The 30/30 Project: April 2019

TP3030-logo-360Welcome 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 April 2019 are Maggie Rue Hess, Bill Holm, Shirley Jones-Luke, Pratibha Kelapure, Daryl Muranaka, Jessica Regione, Gina Tron, Ulysses, Amanda Weigner, and Matilda Young. 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.

Poem 22 / Day 22

Sonnet for My F(l)at Feet / by Maggie Rue Hess

Your endurance is unquestioned –
daily treads assure me of that –
but the support I receive is lessened
by your arches, which are flat.
Because you do not bridge the ground
between my heel and my toes,
the shape you take is fairly round.
Dare I say it? You’re flat fellows.
I apologize for ignoring your needs
for space in some of my pumps:
the straps dig in, my raw heel bleeds,
and in the end, you look like lumps.
Yet you champion through, steady soles,
so I can enjoy races, tours, and strolls.

Appeal to Earth Mother / by Pratibha Kelapure

To offer solace to her daughter
The earth opened up for Seeta
Taking her back into the womb

The children of the earth now
Desperate for the green equilibrium
Search for the sanctuary the world over

One Morning in Spring / by Daryl Muranaka

things change quickly
when you’re on the road
& the forsythia bloom
& the grass turns green
as the blonde winter fades.
but the cold stream still
flows gray but stronger
enticed by the promise
of summer lurking
beyond the blossoms.
even the cemetery
is alive as petals rain
upon the graves as if
to say everything
will grow here
when old death is near.

Dreamscape / by Gina Tron

When I was 6
I asked my mom:
             If you are close to someone
             can you meet up in dreams?

Close physically
like in bed
or in spirit.

A tube from one
consciousness to another.

If I dream about them
they’re dreaming about me too.

I’d try to control my dreams
shifting settings
like a film director
my mind’s screen flickering
images into yours.

We could sit on a couch
in a living room
or space
talking into the night
under six moons
walk hand in hand
as the village went up in flames.

And we could hang
even when
I had preserved my pride like jam
and stored it away for the winter
(or longer)
on the shelves alongside
my favorite movies of us.

When you only exist
in the reels
I won’t set my alarm anymore.

Poem 21 / Day 21

Easter Lilies / by Maggie Rue Hess

Dirt-eater, soil-glutted bulb
wintering for years of dark
– spring trumpets you

into the curled delicacy
of golden tongues
and church perfumes, glory
the stained glass window overshares

and you started with worms,
with blind, pushing roots
and you ascended

petals thick as memory’s language
and as pure.

I Know Not What I Do / by Bill Holm

I won’t write about baskets and bunnies,
I’ll concoct no tales about lilies and lambs.
No fresh life for me. As ever, my end
will draw nearer when sun yields to moon.

I won’t write about crosses to bear,
appropriation of pagan symbols and tales,
glutting on ham and Cadbury and Peeps,
miraculous comebacks and jelly beans.

I won’t write about wounds and scars,
nor the slivers of wood I kept by my bed
the nuns swore to Jesus were the True Cross,
nor the blue fabric bits from “Mary’s own robe.”

I’ll steer wide and clear of the apse and nave
while choirs stir the faithful. Yet today’s morning
clouds resemble scrambled egg whites,
and I saw the Lord’s face in my sourdough toast.

Neo Soul in the New Millennium / by Shirley Jones-Luke

Heading for the 2020s, syncopated air screech,
crashing through the ceiling of my acoustics,
bogus establishments in this town,
responsible for everything,
all customers need to hear this beat,
don’t make them ignore it,
this round goes to all music lovers,
they now have a chance
to listen to the click-clack, whoosh, boom bam
of lyrical ascension,
it doesn’t get any better than that

Easter Lilies / by Pratibha Kelapure

Air drifting in and out of domestic elm
The gurgling waterfalls flowing with foam
The Lily graced with the color of snow
These are the colors of hope

Lovely lilies sway under the blue sky
As the puffy white clouds roll by
Sweet aroma lending the power of love
White and pink the colors of hope

The buds arise from the tears of Eve
Repenting her sins, hoping for a reprieve
Or from the beads of sweat of Jesus
While the final bells toll and he sees us

Milk of Juno nourishing Hercules
Dropping to Earth like autumn leaves
Now Easter lilies bloom by the wall
Plant another hope for one and all

MORNING DRIVE / by Daryl Muranaka

w/ Western Swing
playing as the fog
rolls in over the bare
hills with their broken
farms and naked
trees, I slip into
my Mulder fever dream
of surreal reality
appearing suddenly
from the bright dark.

The world is filled
with space, emptiness,
packed with the tension,
the vibrations, that hold everything
together, causing some
things to rise
& others to fall.
The morning road moves on,
the broken barns & empty
silos, peeling paint
& failed toys guarding
this country road.

Enmeshment / by Jessica Regione

I don’t mean to sound poetic but
Sometimes it just flowers out of you

Though by you I mean me
Though who could tell who was who

Anymore, our limbs all tangled like that
Insidious vines and I

Could not get you
Close enough

Eggs / by Gina Tron

Broken links
of an Angelfire page
neon gifs falling
dripping sage
over a parallel dimension.

Broken wings
of an angel costume
as the sky turns into an Easter egg
baby pink & blue hues
as my baby self
sucked a pacifier
sprawled on a blanket
under dozens of dangling eggs
after eating
a bad egg
a brown egg
which fizzled fever up my veins
draped in Skittles and Pez
a drop of pink
and I swirled into yellow
& soon I’m diaperless
peeing all over an ICU bed.

I thought I wouldn’t care if I died,
but I wanted to be reborn
from hard-boiled
to getting wrapped in plastic.

I kept one of the eggs,
ripped and magicless,
it would be a few years
before I could
dip my shell in dyes
and play with
the food coloring
in my head.

To April / by Ulysses

April,

How I wish to multiply
Love by the times your
Yellow eyes have graced the sky

But will I come short?
I fear your eyes shut wide
The many possibilities continue
And expand

Ah night

This kiss with ink will have to do

Consider, the work of a hand hardened by ebony
The cuts crafted so fey
And remember still where this cuts off
At the wrists

with these the breaking of fish like bread
Beginning the feeding of many.

Different Theories of the Dishwasher / by Matilda Young

For R & R

There have been times in our friendship
that were more panoramic – the cold low
river in Arizona – yucca on the cliff

face and the shade of tough spindly
trees while our canyon was lush,
hummingbird, strange litmus

yellow flowers like Edison bulbs.
At home, there’s sometimes grit
in the mussel’s beard, quick

short bursts of dismay – shoes
left in dark doorways, a single
stray plastic lid without a home.

And too there’s my own strange
configurations in the dishwasher
and the tub I’d without question

leave to mildew for months
on end. But still you let me in,
share the smoked salmon, feed

murder kitty, grab the recycling,
grapple with our broken leaky
fridge, reorganize the basement

in a day. You gentle friends – you
do the work of love and the morning
song of forgiveness and you grant

me in good faith my own squirrely
practices of being a person in this
good home which has its summer

canyons and its bathroom rushes
and its mangoes sliced and shared
before they turn.

Poem 20 / Day 20

Two Haikus for Texas / by Maggie Rue Hess

The wildflowers
leap out of palette by the
highway, life colored

into the grasses.
Rushing by, I long to pause
and bloom among them.

Holy Saturday, Batman / by Bill Holm

Accounts vary, of course.
Matthew Mark Luke John disagree.
I wonder what really went on.
What was that tomb like inside?
Did Jesus have it all to himself?
I bet he was able to swing a single.

When I was a boy, I rode my Schwinn
to Confession, locked the bike to a rack,
admitted my sins—actually I made
some up because I was a good kid,
contrary to what the Church demanded
I believe. I sinned by being born.

Seems like Jesus could have resurrected
on Saturday. Needed some rest, I guess.

After I was absolved and said Hail Marys,
I tried to unlock my bike. Damn, I forgot
the combination. I rang the doorbell
at the rectory. Father Banes answered.
I’d never seen a priest wearing a t-shirt.
I asked if I could use the phone.

A big rock covered the tomb’s entrance.
Must have been pleasantly dark and quiet.

The priest and I chatted before he let me
make a call on the black rotary phone.
While I talked to my mother, Father Banes
disappeared for a moment then returned
carrying a Bongo Board exercise device.
He placed it right in front of me.

Maybe Jesus was plotting his next move,
but, being Jesus, he knew exactly what to do.

Father Banes rocked the board back and forth
over the roller, balancing, shifting his hips, staring
at me through black horn-rimmed glasses,
his black hair neatly in place. Next memory,
I sat on a curb next to my bike,
my closed knees pressed against my chin.

Lots of religions have resurrection stories,
lots of Catholic kids have desecration stories.

Lately, as scandals flared, I conducted research.
Two years after the Bongo Board incident,
Father Banes got shuttled off to a rural parish,
then quickly shifted to another part of the state.
Soon he resigned from the priesthood but
stayed close to the Church, helping children.

Easter always makes me anxious.
I wonder what went on inside that tomb.

What He Misses / by Pratibha Kelapure

Moonlight all last night
At dawn, the pink sky filters through
The bedroom window
A dreamlike memory still lingers
Behind his shut eyes
A smile on his whispering lips
But it’s another ordinary day
And he has an early meeting

He pours some hot water on
The windshield to clear the ice
An ordinary morning chore
The highway is lit up in the
Red tail lights as he listens to
The drone of the news on the radio
The routine he knows by heart
All day he listens to the co-workers
Talk in their corporate voices
The whirr of the air conditioner
The loud pops from the popcorn machine
That emits the foul smell of burnt kernels
PowerPoint slide after slide flashes
Numbers and charts, low and high
Keeping busy is a good thing
He tells himself every day

Only when the evening comes
In the empty house he talks to
The plants and walks the dog
He misses the sound of her voice
Telling him about the ordinary
Things on an ordinary day

Sleeping In The Camper / by Daryl Muranaka

cardinal raps
on the window, drowns
out the rain

Anonymity / by Jessica Regione

And despite all the advice on the internet I still
Watch TV in bed
Of course it’s not a novel thought to think
It quiets my mind
By which I mean numbs it
With images of outer space and cars
And women with flawless skin
Sometimes even explosions
Even if the purple
Half moons under my eyes intensify
With each night of less than optimal slumb
And in the bluish
Glow of so many emotional displays
I am utterly effaced, rendered
A cipher
Sinking into my cells, swimming
In my anonymity, bedsheets
I have nothing to do
With intricate plot lines, smeared
Lipstick, tears real
Or otherwise
Though to be no one
May be all I’ve wanted all this time

Push-pinned / by Gina Tron

People can be cities,
some are New Orleans
cast-iron balconies
gold and green pearls
and pastel purple
shutters
that open up your psyche
like spiked peanut butter
with sparkles
that can infect your world.

Others are Sandusky, Ohio
and Lynchville, Virgina
luke-warm cheese quesadillas
dipped in chemical guac
illuminated by the
comforting corporate
Best Buy moon.

Cut them in half
like a Carvel cake
and live side by side
left leg on Bourbon street
walking over empty fishbowls
and crime scene tape
the right in a mall
with shutters over dreams
strollers full of syringes
& Minion memes.

Of Ruin / by Ulysses

There are many ways to ruin a page.
I’ve thought I found five hundred.
But truly assembled three or four

What is there left to say
Of sound and sense
To your satisfaction

Perhaps
And then rhythm?

Am I speaking in maths
Or does it add up?
The picket fence
smiles I meet in faces,

I think, perhaps I should have never started.
Perhaps I never had.

Working it Out / by Matilda Young

Fridge side minor panic
The cat stalks by to offer
Comfort from a distance

Poem 19 / Day 19

1000 Decisions Later / by Maggie Rue Hess

The day is done, the clock is punched,
So every comment now is bunched

Like dirty laundry in your mind
Until you leave the job behind.

But every decision is not through
Because the results will follow you –

Each word spoken, each reaction
Takes time before the satisfaction

That your work has concluded.
And you may still feel deluded!

Give yourself the gift of rest
(Maybe solitude is best).

Your thousand decisions have been made;
It’s time to let the worry fade.

Zippo / by Bill Holm

More than once, when my dad bent
to pick me up his metal Zippo lighter fell
from the breast pocket of his Arrow shirt
and struck me squarely in the forehead.
The blow was too funny to cry about.

Roughly matchbox size, Zippo opened
with a clink and closed with a clunk.
Clink clunk clink clunk clink clunk
clink clunk clink clunk click clunk.
I wanted to play with it forever.

When the seemingly eternal flame
weakened he soaked the insides with
Ronsonol lighter fluid and maybe
he replaced the flint, worn to nub.
I savored the tasty fluid smell.

Spark fuel flame spark fuel flame.
Fire-making forestalled human extinction
and deepened the experience of smoking
his Kents with the Micronite filter
made of compressed blue asbestos.

On nice days, my dad stepped out
to the porch, lifted the Zippo from his Arrow,
lit the white cigarette, sucked smoke
though Micronite far into his lungs.
Exhaling, he said, “Ahhh, fresh air.”

One Good Match & Watch It Bloom / by Shirley Jones-Luke

after John Murillo
We don’t need to wait for summer’s heat for the block to burn. Fire
begins in bracing winter winds. Smoke rises in the Spring. Embers
wrap themselves around stoops as we sit & talk about the brick we want to throw into the deli’s window. The owner, a butcher, is a bigot. Spewing hate as he wraps the meats for our grandmothers’ evening meals.

Payback feeds our anger. We had a march for one of our own. Gunned down by boys from another block. Another hood. But ain’t we all one hood? We need to be. We don’t own the asphalt & the concrete of these sidewalks & streets. Our homes are temporary. There’s a mortgage on our lives.

We bob our heads to a mix of bachata, hip hop & r&b, music is a lifeline when we play jeopardy on these corners. Even our stoop is a target for the slow roll of dark tinted cars with seared off license plates. Our eyes do a 180 turn every few minutes.

We’re living our best life. Young, wild & free as the lyrics go, our feet tap in rhythm as the sun dips behind townhouses & triple decker homes, kids run towards home, the elders shuffle off their porches, a dog barks for food, sirens break the music’s serenity, police eye us like terrorists about to strike. We eye them back. Our hands palm invisible bricks.

Standing Tall / by Pratibha Kelapure

She appeared at my door
Excited, I fail to notice her
wrinkled blouse, creased brow
Long time, no see, I gush over
A faint smile she offers me
Sinks into the chair
Noticing the puffy eyes and
Reddened nose
I grasp her cold hands
What’s wrong?

