The 30/30 Project: May 2019 pt. 1

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 May 2019 are Sage Cohen, Jordan E. Franklin, Hope Guirantes, Abigail Hawk, John Long, Amanda Moore, Ismael Santos, Laura Lee Washburn, and Leia Penina Wilson. 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 15 / Day 15

The Rooster and the Monastery / by Sage Cohen

The difference between competence
and power is shamanism

which moves the poem
through God to the borrowed

museum of your mind.
We make a monastery

of morning, me crawling
toward the fan too unsteady

to stand, you rooted
as a tree’s revenge

to the southern-facing truth.
No rooster could brag enough

to move the sound of desire
toward meaning. Language

rushes downstream
where we stand, clearcut

from the past, searching
for signs as the dog diagnoses

the pinch of God
between your legs.

Tupelo #15: Some Truths / by Jordan E. Franklin

1. I’ve gotten better at telling the truth slant.
2. Sometimes when I slant the truth just right, I am able to keep my tongue straight in my mouth.
3. Some of my peers call me a surrealist. They say it’s because I write in so many directions and spray many allusions in my pieces that it is hard to find the first stroke of truth.
4. I don’t like referring to myself as a surrealist.
5. My poems are personas of my persona.
6. To read them, you need to find the river I lay for you.

Untitled / by Hope Guirantes

Smiling faces of fake generosity
Like angels, demons smile too.
He thought he had found an angel,
but the devil hid behind that smile
that day. They both laughed together
on that long dirt road.

Smiling faces of fake generosity
Like angels, demons smile too.
He thought he was on his way
to the home he knew. Those smiling
faces had other plans and a destination
to another home.

Like a demonic orgy, they beat and
desecrated God’s living temple. Took away
his humanity under a dark summer sky. Tied
flesh with chain to the back of a pickup. Speed down
at break neck speed…he was still conscious.

Three miles of conscious pain until split into pieces.
Two pieces found in the morning. The bulk found
in a black cemetery. 81 places littered with his remains.
They laughed as the rode. They saluted to their cause.
Never apologized, no remorse even before their deaths.

Siblings say there is no comfort in the conviction.
No relief in their deaths. It won’t bring him back
or make the pain of losing him dissipate. Kids grow
up without their father, so many memories and
milestones lost.

Smiling faces of fake generosity.
Like angels, demons smile too.

when weeds were wonders / by Abigail Hawk

“When I was your age, we’d play telephone: the ladies would sip sweet tea, leave the kids to
               roam.
We’d ride our bikes helmet-less, pedaling
               hard and fast
downhill, our arms outstretched to
               catch
the wind, our bodies human sails. We’d make sugar packet houses and laugh uproariously when they
               fell,
their brown- or white- or blue- or pink-packaged sweetness
               levelled.
We’d build forts; we
explored.”

“mommy! we could play telephone! we could use red solo cups and string from daddy’s garage and we could also booby trap my room from bad guys! i could use my pop gun! i could use my light saber!”

“Use your
               words,
my darling. Write circles
               around
them instead. Draw zombies to eat their brains and tyrannical rexes to arrest their
               trespasses.”

He lines his dinosaurs snout to tail, plugs in his string of light stars, arranges his baseball cards. Oh, these talismans he
               treasures
in his temples, his forehead the laboratory of all that is boy and everything
               joy.

A mosquito bite darkens his eye lid. His brow furrows under the strain of making sure he wins this
               game
of Uno. He grumbles:

“i should have wished to win on a dandelion. that lightning bug i caught earlier knew i was upset when you won. he came to surprise me!”

Oh, to return to this most
               ephemeral
of realms, when weeds were
               wonders
and beetles bewildered.

Peace / by John Long

The lonely island
The soothing water sounds
The various shaped marshmallows in the sky
The fish which live and travel under the water
Wherever there is only pace is where I wish to be

Wither it be a yacht out at sea
a sail boat on the Columbia River
a fishing boat on the Sacramento River
An island in the Pacific without smoke
Or a cruise ship with a sweet lady

Even Ireland where the clovers are always green
And everybody dances some kind of jug while
Wearing green and white clothes on refreshing day
Would be a welcome stress free change- Peace where are you?

