The 30/30 Project: August 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 August 2019 are Eileen Cleary, Andrew Curtis, Annette Gagliardi, Robin Happel, Brittany Mishra, and Ian Tyson. 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! Below, please find poems by our current 30/30 Project volunteers.

Poem 22 / Day 22

Furlough / by Eileen Cleary

On watch in the terminal
amongst luggage scattered
like cast off rucksacks
on a captured field.

He advances closer.

Layover casualties
sprawl around him.
He scans past bodies
to see his grandma

dissolve tears
into a paper cup,
crumple and smooth
her sweater.

Maszebad, Part XVI / by Andrew Curtis

Maszebad and Charon now climb mount Hammon which they find is riddled with glowing gardens of glass trees where cold flower petals snow.

Behind a large rock beside Hanbi’s palace, these companions kneel and prepare for an epic battle throe.

They now gaze upon the mighty king of the underworld. Hanbi does not look monstrous, but old. He sits on the stairs of his palace and stares at that golden ring in the sky.

Before Charon can give Maszebad an attack counsel the wayward king says to him, “The king is unwary and unaware. We mustn’t waste this opportunity.”

Maszebad jumps over the rock and attacks steadfast. With the swing of his sword he shall receive ultimate boon, at last.

Hanbi gets to his feet and walks to Maszebad, unarmed.

Maszebad strikes him true and hard, but Hanbi is unharmed.

Compliments / by Annette Gagliardi

I have never known what to do with a compliment
Do you put it up on your wall like a trophy,
send it out, flyer-like for all to share in your notation?
Do you post it on your front door like a permit to build
or bury it in your back yard like the St. Christopher
statue that helps you sell your house?

I’m not sure how to reply to a compliment, either.
-not sure if I should smile and confirm that
all that wonderfulness really is me, or blush
and deny I had any part in the accomplishment.

What is the right way to reply?

And what if what they say is true? I did do that
extraordinary thing or I did live up to my
potential. Are they going to expect that kind
of thing of me all the time?

I figure people say nice things to get me to
do something for them – like, “Wow, you
make the best coffee!” so I should be the
designated coffee maker in the office or
“This jelly is the best!” so I should keep them
supplied in the sweet stuff in order for them
to continue sending positive thoughts my way.

I bet I’m not the only person suspicious of
a flattering remark. Praise can be unsettling
those obey-words a form of acclaim or condemnation

I guess one has to do with them what one will
of else put them on your table as the latest centerpiece.

dogwood / by Robin Happel

soft petals
like snow falling –

tabula rasa
of silent spring nights

when songbirds slumber
and the moon sings

in symphonies
of twilight

On A Jet Plane / by Brittany Mishra

As I look down,
the clouds are so bright,
I bow my head and squint
my eyes in respect.
Beneath them, they form
shadow monsters projected
as the negatives of film;
wind as their force of melodrama.
The landscape is their curved screen,
a patchwork of earth with the sun
shining around each cloud, turning
everything into a technicolor jigsaw.
They are giants floating above us
making creatures that walk among us
and all of these years, I never knew.

[somewhere between the city and the suburbs] / by Ian Tyson

between summer vacation and Thanksgiving. we find ourselves. something between jazz and reggae. something between coffee and lighted mud. in this version of something between corner and radius the cold reaches something between lower limb and the last night on earth. waiting long enough sets up for line after line of something between rush hour and happy hour. delivery system finds a moment for something between furnace guy and structural engineer. we apologize for something between best practice and guano premier.

Poem 21 / Day 21

Return to the Workhouse / by Eileen Cleary

I did not call the gate
I’d slept against a headboard.

Any surface sufficed as mattress.

God was a wheat field
seen through a cement wall.

I searched for his tracks on the deer path.

Green leafed through my corners
stemming beyond the grey
where I died, thinking only to sleep.

How strange, to be a hungry child again.
Outsider still seeking her way in.

Maszebad, Part XV / by Andrew Curtis

Before taken upon risky journey, I must inform you of all I know. Hanbi is the lord of the underworld. His palace is where we must go. His palace holds the celestial library and the well of immortality. It is perched on top of Mount Hammon which is encircled by eternal snow.

To the prevailing gods he is the god of evil, but this was not always so. He was once the god of knowledge and necessity, but he now stands a slave of above and a tyrant of the titans chained below. The enchained were the gods before the gods. Their children were weak, but many. Marduk’s pantheon were envious and covetous, and all things born of this quickly grow.

The current pantheon calls them Daevat which means ‘gods that are to be rejected’. The charlatans up high speak this to man, because the titans made man. The usurpers know the will of the titans is in man and all things born of greatness. The will of the titans can only be accessed by venturing downward through pain and strangeness.”

These companions now marched to Hanbi’s palace. Upon hot coals and frozen valleys they marched. Through this beautiful and terrifying realm they marched. It is a realm shaped unto that of an endless bowl of high mountains and vast valleys reaching ever upward toward what seems to be an eternally eclipsed sun. It is a sight that would enchant anyone.

Anemometer / by Annette Gagliardi

The cold wind made us close our eyes.
It laid into our faces, cascading into our ears
and funneling down the nape of our necks
to settle into the deepest parts of us.

I’ve kept my faith by the open window,
my trust a thing to bargain for with the elements,
—that ideology needed in order to bask
in the goodness of hypothermia.

My belief is something other than for the
whistling winds and the seasonal changes
that include sun, wind, temperature and moisture.
Yet, the new wind of global warming worries me.

Conversations with the wind tells more
than first heard, the gale of happiness
or the discomfort of hurricane proportions
are ordinary, fabled, epic, heroic.

We worship the sun with untethered adoration
yet hate the inhospitable bluster of cold.
We fret and panic six months a year
just because we aren’t nearer to the sun.

But. the winter nights can delight as much
as a sun-filled summer afternoon. Sitting in
the crisp darkness, listening for the snap
and crack of contractions in the firmament—

Cold cleanses the sinuses, clears the mind,
for thinking, for more able logic. The glacial
indifference (perhaps) of such temperatures
and the force of cold wind does inspire—

if not for geological or poetic reasons,
maybe only to pull our quilts over us,
make a cup of hot cocoa and throw
another log on the fire.

afterglow / by Robin Happel

when the clouds chase
the day away

and the october moon
begins the world anew –

is there ever an echo
of all that came before?

these hushed oaks
and fading flowers –

beloved haunts of a hundred
silent and solitary spirits

Work Ethic / by Brittany Mishra

I thread salt in the ocean into myself,
let it form crystals on my upper lip,
and jewels in the corners of my eyes.

Sand particulates are fluttering
around me like butterflies.
I can’t keep going without air.

I cannot etch out my survival
in the shallows; I need deep ocean,
the ecstasy of danger and blueness.

I am in a constant state of imagination,
my lost thoughts tipping sideways;
energy builds inside of me, momentous,

heart shuddering like a car on impact
stopping like the calm before an earthquake.
Here I am, human, skin and spit.

I am worth nothing if I cannot turn
the horizon line into a thin sheet of gauze,
and wrap myself in the rhythms of the earth.

Poem 20 / Day 20

Potato Blight, Once Removed / by Eileen Cleary

Legend has it that an unkempt
dog refuses to walk near the stone
where a famished woman died
intending only to rest.

And that thorn trees won’t grow
in nurseries because they hear
infants crying beneath the ground.
Potatoes poke out their eyes daily

so as not to see the poor starve as
vessels crowd the docks and corn
rots on deck. Cattle troughs convert
to community pots. Coffins aren’t

covered by the Law for the Poor.
In those days, the sun made us
think of one another’s bodies
sunken, stacked and exposed.

Maszebad, Part XIV / by Andrew Curtis

Charon, “You read my heart well, but without coin I fear you have incurred the wrath of the true gate keeper.”

From the river emerges a fearsome creature. It is Tiamat, the dragon god of chaos and creation.

Charon, “Marduk, the god of all gods, has chained her to the underworld and forces her to feed on aimless souls.”

Shock and awe wash over Maszebad as he reaches for his sword. It is a glorious creature, but stationary enchantment is something he can seldom afford. Consequently, before he can devise a strategy, the great creature swallows him whole. He is once again one with the void and the unsullied soul.

Upon premature consumption of the wayward king, Tiamat screams. With massive peristalsis, she shakes the underworld and vomits Maszebad.

Thereafter, she slinks back into the Styx and leaves Maszebad in the muck.

In disgust he screams, “By the gods, most lamentable! Charon, can you assist me? I fear I am stuck.”

While helping Maszebad to his feet Charon says, “I shall assist you. Here and through whatever endeavor you dare.”

Maszebad, “I have released you from the burden of the ferry, yet if you venture with me there will be a new burden for you to carry. What will become of the souls seeking passage?”

Charon, “You are not of stone. I would seldom have known your heart was a colossus. They will find passage with the Ferrymen of the other rivers hereunder, such as the Lethe, Archeron, Phlegethon, and Cocytus.

Resonant And Dying Evening / by Annette Gagliardi

In the resonant and dying evening
In the love notes left unsaid

When the world around is draining
When everyone has gone to bed

Night falls on us facing downward
Tangling shadows in the loam

Streets run white with juice devoured
Bringing darlings safely home

Milling hopes and aspirations
Fill the bygone days with more

Than the earth’s shared variations,
than the ones that we adore.

Let the nighttime give you solace
in the dying of the light.

Let the dark air hug you fearless
in the warming of the night.

panpsyche / by Robin Happel

does a mountain have a soul?
long after the earth grows cold
and stars, like candles, sputter out –

does in mumble in the dark?
does it dream of worlds apart?

does a river have a heart?
does it love an autumn day
after summer blows the breeze away

does it cry when forests burn,
as for salt-sweet seas it yearns?

does a forest make a sound?
even when no one’s around
and would the trees lift up and walk

if we were willing
to hear them talk?