Same old story, she says
Outsourcing, cost-cutting…
It’s been three months.
The kids are okay for now…
But the rent is due…
I pull out my checkbook
Suddenly, she stands up
You misunderstood me
She says, I just wanted to
Talk to you; it’s lonely at home.
Just stand by me
And cheer me up while
I get my bearings.

RV Meditations on TK– 995 / by Daryl Muranaka

I come to you pre-loved
pre-set, reset, but not
prepared. I think
the term used to be
“broken in.”
                        I come to you
pre-loved, but no longer
tied to that past, tied
to the ideas of what was
is what it is. I rolled into
your life, not quite “as is”
but with a few dings
hammered out, a few chips
scraped off, my tires
rotated & rotating until I am
maybe post loved again.

Sea Change / by Jessica Regione

There were others in the house
I could not see them but could sense
that there were others in the house
which was made of glass
which abutted the shore
of an ocean for which I did not know
the name though the water was gray
outside the windows of the house
which was in fact all windows
all glass I should have caught
the reflections of the others in that
mirrored world but only felt
their weird and wayward energies
against my skin which was neither
hot nor cold nor here nor there
but what I mean to say is that the water
was getting lost in the sky
both being so gray and there being
so many names for the different
shades of gray shale charcoal smoke etc
I guess it was gradients all merging
into one another until the water
started moving on its own
and even though the others could
be felt on my skin like mist
and even though more importantly
you could be felt somewhere near
only I saw the ocean rushing with such
sudden abandon to the sand the tumult
crashing into glass which was
just the house because the house
was all glass and all of it fragile
and sickness turned in my abdomen
how there was nothing to be done
just watch the breaking how can I
explain even what I could not see
was broken everything perished
by which I mean you and me together
whatever we could have called
our togetherness what is the name
for that is it love because I had
so many questions I still do though still
I could only sense your mind stirring
somewhere else in the house that aside
from having so many windows
had many cabinets and staircases
but was otherwise bare it’s true
we were never safe in there even
on days when there was not a storm
or a dream or a leave-taking

Class Exercise / by Gina Tron

I’m a piece of meat,
but not an expensive one.

They don’t want to buy the hot dog,
but I guess they want
to touch it sometimes.

I felt all their paws
             grabbing at the flesh
             of my cheek
             wrapped in bubblegum pink B.U.M Athletic
             illuminated by sun
             reeking of ketchup
             on the same floor
             where I sat alone on the bleachers
             in the dark
             three days before.

And on the overhead I heard
        bragging about taking
        from the same person
        they’d never talk to.

The same exercise in 98,817
other eighth grade gym classes.

I’m starting to get it now,
I’m not to be engraved on binders,
I’m the wad of gum under the desk.

4/19/2019 / by Ulysses

Must I continue to talk strangely
To carry your attention?

Here,
The music is not as odd
as the voice.

They tell me I’m good,
Coffee house good

This rain could make flowers
But from the voices around you’d think the sky had fallen.

The oddest teacher you’ve met. . .
If I lay down and go to sleep with this chalk,
Will you think I have fallen?

Am I a pretender?

How confused I must seem
Muted and loud at the same time
On the same couch
Watching waves of brown noise pan through the screened window.

33 / by Matilda Young

There’s no going back
I said to them, as we
crossed the great red
river, our enemies
at our backs, and only
a great forest of black
spruce and ancient
chapels of ferns and
midsummer ahead.
There’s no going back,
as I put down my name,
kissed the Queen’s
Shilling, and cast my
lot upon the sea.
There’s no going back
from the great ship
rocketing towards
Andromeda, or floating
untethered into
a universe so full of stars
we will not ever touch
the death of every one.
With my flipbook hopes,
my misrememberings,
small spills, polaroid joys,
companions of the road,
my beloveds, my beloved
rogues. Oh old adventure,
I must try to keep what serves
me, and understand the little
we can keep where
the moment is the only
home we’ll know.

Poem 18 / Day 18

In the Wind / by Maggie Rue Hess

I’d heard it in the wind, the history teacher
told the track coach. My news traveled
with the selective swiftness of tongues.

What happens to hair: a comb that tangles,
the volume rearranged as carelessness.
Talk of future happens this way –

a gust begins somewhere and forces you
to turn your face.

Not just shooting the breeze, asking if it’s true.
I should’ve mentioned it sooner, but the air
has ears and wings; it finds the audience.

Wedding Anniversary / by Bill Holm

The opposing charges can’t stay away
from each other, negatives at one end
seduced by positives, positives at the other
enthralled by negatives, until the sinewy
bolt destroys everything it touches—

a tree splits down the middle, explodes in shards,
a bomb blows us from bed at midnight;
in a flash a transformer explodes off the pole
so we’re in the dark, feeling for candles—

the bombast, the over-compensation, the need
for drama to distract from realizing it’s just
a really insecure bully who doesn’t care,
self-hate and shame igniting in violence,
because lightning is just static electricity

gone wild but powerless compared to life’s
charge that melts us into a sparking puddle
when our lips splice on a dry cold day.

Notre Dame vs. Puerto Rico vs Flint, Michigan / by Shirley Jones-Luke

Notre Dame, a historic church
in the heart of Paris, France
has burned

Puerto Rico, an island jewel
in the Caribbean, still recovering
from a hurricane that left it in shambles

Flint, Michigan, a working-class
city, where its residents drink
brown water from rusted pipes

Notre Dame, insured for $30 billion,
has received several hundred million
dollars in donations to repair its infrastructure

Puerto Rico, already struggling with
financial pressures when the hurricane
struck the island, has lost U.S. support

Flint, Michigan’s mayor and government’
have yet to resolve its plumbing crisis
that has continued for over three years

Where are the world’s priorities
when a church outranks people
suffering thousands of miles away

Resurrection / by Pratibha Kelapure

The height was the hindrance
No one and nothing could reach
The spire that had remained
Unscathed through centuries
Surviving French Revolution and
Napolean’s desire for destruction,
To save it from turning to ashes
The ancient wood of the roof frame
For decades, from its high altitude
Witnessed the colossal human greed
endless hysteria of consumer need
The rose windows gathering steams of
Breaths, tourist after tourist
Wiping out the legacy of the centuries
The weary gargoyle from its perch
Watched the daily sacrilege
The day came when the ageless
Icons decided to self-destruct hoping
To curb the unhealthy appetite for
Consumption and unleash the spirit
Of devotion and resurrection
Make it rise to new heights

Two Haiku / by Daryl Muranaka

strong spring wind
rattles the naked tree
its concussed reaches

like my memory
this network of branches
empty of leaves

Willing Suspension of Disbelief / by Jessica Regione

It’s true
I’ve been finding my way
these winter months, learning the curvature,
the bones in your face, and it’s true

that last night we splurged
on a hotel room on the Lower East Side
even though we live in this city, because the wind
was against your back in the Himalayan

restaurant with the good noodles,
February gusting through long curtains covering
the door and one glowing
space-heater wasn’t enough to warm you,

so we bought a bottle of red and suspended
our worries about money,
but when we woke in the morning in unfamiliar
white sheets, after hours of thundering

bass drum from the downstairs nightclub
I think we were sorry.
Nevertheless, when you stood naked ten floors up
in front of those wide, glass panes,

under a sky unmarred by clouds and you
were unmarred too, and by you I mean
your skin, I was certain we had everything then,
though I couldn’t tell you why

the birds circled like that over the old
tenement buildings, one smooth motion
of wings, smoke-colored and angular and falling,
though I think that must be what grace is.

The Disastrous Dam Break Of 2004 / by Gina Tron

“Gina has a lot of
er
boyfriends.”

They’re not boyfriends Grandma
they’re friends
I only slept with
like 40 percent
/looks at calculator/
okay maybe 60 percent
but whose counting
bodies.

When the body count
is low
you’re good to go
when making jokes
whether
death or sex
but i can’t get off the ledge
of the Hoover Dam.

They say beware of the quiet ones
because when the dam breaks
it breaks hard
and that’s very true.

18. / by Ulysses

Music tells the truth
While the lyrics lie.

After songless winters, Northerners come here
And talk the language of progress
But the idioms are strange

The language of profit and charts
And if it hangs, so do all our heads
But if it leaps only some follow.

What is there to say that hasn’t been said.
The sun shines on us both,
But we seem to bear it harder.

Enjoy the sun while it is gentle like a lamb
Then, go back believing the heat you bare at home
is otherworldly in the summer.

We will give you back your birds.

You are my Sunshine / by Amanda Weigner

As a kid,
I would draw
my sun
right up
in the corner.

Be it crayons
or colored pencils,

maybe even markers.

In the corner,
my sun would be.

As a teenager,
my sun
disappeared.

Over the years,
my sun would
show up,
in the corner,
or in the center.

It would sometimes
be gray,
yellow,

yellow and orange.

Today, my son
smiles his biggest grin
from corner to corner.

As long as he smiles,
so shall my sunshine.

After Mr. Rogers / by Matilda Young

Thank you for being
You exactly as you are
And here with me

Poem 17 / Day 17

Wednesday Prayer / by Maggie Rue Hess

Lord, save me
from the things I need
and save them
for the days ahead.

My Brother, The Poet / by Bill Holm

I asked him to help me write
the shortest possible masterpiece,
a project I thought could stretch
until Tuesday as we chop words

to capture poetry’s essence, like a black hole
compressing lines and verses into
unimaginable density, an eternal trap
that disintegrates time and space

and can be read in under ten seconds
by today’s frantic, digitized eyes.

The question barely escaped my lips
before he composed the poem
to render all poems irrelevant:

“I.”

The Trees are Titans / by Shirley Jones-Luke

Majestic guardians
grown from saplings
that become branches
form a canopy,
providing shade
from the rays of
an unforgiving sun.
Rings show the years
1, 000 years of living.
We play with twigs
as the trees give us shelter,
a covering from the light
that plays tag with the shadows.
Fruit-bearing orchards
nourish our bodies
as animals mark their territories
against their bark.
We climb a staircase of bark
and peek at nests.
Leaves form a crown above
our heads. The trees created
jungles, an oasis
of forests and glades.
We play in the park,
swinging high into their
green world.

Birds of a Feather (A Fibonacci Poem) / by Pratibha Kelapure

gray
finch
alone
on the grass
I get closer with
camera in my hand hoping
to capture his graceful stance and his pinkish belly
flapping the wings, he hops away
sits farther on grass
does not fly
away
wing
hurt

one
new
finch brings
some insects
for the injured one
this nursing goes on for two days
I keep an eye on the wounded one, keep cats away
mindful birds caring for their own
until the wings heal
when they both
flap wings
and
soar

ALONG WITH THE SUNSHINE / by Daryl Muranaka

In the car, I hear
I was never promise
a rose garden & being
six I didn’t understand
fairness comes in flavors
of unevenness, that equal
problems are made unequal
by the elevation of the ground
that slides beneath our feet.

In Bloom / by Gina Tron

As the snow dies
unveiling the dirt
and the feces
getting ready to rot
Magnolias blossom
and refrigerated rage
starts to thaw out
ready to bloom
again.

Just released
from Arctic cages
ready to bite the flowers
that clash with the mood rings.

Salty streams
crystallized
by Instagram filters
pink and lavendar milk
flowing down bark.

It’s a diseased rainbow
not one ray
but seven
I can’t look away
from the beauty
of destruction
of a cherry blossom tree
getting hacked up
as it’s porn
for the sickest part
of my heart.

17 / by Ulysses

As the pen wakes from its slumber
I watch traffic as it serene, floats like an impromptu parade.

Their reflections between windows
Of downtown abandon.

Their living neighbors,
entrepreneurial ambition lingering with a sense of fatalism,

Hungry eyes on every car,
Open palms until the red light.

Being Told To Practice Gratitude / by Matilda Young

I’ve come to accept there is no perfect
world, but no one person proved it,
or it’s sunk into my bones too deep to say.

How does a koan become practiced
into breath? Tell me small orange cat,
soft ears just visible through the broken

corner of old cardboard. Tell me old absent
friend who walks into my evening unexpected.
Tell me, bright lovely, brief wisdom,

sidewalk heart stopping queen –
she of the high cheekbones, long looped braids.
And I am thankful. Oh thankful.

Oh deliberate thankful – sweet
difficult thankful. Just today I want
it unhurried, given as a breath –

the bright ornate of oak in December
right before it opens its bones.

Poem 16 / Day 16

Protectors on the Kitchen Table / Maggie Rue Hess

Cardboard dinosaur rears on scarlet claws
atop the lacquered wood box latched
tight like potent energy. Your protectors have arrived,
the satchel of stones promises.

Down the block, crew members and machines posture
around the gargantuan tree felled by a storm,
incidentally collapsing the direct center of a white
two-story, the only damaged denizen of that address.

Somewhere someone tosses their lunch; a skunk
flattens beneath a fender with one final perfume;
it is the worst possible day for a father,
his child, his mother, and their cousins.

At the kitchen table, though, prehistoric saviors
grant our wish from childhood. We are safe,
and we believe we are.

Drawing a Blank / by Bill Holm

Use a dull #2 pencil,
a rugged pink eraser,
an empty white paper,
a whiskey, neat, in reach.

Quickly sketch a simple shape.
Apply a light touch to prevent
a deep impression.
A rhombus or scalene will do.

It’s hard to draw it right.
Don’t worry if it looks
ungeometric or ill conceived.
Just get it on the sheet.

The more awkward the
better. A bad fit, the wrong
feeling, a poor choice,
instant regret, remorse.

Hate what you draw;
you reveal your weakness.
Damn yourself to hell;
you lack talent and touch.

Sip the whiskey. Stare.
Can you salvage it
with a tweak or two?
No, the cause is lost.

Give up, sigh, know
it must be destroyed.
Grab the rugged pink eraser,
yell your favorite expletive.

Sip. Press. Rub. Blow. Repeat.
Destroy the shape
so no one ever knows,
as if nothing ever happened.

Congratulations.
You’ve drawn a blank.
The paper is clean once more.
And you can try again.