When you wake up to find a new AC in Miami / by Ismael Santos

Is there any better feeling

Than waking up to find

A new AC in your living room,

Blasting cold air

That you’ve needed for this

Upcoming summer? I don’t even want to believe

That a repairman came in and fixed everything, and placed

A new one. I want to believe that fairies exist, just to help with

ACs, in Miami. I want to believe their little fairy powers,

Flying through the air, unseen to the naked human

Eye/ They wave away the heat, the pain, the humidity.

Then, poof, they take out the old crud, with all of its

Old shit

And then the new AC comes roaring to life, a sparkly new thing,

Whitewashed like adobe walls in Carthage, something Hannibal

Would look at and think, “Eh, I could go over the French Alps and

Conquer Romans with this.”

This is what I woke up to, this same feeling/

Of Magic, which is so hard to come by, let alone find

Yourself enraptured in, in Miami, wrapped around in a nice blanket, surrounded by the lovely cold.

“No, No! Can You Hear Me? Abort! Abort! Abort!” / by Laura Lee Washburn

Only test at home. Tell no one you’re pregnant;
sign no waiver of release.” —2019 Internet advice

In the season of purple things and green
some prepare for Europe, for cathedral bells.
The scene is pollination, the scene is birds and bees.

Inside the house I experiment with beans.
Machines now detect electrical activity in cells.
In the season of purple flowering and green,

I wonder does the monarch know it’s seen
as it lights on blooming sage and tells
with scents it’s pollinated to hummingbirds and bees.

Southern legislatures, late and mean, convene
to pass the killing laws they’ve saved until
someone purchased the courts with wads of green.

Old white men buy old white men with cash, lean
toward purity, recreating centuries of hell
with the pretense: we care most about human beings.

Missing the seasons of purple, spring, and green,
women and doctors will get life in prison cells
predicated by old beliefs about bodies, about the birds and bees.

volta or when the bad dreams happen without even having to go to sleep except they call them bills or a daily ritual! / by Leia Penina Wilson

Poem 14 / Day 14

Washing last night’s sheets / by Sage Cohen

I wish I had said
I don’t want

the stripper in my bed,
that previous Scorpio

whose name you raised
then dropped like a flag

at the start of a race.
But I am only beginning

to know how to know
what I want, then find

the words to say it.
I swoosh the sheets

off the bed, where we spent
our bodies like fortunes.

Neither one of us
picking up the tab.

Tupelo #14: The Art of Storytelling / by Jordan E. Franklin

You can find the vein
in these words.

You can carry the blood
from these words.

You pull the heart
from these words.

You can make a hymn
of these words.

You can find the storyteller
behind these words.

You can serenade the griot
reliving these words.

You can take your syringe
and draw these words.

Watch the black veins
surround these words.

March, April. / by Abigail Hawk

Winter releases.
Ice recedes, leaving green and
Spring, shooting his seeds.

Us little folk / by Ismael Santos

To wake up, panting,
While the birds sing outside
And your body cries.

Spam sandwiches today
Spam sandwiches tomorrow
(Maybe with some cheese)

My stomach gurgles
The heat sizzles/
The sky stays quiet.

The heat has a certain smell,
The type that mangy dogs
Deal with all the time.

Why aren’t the birds singing?
Why is no one walking?
Why are the clouds gone?

We’re in a humid swamp.
It’s masked by concrete.
A jungle of cars and coffee cups.

Yells and wolf-whistles,
Pigeons and Mangy Dogs;
The electric fan dies down.

Words get stuck in the throat,
A squirrel scratches at a nut/
The heat never dies down.

The sky is a shade of orange,
And sometimes purple, too.
With no end in sight

With space and infinity
Waving above us/
Us little folk.

How the Brain Stops on an Idea / by Laura Lee Washburn

and turns late into the night,
waking us finally with the same
arguments, the work problem,
so flipping important, but not.

Or the Chesapeake bay too warm,
so filled with stinging jellyfish,
so salted green, and the tentacles
wrapping the thigh and only
an aunt to solve the sting
with wet sand and shock.

And when you’re late up in years,
it’s like a highway with a traffic jam.
If you can just back up and take
the last exit, hightail it through
your old neighborhood or out
where you used to deliver oil,
some way or another you’ll get there.

Or, like I said, stay there. Boring
sparrows have tucked into their nest
for the evening. I spent
the day adding water to a pot of beans.
I made cornbread, heating
the oil in cast iron, and sizzling
it into the green mixing bowl.

