The 30/30 Project: February 2020

Backup / Restore

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 February 2020 are  Adam Levon Brown, Ava M. Hu, Sarah Lilius, Chad W. Lutz, Jenna Lynch, Dan Murphy, Bruce Robinson, Ina Roy-Faderman, and Anne Walsh. 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!

Poem 27 / Day 27

Fire / by Adam Levon Brown

Fire
flame
dust

There are 2 billion stars
that look exactly like you

Fire
flame
dust

There are ten thousand
reasons you still have
a home

Fire
flame
dust

If only you could
see how deep
the fissure of homelessness
truly is

Graveyard
Grave
Dust

There is only one reason
why you haven’t risen,
and that is for you to find

Poem Twenty Seven: Poem of Last Lines / by Ava M. Hu

*

Listen to me skate across.

The poem lifts her snowy arms.

 

We toss coins in the river to see how far they go.

The mind as it changes. This black dreaming.

 

Take your time coming inside.

I know everything eventually gets put back into the ground.

 

Tide of my white dress. The river snakes beneath ice.

Shadows of white birds in the trees.

 

My beautiful, not beautiful, wilderness,

A flower still with blood in its veins.

 

O Magnum Mysterium. Gift of life.

Vessel, keel, your voice hits the hull of the boat like water.

 

The way my heart beats so loud- can anyone hear it?

Mountain range. The curves of your body.

 

You trail just behind me like the Milky Way.

Who are we? This time we answer, “Everything.”

 

Cicadas rise from our bodies.

Follow me from this life to the next-

 

How many places have you been marked by light?

Beautiful lodge where sun takes moon.

 

The river slips out of wet its clothes.

You are my reaction to light.

 

Bones of my bones, flesh of my flesh.

Hold your breath for as long as you can.

 

Cactus flower, roadmap,

the curve of your face.

*

A Dead Body is a Holy Thing / by Sarah Lilius

She punches with darts for knuckles.
Her violent voice, that mouth is a cave.

She takes down pain off the broken wall
and places a burning balm across the black and dank ghost.

Plaster on her hands,
the powder on her skin for years.

Some might say it’s not her fault.
Boys turned men holding down a body before it’s done.

The poison of creatures creates a cycle.
The hurt will ash the hurt.

Sprinkle it like mental seasoning.
Then years later she breaks open a pocket to burst out.

Her guilt is a gauze ripped slightly.
She’s the mummy of microcosm,

wasting life in the sarcophagus,
where they put her, where she’ll always be.

Lonely for Long / by Chad W. Lutz

we trade mental health
stories & talk about
our medications

how we get stood up
by dates we’re supposed
to go on but somehow
end up smoking
on her couch

we watch
Tim and Eric
Tom Goes to the Mayor
& sequels to classic
horror movies

time marches on

I text her each
night to see
how she’s feeling
if I don’t she
texts me the same

insisting we’re
both good people
& deserving of
love

we watch
us become better
versions of ourselves
when we’re together

time marches on

Will you remember me in six years? / by Jenna Lynch

the little girl asks her dad in the station
while waiting for the R train to Queens.
She must be about ten, maybe younger,
as she still reaches for his hand to hold
when the train begins its slow approach.
Will you remember me then?
I don’t hear his response, his words
swallowed up by the roar of the tracks,
the rustling of commuters towards doors
opening, but I can imagine it, can feel
the words forming in my own mouth:
I will remember you strangely, in knitted
fragments, like something netted,
like a habit, that great endurance.

Two for the Price of One / by Dan Murphy

The drugs finally kick in
like adulthood free play
and caffeine runs the asphodel fields
in a burst of Ibuprofen and anxiety meds

we have a brave face a new car
self-actualized mortgage
in this tempest we call home
we call home and no one answers

I didn’t get the call I know
I’m still too young to take the job
to play the lead to win the girl
to cut the throat of the bleating lamb

or cut the ribbon at ceremonies
too young to know the hurt
to grab the ring too temperamental
and full of judgment ugly with grief

It’s been 10 months 11 months
maybe I didn’t think I could live
in a flavorless world anymore
I didn’t know the music yet

but I miss you less the step comes back
I find my way erringly so and awkward
like my big brother I didn’t know you were
when you lived

Forty-Seven Quotations, with A Number Set Aside / by Bruce Robinson

They know this: I am not their god,
but rather a server in a bistro,
not quite clear on who has ordered
what, nor at what table they might sit.

I can’t get that done, as much as I’ve tried,
as much as I’ve tried to leave each line
malleable, content with its place but
willing even eager to move, to visit

other neighborhoods, greet each new table
with something approaching an anticipation
of reluctance. Oh, my god, charity toward
all, even to the lines I’ve thought to erase,

life, as it does with us and even as it
leaves us, leaves us these lines in their nesting place.

***

Haiku / by Ina Roy-Faderman

Outside the hospital,
a plum blossom
falls

Depart / by Anne Walsh

I.

Your death is a soft, green wing. Velvet spun by sun.

A parrot’s wing. Just one more thing, one more shade of impossible

for grief to jump into like a souped-up car. Electric lime.

Vegas neon of a Lorikeet. Your death dresses old school big time.

Ridiculous feather, the pink paisley of a pimp

in a 1970’s detective show I can’t take my eyes off of

such great clothes, so out there.

Memory is a record-breaking blizzard.

Colours all the maps SES blue in the breaking newsroom

of this evacuated body. This weather woman, under paid, caught

for the duration on air in the studio.

Just out of frame, the storage closet it really is.

A stiff mop. A bucket with a bit of throw-up water.

I don’t believe my own predictions.

Hope is the unfillable toothless gas tank

of a Buick iced-in two blocks down.

Oh the belaboured point of her non-existence.

Hope is like god now.

Closures, detours, no through roads.

Slippery roundabout this. Again and again:

once I slowly invaded the privacy

of that part of your neck usually reserved

for your shirt just under your collar.

Oh! I was your shirt briefly so briefly.

II.

And now I kiss your neck

under the collar of the world over and over

I kiss and kiss and kiss you.

I’m so drifted with the feel of you

which didn’t leave with you

that nowhere do I belong.

Everywhere I long.

Not being able to talk to you is its own language.

Some kind of sign. A way of not moving. But flowing.

Lake glottal. Snow cuneiform.

I’m walking across the tops of cars.

Some souls that are still here but gone

go to the weigh-station where things already gone go.

And that’s inevitably when they take the picture.

Like of the last Tassie Tiger.

Her back hyper bent, so unlike her living self.

So bent with the lack of bending trees at evening,

those steeples from which everything

called her people to prayer.

She’s not looking at the camera

because it takes everything that isn’t her.

She’s looking at the dead body of her language.

Nothing is able to be said.

III.

I miss your chest. Your Renaissance Jesus chest.

Your El Greco treasure chest a giant firefly

in the backseat of your car lighting up

like a cigarette with wings

when you unbuttoned your shirt.

I took in a lung full of light.

I miss the sky-when-I-was-six colour of your eyes.

The defibrillating blue of when the swing tips up

as much as it can and you become sky.

Now my heart is stopped by hooker boa green everywhere.

The diamantes of summer grass.

IV.

Death doesn’t wear mourning clothes.

She’s New York fashion week.

Bright streaks.

Unbelievable heels.

She’s toucan-nosed.

Bright as a fish.

And everything alive dances with her.

Real Rhumba.

Hips pressed together under open fire hydrants

in the middle of the afternoon.

And she doesn’t run when the cops come.

Never before did trees dance salsa or want so badly.

Everything is alive except for the lover whose love has died.

She’s the deadest thing living, that’s me.

V.

On the sideline trying to hide tears in public,

clapping at the turns of the Latin Champions of sunlight.

I’m not in the comp, but I never had a brighter leotard.

All the flowers seem to want to bloom.

It’s too tiring standing still like this.

And you left me with all the fucking paperwork

the one who is left has to do.

The removalist. The photos. The grotesque necessities.

But I’m in oboe wind that makes my soul

the standing ovation of a pine forest,

an adrenalin no needle can stop the going of.

As alien without you as large Martian eyes in a CIA dossier.

As dark as luck for mean people.

VI.

My soul is where souls already gone wait to go.

The Tassie Tiger weigh-station.

I miss how you put your hands on my shoulders

from behind on your way back to the table

that first day at our café saying Yes, I’m here to my spine.

I miss your fingers in my mouth.

I miss us joking with the bartender

because our delight can’t be stopped

and spills like beer everywhere.

I miss asking if you need your hand back to drive.

I would rather have kept holding your hand

and never gotten to this nowhere.

VII.

Words left with you like friends

leave together at the end of a party.

Words, those favourite comet clothes of yours

strewn down the strip of sky you disappeared into

like an owl so silent there were no wings in it.

A jumping branch the only sign you’d been.

VIII.

And all of these words are my jumping branch.

Me pointing to it, shouting like a kid no one believes:

See! He was Here!

Poem 26 / Day 26

Addiction Pt. 1 / by Adam Levon Brown

I would have cradled
him with Halcyon
if I had had the chance

I would have bitten the stars with teeth
of clay only to bring him back from the fray

I would have slain
his demons of Ivory
if it had been in my power

I would have stopped him
I would have stopped him

He leapt from my hands
and flew too high,
Icarus would have looked
up to him

He tore down the Sun
to warm his own cold

He painted the moon
with its innards to mask
the white between his whiskers

He died,
He died

And no matter
how many days go by,
I, too, still dream of flying

Poem Twenty Six: Poem of First Lines / by Ava M. Hu

*

A poem can be a memory.

Enduring companion. Unlikely savior.

 

Who is willing to be erased?

The mind as it changes. This black dreaming.

 

Slow down. Take your time before you come inside.

Everything eventually gets put back in the earth.

 

Liminal, potent. Flower, not flower,

I don’t remember, I remember.

 

Crossroad, entrance-way, dogs, light, the moon, magic or witchcraft.

A flower still with blood in its veins.

 

Plants, animals and insects. The goddess red with fire.

Mountain range. The curves of your body.

 

Moon of the big leaves, moon when we fell into the moss

Imaginary friend, mystes, stream-runner, the one who is worthy-

 

The rub of your wings.

Cicadas rose from our bodies.

 

Paint this canyon by memory.

The nature of the mind it takes to create a masterpiece.

 

Blood is like a parachute.

Halving the compass.

 

The painter and all this light changing.

Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.

 

Cactus flower, roadmap,

the curve of your face.

*

Bones Without Names / by Sarah Lilius

Poetry pokes out of her body
like frail sentences.

Feelings smear and dry
across the whitest parts.

Small words are hairline
fractures.

She’s willing to lose poem after poem
to a world on high alert.

In need of a library or independent
bookstore that smells like espresso,

she must get a taxi before boneless,
a wonder on the concrete.

A Little Prayer / by Chad W. Lutz

I need to get
the words out of
my mouth but
they’re stuck in
the speaking
& I can’t get them
to move so I filter them
through the keyboard
& write them
on the page
& hope that
they come out
as meaningful
to you as they
do to me

Hostile Architecture / by Jenna Lynch

In my office, my chair faces the window, a view
of the other side of the building right past my co-worker’s
head. The window is double-doored and beautiful,
with a golden ovaled knob that you twist to turn the latch,
pull to open. And when you do, the scene below is a courtyard
of stone, three stories down, nothing but rock and slab.
This morning I am thinking of this window because
every morning my student, let’s call her Anne, thinks
of this window too. She thinks, often, about jumping,
about using our window because, with our window,
there are no screens here, no bars, or locks, or latches
that stick shut with age or safety. This morning
I am thinking of our window and I am thinking
of Anne, and if she did jump, what would she do
with the things on our sill, so carefully laid there?
(what to do with the potted jade plant, the animals
matching game, the milk jug filled with berried branches,
the paperweight with the inverted bubble,
the visual dictionary of curiosities?) –
Would she consider them? Move them to the table
for safe-keeping? Would she then, if she did
decide to move them, keep the order? Their place
in the line? This isn’t what I should be thinking.
Let me start over.
Let me think now, about the barriers we make,
about the building of barriers. About all the ways
we have to keep things out. The barriers in place
for the homeless and for the feral; for the dirty
and the rabid; for the things we cannot bear to look
at for even one more second; the spikes and the bars,
the railings and strips of teeth, on benches, on sills;
the bolts and metal studs on ledges; barbed-wire fences
and stakes. But not this window. Not this jamb or frame,
not this paned glass. I heard this called, once, going guardless–
but is it? Is it really? Because is it guardless if I am here now,
here in front of this window, in front of this ledge,
telling her not to jump? Is it guardless ever, even when
I am not here here, but here still? Because, please tell me what
to do, please. Please tell me, how do we be the bars
when there are none?

Early Afternoon Walk / by Dan Murphy

The apartments make a nice row
a line of squares and rectangles
in beige and gray
but the sky is blue
it rained yesterday dropping smog to street level
flooding gutters spilling over curbs
pumping into sewer pipes
then run into vague oceans

The air like Mother’s dirty spectacles
a dim haze
so perhaps not all particulate matter washed out
of Father sky
                          the horizon line
where sky meets mountain
has a brown blur of air
and the blue above is tinged yellow and off-brown
a dingy halo circles the valley
heat rises from newly painted asphalt
our speaker is parched
Murphy needs an audience to pay attention
pay his taxes he needs he wants
a non-violent revolution
a flavor on his takeout menu
a splash on his colorwheel of gray
or a pitch right down his wheelhouse
one he can hit from the sweet part of the bat
off somewhere behind the house
where boards shuffle and rattle and Crow
composes a symphony of fresh cracks
back of his throat gargling for his happy life

Uptown / by Bruce Robinson

The sure extinction that we travel to…

Once past Chambers you’re almost there, fourteenth
twenty-third, thirty-fourth Penn, only as long
as we can stand our ground. No more

than the tunnel of Penn, you know, its despair,
its air, rebuke on a wall, and simpler
to mourn than the stops you call your family.

Is that the way each ticket rides, its adult fare,
the slowdown on the tracks a pediment,
what thou lov’st well is less than clear,

a flicker, then a right of way,
a lantern then a windowpane, a loop
of film that spins too fast to care,

an uptown stop you pass right by, your mind
in some rearranged way occupied,
under the world or above it all,

the window closing, the open air?
Was I once lost? The route’s not clear but
those are my hands on that wall.

***

agape
found
skyward / by Ina Roy-Faderman

for Cat Shuler

the sun creates
the giraffe
the infant
limpid

the ocean
does not need
mermaids
holds
otters
up you say

when I say
my son
I mean the leaves
dropped
to the forest
to shelter
mushrooms

clouds
breathe
oxygen

snow is
another way
of warmth
blanketing

courts of crows
dream
ever after that
the tree
holds them

Walking the Undoing / by Anne Walsh

My body is my attempt at graceful

healing. It’s the archive of my undoing.

A two-legged word for loss. And my writing

is how I walk the undoing.

 

And how I walk it is up to the weather: if

it’s raining down the inside of my shutters,

if it’s torrential and my trees are thrown,

I walk well and my body

 

heals. It’s so graceful in a storm.

But if there’s too much sun, and it lights

too much who I could’ve been, I wilt

with my lettuce words

 

and I can’t find a place to keep them. No crisper

to keep the secret of them graceful

in my body stumbling

in all that un-refrigerated light.

 

And I have to accomplish more of what is accepted

as accomplishment when the weather is considered fine.

There’s washing of clothes

and of myself that’s expected washing

 

and I hanging with expectation.

So, on fine days, I accomplish a lot

and get nothing done. Because my only doing

is my undoing.

 

My only walk is this body.

These words.

And there’s a choir that sings them, I swear it.

It’s the loam voices of the dead in barnyard light.

 

Because adoration is like that. Rafters. A wing.

And the dead sing Do nothing; accomplish us.

Walking is not something I do

without their choir accompaniment.

 

It’s the symphony of how I do my undoing.

The exquisite opera of inclement weather sung

by the diva dead. Scarlet lipstick. Crimson boots.

Curtains. Lost love.

 

This is the time to act, they sing, so undo yourself, listen.

That’s why my body is

graceful in storms.

It’s lithe with listening to the woodwind Beloveds.

 

To the strings of Everything.

To the brass of I love you played by percussionist stars

on a cymbal of river, the silent timpani

of snow on evergreen.

 

The chemistry of the lover’s brain is un-sound.

I’m a lunatic accomplishing nothing. The choir singing

through this body.

This one answer to

 

Everything.

This word of the body, this body

of the word.

This pure love accomplished.

Poem 25 / Day 25

The Dead / by Adam Levon Brown

in my heart
know no rapture,
only pain

They run across
the canvas like
tin soldiers
waiting to die

Some would
say the emptiness
they’ve tried to fill
their hearts with
is nothing but fear

Yet fear in itself
seems to be full
of doubts

To be full of doubts
is to still be full, no?

Either way, they keep
my blood warm at night

Knowing that even beyond
death and emptiness, that
something will remain

Poem Twenty Five: Totem / by Ava M. Hu

*

Cactus flower, roadmap, the curve of your face.

Salt rain, memory, moon. Lighthouse.

 

Hydronyms. Futile flow of fate.

Think of the river as a metaphor.

 

Prophet of rivers and cows.

Mother of pure driven snow,

 

flowing crown chakra of the goddess

with upright arms.

 

Bayou, milky way of consciousness,

soul map, dreamer, herald, envoy,

 

guide of the dead, electromagnetic

force who pulls me to you, the water

 

of the river enters the receiving body

as a spirit being, sacred object, symbol.

 

Possession by the deity with 100 names.

Serpentine shedding her watery skins.

 

Totem, lover, my silky hair falls

through your hands.

 

Hold your breath

for as long as you can.

*

Scene of a Woman Done / by Sarah Lilius

I try not to let desire
hold me down.

My eyes black
as crows

too high
in neighborhood trees.

Every day, I’m the stance
of a woman who stares

into the sun constantly,
it’s not even circular anymore.

My insides bitter
as unripe melons.

The violin background,
salt across my skin.

Turn down the symphony,
the instrument in my ear.

Regret is a sauce
spicy on my fingers.

I can’t place liquid
down my body.

I leave the trail
for you.

Bi-Polar Episode #1 / by Chad W. Lutz

    it
    is
a
mind
      dive
      a
topsy
     turvy
             slip
             &
        slide

down
        &
      down
       &
         down
        we
       go

Woman on 87th Street Smoking a Cigar / by Jenna Lynch

She’s there every morning in the same spot,
not at all what is expected in a smoker,
clad in workout gear, always, the same sneakers
and stretch pants, each morning at different stages
of the process. And for the briefest moment,
the city air is different, peppery and sweet as she twists
and turns the rolled leaves to light the head, her mouth
doing the work of drawing in gentle puffs, an even burn.

Does she know no other way of smoking, or
of waking herself up in the morning,
of beginning her day? The gesture, not seeming to be one
of relaxation or contemplation, but rather
of habit, of something that is done daily, a ritual,
standing between two parked cars, perched almost, on the edge
of the sidewalk, one knee bent slightly as she smokes,
nothing else to occupy her, no phone or book,
nothing but the twisted leaves of her morning cigar.

Down Then Down to the Land of the Dead / by Dan Murphy

There is so much missing of mercy
in Book 9 in reading Homer’s Odyssey
the hero Odysseus frees his comrades
from the witch goddess Circe
a black root with white flower
given by wing-footed Hermes
Does he swallow the antidote?
Does he learn anything but plunder and glory
traveling over angry dark seas
fleeing giants and a god’s curse
and sleeping in strange women’s beds?
And what of the men his search group first met
turned to bears and hogs and lions
they are not freed by the witch not
by his word are they blended like the spell
in wine gone blurred and mixed with the lot
of stunned swine who sense
the skin’s bristles fall in the touch
of mortality like sun striking the eyes
grown soft with tears in a flash
and the wet leaves of the sea brush
another shore with prospect and peril

The Weather Threatens Rain / by Bruce Robinson

It starts from, where I don’t know,
(when a child would ask, I used to say, “the clouds”)
but here it is before me and I don’t know
where it’s going either, except that
it appears to want to stick around
for a while, getting together in puddles
and performing syncopations
on the hoods of cars, but then,
sooner or later they go on their way,
first the rain, then the puddles,
leaving me the way they found me,
except that now I feel a little cleaner,
just from having sat on the porch
with my dog and the rain and the cars and watched.

***

The Potion / by Ina Roy-Faderman

The rock drinks the potion
that it found
as it wandered around the house,.
It grows legs and feet
and ankles and toes.
Instead of running , the rock paints
its toenails, because, really, it would
rather be beautiful than free.
Tomorrow, it may change its mind.
It might drink the potion again.
Tomorrow, it might run free to the beach
to see the sea glass, and coral,
and pebbles made smooth and round by the sea.

The Bleeding Leaf Yellow Feet of Two Wolves / by Anne Walsh

(the Blooms Day of two lovers in Newcastle, walking from their apartment on Tyrrell Street,
The Hill, up the convict grave steps to hear requiems for the fallen in Christ Church Cathedral)

The human animal is the wildest animal

to echo the Blue Wail of sorrow across all the oceans of a cello

To riot Requiem

through the frantic grandeur of an organ gone wild

tearing the arches like the alpha gone mad in the pack. Tears snow

flaked down my sepulchre face on all the stones there illegible with age.

Your body was sanctuary against mine, an Eastern Apse, hope in fallen light.

In the cathedral under the handmade felt banners of saints

and archangels you were my Mourning Star-bodied Being with the lion head.

But we weren’t used to un-wild communion.

And I saw among the relics of my reliquary eye

that you didn’t know how to eat it.

