The 30/30 Project: June 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 June 2020 are Nancy Davis, Kelsi Folsom, Kylie Gellatly, Nina Gibans, Sarah Green, Shirley Jones Luke, Oksana Maksymchuk, Marisa Sullivan, and Nicole Yurcaba. Read their full bios here.

If you’d like to volunteer for a 30/30 Project month, please fill out our application here and warm up your pen!

Poem 6 / Day 6

North Country / by Nancy Davis
for Debra & George

the window
of my study framed
the old New England barn,
wine-stained door blushing
pride, panels blistered
from storm and heat

brittle glass panes glinting
silver in the afternoon
light, dust whorls streaming
through rafters built
from northern woods

my rented cottage once a
milking barn, friends teased
out visions of bovine ghosts—
the gentle swish of tails
chasing flies, collective
catharsis of captive cows

idyllic for a graduate student—
two sprawling acres, lush Berkshires
pulling in the horizon. No matter
a lumber yard swept to one side,
the distant whir of jigsaws,
scent of sawdust mixed with grass,
freshly mown

*

what a blessing, this North
Country, mine to savor, rocky
soil to tame, true to its nature—
coaxing lettuce and beans

I did not mind. No car
to worry, old bike
served fine, up and down
Route 2, all seasons

and always, that spot
past shops and cafes,
historic homes donning
plaques

fast by a field where
the mercury dropped—
five degrees, no matter
the day

flash past the ancient Post
Master lugging sacks of mail
at tortured angles—an
Ethan Frome in gait
and heart

*

I crave the clear, blue cold
of the North, the clarity
it brought from times when
warming meant, Put your
feet by the fire,

not the global kind 

First Night / by Kelsi Folsom

In anticipation
of the union of souls,
a man and woman
stand eye to eye.

She grabs his hand
like a worn sack of feed,
and takes one bite of midnight
to satisfy her need.

He holds her heart
like a warm baby bird
and swears only to fly
with her love in his nest.

Miranda / by Kylie Gellatly

I had eighteen crossings to the side of the stricken, Miranda.

When we layon the stern and asked for time to confer,

creating the others who now know that letter.

At the time, Miranda, a slight uneasiness was coming.

Around midnight, a red light arrived. Broken, he was gone, Miranda.

Miranda, for us to stand by, seemed comparable to few words.

Such was their verdict, Miranda, to bless our relief.

I have since been told that this fall was born in physics, Miranda.

Beginning to give way, under their revelry in broad daylight—

I remained busy, Miranda, kept rather careful observations.

Miranda, I must have been dreaming. Yes I was dreaming,

because the dancing and the nights saved us enough,

and back we went, Miranda.

Roots: At the Meeting of the Portage Trail and the Buffalo Trail / by Nina Freedlander Gibans

I.

This was to be home

the moon hung onto this place

and blessed it into being

and the river waters

became lake waves

after the bend.

Born in the moon

with bonfires, beach-brush, clearings for homes

raw materials for offerings

a chrysalis

for hand crafting and industries

making a city

 

portage

from canal to canal

criss-crossed distances

carrying dreams over trails

paths became streets

Euclid, Woodland to Lake Erie.


a small plaque speaks

“The meeting of the Portage Trail and the Buffalo Trail.”

“HERE, hear!”

 

The lake–grey distance

waves glower

walloping beaches

pushing the shoreline

luring sands

pounding like heartbeats

crashing into rock

falling into itself

grey heaps rise and flatten.

exhausted.

 

II.

Road signs dug into corners

Hanna, Corning, Mather, Holden,

a bridge named for each

a smokestack for each

a railroad for each

a park for Rockefeller.

yesterdays’ industry

new foundations replacing history.

Who notices the cornices

in industry’s palaces?

whose hand turned the whorled woods

weddings started on these steps

history tumbles down these staircases.

 

The sun is a chandelier

lighting grass and green spaces.

Silent pickings

in the attics of the city, letters tucked in eaves

caught in grates, tossing love out to tree lawns

connecting switchboards and memories.

Follen / by Sarah Green

The ache of watching sledders
every winter near my mother’s house,
their parents watching at the top.
Each year their parents more my age
and soon younger.
And somehow I’m neither parent nor
child, not snow or running car.
I still remember how the music goes for the piano lesson if someone asks me. But I’m not going back, although
the same fir trees stacked in the parking lot, blue tags, red tags, almost stay
change, almost invite me
to do everything over.