The Whole Country tried to Break his Skin / by Shirley Jones-Luke

At first with pretty words
then with fine goods
next with threats
then came the swords
taking Black bodies by force
onto ships, to the New World,
the cruel world where there were
revolutions & so many bodies felled
by the muskets
by the cannons
by the bombs
with the tanks rolling in
with the soldiers following,
carrying machine guns
into Black & Brown neighborhoods,
where more bodies fell, more fear
in the eyes of mothers losing their sons
& daughters to beatings, shootings &
killings at the hands of their brothas
by different mothers & from officers who saw
them as animals to be cornered & corralled
& kicked & incarcerated

And yet, their skin was not broken, their skin
was still Black, their skin was still Brown,
their skin bled, but the hue remained, the hue
remained intact & could not be beaten, could not
be choked, could not be kicked, no matter how hard
they tried, our color would not go away, it would not
be driven away into the dark of the night, into the gray
shadows, into the evening sky where the spirits
of our people from so long ago, send us drops
of their skin on the wind

Blissful Glories / by Pratibha Kelapure

Sugar butter flour water
Every little flower wonder
Garden orchard earthen pleasure
Soaring eagle flying creatures
Piglets cattle bovine pasture
Ample water pleasing zephyr
Nature power blissful glories

Coffee Meditations / by Daryl Muranaka

Maybe I’m getting old
when pour first the milk
into the cup while the coffee
maker cackles that I’m awake
again. Maybe I’m too set
in my ways because I’m surprised
by the wonder of warm
milk instead of cold. Outside,
the new spring branches have
snapped in the wind storm,
and the red blossoms rumble
along the deck between the pots.
But now it is 5 AM and silent
and there is magic
in the madness
of silence, tyranny
in the space between things,
the emptiness of wisdom.
Silence isn’t surrender,
nor speech, wisdom.
The world spins
as one more voice
in the cacophony
of the universe.
I can’t shout over it.
I won’t whisper beneath
it and so I fold my hands
and have faith
that I’ll work it out.

Television / by Jessica Regione

wasn’t it always the bluish glow of the screen and ghostly that comforted you; and a hand in your hair; your head on her lap, jean-clad; how little you had been touched; were touched; continued to be touched; and the dark of unknowing; eyes fixed on static and fleeting figures; shapes leaving traces on your retina; capes that trailed; vapors; and it is nighttime there; a moon looming high; higher; above the black pines and pungent scent of pitch; thickness; if only there was such thing as forever; meaning: unending affection; you dream of it; no; your body hungers for it; meaning: for other skin

Let Me In / by Gina Tron

I tried to climb back
into your house
but the day
has pitched
into an onyx canvas
blank and moonless
loops instead of stars
staggering
on the wet grass
crushing wounded blades
there’s been a slaughter
green leaf volatiles.

Where’s canes venatici now?

In the lava
underneath
I know
the ground
could open
and swallow me up
as a spaceship
of peepers deflate
screaming
drowning
in my ear canal.

I’d choke on dirt
and melt
before anyone
knew I sank
I’m sure.

Can’t find the door,
or even a window
feeling up
your empty home’s
vinyl siding
as the spring storm
rolls up
my sternum
and the wind
it feels like fall
about to crystalize
about to dry up.

I left them open
my windows
and the sirens are going off:
a severe weather warning.

The green’s
gonna rot
into ashes again.

Your moonstone landline
keeps calling me
I know it’s there
under the dust
and
I just want to rip
the siding apart
and get inside
before the wind
tears off my skin.

All the other houses
can burn to the ground,
I really don’t care
just let me in.
I can’t fucking help it,
there’s nothing I can do
there’s nothing open in town.

I would have
left the porch light on
and put that
faded welcome mat
out for you
when you came around.

A Pen at the Tracks / by Ulysses

No one tells us when the train arrives in this city
Uncertainty is the gate closing.

Urban metal murals
Commercials for alternative artists
I like, but do not admire.
Reeling as if written in air.

Reminding me of myself
In my ink, my lines.
On track to elsewhere.

My metonymy have never met their referent
But defer in a Mandelbrot.
Metanoia on a college mattress
Image endless like between two mirrors.

Closure are the gates lifting, again.

Allergies in the Springtime / by Amanda Weigner

Summer shines with its
ravenous glare;
much like a phoenix.

I sit behind the panel of glass,
watching as I sneeze
in between gazes.

I only wish to be released
from this mundane
prison, one without bars,
but with restrictions.

Kept in isolation
would be the desired approach.
I am contempt to
continue as if I am not
coughing up a storm
with every exhale I perform.

The pressure only builds up,
never, does it go away.

Ave Maria / by Matilda Young

Toi, tu ne peux pas épargner, désespoir –
the great spire that had withstood

80 percent of a millennia & civil war,
& the great war, then the great war

again. The crumbling rookeries
of sinister godlings who had seen

the fall of angels, barricades,
self-anointed emperors. Shining

windows winking out in great
unholy reckonings with time.

Or perhaps holy — because
what blesses us is mostly brief.

Even the mighty flights of stone
of laborers & engineers are votives

& votaries that time will out –
the good work done down to the rest

of all good dust. Outside, people sing
Ave Maria on their knees. Gratia plena,

football jerseys, iphones & rosaries,
the flames burning through the dusk.

Nous sommeillons en toute sécurité
déchirer. Oh my great lady,

it is a terrible season, this harrowing,
that what we make has too its unmaking.

Poem 15 / Day 15

Fox at Night / by Maggie Rue Hess

The second time
shouldn’t have been
as much of a shock
as it was –
but there you were,
misplaced resident
drawing my gasp
before the dog could
ignore it.
The moon loved you
and the air stilled
and my mutt leapt
with a disheveled bark.
Furred light beam
pawless with grace,
you magicked over the road,
down the bank
soundlessly. I could’ve
painted the hairs
on your slim body
in another detailed moment;
I could’ve asked for
your secrets, tranquility.
You will keep them,
preserve another night.

I Have Worries. I’m Not Fine / by Bill Holm

I hand a cashier a one-dollar bill
for a five-dollar jar of strawberry jam.
The cashier stares at the money.
“Uh, I need four more,” he says.
“Sheez,” I say. “I’m an idiot. Sorry.
Nice try on my part, though, eh?”
He says with cheer, “No worries. You’re fine.”

Well, I have worries. I’m not fine.

Around twelve thousand years ago
everyone’s universe was here and now.
A few goats to tend, a cave for cover,
some stories to tell, trout in the river.
No dark matter and sucking black holes
where nothing is more than irrelevant.

If my universe were populated by few
and I could almost touch the moon
then gods would live close as the clouds.
They would know my name and care
for me and my goats—powers so close
I’d feel their breath in breezes and storms.

I have worries. I’m not fine.

Urban Sonnet: Beat III / by Shirley Jones-Luke

We are in a flux, a conundrum
soldiering on morning, noon & night
we are like robots, human machines
we keep going until we drop & die
our fates seemed to be sealed, our destinies
denied from us with no hope on the horizon
but we continue, driven by nature
by need to leave our marks on this world
we want to be seen, to be heard, to rise
& be acknowledged for who we are
& not who we aren’t for that is humanity
not oil & gears or glass & steel
bending, shifting, an age-old test
we watch & wonder as we do our best

A Happy Song / by Pratibha Kelapure

By the wooded thicket bend of the cliff
wonderful waterfall, hidden treasure nothing
sorrowful, rapture of the happy chorus
birdsongs rising skyward carry my prayers

Hurrying angels doctor a cure, miracles
flourish. Am I chosen or just misjudged?
Nature’s mysteries, human frailty, happy
Union – humans and divinity duly engaged

LISTENING TO KIDS’ PODCASTS / by Daryl Muranaka

We define our breath by what we take,
our respiration is all about the oxygen,
but so much is defined by what we exhaust,
by the carbon dioxide burning us
from the inside out. We are radiant
creatures forgetting we aren’t
singular beings, not swirling mouth
obsessed with our own consumption.
Is it carelessness or neglect that leads
us to forget all the heat we push off,
all the life we must carry with us.
Life is exhausting
whether we’re spinning
on our proper axis or not,
never stopping, never
slowing—until it does.

Parting Words / by Jessica Regione

In my mind I’m waving goodbye
to myself, a long-haired girl running

down the Commonwealth Avenue promenade
under a canopy of trees though

I don’t know what kind of trees,
I never did know the names

for linden, sycamore, only the way
the light sifted through a mesh of branches

to what was otherwise a wilderness
of shade, where I laid

on park benches and he wove
my hair between his fingers because I told him

my mother had done that sometimes
and that nothing felt as good

or as bad, full of such longing and such sorrow
for what had been lost,

for what continued to be lost, which is why
in my mind I’m saying goodbye

to everything, to all the men
who said they loved me but hit me or took

my money or who just weren’t enough,
and the wind is against my skin

in a summer that seems endless
but isn’t, and I wonder

if that’s what death is like, seeing
all your loves lined up and relinquishing them,

relinquishing even
the city where the sun bronzed your kneecaps

and you remembered all the words
to The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

in a cemetery in August,
even yourself, even a beautiful

moonlit face on a pillow beside you
when you were twenty-two

Threatened / by Gina Tron

You don’t have a job
or passions
loyal friends
a clear identity
but you do have a penis.

And
for some reason
you keep giving me
unsolicited advice
about my life.

Intimidated
but curious
are always
those types.

Join the club
the pile
of blank notecards
I shove in
my back pocket.

Yeah,
I can be insecure too
but I keep it in the mirror
from me to me.

Sometimes
I’ll jam my hand
through the glass
but I try
not to
slit anyone’s
throats
with the shards.

Anyway,
if you want my advice
I’ll definitely charge.

15 / by Ulysses

When the water becomes liquid gold in the sun
Pause is not given by the river,
I dip my hand beckoning
a gentle denizen of the sea

Manatee,
Gnaw on the smoothe of my fingers
Or chisel with your teeth
The skin of my ears

Leave the bones for lobster
Leave them clean for crab
That have hidden from my voice
In dry tunnels from the sun
From the wind, from the hand
That reaches for a cold beer
In an icy chest

That mistook my whispers
For threats.
Leave them clean
Like I have the husk of turkey, cornish hen
Birds without song
Without wings for flight
Without a way to provide game or aim to the air
Now devoured, a stranger to the wind
So leave me a stranger to this wind
The streets, they have sung their siren song.

Two steps forward / by Amanda Weigner

Don’t let your demons
summon you at their whim.
Pave your path toward Light.
Taking two steps forward
and one step back is okay.

We travel in decades.
We inch closer in battles.
Your compass may waver
as you progress.

Take a breath.
Lie down and breathe.

Your path is unique
and should never be compared
to the paths of those
around you.

Breathe.

Light a match.

Two steps forward.

Journeymen / by Matilda Young

You can only carry
a handful of things
away – plant cuttings,
old calendars, HR papers
from three jobs ago –
but what you keep is
yours – N winning
at Uno at the underfunded
holiday afternoon,
a conference room
and plastic table cloth,
conga lines and sneaking
snacks into your purse,
B playing Prince on their
phone, J doing the snow
day dance with you one
week into your new
job, C introducing
you to HH, sports bars,
and Dog Fish Head.
Labor for wages,
labor for justice, labor
for family, labor for
the people, but also
the people who taught
you what hard work
is and that work is also
bringing the cookies,
signing the cards,
rocking to wobble
with it late into
a work night when
you still can’t go home.
This is what they taught
you – this is how you
survive, build a life –
you laugh, you dance,
you show up at weddings,
home goings, band
performances for
your colleagues who
are the people who
you show up with,
then show up for.

Poem 14 / Day 14

Variation on Matthew 25:40-43 (Love) / by Maggie Rue Hess

Whatever you do for the commonest of these,
          you do for me.

Hear from me, you who are attentive,
that the works of slow hands prepare
their own banquet in time.

For I was broken, and you found glue
          or gold to refit me; I was split,
          and you merged the halves.

I was a vessel and you did not seek to fill me; I needed
          a handle, and you sought out the clay;
          I was rough and uneven, and you held me.

April’s Late Snow Enshrouds / by Bill Holm

Our century-old neighbor died this morning.
An ambulance slowly left the scene,
no anxious lights, no blare to beware.

Her son never lived without her.
He backed out their garage in his
blue 1984 Chevette and followed.

An hour later, as I ate a meatloaf sandwich
with Bibb lettuce and a mustard-mayo aoli,
a turkey visited our snowy backyard.

She walked here and there and I hoped
the black squirrels, juncos, and finches
left something under the feeders.

Our first turkey. Crazy development
has claimed her nearby homes.
She’s trying to fit in with humans.

I finished my sandwich and washed dishes.
A week ago, a turkey lay beside our road,
attacked by a motorist and left to die.

Urban Sonnet: Beat II / by Shirley Jones-Luke

Apartment buildings & condos block the sun
the old neighborhood continues to shrink
I catch a bus to my new home, miles away
bunched in with tons of people, refugees
of traditions that are buried under steel & glass
glinting in the sun, blinding our way
we did not ask for this existence
neighbors are now strangers acting strangely
in a despotic society, a world
we created in desperation
greed guided us to our current state
we know not how to undo this mess
each day we live with our frustration
we have become a shadow nation

Happiness / by Pratibha Kelapure

It’s in the title
Herald happiness
Capture a little sunlight
No matter how small the aperture
Seems for afar
Get closer to the cave
The opening will transform into
The gateway to joy

Happiness is not bestowed at birth
By guardian angels
Not bequeathed by parents
Definitely, not by parents
All they could do was give you one life
To live
A happy life
That you alone can make

Spring / by Daryl Muranaka

the budding trees
promise pink blossoms
my watery eyes

It’s Good, She Thought / by Jessica Regione

It’s good, she thought, it’s good he left me the way
he did, quickly, after a dream of a flood,
good that he stayed gone, at least
in body if not in spirit,

good that he got a new apartment
on the other side of town,
good that he blocked me on social media,
good that he left the king size bed,

which I seem to swim in, being as I am
smaller than the average woman.
Now it’s important to read self-help books
about abandonment,

to sell the rings, to lock the doors,
to grieve in the night, to cry out,
to remember the bad times so I can remember
the necessity of loneliness.

It’s good that I can take up as much space
as I like now, or none at all,
wear a kimono till noon, go without lipstick,
hang the pictures whichever way

I want to, backward or upside down.
It’s good that I can fall back into my body,
and touch it, and bless it, and eventually
let another man touch it and bless it,

good that I am still a woman,
though no longer his. After all,
what was there? A blue city,
a white horse on a beach,

some tulips. Quivering
grasses, an eclipse,
a shadow across his pale
and incomprehensible face.

Black Out / by Gina Tron

I remember the first time
at a quarter century:
I had used to think
people were lying
when they said
they couldn’t remember,
they just did what they wanted
while oiled in gasoline.