You took the host in two hands and I watched you wolf-pause for half a second

then gobble it up like fresh elk. Oh!

I was so wild proud of you and so wanted to laugh at my host gobbler,

my felt saint feeling me up all morning before we got there, then climbing dirges

of steps behind the Cathedral with me before mass.

Those steps crying

the names of convicts, their ages when they died and the places.

Words taken

from the nowhere mouths of gravestones

removed from the sea-weeping hill,

now a mute sarcophagus of mown grass.

All the memories too long to bear.

The words stoning Us, two lover martyrs tied to the stake

of Jacob Morris one month old, convict hospital.

So many babies by the sea in convict infirmary

for eternity, we cradled each

other in the nursery of surf, in the lull of bye, the keening waves.

Then you stood with me at the altar, HostWolfer.

And in the harbour the bellow of ships, those man-made

whales wailing the mist, the rain – that requiem god composes

with an orchestra of trees, the strings of leaves and the brass of green

and the winds of the winds in them – just beginning, and we two gorgeous souls

proud of each other, of our losses, preening our fur, we two wolves in the cathedral.

That was the best day we had in the short forever of Us.

The day we could be calm-boned in the crypt of our broken

families and rest in riotous peace together starting with the vesper

of us in our bed, our tabernacle of tongues speaking in hips

in our ocean novitiate on Tyrrell. Now I can hear the tear in the name.

TYRELL . TEAR ALL. The Lacrimosa of the street

where our magic sea untroubled you and me and the one spider

like Charlotte spun her web above the pain.

Of our floor to ceiling windows and I was sure I’d see Terrific! written there above

the whales tales and spouts out on the wild butter churn sea of Newcastle harbour.

We never jumped when the ship horns throated their giant elk-bellied honk.

Even when asleep intertwined like a braid, the two of us

never jumped when the horns made their god honk in the harbour

and in our bellies. And the stars in our heads danced to them the Salsa of Source,

the One Step of Origin, of our unhurried same hip bones. We never jumped only kissed

to the great sounds of ships waking slowly by the god bye of the belly deep horns,

the big-brekkied ships never breaking our fast and braided sleep.

Having started in Hot Belly Stove dreams the kiss

of your shoulder, the lick of your jaw, my tongue woke you enough

to climb the convict steps of me the sorrow steps of me

waking without chains or lost babies just your tongue in my mouth

and pure handmade archangel light.

Like in the felt banners later that mourning drowning in the Ocean Cathedral of All

the Autumn Colours of the unrest of peace and of holy instruments

of sea-sung light coming through stained glass.

Our kisses were anchorite, cloister, devotion.

A sustained four hour rehearsal arabesque, not the pretty performance kind

but the bleeding feet beauty of leaf yellow light.

The heap of broken that makes every masterpiece.

The yellow in the deepest part of the falling forest of a cello,

a shattering teeth clashing requiem of yellow.

And the sea had dementia like the rest of Us couldn’t remember

which day’s floor she was supposed to crash on so she kept knocking softly

at this one’s door. At the bottom of The Hill we lived on,

at the bottom of our feet, at the bottom of the ship of our one soul scribing

the giant silent moose wrack of Sound.

You rolled into me with the mists and the colours of seraphim

at the beginning of that day that was a living dead sea scroll

unrolled in our rolling in our tossing neap bed and I held your hair, soft as breath

we started the gospel day according to Mark.

Or to whomever the saints were we tried to guess on the felt banners after the Hark

on the Trumpet, the Illuminated Book of Us Reading

the inscriptions on the steps and after our love had rolled

all the stones away. And by the top step I couldn’t breathe

for the sea of tears and the babies in chains

and the cathedral bells and another ship horn bawling the torn

lives of the poor. Poverty is always the grave(st) of crimes.

And by the top step what kept me going was you, my body of light with the lion head,

the Holy Writ of our infidel kiss, the slow marching chain gang

of my tears freed by your lips. At the top of the tearing,

sea-bellow steps of dead convicts in chains and their sweet gangs

of babies we arm in arm, two climbers of depths, looked at the last

un-moved grave stones on the top of the hill and our day

of two wolves in the cathedral began with a great fiery letter.

And the letter was a Number. And that number was One. Made of two.

An R and an S. Rumi and Shams.

And the syllables, the Sibyls of bells, of cathedral bells calling us

to rest in the riot of love beginning on the steps.

We held each other close, holding arms and sides not just hands

into the cathedral where the money lenders were ok because they were selling holy

things: rosaries, diagrams of the cathedral, crosses from El Salvador, Fiji

and Peruvian nativity scenes. We were those. Tiny figures cut.

From gourds so close did we hold each other, two convicts from marriages

in a posse of passion our lips finally joined, our ship bodies broken

on the bed of our ocean who forgot we were there

we were so light as the mist and the wings and the angels.

We walked into the walking light of the cathedral.

And the holy entered with us and into us and out of us.

And everyone’s faces shined with ours. Then the requiems. Sweet as winter.

The no breath in the dead of her. That host of cello angels tearing

our banner hearts, the violins stringing our lovers’ scapular hearts,

the material of saints worn at the ends. How we were leaving marriages

to get to each other after writing The Psalter

of Us, the psalt of the psalt of the earth in letters to each other for years.

Oh, my wolf man!

And after mass we chatted with the priest and with the regulars

who warmed to us. We two dapper dabblers in institutional faith, the handsome

wolf couple, never to be seen again, considered young at fifty

by the centenarian congregation. Our tongues lolling un-saint-like, the felt of us

not sticking to anything but each other. And I held my head horse high

so proud to be there with you. Cary Grant-jacket-wearing-wolf-writer,

ghost speaker, my tear drinker, my whine maker, my flying buttress,

my moaning coal liner, my Startle of Blue Whale voice heard

in every ocean of me at once. I looked at you with stain glass

windows behind you and I cried. Too much shattering the feel

of the dead, the holy babies in chrome

yellow and the cobalt salt bellow of the sea of you and me.

What stunning shatter we two non-believers, hand-blown away every second

by immanence. We lingered. Because lovers have all the time in the worlds.

Hatred is busy but not love. And looked at the Stations of the Cross.

A sacred walking that day was beginning with you in me and the steps

of the dead behind the church leading up from our triple monk hood:

Tyrrell Street (Tear All , Our Lips Close, Our One Body Crescent).

Wolfe Street, the Ingemisco, now the howl in my throat

of the pack of the two of us lost in the strife of trying to let go

of two marriages and hold onto six kids

and be together and not just in secret in trees at night. Me running up to you.

Lake Macquarie a scarf on the neck of the street below.

You stepping out of the dark behind branches ecstatic black wolf

I’d lick your jaw, smell your beard to read how your dog day went.

Oh my love we made love in the trees!

And the scarf lake hung open and the neck of everything was kissed.

All the while the guns shooting at us from helicopters, such maligned wolves.

Took each of us 1,000 kilometres in a sacristy of solitude. Roaming.

Silences. In libraries of winters to find each other in this owl-wing

of life like we do every time. Bring ourselves back together

into states that haven’t seen wolves in a century.

You from Oregon-in-Sydney. Leaving your pack, travelling solo,

after teaching at night, to me in Newcastle. Me across Sky

Lakes, Umpqua National Forest, Soda Mountain Wilderness, Klamath Basin,

Crater Lake of my street in Eleebana leaving all I knew to find you.

To read you in leaves two blocks up. Dog-eared with love we travelled millennia

of pages to be the first wolves back in print in Newcastle, California.

You all the way from a distance no one understood why

you travelled. And me from a nowhere anyone knows.

We two. Noctivagant. Elsewherefarers

as handsome as all the colours of Oregon when you leave her in Fall

on a 1,000 kilometre trip to California on foot, the first one of your kind

to be seen there for 88 years and you come upon Me. Your one of a kind.

Your match all lit up. Your wilder you. Your Beloved who came from nowhere

and who always arrives when you do. Me, the vagabond of worlds.

No radio collar, no language to say what state I was in Before

I got here to where I’m always going which is to you.

But that day in Christ Church it was cold and we couldn’t answer the door

the Alzheimer sea kept knocking on softly.

We had the feel that she’d never go away, her Jehovah’s Witness of waves.

That we were a natural boat. A thing of neap to survive King Tide forever.

I thought our life together would never go away from the beginning

that day spoke in whale. That ecstatic sad convict-staired Requiem

For The Fallen Day of ships shouting the Himalayan salt pink

ghost of goodbye, and the intention-candle-ruby of broken beauty in light

that we were. Two wolves making love, watching whales, harpooned

by the wailing ships of speaking steps and the unspeakable unrest of rest.

You in your pin stripes and holy double monks.

Me in the dress you bought me and more sensible shoes than I normally wear,

a wolf in wedge heels. And in the pews we tried to figure out who each saint

was on the banners above us. The Saint of the Holy Handbag. You see the sea

of how(l) I want to keep repeating in Holy Disorder our pagan day in chapels

of ocean and the electric wash of stone weathered with salt

and the sweet blood orange strange of handmade felt saints.

That un-repeatable, un-keep-able OldKeep of a Newcastle day.

Your tongue was an arsonist when it began and I was a forest.

You were the hysteria of healing in an organ gone wolf in my cathedral

of the fallen when I was dying and you were rising again in me all morning .

You were the wren in my rending, the row in my sorrow, the ear in my tears,

the rest in my unrest, my contra tenor in the Latin of trees,

my Soprano of Wolfed Hosts and of saints on old banners

and then your organ again. And now I know that Archangels walk only in wild

places, in cathedrals of leaves among cardinals with wings.

You the roam in my St. Jerome. I the avé in your nave,

the nave in your navel that I felt your heartbeat through with mine

in that Motel on King Street, that once-in-lifetimes

Tan Tien communion you knew how to eat.

I was the fire in your place. You the start in my startle. My Startle!

The lie on in my lion (so lay on me now)! I the raven in your graven

that day of the risen, that day of the rave of grave song and our hips chained together

and baby steps crawling and the ships and I bawling.

You were the room in my bed. I the sanctu in your sanctuary. The bell in your free.

The O! in your love. You, Day, Light, Lion-Headed- Mourning- Glory

were all I wore to mass. You were my resurrection clothes.

The swag in my swagger. And I the And in your hand.

It was as if god herself was pleased with Us, and whispered

You are my secret, do you promise to tell the world?

And we said like a ship horn in Newcastle harbour

Yes!

Poem 24 / Day 24

Poem Twenty Four: Love Poem / by Ava M. Hu

*

Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.

Water puts you in direct relation to the source.

 

Bird songs and bird calls.

Your hand in mine.

 

Water puts you in direct relation to the source.

Audible outlines of holy language.

 

Your hand in mine.

Spirits close their eyes at sunrise.

 

Audible outlines of holy language.

Two atoms fasten together. This red earth.

 

Spirits close their eyes at sunrise.

Must we drown with the water of God in our mouths?

 

Audible outlines of holy language.

Water puts you in direct relation to the source.

 

Turn me over like a jewel in your hand.

Bones of my bones, flesh of my flesh.

*

‘Red Plateau’ Photograph. Cut watercolor painting and rose petals on cotton. By Amy Sinclair

What Fools Us Into Believing / by Sarah Lilius

When the crows return at dusk
to shelter us into winter darkness
they release their spirits,
what only animals see.

On the patios, we look toward
the creatures, squawking,
they act out a tragedy or a comedy,
it depends on who you ask.

Then, smoke trails from our fingers
like bird feathers that fall
from the nest
in a clouded whirlwind.

When our eyes stay black
like a lack of color, evil cups over
pupil and iris,
we cannot laugh.

No one can discern
the movement, the aggression
of what was once light blue,
a tribute to easier times.

Contract Eternal / by Chad W. Lutz

the oceans
need the moon
the way the night
needs the day
the way the hours
need minutes &
minutes need
seconds & seconds
amount to years
& years become
decades & decades
churn out generations
& generations define
eras & eras make
way for history
& history tells
a story & stories
need plots the way
sentences need words
the way words need
characters the way
characters need hands
to make the whole
thing move

This sink we now share / by Jenna Lynch

is sometimes going to be filled
with my bloody underwear

The One’s a Burner / by Dan Murphy

The man lies dead in a pool
of cartoon blood or chocolate syrup
regardless he’s pretending (in his mind
he is asleep) and this make-believe
world smells and looks better it has
sparkle and glitter and stunt doubles
and no one’s getting hurt today
says capital-b Boss
in the aisles of the world
with its selection of small perversions
of truth we glean from Western Civ

The man is not asleep he pretends to be
dead he recites his poem in silence
about Crow and Murphy the book
of false rhyme how every night
we lay down to sleep in the sea and
wake drowned in the wave break
the susurrus of Hendrix his feedback
and our Mermaid Dramamine
her lullabies resurrected
piece by piece in light borne through
sea glass

Every night we lay to sleep to dream
the pleasant dreams of flight and whimsy
we see just behind the screen just behind
the fern behind where the dead man lies
he’s speaking he’s dreaming

Border Crossing / by Bruce Robinson

To cross this river, interrogate
the trees that look as though they’d flourish

amid the obliteration

of cities, despite the tumult of
invective and the grease of pleasantries,

something like justice cut off

at its knees, the chatter of ice
at estival festivities

you’d think indifference not possible

but tonight affords a river. or so
it seems to seem, adrift in our beds,

regardless we dream.

***

Thoughts on Gods of War and Destruction / by Ina Roy-Faderman

found phrases in the science news of 2/23

Water gods with the head of a human
and the body of a snake
like seals they moult their skins,
masquerading as exoplanets
a burst for each revolution

a planet passes and
Juno results
less prone to outbursts
created by sunlight

unseen from Earth
they will move,
these two stars in a close binary,
like plucking strings on a guitar
creating a violent explosion

the Earth,
a quieter small and fragile specimen
with the tiny moon that orbits —
a dip in the light
something was out there
sailing on light

dense with small bodies,
getting their feathers ruffled,
just doing what turkeys do.
they should simply be left alone,
finding new things,
explaining what they see
typically flying only to take roost

the enormous auroras
swing past the Earth
disintegrate very quickly
nose-dive towards the horizon
disappeared into the glare
bouncing off Earth

Rather than look at the familiar,
leaving us to bettering the human condition,
the greater goal of understanding

Everything to Lose / by Anne Walsh

Why is love always
                         A cloud to see Everything in,
To lose as quick as wind?

Poem 23 / Day 23

Abend / by Adam Levon Brown

My name
is evening

I come with
stars wrapped
in the phantasm
moon

I am the sonnet
spoken only
in breeze black

I am the departure
of light from the irises
of noon

When silence
becomes my boon,
you too will know
what it means
to lose your Sun

Poem Twenty Three: The Painting / by Ava M. Hu

*

The painter and all this light changing.

Rotating protons and electrons.

 

The space between what we need

to survive and desire.

 

Sound and witness. The sea

from inside a shell.

 

The air who holds is you

is the very air that will never let you go.

 

I know the forest has too much light,

too much darkness to bear.

 

Watching the painter painting.

Can you feel what he is feeling?

 

Take off your wet clothes.

You, my reaction to light.

 

-Found lyric from Kate Bush An Architect’s Dream

*

Untitled Red. Photograph. Cut watercolor on cotton with rose petals. 10×16” by Amy Sinclair

Opening the Bottle / by Sarah Lilius

Everything I need to accomplish
rotates in my mind
like grapes off the vine.
Lethargy takes up residence,
my body is acidic to progress
and mundane tasks become
paintings
set to a slow waltz.
I can’t laugh at the dried paint
across my fingers.
It’s not real but I smell it.
The red wine is eventually bottled
in the darkest glass.
Residue from the dry skin
on the
heightens
of my madness.
I open my mouth, an eager bird,
for the pill again.
Wash it down with cheap
merlot, hope it doesn’t
get caught.

Alone / by Chad W. Lutz

biggest fear
greatest fear

you lie awake
on the sidewalk
making snow angels
on the concrete
& the discarded gum
& fast food wrappers
& watch the people
in the big city
walk right on by

this all-assuming arrest
of the heart & mind

you drive
through the Great Plains
where nothing grows
but rough grass
& ever-widening sky
& take pictures
of sacred burial grounds
in search of everything
you already haven’t

this colossal feeling
called alone

you run marathons
because you think
nothing can catch up
to you not even feelings
of guilt of shame of remorse
for thinking you could
ever take on something
so big & scary

such a small
small piece of life

alone

The guy at the bar is telling the bartender he’s a travel photographer / by Jenna Lynch

and I can’t tell if it’s a line or not,
but I think it works. She does this thing next,
where she juts her hip out a little, almost
like she’s about to put one butt cheek
on the edge of the bar. Oh, I love to travel!
And I’m trying to write a poem, trying
really hard to figure out the right spelling
of catalogue, but instead all I can do is listen
to these two flirt, and just as I’m about to come up
with a killer line (poetic, that is) he uses the word
ruminate in a sentence, and I’m hooked again.
And now he wants to try the pilsner (of course)
and his face is pinched in pain when he takes a sip
from that tiny cup. I say to myself what it is
he might be thinking: this beer might kill me,
if I don’t love it. I write this down, to use later,
in a poem.

Mythology / by Dan Murphy

The air retelling
its story I’m cold
you’re cold—Clap
your hands together

The air running
up the wind’s backside
and slipping under
your coat in a
New York minute

The air waking the skin
the air breaking
at street edge
summer’s flat promise

The air grabs with its beak
holds with its talon
its sharp mouth tearing
a foil wrapper

blown down the block
the air inventing
inside and outside
and inside out

The air’s applause
of white noise
and garbage trucks
exhuming stop

and frisk and other
old political tricks
old dogs
barking the street down

The air retelling
cause and effect
its viewpoint Crow
up high honking

The Moths and Me / by Bruce Robinson

look at the world and look at my TROUSERS!”
― Samuel Beckett, Endgame

The moths and I had come to an accommodation,
or so I’d thought, informal consensus
ad idem of a hole or two, collateral filigree

above the ankle or etching on a sleeve
the sort of aperture that some clever people know
may artfully be hidden by a brief

of fabrication, codicil to a skein.
And I’d retain my investigations
into fine hosiery, they confine their

depredations to that adjudicated
well-knit zone that’s jealous of the ankle,
legal tender of the bone. Enough of understandings,

vague meetings of the minds, from this line on
I’ve set my sights on absent comprehension,
for what did those socks ever do to any lepidopterist

except insist they be worn, in general,
in pairs? I’m done: ex nunc and de futuro
I’ll hold my ravening tongue; would the moths

had withheld theirs.

***

[untitled] / by Ina Roy-Faderman

desiccated
winter plums

the old cat
with kitten purrs

doesn’t know

i wait with her
a last chance
for rain

Conversion Events / by Anne Walsh

At university I did a paper on the seven conversion events of Saint Augustine,
seven more than I would have known about if it hadn’t been for my mother.
The feel of the air conditioner, her feet (so rarely) up on the bed,
“Why don’t you do your paper on the seven conversion events in the Confessions?”
In the monastic tradition of still increments and holy shots of precious memory, I am
converted, a monk, but Daedalus-like, too close to the precious, callous-cracked,
hand-crafted, voluntary solitude of my own wax-melting sun,
my conversion events are now those memories:
my mom leaving for work in the morning through the drive and waft of air-conditioning,
the aftermath of hurried false morning of the “Day” selection on her make-up mirror,
the last drifting smell of her L’air du Temps.

Poem 22 / Day 22

Poem Twenty Two: Tirtha / by Ava M. Hu

*

Halving the compass.

Timeless soul ballad.

 

Forces of attraction. Our clothes

left on the beach. If you

 

want to reach nirvana

find a shallow place

 

where two rivers meet.

Open yourself like a fan.

 

Worlds who touch and do not

touch each other.

 

We cross over in broad daylight.

Austerities, ritual practice,

 

the symbolic cutting of hair.

Something one did not do

 

but should have. Semantic fields.

Differing states of the same language.

 

Fasting sun or moon.

River in broad daylight.

 

Similar to veins running

through the human body.

 

Worship or regret worship.

The river slips out of wet its clothes.

*

Red Swell Hotel. Photograph. White cotton sheets with cut watercolor painting on paper. 30 x 40’ by Amy Sinclair

Ways I Drown / by Sarah Lilius

In the glass cube it seems irrational, speculative about why I’m in lukewarm water anyway. Liquid that’s not warm enough when it enters my body through my mouth, personal cave. The bottom of two lungs is the end. Water that can’t turn back. Stalled magic. I’m not mad. What I need to survive kills me every time. He can watch me through the clear walls. I’m a sour cocktail he sips then sets on a side table. I want to be an exception, to swallow the key this time, to just leave. This trick benefits the audience in their plush seats, popcorn on the floor. They never clap. They stare as the water drains onto the burgundy carpet. The solid glass box thumps to the stage and I’m dead another night.

Hard Surface / by Chad W. Lutz

I’ve been sleeping
on the floor lately

a bed less than two
feet from where
my two feet lie

& I’m trying
to figure out

what makes
comfort
comfort

is it peace
of mind?

or a certain
number of coils
beneath our bottoms?

maybe it’s
easier to dream

on the floor
looking up
at my hopes

a little David
beneath Goliath

A New Kind of Swan / by Jenna Lynch

The promotional email waiting in my inbox informs me there’s
a new kind of swan.That swans are known for making messy nests,
mate for life; that swans are gender neutral in their feather patterns,
share beak details with their families. Shine on swan!
So what is it exactly that you’re trying to tell me?
And what, exactly, was the old kind of swan?
Because if we’re talking about that pure white plumage
then I think I get the reference, the innuendo, like all the veiled
metaphors in the poems of my high school self, seasonally-depressed
and sweating badly at the open mic night, the one where my teacher
showed up with her girlfriends, all of them sharing one bench,
giggling in the corner; and afterwards, the binder clip on the bra strap
that I overheard her whisper to the nearest swan (the other kind), was so effortless and sexy.
I think I get it. The erect neck of a swan has never looked hotter.
Or are you being allusive? Should the swan, then, be taken as a type of faultlessness,
like the opposite of crow or goose? The OED calls the swan an allusion to the fabulous belief
that the swan sings immediately before its death. But what’s so fabulous about that?