About the Black Body / by Shirley Jones Luke

The black body      interpreted as a malady
an affliction of the skin   by people afflicted
with no melanin     an aberration      to be studied
in a lab    but the Black body has always been
experimented on    stripped then poked
branded then burned    infected & inflicted
yet    the black body    endures    beyond the physical
  for it cannot    let the physical    end its existence    on this Earth
black bodies faced scientists      dressed in white    white gloves
white masks    cold eyes that   peered into      defiant black faces    protesting
  as white hands approach           holding a scalpel

Solomon’s Puzzle / by Oksana Maksymchuk

Tables laid, but not much
to feast on

Dwindling fortune
Even less to come

Riches squandered, lands
laid to waste

And this world they’ve been trying to
save from us

and this world we’ve been trying to
keep from you

and this world we’ve been trying to
hold together

vanishing prize

it cannot be shared
alive

Burn, world, severed in half
skinned and served

a god
we no longer worship

Sunrise in Sedona / by Marisa Sullivan

Sun peaking through a
palette of red, brown and green
Colors change throughout the day
Like me

Rich and earthy tones
Healing rock, shades of rouge
That stain my full lips

Soaking holes where warriors roamed
Ripe vibrance surrounds grounded smiles

Turquoise and silver,
a Chico’s shop –
Sundowners dive

Land, dry and lush
Where climates collide
To make a balanced wine

Check out time
I see the innkeeper’s eyes
through the air conditioning vent

As My Father Sends Me / by Nicole Yurcaba

I find myself with time to write before coffee
with my parents and a short visit to campus.
The cat meows from the kitchen window’s sill
above a dish-scattered sink. Outside, birds
chirp vicariously, and a slow shade obscures
the front yard by the low-running creek
where small patches of daisies, burgundy irises
grow wild to the left of the abandoned footbridge.

What awaits me this week? Teaching summer classes
online; a to-be-planned fishing escapade with my father;
planting okra, cantaloupe, tomato seedlings
in the Thursday-plowed garden; writing letters to a friend.

And, then, I might pack for Iceland—small necessities
I tend to forget: sanitary napkins, eye contact solution,
hair clips, nail polish, extra sunscreen. It seems I always
pack the most unnecessary items first: leather-bound journals,
cheap black gel pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, embroidery threads,
needles, a Western Ukrainian rushnyk pattern.

I pack it like it all matters

to TSA
    customs officials
    whatever Securitas authority might ask for my papers
    at whatever gate I’m waiting, like in Frankfurt, flying
    home from Kyiv, when a guard questioned my last name
                                                                         my single status
                                                                         the Odessa and Boryspil’ stamps in my passport

                                                                         Do you have family in Ukraine? How long were
                                                                         you there? Why did you return? I see you have
                                                                        Duty Free. Is it by chance vodka?

I weighed my answers carefully,
like Anubis in the Hall of Maat,
on a tiny scale my father had told me
was all too easy to tip.

Poem 5 / Day 5

Renaissance / by Nancy Davis
for Deanna

flash of gold
     traversing green:
raw reverie

canine spear
     nosing earthen secrets
in the loamy soil—
iron, manganese

flashing sinewy
     amber, vermilion
breathing confidence
trailing its meal
        through suburban yards

the fox, marvel of adaptation,
    low to ground,
fleet on feet—
takes perfect aim
at a modified world

primordial pigment:
survival tales on cave walls

add ochre and umber—
    innovation to knowledge
a masterwork of instinct
burned into memory

sienna*

 

*In Siena, Italy, Renaissance painters perfected the naturally occurring sienna pigment paint used in ancient cave paintings.

four hundred feet I leaned / by Kylie Gellatly

             four
          hundred feet high
                              I leaned over
                   the raucous cried         none of us
                               caught the eye near high noon
                                                                down
                                                                   miles through
                                                            the fall
                                                              soon to lie in the lap of plenty

                           it was
             where it was, for it undoubtedly burrowed
the houses of the gold seekers in sand
                 it was night that
                  crushed the rocks

                                   we never revisited the spot
                                                       I have no knowledge of
                                            the extreme end of the crater
                                                                                     union of
                                                                                              man taken
                                                                      to be a trench
                                                     that might have been a cannon ball
             when fossils essayed to go on with the decision to abandon land

Agony / by Nina Freedlander Gibans

Birds fly heavily

Slowed by what they see

Agonized.

Is this the earth they knew

Yesterday

Foraging for the months ahead

Supplied by fresh seeds

Succulent tree sap, wiggly worms?

Dry tan soil tops the green

Ugly mortar shells a surprise

Empty streets, smoke screens

Empty yards

No one to watch and compliment

Their colors

No one caring.

They are searching for hope

They will come back next year.