My One Year Goal is… / by Brittany Mishra

I will declare war on work and
enlist an army to fight with me,
build a battalion of ships, and forge
weapons against emails and circular meetings.
I will behold that ravenous monster in its cave
of tall cubicles and nondescript buildings.

There it will stare with its corner office window eyes,
ready its arms and legs made from maze-like hallways,
and bristle its hair, fluorescent light dangling like dreadlocks.
It will try to eat me with its revolving doorway mouth
and stun me with the stench of its breath,
day-old drip coffee heated in the microwave.

But I will distract it with eight hours of my time
and gold coins. While it bites each one for proof,
I will beckon my army to trickle in and surround it.
We will slit its throat with paper cuts,
before it drones on about goal and strategy,
and stab it through its heart, its main frame,
so it will never have profit again, only loss.

(somewhere between the city and the suburbs) / by Ian Tyson

Ghetto to the left, zero-scaping on my right. East on 11th. Syracuse then Aurora at Yosemite, and the poem keeps riding, past Havana, burning incense, vans and trucks loaded with ladders. Somewhere between Stapleton and Lowry, here in the real suburbs of “white flight”. Oh how the yearbooks have changed! The poem keeps riding. A remedy for nostalgia. Competition of truancy. The police badge turns a tool into a weapon. Even the Billy Club is just for show now. The bullet hole show. The youtube show. The login show. According to the BBC, “The markets are nervous about the new Mexican President and his more direct approach to democracy.”

Poem 19 / Day 19

A Prayer for the Indicters, Salem 1692 / by Eileen Cleary

For they who must breathe
the air wrung from hanged

bodies. For they, pushed
to hang again and again

the pictures of women who choke
and flail and kick at their brains.

For they who cobble past
widowers and strays.

They with sun tipped faces,
who shame past burial places

of the doomed, they have
doomed. Let us pray.

Maszebad, Part XIII / by Andrew Curtis

He gazes up and is struck with a sickening feeling. There is one fire alter upon him and beyond it, from the shadows, are two pale green eyes gazing right back at him.

Maszebad stands up and looks onward while trying to keep a composure of stone. Out from the shadows walks a man. With a pale visage and wary demeanor, the man stands alone.

From the strange character come the words,

Charon, “I await your coin, and in return you shall have passage across the river Styx. I await the danake. It is small coin of little worth. It is a reminder that death equals all, from the rich to the poor.”

Maszebad, “Then I say to you, man of mighty dour, I stand as neither. I was not taken by sword or fever. You’re brother, the reaper, has not delivered me here. I am on a mission to dispose of the gods beneath and create new gods. You can be one of them if you assist me. Perhaps your heart shares my likeness as a visionary and opportunity seeker.”

Harpooned Optimism / by Annette Gagliardi

Blue birds frolic in their own feathered song,
strung along a deviant afternoon’s rationed blessings,
shifting the structure of the day,
lifting the reasoned sonnet-sound, caressing

to a fine feathered gray that lay beyond the grey
of yesterday. So, mull the grain of that sweet throng
to find where your song belongs.
Melt it in the tautness of other full throated and long

birdsongs filled with the rhythm of longing.
Revel in the silence of your tune,
open your smile into a needy room.
Don’t assume whom will wonder roundly

when your tune is heard most soundly
and applaud those notes profoundly,
no matter where they are found
croon that tuneful sound.

You needn’t search like every hound,
looking underneath and all around.
Just trill a note in that sweet chorus
that is tantalizingly porous.

At last the frolic of Blue birds will find
with their notes unfurled, and find they
baste you with buoyant expectations
and shake you to your very foundations.

reliquary / by Robin Happel

I saw god strutting on spindle legs
across lexington avenue
and the shuddering city
held its breath –

the midnight moon, blinding –
and a thousand spindles
grasping blindly in the night,
dripping golden tears

weeping for the world we made
in all its great and terrible beauty
reflected a thousand times,
in black windows like silent eyes

voiceless save the wind –
skyscrapers made reliquaries
of something beyond time
and beyond this place

If All of the Animals Were Extinct / by Brittany Mishra

Without fail, every night in summer,
I slid my window open
and fell asleep to the hoot
of the same owl perched
on the birch tree outside.
In the noon day sun, dragonflies
flicked past me and then hovered,
shimmering like a lake bewitched by the sun.
My life wouldn’t be the same without
the crows waking me up at 4:30am
squawking and screaming in the grass
leaving behind a war of black feathers.
And what if I had not walked
on that mountain path and glimpsed
the fox with his burnt orange tail
as he slipped out of my sight?
What would my measure of danger be
if I had not crossed paths with that cougar?
its fur and muscles a beige flash
and yet its claws sparing my body.
I do not want my encounters
to be a strange kind of fiction
I do not want to be lucky that I grew up
with the chance to call myself an animal,
a human being.

[somewhere between the city and the suburbs] / by Ian Tyson

string people claim a theory of everything exists for space. sightseers swear calculus begins with color. there are two favorites: rose petal and arachnid. silent night. champion algorithm. every human has a double, and this one wears new snowboarding outfits every twenty-four hours. Nietzsche’s probation: shaming is reckless. a belief in orbiting bodies. taboos that lurch lilies of the field. language masks and removes masks and makes nervous nellies. march madness as early onset personality. it should be held accountable for not going further.

Poem 18 / Day 18

Maszebad, Part XII / by Andrew Curtis

Where the Tigris flows into the gulf is where Maszebad goes. He once again stands upon familiar sands. Yet, it is forbidden to seek the hidden breast of the Tigris which feeds the hereunder.

Maszebad, “If what I learned from the great library of Nina strikes true, the lost arm of the river lays forever in the submerged caved for which jagged rocks have torn asunder.”

Maszebad makes his way to the only part of the river where it is forbidden to fish. The entrance is not hard to find. The cave runs deeper than the rest of the river, so the dark spot in the center is where he shall go.

He jumps into uncertain waters. The deeper he goes the colder and darker and void these waters become. Upon entering the cave he finds a silent, eerie, and unworldly world. A place void of sensation. Beyond fear or freedom; blackness and negation.

In blank and cosmic reverberation he is suspended no more. With sudden coldness and fury he falls from numbing paradise. He is at peace no more. In violent convulsion, he desperately screams and gripes at stony seems. He crawls to land and what rushes to him is reason restored.

Tender Bower / by Annette Gagliardi

When all the things we loved are gone
and life at last has failed,

When all our words have flown like dawn
and we sail without our sails,

When worn to smooth our tramping boots
in swift and metered beat,

When rhythmic, reassuring attributes
and measured moments meet,

Held at the edge of wild wind’s grime
the daylight’s promised hour,

The air between us charged in rhyme
like dew on death’s just bower,

We’ll fly to heaven one more time,
we’ll seek the flowered day.

Then I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine
forever and always.

august rhapsody / by Robin Happel

long after midnight
trees bend their leaf-lace veils
listen to the silent street

in still summer night
they stumble on spindle roots
tiptoeing together

dancing on the hillside
in gold moon-glow
far above the silent town below

by dawn they rustle
into familiar sidewalks
shed their night airs

their arms still clasped
above staccato sprinklers
in secret pirouette

Sonnet of My Molting / by Brittany Mishra

There are moments when I’m so sure,
but then night closes around me.
In the restless moonlight my body unfolds,
unsettled into the fullness of the unknown.
The roar of the AC keeps me in reality;
sleep evades me. In the dark, my eyes
are lighthouses beckoning the future
to uncloak the shadowed corners of my room.
Yet, no matter how many nights I remain vigil,
I will never know the future until it dashes
on the cliffs around me with a thunder that deafens
my heart until I cannot recall its rhythm or sound.
I will have to check my pulse to make sure
that I am the same person I used to be.

[somewhere between the city and the suburbs] / by Ian Tyson

we hope for turnover. we hope to take hustle out the street. a coffeeshop, serving locally roasted beans, replaces a garage. a good thing. if they roast the beans themselves a better thing. a brewery replaces a prostitute’s office, a drug dealer’s conference room. the brewery sells a more drinkable IPA, a raspberry infused stout, a punch-drunk strawberry saison, a bark saturated pear porter. they pull their beer titles from mathematical proofs. yet much hustle remains: a U-hall deposits cases of mattress in the alley of convenience. next door a sign reads: TEMP WORK, above those seeking a day’s pay.

Poem 17 / Day 17

Again / by Eileen Cleary

In the liturgical calendar, I
celebrate with afternoon tea.
That you were human. Though you
died and your face grew quiet
and I mistook that for taming.
I’ve known the sky to rain flowers
that disappear overnight in the sun’s heat.
What makes me tell you this?
I do not know. But I know something
in the wild night brings them back.

Maszebad, Part XI / by Andrew Curtis

Ilāt, “First, you must drink from the cup of life. If you truly want to live you will be able to pull the garb of invincibility out from of the bottom of the cup, but if it is peace you truly seek you shall find it in the hereafter. So, drink deep and claim your prize whether it be the garb or eternal sleep.”

He has come too far to falter, and grips the cup. Being absent of water so long makes a man true.

Maszebad, “Tormenting thirst, no wager could be too steep to be rid of you. I shall drink deep and deliver onto me sweet relief.”

Afterwards, he opens his eyes, looks down into the cup, and pulls out a golden garb.

Ilāt, “Before departing from you, Maszebad, you should know that no anti-god adornment shall keep you from most brutal fate. Only the gods can live forever. We drink from the well of immortality that lay in the realm far under. As a parting gesture, here is a kiss. Just know immortal waters shall never pass your lips, fore it lay in the realm under the Tigris.”

Swiftly as she had come to Maszebad, just as swiftly she departs.

Maszebad, “Damn you immortal decadence! My journey home I hastily undergo. Great boon awaits me in the hereunder. What creatures and spiteful gods await, I do not know. Needn’t matter, fore petty torment inflicted unto me I shall take joyfully and transform creatively with my passion and harden with my pain. Joyful struggle and transfiguration on heights unseen. I shall come forth and return this kiss to all whom await me under the Tigris.”