When I finally click the link, no longer resisting, I’m brought to the so-called new swans,
the diamonds glinting in the corner of my homescreen, large and heavily-bodied,
at the same time vulgar but weightless, like the honeycombed bones of the swan.
Lined up this way, they all look alike, like the cobs and pens, the swans bill-dipping,
that head-to-head posturing; I can almost hear them, can hear them all,
because contrary to what one might think, all swans are vocal, the windpipe looped
within the breastbone. So is this the great new swan, of which even the mutest hisses?

From the Telephone Pole / by Dan Murphy

mackerel sky
morning rain on the car

we sit and
watch the river flow

all of us
disciples of Dylan

But sometimes Crow
is happy and calls

his prayers aloud
into bluest sky

his black scissor mouth
honking merrily

he found a toy
a Frito bag full

with air to stow
underfoot for now

past grievances
on hold

Stranger Gods was the show
he watched but not until

he became the star
he became a god an underworld

his heart possessed by grief
knowing not even then

will they
do what I want
and when I want
and how I want

and make a small rhyme
to hold inside

Prix Fixe / by Bruce Robinson

My fork dips but the drawbridge rises, sets,
a current no car cares countenance.
On the causeway the fishers thread their lines
deep yet cast their hopes seaward, it’s a test

of the mottling water and so’s today’s
offering, a secular dayboat grouper,
bien cuit. Astride the fish some wrinkled peas,
jaundiced foiled potato, repoussé,

while through the fevered glass the sun though low
runs hot upon my cheek, sets blinding
on the sea. The beer tastes good.
And it’s good my plate is full, so’s yours,

for should we wait until the tide recedes,
we’d find it more than we should need. Add that
to dinner’s mounting tab, this thread
of privilege we lead.

***

What Hope, Rebirth / by Ina Roy-Faderman

I was not born
from the mouths of gods

but stone, asphalt,
dried stalks of corn.

Walk the redwoods
like an alien,
but mourn
the coyote,
roadside-dead.

Retina sings
the dead redwing
in the garden.
its angled neck
and twisted leg.

Trees unbounded
ever layering,
bark haloed,
expanding

they forest,
slick around me,
extrude me like
a sterile melon seed.

I age and shrink —
my ghosts amass.
The dead sing
rings around roses.

what hope
rebirth,
taken back by the forest,
try again to root,
to take wing.

Poem 21 / Day 21

Rain / by Adam Levon Brown

The oceans
in my breath
fail to conceal
the rain

When my tidal
voice unleashes
its fury, the city
in my dreams will not be safe

The fire
becomes ash,
becomes snow
becomes water

My life
becomes rain
becomes water
becomes wave

The fire
has changed

The rain
is here

Poem Twenty One: Notes on Eclipse, Santos, and Murmuration / by Ava M. Hu

*

Blood is like a parachute.

Moon eaten by moon.

 

The way we reach

for one another.

 

We eclipse darkness.

Blood is like a parachute.

 

Floods and storms

take their toll.

 

Somebody cry wolf.

Put your two hands

 

to your mouth

like a flute. Blood

 

is like a parachute.

You should be named

 

the highest form of love.

Quicksilver. Acrobat.

 

Lover. Santos. Santos. Espiritus.

Murmurations in large flocks at dusk.

 

Salt flats, sand dunes,

beautiful lodge

 

where sun

takes moon.

*

Red Swell. Watercolor on paper. 11 x 14”. by Amy Sinclair

It’s ADHD, Baby / by Sarah Lilius

for Oliver

If I were a color,
I’d be magenta
striped with anxiety
in all shades of red.

I lost pieces of what I was doing
all over the house, the outside
world, trinkets and letters
I can’t even read.

I say what I don’t mean
to whoever will listen,
it’s a shiny place,
just being here.

Jumping jacks and who needs
to sit for dinner,
constant, constant, simple toys
never sold anymore,

wound up
in the darkness
to be released
into the light.

Reading / by Chad W. Lutz

I read a poem
& suddenly feel
a lump in my throat
caused by a sentence
I’ve read & begin
to wonder how
scribbles on
pieces of tree skin
could make
me feel anything
but remorse
for the environment

somewhere

a buzzard
cries

&

a goat
bleats

somewhere

& a human decides
the fate of every
species on the planet
while eating every
species on the planet
so I read more scribbles
on tree skin thinking
it’ll bring some sort
of closure to what I
already know is spoiled

Freak Accident / by Jenna Lynch

On the subway this morning,
all I could think about
was the woman in front of me
and the straw sticking straight
out of her bag; thinking of it
somehow, sometime soon,
sticking out of my own eye;
the sudden lurch of the train car,
a nudge of a shoulder,
and I’m facedown, flat on top
of it, the straw lining up
perfectly somehow, and jamming
right into my right eye.
This morning, on the subway,
all I could think about was all
of the ways we can die by accident,
as a way of not thinking about
my dog in surgery,
something foreign twisted
inside her, inside her intestines,
the spot on the X-ray
that the Vet described as bunched.
And I wish I could reach
my hand inside her soft belly,
wish I could untangle
them for her, unwind
her parts so they are
back to where they should be,
all in the right place again,
fit neatly along
her bones, stretched just
right, tucked between
fat and tissue;
I wish that this could be enough
to hold her, to cradle her,
this wish; that it could act
for her now as my arms, my heart.

2-Part Harmony / by Dan Murphy

1.

the morning’s mediation

the trees are pruned
to numb limbs
they cannot hold the snow

One of us is Crow
the other Sky
one subject one landscape

It is all a study

the brush holds
the asphalt stripe
of black being applied

2.

Borges walked around
the labyrinth’s hurricane
eye

his hands
dry like sheets
of paper

small commandments
on morality
and breaking texts
in parts

I want to sleep
a while
a minute
a century

that all should know
my corpse returns
like an old letter

falling to Earth
with a small rattle
one small tribute

Itinerant / by Bruce Robinson

Driving rain, driving cross-country
through miles of cross country, nearly
beside ourselves, the way a limping house
gets atrophied, aching fort against
the rutting trees, the canny nights
we drive past, glancing, dubious, surprised

a hearth has heat. Is nothing less intricate
than these complacent trees, wood leaves,
night sky veering from dark to light
to dark, the neon piss of bear
on snow and star on sky? Let’s weigh
our haste against that mist.

And nearly there, we’re getting nowhere:
you’d think the routes that drive us would
limit us in ways we’re pressed to conjure;
we’ll speed, sped apart: as if enthralled
by skid marks we’re tires and rims
in a destitute parking lot everyone else –

-not you yet, has long since left;
                                   we two halves
have the road to ourselves, turn our faces
toward reluctant exits cautiously,
(tonight we’re painting by the numbers)
between those lines we’ve sown
as tacit boundaries, they’ll do, they’re homes.

***

How to Grow a Sunflower Garden / by Ina Roy-Faderman

For Colleen N and her beautiful family

Imagine the beginnings of them,
in their beautiful striped shells,
black and white, complete.
Nestle them in the warm earth,
when the spring comes.

Hands held high, palms up to the sun
like two perfect oval leaves.
Running fingers through the rich earth.
every day a little taller, rising
and basking, turning together,
watching the sun move across the day
Spreading out toward the big sky.

Like nothing else on earth, to be
a stretch of sunbursts, tall and sturdy
and overflowing in gold, and
long and delicate and yellow and new,
turning together from sunrise to dusk,
bending with the evening wind and
turning faces to the morning sun.

This garden will grow and stretch.
rich with amber and the expanse of sunlight.
It will grow and stretch —
they will live with bees,
and mingle with the lavender.
Their disks will gaze upon us,
so we can remember the sun.

You Can’t Write a Poem without Me in It / by Anne Walsh

No one is speaking, but everything is.
The wordless hanging hurricane
lanterns on breath,
firefly words electric over forever’s backyard
shiver me sideways
inside the blizzard of myself.
I’ve kissed you with that breath, the shawl of snow.
Now, wherever you go you’ll not be able
to contain the silver of me in you.
My currency of worlds will fall forever
under the streetlamp of your poems.

Poem 20 / Day 20

Aim / by Adam Levon Brown
(Inspired by Fallout 4)

The firing squad
in my mind
takes aim
at my serenity

I don’t know how
to respond other
than to cower
behind my pride

When the bullets
of my past begin
to rattle inside
my bones

I know that it is time
to change

It is time to change
the stock, for every
time my brain misfires,
the recoil nearly
breaks my healthy conscience

It is time to change
the barrel, for every
time I look down
the scope of my once
full life, I have to count
to three seconds to find
reasons to continue

It is time to change
my mind

I will fire my way
back to sanity
one day at a time,
until the targets that
are my dreams become
clear once again

Poem Twenty: Notes on the Language of Flowers / by Ava M. Hu

*

 

You think this is obsessive

to explore the nature of the mind

 

it takes to create a masterpiece.

Words can be like knives.

 

The surface full with wanting.

What is not spoken of swells.

 

Visible flowering in blank space.

Destruction of seedlings

 

pushing for air. Stained with

the daffodil’s yellow mouth.

 

What are you tumbling for?

All the leaves turn towards you.

 

Things blurry with foliage.

Duty and dalliance. Soil to feed.

 

Movement of moon through trees.

Movement of my hands

 

through your hair.

We began this innocent.

 

Words can be like knives.

Try to put your finger on it.

 

How many places have you

been marked by light?

 

*

Some found words from “Bloodstream” Stateless

Orange Revival. Digital Image. Mixed media on paper. 10 x 14”. By Amy Sinclair

Facing the Elements / by Sarah Lilius

There isn’t language in the eye of the storm.
The liquid faces never speak to her when she’s
flying around with garbage in her hair,
a plastic bottle crammed into her mouth.

Weather finds a way into her bloodstream
and now she wishes the rain would stop,
the endless dreary sky with an occasional
excitement of hail or lightning.

Spinning, she’s still in control
but it’s difficult to catch her breath
when a hurricane tempts the wind
where she’s stuck.

Her boots haven’t touched the ground
in days. Her skin glows as the tornado air
whips off her impurities
and she feels new.

Myths of Suburbia / by Chad W. Lutz

Poseidon lives in the
pond between the poplars
along the prom way
where the local Plato’s
Closet sells its goods

Zeus is loose & training
housewives to tell lies
about their infidelities
& insufficiencies &
blatant insecurities

Ares is your neighbor
telling you to pick up
the shit your poodle
keeps leaving on
the god damn lawn

Apollo won’t swallow
the score of this week’s
classic squeaker another
Monday Night feature
of pig skin in the air

Athena dares
to run alone at dusk
with her headphones in
& the music level 10
without her phone

Persephone makes
friends with a pole
behind the bar in
a car with lights on
& the engine running

the only one left
is Hermes who sends texts
& memes live stream
on Instagram he says
life’s always a tragedy

A Catalogue of Things Remembered / by Jenna Lynch

a ruler
a paddle
a razor strap
a wheelchair’s broken wheel
a small ax
a lightbulb with a hanging string
clappers
a set of large rosary beads
a baby’s bruised face
a pair of sewing scissors
a stack of unsent letters
the scraping sounds from upstairs
a chair, bolted to the floor
one single matchstick
a book of matches
an orange plastic bat
a puddle of vomit to be lapped up
a tiny body in the dark
all that happened in the sewing room
all that didn’t happen in the sewing room
the numbers on the wall
all the kids, dying young
the soup spilled in the priest’s lap
the strong-willed girl
a baby’s dangling limbs
Patty on the windowsill
the handprints on the glass
a patch of light from beneath the water

The 4 seasons / by Dan Murphy

Autumn’s pizzicato
plucking at the bones
of winter’s dry skeleton
its strings
in hard bracing
grow worn
the scarecrow
in crucifixion stretches
fingers out
they green they pulse
swollen
come Spring
as buds break in
summer’s sonnet
both ripe and full and spare

Prologue to an Abecedarium / by Bruce Robinson

There’s no b in this sonnet,
and, all right, it’s not a sonnet,
yet nonetheless there’s no b
in this sonnet, perhaps none in any
sonnet that I’ve ever read, and I’ve read
quite a few I assure you, I could name
you several should you wish, and
compare them to a summer’s day
immersed in the sessions of sweet
silent never spoken thought and
all the while, — deny this if you will —
yes, denial’s not your forte
nor even a river in, oh, you know,
but there’s no b in this sonnet.

***

White Tigers and Other Aberrations / by Ina Roy-Faderman

Walking the dog who finds
a two-headed dandelion, the stem split,
a double clock.
It’s an odd thing, like a white haired ogre,
arguing with itself.
Think about picking it, but tell myself
I don’t like how it might spread wishes.

If I use tea bags, I can’t read the leaves.
White tigers are all born cross-eyed, even
though their eyes look ahead and are as clear as sapphires.
I want simple things, not “atypical cells” and “unknown types.”
Somewhere a milk duct, lost and confused,
has budded, my body a mutant Bishop’s Cap,
growing bud upon bud, silently under the skin.

My child split a wishbone with me.
He no longer knows his own strength.
His chair reared on back legs.
He wished for something that he wouldn’t name.
There was a time when
he couldn’t keep a secret.
He can, but still he sleeps the sleep of
a transparent age.
After the house is window black,
I barefoot out, searching for
asteroids falling in the dark.

Rain is My Home Memory the Tungsten Inside It / by Anne Walsh

Rain is my home and memory the tungsten inside it, the metal that withstands melting

until it’s so hot that its melting turns into light, the incandescence

of my how my aunt stood in the doorway with all those trees.

Beech, Evergreen, Oak.

The cat down like a shot of whiskey

as soon as the door opened, quick and free,

and onto the woodpile.

Sails furled, that ship of a house dream drifting across a dawn in winter years ago my Uncle,

retired Merchant Marine captain, raised morning’s masts

with a check of the barometer by the front door,

smoke curling around the harbour of his head

from the pipe that wore his front bottom teeth down

to perfect berth.

Borkum Riff tobacco pouch, in left suit jacket pocket the Zippo I’d beg to blow out

before he closed the lid with a thumb flick

as practiced as breath.

At evening, Jameson’s in plastic 1950’s bungalow cups

with sailor’s knots I tried to memorize when I was little I fell up

with the leaves in that yard,

with the pipe smoke, with the thick, clandestine-as-speakeasy waft

of my aunt burning leaves illegally, and the outlaw cat

square rig on the Clipper woodpile.

I fed on rain on pumpkins by the door, on the forest that started just beyond

their fence, not meant to keep anyone out, least of all time,

which slowed two steps beyond

the heap of fallen posts – a moss being I greeted like Charon to
ferry me over

in one skip to the underworld of nettle and wonder

when I was six – and stopped in the trees.

I fed on soggy bark, so cold under fingers it might snow.

And my soul clapped her three-year-old hands to think of Everything

covered, of no school, and of that driving silence

with just a hiss of eternity

that blizzard speaks.

The rain in trees on this dawn bushwalk, a billion years and broken miles later,

brings my Uncle back to me, the old film re-mastered by the Dolby downpour,

re-released in the theatre of the soul, those thick curtains pulled back,

footlights,

floodlights,

limelight,

aura.

Trees in storm teach that joy is a decision.

Leaves in autumn teach that just when you think you’re dead you can dance.

That death is just another Samba you start un-learning

the steps of when you get to this classroom, just move your hips, don’t think,

thinking ruins it.

And by it I mean anything important.

By which I mean love.

My three-year-old soul still claps for diva trees, these Mezzo-
soprano Gums,

a solo Alto Wollemi,

bowing in winds the rain plays.

She claps for the brass of drops on leaves.

For the strings of I love you played by wild places.

My Uncle, lighting his pipe just now,

winks at me above the quick lightning of Zippo.

A motionless owl, drenched soul, in the Wollemi does too.

And my heart falls up with the light inside the rain,

inside what I swear is the smell of Borkum Riff,

and of Christmas when I was six.

Nature lays her gifts at the foot of every tree

she brings my loves back to me.

Poem 19 / Day 19

Poem Nineteen: Paint by Memory / by Ava M. Hu

 

*

Paint this canyon by memory.

Canyon of pink ribbons.

 

Canyon of compasses,

road maps, yellow fallen leaves,

 

dog-eared pages of poems.

Dark passages and secret chambers.

 

A flute is just metal

without breath.

 

Flesh and bone.

Small hands.

 

Wool-gathering.

Rituals of ascent.

 

Compass, tarot card,

yarn, paint swatch.

 

Flight from the city.

Paint this canyon by memory.

 

Honey bees spread yellow

pollen with their hands and feet.

 

We listen for darkness.

We are yellow

 

trillium swallowing song.

There’s no meaning

 

to a rushing stream.

Birth-root, blood red.

 

Follow me from this life

to the next-

 

*

Orange Compass. Photograph. Mixed media on cloth. 8×10” by Amy Sinclair

Daydreams Through Cloudy Windows / by Sarah Lilius

I daydream of you on purpose, at gunpoint, in every room, on every colored day.
I know you must be music and my sense of hearing is the knife.

I can’t cut you out of my mind like a paper man with jagged edges
and a simple smile, looking in the glass at me weeping.

If you’re the clock pushing me, forcing me towards the end of the day
when I’m numb, my drunk face breaths shallow into the cotton pillowcase.

The coma of sleep cannot find your fingers for me to latch onto,
I’m not a child. I don’t suck my thumb and ache for candy.

I’m yours to open and scissor, pump the blades so that it burns.
Please check me into this wandering like a personalized hospital, all empty beds.

I find you leaning, looking towards me like lace, your frown tells me it’s a serious
matter to mess with a man when he’s trying to do his job.

In my ageless mind and splendor, I walk away
but towards you like a confusing drama where I’m the only one who dies.

I’m shoeless in the forest still trying to escape
the windows, they crack slightly, let the night darkness in one month at a time.

Running with the Dead / by Chad W. Lutz

I run
through
the cemeteries

the tombstones
& mausoleums

speak nothing
say everything

you need to know
about a dead man

white lilies
standing upright

the breeze
light

but there
is no sound

the tombstones
& mausoleums

speak nothing
say everything

Very Dear Mother, / by Jenna Lynch

How are you? We don’t have school today, so I thought I’d write to you. I’m well. Last night we were awoken in the middle of sleep for the ice cream man. I had to eat and eat, as much as I could. This morning I woke with an ache in my belly, and a stain on my shirt. I prayed very hard every night this week so that you will hear me and know that I am thinking of you. When are you coming back? Dear Mamma, I am very lonesome for you.

The o’s I write below are my hugs, the x’s my kisses.

o o o o o o o o o

x x x x x x x x x x

From your loving daughter

*words in italics are from an excerpt of a letter written by a St. Joseph’s orphan to her mother

And a 1 and 2 and 4 / by Dan Murphy

1.

her hair down long
and dangling
her hair dropped down
catching silver
from light
and purple from shadow
her hair
a burnishing

2,

Stevens’ disciple
her silhouette
a shadow
to shadow’s silhouette
a small disfigurement
in quietude
a single form
in multitude

her hair down dark
in a world of white
to an edge
darkening light
When Wallace said
mild blandishment
in severe world
our atheist priest
meant shrill
bark to break
night’s pantomime

4.

the clocks unwinding
in Time
and in time
my old aunt
mumbled everything
is for the best
who played endless
solitaire
her modest mouth
and prim chest
a form of shield
this Baudelaire
who left the world
her hair down
in a fan spread
on white
amnesic field

Prairie of Your Room / by Ina Roy-Faderman

after Eight Line Poem, David Bowie

one last check for your breathing under my fingers
a late night eight line poem
the cat asleep in that awkward place by your foot
making a black hole and tucking its paws away

the sock alone on the floor that should be darned
but i want to leave it, tiny mausoleum
of your former self which will shimmer away
when the sun wakes the growth of this wild new self

Macaroni Lips / by Anne Walsh

 

I’m pouting a Fibonacci sequence,

a phyllotaxis of impatience,

a fern unfurling,

the fine pout of a pineapple

sprout

 

Don’t you know that the Golden Spiral

is just my pout while waiting for you,

my pine to uncurl you

The sunflower inflorescence of universes

the Chamomile spiral complexity of cosmoses

 

is just my simple

upside down

macaroni-lips pout

Kiss my macaroni lips,

kiss me mid-sequence

 

un-spiral the me in everything,

whorl the stars I exhale back into my mouth

See the sequence of missing you

you put me through,

how my pout started all of this,

 

how the song of everything springs

from the arrangement of my turned down lips

from the forehead of my longing

all the universes are one big curve

of macaroni, waiting fir, me curling for your kiss

Poem 18 / Day 18

Thirteen Drags / by Adam Levon Brown

I cheated on myself
with death today

Thirteen drags
and the cherry is still burning

The red clings to me
in my dreams, lighting
memories ablaze

Even between the smiles
and smoke, I can’t find
the right time to let you go

I cheated on myself
with death today

I smiled through
the haze pf trauma,
reeking of failed past
attempts and broken goodbyes

And don’t worry, I put
the self-abuse out

You can go on knowing
that even if you did leave,
that I will be alright

I will be alright,
even if the smoke
of our past together
still clings to me
wherever I go

It’s done,
It is done

The fire is still alight
somewhere within,

and
I can finally breathe
once again

Poem Eighteen: cicadas rIse / by Ava M. Hu

*

great sky road

path of migrating birds

 

white river

ghost road

 

snowshoe’s trail

flight of the loon

 

raven tracks on the river

trail of the dead

 

dusty trail

night’s backbone

 

endless trail

awaits the dawn

 

scattered stars

flour and ash

 

bright stretch across

spirit path

 

spirit road

Orion’s belt

 

three chiefs

steps in a snowbank

 

your winged foot

fawns

 

three vertebrae

supporting stones

 

elk skin

land of windows

 

she who revolves

bears den, hoop

 

build large fires

lights are reflections to remind people

 

you still think of them

valley of spring oaks

 

cicadas rise like wildfire

from our bodies

*

*found words from native american names meanings

Cicadoidea Naranja. Watercolor. 10 x 14” by Amy Sinclair

Sonnet for Love and Madness / by Sarah Lilius

I am in love with him through my madness.
What loops and steals, a lash of forgiveness,
A place not solid in concrete and horizon.
The man who never cares, in stone and pennies,
He never places a hand, healing cut me
Into pieces of contradiction, into dreams
Of water and animals, both fall from sky.
I am the trinket box he places himself into.
Dusty and erratic, corners of unknown
Gratitude, the orchard is always north.
We sit in the shade, wait for falling fruit.
I can’t be both the tree and the fruit
But he lets me,
He lets me still.