Holes in my memory
as if my brain was Waco,
puncture wound by wound.

Christmas lights twinkling
through the sweat
of the night
smoke and heat
until all I saw was white.

I don’t know
who took over.

It wasn’t raining yet
only sprinkling,
leaning on a brick wall
neon cross above me
slurring
into a dream
embracing the forbidden
but in my mind
I was kissing
another human
in another dimension
space and time
stars falling slowly
pink crushed up dust.

Waking up
to a pillow
caked in cold vomit.

I remember the first time
I could tell
someone else
was on that planet
by the look in her eyes
a deep swamp
beyond the forest
and a black hole
with so much
fire inside
a body filled with coal.

A turquoise gown
on the boardwalk
at night
standing in the rain
gripping
a busted umbrella
getting ready for
the tsunami to hit.

Quiche Serving of One / by Ulysses

Writing with one hand
And eating with the other.

Consider the fork,
Pronged tasty, delicious
Scattered against this masoned counter.

Consider how
you must deftly
chew about the heat of the quiche
Avoiding the centers.

Teeth wanting
to chew into anything hot

To fill its stomach
That hasn’t eaten in hours.

Consider the hand
Its soft underside scarred by fates
Trying to enjoy and produce .

One can only serve one
purpose at one moment.

Nothing Forgotten / by Amanda Weigner
a blackout poem of If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms

without leaving mine

And My Poor Fool Is Hanged / by Matilda Young

It was a dumb idea,
but he did it anyway.
King Lear. Macbeth.
Casca. Falstaff.
Moby Dick. It’s
as obvious a train
wreck as calling your ex
at 3 am drunk on bad
bourbon, showing up
at their door with one
sock on and regret
the acid coating your
throat and vomit
coating pretty much
everything else. Or else
climbing an ancient
mountain in July
haze with too much
gear and no stamina.
Or that poor ex letting
us inside. Most of us
survive it, or this
particular it, but we
can see worlds where
no one calls us a cab,
sends us back down,
gently shuts the door
we should never open.
Saints and misplaced
Ciceros break our
hearts but a goodish
proudish ramshackle
heart brought low by
its own hand &
the kingdoms with it –
that’s the midnight
haunting of what we
could not fix and every
single match burned
down and out.

Poem 13 / Day 13

Using Your Edge / by Maggie Rue Hess

Doesn’t matter how you look, you too
were carved into the tool
That could harm or help any person around you.
We all draw blood – no hand isn’t red –
whether it feels like slicing or not.

Yet every tool has some handhold, some way
to make it useful and safe. Growing into yourself
is learning how to hand people that end,
blunt but productive. You don’t have to dull
your edge or pretend it isn’t there –
but you don’t have to use it on everyone.

Do It Yourself / by Bill Holm

We spackle holes, cracks, and gouges,
fill in the injuries of everyday,
let the chalky white dry
before we sand it smooth.

We tackle ceiling, walls, and trim,
disguise the dingy and faded,
let new color dry into metaphor
before we apply a second coat.

Brush strokes and roller swaths
compose a ritual of resistance,
like fireside chants summoning
hope after damage and loss.

The room will look less ramshackle,
as if we’re careful and in control.
Soon we won’t recall what lay beneath,
As if nothing ever happened.

Urban Sonnet: Beat I / by Shirley Jones-Luke

ramshackled no more I wait on the street
my block is a brother that left me
promises unkept the government knows
how to keep us down until we can’t move
brother where are you help me please help me
through this darkness & into the daylight
ramshackled woman thrown onto the streets
my home not my own my brother is gone
gentrified & ramshackled no more
I didn’t see before my eyes were blind
clouded trying to get mine, get it all
now my home, my block, my brother – all gone
alone I walk, a stranger in my hood
faces stare at me like I’m up to no good

Portrait of Mourning / by Pratibha Kelapure

your eyes are don’t see the people
milling around, avoiding each other’s eyes
an occasional whisper breaks the still air, but
this small movement doesn’t make it easy
to draw another breath into your frozen lungs
I wonder if you are ever going to want to
breath again, or have you turned into a sculpture
of enfolded grief, a portrait of unspoken sorrow
someone hands you a candle, but
your clenched fist fails to open
someone starts to sing amazing grace
the candles flicker in the dimly lit room
your eyes focused on something unseen
I wonder if you could see her in another world
I wish you would wail, cry, shed a few small tears
I fold my arms around you, the only thing, son,
A mother could do at this time of deep grief
your body feels like a corpse, cold and still
have we lost you along with your loving Celia?
the time keeps rolling without any lapse
keeps rolling and rolling
sooner or later people get hungry
I call you out for dinner, the empty seat
at the table and your eyes full of tears
unable to hold them inside, just keep falling

Adulting is Hard / by Daryl Muranaka

Oh, for an hour to wait
to wonder, to meditate
upon the hour and watch
the rain collect on the window.
When I was a boy I spent
hours under the loveseat
with blocks carelessly
structured in sharp precision.
My mind on the here & now.
I paid no mind to the knocking
of the heater or the clang-
clanging of the pipes, never
concerned about breakfast
because that was an article
of faith & an intrusion of the day.

Clown / by Gina Tron

You know all the morning shows with the three people?
                          The woman with the annoying laugh
                          The boring guy
                          And then the clown guy?

Why didn’t we buy an ad to play during one of those
to announce our break up?

Now I’m just clowning around on Tinder
making plans to act
so many unanswered messages
I don’t have the time to write back
I mean I do
I just don’t have the energy
I guess I don’t want to
I guess I don’t care.

The idea of sparking something new,
it’s just too much work.

Tethered to a strain in my chest
         it was what I always wanted,
             a canopy over my bed:
         white netting,
         keeping my structure in
         I put in so much work
and so many questions
I waited
no answers anymore.

The canopy got taken down
and it’s time to go back
to the circus.

Feathered &
puffin eyes
         bark hangovers
         memory foam ridden
         streams of down.

4/13/19 / by Ulysses

Approaching this morning
like a stray lizard
That never minds the
                                         songbird’s song of surface.

I sit on ideas for way too long
And call them poems.

You have read me too long to form reason.
Or shortly?

Recognition. No longer needing the pattern of jesting letters
Building a home of these combinations.

Enduring the cold night
until the last cricket has
chirped.

Waking,
                Excuse me
Waking to the sun
is not the same as
expecting to wake to it.

Just call me “Miss Unpopular” / by Amanda Weigner

If there was one question
I would ask of my high school
graduating class, it would be this:

Why couldn’t any of you truly be my friend?

I ask this, because today,
I am not truly friends with anyone from my class.

Sure, we are “friends” on Facebook,
but at our 10 year reunion,
I barely spoke with any of them.

The popular crowd still stuck together
leaving the rest of us
to find our own seating.
No one wanted to catch up on
a “blast from the past”
because we all know
what we want to know.

I regret that I let my fear
of being rejected
deter me from trying out
for cheerleading or show choir.

I am on the fence
whether I regret letting
certain people in over the years
who ultimately used
my friendship for their own gain,
then left me behind.

Still, I have to wonder…
would any of them be willing
to be my friend today?

Saturday / by Matilda Young

Sick on a weekend
Betrayed by germs, time, body
Feeling down and out

Poem 12 / Day 12

Coffee-Happy Budget / by Maggie Rue Hess

Drinking for cheap
means black coffee
and a quarter pound
of white sugar.
Become accustomed
to the bitter
so the next cream
will be so
sweet.

Sense of Direction / by Bill Holm

A warbler sees the earth’s magnetic field.
I squawk back to my GPS and defy orders.

Heading northwest,
I end up southeast.

Coyotes understand every inch of their territory.
Every inch of mine is always news to me.

Going down,
how did I get so high?

Confused,
I find myself in the weeds.

I’ve been told when you’re on a road
you’ve taken many times,
but you don’t know where you are,
just keep going straight ahead
until something looks familiar.

Take it from me.
It doesn’t work.

If I say turn right,
I suggest you turn left.

If I say it’s right here,
look way over there.

Each moment bears a discovery.
Yet, I often get where I need to be.

But, if I’m an hour late,
call out the dogs.

When A Country Shuts Down / by Shirley Jones-Luke

Trash piles up. 14 days of gridlock. Congress is at odds. Stalemate
is a gamble no side can win. A wall on the southern border. A powerful barrier t
o block out migrants. The caravan waits in Mexico as children die. Gridlock endangers lives. The trash still piles up. The odds are Congress will never agree on the wall. America is in a hostage situation.

Joyful Willow / by Pratibha Kelapure

Long rolling tresses of weeping willow
Windswept shelter, an easy asylum I know
In spring they spur such pleasure the spirit stirs
When April showers come, it sheds joyful tears

Winter winds whip and strip the branches bare
There is grace in starkness you’ll see if you dare
Yellow piles whirl around like a child’s delight
The spring will spring and make things right

Home & Garden / by Daryl Muranaka

the leaves at the edge
separate nature from nurture
but only skin deep

Spring Rain / by Jessica Regione

The rain was neither enormous
nor important, but it was
                                                sudden

and I waited for you to come home
drenched in it while I held

a handful of ranunculus
because I wanted to see you

sodden, disheveled and without
pretense, I wanted wet
                                               petals

to spill
from our mouths

Home Economics / by Gina Tron

In a blender,
I pulsed some eggs
milk, sugar, salt
and vanilla extract.

The first fire
I could touch
monitored
but so free.

I wasn’t allowed
to try it at home.

Poison baking inside
Mom’s casserole dish.

Her ingredients were drained
and crushed by blades
which battered
fear and flour
into the sauce
permeating
her veins.

In a few years,
mushrooms on toast
and all of a sudden
I’m an adult
and I’m supposed to know
how to cook
frustrated men
uneducated me.

The home work
I drove home
was
something else I learned
in class:
how to simmer
out my mind’s
boiling thoughts
with household products.

Self Alienation / by Ulysses

My meal is not here
But I hear seconds ticking.

What do we call the third arm
Or is it tail
Wagging round?

You cannot clock me in without the button.
It doesn’t matter
Materialized goods from a factory

That can handle it cheaper just not locally,
It’s hard but it’s fair.

I try to put this concept in the rear view.
Where mirrors have ceased to arrest my imagination.

Imagination starts with Little Messes / by Amanda Weigner

I give my son crayons
and coloring books one day.
He held a blue one in his
little hand, just staring at it.

I encouraged him to place
the crayon on the page.
He brought the crayon
up to his mouth and bit
a piece off.

I took the crayons away.

I then gave my son
a paintbrush and watercolors.
He looked confused.
I dipped the brush into the water
then into the paint.
He watched his mommy in amazement.

Next, he splashed his hands
in the water, knocking it over
onto the carpet.
He smeared his little hands over
every color on the pallet.

Pretty soon, I had an entire living room
covered in watercolor paint.
My son’s face was colorful.

He did manage to cover
the single piece of canvas paper
I had on the table.

I framed it with delight.

Dance / by Matilda Young

10:30 on a Saturday
in a run down suburban
gym crammed dance floor
thick in the one studio –
we are a motley parliament
of bodies – bright shirts,
leggings, addidas shorts,
T Shirts with bad puns about
cardio –all of us following
the compact person
leading us through high
knees and grapevines
to Raggaeton. The inelegant
bourgeois enjoying itself –
shaking our chests, punching
the air, unselfconscious
of size or age or all the other
strikes against our pleasure.
We have bodies and we are
strong and getting stronger.
The person at six feet holding
the center of the floor –
clearly a regular – gorgeous
like a goddess – like a god –
the tiny tennis pro to my left,
the woman with her best aunt
t-shirt stomping in the corner.
We will not be cool.
We will be lovely – all of us
lovely, human, joyous, clapping
in rhythm, feeling the beat
in our hips.

Poem 11 / Day 11

Ballerina in a Paper Gown / by Maggie Rue Hess

Twin pearl-drop earrings
bobble at my lobes against my neck
above the paper gown.
Earlier, when a student told
me I looked like a ballerina,
and I assured him I could
never be one, he pointed out my bun.
Hair carefully twisted away
from temples presents as dancer-like.
This same face perches over lazy
shoulders barely supporting closure
for the flimsy hospital gown. I
have no idea how to sit in it
to make my physician’s job easier,
to be bare in an acceptable way,
but as I poise on the table’s edge
I arch my feet as if in relevé,
waiting to brush across a stage
draped in a paper dress and pearls.

East Wind / by Bill Holm

The roar sends my cats to their basement
hiding places where nothing can find them.

Unease whips to a frenzy.
Oaks bend and give, hanging on.
Division grows meaningless
as backyard fences give way.

The house cracks creaks and whumps.
Thought breaks up into lines and verses.
Dark shades rush west in fast motion,
a time lapse that brings dawn no closer.

These aren’t winds of change.
Change is patient and persistent
without bluster or burst
to propel us toward the unalterable.

Rather, this is a warning. Or revenge.
We take without giving thanks,
without reciprocity, without a pause,
as if the world is our domain.

So I’ll bow to the blow,
happily roll like a tumbleweed
into vast waters and let currents
carry me where we need to go.

Piercing the roar, a cardinal calls from honeysuckle,
A beacon for his mate to navigate home.

Pray When Your Left Hand Itches / by Shirley Jones-Luke

Money’s involved, someone is after your paper
bill collectors, IRS, old debts have resurfaced

Nothing lucky comes from it, the itching
heralds a curse, coins leaving your purse

Or wallet. Money troubles don’t discriminate,
a loss of dollars is taking food from your plate

Don’t scratch it, ignore the itch
a burning sensation, makes you twitch

In the center of your palm, the key to your fortune
just hope the itching ends soon

The urge for relief is strong, fight it
your palm sweats, but that’s okay

For today, someone is after your loot,
bank account on stalker status

This is what happens when your left
hand itches, superstition or lack of riches?

Your Birthday / by Pratibha Kelapure

It was the spring of my youth
When your life sprung on this earth
The magnitude of this event I did not fathom
I wanted the moon for you
Being more naïve than was forgivable,
I believed your life would be
Happier than mine
Because I wasn’t my mother, that I
Loved you better than my ancestors loved me
Love alone would trump all the bad, I thought
I banished every nail, every knife,
Any sharp thing from the house
A stranger was a danger I imprinted in your mind
I never saw the danger lurking within
Love and all that optimism wasn’t enough
To obliterate my own diffidence and fears
Erase the guilt that I passed on to you
Now it’s the summer of your youth
Go, catch the sunshine
Walk in the rain
Trust that the world is
A much safer place than your feeble mother

The Wetland Part II / by Daryl Muranaka

The wetland didn’t drain
this year. The pond froze
over and trapped last year’s
grass beneath like a museum
exhibit, unmoving, unwavering,
noiseless. But now
it’s spring and the rot begins
the moss creeps over the surface
and I wonder if I have
started too much
now that the illusion of winter,
the illusion of solid footing
melts and I start to sink
below the reeds.