A woman named Rosetta cleaned
at the tourist house and why
do I remember her with affection?
The pomegranate tree out the door,
the seeds red in my mouth.
The outdoor shower for keeping
sand off the floors. Oh, Rosetta.

Later, in the little house,
near brown-paged books,
the thin black snake,
and the good old woman
haloed in Marlboro haze.

Everyone else is asleep. Even
the dog moans as he rolls over.
My husband was attacked
by a rooster at three and he still
believes he might have died
if not for his mother. He likes
having eaten the bird.

The yard is full of Russian
blue irises, oregano, and mint.
The yard is flanked by intruding
vine. The new redbuds have
sprung up from the old. The
shed rot has been unboarded
and replaced. The mind is stuck.

Persephone lived there, too.
In the deep torched blue,
in the getting on in years
and writing again about the rooster
that she wrote about this morning,
its wings beating, claws scratch.

There’s no idea I haven’t had before.
It’s the price we pay for keeping
good young mother savior, and
what little we can of Rosetta
for whom we still feel deep affection
and the first bloody pomegranate—
miracle—seeds in our little white teeth.

volta or i swear after this poem i won’t reference the act of writing/poetry for at least 5 poems or watching chestnut & maroon paint dry, sex has never been so exciting / by Leia Penina Wilson

first make our enemy into      a name
a rune      no ethics      only i wish

only hadn’t i run out of
what—what do you call these feelings

omg i’ve run out of feelings

(could you
          open me

                                                                                                                    to check

                                                                                                                    just getinthere

please

please)

which of course ruins the rat
words are things that aren’t things only ambitions

—where are all the birds *hoof**clomp**hoof*
& lakes      it’s such a sight to see!      *hoof**clomp**hoof* do you
think

it means anything      *hoof*      *hoof**clomp*
what won’t fly over the lakes      what won’t
float

—bind us      despite the dark      to the earth      the saltflat *hoof*
—bind us      despite the dark      to the earth      the saltflat *hoof**hoof**hoof*

—i can’t live with my own life :: the defeat :: you
anymore      *hoof**clomp**hoof*      *fattlowwgrowll*

*fattlowwgrowll*      *fattlowwgrowll*      *hoof*
                                                                                    *clomp**hoof**fattlowwgrowll*

my dear march
my maddest hare
my own honey
put me back      my undisciplined pussy      *hoof**hoof**hoof*
you unhoused outside angel
                                                    here we are bleeding again

                                                                                                            it’s so brightred this time
                                                                                                  the blood the menstrual blood
                                                             i wonder if it’s wrong      is the blood wrong this time
                       outside *hoof**hoof*      *clomp*      outside what i could be being a thing
                       i don’t like      a pet (a poet)      *hoof**hoof*

*fattlowwgrowll*

                                                             naked galahad i’m not done colliding
                                                             with you      *hoof**clomp**hoof*
                                                             that hard-earned wild cuts up the dirt
                                                             clocking bone *hoof**clomp**hoof*
                                                             clocking bone *hoof**clomp**hoof*
                                                             grating accidently      you’re dead

oops! #sorrynotsorry #fuckihatesarcasmreally #blessed?

   grating accidently your skin      fingertip nail instead of
   nutmeg
   or whatever #notarecipe

viciousness!

in the kitchen!      victory!

in the kitchen!      *hoof*      *clomp*      *hoof*

i love
my hopeless machine!                                *hoof**clomp**hoof*
                                                                                    *hoof**clomp**hoof*
              in this abyss we no longer play ping-pong
              we play croquet      like gentlemen

              what happens when no one believes in magic
              is this religion regional

                                                                      the ecstasy & the debris rush in—
*hoof**clomp**hoof**hoof*
*hoof**hoof*                  chestnut & maroon paint dry
                                                                      sex has never been so exciting

     can you feel it!

     can you
     feel it—
                               my excitement—wait wait

     i need to go to the cave by myself.
     find new rats.      it’s easy to be a prophet.
     if you don’t. make move. without seeing.
     history got out early.      i’m not
     interested. in mortal kombating the 19th century stuff.
     anymore.      *hoof**clomp**hoof*
     we’re good we’ve reconciled mind/body

                                                                     viciousness, slyvia! i’m in!
*hoof**clomp**hoof*
                       *hoof**clomp**hoof**hoof*

the need to feel!
can you feel it!
the need to feel!
can you feel it!
the need! the need to feel!

galahad is great with a harp
& demigorgon is pretty really rather pretty
but
but none of us none of us
take naps under trees
anymore
turns out a smiling face coming @ you emotionlesslyfull is terror.