Alleluia (for Audrey) / by Chad W. Lutz

we’re
celebrating
a body
no more
today

a body
sent to the
crematorium
for processing
like a file
or a document

a body
the real person
collating
somewhere
beyond
the reach
of the
trees

bodies
hold
contain
possess
undress
bleed
heed
& bend
to the whims
of the world

but we’re not
celebrating
a body today
today

we’re
celebrating
who was

The Orphan’s Sestina III / by Jenna Lynch

I was given a number that became my name, and anything
that was mine had my number on it. My number was access,
was alarm, was prayer. It was “58 are you talking? 58 open
your eyes this instant, 58 do this, do that.” Sometimes my name,
my real name, escaped me, so I had to whisper it, quietly, into my hand
as a reminder. And now, decades later, at the reunion, we are all witness

To each other, to what happened at the Orphanage, some acting as witness
to a memory taking shape for the first time, others wanting more than anything
to forget; others, still, spoke as if for the very first time, about the nun’s hand
on their cheek, wiping it with their own vomit, the stories giving access
to pain, or to healing–all of us remembering each other, not by name
but by number, by punishment. Like the girl who can no longer leave a door open,

or the boy who can only feel completely at home inside a locked box, the idea of open-
ness consumes him now; there are those who are here for penance, to confess to bearing witness–
to being part of something larger than themselves–I just want to say I’m sorry. I hear your name
every night, I hear the voice of the sisters telling me to do it. But really, is there anything
any of us can say that will change things? Or is it even about change, or more about access
to truth, to what really happened. Because still no one believes me about the story of the hand,

the one that the nun burned with the wooden matches, was it one hand
or both? Which hand did Elaine hold out? Do these details matter, if to open
your fist, either fist, means to feel the flame, have it passed over all ten fingers, to access
a feeling of pain inside you that even after years here, after decades of bearing witness
to punishments unthinkable, is more visceral than any other, than anything
else your eight year old brain could ever imagine. But how can you possibly name

that? Here I am now, an adult, and I’m only just beginning to remember my name,
or my nickname really, The Little Devil, something forgotten I guess, something handed
to me now by another former child, a survivor I suppose, if we are being accurate, if anything
can describe us better than survival. When I was asked by the lawyers to be really open,
to really try and remember what actually happened there, I began to understand what a witness
really is, in the eyes of the law, in the space of this courtroom. At that point, you had access

in your mind to the actual recollection of having been put in the attic by the nun? Access
to some of the things that happened there? How do I put this? How do I try and name
for you now, what it is that I recall? How do I do it, how do I become the best witness,
become what you want me to be? Because that, sir, is how it worked for me, what I was handed
down from the sisters–the desire to be good, to do things right. So, if you want me to open
up my mind more, I’ll do it, okay? I promise I will. When I went into the attic again, the thing

I had access to, that opened me up completely was the tank, was feel of the hand
pushing my head down, the name that they gave me, the light from the open
window as the only witness, the door closing, and then quiet, my mind shut, devoid of anything.

Canto Simple / by Dan Murphy

The dead can talk
my father
comes through the speaker
and says Radio Flyer Radio Flyer
What kind of image is that?
Father never understood his poetry
his skill was maps and distance
after the scotch ran out
and the job got hard

The dead can talk
if the dead can anymore
why won’t my mother speak
in dream as she did before
our porch light a golden halo
over her face
and she whispered
Son
the robe of light went dazzling
it burned inside me

My grandfather also came
in dream but mostly
he cried
in 2D
a brown and grey face

I was 10 and 12 and 14
and could’ve used advice
he’d give beyond sadness
even you suffer life
you suffer
you live

Vestiges of the Floating World / by Bruce Robinson

They didn’t see it coming, how could they?
And then it rained, rained
and we weren’t witness,

but it did rain, you know, poured,

so we can only surmise
although we weren’t witness
that the days grew in upon themselves

or so we might surmise

despite the unavailable clocks
and our inability to witness
for there were no clocks to set the tone

and the odd nights and even days foreshortened

there dawned nothing perhaps
because we mistrusted the clocks
who seemed to us ever unavailable

to point the way and… look, there was nothing

they could do about it, I mean,
how could they, we too, we
never saw it coming.

***

This Day I Had Tiger Lilies / by Ina Roy-Faderman

This day I had tiger lilies
that leapt to the sky fluttering
up
until the sunlight claimed them
for this day had a caterpillar casing
jointed tumbling across the sidewalk
catching the breeze
that I almost stepped on and
crushed to a golden shatter
used in teacup spells for
making small perfect girls
who this day I saw on swings
that were sparkling with sand
and waiting for the next push above
this almost-beach that
reminds me this day came
from the edge of the teal glass ocean
that I did not visit though
truly it deserves my obeisance
with a scattering of petals and
broken shells that
fragment and chime along the beach
and hand-held leaves that are slick
and waxy and green and also brown and
crumble to dust with
water returning
this day to swell the waves
that reflect the moon
that is full with swallowed petals and
glints from the quiet ocean
so as to remember this day
when it is otherwise forgotten

Poem 18 / by Anne Walsh

We come from the feel of oceans and grope our way unsteadily

through the betrayal of dryness and of mortality.

But our emotion has a texture and is palpable to the internal palm

that feels with scarred fingers the endless face of the eternal.

Poem 17 / Day 17

(Hum)an-in(anity) / by Adam Levon Brown

Symbiosis
succors
silence into mirrors

Deftness of agility
poised as pain
triggers the muse

The corruption
in my veins
shreds goodness
to threads

When the hour
of awakening is upon me,
my heart shall know true birth

Poem Seventeen: Love Song of the Cicada / by Ava M. Hu

*

 

The rub of your wings.

Alarm call. Love-knots.

 

Green wings

softly sweep

 

from your quiet shell.

Then, the lattice of your gold song.

 

How we pollinate. Fragile

sentience. The roar

 

comes from everywhere.

Emerges from the scriptures

 

of woody plants. Take

my hand. We move

 

from winged

form to song.

 

Who are we? This time

we answer, “Everything.”

 

*

Untitled Yellow-Orange. Photograph. Mixed media on paper. 8 x 12” by Amy Sinclair

Short Card Catalog of Emotions / by Sarah Lilius

Anger in the cabinet with mousey brown hair tightly curled into expressions of hate that billow but make not a sound. You’d think this would be a train coming, ready to stop before hitting the girl on the tracks. Her dirty dress and Mary Jane patent leather cannot run with such a beast coming for her body.

Flat guilt laid out like an 80s pattern, the thin paper hardly exists, but the fabric is cotton thickness, the bones of the project. She doesn’t know what her mother is making. Maybe there’s a dance coming with eager boys and stupid girls moving around in pre-lust, in pre-everything.

There’s this sickness she keeps under her fingernails. It’s traumatic at best. It’s an old maple tree that won’t be cut down because the roots are infinity, they exhaust the earth but carry over the seasons year into year. She trims her fingernails short. The tiny moons fall to the garbage can as a statement she can’t yet let from her mouth.

Sadness universal and lingering. What a mess this emotion sinks her into. Always love the men but it’s the men who hold weapons like hammers and gazes. She might die inside her mind, what relief. The whiteness of emotion glares. She wants to find herself inside the car, driving away towards the sun.

When will it be time to stop blaming the past, the boys, the hands that grip, strong arms that hold a girl down? What surfaces is the in and out, smooth as marble then sandpaper on skin that’s already been bleeding for years. Tell me, why shouldn’t I blame them when my skin refuses to scab?

Work that Jimmy Bowl / by Chad W. Lutz

soak
the salad plate

rinse
the potato masher

dry
the rack of tea saucers

wash
the stack of cups

sweat
for almost no pay

smile
as you do it

you’ve got
loans to pay

& a master’s
in nothing

Your Friend is Telling You About her Dream / by Jenna Lynch

The one where twenty percent of horses
lie down in their sleep, lie down in their
own sweat. How her horse, or the horse
that was in front of her, was covered
in jellied sweat–like butter when it melts
and re-hardens. How she was told
by the caretaker to stay back, to not
help clean the salty pools, that she’d
just be in the way. She tells you they
both start laughing at this part, her
and the woman, laughing at how useless
she would be as a helper, the thought of
it bringing them both to tears as they
stand there, the horse lying on a white
sheet on the ground in front of her,
the earth dampening underneath
with its sweat.

They Pulled the Body of Jeff Buckley from the Sea / by Dan Murphy

And they said good bye to the nineties
and stonewashed love, my sister cried too
They Pulled the Body of Jeff Buckley from the Sea
we held hands and smiled pushing the cassette into the deck
They Pulled the Body of Jeff Buckley from the Sea

Lilac Wine and Lover, You Should’ve Come Over
they pulled the body from the bay he wasn’t drunk they said
no drugs in his system exhausted from swimming
They Pulled the Body of Jeff Buckley from the Sea

Exhausted from recording being someone too much too long
I don’t know how we lost something great
the tide pulled out and gave back broken
They Pulled the Body of Jeff Buckley from the Sea

We lost the songs he hadn’t heard yet we haven’t heard
when they Pulled his Body from the Sea
We were changed when he changed
They Pulled the Body of Jeff Buckley from the Sea

Aesthete at the Table / by Bruce Robinson

not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.
                                    •  Charles Reznikoff

I don’t know that I should have needed
permission to be seated

for there were seats at the table,
the table set in its ways, and

by the way the one you’ve been seated
at all this time, so I came in and

sat down, knife and tines at the ready,
not necessarily set the way you

want it, in fact perhaps in your view
somewhat peculiarly but nevertheless

prepared in a refectory
sort of way to edge beside you

with whetted teeth, at once aware
(not that I cared) of the stumbling manner

in which you bade me welcome: a plate
and spare utensils at a table

now unsettled by the rain outdoors
and the scraps from that table; it was

your look that set my spine. If you’re
resigned to the style in which

we’ll have our meal, you’ll find me
charmed by your suffering.

***

Day 17 / by Ina Roy-Faderman

“No one should carry an umbrella just because the moon is rising” — Tsubasa Kohyama

The greying earth
silent —
no elegy for rain

as ants shoulder
the dead fly —
I am helpless

rainmakers stunted
by asphalt,
glass,
rubber

cats sun themselves
in February —
they do not know

night fog cools my face
by morning
an illusion

the umbrella lives in hope
at my door
oh moon

Spate / by Anne Walsh

My hands are shaking, dirt in the lifelines

On my palms my deaths gleam like river

banked by a forest of ghosts

Evergreen

under my fingernails it’s been the longest winter

My mad bramble heart survives all

But thaw

Seeing you again, spate drowns me

And all the bears in my belly

Wake up

Hungry

Poem 16 / Day 16

Cerulean / by Adam Levon Brown

He proclaimed
his name Cerulean

Fighting off the cold
with rays of Sun

When the fire
inside him corrupted
his veins, he unleashed
the breeze to rest his head on

When the light echoes
your voice, you too will
know when it’s time
to harness your peace

Poem Sixteen: Notes on Initiation and Love / by Ava M. Hu

*

Dear friend, mystes, stream-runner, the one who is worthy-

Come meet me at the threshold. The air beneath our feet

suspends. We are the scent of magnolias filling the room.

Mirror symmetry or mystic death. Traveling without hindrance through walls.

 

Come meet me at the threshold. The air beneath our feet suspends us.

Love me like a river does. Love so sweet and heady.

Silence is not a lack of sound. Sing to me. Transfer consciousness.

Dear friend, mystes, stream-runner, the one who is worthy-

 

The same and the other. We fall asleep at the gate.

Walk without hindrance through walls.

How will we know when we find one another?

Mirror symmetry, mystic death.

 

Walk without hindrance through walls.

I see you through the heavy boughs of apple trees.

Mirror symmetry, mystic death.

Our clothes in a pile on the beach. The sea twists around our legs.

 

We decorate each other with our own hands.

Suspension. Transference of pollen between flowers. The air beneath our feet.

Our clothes in a pile on the beach. The sea around our legs.

You trail just behind me like the Milky Way.

*

*Song title Melody Gardot and Jeff Buckley Lyric

Composition Yellow Circle. Photograph. Mixed media collage on printmaking paper. Detail. 10×14”. By Amy Sinclair

Darling Z, / by Sarah Lilius

The mind is a paradise. I want to warn you of the life I lead inside my story maker. Look around, there is disorder that’s falling to the floor. Bits of love on the carpet to vacuum like a maid. Pieces of life are unattainable, larks for trees in different cities. They are complicated, often caught easy, catfish slippery in my hands. They are taken but I conquer them inside, the passion hero is on fire. She’s dressed in contentment. The ointment of boredom, a fine cap upon my head where I place emotion among the globe and count. All the places I’ll never visit remain clothed in mystery but naked, accessible, like Spain in the summer, Sweden in the winter. When I reach the highest number, it’s over.

Stab the Table / by Chad W. Lutz

repeatedly

like you mean it

over and over and over and
over and over and over and over
and over and over and over and over

then lean back in the fake leather desk chair

and squeak the screws till you think they
might break and just laugh fucking
laugh you just laugh because
you’re on so much meth
and telling us this
is the last
time

YOU’RE MINE / by Jenna Lynch

Grant me nothing. Or grant me this:
the ability to describe you in perfect
sentences. Do you trust me?
I’ve been thinking a lot about what
you told me, and I want you to tell me
things, I want to be your person, but Conrad
what’s the reason you’re holding on? Right now
you aren’t living, you’re just existing. I want to help
you live again. When you get better,
will you forget about me? I’m so scared.
You won’t, will you? Hello? Are you still there?
I want you to know that you didn’t fuck up
your life. You’re just lost. But I’ll find you, I’m
always looking for you. Conrad? Please answer me.
What’s your choice? I don’t appreciate you not
answering. I know you don’t really want to die.
Conrad, I’m trying to understand, I really am.
I just want to make sure you’re actually going
to do this, or if it’s all just talk. Because I need
to get myself prepared. I tried my best, I really did.
I can never talk you out of it. I’m sorry I couldn’t
save you. To be honest, I don’t even know how
to feel anymore. I can’t believe this is really happening.
I would do it with you if I could, but I want to live my life
for you. I want you to finally be happy, so so happy.
Can I ask you something? Are we basically dating?
Even when you’re not my boyfriend, I still know
you are. When you die, a part of me is going to die, too.
And when I die, and the sky opens up,
the first person I’ll look for is you.

*first line is from Geri Doran’s Resin
*Lines and inspiration based on text messages between Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy

First Quarter / by Dan Murphy

In February Spring’s disturbance still
moves underground and rain falls to this world
no longer the world of wet insistence
and no longer the world we knew as children.
There’s no earth smell or smell of living thing
as cold rain populates the field somewhere
characters say birth is agony
life is hard and death is cruel. Recall
the first poet who sang it’s hard for mortal
man to force a god
                               in that war within.
But listen now for the husk of meaning
music makes shimmering in waves an inch
or two above winter’s dead grass.

Champ Pastoral / by Bruce Robinson

Il faut chanter un chant pastoral,
Invoquer Pan, dieu du vent d’été.
– Pierre Louÿs

He looks across the field
toward the house, the adjacent buildings,
looks across the fence
without expression.

Beyond the fence, the house,
and its adjacent buildings, the fields
are an unstable tincture
of antiseptic silver.

Il marche dans la plaine immense,
among his cattle looking
across the house and the adjacent buildings
across the darkening fields and fence

or what’s left of them
without expression. Looks at me
as well, but I’ve never
been able to read that kind of look.

He walks across the mud toward
the house, and its adjacent buildings;
Is that – the dark fields of the republic
are squelching silver and they’re tumbling off

the house and the adjacent buildings –
your car in my road?

***

The Menu is a Poem / by Ina Roy-Faderman

You say you’ll make me eat my words
like that’s a threat,
like I don’t know each word is a blackbird
four-and-twenty for every minute
the hairs of the cells in my
ears wave and shiver with
each syllable
like wheat in a prairie wind
before the green sky and
cyclone cellar
I eat my words but won’t eat
your sentence is not for life
there is always a way through
a crust and words like a jug of wine
a bottled oil smelling of sunshine and
green silver flashes of leaves
slicked on my hungry hands
to slip rings and slip past
and then I can eat anything
be a hungry woman

The Wolves of Mayo / by Anne Walsh

You kept Irish on your tongue like the last Christmas candy

you try to keep going because you can’t get any more like that

You were never a local anywhere I ever saw you,

not since you left Ireland so long ago that your memory of it slanted

like snow under someone else’s memory of a streetlamp in winter

that furious quiet, that anchorite white

an electric pink prayer falling up from its face and you never went back.

I’m sure that’s why I was born with a chest that’s a ship of goodbye.

Why I’ve left every place I’ve ever lived.

Why I’m a local nowhere.

Why I carry goodbye with me like a business card. Like hello.

Why no one can place my accent or the where of how I speak.

You were nineteen when you left County Mayo.

And your dad’s new grave. And the dog on the porch.

Twenty-one when you married a man in Philadelphia who hit you when he drank.

And he drank all the time. How the time must have dragged.

Like the tick of clock with only an hour hand.

And you couldn’t save the kids from him, either, especially poor little Joe.

Did you dream then of the wolves of Mayo,

an even older memory than yours?

Did you remember then?

Did you remember the language of yourself

in all that blue light and lips curled off fangs

running from a man to the wolves?

Could you hear them howling in Philadelphia so far past real midnight

that Primary Night was again and you ran in it with the wolves

and they spoke Irish and the night sounded like a river?

Poem 15 / Day 15

Poem Fifteen: The Moons That I Have Loved You / by Ava M. Hu

Wind moon, little spring moon, blackberry moon, moon of the big leaves, moon when we fell into the moss, moon of the rising horse, moon when snow blows the spirits in the wind, moon of ice breaking the river, when ponies shed their shaggy hair, when the bucks bellow, when the chokeberries ripen, when geese shed their feathers, moon who joins both sides, moon of the strong cold, moon of love at first sight, moon when horses get fat, waking oracle moon, moon when the freeze begins at the streams edge, when the wolves run together, moon when young ducks begin to fly, moon of life at it’s height, whispering ear moon, moon dwelling too long on the shoulders of the mountain, moon of cedar bark for baskets, moon when branches begin to crack, longing heart moon, moon when the sun has no strength to thaw, moon of the heart standing in wild birds, moon when you hold onto moon, moon when the berries are good, moon of ripening, arrow shooting moon, moon when the wind shakes off the leaves, beating heart sutra moon, whirling wind moon, moon when we sat on the mountain, feather shedding moon, moon when the pond reflects the moon, moon when trees are majestic cathedrals, stories of our ancestors moon, stay inside moon, when corn is silk moon, moon of the cedar dust, moon when you tied a gold string around my finger, moon when all is gathered in, moon when the cherries turn black, bud moon, moon of jingling silver anklets, moon made of living breathing things, moon before pregnancy, shoulder to shoulder around the fire moon, salmon go up the river moon, travel in canoes moon, moon when you call me by my name, house of the pink horizon moon, moon when limbs are broken by fruit, moon when the sun has travelled to rest.

*

some words found from Native American Moon catalog

 

Yellow Sun. Photograph. Sunlight with cut watercolor painting on paper. 10 x 14” by Amy Sinclair

Starting Over Where the Earth Cannot Find ______ / by Sarah Lilius

What falls and hits the cement
with a sheltered sound turns out
to be my own feet as they march
to the car with purpose.

This warm winter seems to jolt
a new spring onto my skin.

Let’s address climate change
like a stepfather
and bury the problem
into the landfills of plastic
trash bags and wine bottles.

There’s nothing like a heave
of relief when ignorance
is an infected paper cut bleeding
in skin places I can’t mention.

The new kitten watches
me do everything.
I type this and her head rests
against my body.

I suppose I am now her mother
earth, full of seasons,
sunlight and floods.

She squeaks for me
and I come.

Same Scars Different Skin / by Chad W. Lutz

We make plans
for our Golden Years
the waning moments
of the Self:

the gluttonous
the vain
the lustful
the greedy
the envious
the slothful
the proud

moments like
hitting my brother
in the mouth at
Thanksgiving
for calling my
girlfriend fat
to her face

seven sparkle death
but three hold
for truth

in this case:

the seismic
the quantum
the biological

…life.