Chefchaouen / by Jessica Regione

I don’t think of you
except when I do

that you’re a place I no longer
go to is a poetic way

of putting it, less so
that you’ve been reduced

to a stack of xeroxed
papers in a desk drawer, a few

photos where everything is blue,
because everything in that distant

city we traveled to was blue,
the sky being the least

of it, all but your eyes
and your high forehead with such

unfathomable thoughts,
or they were to me, being as I am

a woman who carries umbrage
like a bundle of sticks

on my back, those Berber women
trundling on the roadside

dressed in patchwork harlequin
stitched rags in all the colors,

all of them, up that African
mountain, dust-covered and peopled

with baobab trees, and you said
it looked like California, but then

you said a lot of things,
and at the top was where we left

our dreams, or I did,
I don’t know yours anymore

My Last Will And Testament / by Gina Tron

This is my will please.

The money can go to whoever,
I only care
about this stuff, my most important wishes:
I want everyone I’ve ever slept with to be subpoenaed to speak at my funeral,
I want everyone from my fourth grade class to be subpoenaed to speak at my wake
and
I want the most famous radio host from the area I die in to be the emcee of my funeral,
and I want him to be court ordered to do it.
Would like Jock Jams songs only to blast during the wake
and everyone who comes gets a pillow with a picture of me on it.

Please commission the following painting for my funeral:
a recreation of me being uncomfortable
while watching that Tom Cruise sex scene in “Jerry Maguire” with my parents,
my favorite childhood memory.

I want nothing basic engraved on my stone like “beloved daughter,”
I’d prefer the following instead:
“It took 12 armed guards to take her down”
“She wasn’t the best person but she was definitely a person”
“She exploited my son”
and a long list of
jokes I annoyed people with for decades.

If this doesn’t happen
it’s my wish
to torture and haunt
anyone who disrespected my wishes
from beyond the grave.

Thank you.

Desert Library / by Ulysses

In the library at brief respite
From the heat of Austin in July.

All of the books regal
In their jackets on their shelves.

The letters provide home away from home
to distanced travelers.

Stolen Innocence / by Amanda Weigner

Downtown, there is a mural.
It shows of a girl holding her teddy
bear’s hand; the other pointing
at her ear, bullets shooting
out the opposite end.

There are drops painted
around her face, hearts
appearing past the bullets.

I stare at this image.
A million different scenarios
rush past me.

Stolen Innocence.

This is the thought that stuck.

Bryce / by Matilda Young

For Laura

On this trip I could not
would not have done
without you –

renting a car, flying
to Vegas, taking down
the canyon in yak tracks

as the ice melted beneath
our feet – you, kind
scholar, gentle warrior,

lead off at the trail head,
and in that three hour
trek as I panted, sweated,

shed layer after layer
in the brilliant sun while
the hoodoos painted silence

with millennia and the snow
turned to mud turned to snow
We met and parted perhaps

six times or so. And it was
perfect, joyful – each
new angle of sun and stone

and wood and snow melt –
with you and the ravens
close off then out of sight

then your strong back
striding on. Not beside
but with you. Then you

waiting at the end with
bench and power bar
and a dreamy smile

as we stopped
and listened
to the radiance.

Poem 10 / Day 10

The Lesson / by Maggie Rue Hess

Doctors should get sick.
Teachers should fail a test.
Lawyers should get sued.
Cops should be under arrest.

When you spend your time on people
who fall by a worsened way,
it matters that you understand
how they feel on a desperate day.

Learn how to need an answer,
feel what it means to be wronged,
and live through the lesson
that compassion makes you strong.

Rain / by Bill Holm

The conception is immaculate,
a union of pure vapor and dust.

A droplet clean as heaven is born,
fated to tumble and fall from on high
through a gauntlet of betrayal

carbon dioxide
        – bathwater seas turn to acid –

volatile organic compounds
        – livers turn to stone –

carbon monoxide
        – hardening hearts quiver and stop –

nitrogen dioxide
        – skin and bones burn in flameless fire –

sulphur dioxide
        – eyes close and weep –

ozone
        – lungs lose their breath –

chlorofluorocarbons
        – flesh devoured under a malignant sun –

lead
        – thought loses its head –

ammonia
        – airways shut down –

until the drop crashes and splashes
on our needy roof where it finds

a weak seal and sneaks inside
as it seeks its level and drips

between our faces to sizzle
to dust and vapor on the hot stove.

We jump back and nearly
kick the cat who scampers off
but trots right back

while we prepare organic brown rice
local organic uncaged chicken
organic carrots and greens

to the strut of “Stayin’ Alive.”

Tread Softly / by Pratibha Kelapure

the links are everywhere, but rarely bind,
what you see anywhere, the gentle kind
ties that seem to bind, the silky string

the string woven, braided on mulberry wing
that sheltered hope for the offspring.
the links are everywhere but rarely bind.

the pod, a slipcase that was threaded for
the larva to grow, no worry about the wing
its fate is left to whims of human king

moth’s fate lies in sad mound and open pod
Its old threads break in bits, my eyes feel sore,
the links were broken here, and everywhere

and we are everywhere, the only thing
that can be anywhere, but rarely bring
a noble bond to link the life with loving kind
why do we break – the links of humankind?

A Persistent State / by Daryl Muranaka

We all remember our first
dead thing like a vapor,
the dead butterfly,
the dead bee,
along a windowsill.
I remember the dead
deer half buried in the sand
waving nonchalantly
as I strolled past
along the lake. But
that was years ago.

I cut up the chicken
a few quick slices
for each leg, each wing,
free them from the carcass
with the oddness
of a developing
practiced hand.
Should I consider
this a horror
or would be Grandmother
be ashamed
by the luxury
of a weekly chicken?
Am I soft or just
too insulated from
the delicate and the persistent
state of death?

I breakdown
the chicken
careful not to waste
the passing of life
one into another
just as I stood by
and touched the paper skin
of Grandma’s forehead
before the sudden rattle
of breath, before silence,
before the rest
of my life.

Notes on Christina’s World / by Jessica Regione

Mostly
she lays bare
the question

abandoned to wind to hair
to tortured limb to twisted ankle
to grasses

when you think of her you feel
something missing
an ache in your center

that sounds trite you think
but an ache
an aching

you learn you will never get
what you were missing
you have to give it to yourself

happy birthday
merry Christmas
you use your vibrator a lot

How much she needed you
the ocean
you go through life like that

small water lapping
and endless
you are never enough

you give yourself away to strangers
why not
and meanwhile

she she she
on the other end
of the phone

Imprint / by Gina Tron

The paddle was melting
wrapped in netting
got caught up
in too many oceans
stuck to some foam
slicing my fingers
on the rocks
meeting blurry animals
but none of them printed.

Brain not fully formed
yet I thought
I could cling
to the memories
that should last
but they only rode
as high as the wave
and meant as much
to me
as a mediocre sandwich
okay in the moment
gone with the crumbs.

Making up for lost time
I just want to have a good time
but my time had only started ticking,
just reading the clock wrong.

The journals disintegrated
into waterlogged trash,
I may as well have been
writing about sandwiches.

I was doing the things
I predicted would be worthy
wading around in the deep end
but nothing worth writing.

I needed to find my fingerprints again.

Life at Night / by Ulysses

At night,
What are all of the lights worth?
Are there too many bulbs?
Attracting the eyes of winged creatures,
Or
Are there just enough
Tethering the street’s with strands of light
Securing the purses of clubber’s on every block.

In clear day it seems useless;
But maybe that’s just
The reach goes unnoticed,
And our pupil’s growing smaller in the sun.

Maybe it’s just a phase
The sun showing prominence.
And the blue sky eating into the gray moon.

However,

When the sun sets
It’s only moments til the sky
Is the color of death
And what grazes during day
Is eclipsed by the mouth of another.
When the moon is the brightest thing in the sky

What flowers will open up?
What mouths will nurse at their nectar before the day?

A Mother who may/may not have Depression / by Amanda Weigner

Days get long, months fly by.
I watch as the grass browns
in certain places.
I feel the chill throughout my body.
Does it ever go away?

I miss our long talks
and the way you would look
at me as I spoke my dreams.

I long for silent nights
with my baby snuggled up
on me, his head on my shoulder
and he sleeps.

I look down at the bottle.
Six pills left.
My hands are shaking.

I grab my cup of coffee,
leaving the pills on the counter.

Where We Are / by Matilda Young

After Mary Oliver

What if it’s just a morning –
the pink of palms and velveteen
bunny ears this dawn light’s
variation while the workers
on the Wednesday garbage run
call to each other down the alley
wide enough for trucks and rugby
scrums of rats – ratatouille
cute and menacing. For years,
I’ve obsessed over progress,
victories, imagined slights,
while the flesh of the real
can only be clawed to –
even while it’s the page
moving under my hand.
Making a gold standard
of people I imagine doing
it best or getting it right
or getting to yes while
down here there’s good
puns and calm captains
and returning friends
and cherry blossoms
reflected in the stone.
And what I’m learning
I’ll keep learning,
and what I’m leaving
I must keep letting go,
while the birds sing April
songs and the close geese
call this way, this way,
I am here.

Poem 9 / Day 9

Returning / by Maggie Rue Hess

The lightmap blossoms its graph through the window
in amped contrast. Orange and blue pixelation signal
the descent. As dark as the night became is as gentle
as the slumber ends, wrapped in gray, dappled in rain.
Shrubbery protests and you notice beside it. A mob
of flowers, red-faced and throaty, being heard by the lawn
and the waters across. They do this every spring. They hold
signs for the world and her children to read: welcome home.

In the News / by Bill Holm

Trash rains down on Seattle Suburb

A man who lives near the landfill
walked through his yard to assess
dandelions and chickweed.

He stumbled upon a biohazard bag
containing a human being’s blood.

“Anybody that lives within close
flying distance of the landfill knows
that the eagles deposit this stuff
everywhere,” he told the county council.

Bald eagles. 200 of them.
Homo sapien detritus is a rich feast
for these savage scavengers
who appropriate what they want
and discard the rest on citizens.

The Seattle Times reports,
“Last year, they tried drones
to try to dissuade birds
from hovering over the garbage.”

A few years ago, on an eco-tour,
we went up the Apalachicola River.
Marcita spotted a circling bald eagle.

“The bald eagle is the perfect symbol
for the United States of America.
Both are opportunistic bullies,”
The tour guy said.

The Roaches / by Shirley Jones-Luke

Brown-bodied bugs invaded every area of our home.
Our apartment was a hostage to insects who saw us as intruders.

The roaches ate our food. They bathed in our tub.
They crawled in our closets. They slept in our laundry.

Ma would hit them with her hand, slapped them with rolled up newspapers, swept away their bodies & sprayed Raid all over the house.

My brother and I hated the smell of Raid on our skin & on our clothes. I hated when a roach would crawl out of my notebook at school.

No one knew we fought the bugs every day. No one saw how we washed ourselves til our flesh was red. No one saw us shake our clothes & roaches flew off in all directions. No one knew.

No one.

Passion vs. Reason / by Pratibha Kelapure

at the edge of reason
passion lingers
tassels on her broad-brim hat
on the periphery
eyes angling for dominance
she will edge out
this surge of reason on
the ledge of the
season of passion
reason
will lose its foothold
tip upturn and cross the threshold
retreat to the margin
always up on the frontier
passion

A bit of writers block / by Daryl Muranaka

I keep the pen
moving so something
will happen
                       like waiting
for a storm to land
so it will be
over faster.
                       Poems are
like tumbleweeds
crossing the road
to keep you from
moving too far down
            the road.

Simple Things / by Jessica Regione

You make a list of things
You want

More light, a fruit tree,
In-unit laundry,

Which is to say, a greener
Life, a life

Of ease, or easier
At least, and I remember

Lying on grass, the damp
Of it, the sense the ground made

Beneath the notches in my spine,
My hair splayed out,

The faraway sounds of everything else,
Leaves rustling on the trees that

Were flowering, would go on
Flowering, when no one

Needed me, not even God,
And I know I’ve lost

Something in this city,
Maybe it was only my youth

No resolutions / by Gina Tron

5-4-3-2-1 and
the Fox News reporter’s
tongue is in my throat
and she says she loves me
and flashes of years before
a manic waterfall
dripping down my brain
like blood
from a Kubrick film
holiday cards
thrown up in the air
and now there’s vomit
on my new comforter
the one that was supposed
to finally
bring me comfort.

She threw up all over my bed
tore my paintings off my wall
told me I had no feelings
none at all
and I’m trying
to wash off the vile
in a filthy shower
my serotonin levels drained
the light dancing
diamonds in my eyes
my hands struggling.

Throw it back
to a throw up’s ghost of past,
to a New Year’s of last,
my ex-whatever yelling
at whoever
was project-tiling
all over my Christmas jacket
snow dripping from my nostril
triangles gushing from my ears.

He always told me
I had too many feelings
as I walked through
Mario Bros. night level
trying to crush emotions
like pow-blocks
alone.

The Look / by Ulysses

Smile
Smile a bit more
Ok, how’s it look?

Perhaps you could smile more.
Perhaps you always should.

Perhaps you should stand straight
Always erect like a pole.
Is that even possible?

Life’s like a movie, they say.
Don’t be an extra in your own film.

How the hell could I be an extra in my own film?
How would that even begin to work?

That’s good enough.
Alright, everyone that’s it.

Where does everyone go when the shots are over.
Do they think about what they’ve done at all?

Is any of this normal
Is anything normal at all?

Is any of it real?

Life’s like a movie.
But what are we all doing in the end?

Perhaps you could smile more.
Perhaps you always should.

You are my Flashlight in the Dark / by Amanda Weigner

I wonder down the streets of my mind,
leaving footprints behind so that you
may follow.
A match is struck, I wave you on.
The flame goes out.

In the dark, I see myself.
I am left alone.

I see you, again.
You bring with you a box
of matches.

I admire your need to help.
Matches only burn
for so long….

It’s dark once more.
I am alone.
Everything is gray and mute.

There you are, again.
This time, with a flashlight.

It burns the gray with color.