                                                                                 a thing of beauty is not a joy forever.

                                                                                              unless you preserve it dynamically
                                                                                              so it still feels      like flesh
                                                                                              keep the fluid trapped
                                                                                              under the skin
                                                                                              so it always even now tries
                                                                                              to get out

*hoof**clomp**hoof*

                                                            our eternalerotic kitchen annihilates!
    our eternalerotic kitchen annihilates! *hoof**clomp**hoof*
                                                            our eternalerotic kitchen annihilates!

naked galahad you howl against the evil the sadness
& your eyes      your eyes stare into the evil
& your eyes      soak-up the evil
& your eyes      are the evil              (the evil      ethereal)
& your eyes      are the evil

           beware the gaze!      *hoof**clomp**hoof*
*fattlowwgrowll**fattlowwgrowll**hoof**clomp*

                                                             *hoof*      appendages appendaging hemorrhaging hemorrhaging
appendages appendaging hemorrhaging hemorrhaging      *clomp**hoof*
                             *hoof**clomp**hoof*      appendages appendaging hemorrhaging hemorrhaging

      the impossibility of the thing of
      desire: the same as the impossibility of desire: the same
      as the impossibility of desire of the thing: what lesion is learned—all
      impossibilities the same as desire a legion

          another lesson—moon always rises in the east      other planets      the sun too.
          some insistence on consistency is admirable.
                                                                                                            how does
                                                                                                            it feel—

         i admire so little so.

i can be      divine                                                           *hoof**clomp**hoof*
                    can speak                          *fattlowwgrowll* *hoof**hoof*
                    (honestly)      i’ll be whatever ritual                                      *hoof*
                    you want me to be                                            *hoof**hoof*
                    only want                                                 *hoof**clomp**hoof*
                    me      isn’t that the way you like it.
                    haven’t you always imagined.
                    i’d say that. to you.
                    & mean it.

 

                                           i would admire you if only.

do not be kind! the gryphon
                                        squeaks      you cannot predict the rat!
                                        only the demigorgon knows!      only the
nighthag!

                                                                                     this prayer is our reunion.
*hoof**clomp**hoof**hoof**clomp**hoof*      *hoof**clomp**hoof**hoof*
                                                                                     the rat accounts for both the ecstasy & the debris—

o tainted love i do—i do!
                                        pour the glycerol!
                                                      in units      like a word
                                        is a unit like a syllable
                                                      is a unit      pour the formaldehyde!
                                                      o! pour the hydrogen peroxide!

                                                      ah yes the dreams!      i guess honestly i prefer honey
                                                                                             even though you know the bees

*hoof**clomp**hoof*                             the body observes the scale girl

                                                                     human rock candy! *hoof**clomp**hoof*

shock      bizarreness      or what codified pinky-up strategy
is extravagant      & not
in bad taste

erotic trouble      & defeat
let me put down
this desire      with no further
danger to the senses endured!      *hoof**hoof*

*hoof**clomp**hoof**hoof**clomp**hoof**hoof**clomp**hoof*

Poem 13 / Day 13

Tell me about it, stud / by Sage Cohen

My son’s Amazing Facts book says
certain species of bamboo can grow

up to 35 inches in a day.
As those polished, green bodies

insatiable for sun stretch,
a language between two people

can rise out of the dirt and climb
high enough to bridge two histories.

A single phrase strung
like a high wire across

the architecture of interpretation.
The girl dressed for love,

the guy dressed to disappoint her.
Each trying to be who they thought

the other wanted, she stubs
out that fake cigarette

mirrors warping reflection
and he dances her

pelvis locked to pelvis
down the funhouse stairs.

Tupelo #13: If Work Was a Circus, Where Would You Leave the Sideshow? / by Jordan E. Franklin

She’s gone AWOL.
The lights in her brain
have turned off.
The doors are battered
and bolted.
Beggars grace the sidewalks
like streetlamp.
Someone’s trying to find
her pulse in there.
Someone is smothering
the electric up her arm.
Someone is crowning
the wave up her spine.
Hugs freeze nerves
and jack up the volume
in each cell.
The loose wires
do the Watusi.