Minneapolis 4 / by Sarah Green

I’m tired of waiting for the closed-tight peony,
jealous of my neighbors’ pinks and fuchsias,
undersides of ball gowns, crinolines, some heaped
like fitting-room discards, the tags still on.
I study snowy fistfuls just over the fence, against
the stubborn bud’s diameter.
Ants pace the crimson line. I hear they like the sugar,
and I hear that it’s a myth. I hear my city might dismantle the police.
I hear men say what about rape? I hear the ants and flower need one another. Today I visited the fire pit
to try wood ash to feed the roots, sweeten the soil.
In Minneapolis this week a building’s either been burned down
or it’s on fire with language.

Urban Boys & The Blues / by Shirley Jones Luke

No, they are not considered to be all-American boys,
black & brown shadows, shaping
their futures, wishing for magic

No, they are not powerless, not broken
by a callous society, making them targets
because their bodies are not bodies

They are the descendants of Africa,
the un-American negro, nigger, nigga,
related to former slaves of forgotten origins

Yes, they hunger, searching
for justice in an unjust land
Their anger is fuel for their passions

Yes, they are neon signs, bodies
like electric artists, illuminating
their canvases for all to see

These boys of the soil,
know they carry more than struggle
in their DNA – they carry freedom

Lacrimosa / by Oksana Maksymchuk

Blinded, she runs
hands stretched out to feel the way

stumbles over obstacles, pushes against
other bodies rushing past

Masks flying off, coughing
and cries of alarm drive them on

Somebody’s arms grab her by the midriff
pull her in

Cup your hands, she hears a scream

Milky substance from her face streaming
she opens her eyes

Her vision fuzzy, images broken
multiplied

Silhouettes of people on their knees
doubled up, choking

windpipes contracting
joints dislodged

In a cloud of smoke, her city
tosses and turns, burns

dreams a dream

May End / by Nicole Yurcaba

a long day of planting
                                            cucumbers
                                       sunflowers
                                       pumpkins
                  ends with buzzards circling an open field
                                     deer grazing in an orchard
                                     The Temptations Ball of Confusion
                                     Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky
                                     the cat’s quiet thump as she jumps
                                                                                        bed
                                                                                        floor
                                                                                        dresser
                                                       knocking quarters
                                                                        nickels
                                                                        dimes
                                                                        ones
                                                                        a stray twenty laundry spared
                                                                        last Friday when I cooked
                                                                                                        tilapia
                                                                                                        green beans
                                                                                                        jasmine rice
                                                                                                        topped with chopped
                                                                                                                               scallions

Poem 4 / Day 4

Comfort in the Time of Social Distancing / by Nancy Davis
for Annie

I thought I heard an owl today
it could have been a
whippoorwill

exotic enough in either
case to give my day the lift
it needs

not traditional birdsong,
a bagpipe comes
to mind: the puffing up
with air in lungs, exerted
whooshing sound erupting
in small, insistent bursts

each dawn I wake
to melodious cacophony,
if that’s a thing—
my window raised
in awe

before the sounds
of human life
disrupt the morning
calls

I memorize what I can,
research what eludes:

complex syntax, repeated
refrains—fulsome and
throaty, dire or flirty

when evening comes,
I sit as well, and listen
for nightfall’s chorus

the last notes of robin
and cardinal erupting
in sonorous spasms

in this way, my day
is full, a bird’s life
being ripe with purpose,
brings comfort during
troubled times

*

if I could ask for one
more gift, it would be
to stand at dusk, and
be among a flock
rising up from myriad
branches of the century-
old linden

show me how
it knows by heart
the coded blueprint
of its life

Tug-of-War / by Kelsi Folsom

They raced around
the living room,
two-foot bandits
with a rope stretched
between them.

“Hey, hey, hey,
not around your necks,
that’s not safe,”
I call from the kitchen.

The rope comes
un-noosed,
and the playing
continues.

One simple sentence
of education,
one quick moment
of careful instruction.

They know now
their actions can
cause suffocation.

Don’t be the person
who chokes
on their own
ignorance.

I distinctly remember silver knives / by Kylie Gellatly

    I distinctly remember
                          silver knivesf1
                                      on the breath
            glimpses of the night
                were at last
            passing this imaginary line
            we were nearing the
                                       doubt
                                     dividing
                          islands into salt

            dead
     pause the hush it did
  go on
 and on making
     pressure
 to take on
skins and salts
  to
  generate a slight current of
                                             these
                             strong mouths
some desire
      too often not to crawl along
                the memory and return
                                         time to time
                                                      to let this hold fall

      I see you
          loose with me
                  and a snare
  promises have proved a delusion
   expressed
into open water
  the loom of
              our position
welcomes
              the best of
       the last
  to tell us more
we never had the luck
                                  we were told
                                                     had dispatched
                                                         in our souls

Hide and Seek / by Nina Gibans

Playing hide and seek

In the back yard

Of the old house – with friends

we are young.