You take my hand
and whisper “you are not alone.”

Practice / by Matilda Young

last night

I hugged my sparrow body

ruffled, rounding, strong little heart

which at any moment

capsized by cloud window light a hand

turning I said yes thank you

fiercely thank you lost already thank you

for this brief rib cage heart

Poem 8 / Day 8

Trust is the thing that hurtles / by Maggie Rue Hess

Trust is the thing that hurtles
through Clouds – on metal Wings –
carrying many on a Ride
Like a tin – with 50 Sardines!

Sometimes it can shake you
– or make your stomach flip;
sometimes it let’s you rest – easy –
as Faith in the Trip –

but you always know a Sometimes
exists outside the Plan –
that could drop you from the Sky –
Like a Kicked Can!

Rewrite / by Bill Holm

White as typing paper
each flake piles into moonlit meaning.
The wooded depression fills.

Black hemlock straight as pens
punctuate emptiness.
Desperation drifts here and there.

Red foxes erase wandering lines
voles draw in circles and arcs.
The scene grows scrutable in sunlight.

Pileated woodpeckers cackle and pound
to crack echoed silence.
Make a note of it, dig out, and start again.

Children of the Revolution / by Shirley Jones-Luke

We wish to fly
away from here.
This place has
lost the feeling of home.

Home was once
a paradise. Eternal Spring.
Forever ruined. We do not
know how to repair the land.

The land, abused by war,
by toxins, by so-called progress.
Poisoned by man’s ambition.
The future is crying.

Tears fall from innocent eyes.
Wide-eyed from shock. Babes
inheriting an uncertain future,
questioning why.

Despair / by Pratibha Kelapure

So much sunshine poured over the dark
The practice she follows with tenacity
Like a believer keeping alive the spark
Trying to gather the ocean with audacity

Day after day, she pushes the rock uphill
Putting Sisyphus to shame with her resolve
None could help her; it’s a solitary drill
That’s the way it goes; she has to evolve

Mindless Meditation / by Daryl Muranaka

I believe I hear
the cheering of the frogs
I listen with my eyes
closed, legs folded
in seiza trying to get
my Zen on.
                      Of course,
this is all wrong.
I was never taught
to do it this way
but to sit, half-lotus,
with my eyes wide open
watching the crack
in the wall open
to swallow all my thoughts
like the two mallards
scattering into the trees
because I forgot
to lock my door
two hours ago.

Our Love / by Jessica Regione

Not that I gave you everything,
I didn’t.

But your face,
But your open fist, it’s

Not a unique story so why
Does it feel like it is? Questions

Beget more questions. Why can’t I
Forget how I shut

Myself like a shell in your presence,
The roar of ocean in my ear

Deafening your lisps
In the night, your skin without blemish

I touched delicately, the most delicate,
Until I wasn’t.

I keep thinking of when we lost
My eyeglasses on the beach

In York that night,
How I smoothed my hands over sand

How it fell through my fingers
And that’s an obvious metaphor but

It was miraculous we found them,
But wasn’t everything miraculous then?

The moon, our wet knees,
And our pain, especially.

Grand Theft Auto / by Gina Tron

Childhood suspended,
        I open the door
        to see a boy sitting on the curb
        a skateboard in his hands.

We walk under sherbet skies
        past the homes
        where they shove humans in cages.

Crackles and pops
        and I’m on the ground
        crawling towards a Buick
        and slithering under
        until the loudest gunshot
        is my heart
        both our hearts
            the only sound around.

We run towards the noisy street
        shaking, hungry
        and wait an hour
        in a line
        for a video game.

We spend the night
        stealing cars
            and shooting people
        and laughing.

Maybe it means something,
I thought because
my parents once hid under a car
as unmarried kids
as bullets rained
on their vacation
but eh, we only date three months.

Eating Myself Sick / by Ulysses

Often hidden

behind a wall of

sound and smile,

 

My own songs are

too quiet to penetrate

the neighbor’s walls.

 

Left alone

I could sleep all day

 

In good company

I could sing all day.

 

Just as

The quality of food

is often decided

by the quality of kitchen.

 

The quality of

letters is often decided

by the quality of room.

 

Lone afternoons,

Napping after tea,

Eating half thought out snacks.

 

Ketchup and mustard is never a good idea for sauce for anyone.

April Sidewalk Outside Lulubelle’s / by Matilda Young

Sweet young pitty holds
what she’s not supposed to in
soft, intractable jaws

Poem 7 / Day 7

Stumbling Forward / by Maggie Rue Hess

Today I will commit to clumsy and not hiding it.
I will be these legs, hips, arms, chin that don’t pretend
grace, and we will have fun. Today contains open sky
and wind, boundless, laughter and pause, balanced.

May this voice speak discomfort to courage
and be heard. The words are sculptures of thought
with the clay still wet. May warm palms to meet them.

Our highest self is already active and alive;
she wants to play catch, even if she stumbles on the sidewalk
and talks of fear. Honor her.

Roughing It / by Bill Holm

The trail marker bears a warning
“This is not a marked trail!”
which proves irresistible
to the few who eschew

unleashed pitbulls    screaming children
Mountian Dew cans    Subway wrappers
plastic straws    polystyrene cups
ATV tracks    flip flop tracks
Marlboro butts    Old Crow bottles

and choose the wilder way
where the trail rises and narrows
fallen trees make demands

pileated woodpeckers pound
golden-crowned kinglets rule pine boughs
brown creepers explore maple bark
whitetail deer pause to watch.

Yet a highway roar carried on south winds
rolls like a tsunami over every head.
All here are equal in the eyes of the lords
of commerce as they sweep everyone away.

Too soon the trail will be marked
by a Coldwell Banker sign.

Bell Weather Blues and Bottomless Bits / by Shirley Jones-Luke
 
I hold a beautiful net
with a reliable handle
and a grip that could
kill the world’s organic
features, but then the
net was gone and it was
Good night to
my two trusty,
but empty hands
reaching for what is
no longer, but later
I glimpse a bit of 
nature, a migration scene –
the largest in a century,
a remarkable flock of
geese, a flash of a natural
event, it is a reward for my
eyes, I wish the geese a
safe return from the warmer
clime, and the slow release of winter

Sound and Silence / by Pratibha Kelapure

Weary of the household fires
She prays to the gods of silence
Oblivious to the ransom peace requires

Raking up the leaves of the briars
She often thinks of defiance
Weary of the household fires

Sounds of whirring stoves and fryers
Washers and dryers, and every appliance
She is ready for the ransom peace requires

Hungry babies, irate teens, and all those criers
Bills in the mail, notices of noncompliance
So weary of the household fires

Mysterious moles, something else transpires
Something that will test the medical science
Unsure of the ransom peace requires

Hospitals, clinics, radiation, chemo, the body conspires
The babies and teens search for some guidance
Although weary of the household fires
She isn’t ready for the ransom peace requires

Haiku / by Daryl Muranaka

the pussy willow
clawing from the kenzan
for the sun

A Dream of Returning / by Jessica Regione

You dream you have only one more day to live. What will you do with it? The answer seems obvious: you’ll go to the sea. You’ll go with your mother. It’ll be like it was when you were twelve, thirteen, except it can’t be like it was when you were twelve, thirteen, by which you mean: untroubled. The baby blue t-shirt you wore. Her long hair in the salt wind; the egg smell of said wind, a summoning. He would say: you always ask for less than you deserve. You should want more. What is more? The Atlantic froths, white and pulling. Marsupial tucks on cold sand. You were never good at wanting. 

Ode to a job I had 10 years ago / by Gina Tron

Why burn down a bridge
when you can blow it up?

They get promotions when they speak up,
when I speak up
I get my throat cut.

Whether you fuck them or don’t
you’re absolutely fucked.

Job description:

get paid minimum wage and
get groped by your inferiors
who are paid more than you
for some reason
and you’ll be doing a good job
as long as you’re smiling
but when you tire
and try to cut the wire
you’ll get tied down
because you wouldn’t get down
with your superior
and then you’ll be training
some idiot
on the job you would have got
if you let him touch your twat
and now he’s getting paid
3 x your wage
and he’s taking 3 weeks longer
than you did
to learn how to push two buttons
and he’s somehow a fast learner
in the mind of the man
who spends all day playing Solitaire
and commenting on the intern’s tits.

What was it Erin Brockovich said?
It’s called decades of oppression, Ed.

So when you leave
it’s best to spray verbal lead.

Corpse Pose in a Park / by Ulysses

There are only so many birds
On the planet,

But here in savasana
There are so many singing.

So many phases
Poses we pace in
With various levels of grace
In and out breath
takes us.

The river
Distracted by dolphins. I do not wonder
Or ask if I am near completion. . .

The river does not ask
To be a river.

Today’s Inspiration / by Matilda Young

M and her husband scaling a ponderosa pine

B and her hallo!

K and her music

Baby A chanting poop poop poop next to his mom

K and his beautiful baby in his arms

Baby R and his sweet moon face looking at us like a question

R and his love of weird American slang

Baby T and the monkeys gentle in their thumbs

K’s kindness arriving like a new day at my door

B and her indefatigable spirit, presence, smile

M’s dad like the best professorial ZZ top

B’s balcony with the most affable of squirrels

K and that January light in that one park on the water in Hudson Valley winter

K & B & M and the last time we were together,

Taos and the mountains close like an old friend,

in a ring blessed by sage brush and 30 lovely souls,

our hands touching a ribbon love made multiplied

Poem 6 / Day 6

Loving Someone with a Headache / by Maggie Rue Hess

is a dance for cool hands
to frame cut foreheads

a choreography of searching
out the ibuprofen

dainty steps and soft questions
regular, like taking a pulse

and the bow, your face turned
from need to need

Hangover / by Bill Holm

Saturday fog softens edges
long past dawn,
easing in morning
after a sharp night.

Bare oaks don’t claw at the sky.
They rest. Nothing to do
but twitch inside, in tune
with warmth and hope.

Neighbors’ eyes are cloudy.
Our differences fade to gray
as the sun creeps unnoticed,
killing time, waiting its turn.

No use heading out.
We’ll wait for delineation
then rake fall’s leftover leaves
open valves and attach hoses

clean the birdbath
sweep the garage
break for lunch.
So much needs doing.

We won’t worry
until the sun redraws lines
clarifies our duties,
prods us to revive.

Grandma trims the hedges / by Shirley Jones-Luke

She cuts evenly, straight down
no angles, no arcs
the blades sweep across
clipping the tough twigs
and crisp leaves from a lush summer.

Her frame is bent, an aged form,
sweat glistens on her back, her
house dress is a floral print, clinging
to her wet body, there is no breeze
to ease her task nor shade to cool her.

Beckoned by the front stoop, she
sits, her weight merging with the
concrete steps, years of work
reminding her of her lost youth,
carefree summers with no chores.

Cars and buses pass by on the street,
people head to work and play, a nearby
train station hums with activity, the sun
causes the air to shimmer and simmer
everything around it, grandma stands,
wipes the sweat from her brow and
resumes trimming the hedges.

Art of Mothering / by Pratibha Kelapure

Sparrow like a seamstress
Pleats feather upon feather
Shielding the nestlings
From the perils of cosmos
Not one of them will
Perish of nature’s vagaries
Before she can train them
The intricacies of flight
Nourish coddle them only
Until their instincts stir
And they soar to the sky
Self-reliant nearing heaven
A Simple miracle
The concept so elusive
Letting go

Stretching / by Daryl Muranaka

When I was younger
I worried about what would happen
halfway around the world,
that childish fear that I
was missing something or
that I would be cheated
of good-byes instead of
hellos. I feared the ghosts
I wouldn’t see in the early
morning misty sleeps,
in the blue light pressing
against my eyelids
always forgetting that
my great-grandfather never worried
about such things because
the ghosts were already gone
before the first word would be
spoken. He had such a great
sense of the size
of the world
stretching the family
like a raw noodle,
before its separated,
cut down to size.

Teotihuacan / by Jessica Regione

Where dust collects on our skin
I may be relic, ruin,

I can never tell which, but today I wish
I was another kind of woman

The faultless kind,
Primrose cheekbone

And the kind of glow you only get
From thoughtlessness,

As if my thoughts were anything but primitive up here,

A hundred steps closer to sky,
Thin air, pressed lungs and quiet

But for the tiny
Peels of other people’s laughter,

Bells, sweeping
Wind and no one said anything

About god, perfection, but I cannot
Catch my breath

Self-Writeous / by Gina Tron

Boy meets girl.
Boy asks girl:
“Do you think you will write about me someday?”
Girl says if I do, it won’t be good.

Boy acts cowardly.
Girl writes about it.
Girl informs boy.
Boy doesn’t want to read “book about me.”
Girl says it’s not a book, just a few lines.
Boy says he’s too scared.

Poem is on point.

The Angel of Espresso / by Ulysses

Did you fall to get here?
Or did you fly and lose your wings?

The many questions made by men
To angels.
But these I often ask myself

When I am just
coffee. These tunes to
Aptly pull the stress
From my bones

Acoustic thoughts accumulated from cold peaks

The sun begins to mean more than light
In spring.

Warmth
As gentle as blood slowly stirring
Beneath the surface

The storms have had their say.
The sky seems to open for us alone,
And the insets creep to regain their ground.

Doesn’t the light slowly creep
In this grey hall where there are moods and music
As muses.

This is it.

The barista,
An angel of espresso bangs the portafilter.

I finesse letters best I can.

I’ve given up trying.
Inspiration dwindles
when we think we know what we know.

If You’re Not A Poem, Go Home / by Matilda Young

It’s like when I was throwing
the discus late September

afternoons on a suburban
baseball field up in the hills

near piney branch where
I never saw another soul

(except the tennis aficionados
an empty field away)

at the edge of a bedraggled
gully fringed with joe pie,

little blue stem, columbine.
Enjoying the solitude

and being a body, the small
tidy weight in my small

tidy palm, all balance
and counter,

on my toes, flexing
my calves, weighing

the moment for the spin,
spin, letting go,

and you had to let go
because a throw

was a surrender to
the body and to

the moment and
to the elements –

sunlight, torque,
velocity, and breath.

Poem 5 / Day 5

In Idaho / by Maggie Rue Hess

white knuckles tap Heaven’s floor     hoisted by
blue fists                   does God answer in Idaho?
tell it on these mountains        the bowl for this
sky elixir         (the world runneth over in stone)

Aftermath / by Bill Holm

Indistinguishable from other’s body parts,
my scattered pieces litter rutted dry ground.
Moonlight soothes.