The Metaphor of Schizophrenia / by Jenna Lynch

This unique, schizophrenic city is how the LA Times once
described its namesake, in Frank Israel’s obituary.
And I suppose the reference is to the city’s promises and
limitations, the particular natural settings juxtaposed
with its introverted urbanism.
Of course. There it is. The schizoid split.
Just a diseased thing, a place for Israel to inhabit,
to attempt to mend through stone facades,
through the delicate stitching of the new and the old.

In another city, Katie is telling you about her old client
who passed away, the one that used to be an artist.
She made weird, cool paintings on clothing,
she tells you, and had an exhibit once, at the MoMa.
When she died, there was no record, no trace of it,
on the Internet. No one to write about the time
in the 70s where she claimed that a hallucinogen,
the one she took on a whim, brought on her
severe schizophrenia.

Maybe it isn’t sexy to write the word
when it means what it’s supposed to mean,
when it isn’t just metaphor. When
to be schizophrenic is not a figure of speech,
or an insult. When the word drifts
into the language of the everyday,
when it maps onto violence–
he could erupt any minute–
the danger of that, the journalistic
failure of language.
What Mark Twain calls the
difference between getting a word
right and almost-right, the enormity
of it, like the difference
between the lightning bug and the lightning–
between the splitting of the self
and the splitting of ideas.

St. Valentine / by Dan Murphy

Your heart the size of a fist
we teach the children you take
a scrap of paper like this and crumble

into a ball for 30 seconds
no rest just squeeze until the air
comes out of your chest

The heart is a muscle
and pumps the blood
and such you feel the pulse
in your wrist with a delicate
touch a small bird thrumming

At Valentines we give our hearts
then humming we cut our hearts
and say I love you

we cut out our hearts in pink and red
or white then paste or glue

the heart matches the accordion
its breathy enthusiasms pumping
air pumping a music with a beat
and pulse and happy gravity

Later we cut and paste Lincoln
onto black they shot him
we don’t know what for
through his hat and he is dead
a long time after the war

Our teacher wears a covering dress
it covers everything you know
she’s pregnant this semester and full
of pleasantness

Babies are born is Spring
and we are happy happy in school
teacher tells us we are animals too

but special we are part of nature
and a life cycle and she loves us
gives us special hearts she traced

on construction paper and glued
to lace one for a boy
he has a monkey face

and for the girls
holding a heart-shaped acorn
in a pink dress and apron a squirrel

All the hearts say I love you
I love you teacher says as we part
she holds her hands two hands hugging
over her teacher’s pregnant heart

Umpteenth View of Mt. Fuji / by Bruce Robinson

The selfie is a cover-up: it hides the true self.
-India Ennenga

Strange, though, I can’t remember
a single thing about that day,
the weather, sky, only that it was April
and only that it was April

because that was when I was there.
And I still don’t know why I took this;
maybe I was feeling confident
in the capacity of my battery,

proud of the gold strand of the
Hokusai shirt, ah, that’s it…
it was the 37th view of Fujiyama
and I, grim as always yet

adamant in my satisfaction,
could not know there was
anyone else nearby.

***

Third Eye / by Ina Roy-Faderman

My mother a child marched over dry ground, crossed boundaries. When I am asked where she’s from, I say she is from a place that does not exist anymore.

My mother crossed boundaries. I crossed them, within her, and she did not know. I, the homunculus, a refugee within which curls, inert, another in search of refuge, and another, and still another.

Infinite dried monkey eggs of second-hand statelessness. Just cross water and watch them grow!

They begin with one eye. Another grows for symmetry. The third grows of necessity.

Roti is formed from a globe of wheat and water. Rounded and slapped on iron. A child, I tore triangular pieces to be eaten with milk and white sugar, the ragged edges lines between here and nowhere. We all swallow the place we belong. Sometimes I eat Cheerios, but we all know it’s not the same.

A refuge is not the same as a home.

My mother goes back to the place that existed when she ceased to exist. It doesn’t smell the same, she says. The roses are bleary and the dark earth is now sand. The people are thieves, bunglers, gamblers. She says, don’t go back there; you’ll be disappointed. She forgets that there is a place that has never been, for me.

Belonging to the ocean, three eyes can see lands that do not exist.

I am always ready to leave. We clump together, those of us who have eaten the food of placelessness. We live the flights of our mothers. We know one another. Feather-footed, I point to my toe, how it edges the door. Between inside and outside is a place that does not exist. It is a place each of us can see. It is a temporary existence. It is where I live.

#15 / by Anne Walsh

I’m George Bailey
on the bridge
the snow too sweet
for the blood on my lip
but there’s no angel
never is

Poem 14 / Day 14

Broken pt. 3 / by Adam Levon Brown

And then there
were three

Three reasons
I never stopped to
talk to her, even though
she was going to leave

One,
I didn’t want to tell myself
the truth, and I didn’t want
her knowing I knew the truth

Two,
There was a sickness
hidden inside that I wanted
to keep safe, and letting her in
would have unraveled my peace

Three,
Damnit, I’m going to miss her,
but all of the pieces of our life
cannot be put back together again

Three reasons
to look away,

Three reasons
not to say goodbye

I told her I loved her anyway
and now I can sleep

Three reasons kept to myself

And then she was gone.

Poem 14: Notes on the Goddesses, and the In-Between / by Ava M. Hu

*

Mountain range. The curves of your body.

Hold the wandering dead at bay.

Sender of plagues and their cure.

Your hair comb a torch.

 

Hold the wandering dead at bay.

Your sutra, wildness, and the hunt.

Your hair comb a torch.

Washer at the Ford.

 

Your moon-like hands wash the clothes of dying men.

Split your corpse to create the seas and the sky.

War, fate, death, revenge, and magic.

Goddess with eyes shaped like a fish.

 

Split your corpse to create the seas and the sky.

Alive from the waist up and dead from the waist down.

Wilderness, wild animals, virginity, childbirth, and the hunt.

You drop a silken cord down into the valley to pull the hero up to your home.

 

Alive from the waist up and dead from the waist down.

Sender of plagues and their cure.

You drop a silken cord down into the valley to pull the hero up to your home.

Mountain range. The curves of your body.

*

Yellow Fate. Watercolor and silk thread on paper. Detail. 38 x 86” by Amy Sinclair

I’ll Tell My Own Story / by Sarah Lilius

A snippet here on Earth, I can barely
lift the pen to carve into the paper.
I think I’m more than speck or smudge.
I love the creature that holds up
the canvas with his muscular paws.
Opening doors over years
has me rife with slight wind
in my mouth, tussling my hair.
Departure is always complicated.
Once upon a time I was always
younger than the ocean.
My insignificant bones
keep me standing around
like I’m waiting for the next
child to choose me.
I hold up the furniture
with books I’ve read.
Knowledge is sturdy
with the sadness of the story.
My lines lithe,
they hold heaviness
like a house on the water.
The structure must sway
slightly, it constantly pauses,
waits for hurricanes
to show people
what endurance is,
what it can do
for them.

The Exam / by Chad W. Lutz

do we go where we want to go?
do we say the things we ought to show?
do we ever tell people the way we really feel?
does the sunlight bend in the day moon’s glow?

I don’t know

sometimes I try to run away from these questions
sometimes I try to chalk them up to powers of suggestion
sometimes the world is coldest when the sun’s shine is bright
every time I open my ears the world teaches me a lesson

I don’t want

but it’s a blessing and a curse to know and not know
to think what we want and to go where we go
to feel the sweet zeal of reeling without keel
it’s dark before dawn all tied in a bow

14. / by Jenna Lynch

If desire melts the limbs, then I give you

my hands
             before they pool
                                        around me.

Each night I wake from a fevered dream
             my body is split
or is it
             my mind that doubles,
                                        and cracks?

Who am I if not a woman who loves
                          women? And if they cannot see
my love
             does that make it less
                                                                 real?

 Less true?

My mother smiles at me now
                                                     and means it.

City River / by Dan Murphy

The urban trash hangs
like homeless laundry
on tree branches swooning
in the concrete river

with
shopping carts and bicycles
and a man dressed in mud
and nakedness
who peels back
the Sunday bazaar of fabrics
like the dead arising
after a typhoon

Occasionally a trickle of water
over rocks and a shout
of dedicated bicyclists
at 2 p.m. on a Thursday
touring the path

I have a book of Williams’
poetry also Marxist criticism
and I can read as I walk
with two-thirds
of a cup of high-end coffee

and now the moon in the East
a thin white wafer appears
like an aperture between worlds
a sign perhaps a foreign light
from my own past

Poetry
that which you cannot prove
but know deeply to be true.

That Time of Day / by Bruce Robinson

The sun hasn’t said two words all day,
keeping its counsel, the way a river
withholds its source, no, not like that,
it’s just wishing it had a dark side like,

you know, the moon, or, no, not like that,
the moon has no dark side, not really,
not when you get to know it, not that
anyone really knows it all that well,

and a river, well, you expect to be able
to comprehend its roots, but sometimes,
sometimes, oh, you know what I mean.
Sometimes a river keeps its counsel

from anyone who like the sun, or
like you, will flare up every now and then,
as when you go solar, startling me,
even though it’s not yet noon.

***

Pulse / by Ina Roy-Faderman

like a butterfly
emerged damp unfurling
jewel uncurl antennae graceful as
fawns
slow wings fan open
orange close black open white
open close open
brush of feathery
scales close open sounds
slightest current faintest
of sounds open close
is my heart a gentle
fist of rhythm in my
chest opening
closing opening again
this red miracle

I Loved / by Anne Walsh

Maybe on the other side your soul gets

asked by other souls what did you do

in your rental [body] this summer?

And the fire work finale answer,

the light that lights everything,

that every soul is hanging to be lit by,

that everybody finds a lamp again in is:

I loved.

Poem 13 / Day 13

Breaking / by Adam Levon Brown

fire always
leaves the hands
with blisters
and a few scars

But if you can
take the Sun in your hands
and collapse Nebulas
into gritted teeth

You will find that
humans are not so different
from one another

And if the melted remains
don’t suit your fancy,

you can always find intimacy
with the moon

Poem Thirteen: Notes on Intimacy, Death & Resurrection / by Ava M. Hu

*

The goddess red with fire.

Death, urgency, sleeping, crimson, petal.

 

Individual quest, achievement and self realization

for which there are no female models.

 

By ones and twos we enter the burning forest.

Time altering cave. Curvature of mountain.

 

Portal, vortex, spirit

helper, shaman.

 

A stone was needed to block the light.

Intimacy, red earth, intricate and winding chambers.

 

Allegory of the cave.

A stone was needed to block the light.

 

She who awakens

unconscious life forms in the dark.

 

Intimate, red earth, intricate, winding.

She who speaks in mother tongue.

 

Goddess with yellow eyes shaped like a fish.

Can you fit your body into my impression here on earth?

 

The urgency of a crossbow aimed at the big moon.

Spirit body into Heaven, or restored in the human body.

 

A straightening from under again.

Her hair, a river rushing

 

over the shoulders of the mountains.

Word spells. Urgency. Quartz of the future.

 

Fortune telling lamplight. The way

the heart beats so loud-

 

can anyone hear it?

*

A Stone was Needed to Block the Light. Photograph. Daffodil petals and stone with watercolor painting on Belgian Linen. 24 x 24” by Amy Sinclair

Never Cooling / by Sarah Lilius

The fantasy of you is a baby bird,
I keep it warm between my palms.

I want this in my mind.
It expands and is the bread of me.

Thoughts come in and out
like a disease of an organ you can’t lose.

My eyes are closed to the silence
where you rest in transition.

Grief is on my shoulder
in a black dress.

I have become so unlovable.
There’s not a dance left

in my rickety legs,
always moving towards you.

Blonde / by Chad W. Lutz

the bride
is a former
love of mine

she’s tall
fair-skinned
& blonde

blonde
like the color
of summer wheat

blonde that falls
down the center
of her back

like a rope
I’ve never
stopped climbing

she wears glasses
as big as her
face that

lift ever so
slightly when
she smiles

she talks
with her
hands

she likes
wearing pants
& quotes Barthes

there are
acrobats at
this wedding

three course
meals & a vow
of love for all time
I watch my
father cry for
the first time

since his
mother died
on Christmas Eve

it’s as
if I was
there

as if
I never
left California

but the dream
is the same every
time

& when I wake
it’s nothing
but

just a dream
a sweet dream
a bad dream

that
keeps
recurring

Dear Adam, / by Jenna Lynch

The gang isn’t the same without
you. In fact, none of us talk
anymore. The last text in the group
chat went unanswered.
Were we even a gang if you were
the only thing keeping us together?
Even the phone call with Mike
when he told me the news
when I let it go to voicemail
at first, because why is he calling me?
felt forced, like a formality, like calling
your co-worker to tell them your boss
had an accident hiking Breakneck ridge,
he didn’t make it, he’s dead, or he died,
he passed away, he’s no longer with us,
he expired, his time was up, the worst
has happened, he’s deceased, he lost his life,
was called home; all the ways we find
to talk about death, to break the news,
not really knowing what to say next;
And now there’s just a shared folder
on the Drive where we drop in
photos of you, of us, of what life
used to look like when we were all
together, when we didn’t realize
someday so soon you’d be in a better place.
Dear Adam,
Today, my student whose grandfather
died asked me how long am I
supposed to be sad for? but I couldn’t answer,
couldn’t count the years, the months, the days
that I have lived with sadness,
lived with missing you.

The Day’s Sadness / by Dan Murphy

Ibid’s children
Ibid’s fables
chewed up sense
and grieving morsels

Ibid’s children
And Ibid’s fables
chewed geography
and grieving in portions

we deal our children
their sweet inheritance

like the artist taken from life
like art struck dumb with grief

My wife asked (walking to the coffee shop)
Why are you crying?
I said I feel
I’ve already been tenderized—

God’s hammer
pounded the flesh and fat
my heart’s purple soul

its shadow
and lub-dub beating
beaten—but

How much?
smoke and mess
happening again
I can’t stop

You can put your hands
to the eyes for what
to see darkness
to block the light

Saga / by Bruce Robinson

Sunrise, mist is a veil on the valley,
the deep earth’s cloak just a word

about to ruin but beneath

giants are gnawing at the roots of earth,
and that’s where the heat comes from,

the better to comprehend the frost

of this island, a clear-headed cold, the earth’s
iced curve asleep like a cat in your arms

content for the moment but alert

for possibility, bird’s wind, feather
the ice-cold sea, fresh weather.

***

Lamps / by Anne Walsh

People have lamps for bodies.

When you’re in hurricane love you can see it, the light

house, the summer rental for the soul

all lit up like unexpected fireworks

that make a holiday.

The human body is an arsonist.

At any minute she razes what you accepted

and shouldn’t have.

But don’t blame yourself.

There was never an escape plan.

You were meant to die this way.

All lit up.

Poem 12 / Day 12

Forsaken / by Adam Levon Brown

Breath halts,
seizures seethe
into Rhinestone misery
of his voice

Where there were fires,
now lies ash

Where there were lies,
now lies deceit

Silence scattered
his remaining thoughts
to the sky, breaking rapture
with the searing serenity of the Sun

Faith broken by grief,
grief multiplied by heartache

I would have told him
that I loved him, but love
was a crucifix for my wounds

Poem Twelve: Meadow Lark / by Ava M. Hu

*

Plants, animals and insects.

The greatest artifacts are spiritual containers.

There is something mystical about a human being’s relationship to an inanimate object like a boat.

Cosmic mudra. Keel of the boat is the soul.

 

The greatest artifacts are spiritual containers.

You’re my meadow lark. Compass with a thousand names.

Cosmic mudra. Keel of the boat is the soul.

Vessel, camera, impact, your voice like water hits the hull.

 

There is something mystical about a human being’s relationship to an inanimate object like a boat.

You’re my meadow lark. Compass with a thousand names.

Vessel, camera, impact, keel of the boat, your voice like water hits the hull.

Plants, animals and insects.

Meadow Lark Green. Photograph. Pine needles and watercolor painting on Belgian Linen. 24 x

Not the Diagnosis / by Sarah Lilius

It’s symptoms that are the monsters
we’re looking for.

It’s not the diagnosis that fills the pages
of your day with foolish glamour.

I might be manic as spring flowers,
depressed as hidden dirt.

It’s nicotine under my tongue
that keeps me writing.

Familiar naps under dirty sheets
keep me lethargic.

Anxiety is a color that loops into me,
if red could be blue.

Paranoia is a thrashing river
where I’m soaked most days.

Blank lines won’t fill themselves
but pills fill my blood.

Trauma is a mysterious ache
that’s numb to the touch.

I love too much, unsatisfied,
nauseous and bored.

The tortured mind, the wickless candle
somehow still burns.

Too Many L’s & Far Too Few A’s / by Chad W. Lutz

sometimes
I think I’m cured
& that the past is
behind me

but then I see the
medicine bottles
on the counter again

& it reminds
me of the time
my friend called
the cops because
I was threatening
to take my fill
of pills & silence
my never-ending
sorrow

down they’d slide
two by three

Lithium
Abilify
Lamotrigine
Levothyroxine

hand-over fist
sealed with a wish
to see the night
forever

I see these pills
& any notion
I could ever
be normal slips
away like slime

it’s sublime
like the blasted tree

equal parts beautiful
equal parts danger

SISTER PRISCILLE / by Jenna Lynch
An imagined series of answers to unheard questions

18 years old.

Because I did not want to marry.

Sisters of Providence.

The boys.

Because the girls, just to see your face, and they hate you.

Not that I can remember.

I never saw that.

Yes, that was me.

I could not remember if I was pushing her.

When she first told me, I could not remember.

Because she only wanted the money.

We were allowed to kick the children.

We had permission.

Why do you ask me all these questions?

Will they put me in prison?

We would try and do the best.

Because my English is no good.

I was to take care of the babies.

I didn’t want to hurt any one of them.

She was a bad nun always.

When I was with the bad nun, I was bad, yes.

What I did, it took place, what I did with the nun.

I do the best for the children. I do.

Because I loved them.

Ringing (variation, after Tranströmer) / by Dan Murphy

the thrush blew through the bones of the dead
made a pipe of bones and blew
its song in hallowed melody
the thrush blew the bones
made the bones into pipes and blew
a soft sweet wind that carved the bones within
cleared the bones of marrow
the bones were the bones of the thrush
dead thrush blew its song
under a live tree a tree we thought was dead
each dry leaf each wing a lash
that rippled in wind ringing
a mighty silence on earth the thrush
made and became through death then its death
becoming part of life and song
what was soft became hard
what was hard sharpened in song
became soft called an erstwhile melody
in the tree in trees bare now from wind blown
prehistoric they look dead they look down
they look nowhere there

Chrome / by Bruce Robinson

(after Elizabeth Bishop)

But when might the crooning stop:
so-so-so to the idling autos in their
come-on poses, as seductive as
the women in gauze-draped swimsuits
who saunter through the lobby, their
automobiles parked outside, juices cooling
but ready for action.

***

To Pollinate / by Ina Roy-Faderman

“to each pollen grain its aperture,” Unacknowledged Pollinators, Fady Joudah

to pollinate
to dream
to dream in brown and green
to bird
to hummingbird
to bee
to sip and slip
to flower the sun
to bumble to folded petals
to fructify
to create but not procreate
to syringe
to gardenview
to chew
to multiply senary walls
to glow in waxlight
to gaze on handiwork
to live in that which one creates
to rebuild
to depart
to glue earth
to search
to drink
to leg rub
to wrestle and dig
to unweb unwind
to return
to home
to tremble and stumble
to fall to unseely circles
to unhive
to remind by absence
to unscent the air
to convulse
to empty rinds
to disbark
to harvestless
to barrenness
to rewind to silence
to silence

Bumper Cars / by Anne Walsh

Bumper cars are the perfect analogy for capitalism.

You inherit conforming, turning the wheel, to unjam

the car so you can hit someone you don’t really want to hit,

just so your senses aren’t jarred by them hitting you.

But some of us break through.

Sit motionless.

A four-year-old wailing behind the wheel.

Poem 11 / Day 11

Poem Eleven: The Cave / by Ava M. Hu

found poem from spotify playlist

*

A flower still with blood in it’s veins.

The opener of the way.

If I were a swan.

O magnum mysterium.

The gift of life.

Now sleeps the crimson petal.

The beatitudes.

He carried me away in spirit.

O Sacrum Convivium.

Crucifixus.

The singing mountains.

Your prayers may or may not be answered.

Earth, not earth.

The water a window.

If I were a swan.

O Magnum Mysterium.

The giver of life.

*

Green Veins. Watercolor on paper. 10 x 14”. by Amy Sinclair

Champions Pasted Across the Scenery Everywhere / by Sarah Lilius

Mama, life had just begun,
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen

The mind cradles a rock song
inside, pulses every color
on repeat, I can’t turn
it down.
I’ve paid my dues,
the man sings masterfully,
serenades melodically.

Time after time.
I want nature back.
I never climb trees
but if I did it would be
maple or oak,
ancient and towering,
an everywoman’s tree.

There is a weeping
willow by my first apartment.
You can see it from
the parking lot.
In summer I’d crank
the classics my father taught me,
I’ve done my sentence, but committed no crime.

The tree waves in unison
to Freddie Mercury
preaching art into the air.
Somebody better put you back in your place.
That space is mine,
tan interior of a Chevy that
idles awhile before going inside.