She likes to think
there is relief beyond
the 9-to-5,
a secret home base
whispered by those
who know coffee grinds
under their eyelids.
She looks in the mirror
and imagines the ferryman
collecting sales tax.
In the mirror,
her cheeks have color
and she is breathing.

Untitled / by Hope Guirantes

Frozen in the present for refusing to let
go of the past, she became a pillar of salt.

Trade winds brushed away layers burrowing deep;
leaving crevasses and holes that changed her shape.

Little by little the rains would come until she melted
and became salted residue amid the rocks and shifting sands.

No evidence remains of her humanity. Not her past,
her presence or her future.

She could have been any woman longing for times gone by and
dreams deferred that never came to fruition.

Waiting for an apology that will never come; a love that will
never find a home.

more than a skirt / by Abigail Hawk

for the Women Warriors in law enforcement:
for the Bold Babes who breastfeed in bulletproof vests:
for the Sheroes who sacrifice while shattering stereotypes:
for the Dames who dare our daughters to dream

Dangerously:

for turning the cheek when only seen
for the curves under your uniform and
for the needs of your bladder:

for the terror you’ve tasted the sins you’ve seen the wounds you’ve withstood the scars you’ve sustained the pain you’ve pocketed and

Survived.

may you

Thrive.

may you

Keep climbing.

we on the sidelines are cheering:

we see you; we’ve got your six, here and forward:

Woman your fort.

Neighborhood Walking Haiku / by Amanda Moore

Every morning there’s
dog shit on the same corner
gone by afternoon.

Construction fencing:
green tarp torn reveals machines,
piles of dirt, pipes, holes.

Flock of teens gather
at the corner heads down, engrossed:
Pokemon Gym. Still?

Rust and erosion
on the balcony: the real cost
of an ocean view.

Sand across highway
again closing a lane: beach
reclaiming territory.

Japon, Boris, SK8R:
their tags unfurl brightly
along the seawall.

Black hoods bobbing in surf:
one rises to scrawl his name
on the face of wave.

Matching green jackets—
couple and their dogs tilt
into wind and sun walking.

Seagull high atop
streetlamp pole. From one eye sea
the other city.

My back to ocean
city rises before me,
symmetry of streets.

Poem 13: A quick sentencing of cockroaches / by Ismael Santos

Cockroaches,
I don’t dig you.

I’m sure to be the only one in human
Existence
To think like this.

Just kidding.

Eh.

Anyway,
I see you slimy critters

(you guys can survive the apocalypse,

Radiation,

And all manner of shit,

But fall into a corner of the room on your back

And how are you so done?)

You little dudes

Who scramble everywhere, who crawl around my refrigerator,

To my sink, To the bathroom toilet lid, To my windowsills and inside my boxes of books/

Are you guys just lonely? Dudes, bros, brahs, and bruhs,

I’m sorry, I can’t help you.

This house swells and creaks with old groans, and the years of history,

Pain, memory, anguish, rent-dues, broken ceilings, scratched-up windows.

Cockroaches, go roam somewhere else.

I’m hoarding this space. This life doesn’t involve you.

I Woke Up in Technicolor / by Laura Lee Washburn

Couches, aquamarine, gold, avocado,
raspberry bubble gum, blue
stacked to the ceiling.

volta or i’ve been on an airplane all day really or some spell for raising the dead / by Leia Penina Wilson

o this mess
of thorns & wreckage

each long breath
tendering      some prayer some harvest wet

your body
the way i learned to bite into mangoes

the way one body fails
another      that wildest poem love

a mother’s love

appendages appendaging hemorrhaging hemorrhaging
all the blood uncontained

let loose the hunting dogs!
they’ve been idle too long!