Rescuers must rush to the scene.
Bad situation, many badly hurt.
Help might get here at any moment.

I think I see all of me.
Each piece is within view.
It’s starting to come together.

Meantime, until they arrive,
I’m counted among the missing.
They’ll find me in one piece by the road.

Black Pain Defined / by Shirley Jones-Luke

It is a permanent stain on the flesh. It is a strain on the soul.
Black folks feel it in their brains. A throbbing in their veins. It is a pain we disdain.
Our eyes see tragedies disguised as Manifest Destiny.
The strong conquering the weak, laying claims to soil
their ancestors thought was a myth.
Our pain is in the memory of the lash, the whip, the chains
that crisscrossed scars on our backs like twisted paths. Brutal beatings
still felt centuries later.
Black pain was the hose, plastering our bodies against brick walls.
Stripping the skin
from our bodies as we tried to shield ourselves. Civil Rights denied.

We protest. Black & Brown fists shaking with zest.
Society sees our stress, but cares not. Black pain is for us alone.
We have stories. So many stories rooted in our tears. Black pain
is a library of weary bodies. Each chapter reads like a Greek tragedy.
Yet, we do persevere while living in fear. Society will jeer at our persistence.
They will hate our resistance. But we cannot stop. Our long dead people watch.
The souls of those who have past want to be able to rest at last.
They urge us on. For they will linger til true freedom is in our grasp.

Respect / by Pratibha Kelapure

I want to be a princess or maybe a goddess
With benevolence dripping from my face
I expect the mist of lavender around me
As I walk among the lush green landscape
I imagine admirers assembling around me to
Wish me well and thank me for all my kindness
I will wave with my delicate fingers
My smile bright as midnight moonshine
A princess deserves all this softness
The reverence, devotion, veneration, respect

I have dreamed of this, longed for this
Sitting on the upper deck of the red double-decker,
Hoping to hear the murmurs of Arabian Ocean
Going home after a long day’s work
Fighting off the preying limbs of strangers
Trying to unhear the suggestive tunes
Riding the suburban trains filled with
Blustering women and misguided
Juvenile pick-pockets,
I always waited to pass through
The long dark tunnel to spot
The circular-shaped Bungalow of Nutan.
I imagined her sitting by the window
Clad in her regal silk sari
Her wholesome face – purity personified
I bet the strangers never catcalled her
I wanted that kind of respect

Note: Nutan is the legendary Bollywood actress. The poem is set in Mumbai, India.

Bedtime Haiku / by Daryl Muranaka

in the dark
bubbles under the water
the frogs cheeping

Cruel equations / by Gina Tron

You tried to shred
my intuition
into scraps,
a shower
of calcium confetti,
chlorine dust,
a calculated move,
cutting into
seven layers
of paper-thin cowardice.

You crumpled confidence,
but I’ll dig it out the trash
unfold and iron
the crinkles
out
until the equation
is clear,
obvious.

It’s just tracing paper now,
its edge and delusions
deteriorated
like a diseased CD-Rom.

I’m a secret
until
I’m not.

Once upon a time
the paper
was thick like felt
and drenched in
cheap vodka
and soda water
reeking rubbing alcohol
and those hands
and eyes
did not lie.

It’s not funny anymore
but it’s forever funny.

You Wear the Stars / by Ulysses

Climbing the stairs
Instead of taking the elevator.
In Orlando,
You decide to wear the stars
On a night when even the moon is black.

You decide your shoes are for
Carrying when the levels
Climb.
Hearing cars descend the ramp
Their lights creep through the bottom of doors
And wheels the sound of
Water against rock.

We reach the door to the roof
Like pioneers to the first sight of ocean.

However city lights in the sky
Cannot begin to tell the tales of old.

This city is not ours,
But it comes close
Like the moon to Atlantis.

With this view
There are only questions.

Who is Atlas?
Why does he still carry the sky?

We Don’t Talk About Xena Enough / by Matilda Young

And isn’t it terrible that I don’t know
if I’d actually watch today — cheesily
done, iffilly written, serious camp
not generally successfully pulled off.
But oh how I loved it then —
adventures with an always hamming
King of Thieves and Gabrielle,
the sweetest everyman.
And oh how I wanted her —
muscle, leather, metal, bustier,
discus, deadpan, goddess, trucker,
queen, ancient Abby Wambach
but make it dark. Wanted her
and wanted to be her — brick
house savior with her gentle
warrior and zany crew ready
to fight for justice, risk it all
for love.

Poem 4 / Day 4

‘You complete me’ / by Maggie Rue Hess

And now that we’re grown,
it’s the same deal – but I’ve mastered
being less obvious:

you, so photogenic
the lighting can’t resist your cheekbones
or smile; you, finding the inexplicably perfect
color combination; how you give Diane Keaton
a fresh take (and how that compliment
actually stuck with you) –
it took me years to relate to men
with any of the charm that kept you dateable.

And even now
I’m the younger sister trying out your closet
when you’re not home.
When I pair cobalt blue and peony red,
it’s only because I would’ve seen you do it first;
I believe my smile can flatter or flatten
because I’ve watched yours.

Still: you look better in pictures
and don’t even try.

Market Forces / by Bill Holm

Glancing blows to my glass jaw
send me over the ropes and out.
I shatter on hot concrete pitted by
pounding boots and chiseling tools.

I can’t compete. I can’t stand up.
My pockets hold no weapons
though I bleed from theirs each day.
Can I survive their grip on my throat?

My voice turns to a whispering breeze
that no one cares to notice.
I keep my mouth shut, the herd’s laggard,
motionless, dazed, crouched

among privets, guarded by cardinals
and chickadees. A toad hops into my hand,
a garter snake curls into my hair,
a blue jay mimics a red-tailed hawk

to deter predation of the weakened,
easy marks who lack killer instincts,
who prefer the solace of sweetgrass
to the laurel of tragic victory.

And You Don’t Even Know / by Shirley Jones-Luke

after Heavy

We are Black abundance.
No meager fruit to be picked
& then tossed away. We are
a gross of people – not gross people.

We watch from our stoops, porches
& street corners. We watch your meagerness
turn murderous, gunning our people
down. It’s so preposterous.

True grossness comes from your lies.
You don’t see your atrocities. Your eyes
are meager. Your actions are gross.
We have trauma in abundance.

But they don’t even know, or do they
what they do to us. We grit our teeth,
clench our fists & lift our voices.

We march in abundance. Our numbers
are not meager. We hate your grossness.
You smell like fear. You smell like death.
And you don’t even know.

Believing / by Pratibha Kelapure

She yearned to see the waterfall
With sunlight filtering through it
mist spraying every leaf
revealing generous green
The nature alive with grace
Loving it was madness, but
Back then when the river swelled with water
cascading down the mountain gullies
Once and only one, she felt alive
Standing beside the gurgling water
In awe of the enormity of nature
And the kindness of a stranger
His sinewy arms wrapped around her
His legs slicing the current
Swish and splash of water
The light slowly appearing and disappearing
The secure feeling of grassy ground finally
It was back then she found faith

Now all days of her life when it rains
She yearns to the see stranger by the waterfall
Believes in his return

I Dream of Wallace / by Daryl Muranaka
for Lori

I still dream of Wallace, ID
in the darkness of 3 AM
that quixotic blur
from the highway
in the back of my head
from 20 years back
when a road trip to anywhere
was a coin toss
or a dart throw
before I fell into the circuit
of Mass Pike to Thruway,
Logan to Inouye.
I dream of Wallace
as one dreams of freedom,
of possibilities, to rise,
and fall, to win,
to fail, to build
a house on the sand
and then to try it all again.

Dear Young Me / by Gina Tron

Life,
it’s not going to turn out the way you think
but it will be
exactly the way you hope
kind of…
even more exciting than you thought
actually!

But,
at the same time
much more boring.

Because you see,
even the most adventurous
traumatizing
entracing
memorable days
involve putting on deodorant
and peeing
and brushing your teeth.

It’s like the movies
sure
but
with all the mundane scenes
left in,
uncut
piles of curled up
8mm amber and black ribbons.

Projected hopes
replaced with bodily fluids
and the nagging need
for sustenance.

Everything you ever wanted:
Just imagine you threw it in a salad bowl
and tossed it around
and left it out in the sun for a few days.

That’s how you’re gonna receive those things.

They’ll be there
(all of em)
but
soiled.

Presence of Water / by Ulysses

When my words are water
         Trickling in like fawns
From the forest at night
To the clear.

I’m humbled.

This happens in Spring.
Glacier caps from the tops of Alps
That melt
To meet my Venice.

Where will this skiff lead?

Many lead to ancient constructs
.
Some I come through
                    like bridges.
                     Others I stand before,
                       Dumbfounded,
like tourists.

A Star Is Born Soundtrack, and Other Dark Nights of the Soul / by Matilda Young

Ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore,
Gaga croons to me at 3 am
on endless repeat while I try
to get to get to peace, counting
to 10 over and over in Japanese,
the mantra we had learned
from a young Zen priest
and then clutched to in a dark
room kneeling. Ich, ni, san, shi,
and I wish so much for
the friendly ghost of David,
who always had a kind smile
and a snack, sometimes
apparating from nowhere,
and who kept nodding off beside
me as we practiced zazen
and serenity. And it’s a practice
that keeps slipping from me
as I turn over hearing Bradley
and old hashed laments
that float before me like a crab,
rotting, just off the shore
of rest. Now they’ve reached
the harmony – out of the shallows
now – and with an insomniac’s
despair I feel the water rising
past my neck. But I’ve seen
this lesson before, so I grab
hold of the count and start
to swim.

Poem 3 / Day 3

Canine Instinct / by Maggie Rue Hess

Now learn how you get rid of your demons:
don’t let them sit in your lap;
roll them over and expose the belly tender –

make them know your hands are everywhere,
touched to eyes and ears and no evil,
no idle workshop

like a trepid pink tongue over the bottom teeth.
What else comes to you with its dogged faithfulness?

Found Voices / by Bill Holm

The floor groaned “Ohhh, are you sure?” when I stepped heavy footed
headed down, down to the basement to unearth the meat grinder.

I hated the demon vacuum cleaner until it yelled
“You suck!” and I gave it a lot more credit.

My recipe whisked a “How’ve you been” with a “Chilly today”
so it could call everyone to dinner when time is right.

The oven hissed “Shhh, shut up, Sherlock” but I called
anyway and got a busy signal “Don’t don’t don’t.”

Did the concrete just crack “You’re a crock” under
truck wheels whirling and bouncing past my bungalow?

A capital U cried out “I know I know! Pick me!” from inside
the cookbook I haven’t opened yet and probably will not.

“Spirit Spirit Spirit Spirit” called cardinal red in cold spring
unless it was “Spare Ribs Spare Ribs Spare Ribs Spare Ribs.”

The cat grumbled “Go to the deli instead” in A minor
or thereabouts, twisting its way out of the hot kitchen.

When the music bleats “Don’t do it, baby” I change
to “Cookin’ with the Rhumba” and sing along to myself.

One day, I got t-boned. I heard the voice of a god purr
as I spun into a front yard, “New language on the menu.”

That’s why this concoction begs “Are we there yet?”
and I serve up, “All in good time, my friend.”

Slang / by Shirley Jones-Luke

We say it
We speak it
A secret language
all our own
But do we
own it
Tongues crossed
with other tongues
Continental dialects
overlapping
A shift in meaning
We don’t always
understand
each other

Butterflies / by Pratibha Kelapure

Butterflies are everywhere
Each one distinct as a snowflake
Colors pulsating with life
Caressing, blending and separating
The rays of sun traveling through a prism
The little girl watches with innocent wonder
Does she know she is also spliced from
This scintillating spectrum of colors?
Not blue, not red or green, but a color
That cannot be named
She bursts into a laugh when
The teacher tells her to hold the pencil
Is suddenly mute when her seatmate
Asks her the name of her favorite animal,
Teary-eyed eyes when a substitute walks in
Always unpredictable, so exasperating
She would like to know how to erase those
Puzzling looks from everyone’s faces
How to be like others, slide through the days
Slickly like the smile on the doctor’s face
When he tells her mother that she is high
On the spectrum, but high-functioning

With a Little Luck or You Can’t Handle the Truth / by Daryl Muranaka

There is something more
to right and wrong. They are
never as simple as that
recipe for hard-boiled
eggs so the whites will not
stick to the shell. Once
a friend who was dying
told me how the doctors tried
to remove the tumor from
his head, drilling holes,
inserting probes into his brain,
into the very heart of him.
But the brain is an odd organ,
more like Jell-O, receiving,
bending, to the pressure with soft
resistance. The growth,
the damage, moves, drifts
with each attempt to grasp it,
everything dependent on
the skill of the surgeon
and maybe, just maybe,
a little bit of luck
that no one believes in.

Mellonella / by Gina Tron

Applying the voltage
from my galvanometric heat
and the moths come flying in.

Turn the knob
crank it up
until the sun peers out
the cracks of my eyes
ultraviolet rays
that U-turn
jamming the light
back down my throat.

Adjust the brightness
until they’re comfortable
to violet
and then lilac
and a pale purple so pale
it’s practically white.

Adjusting until the
salt water
drips down the candlestick
and the bark is ripped off the tree
and my drawers
once oak
now plastic
are disorganized
again,
socks strewn,
the tape on the back
of the poster
lost its stickiness
lavender melts
into curdled milk
a palace rots
back to a dorm room.

Dimmed
and off they go
to find a brighter light
or wait
on their own
for their own
to burn out.

When Heaven Descends / by Ulysses

As my black eyes open at first,
And soak in the song of a multitude of birds. . .
Which ones are foreign and which are not?

When morning light has saturated the sky,
Doused the earth,
And I have exited the mouth of this cave.

I look for harbor in a metal cage
on wheels.
Feet burying into its ribs.

I close the mouth.

I am at my happiest
when my thoughts become a shoe box without the shoes.

Resistance / by Matilda Young

Change gives you everything
you thought impossible,
but now you’re 10 pounds older

making breakfast rice
in a crisp new apron. The cat
lost her collar and you need

to go rooting for the spare.
Last night, you woke to find
her tucked into your body.

It feels like the first approach
every time. You practice love.
You practice solitude.

You practice bills and loss,
gratitude and vice.
You floss after a gingivitis

scare. You pedal harder
against old demons to Cardi
B and Ed Sheeran in a studio

so dark you can’t see
your hands, while a lovely
Schitts Creek fan in emerald

tights and an earnest t
shouts you are stronger,
you are stronger every day.