Exit Music / by Chad W. Lutz

every day
every hour
I’m empowered
to push my limits
to the brink
of all I know
& to show my
detractors
subtraction by
addition
no sign
of contrition
hear my words
come like
sparkling
porcelain
clean dripping
with images
of a former
life passing

The Orphan’s Sestina II / by Jenna Lynch

If you want to see the damage, just look here.
That’s the spot where the iron pressed hot into my hand, the scar–
see it? Doesn’t my hand look like Jesus’s hand? I swear I’ll be good.
What is it that they say, about little girls and boys who lie?
That your mom and dad will never, ever come back?
Or, no. That’s just what they say to us here. Right? Nobody

Is coming back for us. Sometimes the weight of that is like a body,
not like a real body, although I know that feeling, too, the weight of that here
is constant, persistent, like the (heavy) realization that nobody loves you back.
Now look here, on my knee–can you feel that? That bump is the scar
that I wear now, forever, from the fire. The one I slapped out, that made me lie
down in the snow to muffle the flames. And my snowsuit, by the end, was good

and burned, but at least not my face; not like that one boy’s, who wasn’t good
and whose coffin, that was left open, I was made to crawl into; whose body
they made me touch and kiss, even though I didn’t want to. They made me lie
down next to him and his face, that was burned, looked full of holes, like this one, here.
See, this one, the one on my shoulder. The one that I was told over and over wouldn’t scar.
But at least it’s not on my face, which is what happens if you’re really, really bad, or talk back.

If you turn me around, or look at me from another angle, you can see all the ones on my back,
but I don’t always like to think about those. Those are the ones that make me not feel so good.
Does it still count as a wound if we can’t always see it? Sometimes I think about that, all the scars
only visible in my mind, or in my dreams. I hate the nights when they come to me in sleep, my body’s
memories. The kind of sleep that reminds you of all the things your brain tries not to see, or hear.
And how come I dream so much, even with my eyes wide open? Is that another kind of lie?

There are the ones that maybe you would rather not see. Even I wish I could unsee them, could lie
down now, in the tub, and wash them clean away. But that wouldn’t be fair; I’ve learned to look back,
to not pretend anymore. Which reminds me, if you come real close, you can see a small one here
that really isn’t much at all, that’s from the water, that came down so hard on me. They say it’s good
for you, water. They throw you into it to watch you float. They say, if you’re strong, the body
will know what to do, like something you’re born with, like an imprint, or a gene, or a scar.

If you think about it, my whole body is a scar.
Sometimes I wish it really was all a lie.
But it tells its own story, the body,
and I do my best to talk back.
There are days when I’m good
and I try so hard to hear;

And do you feel that? Here,
what once was good,
what I’ll never get back.

Lyrics from Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” and “We Will Rock You”

Second Suburban Study, aka, The Return of Crow / by Dan Murphy

50 crows on the meridian
strutting like peacocks
pecking like chickens
and Brother Crow hops up

onto an abandoned television
gestures to his murder
yard supervisors all-
the keys to the kingdom!

somewhere under an old sofa cushion
then a blue sedan sweeps by
wind blows the clouds
up and under Mama Crow’s bloomers

she does the lindy hop
her world on fire!
Mama claims Heckle and Jeckle
as cackling cousins

4 and 20 blackbirds and
their song of comic alarm
as prayer song
but when the pie was opened

the world began to sing
the skin peeled off
its jumbling center
its fleshy mass

still bubbling with heat
the angry citizenry threatened
to pop out and now
50 crows live above

as stick-figure Jaggers
pipe cleaner feet pronated
to sidewalk and lawn
those animated devils on fire within

Anthropomobscene / by Bruce Robinson

…quand il n’y a plus rien à retrancher.
                                          Terre des Hommes

Thought we’d been accommodating,
pleasant sphere, extended stay
and for a while, it seemed to fit.

The cetaceans seemed to know, however,
don’t know how, and say they tried to
warn us, oh, them too, gave them signs,

much to the distress of all concerned,
shouldn’t have been a shock. Well, no matter,
no great loss. Seriously, no joke.

And if it’s true as some say that all creatures
always look to shed some excess luggage,
mortal coil even, then perhaps they

were intent on ridding themselves of earth,
their lemming’s effort simply flipped
back upon them, undertow of their surge.

Not a problem, no, seriously,
it worked. And you want to know where they went?
Not our question to ask. Go ask the moon.

All right, now, that’s funny. Stop looking
so serious, we needed something to
break the ice. Oh, right.

***

Untitled / by Ina Roy-Faderman

This day is trees with bare branches, bearing a single crow hoping to be taken for a raven. A day on the barely visible jowls of winter, the threat of new leaves a scent on stronger winds. A Russell Edson kind of day, a day in which spring narrows his eyes at the ground and the dampness shudders. I say a prayer to the gods of mosses, the goddesses of the spaces under the leaves where the snails are safe, to the sky begging houseroom for heavy clouds. The world remains blank and blue. I can feel the ground lurch with incoming loops of bulbs.

I Always Hear that Broken / by Anne Walsh

I stop for roadkill, all my miles going into the tender

pick up of carcass.

I hear the regrets of foxes slow as clouds,

and of a possum ringed with kisses

in trees she couldn’t hold onto.

Of her young in cats’ mouths

I’m always awake, un-known, a wolf with snow on her nose, wary, north

of whatever’s expected of hope

Where I was just standing, I’m buried kneeling.

and the snow says wolfing me

Down all that happened

between you and me can’t happen twice

and can’t not happen forever

The salmon splash

against current are the lines of memory’s map

of the inter-state of your mouth on mine,

that hood of highway hung open a wreck

not even the kind mechanic can fix

Like that Christmas angel when I was six

she and I so precarious on our female nails between worlds,

held by the dresses we hated to wear, Our furious

antlers on our inside elk bodies dangerous, much bigger

than how those who told our stories told us.

But how her angel wings looked airworthy,

how I was barely able to take the tremor of her,

even the warm-up of the poem

The imaginable first.

note on her lips

a kiss like that was all I ever yearned for

All this I carry across unfindable thresholds,

doors like speakeasies appearing

only if you know the alleyway and the right criminal

Or is it cop,

Love never knows

I always hear that broken

angel precarious

next to me on her own nail

Over the manger door of worlds

I say high mass for roadkill,

                        all the women in dresses they hate.

Poem 10 / Day 10

Silence of the Muse / by Adam Levon Brown

The muse
quickens, appearing
vague yet solemn

The stars cut
themselves
on my jaw,
Siamese
chatter
dilated to nothingness

When the searing
begins, Luna whispers
into my ear, telling tales
of peace and unity

Only then, do we know
that our darkness
holds us together

Only then do we know
that our faults
make us clean

Poem Ten: Notes on Anastasis / by Ava M. Hu

*

Crossroad, entrance-way,

dogs, light, the moon,

magic or witchcraft.

 

All of the wild beasts.

All of the birds of sky.

What use of giving

you a name?

 

She who is chosen.

She who has never sinned.

Mother of one who was light.

She who fasts.

Lady with turning eyes.

Lady burned black by candlelight.

She who prostrates.

She who was purified.

Lady of the sacred spring.

Lady of life giving font.

Lady of the resurrections of the dead.

Lady of sap of the forest,

Lady bearing sacrificial supplications of men.

 

Each of us has a name given to us

by the walls, the sky,

the far reaching fingers of trees.

 

Each of us amniotic,

dying and rising deities.

 

A flower still

with blood in its veins.

*

Liminal Green. Digital image. Monoprint and mixed media on paper. 8.5 x 11” by Amy Sinclair

Finishing the Novel / by Sarah Lilius

When her eyes rest,
the letters of the words
pull apart like a lazy
couple caught in an affair
on a Tuesday afternoon.
His necktie is on the living room floor
spelled out like a message.
She drops her grocery bag of oranges
and Sprite Zero, heads to the bedroom
where outside the closed door
are magenta underwear looming
quietly on the carpet.
Her hand on the doorknob
is a change in tempo on the battlefield
of her marriage.
Everything ends and begins
as the door squeals open
slowly then crashes
against the dresser
where she keeps the things.
A handgun sleeps alongside
her tousled bras.
When her eyes fall down
to the floor,
the letters turn bright red.
A story worthy of dog-eared corners
and a toss of the book
against the closet
when the last sentence
is over.

Felt the Cold / by Chad W. Lutz

my hands have
felt the cold
their rough edges
show signs
of wear & tear
from the elements

the deep lines
of their prints
somehow even deeper
in the dark of winter &
the heavy weight
of the atmosphere

snow lies
in patches about
the ground signaling
the return of warmth
& the possibility
of an early spring

my hand couldn’t be
more grateful & lay
open & poised to
receive what a month
from now will be
given

Villanelle / by Jenna Lynch

They told me the child had gone home for good,
But I watched his body in the water go under, sink.
I saw things no young person ever should.

The day her snow pants caught fire in the pit
Was the moment my faith began to alter and shrink.
They told me the child had gone home for good.

When I saw the tweezers peel back her blackened skin, I could
Only stare, not cry, as the flakes of flesh floated, began to stink.
I saw things no young person ever should.

I used to have a job, watch the little ones when no one else could.
My favorite one let out tearless sobs until her face turned pink.
They told me the child had gone home for good.

Then there was the boy who ran away, did what no one else would.
But what happened along the way, well, I shudder to think.
I saw things no young person ever should.

I’m not safe, even in my sleep; sweet dreams a falsehood.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I won’t let myself think.
They told me the child had gone home for good.
I saw things no young person ever should.

Sinatra Sang This Love of Mine / by Dan Murphy

on the computer this morning
and Moon is impatient tonight
to show his face from
behind strips of grey cloud

the soundtrack of muted Soul horns
on Sad Valentine’s Day
all over the world
but I am not sad

only I ache for her return
wayfaring stranger of my heart
who stands in half light
of yearning

my hyacinth girl
seashell to her ear
transistor to her ear
plays the oldies station
her strong fingers braiding
sea grasses
along to Smokey’s voice

the Motown refrain
and the Miracles I need you
Need you
cinnamon skin
under a cappella sky
she who loves loves me

The day’s storyboard goes on
panel after panel and she comes to bed
she comes back to bed
late morning long afternoon
and it might rain somewhere on the map
where the sun doesn’t always shine
I won’t let her get up

Let me say it like this
she took and made the clouds
whipped the cream and spun
the sugar burnt brown
rolled over in white foam
over rain-black mountain

the clouds glow pink
at sunset east of Pasadena
west of Pasadena
to the north of the 210 freeway
and she made the earth
made the sky and made Love
a governing law

Her hair should be its own poem
the red in brown
as sun hit from Western window
the brown in black and white
her hair should be a chapter
a separate heading in Norton’s Anthology
along with her lips
and her skin her touch that heals
each lip a verse

two verses to make the couplet

Life Sentences: Monostichs and Dipsticks / by Bruce Robinson

Wait a minute, can you give me a moment?

Book in your lap, watch on your wrist,
they pay no attention, nor do you.

Perhaps you’ll navigate the way clocks will,
clockwise, still motivated, but not by restless stirring.

Look both ways.
No,really, look.

There are lines you would not have crossed,
at least not the way a hand crosses twelve.

You know, on its way to one,
and, it’s endless, beyond.

A plane that inexplicably
misplaces its aptitude for flight.

That lapse of concentration that had bedeviled you
throughout your life suddenly becomes substantive.

Yes, we’d meant to put a comma there,
at most a semi-colon.

A city street, it’s late, and like so many contretemps,
unanticipated but hardly serendipitous.

Abbreviation tells pretty much
the entire story. You won’t

try that again. It’s hard to say, you’ll have
to reach your own conclusion: book in your lap,

in a chair, or yes, back in bed,
the title and its contents, mortifying.

***

Song for the Locusts / by Ina Roy-Faderman

they have no kings
angry clouds they descend
after the rain has drowned the
clinging earth
they come

and the earth clicks and sings
with chitin jaws
leaves clipped to confetti
celebrating the rise from the earth
and the landing where the green is

gregarious, they breed and rise

and the herb it dies
and the barley it dies
and the sorgum falls under a
sickle of yellow-brown shards
like a shard of city moon
that has cratered the world
into cavernous hunger

diving bomber squadrons
mandibular spitting tobacco by
sunlight underfoot for all the remnants
at night, still the grasseous grinding
drones that swarm and double
oh were they metal
of slowly built and eventual decay

though hatched by man
these rain-soft bodied
nymphs of floods and heat
do not sleep in silent grottos
but harden to an abacus
of accordion ribs counting
spiny creepers of
one-thousand backs

legged and jawed ancient
geometers outline branches
null wheat to pocked remains
fill and multiple and
rise they under the
one dry ending sun

not driven by west wind
hollow jaws
empty they rise
clattering like marionettes
rising from the
clumps ragged and gold
leaving brown humped backs of earth

Angel Trash Cans / by Anne Walsh

Shawling sideways snowflakes off dark

coats no clouds only electric

pink where the St James neon

sets on the horizon of the darksea Majestic

across w 44th and makes a miracle

blizzard in the bend of elbow

of the man walking past me

and I’m six inside

and not late for my temp job

I can’t tell anything is falling when he’s close

only when he’s in the middle distance haunt

steam

from his vendor coffee

Acropolis paper

cup small vapor

snake

of Vesuvius

in the slant

even in a state of emergency New Yorkers carry

a home they yearn for with them

hot coffee though no gloves in snow

I can’t tell anything is falling without Blizzard Elbows now

he’s past whatever Magestic is

except for the whirl near my ears

and the hiss of snow on my bargain parka

with no lining which lays bare where

on my inside city

skin you kissed me last night

and

I

drift

you falling everywhere like this

on all the cars so the tops look like tundra

and the trashcans look like angels

and my hair looks like the mane

of the wild Welsh cob my soul is

I can barely afford the soulbuster beauty

of the show outside the theatre but oh

how I’m riveted by the performance

and give a standing ovation to the snow

that diva your kiss is in cahoots with

Poem 9 / Day 9

Flowers of Bone / by Adam Levon Brown

The flowers/of bone/know of no envy/only love

When the silence
begins, you shall
know nothing more

The flowers/of bone/know of no lust/only pain

When the heartache begins,
you shall know nothing less

The flowers/of bone/know of no gain/ only loss

When the rapture breaks itself
upon your lips, you shall know no other kiss

Poem Nine / by Ava M. Hu

Flower, not flower,

I don’t remember,

I remember, the way

the world, not world,

stopped spinning, spin,

flower, stem, root,

not root, you, the only,

not the only, here, right now,

not now, my beautiful,

not beautiful, wilderness,

Under Green. Monoprints on paper. 10” x14” by Amy Sinclair

There’s Always More / by Sarah Lilius

More oxygen
More fights
More human activities
More Christmas days under our shoes
More organs to damage
More processed meals
More rings to slip from fingers
More off the record
More equinox
More God
More interrupting
More bullets
More terminated silence
More mercy needed
More exit

To Get a Date / by Chad W. Lutz

don’t make
me beg

seriously

I’ve had it
up to hear
with people
who

ghost
fade
fake

another
lost
DM

on time
there

will you
even show
up tonight?

will I ever
see you
again?

does it
even matter?

because it
matters
to me

The Orphan’s Sestina / by Jenna Lynch

I tried to track the pulse in my wrist.
I was moving to the big-girls dorm because I’m six
or at least that’s what they tell me, what she tells me now, the nun,
whose hand is squeezing mine so hard and I just want the day to be over.
But that’s when I hear it, the crash or shatter, something silver 
framed in the window–a habit? Is that what you call it? Sister

Before I can talk out loud, to ask the question, the Sister
turned me around, shuffled us across the yard, grabbing my wrist.
We are going to have to do something about you, child, the silver
of her cross winked in the sun, that was setting I think, maybe six
o’clock by then. But time was tricky for me, like most things were, over-
whelmed by everything I couldn’t really know. When I looked back up, the nun,

the one in the window, her hands were stretched out straight, the face not of a nun
but of a monster, or maybe they’re the same? I always wondered why we say Sister,
why we name them like that. If I had a sister, if I ever was a sister, could I throw over
a boy, out a window? Is that what sisters do? When I watched him fall, all I saw was the wrist
snap when it hit the ground, how his body, it bounced and then laid still. How he’ll never be six.
When I think of this later, I will try to concentrate on the window, on the look of the glass, silver

almost, like a mirror, or a spoon. What I won’t think of is her silvered
face, the way her habit framed it, like a picture, like a frozen face of a nun
that I can’t ever erase, or replace with something else. When he fell, I only counted to six
and he was already gone, already on the ground by then. I wonder if the sister
counted too, or if she noted the time on the clock, or the watch on her wrist. 
Because now, when I think of time, I only think of it in seconds, in small moments over

time, measured by the length it takes to get from the highest window to the ground. Over
the years, the only thing that calmed me was counting. My favorites were the pebbles, silver
ones I’d sneak from the yard to hoard under my pillow. Sometimes I’d wake to dents in my wrist,
a bracelet of moonshaped imprints, a bracelet that was all mine for a minute or two, until it was over
and it faded away. The number of seconds it took to fade was what I would count to when Sister
Mary called me downstairs to talk, or be talked to, about my imagination. You’re a big girl now, six.

She always said my name wrong. Sounded like Sail-y not Sally. I may just be six,
but at least I can talk right. Sally collected seashells by the seashore, I thought, over
and over again in my head, six little words, a million times until she was done, until Sister
Mary was just another face I could count away, that I could cover up with silver
in my mind, like a plate, or the moon. Until there was nothing left of her stupid grin, her nun-
face that twisted up into something ugly and strange every time the strap came down. Her wrist

ached, she said once, from performing the task so much. To think that an ache in the wrist
was the only pain she ever felt–what it must be like, I thought, to feel a single source of pain; none
other–none of the pains of a real bad girl, the pain that radiates, that turns the tongue to silver.

February 2020 / by Dan Murphy

Let’s not argue the point
the leaves lift
in February wind
and the children
scatter
across the playground screaming
Let the lush breeze
cool your skin
any cloud in the sky today
is gone to parts unknown

Obladi Oblada / by Bruce Robinson

Ooo ee, ooo ah ah, ting tang,
walla walla bing bang, yes,
I tried that, didn’t work, don’t know

why I thought it might, figured
it was worth a try. Well, it was
wasn’t it? What did I have to lose?

What did I have at all, when you
think about it: not much.
I don’t know that I have much more

right now, and maybe I ought to use
that old phrase at least once more,
songs fall from threes, it’s not as though

that bouquet from the arboreal
dispensary held up its end of the anthem,
nor the woodcut print from the Japanese,

and while we’re on that topic, it’s not as though
they had all that much going for them either,
or so the story goes. So what does work?

Problem is, I know that’s not the sort of thing
you’ll like to tell me, so my asking
is sort of like suggesting a verse

that I’ll guess no one really cares to read,
or if not positively averse, not really
attending to, the way I let the words of others

surge right past me, Rama Lama ding dong,
dredging up a pail of sand. Here I stand,
rolling the grains in my hand as though

they were seeds that could be planted,
then letting them recede with the waves
that hastened them, which is, no, listen,

just what that song I tried to sing to you,
Rama Lam, alama lama ding dong,
the waves of that song, had thought to do.

***

Circumnavigation / by Ina Roy-Faderman

i
perhaps the girdle was of gold
or white cord
who will serve
or defeat a dragon?

ii
enrique awang
tied to magellan
strung beads of malay
knotted the net of the world
cut free in mactan

iii
the join
stretched and thinned
by width of the world
jean baret-jeanne bare’
baretia – turraea
jeanne – hortense
6000 specimens – solanum baretiae

iv
find touch points
cords planks rafts
circle once again

The Case with Us / by Anne Walsh

(for Sarah Hannah)

I remember the wordless word, the dark All
around the light that sped through me
in an instant and eternally
when they told us you were dead.
Since then there’s been no place to go, or really no place to be.
I hope that’s not the case with you, but it is the case with me.

Poem 8 / Day 8

Why? / by Adam Levon Brown

I loved
the moon
knowing
it would
eventually set

I loved the rain
knowing it would
eventually stop

I loved the silence
knowing it would
eventually break

I loved you,
yet I never thought
you’d leave

Poem Eight: The Lethe / by Ava M. Hu

*

Liminal, potent,

fragrant, valley,

shipwreck, violent,

windstorm,

divine, shield,

you angel or

devil, apple

or snake, what

is forbidden, are we

threads of a murmuring river,

blue, oblivion,

your memory,

shipwreck of

your face, Hypnos,

drowsy, erasure,

the sound of birth,

repeats, shadows

of white birds

in the trees.

*

Cyan Smoke. Digital Image. Mixed media collage on paper. 8.5 x 11” by Amy Sinclair

The Medium Begins Her Night / by Sarah Lilius

This always starts out the same:
in the bedroom, dim air
penetrates my eyesight
and they come,
often shadows darker
than imagination
sometimes clearer
like a silent man
who stares at me,
I’m a piece of untouchable art
or an angry woman
who tries to take my child
right from the bed
where I smell nothing
like rotten fruit.
This is a parable
for everything
but I don’t let religion
into my sleep space
for a little simple
story time.
I’m the editor
of my own heart.
It’s terrifying to cusp
the spirits,
to understand
what isn’t ever
to be understood.

Unfinished Ghazal / by Jenna Lynch

Remember when your mother used to feed you slit oranges.
Remember the bitterness, the pith and the rind, bit of orange

stuck to your lip. Remember the trick for the perfect peel, to use
your teeth, what you were told once, to keep your fingers clean–to spit orange

skin into the bowl on the counter, to be kept there in sunlight,
to dry and curl. Remember the mottled flesh, the smell of a sunlit orange.