they’ve been too long in my own image!
it’s time to undomesticate the hunting dogs

i set all the bicycles on fire i can’t stand it anymore
sustainable extinction—i keep thinking

of everything is fine
this is fine this is fine      some why not

that too     oh don’t you love the romantic
ruin      to romanticize the ruin

i can’t stand my own thinking anymore
i’m feverish

my mind on fever my maddest mouths get yourself under
this heated blanket it’s too cold in the house

again i can’t focus in this cold clutter
so many tinyfastfolds pixie stick pink

so many tinyfastfolds      —blue      —green

—blue      —green
—blue
—green
turquoise      the flutter
amazes me      momentarily pierced

my heart is a flutter
my heart is amazed

Poem 12 / Day 12

How to Fly a Kite / by Sage Cohen

listen like the blue heron
down to the bottom of your life

move like a rapid, raised higher
by the churn of obstacle

get down on your knees
where the ferns unfurl

their tiny fiddles
in the orchestra of green

when you see the fallen
tree doubled in reflection

know that you, too, are an illusion
of light echoing morning

sit down on this bench
as the geese shatter reflection

lifting and landing
when the wind comes

receive it like breath
then let it go

Tupelo #12: Mother’s Day, 2019 / by Jordan E. Franklin

Mom doesn’t like it
when I put her in poems
so I’m trying to write
a poem around her
like a house—
the ones she always
gave us growing up
and taught us to call
home. The houses
she always entered
and left warm,
a house with music,
Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams
humming through
the walls—Rumours,
an album she passed
down her love of
to me like chromosomes.

I can’t escape my Mom
in mirrors, in my voice
nor do I want to.
Whenever I am annoyed,
cottonpickin’ slips past
my lips. I’ve got writing
in my blood thanks to her,
my stubbornness,
my love of stationery
and the touch of a new pen.
My mom, who taught me
to cook well and to play cards—
the same mother who I spend
Mother’s Days watching
Mildred Pierce from the easy
curves of a living room chair.

Mom, I know you don’t like
it when I put you in poems
so I’m trying to build
this one around you
so when you find it,
I hope you can call it
a Home.

Allergy Medicated Wonderland / by Hope Guirantes

My thoughts have been blank as to what to write. Benadryl and Nasonex clouds my mind with fogged
imagery and dreams that make no sense. I still haven’t
figured out how the dragon age dream fits into my reality; better yet, as a poem. Off to the doctor where
a shot of prednisone and adrenaline gets my lungs working like it should followed by a nebulizer full of
Albuterol. I imagine myself in the coolest oxygen or
hookah bar than the sterile hospital examination room.
I can breathe again and restful slumber returns at
midnight. Several days later and I wish I could compose the loveliest ode to motherhood instead my allergic
wonderland of confusion. At least my mind is put at ease of my sanity regarding dreams of Robot Chicken.
They rewrote lyrics from Wonder Woman theme from
the 70’s. I’m almost back to my brand of normal.

An Ordinary River / by Abigail Hawk

          I don’t know how much longer he will let me hold his hand. We listen to birdsong as we shuffle along sidewalk, specifically (not) stepping on those (cracks) in the cement. We don’t want to (break) your back, he says. The walk is wet. He tells me my left hand is warm and wonders if the coffee in my right is sending heat to the one his right holds. His left hand is cold. He tries to shove it in his coat pocket, but instead finds treasure he has buried there. He palms some rocks and a bead from Valentina and a reindeer-shaped eraser. (Wait.) I haven’t washed that coat since Christmas time? He looks up at me, wide-eyed, and smiles, I know that one. That’s the robin.

          His eyes are the color of an ordinary river. A deep-green-dappled-sun-on-surface-mud-settled-sedimentary river, rolling. That’s the best kind of river, really: a wild, but quiet one. The kind you swing a tire over. The kind for skipping stones or night-swimming or maybe even fly-fishing. His eyes are the color of an ordinary river.

          Sometimes they flood their banks with disappointment, churned and roiling. (Angry.) Sometimes they flash with excitement, a silver-glinting sliver of a fish tail. (Happy.) This morning, they ripple with little waves of (wonder): there’s a left-over puddle from last night’s rain, and they search me plainly for assent. I let him jump in it today. I let him save two worms, too. I let him play. I don’t know how much longer he will let me hold his hand.

Mother’s Day / by Amanda Moore

Jar of jelly on the shelf alone: Peach,
not from the last batch you ever made
not even the last hand-written label

(squat P lazy e umbrelled a dead-center
beside the unremarkable c and jaunty h )

but its stays there each day unopened
a momentary trick of plenty
fleeting hope that maybe this year when I’m home to visit

we’ll head north to pick strawberries
or drag the ladder and bucket from the garage
and try the sour crabapples from your tree again.