We are tagged.

Playing hide and seek

In the front yards of our lives

With our friends

With ourselves

They tag us.

Who tags who?

Minneapolis 3 / by Sarah Green

I’m sorry I thought it was         construction
then a fire         I drove around
the blue and red             arrows telling me I didn’t
crane my neck out of a feeling those gathered
wanted no tourism     I think about it     turning
at Chicago Ave         right at the mailbox
in the past         where I dropped Lizzie’s envelope

inside of which a letter to the queen
would be answered             across from the awning
I know by heart
phones and accessories   bus cards   organic milk I could
have swerved and distracted police     I used to
drop off little packages inside

a man would scan     clothing returns
someone behind me with a cracked screen to repair
and I would leave
weightless     grabbing an apple from the food forest
a block away
reading the bird watcher’s report from Powderhorn

Portrait of a Black Woman Considering Her Future / by Shirley Jones Luke

She knows that she sits
on foreign soil, Americanah
when I look at her picture
she is black like me
frozen in time
in this closed city
open only to pale shadows
witness the unkindness
of these wispy ghosts
who scream how dare the sun rise
on your hopes & dreams

They want me to sign
over my soul & join
the woman in the portrait
in oblivion of color that
forever remembers
the more beautiful & terrible history
of our people who wanted
to be more for their descendants
than forgotten

Virtue Signals / by Oksana Maksymchuk

A small fire that we started
on our living room floor

has grown

We use it to convey
messages, signs

Throwing a wet blanket over it
we gather smoke

direct it upward

Our neighbors do the same

The power is out
smoke detectors turned off

We circle around the house
in search of furniture we could spare

Whatever burns, we assemble
into small piles for easy access

In a house with no roof
we labor thus, barricaded with our loot

jugs of canola oil
cartons of milk

waiting to be hosed down
with a greater fire

Palm Springs / by Marisa Sullivan

Palm Springs me into a new light
Mountain mystique, skies hued with pink
A star serenade in the night

A journey east with an end in site
The open road, endless miles to think
Reaching a new victory height

Curfews abound to win the fight
Hoping to fill the missing link
Unite black and white, left and right

But also a plane of private flight
I’ll find my sign in the canyon’s wink
Aim high to the skies like a child’s kite

New chapter of whistling words to excite
Humid nights my skin and soul will drink
Make a mother’s days more bright

What lies ahead, the world will write
But I will steal some ink
For life I have huge appetite
A future of sensuous slink

Planting Dinner Plate Dahlias on My Dog’s Grave / by Nicole Yurcaba

one year &
one month
after cancer stole…

7 PM sun settles in its stab westward
Piknik’s Purple Corset whispers from my phone
a slow breeze moves limbs
                                      leaves
                                      grasses
                                      into the hillside’s eyes
i plant the bulbs according to directions
                                                      specifying depth
                                                                         time
                                                                         watering
                                                                         season
                                                                         region
a spiderweb loosens from a blooming mulberry tree
                      lands on a withered daffodil i placed
                                                                           when i first buried her
                                                                                                              then a window-smashed cardinal
hers is not the first hand-dug grave
                                                                     this land has seen
                                                     i dug it knowing
                                                                   no    one
                                                                                 would do the same for me

Poem 3 / Day 3

State of Grace / by Nancy Davis
for Debra

The Irish are a loyal lot:
they do not forget a favor.

When famine raged,
the Choctaw Nation,
cleaving a trail
of blood and tears*

sent what they could
to stave starvation
in a distant place

The Famine Queen,**
oblivious to need,
refused to save
a soul or two—

a human right to eat

Generations pass:
the Irish pay their debt
in the Novel Age of Covid

distribution channels choked
on greed, promises sundered
like scattered bones

they raise
millions for Sister Nations—
Navajo and Hopi

unlikely
Irish cousins
conscripted into memory
sacred ancient covenants

mercy and love
mercy and love

*in the 1830s, the Choctaw Nation was forced to leave their home in Mississippi, ending in a brutal trek
to land in Oklahoma

**Queen Victoria, who ignored the Potato Famine, a story not widely taught in English schools

Afternoon Selah / by Kelsi Folsom

I want to be that squirrel
lying long on the limb,
Tail languidly swishing
amidst flickers of sunlight.