Remember what to do if you don’t remember. Remember Freud’s Anna O.,
the hypnosis of hunger. What the nurse held in front of her face, a bit orange.

Remember every morning, that globed fruit. When there wasn’t a name for it,
what Nico now calls naranja, once a blank spot on the palette. Orange.

Self Expression / by Dan Murphy

I have resting bitch face
just like Mt. Rushmore
and that bunch
of big-nose hags
crackpots in granite wigs
known for world domination
and extroverted personalities

our vision for America
includes a lack of smiling
married to a will for winnable wars
the skill to clip coupons with Old Testament exactitude

I like a little sunshine like the next guy
a little bubbly a little love
but I don’t want to kiss
your fat squeaky baby her plaguey face

Don’t worry I’m not going to steal your merchandise
your daughter’s heart
I have one of my own…

A true fat squealer!
The first hipster in this part of town
puffing through groomed smokestack beard.

This voice?
It’s the Irish in me
after a little scotch
that downturned mouth always
wants to get something out
with spittle and spite.

Tonight there’s a cock-eye moon
But he can change moods he does
like life were walking
through the perfume department at Macy’s
A little bit of this a little bit of that

a bossa nova swinging through your hips

Me I’m squint-eyed
with a boxer’s cognition
in political debate

Remember
when we say How are you? we mean
Tell me you’re OK the world won’t end
in screaming with me here still on it
Say it

Haze / by Bruce Robinson

Picks up the purple glass, takes a sip,
then sets it down again, then looks at it.

It wasn’t purple. It was a clear glass

but tinted from the light that shined through
the evening windows. And even then,

it wasn’t purple, not even a hope

for purple as much as it may have had
a violent dream. Not sure what it was,

but it was a glass full of water. And

not full, either. And only a glass
as long as its molecules hung together,

content with their investigations, and

their principles, the errant charge to
contain the flood heedless of any hue,

of any cry, (you knew that was coming)

unperturbed by any styrofoam incursion,
or your wan antipathy to the

motley antics of the sun.

***

My Friend in Montana / by Anne Walsh

He spends his days off in the shade of trees.
Montana makes you smart like that, able to see
that simple is good,
heavy real things, not artificial.
He talks a little, not writes poems
so his momentary brilliance of beyond words rises
for a second in boot dust
and in the perfect shadows
of wooden things.
He smokes when he can,
thinks a drink is his just deserts,
and listens to music
through freebie airline headphones
from someone else’s trip,
because you can’t take him out of Montana
or Montana out of him.
He lives in that state,
in the higher up universe than words.
There’s no god necessary
in that stratosphere of faith.
Pungent stables and manure letting things grow more,
he doesn’t mind deep smells. Things that live and die
can only smell strongly.
In the dark of milking cows before sunrise,
his sacred undertaking, to see the holy orders
in the chaos of a barn yard,
to hear the wind in mountains.
He knows more than I’ll ever see
of beauty on winter nights
when and where cold makes clarity
of universal mind and all memory
congealed in one ice of preciousness,
everlasting crystals
hung on frigid alerted breath
let out with the cows.

Poem 7 / Day 7

Broken pt. 2 / by Adam Levon Brown

And
then there
was fire

She grasped
the cosmos,
scratching nebulas
to dust

She moved
waves with her eyes,
burning through
the years of her life
like the Cerberus Sun

When the fire became
too much, she would
bathe in the lunar waves
of his touch

Hoping to save the sonnets
she lost every time
that he said goodbye

Poem Seven: Snow Contemplation / by Ava M. Hu

*

Everything eventually

gets put back in the earth.

 

Squall, drift,

blizzard, spindrift,

emergent, heavy

with snow.

 

Weight of ice

against the landscape.

 

What’s empty is full.

 

Are we as fragile

as breath on glass?

 

We are curvatures.

Shifting vantage points.

 

Nothing here to hold on to.

Reach for light.

 

Languages of the unseen world.

Shadows birds against the trees.

 

Tide of my white dress.

The river snakes beneath ice.

 

*

*Cyan Washes. Digital Image. Mixed media collage on paper. 8.5×11 by Amy Sinclair

For Years I Was On Fire / by Sarah Lilius

The burns seep into patterns
created by the scorching way
I resided inside my own skin.

A messy sonnet,
no rhyme but disorder and rips
in the paper.

Boys put heat here,
the man takes it away,
I admit his hands are freezing.

He makes me believe
he might walk across the lake
to find me.

Burnt feet.
I stopped walking a long time ago,
there’s never someone to wash me.

I become my own devil,
writing my way across
virtual deserts and holy lands.

The ache reoccurs,
bad love songs with verses I forget
each time.

Voices / by Chad W. Lutz

speakers don’t
speak the ears do

it’s listening
that gives us voice

as much as what
we don’t know

becomes a part
of who we are

ON NOT BEING ABLE TO DRAW / by Jenna Lynch

It’s as if my hands cannot understand what I am trying to do;
as if I don’t know what an ear, or a horse, or
a shoe, even looks like.

How does the neck go?
I don’t know!
What is a nose?

The way our hands can differ in function but not form–
the hands that look like the hands of your father,
but only in gestures. Your hands that cannot build houses
or tame horses, but can hold a single seed and know,
with certainty, how to make it grow.

Or the artist’s waxed hand, or the hands of a child.

Or my hands. The hands that cannot draw,
but can write this.

Small Revel / by Dan Murphy

At the party I’m sitting on the carpet
across from a girl I like and I’m learning
how to drink rum and coke vodka and OJ
scotch and coke and we can mix it any which way
At the party I’m talking to the girl I like she shares
her notes in class leaning over and she pushes
her hair behind silver hoop earrings her pink ears
across the room coming over I think she likes me
I said I want to sing in a band write the words
she likes my vehemence you speak up in class
we could go outside we could sit by the pool
look in the water and see its green black mystery
now lighting up blue like the sky in day’s perfect wash
we could look at each other when I want to touch
her I want to kiss I want even to hold her hand
on the diving board the girl I like now I’m drunk
am I making sense I’m trying hard because
I think I like her she is nice and talks she listens
not slurring either and says the moon is a lemon slice
you could reach up and put it on your glass
and drink with your mouth here give me
your lips I will show you how

Robocall / by Bruce Robinson

he did all the talking
-Frost

[3:56:16 PM] Victor > Thank you for contacting Dithyrambic Cable.
                                      My name is Victor; please give me a moment,
                                      a moment’s more than we should have.
                                      At the end of our chat you will be given
                                      the option of taking a brief survey
                                      of the literature; please give me
                                      a moment: I’ll access your account.

[3:59:01 PM] Victor > Hello!
[3:59:41 PM] Victor > Good afternoon.

[4:04:56 PM] Victor > Please provide me with the rhymes you desire.

[4:09:22 PM] Victor > Not to rush you, I am waiting for your stanza,
                                      the light is weak.

[4:13:39 PM] Victor > Are we connected to this verse?

[4:23:27 PM] Victor > I am closing this reading due to a semi-
                                      colon of arrhythmic prose, though I’d
                                      come to take you to the further shore.
                                      Nonetheless, if you still need assistance
                                      with interior decoration, please
                                      do not hesitate to delight us
                                      as your rooms gather dust.
——————
[4:23:33 PM] Victor > You have a blessed day ahead.
[4:23:35 PM] Victor > Bye.

###

Fortingall Yew / by Ina Roy-Faderman
          for d.s.

that day I counted
thirteen minute and perfect
circles of blood
scattered on
the kind of white
cotton underwear Elvis loved
a moment of fear and then
oh. this.
Sex Ed said nothing about
this turning
inside out and becoming
new and yet myself
a thread of mucus
strung from past and present
connected like the groves of trunks
of a single yew
a singer of
5,000 years of pollen
sprinkling even the head of
a young Pontius
but now oh
a blasphemy of red berries
wrong because complex and unexpected
bright as blood droplet
to be collected, studied,
approved.
but
aren’t we all
newly bejeweled branches
in our own outer crowns?
slowly it and I and we
change into our
always has been womanly
garb.
gradual change
Darwin says
is how we become

Don’t / by Anne Walsh

I think of you and hope you’re feeling more welcome by existence.

Is she warming up to you?

I feel like you’re letting go of this tired life.

Don’t. She’s tired, but if you leave her you’ll get tired

Of all the sleep.

Poem 6 / Day 6

Van Gogh’s Blood / by Adam Levon Brown

I got drunk on midnight
and shot the Starry Night

Its hues bled into me,
as it collapsed into my arms

I became red with the sky,
proclaiming this night Polaris

I blended with the moon,
suffusing shadow into light
When it was all over,

I flew into the sonnet sky,
capturing meteorites
with my teeth, with
only one word in between

Crimson,
Crimson

Poem Six: Notes on Descent / by Ava M. Hu

Slow down.

Take your time

before you

come inside.

 

Add yellow.

Vermillion fingerprint

on the forehead.

The blue strokes

of a river.

 

Repeating set of actions

rice in silver bowls,

smoke of myrrh,

cedarwood, and pine

offerings for the ritual

of descent.

 

We are mortal spirits.

We pass through life

and death again.

 

Make a daily list of things

you’re grateful for.

 

Make a point of telling

friends and loved ones

how much you care.

 

There is an opening

in the cycle to change.

 

Snakebite or apple.

The yellow narcissus

flashes in a field.

 

The ground beneath

you splits open.

 

Galloping steeds

in green leaves.

 

The morning

when birds come.

 

Where have we

disappeared to?

 

Nymphs of lakes,

springs, and creeks,

can you hold back

this river?

 

Can gratitude

rewire the mind?

 

The river washes over

the belt of Persephone.

 

God of the earth

I am thankful

for everything

born in the sky.

 

I know everything

eventually

gets put back

into the ground.

*Cyan Descent. Monoprint and silk thread on paper. Detail. 38 x 86” by Amy Sinclair

Who Cut the Hole in God? / by Sarah Lilius

Rip straight down lets the dark
take over the light.

If God is the sun, if the sun
explodes against our faces,

where will we be then?
Melted disasters, each one.

We mop the floors with
our depression

then walk over it with dirty boots.
Earth on the inside, it doesn’t feel right.

We look to our eyes to remind us
we’re human, dizzy about each other,

it’s often too much so we lay down
every night.

The collective forgot to care about
beauty since we asked them not to.

It’s Thursday morning but how do you
know?

The world revolves around us,
put it on a graphic earth T-shirt.

We stand on land never knowing
if it really moves

until trees quiver from
God shaking us awake.

We call it panic, we call it
earthquake and build again.

A Debt / by Chad W. Lutz

you once tried
to steal my mom’s
winter cap by

stuffing it in
your pocket
like the thick
winter gloves

snow fell heavy
that night sledding
on some random hill

but when I asked
for the hat back
you said c’mon
& smiled with dimples

we didn’t speak
for six months
after that

then I forgave
you by buying
you a hat &
a photo of us

to remind you
there are more
important things

MATERNAL DESIRE / by Jenna Lynch

Let me explain it from the beginning.
It started out as just a dream
where I’m climbing up and up a fleshy hill
with bumps and hair and pleats of skin
and I can’t quite get a grip on the knobs
and I keep slipping down, and it’s kind of sweaty
and wet. And when I look down,
there are all these bodies, just lying there
in what looks like sand.
They aren’t moving at all.

And then nothing was how I wanted it to be.

I don’t know when it came real.
I don’t know when something switched
in my head, but pretty soon after that,
I began to teach my body
to be good, and do what I wanted.
I listened to it carefully, and said little
prayers to it at night. Sometimes I spoke
to it in my dreams.

Before I knew it, my nipples darkened
and my belly grew.
I swear it was real. My vagina stretched
and swelled. I could feel it.

I knew I could make my body look
like hers. I’ve always been a good copy.
Watch me: I can talk like her, walk like her;
I can even be her, if I wanted.

But sometimes I forget my own way,
don’t get the story just right.
Those days are bad.
Those days I’m bad.
I used to feel so ordinary.

There were times when I was little that I’d be home
alone for three days straight.
I used to try and make myself so small,
try to live outside my body.
I never knew you could be that lonely.

I was so full of thoughts.
I didn’t mean for her to die, really.
Sometimes I just forget my own way.
I keep slipping. But is the baby
okay?

Sonnet / by Dan Murphy

In some blood measure some striated
sunset of balance and control
a stranger is named who stands at the far

threshold with bottled memory
a vial of 2-parts blood 1-part water
and sweat a lame joke dragging the face

down walking along reading that sham
textbook that art theory Relationship
with Feelings – Futurism is 100 years old

we all have a part a political stake
to drive through St. Augustine grass
in front and through the heart of moderation

& 20th century liberalism like a rogue
golf cart run throbbing over Dad’s trimmed green

Medication on A Forbidding Morning / by Bruce Robinson

Here’s a room, an empty room,

or has it just dawned on you,
you were thinking, “there’s a moon,”

a quiet dwelling, unadorned,

it looks intent on perhaps nothing,
nothing at all, perhaps the forlorn air

that lives there, around wherever

rest may choose to rust, forewarned,
or a visitor we may encounter

wondering still that the graceful motes

of dust that may drift beside you should be
so stunned by a room, by a room

with a door, still, you agree? a room.

***

Still My Dead Father / by Ina Roy-Faderman

46 years have
not erased the facts
of death and of my father
now i have like he might
have done 1 crooked pulsing thing
now stuttering, blocked, 1 living
vessel of frustration
take it easy, the doctor tells me
don’t get stressed.
doc, you’re too late by many 10s, did
you know? I’m going to pretend
that it’s not too late
because that’s how I have
to continue with the part of
life that isn’t my heart.

House Grief / by Anne Walsh

I must’ve ordered the house grief
that full bodied red
tastes like rust
            Is cheap and everywhere

Poem 5 / Day 5

Broken / by Adam Levon Brown

When you told me you loved me,
I thought I could hear the moon,
chasing down my heart
with Crimson fury

When you told me you loved me,
I thought I could taste the Sun
gritted between teeth of faith

When you told me you loved me,
I thought I could smell your skin,
tempting me beyond the clouds,
for one last time

And then you were gone.

Five: Arpeggio / by Ava M. Hu

*

The mind as it changes.

This black dreaming.

 

The shape of you:

structure, movement,

rhythm of footprints in snow.

 

The picking pattern

of a guitar, verse

then chorus repeat.

 

What’s singing in me:

ascending or descending

arpeggios, broken chords,

all these feathers

bring me back to you.

One as another.

Use your body

as an instrument.

 

The river too cold

to disguise the sound

of this poem-

 

take your time

coming inside.

*

Cyan Instrument. Digital Image. Mixed media on carbon paper. 8.5” x 11.5” by Amy Sinclair

California Dreaming Inside Virginia Walls / by Sarah Lilius

Redwood interstates seem to lack an end
The rest stop is the sky full of clouds to pass through like a mystery
When you get there you won’t know it’s an inconvenient paradise
A catch phrase under my tongue scrapes and builds a tunnel into my body
Our honeymoon was ferns on fire ago
What stacks us is children, they hold us together with slippery time
The festival in our house is dirt and clutter, jumping boys and bits of bits
Everywhere
I think you must hide the money in the walls like a TV show
How are we here?
We are in danger just as much as those trees, majestic tall boots of God
It wouldn’t take much for someone to cut us down

This Home Not Place / by Chad W. Lutz

to hold nothing
is to hold so much
& I was ready

to live
in a state
without
a name

& set
to work
the process
of mine

lost to delusions
of grandeur & pride

I slung
chicken club sandwiches
& bacon mac n’ cheese
for seven months

first the bread
then the lettuce
then the spicy mayo
chicken & tomato

you had your choice
chips fries or a salad

sometimes they’d choose nothing
sometimes I’d drop a loin instead of a breast
sometimes I’d burn myself on the convection oven
sometimes I wished those shifts would never end

for an entrance to become a doorway
all hope must be abandoned

to avoid getting stabbed
yell Corner

to avoid getting burned
yell Hot

POEM WITH WORDS FROM KATE FOLK’S
DINNER WITH CRAIG / by Jenna Lynch

I started to tell my old girlfriend how it is now
over dinner. How it is now with my new girlfriend.
I could tell this was not the right thing to do.
Something awful blurred and shifted,
something admittedly my fault,
something, I should clarify, I did not entirely intend.

I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned the suburbs.
But there is something about human interaction
that makes me feel normal-sized, like a garage door
nodding shut.

And frankly, my old girlfriend, this particular one,
remained otherwise tight-lipped, her mouth like a snake’s mouth,
if they had mouths anyway, well, like a human’s mouth
that is. Instead of saying something, anything,
we sat, digesting, in the restaurant.

A week later, and now I feel particularly victimized
when my new girlfriend gestures
to the walls of my apartment and asks
why the building is so awful, and if this furniture,
which is set up like a popular TV show,
is the result of a recent breakup.

Wondering out loud then, about something so
awful but regular, my new girlfriend says
how it’s always my intention
if you actually think about it.

I mean, I want to be honest,
and I didn’t say, more or less,
what I was really thinking, which was
my situation, if I let it,
would swallow me whole.

Citrus Capital / by Dan Murphy

In winter we dream of summer
and I am floating on poolwater
I can just reach a low-hanging orange
I can picture the warm yellow-orange sphere
against the aqua-marine and
the lazy curve of the built-in
with chlorine making its ribbon-ghosts
I’m lying on my back—inflatable raft—
stretching my arm behind to full length
This is how life should be she laughs
sipping her tea drinking a warm Michelob
In summer we dive in and touch
fingertip to pool’s deep end drain
and lift a brown and green leaf maybe
like a loose coin pulled to spend
in a spree of bubbles that lines the skin
the body rises up to break the water
Here—take it—fresh from the tree of life!

Fugitives / by Bruce Robinson

Absconded, in the dead of the heat
just two nights ago, enamored of obscurity,
two unremarkable syllables,
neither one a word or capable of turning a word

without assistance, though for all that,
a sunny disposition and apparent pleasing manners,
although their recent evanescence
may suggest more dissemblance than courtesy,

and what calligraphy will they wrangle
on their own? Reward of consonants of the
finder’s apprehension to any station or individual
providing so much as a link to the whereabouts,

or direction that leads to the rigorous elevation
of these syllables, my syllables, within their lawful sentence.

***

life on mars / by Ina Roy-Faderman

two pelicans
needle beaks
stitch a sky
pull me up
gather

quick taste of
next life
gods please
grant me wings,
four and monstrous
rebirth
not half-life

if i’m wrong
all there is
this is

a last request
strings of crows
beyond up to
red ground
see it once
before winking out

Crayons / by Anne Walsh

In trees, in crayon leaves, a box of autumn with a sharpener of birds.
How my eyes flew to them. How flocks of big-horned clouds were un-shepherded
like hope and went everywhere they shouldn’t be able to:
my hands, my belly, between my toes.
What a mountain goat autumn birds made of hope when I was six.
How feathers furthest away tickled me most.
How my classroom was a distant wing.
All this I kissed you with.
All this I know you miss.

Poem 4 / Day 4

Six-Hundred and Fifty Ways to End a Friendship / by Adam Levon Brown

There are approximately 650 muscles
contained in the human body
and you seemed to seize
the only one which seemed
to have any meaning

This isn’t a love poem,
this is a burning bridge

I would explain to you
the pain of which you afflicted
to the core of who I am
but you always fail to listen

This isn’t a love poem,
this is a burning bridge

When I say this is a burning
bridge, I mean that, “I Love you”
holds no more weight
than your hands pushing
me off by the handrails,
while never knowing
if it’s to save me from the fire
or to kill me

This is a burning bridge,
trusting words can be fickle,
and yes, I still love you

Four: Notes on Music Writing & Eurydice / by Ava M. Hu

*

Who is willing to be erased?

 

Deity of dust. Turning

bend in the road.

 

Wasn’t the sound

of my footsteps enough?

 

Earth ascends from earth.

Can we slip back in?

 

I ride horses made of fire.

I am not afraid of the dark.

 

I dare you, follow.

 

In this book of flying,

I saw you turning.

 

I saw the arms of a thousand

silver trees lift me up.

 

The sound of shivering

birds in the trees.

 

I’m swallowed like fire

in a pretty song.

 

The mind as it changes.

This black dreaming.

*

Found words from “The Book of Flying” Kyson

Indigo Gravity. Photograph. Mixed Media on paper. 16” x 20” by Amy Sinclair

Waiting for My Seven Year Old to Come Out From the Brick Building / by Sarah Lilius

My space wanders like a mind with legs unshaven
and shaking because falling to pavement is so yesterday.

The ground is mulchy and unforgiving.
I watch for you but it’s Monday.

My hair in the sun is the Olympic flame,
heat waving for you to find me.

We’re all lonely, in the wind, in arms too thin,
we slip through, eventually

particles lose their voices, lose months.
Paper calendars burn in the noontime light, and we let them.

When a House Becomes a Home / by Chad W. Lutz

your old house
is occupied by
another family
& has been
for years

I run
I pedal
I rollerblade by
& imagine you
laughing with
that high-volume
draw & wheeze
of yours

the time your mom
popped her head in the
window & nearly
scared you half
to death

I remember being
overwhelmed the
first time I watched
you use your vest

a device to help you breathe
designed to keep you alive

I wanted to know
what that felt like
to live as if you
could die tomorrow

you had to
so effortlessly
a learning I
may never know

the house doesn’t
talk the way it used to
anymore

I can only
vaguely make
out images of
large family gatherings
with people whose names
I never had the chance
to learn

they melt & whisk
& settle with memories
of Triscuits & cheese
& making movies in
the backyard with the
neighborhood kids

I can almost see
our first kiss
in my car in the
driveway
& that concert
I sat halfway
through while
everyone else
& you danced

sometimes
I intentionally
run or bike there
just to think about you

sometimes I do it
just to feel

BOMBSHELL / by Jenna Lynch

Your nephew, he wants you to tell him everything,
I mean the whole truth, about the movie:
Why were the boys bad? Why are you lying?
You cannot leave out a single thing.