Stampede / by Annette Gagliardi

The buffalo herd
Is running, rushing,
Stomping, stamping,
Creating thunder –
The ground trembling

The herd –
speeding thunder
Dark clouds, racing the rain
Threatening to engulf –
To soak, sodden and saturate

The herd
Snorting its protest
In widening billows
Discharged- expelling their
explosive force – Choking

The herd
Trampling meadows
Flattening grass
And flower
With their power

The herd
Mirroring rain clouds
Mimicking the thunder
Chasing, racing, pacing
Charged, electric air

Of a summer
thunderstorm

Property / by Robin Happel

The grass leans with the traffic;
we create this wind, this constant pressure.
Our micro-climates expanding into asphalt,
storm cells of concrete, tar, and bitumen fumes.
This wonderful experiment, this earth is in our
hands and we are ravenous to raise the world,
rearrange the trees and soil, tear down creation.

The earth is our canvas, stretched tight over wood,
sanctified by our hand, linen perfected, whitened.
The mountains, rivers, and oceans wait for our genius;
to do with them what we want, claim them as our own.
Like carving our name deep into the bark of a tree with a knife,
in our pursuit, why would we care if the trees bleeds?

gomphothere / by Brittany Mishra

better to be
an ancient, furred thing

without expectation
of lipstick, soft smiles,
or sparkling laughter –

but simply braying
into still dark skies

rumbling on soft paws
no spike heels, pantyhouse

just me and my trunk
digging into ancient mud

bleating bleary-eyed
at distant thunder

Poem 16 / Day 16

Totem: Luna Moth/ by Eileen Cleary

Startle!

A satellite
on gravel,

eye mosaics,
like little shingles.

Do they seek
their own flame?

Wings, wide
as a picked lime

and plumb fuzz body,
under the Egg Moon.

Maszebad, Part X/ by Andrew Curtis

Maszebad, “It is their pride that they hide (the soldiers) in the fabrication of a monstrous army awaiting confrontation.”

Old man, “A justification of why they turned away, but now it is you that is here and what will you say when you turn away?”

Maszebad, “I will say, I hardened my heart and embraced cruelest fate. My humanity departs from me but here I stay. I WILL NOT TURN AWAY!”

Red flashed and Maszebad was transformed. In the moonlight toil and danced a beast, and in daybreak was a man with a divine spoil. Reverted, here stands is a man who recoils from the deed and retreats to grief yet no one is around to witness appropriate distress. Therefore, he swiftly regains his posture from the relief the relic bequeathed, and advances to the third.

In the third trial Maszebad’s hard won duumvirate will be of no use to him. The gods love their irony. It is usually a truth brutally taught. As the priest said, he must go into the desert, risking death, and walk until the goddess of life reveals herself to him. Only at the brink of death might she appear, or not.

And so he walked. He wondered from valley to hilltop. Marching and marching, nonstop. Days upon days he languished below the blistering sun. He even would run to make himself thoroughly undone, but the goddess did not appear. He eventually found an oasis, yet even with fading resolve he did not succumb. Within the day of the oasis rejection he collapsed, finally undone. A moment passed of despairing reflection.

Maszebad, “Am I to die in this most ignominious of ways? All that I had done…”

Yet, when he gazed upon what was before him, there was a within him resurrection.

Maszebad, “Ilāt, goddess of life, acknowledge my labors! Bestow upon me the garb of divine protection.”

All Are Unqualified/ by Annette Gagliardi

Not recognizably native, ambiguously
nonwhite, colored imprecisely.

Which ORIGINAL gender do you
ascribe yourself to?

What ethnicity, religion or political
party assigns your sense of worth?

Just ‘cause you feel it don’t mean it’s there.

Is how you got to be here based on
what people have done to get you here?

How bona fide-qualified are you to be
the WHO you think you are?

What criteria do you measure
your rightful, honest authenticity?

“Just ‘cause you feel it don’t mean it’s there.”

How do you qualify for your own
legitimate existence?

To be your own-actual-authentic-self

creates ripples in the atmosphere;

tiny waves of meaning, of being
—existence being debatable.

“Just ‘cause you feel it don’t mean it’s there.”

Have you lost the ability to recognize
the TRUE genuine in yourself?

You’ve got to know about the history of your ancestors,
but antiquity does not define the WHO that you are today.

Put aside the pretension of documentation
to consider your own-veritable-self.

* Quote from, “There, there” by Radiohead.

spider silk/ by Robin Happel

gold thread
in morning mist
spirit-spun lace
through the dawn
ties that bind
between night
and morning –
where the dew gleams,
perhaps a goddess walks
perhaps each of us
a forest goddess –
this tapestry a shrine
torn, tattered
meager yet gleaming
and wonder, then,
what pixies
or shy sprites slip
beneath hushed grass –
gazing up
with eight dark
and wonder-filled eyes?

Property/ by Robin Happel

The grass leans with the traffic;
we create this wind, this constant pressure.
Our micro-climates expanding into asphalt,
storm cells of concrete, tar, and bitumen fumes.
This wonderful experiment, this earth is in our
hands and we are ravenous to raise the world,
rearrange the trees and soil, tear down creation.

The earth is our canvas, stretched tight over wood,
sanctified by our hand, linen perfected, whitened.
The mountains, rivers, and oceans wait for our genius;
to do with them what we want, claim them as our own.
Like carving our name deep into the bark of a tree with a knife,
in our pursuit, why would we care if the trees bleeds?

Executive/ by Brittany Mishra

You walk out
of your corner office
into your kingdom.
Still here after hours
with empty cubicles
and the smell of coffee,
microwaved lunch.
The sweet hum of refrigerators
and silence.
The taste of stale dust
as the AC clicks on.
If you leave
this building
and walk out to
your car,
if you drive through
the traffic
and end up
at the grocery store,
you are just another
face lost in the crowd.
The moment you step
outside these walls,
you are not more
than you think you are.

[somewhere between the city and the suburbs]/ by Ian Tyson

trees suffer the cruelty of April while apparitions glide the headstone of perfect panic. a sky over metropolis powders a light, misplaced sieve, delighted of Picasso’s blue. today is falling stock. today is rising cattle call. today is texture for accents written aloud. it takes sadness to pick a flower. it takes momentum as understood by the sub-atomic. departure takes a calamity of ribbons. injections of box car worthy of ticker tape. to say we have a feeling. we deserve the red carpet. we jest like a child seriously at play with wireshine for nest.

Poem 15 / Day 15

Invoking Doe/ by Eileen Cleary

Szymborska conjures for a deer a borrowed spring
in which to cool her soft muzzle. And at least one
grass blade and probably more on which to rest.
For this doe thriving in this wood I’ve added acorns,
legumes, a bit of fruit. That for a little longer
neither of us will risk an arrow to our hearts.

Maszebad, Part IX/ by Andrew Curtis

The next day he began his two day ride to the Great Zab River. He can now afford passage aboard a ship. A luxury denied to him by his own hand and its hasty desire for city departure and the relic triumvirate adventure. The river connects to the Tigris and consequently the path to the next trial. Maszebad does not bother to veil how much he is looking forward to this next adventure. An army of fearsome monsters are preferred to mystical guile.

Time slowly elapses but eventually Maszebad again finds himself on new soil. It is the Mede city state Gava, which rests in the center of the crescent gulf. It is said that there is a vast cave that resides right outside the city’s border, and in it trial spoil.

It was a three day ride to his desired destination. Upon entrance of the cave he found, not an army, but a walking grave and damp desolation. He was not greeted by an army, monstrous and ready, but an encampment of diseased women, children, and elderly.

In a guttural voice the words are spoken from beside Maszebad in this grave,

Old man, “You did not enter the wrong cave. If it is the shield you seek, here it lay.”

Maszebad, “I would not even take you as a slave. Surely this is the wrong cave.”

Old man, “Long departed am I from the gods’ gift of youthful vigor, but obediently here we will gladly stay. If it were not for the gods who placed us here, we would have died long ago. We look broken but we feel no pain, with the gods at our side. It is their will that keeps us alive.”

Maszebad, “I fear, old man, that you are certainly not alive. You breath, you walk, you talk, but far departed is he who lives simply to live and not to strive.”

Old man, “Yet, we do strive. We strive to please the Lords, even as impotent hordes.”

Maszebad, “Place truest meaning towards your words!”

Old man, “We are a spiritual retainer for mortal values. The only way to be awarded the shield is to kill every harmless resident in this tragic realm. To have a higher protection one must make a spiritual defection. Only the strongest could transform into a beast and retain a moral center. We will never die because we feed on the immortal pity of all who enter.”

Driving Fast/ by Annette Gagliardi

I went to visit my daughter in LA—
land of the six-lane freeway

—flying down the highway, holding
your breath, trying not to cry—

—where folks drive like they’re gonna die
and they want to get there today.

mountain echo/ by Robin Happel

catch me here before I go
before my bones rise,
rise with falling snow

catch me here before I fly
like clouds in silent autumn skies,
mist that covers both my eyes –

catch me here before I run
before the august hours are done
before the race of nights is won

catch me here and say my name
once again in soft refrain
catch me like the april rain

find me here and see my face
reflection in a moonlit lake
for centuries part of this place –

falling, falling,
near and far
find me always,
where you are

Water Paper Ink/bu Brittany Mishra

I have hands that write language
in the river and ears that hear new ones

in the rapids. Even with the spring floods,
everything written in the river is permanent,

recorded in the echo, imbedded in the silt.
The sediment contains a library of pasts,

presents, and futures; a lexicon of layers.
All of the words filed away, settled and preserved

until foot, hoof, claw or boat dredge
and unsettle; the tomes crease open,

billow up into the water as a cloud.
Flecks of sand and soil shining

like diamonds in the sunlight,
each of them a new word

or a dead language unearthed
after millennia of silence and drought.