What cares roll off
his little spine with each
second that inflates
and deflates his furry body.

Yes, I want to be that squirrel,
nestled in the arms of an oak tree

land was useless / by Kylie Gellatly

                                         Land
                            was useless along
                                   distances scared and tasted

       We started to back out as though bound
                                        we yelled from ashore

    The climax
poorly charted you scrimmaged
                                        the sensation across a paragraph

            What
    you’re taking is the forgotten towering
               fever that brooked the only
                                                          wind

            What I think
       at times of great
  transpiring: is if you cornered them
                                        you would hear
                                                 the whole
                                                              was
                                                                   the vessel
                                                but you think you’re the
                                                       short cut

                                         once
                                  having a
                           taste
upon the tongue that I was never able to name
              I ran a mad dash
                   for water
                        for the first time thoroughly
                                                tasted
                                         which seemed fatal to me
                                                                                 and once
                                                                                 quite definite

These Times / by Nina Freedlander Gibans

I have had a taste of solitude

Patience, perseverance

I am not alone, nor lonely.

People ask, suspect that is not true.

My mind is with me

Responding to those old thoughts

And new ideas

That twirl around the dance floor of life.

Minneapolis 2 / by Sarah Green

In this month’s Tik Tok challenge
you pour salt water on strawberries
and watch as insects tunnel out,
yellow specks in your sink.
Spiders in the grapes, wasps in the figs. Heroes in the seaweed,
children in the morning, children in the mines for my diamond ring and my cell phone, and my stepdaughter likes it when we make up wrong lyrics to the lullaby about everything mama will buy you.

*lyrics by Leonard Cohen

By the River of Tears, A Goddess Awaits / by Shirley Jones Luke

She is golden against the gray water. Silver jewels down the center of her gown. The sleeves
flutter in a light breeze. Her crown, a yellow wrap of silk. Her eyes bore into onlookers. The
goddess is afraid; but knows not to show it. She is the epitome of defiance. She must protect the
child in her womb. Her hands form a halo around her stomach. Soon, a new god will grace the
land. By waters that drowned his ancestors.

No Snowflake / by Oksana Maksymchuk

I’d tell you
who they are but you won’t like it

I’d tell you
who you are, don’t hate me for it

You won’t listen, nah
Brainwashed, eyes & ears clogged

Whose side you on
Don’t tell me whose side

Useless on purpose, gulping down
that correctness bullshit

When the zoo in masks
comes out of the woodwork

my baby and I, we’ll be waiting
with a round

Well-behaved
home-grown one, she is —

them snowflakes call her “assault” —
my guardian angel, my rebel rose

The rioting next door
it’s gotta stop

I’m a man, me
To defend is right

Honor, I
I, respect

I stand my ground, won’t let anyone
mess with freedom

Poison / by Marisa Sullivan

Poison has seeped
from the building
A structure all mine
Scorched from within
But still spills outside
I wish I could lend you my fight

May Morning with Taproot’s Poem / by Nicole Yurcaba

on the living room window’s sill
sunlight ignites the black cat
                                    dangling legs
                                    snoozing after breakfast romps
isherwood’s a single man
lies splayed on a handmade black walnut coffee table
                                                                            pen-littered
                                                                            bookmark-decorated
                                                                            bills ignored
                                                                            utility statements blaring
evidence of adulthood-in-progress
                    eighteen distant cries from the fifteen-year old
                                                                            who slid Welcome into a wearing-out discman
                                                                                     sat cross-legged in a dank high school bathroom
                                                                                            alone
                                                                                            wearing a clash t-shirt      lip service capris
                                                                                                           corcoran jump boots
                                                                                                           slate nail polish
                                                                                                           the spiked leather choker
                                                                                                           i’m fastening this morning
                                                                                                                 33
                                                                                                                 not so separated from that
                                                                                                                 tear-stricken girl
                                                                                                                 praying for 3:15 PM
                                                                                                                                      homebound bus ride
                                                                                                                                      blank journal
                                                                                                                                      bedroom stereo
                                                                                                                                      electric guitar
                                                                                                                                      ink pens
                                                                                                                                      sketching pencils
                                                                                                                                      friends
                                                                                                                 33
                                                                                                                 professor poet essayist daughter
                                                                                                                 girlfriend singing to a black cat
                                                                                                                 who twitches her ears
                                                                                                                          yawns
                                                                                                                          returns to mouse clouds
                                                                                                                                     salmon-treat fantasies
                                                                                                                          window bird buffets
a phone’s ringtone bells
   colleague’s name appears
this poem’s crystal shatters

Poem 2 / Day 2

Tucson: An Offering / by Nancy Davis
for John and Nancy

when the sky opens           mornings
sunrise painting its generous spirit across plateaus
          valleys
       and buttes

soak
      in the pinks and golds
cleverness of hares, perseverance of kits

seek resilience of the ancients:
tortoises and saguaros

breathe in the gifts
of rare desert blooms

and seamless horizon      the possibilities
they sanction

“Law and Order” / by Kelsi Folsom

If only Jesus
had followed the rules,
he wouldn’t have been
crucified.

