
Before, you photographed schizophrenic neighbors, the terminally ill, and our dogs; now, her dogs, this fat bitch. I did not ask for much. I waited one day and another in my stone house with my heart in my hands. And you did not come. And that is that. There will not be dancing of water skyward. No abandonment. There will not be.
Faltabas. No matter, Los Angeles swallowed you yesterday, me, twenty years ago. Crazy black hole, sanatorium for ten million people. You were the last loco to arrive. You hit your head, you tell me. Erased The Most Important Thing.
I talk to people at the bar. I’m not really me, swallowed by “Los Angueles,” it ate half of me then, today you ate the rest, only my shadow remains. My shadow is dying, drinks Argentinian wine, watches Barça finally lose. My shadow twirls on the bar stool, smiles, tells stories to unsuspecting couples. My shadow vomits on the sidewalk, then goes get my son.
My shadow sleeps in my bed, doesn’t think about anything. Frightened by the storm, my dog climbs in with me, he is surprised to not find me, my dog does not like my shadow. The storm moves away. I’m going to pee and sleep. I’ll swaddle my shadow, a night without dreams, no sound but the storm that leaves.
My shadow and I can’t sleep, we walk, give me a stick, to Santiago’s path; the road Michelle took carrying her dead child, John his dead Narda, on their backs. I carry you dead, a fluttering moth tangled in my eyelashes.
Dirty kid. It was your smile that dirtied everything. Not even this crazy rain cleans. Filthy world, we will not paint it with our bodies, we can’t keep up. I want to keep up.
You wear a silver ring on your finger. I take off mine, marry my shadow. On my finger, a deep hole, an ugly twisted vein. All will pass. Old age accelerating. I, floating.
To Read Our January 2019 Poets’ First 15 Days of Poetry, Click Here!