[somewhere between the city and the suburbs]/ by Ian Tyson

six bikes, three street lights, two mini-aspens, a Honda and a Toyota SUV. not street sweeping day. not trash or recycle day. not public fucking day. not even public walking day. must be another drive to work day. looking at the calendar we’re wondering when to expect the next tie a balloon to your labia lip and jump around day. but first another cancer day in celebration of the billions served day. what about a liquid finance day? or a confetti day in the middle of the week?

Poem 14 / Day 14

Mocking Bird/ by Eileen Cleary

Meanwhile, the sky’s honey-peach.
If this were a dream,

it would be cheerful except
for dove-thoughts,

and my throat puffed
for arbitrary mourning.

I am afraid this dove’s
never skyward.

Not pacifist in flight,
but clay on porch rails.

This is what worries me.

Maszebad, Part VIII/ by Andrew Curtis

Lamashtu, “Tarry a while and hear what I offer. As the gods conspire you seek advantage through the power of the relic triumvirate. Yet, there stands more spoils in this place than mere protection from the coming storms. I see into your heart wayward king. You stand to win more than the protection of the blade and of fate improved.”

Maszebad, “I am from this discourse as you are from this life, far removed.”

As Maszebad marches toward the witch which stands questionably close to the cliff. He soon hears a sound of shuffling snow that evinces a third party behind him. The light of day is dim, but he can clearly see the form of a beautiful woman through the quickly fading evening glow. What a strange display which now decorates this mountain side. A soldier with his sword drawn, an old woman, and a dumbfounded half naked girl standing in the snow.

Lamashtu, “I told you there is more here than you know. This flower was molded by my hands from clay and fire, but her form was plunk from your own deepest desire. Walk off the cliff and prove your loyalty. If your love is true you, you will not fall. And with the rising of the sun you can depart with her and the sword, fore my hold over her will be undone.”

The beautiful woman walks towards Maszebad as he lowers his sword.

Lamashtu, “Is she not all you desire? A singular woman, found only in a dream.”

Upon those words he awakens from slumber of purpose. The fire of will and intention in his eyes once again gleam and in determined fashion he replies, “She is indeed the woman of my dream!”

Maszebad pushes the witch off the cliff, and with a swing of his sword the dream woman is dead. Before he makes a thorough inspection of Lamashtu’s den he sees something shining in the throat of a body well departed of its head. He reaches down into her throat and pulls out a sword. It is gold and black and bathed in red.

Maszebad finds a cache of silver in the den which adorned all kinds of symbols whose meaning were as foreign as the men who once accompanied them.

Maszebad, “Let these soldiers rest easier than the witch I ripped from this earth, root to stem.”

Veho/ by Annette Gagliardi

“The spider’s web is a home
and a trap.”

trickster spider weaves
his sticky webbing—so appealing

stealing eyes to see better
he comes — and is here, and is here

absorbing all resources
digesting all histories

collecting you and me, connecting
all lives to his—assimilating

making the old world watch with
his eyes—his viewpoint

the web sticks everywhere
once you are trapped

at that place where it hurts
but feels better because you feel it

until your eyes are drained
and there is nothing ahead

stuck in the stickiness,
trapped in the web

the needle, the bottle, the pipe
welcome the homeless

into Veho’s new home
living there now – formless

never meaning to become
the trapped thing — the mean

thing—the spider’s webbing
the only thing seen

From “There There” by Tommy Orange

hummingbird season/ by Robin Happel

the hummingbirds come
later now each autumn –
time turns on its axis 

and summer roads spill
like long black tongues
across the shenandoah

so let the radio repeat
in scratchy-sweet,
blue ridge melodies 

and tell me what you see
beyond the blue smoke,
beyond this day

beyond this place,
roads we ran once
or a thousand times before –

and blue sky shines
through mountains –
summer swallows our days

when coal was king
and blood was the cost
of this road

if only for an instant,
worth the price,
this corner of sky –

before the mountain shrugs
shakes us away
and the world begins again

Never Ask for Help/ by Brittany Mishra

She added a wrought iron gate in her garden,
painted the color of sky to let the seasons
pass through with their weather, let it rust,
corrode, turn red and crackling blue.

She wanted to let the air in, to taste spring
and summer let them seep through.
She kept the key on a string around her neck,
and never let anyone else through.

And yet they waited outside her gate,
tried to reach, whisper words to her.
She ignored them, went about her day,
weeded, and tended her garden.

Everyday her hands muddied with soil and root;
her knees and hips sore with the work.
She needed help, but she did all of it alone,
ignored the deep set aching of her bones.

And so the weeds grew higher and higher
while her bushes and flowers disappeared,
strangled away from the sun’s warmth.
And when her body finally gave up,

she touched the key at her breast.
She turned to look outside for help,
but everyone had disappeared
all of them left for an open gate.

[somewhere between the city and the suburbs]/ by Ian Tyson

a shooter walks into a room, but really? if/then stacked up like commerce.  should fresh daisies open on Friday, streets wait en-masse. if full of feathers, then background music fixes noise at the pace of thoroughfare.  if in a field of magnets several daisies lean toward slap happy gangster, then trapeze sensation will empty our pockets for a front row ticket.  if law is matter of fact, like earth or winless sky, then clinching jaw line in the palm of heresy keeps gentle tones.

instead of a shooter a paranoid schizophrenic and instead of a room a makeshift bar.  cedar countertops light us with bullets of nocturn. how face shines up with the general fact of grace. one foot in front of the other like a peacock heist. perfect spelling. space without shape is nothing like most everything: skeptical and bounded with joy.  to reach a bubble is talent. even hum of items to be plucked.  the sound-bar of real gold: 12oz troy left in white idea, at the center for everyone to see.

Poem 13 / Day 13

Apology to the Meadow / by Eileen Cleary

I’m sorry for How-To Slaughter Guides 

bought to save myself a cough 

while monarchs write their epigraphs 

in milkweed.  For buttercups 

bright as coyote’s eyes 

picked to predict proclivity 

for lard, hundreds of their sun-sodden 

bodies swallowed by Elsie for creamier milk. 

A clover free stalk whose luck has run out 

like a footless rabbit. For daisies 

forced to the roadside, or cages built 

for grazers while beef-eating fires 

singe the morning glory. I gasp─ 

can’t find my breath or the baby’s in mown grass.

Maszebad, Part VII/ by Andrew Curtis

Priest, “If that’s what you wish. There are certain relics that have the power to protect one from the wrath of the gods but such power isn’t without sacrifice in face of mighty odds. There are three relics. The first is a sword. It is guarded by a mountain witch that goes by Lamashtu. Beware, no man has ever returned. The shield is the next relic to be earned. It is guarded by a fearsome army of monsters in a cave. If you still elude the grave and stand strong and alert, you can find the third at the edge of the desert. Walk through the wadi until the goddess of life, Ilāt, reveals herself to you. If she deems you worthy, she will then award you a garb of invincibility.”

Maszebad, “Give me a map of my trials and when I see them completed you shall see your temple restored”.

Maszebad departs to distant mountains by horseback as dawn breaks. After a brutal trek across Mesopotamia to the fringes of civilization Maszebad finally arrives at the obscure mountain pass of Halgurd. He gazes upon the majesty of the pale snow and mountainous form of this countryside, truly something to behold. It is a treacherous journey upward with rocks as sharp as the air is cold. He yet stands far removed from any notion of retreat, he knows his burning intention shall keep him warm and the coming confrontation, something he would seldom yearn for before journey’s undertaking, which will greet him.

He finds a small stone cottage perched half way up the mountain where an old woman is shoveling snow into a bucket. He knows the snow will not afford him the chance to sneak up from behind her do to the noise. Before he can form a strategy the woman addresses Maszebad.

She states, “I sensed you more keenly than the others. There is a divine tension about you which is made manifest through each step you take. Fate weighs heavily on you. Far more than your relic seeking brothers. ”

Maszebad, “You needn’t discompose yourself with my fate. Your own is upon you. Its visage stands before you. Great boon awaits me with the life I take. Only the most handsome of blades could resort me from a most arduous journey, so may my reward spring forth swiftly in your wake.”

Remember Remembering/ by  Annette Gagliardi

Recollection has become old fashioned.

We depend on the internet to remember
for us, now. There’s no reason to hold
information in our own brains when
it’s always, Just.  Right. There! — So available.

Like the way everyone used to know
phone numbers by heart and now can’t
even remember their own.

Like the words from poems
and famous speeches folks
used to memorize and now
ask Siri or Alexis to look up.

Like the way we knew how things
looked without having to take a photo
of it and post it for all our friends
and acquaintances—to remind them as well.

We type on the search bar before
even thinking about it.  Before we can
think that we are thinking of doing it,
its already typed in.

Yet internet searching has no
scope, no vision, no depth.
We skim the surface of knowledge
that used to be deep, and honest,

that used to be understood in a way
that was more than, “Oh, I was right” or
“I was wrong” or “Interesting!” — And then
we quickly forget again.

witching hour/ by Robin Happel

sometimes, when the summer air sits like a stone
and trickles salt-sweet rivulets of sweat
do you step out of your body?
if only for an instant –

walk with me, above the fireflies
winking gold lanterns through the trees

where the leaves laugh silver in moonlight
rippling like waves of long-gone seas

witness the ghosts of creatures
never bound to the earth –
a brontosaurus braying at starlight,
and strange sightless fish

lush ferns that tiptoe past
and blink gentle, impossible eyes

an ancient, furred thing,
terror of tales told on cave walls

and something altogether different,
so old he has forgotten himself.

they are waiting, like I am,
for time to come round again –

and as they stare at you with starlit eyes
they are waiting for the day
when they again roam the world
and you are merely memory

so when you wake, awash in cool cotton
and dappled moonlight

treasure the ache of your breath
just as we spirits long for life

and know that all this has been before,
a thousand times over –
and we love you, for we remember you,
though you have forgotten us.