He got what he
deserved,
had it coming
for him.

How dare he
value human dignity
over the religion
of superiority.

His arrogant
disregard
for the laws
of his country
should have
jailed him
long ago,
so is
anyone
surprised?

(Who knew a
Kingdom
built on serving
the least of these,
would be
So hard to
see
and
so hard to
believe?)

by the time the deal lost its lure / by Kylie Gellatly

                          by the time the deal
               lost its lure and
                               settled
                         an examination showed
                                            the manuscript of
                  small rocks a mile away
                silhouetted
     and open    bound
                                       somehow

with
    the
              pyramid point of
                           speed we dashed into
                      morning
                                       to go home
                                 for a summer
                  soon pounding

the sight of our first
                               great disappointment
                                        pulled away
                                              broken
                           against the sky
                     as old and young
                                         as the
                                engine

Windmills / by Nina Freedlander Gibans

Windmill

Monitor of energy

With earth bellowing

A beastly grit

Beating a wind

Hovering on the roof

Administering

Peace.

Swarm Catch / by Sarah Green

A sign up at the Athens Farmacy:
Bee swarm catcher training

Learn how to lull
the hive that barnacles this house

like a project,
a beaded purse, hot glue

Enter the hum
a bride under a veil

smoking with burlap fuel and pine,
hops and cardboard,

the swarm itself a bride
the smoke a dress it’s sleeping in

Want / by Shirley Jones Luke

A hunger, but there is only dust.

Our brown fingers make figure eights

on the pantry’s shelves.

Leadership / by Oksana Maksymchuk

So much garbage, we say
Such waste

Anger, why

So — rage

So — arrogance

Our living room now a mess
windows broken, shards of glass
underfoot, lamps
topsy-turvy

peed on the carpet
smeared the walls
with soot

Who you
Us — why

None of our business — this

Money lost
Goods damaged

Whose names on our walls

Who pays huh

We bring dogs
We point & shoot

Listen you move back you
We order

A Love Letter to Los Angeles / by Marisa Sullivan

California dreams since a twinkle-eyed teen
2001, touchdown on June 16
Surfing sofas at USC — pigtails of packaged treats

Holloway Drive led to luscious lunacy
Raucous Red Rockers, countless jaded jaunts
Bellowing tainted tunes on swaying walks
No slack of cackles in those old haunts

Leathered and feathered long-hairs at the ‘Bow
Chicken soup for the soulless nights
Transfixed at the Roxy and Troub watching Cornell croon
On Morrissey’s knee at the Sunset Marquis

Pristine pads lined up in Malibu
Hover over waves of Midnight Blue
Venice Beach full of funky-jeweled freaks
Daytime dives on Washington Street

Majestic mountains – due north, west and east
Zip down the 15 to Vegas, the 10 to Palm Springs

Pool-jumps from the roof up Sunset Plaza Drive
A white cat named Steve, seized one night
He somehow survived his harrowing plight

The boulevard of broken hearts, not dreams
And rarely mine, fortunately
Yet a few scary nights to the emergency –

Rooms off the strip for The Oscars and Globes
Red carpet gowns, champagne on flow
Frolicking late night at The Chateau

Paul Kim-infused feasts and bottles of Peen
Bono at Bottega, K-Town karaoke

Holidays at the Reillys, my west coast family

L.A. – This is how I choose to remember you
You blindingly beautiful fool, oh how I love you