The boys were bad to the girls, you explain,
because they were mean boys.
But what you really want to say is:
the boys were bad because we let them be bad,
because all the boys can sometimes be bad.

Tell me about the boys. The ones with names like streets
you shouldn’t drive down, with names like our brothers’
names, our fathers’. Tell me about the boys with mob mentality,
with big ideas.

Tell me about the boys who have no time
for your games, who are casual boyfriends
in the winter months only, who clean up real nice,
and get out early for good behavior;
boys who are good at sports,
who break records,
boys who are sweet to their mothers,
boys who think it’s cute when you’re scared,
who mistake affection for attraction,
boys who fill in the gaps of the story.

Tell me about the boys who come from a place of shame
or a place of pain, depending on how you heard
it being said in the courtroom.

Tell me about the boys who are sometimes bad
so I can learn to be good.

Go Marvelous / by Dan Murphy

The song says Wrap your troubles
in dreams I think I like where this
is going this pool toy floats me into
the backyard’s warm sun with tropical
foliage behind and my profile catches
the right light just right
you know I have a lot of friends
laughing at my jokes and a future
job that pays it pays in silver and gold
and a wife who never ages like me!
The sax player is really hitting it
before even sambas before heroin
living in cool mellifluous light
sweet melody he is happy he
blows just slightly gasping
making a run at the end
tapping those keys for all he’s got
caressing the body like me
living it up leaving it all on the court
I think he wasn’t high yet in life
it wasn’t complicated his heart
nothing is

Rain Delay, repose / by Bruce Robinson

One out one on

we wait: the last inning is just

one out one on

the foul poles are hung up on
gravity, the outfield fences
green arcs that recall when it was

one out one on.

####

Model Minority / by Ina Roy-Faderman
after Morgan Parker

Since you ask.

My usefulness is confined
to a filleting knife on chicken breast,
that little chalkboard scrape against the ribs
and the meat releases.
No great tragedy of birth or experience,
crisp broccoli, sprinkling of turmeric, carrots sliced
in elegant ovals.
Unsellable, uninteresting,
these tiny, ongoing edges of rot
and decay, leaves of dying chlorophyll
decorating the ground underfoot,
pickleweed decorously dissolving into
sulfurous salt marsh.
No markers of their passing.

Here resides the billboard of “could have been worse,”
upright, adorning the sky of suburban bliss,
blocking out the sun and the rain, artificially colorful,
with stories as unnecessary as bruises on an onion.

I use a different knife for chopping,
a quick stir as the oil spatters
and you’d never know.

Obi Wan / by Anne Walsh

      I want to go like Obi Wan Kenobi

                                        with a smile that says I knew all of this

would happen, I wanted it to.

                                           I wanted to lose you, my light, my sabre.

              I wanted the cut of you to deflate me,

                                        make me air and a pile of my old robe.

                    I want to go like Obi Wan Kenobi tranquil

             to a crowd of onlookers

          against my perfect enemy, my love,

             I want it to look like fun,

                                                         how you killed me and I moved on.

Poem 3 / Day 3

Three: Mimesis / by Ava M. Hu

Unlikely savior,

hoist me up like a gift.

 

A shape for you.

Church bell, foliage,

a silver winged boot,

falling fruit-

 

Catch and release.

I scatter in branches.

 

The air rising up,

I look for you.

 

We are rock fragments,

silt, salt, ash, bone,

persistent snow-

 

Mind huddled with other mind.

God from a machine.

 

The Great Imitator arrives

wet as fog in the trees.

 

Hold me close

like a gift.

 

We toss coins in the river

to see how far they go.

Artwork by Amy Sinclair

Having tea with the devil / by Sarah Lilius

Scalding water is a hit.
Small bags, little shopping bags
full of the herbs we sip like ladies.

My husband says that green, black,
and white tea come from the same plant.
I believe him.

Steam comes from devil skin
painted red as a building,
rough bricks are fixed wrinkles.

Evil slides around the mugs.
I’m sure it will contaminate
the dishwasher, the sugar bowl.

I smell peppermint and chamomile,
it enters my body through
my silent mouth.

Just simple lips
in awe of how appealing
wrong can be.

Super Sunday / by Chad W. Lutz

roughly
25% of our
high school
seniors score
below basic
achievement
on standardized
reading tests

but
JLo & Shakira
rocked the house
for nearly thirty
minutes in Miami

the electronic
EA-18G Growler
flew over a country
that doesn’t understand
its implications
for the Middle East

but an astronaut
accidentally
drinking a
Martian water
sample was
what we’ll
remember

ON TRYING TO DESCRIBE AN ARTICHOKE: A SURVEY / by Jenna Lynch

When asked to describe an artichoke
my husband replied the heart of a plant.
But he was forgetting the rest,
skipped right to the center, the choke.

What I see is a powdery bloom, glaucous,
lobed and stemmed
the thistled bud, spiky and scaled.
What Jason calls rubbery,
I see as fleshy, like a fist.

It’s so easy to forget the stem–the part discarded,
severed, like an artery,
like a dumb thumb,
like my grandfather’s, removed at the knuckle,
just puckered skin now, no nail.

Picture me plucking each leaf carefully,
one by one, pulling away the leaves.
Colleen calls them petals
covering a tender heart.

Not the petaled ring of a delicate flower, no–
something tougher, trickier (as Michael would say)–
bracts, from the Latin bractae, or
thin plate of metal – the armor
surrounding the center’s meat.

And love is the work it takes to get to the heart,
leaf by leaf, to get to Anna’s little pins to scrape
before eating, to Robert’s tiny little sliver
of edibility.

Caitlin sees a sickly green, something like bile,
what’s pulled from the dredges of the bowels,
the color of what’s left when we are empty–

and I guess it’s not unreasonable to question its color,
pale green, maybe, or tan
Maria is unsure; what she does know,
however, is its taste–of plants
and dirt.

But I don’t mind the minerality;
each scrape of bract across my teeth
is like running my tongue against the sharp
edges of the earth.

Kelly and Amanda, they like the leaves salted
and buttered, dipped and fried,
served up with a side of aioli, a delicacy.
My grandma would call it a real treat.

With each pull of the leaf comes a little bit of the heart.

Game / by Dan Murphy

The game is played indoors
under lights inside the gym
with a 5 minute overtime
when it’s close and tight
at the end you can’t breathe
but the shock comes
in sudden death
if you lose they say
you don’t feel the fall
to the court the burns on skin
being upside down paralyzed
maybe with grief I hear some cling
others push loved ones away
to get out
Is it overtime Is it over
When I was 15 I practiced
left hand hook shots at the churchyard
court the ching of metal net
15 minutes then the fade away
from the left side I’m Elvin Hayes
I can hear the crowd’s white noise
making myself a man
in 15 minutes repeating
or a side of a cassette tape
flip it work on free throws
10 at a time Make 10 Make 10
my brother joined me sometimes
he liked Madonna’s first album
or any Clash record something fast
keep going you keep going
the sweat you taste mid-summer
late summer later alone
with 6 hours of battery on the radio
early or playing late until the sun
goes down you can’t see
the haze and smoke in Los Angeles
the seventies the eighties
the things in air that buzz and fall
the ball sticks to your hand
your chest hurts from smog
at the end it’s sudden the leap
the last thought
you can make it you can make it

Rain Delay, resumption of play / by Bruce Robinson

wait a minute:

the season’s infelicities…

just a minute:

          so the sky’s thrown one at the knees
that’s right, it was unintended,
          you think time can be suspended

in a minute?

***

How You Entered My Skin / by Ina Roy-Faderman

is still mysterious in
light of the lack of soft and yielding doorway,
no key, no scraped knee, no rusty nail and oozing bloody sole
maybe i should have paid more attention to the ads
that said, reduce and close visible pores.
i misunderstood, i want to
tell the endless loop of tube on skin,
i thought this was for girls,
something with which women (of a certain age) should
not have truck
can I manage you like an infection?
stand in the inching drugstore line, with the
moms with bored and spinning four-year olds,
the girl with the lollypop tattoo, on the phone
with someone named lisa who I’ll never know,
a grandmother who cannot pronounce the
names of her wife’s heart
medicine, i’ll ask where they
keep the over the counter um (quietly) you remedies
hoping, unfairly, they’ll point me to
the foot fungus aisle where I’ll feel justified
in setting you aside, a minor itch,
an unsubtle reddening, a middle-aged
spread.

Oracles / by Anne Walsh

When I woke up beside you for the first time

your sleeping face was a spate of miracles

your eyelids veined like daffodils in sun

your slumbering bear face of daffodils opening

in the honey sun your wildflowers meadow face

was too beautiful to read with my sewn-on

Frankenstein fingers having to re-learn

the ways of living bodies I traced the light

on the hammock the hill of your face

and my fingers a second before

belonging to the corpses of so many other me’s

were my living ones again

and I could suddenly re-read with them

the braille of my six-year-old legs on a swing

untucked

made of sky

I tried to be quiet not to wake you

with the bedlam of tears bolting gowns undone

down the crazy ward of my face

swamps in my ears just above my neck bolts

and that was the moment I was most afraid in my life

my monster head tilting to the first violin

of your face in morning sun

even the pitchforks of the townsfolk

gleamed like oracles and were no longer things

I had the right to hate

Poem 2 / Day 2

Eleven Stanzas to Say I’m Still Alive / by Adam Levon Brown

You say that you love me
but you don’t know
that I am a grave

When I say I’m a grave,
I mean my former
self before the Illness
is now gone

When I say gone,
I mean the darkness
reaches my eyes
even when I feel
on top of the Sun

Skeletons creep from my scars
shaking hands with pain
like it’s a forgotten friend
I’ll never admit I still see

Cobwebs infest
my breath, gasping
for the spiders
of the past to forgive
my sins

When lies seek to hold
us inside the ribcage
of our torment

Where do we
find the answers
for our hearts
to seek shelter in?

Do the lies collapse
upon the wounds
of our faith?

and when we truly
are gone body and dust,

will the hope
of being treated
the same as everyone
else linger?

Or become the reason
we all hold hands in the end,

telling horror stories of how
we mistakenly thought
we never belonged?

Two: Deus Ex Machina / by Ava M. Hu

 

Enduring companion,

let’s talk more about

the imperfection of light.

 

Let’s talk about potency

and fire.

 

This poem is not objective.

The map is not necessarily

the way.

 

Is round ever

truly round?

 

The mind won’t rest

in form or metaphysics.

 

Should a god intervene

to set things right?

 

The poem lifts her snowy arms

causing a windfall

somewhere in the middle.

Artwork by Amy Sinclair

There Are No Answers / by Sarah Lilius

I think about falling out of a country
like hard, cold rice falls off the counter.
The bowl, a vessel to nourish,
curry sauce floods into the rice
making boundaries among
the subdivisions of my lunch.

I’m thinking about burning animals
in baskets, boxes, paper
bags that crinkle questions
and get no answers.
In my country we don’t speak
paper bag or cardboard box.

I think about photos on the wall,
my children caught in moments.
Only in one picture my oldest song
doesn’t look at the camera.
I smell the beach he stands on,
the fish scented Atlantic pulls and wanes.

I’m thinking about fistfuls of hair
from women who work
the streets for money, for nothing.
They rarely sleep in beds called my own.
There’s no dancing to street music
but bodies still ache.

I think about writing it all down.
To keep it in a computer file
and still
the Earth unravels because we know
that life is a knot that unties
with merely the wind.

memory like a stormy haze / by Chad W. Lutz

there’s a
soundtrack
of you always in
my mind

the sound
of waves
carrying up
& down
the beach

like that time
on Lake Erie
when we ran
from a storm

just push play
& I hear

the sound
of crickets
carrying out
& over the
campfire

like those nights
we spent drinking
& howling at the moon

your voice
carries light
in the presence
of darkness

words with
no pictures
that still
won’t fade
no matter how
many images
we lose

THE KIDS ARE IN THE OCEAN / by Jenna Lynch

They had heard the warnings,
had watched the news for weeks,
about the sneaker waves, the king tides.
But the kids wanted to see the sand, leave the cabin for a little while
and walk the coast. Then came the flood and ebb, the rising and falling
of the sea–the attraction of the moon, or the sun;
a ridge of water swept over them.

It took them, the wave, the ocean.
The kids are in the ocean
the father screams into his telephone–or does he
whisper it, in shock or disbelief
one arm hanging loose by his side, made useless by struggle
and strain to hold on to his children,
or child–straining until the flesh tore and his grip broke.

The comment on the Facebook post reads
it’s always trying to kill you.

When my father taught me to swim, he told me
you have to learn to float first, on your back,
like you’re dead. How you have to let the water cradle
you, keep your head up and breath naturally
so you can call for help if needed.
He told me you cannot be afraid of the ocean because
it knows, it can sense it, like a dog can; it will steal your breath
and pull you down. I used to practice breathing, finding my breath.
Counting the ceiling tiles in the bathtub, on my back.

I think now of the littlest one, Bill, who couldn’t yet swim,
whose sister used to hold him gently while he napped,
pet him and squeeze him. Holding him was like heaven
she said once. The waves, they hold him now, carry him out to sea,
floating belly up like a starfish

because just like that, the sneak of the water, and
the kids are gone.

Uncivil Rights / by Dan Murphy

Tell your dog, I bite.

Tell your Jesus
I too
have a blood-wet diaper
and a tendency to fall in love
with stray women at art galleries.

I got a hair net for my halo.
A bag for my jokes.
A side kick who smirks
and slaps himself
in time to a vicious disco beat
our punk drummer makes.

Tell it.
Go tell it on the mountain
and in our over-stuffed malls.
I have a mandate, a kill order
from the Big Boss who says it’s open season
on Right wing nut jobs
those Libertarians with large ass paychecks
and a need to protect liberties
of all fascists, Daddy’s simpering boys
in perfect jackets and PTA booster clubs.

I have a diorama to explain blood loss
and gerrymandering
to the proper Philistines of 2020.
The sacred code of Robin Hood
and Johnny Appleseed
will be published in time.

Meanwhile I’m taking notes
on jazz fusion and nostalgia.
Escape routes.

I have a pink slip to the Titanic
coughing up wet dust from ocean floor,
the sheet music Nero followed
head bobbing off time with flat feet.
It’s all plugged in and ready to go.
I found the keys to Daddy’s Cadillac
the notes for Sunday sermon.
There’s a road map we can follow on our phones
into an unbroken world. It never dies.

Life Sentence, Commuted / by Bruce Robinson

Attendant upon
your final performance
you’re not listening,
nor (is anybody left?)
is anybody else.

***

Dispersal / by Ina Roy-Faderman

Elaborated parasols
          blown with wishes –
plumose hairs they’re called
before they crown their warless parachutes

Jacaranda seeds
ruffled crinolines float to spaces
         cleared by violet
           wild poison a beautiful death of flowers

Helicopter tree
                 no mission
                 never black hawk but
gentle down, almost perfect silence

walk under them
                 tousle their clock-heads,
so alien that they’re unfrightening
living within death, no alpha, no omega,
no circle of life, just
a single point.

Exit Wound / by Anne Walsh

You left by text.  No bone could stop that bright

exit wound through my dull shirt with the missing button unfathomable sun

straight through a shoulder blade of grass so weird

to see the parking lot through me. Like I’ve just been resurrected

from a tomb after two thousand years there’s not a big enough blink

to clear the eye of all this shimmer.

The film of it is black and white and nobody cares but my cat

who all of this left paralysed. He couldn’t read the traffic

on our new street like me driving over the double white lines

of gone and you. I’m a ghost who remembers the room

from a different time and the footstool isn’t where it was.

Black and blue shins in summer show my monster-hood like neck bolts.

The townsfolk meet in groups, swing their torches. Ruby red

intention candles of no sleep my eyes look like burning

promises like how you used to say don’t be lonely I take you with me.  

But I, the corpses of so many things sewn together, 

reaching for the light, aren’t I beautiful?

Poem 1 / Day 1

The God in My House at Age Sixteen / by Adam Levon Brown

The sky cracks
open, the hand
of God seizes
your throat

and demands
you to speak
one word, and
one word alone.

What do you say?

I would not say
a thing, I would begin
humming my song of despair
to a creator who has lost his way

Who has seen
the suffering
of humanity
and has turned his back

Who has been here
with the myths, the gods,
the goddesses, the rise
and fall of evil
great and small alike

This is exactly
how I felt when
my aunt died,
surrounded
by the razors
known as her kin

I spoke to
the Sun,
but received
only rain

I spoke
to the sky
but received
no grounding

I spoke
to the trees
yet received
only splinters

A fiery light
turned its back to me
and then opened
my eyes

God looked
at me and wept,
he asked my forgiveness
though his face showed
only confusion

God looked
at me and apologized,
and yet his cheeks
held no tears

God looked
at me and opened
his arms up to hug me,
though I never felt
his warmth

I entered his arms,
took shelter in his apologies,
and looked to his face for answers

And that was the first
day I was verbally abused

My brother forced the rain
from his umbrella,
and called me worthless

The God in my view
who taught me how
to tie my shoes, swim,
ride a bicycle, and
so much more

Our once most beloved
bond was shattered
from that day forward

Ten years later, and
I am still by his side
tormented amid
the put-downs

If God came
out of the soliloquy
sky and demanded
you say one word,
and one word alone

What would you say?

Ice / by Ava M. Hu

A poem can be a memory.

 

A light dashed

across the page.

 

A field flashing

with movement.

 

A cello string’s

buzz in a flower.

 

This weightlessness-

I’m brought back

 

every time

I think of it.

 

What defines a poem?

 

The cello crescendos

with the idea

 

of sound instead

across the page

 

listen to me

skate across.

**


Artwork by Amy Sinclair

Your Body As Sand / by Sarah Lilius

I imagine skin cells as grains and grains
of tan minuscule wonder.

The curves of your calves and biceps
formed by the wind.

And at night under the stars
you are half shade and half glow.

The sharp darkness points
towards the sky as clavicle or uncut fingernail.

If I’m welcome to roll across
you like the horizon that you are,

I will feel tiny pieces in my teeth,
a satisfying but unfruitful crunch

resounds in how I hear your voice,
baffled and ready to blow away

at any moment.

a retreat to the body
or Taco Bell at one am. / by Chad W. Lutz

it’s the dream team
and everybody’s on board
not bad for a dead man

let’s see history survive

oh no!

history sucks again

Poem With a Line from This Town / by Jenna Lynch

You might tell yourself you want to leave, but you know
you’ll be back. You always come back. To this place, this town,

this godforsaken town, with the too-dark streets and the abandoned
train station, and your best friend’s house with the backyard

that you cut through to get to the 7-11, or the life-size chess board
outside the Cozy Castle. Because the devil is in the details as they say,

just as the devil is here, in this town, this godforsaken town
that you loved, once. Didn’t you? At least that’s what you say,

to no one in particular. That’s what you write down in a poem
that was meant to be a letter, that you meant to send to another self, a secret;

because you want to look at it now with a fresh set of eyes, this town.
You want to see things differently, re-remember. Like the room

in your parents’ house. The one you loved the best–the one you grew up
most in. That had red walls once, and was your sister’s. That you crawled

back to, sneaking in after being out all night with the first boy you ever loved
who never loved you, but loved your body. And that was something. That felt

like something when his body pressed onto yours in the backseat of his car,
or when he laid you down on the grass with a hand under your head, just so.

And you like to tell yourself that everyone has moved on now, and that you have too; that no one remembers you the same way they did once.

Because we all remember things differently, even this town–
shuffle around our memories, like the way you insist it was you

who broke your leg that summer, not your sister. You remembered it wrong,
all this time. The scar on your shin, the slight tremor. Just fiction,

just shared pain, shared memory.

for Tomas Transtromer / by Dan Murphy

At the end
one ant and one cockroach
like scrawny gunfighters
who’ve cleared the town
circle each other in
some blighted desert
some mystic dance
our dry inheritors
perform
under glass

Coastal / by Bruce Robinson

On ne découvre pas de terre nouvelle sans consentir à perdre de vue,
d’abord et longtemps, tout rivage.
                   — André Gide

We took the littoral road, expecting I suppose
a conclusion, a close-hauled reach.

Look, sometimes a great ocean
is just across the beach.

***

Pictures From An Exhibition / by Ina Roy-Faderman

i.
shiny branches
honeydew sick —
finches with moss yellow throats
sing from a different tree
shun the slicking cement
trapped red buds

ii
seven goose arrow
ungainly nasal slicing
overhead at dusk
above the house and the
flight path and

iii
I miss the Nebraska
not of my lifetime
swarths of Bison bison
dust bath bowls of violets and
the smell of bluestem and thunder
as adamant and unstoppable as
the tides and

iv
remember that grove —
to stand under eucalyptus trees
and become a being with wings
orange and black impotent angel
who cannot recreate this
fundamental thing, this

v
beauty of
last beads of night rain
drip through fingers of grass —
grateful earth is waiting

vi
what’s foundering through one eye
is dancing in the other

Blue Whale / by Anne Walsh

May every second be a leap

year for you into the ocean

Of the you you’ve always been

Regardless of the you others have tried to create

from the only parts of you they could see

From their too small boats

There’s no word for you in their dry tongue longing

as it does for the sea, for the depths

You swim in the universes there

Their tears are salty

Because their language is bland