Naglfar/ by Brittany Mishra

For all of the fingernails bitten off
and thrown to the ground forgotten;
all of that detritus collected
into the shape of wooden planks.
The boat maker connects everything
crafts the end of the world with our souls.

All of us dead warriors weathered
into the salted gray of the sea;
there on deck, the boat smells
like a body in hot summer, sweat;
our ripe decay preserved into
the cracks and crevices of the hull.

Each of our lives a willful contribution
to build the underbelly of this Ragnarok.
The graying masthead of this death-ship;
we could not know something so small
as a fingernail or a locket of hair
could be twisted into this violent end.

Micro Criticism/ by Ian Tyson

In Death and the Compass Borges understood how linguistic the Hebrews are when it comes to gods: “Tradition numbers ninety-nine names of God; the Hebraists attribute this imperfect number to the magical fear of even numbers; the Hasidim reason that this hiatus indicates a hundredth name-the Absolute Name.” That name is Mackie, or the name yet to come.

The name that arrives later, when you have children and those children attend daycare. In this case a squirrel named by one of your son’s teachers becomes the name for all squirrels. This space of the yet to come is the Absolute Name that is only ever temporarily filled by such a constructed act of naming that lays the code of the personal to represent the all. A temporary link between the one and the many, a singular designation re-tagging an entire animal species when we now go on walks looking for Mackie.

Poem 12 / Day 12

In Which I Again Try to Explain the Early Signs of Dying/ by Eileen Cleary

If instead he perches
on his bed and prefers
not to partake

when his grandson bolts
through the door
clutching a robot

and a Mo Willems
Book. And if
it rains and petricor

doesn’t draw him
to his porch to sing
to the pitch pines.

If carrot cake, and
fire pit and Red Sox,
and still. If chickadees

utter a loud seet
because an owl
approaches.

If pine warblers
blur. Or if a rapid
drum against bark.

If he stops
coming for his bath
or to eat with you

by the window. Of he
weighs less each dawn
like a common sparrow

after a cold night. If he
lists. If he squints. If a
pale bird in his bedroom.

Maszebad, Part VI/ by Andrew Curtis

Priest, “The latter premonition depicts you on a great journey. One that will take you beyond the realm of men. Your truest self will be so far departed from the understanding of your fellow man that you will undoubtedly be alone. Your language will be foreign to those below you and your heart will be like unto that of stone. You will trek great heights. The journey will be treacherous but the reward tremendous. In regards to the tree, there are a people our city has done commerce with who spoke of a divine tree. They say it represents knowledge and its power to corrupt the pure as well as elevate the worthy to the heights of the gods, as well as to their depths. The apples are falling into the hands of those who follow in your footsteps. They are your kin, you see. They are sustaining themselves off of your tree. You are to build upon what has come before you and you are to create something which will serve to sustain those who come after are you. The demons are your children and the mountain children are your children, of a different kind. This dream is not yours alone, but you will be alone. Your fate is inevitably entwined with what you are to leave behind.”

Maszebad, “I do not understand, can I choose another path? What does this mean for me?”

Priest, “Whatever path you choose, you will die to become who you are.”

Maszebad, “NO! I know who I am and I shall forge my own path, as I always have. I will not be at the mercy of the gods and their petty hate. I will restore my life to what it was, no matter the cost. I will become as powerful as possible to avoid sordid fate. I shall not be the meal for the gods’ vengeance sate. ”

Does Life Imitate Art?/ by Annette Gagliardi

Is it merely a wish to fulfill –
or the aftermath of watching too many love stories?How long can you inhale without freezing
in the afterglow of your own heat?

One wants to be the subject of a Rockwellwhere all is perfection personified.

Nothing to distract reality as we know it
save a pair of fruits decomposing on the counter.

Our appetite is as chronic
as the tide coming in and going out.

Yet events unfold impacted—or not
by the lives we live.

Would you be the hung hero or the
oft-slung politician,

The warrior princess or the
imprisoned ruffian?

morning ghost/ by Robin Happel

in blue smokeor afternoon light

witness spirits
never fully bound
to the world –

strange pearls
beneath the dust
of our days

silhouettes seen only
in morning mist

July 14, 2019/ by Brittany Mishra

The tears flowed like wine that night,
all of us drunk on sadness and despair.

And yet I cooked the future on the stove,
eggplant and loss; no one took a bite.

The rice boiled over and burned a permanent
mark on the stove to place hold this day, 

so we could never forget how we held him
as he seized onto his last breath,

and when we undressed him, cleaned
his body, and wrapped him in white. 

[somewhere between the city and the suburbs]/ by Ian Tyson

Ghetto to the left, zero-scaping on my right. East on 11th. Syracuse then Aurora at Yosemite, and the poem keeps riding, past Havana, burning incense, vans and trucks loaded with ladders. Somewhere between Stapleton and Lowry, here in the real suburbs of “white flight”. Oh how the yearbooks have changed! The poem keeps riding. A remedy for nostalgia. Competition of truancy. The police badge turns a tool into a weapon. Even the Billy Club is just for show now. The bullet hole show. The youtube show. The login show. According to the BBC, “The markets are nervous about the new Mexican President and his more direct approach to democracy.”

Poem 11 / Day 11

In Which I Explain to a Family the Early Signs of Dying / by Eileen Cleary

If instead he perches
on his bed and prefers
not to pitch into the day

when his grandson bolts
through the door
clutching a robot

and a Mo Willems
Book. And if
it rains and petricor

doesn’t draw him
to the porch to talk
to the pitch pines.

If carrot cake, and
fire pit and Red Sox,
and still.

Maszebad, Part V / by Andrew Curtis

Maszebad, “I am harmed, priest. I stumbled upon the gods through a particularly potent evening of worship. I collapsed into a transcendent slumber and stumbled upon the garden of the divine. I need you to interpret what I saw and give meaning to each sign.”

Priest, “I am here, my king. Confide and find your distress illuminated. I will interpret your dream to the best of my ability, by the gods.”

Maszebad, “In my dream, the first thing I remember was walking around in a dark cave. Finally, I see a light. I, of course, seek to escape so I walk toward it. It is a pond which is encircled by fire, I find my escape thwarted. I notice there are images in the water. The first image shows my estate. There is a man there, he holds me visage. It is a horrid sight. I am depicted holding a roof while being castrated by a woman while small demons hold my legs in place, yet I do not look like I am in pain. The most troubling thing about this display is the look of total resignation, even contentment, upon my visage as I slowly die. Is this a premonition of me going insane? All the while, I am encircled by the smirking faces of the gods. In their hands are judgement rods.

The other vision depicts me sitting alone on top of a cold mountain wearing a golden garb while I lean against a tree, as a corpse. I am a corpse among corpses, forsaken by the gods. There is something written on the tree but I cannot see. From what I can see, it is an apple tree. The apples are rolling down the mountain and are being eaten by children that are each climbing the mountain, alone. They are climbing the mountain toward me, toward the apple tree, while carrying a large stone. What does this mean, priest?”

Priest, “In your house of indifferent torment, the roof is the home and you its foundation. You will undoubtedly find peace in creature comforts but you will be unable to strive beyond it; life negation. You will be confronted by the prospect of an enchanting woman’s love. If you choose to accept it she will take your rage and disquiet. She will bare you children which will further solidify your perceived impotence. You will be unable to grow beyond the responsibilities you have imposed upon yourself. The solitude and distress you now feel is the kernel of your future greatness and impetus. Greatness or normality, they both entail sweet and bitter. When you are reminded of the bitter you will be torn. The children are manifesting as demons because that is how you will see them when confronted with the lost opportunities that come from them being born.”

Leering on the Menu / by Annette Gagliardi

You can call me waitress,
Miss – even, hey you
or use my name – it’s right here
on my name tag, clear as day
just above these breasts
you’ve been staring at.

You don’t need to call me luscious,
baby, sweet cheeks, honey bun
or the little wife.

I’m not your wife
nor your girlfriend.
You don’t know me
or anything about me.
And please
take your hand off
my sweet cheeks.

blue ghost/ by Robin Happel

little lantern in long grass
spirit not quite bound
to this side of the sky
bobbing beneath willows
before sinking silent
into black water
rippling reminder
of midnight
speckled with starlight
sinking into morning

Details / by Brittany Mishra

Poems are in the bubbles
that form in day old water
or in the shapes of bitten off
fingernails fallen to the floor.

Poems are in the sharpness
of spilled gasoline, or the smell
of balsam firs in summer
as the sun warms their resin.

Poems are in the sounds of tires
swishing on wet pavement
or the rush of water
through 100 year old pipes.

Poems are in the taste
of food after a long hunger
or in the hot sip of coffee
that burns your tongue.

Poems are in the settling
of a cobweb on your skin
or the roughness of sand
between your toes.

Poem 10 / Day 10

Nursing Rounds: Visit One, How to Get to the Fox Assisted Living Facility
If You’re So Inclined to Visit Your Poor Sick Aunt / by Eileen Cleary

Lois says, You know what I mean, and they know how to get back
if they want. But just in case, she clarifies. They keep us all

in lock-up. And there is a fox loose here. So, it’s dangerous.
She’s pinching something invisible between her

right thumb and index finger. Brings her left hand
to her right. I can barely see it. Always push the needle

not the thread, that’s something you don’t know. Oh!
my shirt is missing a button. (Thanks Lois,

but I have to head out. Would you like me
to call your family?) Hands working still,

she says, They probably won’t
find me. The foxes keep moving my room.

Maszebad, Part IV / by Andrew Curtis

Before Maszebad could muster the voice worthy of the command of a king, Agade fell from sight.
Maszebad found solitude in his room. It was there where he contemplated venturing out to find Gilgamesh at first light. It was there he heard a soft raspy voice call out to him, “Maszebad. Maszebad, King of Nina.”