Lybid in America / by Nicole Yurcaba

rain impeded morning fishing,
so i slept until 9:15 AM,
after i called my father
do you still want to go? i asked
go take a nap, he answered
thursday
thursday
thursday
thor’s day, my father once told me,
but in ukrainian, we say ‘chetver,’
the polish say ‘czwartek’
so i took a nap
       dreamed of sex in antiseptic bedrooms
                                    with partners who slept & snored
                                    with strangers
                                            acquaintances
                                            past & current lovers
                             slow sex that matched the speed of
                           summer ’95 when my father lifeguarded the local pool
                             & i dug my fingernails into my ankles
                                        dragged upward to my knee
                                        just to see red marks form on my melanin-tainted skin
                                        my grandmother screamed
                                                                      swatted
                                                                      cried
                                        why
                                       why
                                      why would you do that? it’s a sin!
                                                                                    a sin!
                                      you hear me?
                                                                                   a sin!
                                      the afternoon amanda—the girl who ground my face
                                      into mud during second grade—pushed me into the pool,
                                      yelled go back to mexico, brownie! then held me underwater
                                      until black ink ran into my eyes
                               my father suspended
                                                                    amanda’s pool pass
                                                  sent me home via bike after buying me an ice cream
                                                  said Stay away from that animal. Just stay away.
i wanted to see what was underneath,
i told my grandmother,
whose brown skin glared
as we removed towels
                            sheets
                            pillowcases
                            from our backyard clothesline
in my twenties i hear it again
                                          again
                                          again
working as a bank teller through college summers
in-lobby customers
                mostly men
                who say i’d prefer if the mexican waited on me
                              you know the black-haired girl with the funny last name
this is rural west virginia
i expect nothing less
no one bothers to learn my last name
                                            how to pronounce it
                                                         spell it
                                                         identify it
at least when we were girls amanda knew better
                                                  i               forgive her
                                                  i               forgive these men
who wait in the lobby
         flirt
         then rely on crude words
                                          gestures
my grandmother upon hearing of my near drowning
                                spat on the ground
                                the nazis came into the village
                                                 said they’d take care of us
                                               raped our women
                                               headshot our men
                                                                our cows
                                               set fire to our grain
                                                                our houses

                               Nikola, you are named after the saint
                                                                        your grandfather
                                                                       your           father
                                          we thought you’d be a boy
                                          you have the ruthenian look
                                                          a scythian’s temper
                                                          a rusalka’s lips
                                           you are as ancient as kyiv
                                           in the village they’d have called you
                                                                                                  ‘dark-eyed beautiful one’

Poem 1 / Day 1

Maggie Sings to Her Koi Each Morning / by Nancy Davis
Seattle in Spring

through the rose arbor,
past the clematis,
down into the grove
of Lodgepole Pines
and under the
Weeping Willow

Maggie walks the path
to her pond each morning
carrying a basket of food
for her Koi

she steps onto the bridge,
leans into her reflection

and fanning her arm
like an angel’s wing,
releases a handful—
dust motes falling
in the light

green dragonflies hover,
double-backed and iridescent
gnats crowd the surface

ripples break the
liquid-glass, revealing
blues and reds,
yellows and oranges
flashing, sun-streaked

Maggie sings,
her sage kimono
shifting with notes
of the Auvergne

her favorite—a rust-backed
with ebony—torpedoes
to the cusp of their worlds
in frenzied whirling

her sonorous high notes
greater sustenance
than food

she leans
hand skimming
fish shimmering

*

urban echoes ricochet
up the valley, calls of protest,
megaphoned orders, clashing forces
of glass and stone, whirring
mechanical insects: muted,
distant and safe, for now—
trapped in the conflagration
below

pressure rising
pandemic suspended
like Maggie’s high notes,
waiting to explode:

seamless medley of chansons,
her Koi her children

circling, coi-ling

this private ritual her Eden

Completely Normal / by Kelsi Folsom

The trees stand indifferent
to the noise of the news.

Mighty oaks peered
through my driver side
window, wondering where
I was making off to
on this overcast day,
and did I notice the breeze
is more wet than yesterday’s?

I layered swiss cheese
and slices of smoked ham
hot on two cuts from
a whole, white loaf,
procuring ultimate satisfaction
on a melamine breakfast plate.

My kids dispersed
in three different directions,
one with grandma,
one with great-grandma,
and one with me
for a daughter date.

Hot chocolate for two
at a coffeeshop drive-thru
then parks and working out
and a nap in the afternoon.

A completely normal Monday
unfolds beneath my feet
Like a red carpet of privilege
I never knew was so unique.

I want everyone to have
such a Monday as mine,
where safety is a given,
and dignity is too,
where fear isn’t as close
as a hoodie on black skin,
where children are healthy
and hugged everyday,
where food isn’t begged for,
and neither is breath,
where breath isn’t begged for
and neither is life.

You know the storm went out / by Kylie Gellatly

                                                     You know the
                                                 storm
                                       went out and
I believed you were down here
            for it has never
                               been
                a different story
            living as a key
forged     full
            of hell

     a severe shock
reached
     forward
three days we
feared you had gone
              I was worried
                 you
           were held
                            with it
                                      and
                            sketched
              memory
in the fog

      everybody
                  speaks of this
recollection
        in
           a meridian headed for
       Farewell
              twenty years
was about as much good as
                                               circling
                              a black eye

to have made you this trouble. It’s been nothing

Windmills / by Nina Freedlander Gibans

The Windmill

The windmill – turbine quiet

Does not even greet the sun. It has no energy today

To turn

No wind

To coax it, help manage the stillness.