What goofy cheese sauce.
And what goofy generosity
of spirit. The cat sleeps

in her new perch with her
orange ears tucked into
her orange feet. You end it

with a lovely person. You feel
very little. You get up to try
each day yet again.

The changes rise through us
like mint through mulch.
They will overcome us all

because change gives you
everything before
it gives you nothing.

Keep dealing me in then,
goddess, for another turn.

Poem 2 / Day 2

The Dean of Students Tells a Story / by Maggie Rue Hess

that starts with lost keys. They are always lost.
To open her office, the school – yes, the master keys –
have drifted through her hands and this building more than
the most frequent delinquent. But this time the keys unlock

a safety deposit box in a bank in Arizona, one that formerly belonged
to an old flame (and not her only one). Now his son
needs them and they’re lost because – she begins to explain –
the critter in the attic is keeping her up all hours.

Didn’t you have this thing months ago? 6 months,
still there, and the Dean isn’t sleeping. Now it’s a cat
(meow, she says like the elementary teacher she used to be)
that walks above her bedroom at night. At this point,

I’d chunk poison up there – she has. 6 months’ worth.
Had a man cut boards from the house in one attempt;
what he found was termites she’d neglected a year ago.
By this time, cost enters the narrative: $4000 in one estimate,

$700 in another. These, you calculate mentally, which
are so beyond your payscale that you couldn’t afford to care,
even if a man you loved passed away, leaving you
a set of keys that you inevitably lost, with or without sleep.

Cougars / by Bill Holm

This land we took for granted now is theirs.
We ceded the deed as their prints
first indented the sandy dirt
of the rolling wooded dunes beside
our freshwater sea of ruffled blue shades
that define the sky’s distant edge.

We trespass at our own risk,
each glance behind a nod to their stealth.
each step ahead a prayer to be spared.

The prints announce a mother and her cub
and frequent sightings strike the soul, yet
our State won’t confirm the cats exist.
Tourists might cast their dollars aflutter
to other natural wonders
where no deer carcasses
float in our freshwater sea
or lie splayed in our friend’s front yard
near the state park, a magnet for hikers,
a mecca for families who enjoy
long hard walks to a tawny beach,
a wilder way amidst Impressionism unframed,
each leaf a brush blotch each branch a quick slash
the artistry of oaks and maples, birch and beech,
hemlocks and cedars, white pines and red,
where pileated woodpeckers pound nature’s beat
and ruby-crowned kinglets flit and dart.

This land is no longer ours.
They watch us,
so watch your children.
Keep your pets indoors.
Don’t turn your back.
Because we are blessed.

Interference / by Shirley Jones-Luke

Revenge against existence
night is a victim
day is the humter
like skin fallen off flesh, dies
terribly then cooling bones
/hear night’s screams
Not a funny predicament
shooting night’s form
but there will be retaliation, before
morning madness
& night gets even
against the dawn
shadows fade
Night fears
the end
& the awakening of day’s promise

Whispering Campaign / by Pratibha Kelapure

The soul is missing from the story on the page
Because the one who knew the truth never spoke
Convinced that no one will believe her truth
She hid under the itchy, scratchy cover of shame
Over the events that she couldn’t control, over the
The guilt of being born where her type wasn’t desired,
Only coming up for air out of sheer necessity
Somebody should have told her “go tell it on the mountain.”

Telling and retelling by others had churned the essence
On its head and sent the whispers on the wings of words
Traveling through vines of grape masquerading
As telephone wires through the years, through
Rivers, streams, and oceans spanning the continents
Imagine her dismay when she finally read
The page of stranger’s face recounting the saga
Of her own life encapsulated in one word ‘slut.’

Nature Shrugs / by Daryl Muranaka

The tree, silent
in the rain,
catches my eye
with a sudden shrug
of his shoulder,
the unexpected
acknowledgement of my
predicament,     or his
brother’s obligation
to cover my head
or is it just a squirrel
rushing
down
the trunk
at lunchtime?

Deathward We Ride in the Boat / by Jessica Regione

And then there is stepping out into the light
of course I feel like crying
green leaves, black lake
a canoe skims across the surface
it’s your face
no
it’s not being able
to have you

Knifefish / by Gina Tron

I don’t like poems about love,
I’d rather read haikus about dry skin
unless of course
it’s a poem I can
personally relate to.

Then it’s fine.
Then it’s tolerable.
Then it exists.

The words,
once entwined with the walls
flat and gray
raise up
like hairs
like braille.

Fuchsia sentences
when reminded of
the way you made
block letters
beam out
dying my peach fuzz
electric blue
in the psychedelic purgatory
between waking life
and night terrors
where the eels slither
around legs and reef
during a full battery charge.

Salt water blossoms
during that slice of life
between reality
and a relationship
when it seems like
the stems will keep producing
the bright colors
when the last flamingo pink flower
has already bloomed
the hours
right after that,
but before you realized.

It’s warm
before the lights turn off
and you can’t see the gills
and then
it’s just the deep dark sea
cold and wordless
again
but icyier
now that the ghosts of
neon letters
float nearby.

Conversation / by Ulysses

When our eyes graze the computer screen
Blue light,
Characters materialize out of thin
Air like a country peopled
By lifting mists.

So goes our art.

But somehow this does not fulfill the hand,
the stares
Like the slow clamor of a typewriter
The characters rising slowly
Like an army over a steep hill.

We talk about the future,
But I find it funny how it can set us back
Like the sun setting from west to east.
Funny how all too easily these characters become finger traps.
Strange how when caught at
just the right angle
they become salvation.

Scars are Stories Worth Telling / by Amanda Weigner

Scars tell many kinds of stories.
Some mention scrapes
or bruises brought on by
their own choices, such as
skateboarding, or bike riding.
Others reveal purple and blue
splotches down their spinal chords.
Scars can heal over time,
fade a little, even vanish.

Not my scars.

I own a visible scar
below my belly button.
My son is the gift
which faded the pain.
I own invisible scars,
ones that appeared when
my brother died; when I’d
get bullied or beaten.

Scars tell stories.

I have three tattoos, which,
I feel are scars I gave myself
to showcase the invisible ones.
I chose the imagery
and the meaning behind each one.

We all have scars;
we all have stories worth telling.

Our question is: Will you listen?

What is the grass? / by Matilda Young

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.
—Walt Whitman

In the early eternity of 23,
I took a date to Military Field,
& asked him to read Leaves of Grass
to me on a picnic table that bucked
beneath our weight. He gamely
stood with me, shouting I am mad
for it to be in contact with me
to the warblers and raccoons,
his young baritone rich in the sea
of wild rye, with his golden
scruff in the golden light,
& Walt like a lantern
hallowing. I don’t remember
his name, or if we kissed,
or if that kiss had a particular taste,
like whiskey or cardamom
or me. I was much crazier then,
& terrible at letting people in,
& I’m ashamed by how little
of myself I must have given him.
But I will love that night until
I die, or till it passes from me
with the black ink cross hatch
of lost memory: Walt and
the song of atoms, armpits,
poke-weed, bosom-bones;
& this stranger who met me
on my troubled road, who stood
beside me unashamed while
we chastely sang our bodies
to the night.

Poem 1 / Day 1

When She’s Had Enough / by Maggie Rue Hess

The woman becomes
an eggshell. Something for hands
or edges, so smooth

it has to break. Cracks
clean like a toothy grimace
wouldn’t be. And the

woman becomes mess,
becomes shatter and ooze, just
as you expected –

except not. Outside
of herself, she is now the
soft center of rage

that, like a secret,
grows its whisper into a
command: it is done.

April / by Bill Holm

A silver, first raindrop strikes
a lily turf’s broad-grass leaf
at just the right angle
so it bobs and bows
then settles to silence
after playing a song I can’t hear

as a second silver drop strikes
a neighboring green leaf
at just the right angle
so it bobs and bows
then another and another
until the song blooms,

a rolling silvery symphony
I can never understand.

What Flows Within Me is My Lineage / by Shirley Jones-Luke

My blood is the blood of my fore bearers.
My blood is the blood of men & women
who struggled to survive. Their struggle
saved those who came after them & those
after them. Their struggle saved my grandparents,
my parents & me.

I was saved by a legacy of strength. My blood
is strength, determination & love. When I bleed,
the pain is felt by the generations before me & the generations
that will come after me. I am their nexus,
living in the present, a product of the past & the foundation for the future.

Black & Brown bodies have a history of violence in their veins.
Trauma is in my family tree. But on the gnarled, twisted branches
blooms flowers of hope. Struggle means triumph over trauma. I would not
be here if my people didn’t fight the constant horrors of this world.

April Dawn / by Pratibha Kelapure

my eyes scan the unending field of lantanas
subdued purples, blues, muted reds
milkweed seed alive with newborn wonder
a single monarch perched atop
the lavender that slightly leans in the breeze
unhurried sun, undisturbed drops of dew
everything looks better when wet
the trailside is a just-bathed baby
napping on a mossy blanket
I spot the season’s first yellowjacket
dead. my feet tangled between
the sprawling ivy that will
suffocate the jasmine bush
everything born today will perish soon
but let it brim with life for now
I break free of the ivy and tread softly
careful not to crush the ladybug
under my weathered feet

The Wetland / by Daryl Muranaka

I look into the sun
shining between the naked
branches of the wetland
because life is too short
not to stop for a second
and let the mind go
click-click-click and
capture the quiet between
the bird conversations
beyond the mossy waters.

Life is too short
for people whose vision
is limited to their eyes,
blind to the obvious,
clinging to the theory,
the tyranny of the extrovert,
that the loudest is
always right, when
the silence between the birds
says they are wrong.

A Whiter White / by Jessica Regione

Your therapist says sometimes
it’s like that,

by which she means grief,
that sometimes it’s twelve years

before you cry
because she’s dead, really dead,

by which you mean
no longer walking the earth

I guess, though there’s a lot
more to it, obviously.

You used to think biologically
of bones disintegrating or whatever

they do,
calcium deposits, grim minerals

in the soil, and those lurid
rumors you’ve heard about how hair

keeps growing afterward,
her blond hair almost silver

sometimes in sunlight.
When you knew her your bodies

were blooming, you spilled
out of yourself as petals and how

can you explain that the world
has since lost a color, that she took

it with her, though which color
you cannot say,

a whiter shade of white, maybe,
a sheen of the new

and the softness
of all that would be possible.

Bellicose butterfly / by Gina Tron

If I get diagnosed with terminal cancer, he says
I’m gonna mow down
that bitch who rejected me
and whoever else is around, I guess.

If I find out I’m about to die, she says
maybe I’ll gun down my rapist
cram its barrel into his garage
turn on the gas
until his eyes bleed
like the Virgin Mary
because I ain’t going down without a fight
without taking down
the one who took me down
and whoever else is there, I guess.

It’s the American way.

Down deep into the rug
where the rust-colored honey seeped in
and soaked into
the wood panel beneath it
the third floor
open window
Spring wind,
(the kind that feels so good
you want to wilt)
when the pansies start to spurt
and the green erections
shoot from the earth,
the dirt,
and the sounds of the overpass
(the loneliest breeze
that ever forced its way
into my ears)
filled with
so, so many beings
on wheels,
a wave of white noise
rumbling upon the shore.

Wave after wave
car after car
and I’m just a pebble
on a burnt beach.

I lay there
like roadkill
the sun moving into
my bedroom wall
peering through
yellow, stinging
down the hall
before shifting
to hover over cold concrete
cascading shade
on a still, lonely fox
sleeping under a bridge
in the industrial area
waiting and passing.

If I manage to make it to 76
I’m gonna smash my car into a grocery store.
Broken glass
and potato chips
and flowers
a pond of milk
and coupons all over the floor
& then I’ll act cute
& pretend I meant to hit the brakes.

It’s what keeps me going,
it fuels me.

The crimson fantasies
come as the grinding
of the wheels
below me accelerate
moving my stomach forward.
Propane and paraffins
and papillons.
My brain’s oiled up
lubed up to morph
about to take flight.

I hope the fertilizer
drenched in iron-flavored water
helps my lilacs erupt
blooming on the windowsill
across from an overpass
with cars as bright as butterflies.

Give It Away (for free) / by Ulysses

Are these travelers too snug?
Moving in a Kia Soul
Model two thousand-whatever
Navigating with Google Maps
Or GPS.

Hoping it brings them closer to
What this exit and New England-esque
Gray clouds cannot provide.

This part of town/home has too eagerly
become concrete ravine
This sliver of space, history, and nature
Has become carbon copy of every other exit.

These symbols
If I’ve never seen them before where then
when?

If not digitally then how?

Other than service
It seems that comfort cannot become a local commodity.

With the sun hidden behind elements,
The road becoming a tour of our homes.
The river stored away like a forbidden secret.

Perhaps some day this is the natural end
of every exit.

Parenthood / by Amanda Weigner

I lost it last night.
I held my face between
my fingers, trying to catch
the tears. My son could
not catch his.
He whimpered consistency
throughout the night.

I felt myself panic.
A million thoughts swirled
my mind:

Is he hurt?
Why is he crying this much?

What can I do to make
whatever is bothering him
go away?

I felt myself hit a wall.
No longer was I listening
to reason.
I hit a nerve within me.
I slammed out
any reoccurring thoughts.
I held in my calm.

Even after my baby fell asleep,
I lay in bed, awake;
feeling numb to my core.
I hated it.
I hated that the same feeling
never left, even after
my son showed me his biggest
smile yet.

This is Parenthood.

Treme / by Matilda Young
For Kirsten

In Louis Armstrong Park, the wind comes up,
but it still won’t rain. The blonde with
the canary coat laughs at her partner trying

to take a memory of them on that bench
with that sky with Louis in the background
blessing the daiquiris and hand grenades

and hurricanes and camera after camera after
camera. Every pen’s a camera more and less,
although I can’t tell you the green of that small

southern pine – almost like ferns walking –
and farther off the thick dark gloss
of magnolia like a turning bruise.

On this bench, you are happily reading
beside me while the earnest painters of light
try to capture the statue of Buddy Bolden

facing down his last first note – us street
artists taking the same shot over and over
like generations of clarinetists taking

the A train down a sinking cobble street.
In this square plot of cruelty and joy,
it’s beautiful at the turn of spring,

with your hair gold and burnt sugar
brown and your kindness the arc of a bass
line echoed, the sun coming out for me.

No parks for us but plenty
of benediction, and Louis smiling
like he could be playing us in.