The king looks down from his balcony to find a short and skinny man in ragged cloths.

He walks out to him and is greeted with, “King Maszebad, you seek King Gilgamesh but where he is no one knows.”

To which Maszebad sternly replies, “Hope that your next words bear more fruit. Pick them with care or I shall cut from you something for which no man would wish to lose.”

The disheveled man shivers and states, “Truest king, noblest king. It is I, the high priest of Uruk!”

Maszebad, “You stand a liar! I know much of high priests and of the lifestyle for which they aspire. What high priest would be displayed in such shabby attire?”

Priest, “It is not my will but that of my king. Our temples were filled with scents, gold, and silk garbs. However, the city’s most desirable and unifying temple function were that of the prayers we would so joyfully sing. Much time has passed since we had such a rich yet simple thing.

King Gilgamesh has been stripping pious servants more and more every year. He gives them great offense and now he lives in constant struggle against fate. The wealth of the temple are stripped to finance kingly sate.”

Maszebad, “It seems he and I share a closer likeness then I had previously suspected. I will speak to your king in the aim to restore this city to its former piousness, if you grant me your ear. I believed that is the terms you desire of me, from what I detected.”

Priest, “Yes, my king! I could not wait till the light of day to strike this arrangement.”

Resurrection / by Annette Gagliardi

My husband and I own a small plot of land
overlooking the river, near Highway 110.

Only now they call it the Crosstown Highway 62.
The land moves like a memory alongside that small, still dose of water.

The grass is so short it doesn’t move,
so long it bends and leans into the shifting breeze.

It reflects from the hill, off the placid water down below.
You could roll down the hill into that pool

or sit down next to the slab with your ancestor’s name
the date, the graphic, the metal flower pot.

No one’s really from here – the places where we grew up have changed
so we no longer recognize where we belong – yet here we are.

The land blurs ancestry, creates a smudge of colors that obscure—
a fog-filled gradient between light and dark.

It creates the calm, the peace, the tranquility
for those resting—residing in repose.

All one can see is the land in a green pixelated colorscape.
The land below the land speaks softly of newer colors.

The land’s got more soul than the blues;
more soul than Willie Nelson’s harmonica player—

who’s been stuck underground serenely
playing—between gigs for years, now.

Everything here is formed in relationship to every other
living thing around it. Each are everywhere and nowhere—

from East and FAR east to West and Wild west
from DEEPEST North and from deeper south.

We lie here, we rest here,
we ease ourselves into the land.

salamander king / by Robin Happel

beneath hills past memory
in geode grotto
and silent lake

the salamander king
sits in silent splendor

wreathed in queen anne’s lace
and marsh meadow flowers

where myth and memory twine
and jack’s beanstalk still stands
and rip van winkle slumbers

Untitled / by Brittany Mishra

In winter,
I forget
the greening
of spring;
the forests
filled with
the roar of life.

In spring,
I forget
the first snow;
the silence
as the first flake
claims the ground
as its own.

[somewhere between the city and the suburbs] / by Ian Tyson

This morning it’s the morning walk with the kids. The blackbirds are dive bombing their way through Mayfair, which would be the 14th way of looking at them. But why try after Poe nailed it even though his ponder was so weak and weary. Then again, according to the National Audubon Society’s website we are most likely dealing with crows here. They are loud and in group. Holding session on the neighborhood’s BBQ back-order. It’s August and the meat of summer is waning.

Poem 9 / Day 9

Single-Liner / by Eileen Cleary
for Mani Iyer

We are six and you are my brother
though I’ve never met you
in Bombay playing Kabbadi
while I Red Rover in Germantown.

Both of us trying to get back
to our first half. What could
this mean? Are we flying

a kite in a common sky over
a 1969 body of water, knowing
there is a life on the other end?

Maszebad, Part III / by Andrew Curtis

Maszebad, “Grieve, grieve, grieve! Behold a land transformed. Let it be to my likeness. Dumuzid, god of the pasture, with the opening of your hand unleash my disquiet, sorrow, and lament upon this land! Gilgamesh, deliver me from my distress! Call out to me; deliver!

O marshes… O river… From crabs to the fish to the frogs of the river and to each and every village, if I shall die before brotherly reunion, o countryside, tell my friend of my passing. Let him read it upon your visage.”

Maszebad makes his trek, alone, across the countryside from Nina to Uruk.

He barely spoke, ate, rested, or even lifted his gaze above the ground upon which he walked. Time blurred together. Little did Maszebad know it was destiny he unlocked. Suddenly he felt a slight lifting of his distress, Uruk was upon him.

The moment he entered the city he was recognized by a guard which delivered him swiftly to the royal palace but not before Maszebad asked of the king to which the guard replied, “Alas, my king is far departed from these city walls. From what I understand, he and Lord Enkidu have business to conclude on the province fringes.”

Maszebad thinks to himself, “Upon your counsel my life hinges. Damn you old friend. Was it not you who taught me the way of life that saw me to my current state? When taken upon sordid path, I had a friend. Now that consequences are upon me, I stand alone at hedonist end.”

Waiting at the palace entrance is Lord Agade, a counselor of Gilgamesh.

Agade, “What a surprise, it is King Maszebad. I see your journey has been most unkind.”

Maszebad, “I wish to speak with your king. I need his advisement in the area of the gods.”

Agade, “I wish to speak with him as well. Yet, it is matters beyond either of us for which he stands intertwined. The guards will escort you to your room. I will arrange for you to consult with the high priest in the morning, and may answers to your questions swiftly bloom.”

inebriated / by Annette Gagliardi

disguised in flamboyance

a walking mythology

insecurities pre-announced

without an ounce of buoyance

not fitting in with any chronology

of ordinary life—hasn’t taken a wife

endless annoyance

with oft-told apology

a docked craft at the waterfront

offering clairvoyance

or reading astrology

without a driver—in the buff

compliance avoidance

relation-ship ecology

no beverages left—

un-drunk

snow leopard / by Robin Happel

she slips like drops of ink
down the diamond slope of sky –

tail curled a question mark
speckled with commas
already her own answer

where the mountain roars
in icy breath –
leaping shadow over ice

silent, as all things are
beyond the rim of sky

The Night is Full of Wonders / by Brittany Mishra

Unsettled paws, mysteries broken
by the canyon side, red earth,
sediment, sun bleached skulls,
and ivory teeth scattered.

Coyotes lick their fur
and open their muzzles;
they do not howl to the moon,
they howl to the night, to the dark,

to its deepest motions and sounds.
They smell all of those stars as bones
glistening wet from tongues,
picked clean and twinkling.

Disco’s Revenge Redux / by Ian Tyson

In 2004 Greece hosted the summer Olympics as a throwback to the contest’s origins. On Naxos they featured the vaudeville events: ribbons, trampolines, trapeze, one athlete throwing harpoon, another throwing knives, a strong man dead-lifting half the cyclades naval force in a single oxcart, a bocce ball, a soccer ball, a beach ball, a basketball, a ball full of yarn. Dosed up on universally insured greek painkillers we walked among these wishes of spliced DnA. 10,000 ounces of Amstel Light for the price of student loans. One cubic corner of bohemia tattooed on the skin shine of time. No more gaps in the joy.

Poem 8 / Day 8

Words / by Eileen Cleary

Granular and mute

on the brain’s shore

until an electronic

wave raises itself,

breaks, and baptizes

a thought.

Maszebad, Part II / by Andrew Curtis

Shivering and weeping, he lays upon the cold unforgiving soil, of his courtyard, which has hitherto been a warm and kind resting place where if an old man were to lay he would have found such nourishing peace with the closing of his eyes would awaken in the hereafter. Yet as of now Maszebad lays there confused and far departed from any former grace he might have known, this mighty king of the land. He seeks only to once again lay his weary head upon forgetful sand.

He stands up. It is silent, so silent. His countrymen lay inert across the yard.

Maszebad, “Awaken, awaken, you fools! My dream, I need to know the meaning of my dream. I fear I have made the gravest offense. I fear without illumination I will never again know the joy of rest. Divine torment absent meaning. Where is my priest? Where are the temple boy?”
Maszebad, with his white wool garment transformed to red, looks beside his feet in horror.

Maszebad, “What have I done?”

A transgression with seldom limitation.

He falls to his knees with sorrow and self-contempt. It is a scene of vomit and blood and screams of truest lament. With his hands firmly griping the temple of his head, he gazes upon the sacrifice. Yet, not that of a goat. It is the temple boy which upon his arms now lays dead.

He runs to his compatriots, and started shaking one after another but to no avail. He soon realizes that they too have departed.

Maszebad, “I know what I must do. The key must be in my dream. My friend Gilgamesh of Uruk is kin of the gods and he may know the meaning of my dreams and how to deliver myself from cruelest fate.”
His heart weeps, it wept as he made his way across the countryside. With a severe unruly tremor in his hands and distress in heart, he solemnly makes his way across the land. A land once burgeon with life now cries as Maszebad does.

Aftermath of An Interview With The Press / by Annette Gagliardi

I know you think that our
conversation went really well –
and who am I to argue?

You got what you wanted.
I got noticed – if that’s a thing to crave.
Yet, my stomach is in knots

and my brain won’t behave.
I didn’t sleep all night,
I’m running cold and hot.

I think I’ve got a blight,
My second thoughts of what I said
are making me crazy

and worry about how it will sound.
Makes my vision hazy.
So tell me again

how you think all is well.
You’re in the pink.
I’m living in Hell.

hummingbird moth / by Robin Happel

pale shudder of summer
forest sprite
on soap bubble wings

when the light dances
against the moss
in forests of foxglove

strange silhouette –
a shrimp swimming
through summer clouds

rare beast
of some lost garden,
some other world

intersecting only
in the hum of one lonely,
sun-drenched afternoon

The Shroud / by Brittany Mishra

Tucked inside a white sheet
toes neatly pointed down,

each fold in the fabric
deliberate by my lover’s

hand, creased and folded.
The smell of clean laundry,

candles burning their paraffin;
the wicks not sputtering.