 

The windmill

White oars into the blue

ocean of air

pummeling its own white summer breath

painting a skyscape.

 

Windmills dance to their own arc.

Turning mozartian at times

Or largo with a trail of quietly tuning sun-lit leaves

Buffeted by a trill

Rippling through the air.

 

Windmills front the day with resolve

Driven by the energy they give.

 

I watch for advice.

Minneapolis 1 / by Sarah Green

While we read Anne of Green Gables,
Lizzie squirms– your foot is hairy.
It’s my spiky leg, I remember my mother’s shins, my mother’s flannel shirt, the golden chain against her collarbone proof that my dad fleetingly thought of her. Anne wants
scope for imagining. A helicopter
drowns us out. I lie, they’re helping
people at the hospital. Tonight,

two protesters will lose an eye.
My neighbors will exhaust themselves
all thinking they’re the one up
keeping watch for arsonists, don’t tread on me, I saw a Jeep, no plates, the text chain goes, and called it in, that was my husband, someone says, I dream of packing a suitcase,
I dream someone protects me with a gun, I bring the kindling in my shed,
I store the lighter fluid back under my sink.

The Race / by Oksana Maksymchuk

Crowds cheer, raise their arms
flashy ribbons flap against
neon pool noodles

Dogs sniff at the gusts of wind
carrying the sound of
a tooting horn

Couples in love make out
behind tree trunks, by the glistening
neatly parked trucks

And the wine sacks are full
And the helium balloons
pop like firecrackers

rousing the children

Air, see-through, taut
resonates with the wailing siren
a recurring mechanical scream

Such power, we say
Such grace

Unfirm on his feet, Marsyas runs

His tears stream, flesh
shredded to ribbons
darkens

We Can’t Breathe / by Marisa Sullivan

A life lost on the street for a minor misdeed
8 minutes and 46 seconds of peaceful plea – under white knee

You’ve made mistakes, but did your time
A job stolen from COVID led to non-violent
crime

The “cheerful” father of a six-year-old daughter
Once a star high school footballer

On May 25th, your life taken away
From racist white scum, a cop who will pay

Crying out for your late mother, you begged him please
The barbaric end to your life on display for all to see

An enraged nation fights in your name
Partly on streets and partly on screen
Copters and sirens
Stores smashed, running thieves
Buildings ablaze across cities under siege

Tear gas, mass arrests –
Now the National Guard
A peaceful protest, gone too far

Where to draw the line
For what’s wrong and right
Would you want this unrest
Would you be proud of this fight

“I can’t breathe”
Now neither can we
Do you want him dead
I guess we shall see

Let’s all raise our voice
No more silence
Demand justice
For George Floyd
And END black violence

Booking the Flight / by Nicole Yurcaba

I.

flight F1644 to reykjavik will crash
like the flights from zurich to vienna
                                    vienna    odessa
                                    kyiv          dulles

II.

at age three, i stood beside titka iryna’s casket
death touched my upper lip
           said babe, WE are going to be great friends
that night i leaned on mama and tato’s doorframe
                                                                                          watching them sleep

III.

flight F1644 to reykjavik will not crash
the planes      to zurich
                            vienna
                            odessa
                            kyiv
                            dulles
                                     did not crash
i will land at keflavik
        receive a swab test
        download rakning c-19
        collect luggage
        taxi to my hotel
        eat lobster stew at the lobsterhouse
        sleep a sleep of sleeps

IV.

my father collapsed into his recliner
one late-90s june evening
call the ambulance he told mama
                                               who sent me to the backyard saying
why don’t you make sure the dog has water?
then sirens
       trucks
       ambulance
       neighbors
                        shouting
                        running
                        calling
                        pulling me away from the dog
                        saying your mom needs you to be brave
then the neighbor’s car
        the neighbor driving
        mama in front
        me in back
              picking a recent bike crash’s scab on my left knee
              mama, is tato dead?

VI.

if my flight to reykjavik takes a north atlantic swan-dive
well, what of it?
                          i was three
                          then ten
                          i still remember
                                                     white bones slinking through arranged flowers by iryna’s head
                                                     ash falling through tato’s eyes
                                                                                                  face
                                                                                                  lips
                                                       the deal
                                                       this circle
                                                       the promise