No tears falling to the floor.
I do not want it here or ever.

I want loud music, enough
to hold us together, stifle

the quiet lives outside this room.
Build around me a sarcophagus of sound.

Send me on my way as a vibration
or as the sound of you holding

a long note until your breath
grapples to sustain the tone

and you must gasp and fill your lungs;
please breathe and let me go.

Somewhere between the city and the suburbs / by Ian Tyson

This morning it was the empty vase soaking in the kitchen sink telling you the Valentine’s Day flowers have served their purpose. Last night it was the ride downtown bringing up the city in which you double waited between grad school and kids. From a bottle of white by noon to a bottle of formula by midnight. A week ago it was the paper you wanted to write explaining why the rich should pay higher taxes. Symbolic and practical. No one makes money alone. Perhaps this will quell the revolution.

Poem 7 / Day 7

Active / by Eileen Cleary

As they shopped, only the little boy would,
still with her blood. Another child.
Pulled from under her body. When
the dog would never.

Maszebad, Part I / by Andrew Curtis

Maszebad is the king of the great city of Nina, which lay at the foot of the Tigris. He loves his position and engaged in all the decadence that such position afforded. He filled his cup well with the finest wine and he debauched all night and slept all day.

After a particularly Orotaltian night of experiential worship, Maszebad slept. He slept deeper than any that have come before. He began the night with a fervent recitation of poetry of the most exquisite sensual encapsulation. Afterwards, he and his congregation feasted. They feasted on the riches meats and drank of the finest wines. All the while, poetry was recited and music played. Soon everyone was dancing a dance of true physical and spiritual expression.

Then comes the sacrifice. In a stupor, Maszebad took the blade that he used to serve up the plump feast calf to his compatriots and pressed it to the throat of the goat.

Maszebad, “Hear me Enki, god of water and all things! Your humble servants offer this sacrifice to you and will do so evermore. Continue to bless us with bountiful harvests and deliver us victories against our enemies, in the name of the gods.”

“In the name of the gods!” the oblivious crowd ardently repeat’s.

The last thing he saw, as dawn breaks, was red upon him and felt as if he were falling, and he did fall. He fell further and deeper than any other.

After a day and night, he awakes with the morning. With the morning he opens his bloodshot eyes. He dreamt the impossible. Through his ritual games and experiential adventure, he discovered something. A grotesque realization, a divine revelation. He had crossed the forbidden veil.

He awakened something in the dark. Something which laid in cosmic slumber. It was a violent nightmare which finally awakened him and left him disturbed.

Speed / by Annette Gagliardi

he’s going solo
he’s going fast
he knows that dawn’s
shadow won’t ever last

his mission is quick
his journey fleet
he knows that speed
is his saving feat

he went so quick
came back once more
there was not time
for one little roar

he’s asleep right now –
and up like caffeine
then gone in and instant
wondering where he’s been

macaw / by Robin Happel

scrap of jungle sky
memory of ancient mist
some strange remnant
of the world before

remind me of what we have lost
your flocks once like ink
against the sun
cacophony, riotous summer
now still

oracle of forgotten kingdoms
and the people who once
lived here, before here
became dust

home / by Brittany Mishra

hip bones and old joints
spinal columns built
wood, nails, and nostalgia
contained in the safest manner
keeps us, keeps us here
what more is there to keep the rain away,
the snow from nipping at our feet
what more than to chisel out the land
unearth the trees and grass from their roots
to build a thing to live in and tear down
a strange thing rising out of the country side
to take up space and contain that space
these walls a parentheses of meaning
what kind of hands are these
that carve these holding beams
and tear them down
as quickly as erasing a word
on a page?

Poem 6 / Day 6

Crowded. This Silence in Portland Oregon. / by Eileen Cleary    

Cherry blossoms line the Saturday Market
near Burnside. Back home, winter plants

its yellow shovels by the bulkhead door.
My friends and I gather for a word convention,

but all I can hear are the ghosts in my luggage
who say little. Who are thinning and thin again.

I can’t be sure which will stay, which
weary of tracking me. Which too weak to lead.

I’ve carried Bob for five years now, ever since
he stopped loading sawed Oaks into his Chevy

to fashion into checkerboard tables and roll-top
desks, which is probably why I seek these

scavenged and recycled bits of nature
in the cruelty-free shrine just beside

the hand-made soap and knitted hats
his wife Ellen would have liked.

I pause with the dead who listen hard
for the right sound to fit into this quiet,

while we watch ants sprinkle the sidewalk
cracks, and bridges make hallways of clouds.

Prayer / by Andrew Curtis

Take yourself upon the knee

Close your eyes and open your eye

Reach down, deep down

Past the guards of social castration

Past the guards of self-inflicted perdition

Past the shadow’s veil

Cold, and naked, and truest is he who awaits thee in the dark

Awaken, awaken, the muse within!

See what is hidden be made stark

Yet be cautions adventurer, you might not survive the trek

So few have made the journey

Fewer have made it back

Venture inward and low

And below the iceberg we go

Vest-pocket Cemetery / by Annette Gagliardi

Here in my vest pocket
I hold a bug secure.

It was something of a surprise
to see it resting on its laurels

whilst I ate my breakfast –
in mute dismay, this very day—

yet, the bug could not
continue to spy on me and my rye (bread)

so, I . . . (well)

Burglary is a dicey enterprise
even for the lowest of the low

so, there is no margin for error and
cooking is too kind a word for what became

of the thieving insect
I shall call “bug”.

midsummer haunting / by Robin Happel

in the stillness of the night
something ancient remembers itself,
struggling again into being

shadows of the world beneath
and beyond –
echoes of the ethereal

is a ghost merely memory
or something more?
substance, electric –

a storm cloud made spirit,
a world contained
and carried on

Fog / by Brittany Mishra

Walking through this morning
is like walking through a fun house
with every wall covered in mirrors.

The birds have stopped their chatter,
my footsteps muffled in the quiet,
the trees do not creek their branches.

Every creature watches its body,
captivated by our reflections in the fog;
we are multiplied into a million pieces.

Connected by a molecular mitosis,
all of our parts brought together
as a cloud obscuring the shape of things.

The sun edges itself high above
and we diffuse as prisms for moments
as we unsettle our bonds and evaporate.

micro litcrit / by Ian Tyson

This morning it’s Borges. I’m forced to look up the word coincide after reading about Pierre Menard, author of Don Quixote: to occupy the same place in space, the same point or period in time, or the same relative position. So the second law of physics is wrong. Two pieces of matter can occupy the same space at the same time. Bosons. This is what makes Borges so empirically enchanting. He’s a theoretical physicist with a specialty in quantum mechanics posing as a man of letters with a PhD in madness: Labyrinths and Doubles. On Menard: “His admirable ambition was to produce pages which would coincide – word for word and line for line – with those of Miguel de Cervantes.”

Poem 5 / Day 5

Nurses / by Eileen Cleary

Sew slash, spin gauze through,
bid scar from raw wished into.

Soft like ear folds or field loam,
or hooves tender, and sinking.

Wayward Soldier / by Andrew Curtis

Ruby drenched endeavors bear strange fruit

A dutiful fulfillment of commands well received

I gazed upon my works which still seem so alien to me

I feel departed from orientation of idea to command to deed

Is this truest self or muscle memory

Sordid things indeed

Of herd morality that leaves me twisted and deceived

All’s Right / by Annette Gagliardi

I have hair on my head
a nose on my face
I carry them with me
all over the place

I have feet in my shoes
and knees in my jeans-
so happy to be here!
So happy to be seen.

The smile on my lips
and the light in my eye
gives me permission
to laugh some – or cry.

ruby throat / by Robin Happel

strange shivering traveler
flutter like heartbeats
small dragon

of honeysuckle and vine
cut through time
like a sea serpent slicing
some far and icy ocean

more than time
more than this moment,
this summer

purr of past and present
shimmering into one
jewel neither now nor then
but in-between

Pulling the Trigger / by Brittany Mishra

We bring anger close,
let it infest us,
inhabit our bodies,
tighten our shoulders,
grit and grind our teeth.
We invite it to
settle in our joints.
We sleep with it,
eat with it,
drink, and
make love to it.
It lingers like blood
in a broken mouth,
metallic and sharp
brass and lead.
The body of anger
smells sulfuric
and blossoms
into hollow tips,
explodes into
our echo chambers
and silences

our empty selves.

Bad to the Bone / by Ian Tyson

We’ll call the party frozen bubbles and wonder-scicles. The cocktails rippled with fire, the costumes, old ski gear accessorized with animal clippings. At the door a bottle of white out. Between conversations the leisure of extending the last storm’s expiration date.

Poem 4 / Day 4

Coal Camp, Mingo County / by Eileen Cleary

Men crawl from the mine’s ribs
onto a moonscape of buried creeks.
New dirt drags into streams whose
tongues are gray and sleeping.
This year’s mares have left their stalls,
cannot graze this surface, cannot
pasture between airlock and airlessness.

Babel / by Andrew Curtis

Below the gods we grow

Above the sands we march

Truer horizons we seek to glimpse

Upon a mighty tower

We bask in the sun; the light we devour

For a glimpse of might illumination

On top a mighty tower

A shadow cast down from the sun we devour

From this tower we are above and the gods below us

For a glimpse we eclipse all before us

Blow / by Annette Gagliardi

The wind is its own kind of chaos
whipping and winnowing while
singing a tune—
making the tones tighter and brighter.

Wind disrupts, dishevels and displays disorder
in order to disrobe the clothed, in order to create
confusion and reek havoc where there is none.

It shadows the rainbow until colors disperse and mingle with the air.
It freezes clutter, fragments of detritus, the messiness of life and
agglomerates* our disjecta membra^
as it goes along the thin line of time.

Clutter keeps us bound to this earth –
keeps us picking up after, repairing
and replacing what the wind has thrown about –
because the wind is its own kind of chaos.

*collect or form into a mass or group
                          ^scattered fragments, especially of written work

painted turtle / by Robin Happel

in midsummer the river glows green
if only for an instant
algae swirls like brushstrokes

joe pye weed and clover and crepe myrtle
dripping like ink
drifting petals sink

in silent symphony
dive down deep
red shell like roses

like the roses that grow
in mud and silt and dark
without anyone to see them

like a painting
if only for an instant
only ever this way once

Truths / by Brittany Mishra

Buried in the clay of my skin are secrets.
May your hands unearth my chambers.
Wipe silt and sand from my corners and curves.
Excavate the smell of iron because I bleed, too.

Let the best parts of me lodge beneath your fingernails,
truths of me that you must dig out from there
and file away as proof of my worth,
the grit of my humanity.

Moi / by Ian Tyson

– for my mother on her 70th bday

In the beginning
there was you.
This morning
always this morning.
I’m riding around
the lake again.
The minnows are waiting
for their buckets.
We are in the shallow
end with our rubber
boots taking
minnow kisses.

Poem 3 / Day 3

Jane Doe Prepares To Leave / by Eileen Cleary

The woods, which in ways became another room.
She knows there is no way back but back. She
will miss the lopsided pine cone which never
made fun of her, never called her fugly, never
compared her to a dog. She will miss
the saplings who never blocked their noses, never
minded her dirt. Her bugs. Miss the rocks near these Elms—
which were nothing like the rocks outside her home which
leapt into the hands of her neighbors and flung themselves
at her shins, her head, her back. Because they had to—
because she kept leaving the house and when she left
she was too hard to look at. Too thin. Too sad. Too much.

Ambition / by Andrew Curtis

Many have taken my name into their heart

Leading them to inward deserts, forbidden notions, foreign battlefields

Therein, a higher form of art

To risk it all is to know my name

Overcome family, friends, self and shame

Endure brutal fate but placing no blame

To risk perdition

No falter

No regret

No weakness

No herdful sedition

You know my name

My name is ambition

deliquescent* / by Annette Gagliardi

I wrote my love
in the condensation
on the window glass
between the tiny

drops of dew
because I knew
they wouldn’t last.

Just like
I knew your love
was a thing
of the past.

*becoming liquid or having a tendency to become liquid.

50th anniversary of splashy / by Robin Happel

shimmering gold scales
incandescent ribbon tail
aqua ballerina

bulbous eyes open wide
behold worlds of colored glass
king of river rocks

friendly gasping gulp
in glass globes of river weed
gentle upturned smile

fifty years removed
memories drift and reflect
refract in soft waves

on tottering fins
now wander currents of stars
oceans of the night

Whitewater Kayakers / by Brittany Mishra

We are lazy paddlers keeping our eyes straight ahead,
skirts stretched across our cock pits,
and currents dragging down our edges.
We eddy out into the whitewater
and paddle so hard to thread the needle that we skirt the Tooth, but Rodeo Hole sucks us into its vortex
and holds us there to remind us that rapids win every time.

And until we swim our first rapid,
we don’t know what if feels like to live, and that rocks are only hard when you hit them,
and the best smell to wake up to is the must of wet neoprene.

The Other Room / by Ian Tyson

-in response to Rico Munn’s zone kick off the year speech

The first mistake we make as humans is to believe that good art is inevitable. It is worse than the Holocaust because it leads to the Holocaust. It is worse than lynchings because it leads to lynchings. It is worse than god because it leads to God.

Poem 2 / Day 2

Giles Corey Responds to an Apple Picker / by Eileen Cleary

His teeth bite
a stolen apple─
red of its skin all mine.

He mauls its flesh
as its core draws
a lost orchard

in which I find
a switch to thrash
him with. Ten

nights the thief
lies with my fruit
until he dies.

This stick, sticky
with his blood,
feels nothing.

Ludo / by Andrew Curtis

The Ludoist believes in the individual

The noble individualist

The vanguardist, the thinker, the artist

The lone solider, stoic searcher

One who marches

Do not wait, or wonder, or sit

One who marches

Celebrate life through struggle and strife

Do not depart from it

A singular will, indescribable

The one who ventures into the unknown and cultivates the impossible

Idle Mind / by Annette Gagliardi

Eyes caressing a perfect flower
starring for minutes –
seems like hours

Gazing at grass growing in the yard –
seeing the broad leaves of weeds
– not that hard

Dreaming the clouds’ sweet, summer’s ease –
feeling the wind soft as a breeze
-restores tired bones and these

toes and legs that cannot stand
these arms and backs, and these hands
take respite while they can.

Idleness, most days, is absent from these –
creating the effort laziness seizes
-our just desserts.

Repair and refurbish tired minds,
tired bones –
fortify egos in clever repose.

Aurai / by Robin Happel

thunder lumbers over the horizon
wailing its wet –
electric spindle feet
stumbling over hilltops

as though whipped along
by some strange siren
of storm and sleet

nymphs of the wind
their lightning eyes
something not quite alive –
glistening gray-gold

in autumn lightning
they flicker for an instant
and disappear into night

Redwood / by Brittany Mishra

I wild myself into the pine needle forest,
twigs and spider webs wrap my body.

I am the connection between bark and flesh,
concentric circles, the language of conifers.

I rain down into canopies and unfurl my fists into
the greenest tassels, with them I paint the wind.

I find my resinous odors and roll
my roots deep into the silt and soft loam.

Near the river’s edge and where it meets
the deep lake, I bend my trunk to drink.

And the birds, the birds everywhere
drop their feathers to clothe me.

From my branches they cock their heads
and listen for the low tones of a winter storm.

Somewhere Between the City and the Suburbs / by Ian Tyson

Behind my eyes

pace is a climbing surge.

I’m embarrassed by Chinese

take out. Double and triple

the best blooming gardens

in Mayfair. They say

it takes a city block

to endorse a column

of meat and a village

to break open the yearning

trapped in a robin’s bill.

Poem 1 / Day 1

Do Not Resuscitate / Eileen Cleary

Staccato breath filters
through my stethoscope.

Her brow relaxes its hitch,
unloosens loops strung

before she emptied and
could not be unemptied.

While hills green-ghost across
her monitor, I turn it off,

stand beside her bed, wait
with her while she leaves.

Rabble’s music / Andrew Curtis

Stumbling tumbling rabble

They glare at those working their wares in market squares

Clickity clack clickity clacks

Sound of fumbling copper bowls and wooden crate stacks

The worker says to the stumbling tumbling fumbling

$4.45 for the peaches and pares

As the market rabble keep to their snarls and snares

If you wish to join the rabble at market squares

Prepare for the rabble’s music or the music it lacks

Stumbling clickity tumbling clack fumbling clickity clack

Field Mice / Annette Gagliardi

We don’t hold time.
We don’t spend it, use it
or abuse it. Time goes slow or fast—for us,
depending on how we are feeling
or what we think we need to do.

Yet, the infinite continual progress of existence and events from the past, in the present and into
the future have little to do with our wants or aspirations for life, have little to do
with how we feel
about the unwavering
going forward
of seconds,
minutes,
 hours.

Time has us. It spends us like
a young child with their first allowance.
It continually passes with no regard for us.

“It clutches us in its mouth like an owl clutches a field mouse. “
It holds us hostage and devours our lives as quickly as that owl seeks to eat the mouse for lunch.

We struggle for release
shaking, shivering, skewing our bodies and thoughts,
trying to get free of time’s
relentless pursuit-

Yet, we are no more going anywhere
than that field mouse who once caught,
is a goner—disposed of with open gusto,
consumed
in a flash
of appetite and sustenance.

Written in response to:  “We (all) die the death of field mice.” 

                                       Dene – “There There” by Tommy Orange

mimosa / Robin Happel

the hum of late summer
shimmers on my tongue,
shivering sweet

mist rises from the mumbling creek
through the cattails and bamboo
and forest orchids

curling through shrouds
of pink, palm fringe
trembling, timid

as if startled, suddenly rising
after an afternoon slumber
beneath whispering verandas

leaning over gravel drives
and silent eves
like an old woman

who smiles beneath
easter sunday hats
bristling with blooms

and pads the night air
with soft perfume
on palm-frond bouquets

she is old –
older than this place
and remembers a world apart

when impossible creatures
brayed beneath her flowers,
shuffling far eastern mountains

she still remembers them,
curling her fingers,
folding into her past lives –

a world of sunrise at sunset,
she is at once
foreign and familiar

a traveler who planted herself,
she is both a stranger
and summer itself

belle dame
of southern swamps
bloom of august nights –

far forgotten now,
save for the silver laugh
of mimosa in moonlight

at once the prettiest tree
in the world
and a weed

Home / Brittany Mishra

Home is the smell of blackberries ripening in August;
their rippling clusters softening into sweetness.

Home is the sound of the owl outside my window
or the scratch of raccoons outside our front door.

Home is walking barefoot in the dry summer grass
wearing the sunlight on my skin like clothing.

Home is the taste of a storm coming;
dust settling into the rain to greet the warm earth.

Home is not a place with good bones.
Home is the place where I find you;

in the river, among rock and tree,
open to the sunlight with a paddle in your hand.

You look up and find me there
and home is the smile on your face.

Proust had his madeleines, I have my Colfax / Ian Tyson

Roaming through the DPL bookstacks at Shlessman I have yet to find this title. I stop at
a periodical:
History Today. The cover reads, “Return of the Ayatollah Iran’s Islamic
Revolution,” with a laser focused picture of the man himself. Well, I have to have it, even
if my son’s head is dead asleep on my shoulder and checking out the highest
per-ca-pita participation in a revolutionary episode in modern history is agitated greatly
by his 30 lbs. The revolution is not a dinner party, right Mao?