I have a daughter now
who I can set to cut blossom and stem from flesh
as quickly and easily

as your mind was cut from yours.

The tree is still there, the strawberry farm,
and the market where all the vendors know your name,
where we would decide each summer which new fruit

we’d boil down and sweeten and strain and jar.
But we rely now on the dwindling stash in your basement
still-bright capsules of gem and jewel light:

cranberry jalapeño
                   (little tilde dancing a twist above the n)
gooseberry
                   (its straight-tailed y)
and the pickles: green beans with dill

tiny cucumbers you grew from seed.
Such untouched surplus beneath the room
where you waste away preserved in familiar form

a stranger even to yourself.
We use it sparingly.
This morning miles away

I almost pop the lid
and use the sweet, suspended peach
to bring me the day

I scalded my own lips
on the bubbling in your wide copper pan,
and you counted each jar I lifted

from the water bath and inverted on the counter
before you bent with a fine-tipped marker
over each and every label, careful as a surgeon.

But I left the jar in tact
and full of all the things
we can never have again when they are gone.

A Hot Day / by Ismael Santos

Sundays are not supposed to be this hot.
But Miami is Miami, no matter what.
The heat wave makes us rot,
It keeps me trapped, stuck, in a rut/

Bad rhymes are the product of it, you see?
I wonder what the heat does to the mind;
Does it change us all, who we want to be,
Or keep us stuck, keep us blind?

Who knows. I can only sweat and wonder,
Try to wring out the words from time to time,
While my dog sighs, thinking about the blunder
Of being placed into an old rhyme.

The air conditioning says it’s trying to do its job,
But I think that’s a lie, I think he’s just a quiet snob.

Big Pancakes, Mother’s Day / by Laura Lee Washburn

All the little boys get extra
big pancakes with chocolate
like dad makes the two times
a year mom’s sick enough, like
hospital dead in bed sick. Ahem.

The girls order eggs just
like mom makes, hash browns,
too bad, not quite crisp as hers.

Dad’s just hoping he can remember
the six things you never say, or not
to slip up and ask for, well, anything.

Mom’s not having the best day of the year.
After all, she can tell you to the day
and hour the last rattled breath her
mother took.

                              But she’s got a mimosa,
a vase of flowers in the dining room,
a card with a blue bird, two daffodils,
and the number 1

                                     an hour to herself

the memory of that trip and the ridiculous
chocolate pancake and ice cream moment

her own wife deployed and baby only
crying a little, seven year old just kinda mad

a pizza order already placed for dinner

five text messages, three memes and a sticker

a sixty dollar gift card
a friggin’ balloon

all the laundry done
the litter boxes clean,
all their boxes checked—

and, of course, one ridiculous poem
from her first and always favorite child.

volta or i’m bleeding or i overhear is not a woman but a cause: you want a helpmate, sir; a wife to help your ends, in her no end! / by Leia Penina Wilson

this is irrelevant i’m bored
let’s play a new game.

load the tub with pig’s blood—
let it seep into all my holes.

the owl folds her body around my head
as if weightless      scaffolded      offering protections.

o sweet chariot unlatch yourself!
i’m going down let at least some element of the sacred survive!

it ceases to speak to those who want
more than truth.

like any wild lion i love to fuck
inspecting the arrows was it revenge.

let’s get out of control
let’s get out of control.

some newviolence tries to fuck her
but—

but she has had meat
there is surprise as she fucks newviolence.

i remember learning not to eat people
eating people is bad      frowned upon.

i don’t want to be bad
but—      i beat the birds to morning.

but i smell overwhelmed      a kindof belief

what is comfort anyway!
i like to win.

some unheroically woundedwound
some slipofvtongue word      sister

or can a girl know love      how
is it the divine influence of venus

mars perhaps      keeping me dead (real)
dead (realistic)

is that all i am
a repository—

i return to the imaginative
discomfort      of being.

i return to the imaginative
discomfort      of being
seen.

Poem 11 / Day 11

The Rebirth of Venus / by Sage Cohen

I arrive fully formed in a lace of foam.
The angels are there throwing flowers.

Hair pulsing ocean and wind
in my scallop shell of myth

I drift into the aesthetics
of civilization. Brush strokes

a bridge where the body
crossed over.

Botticelli did not make me.
But in seeing, he released me

from the gravity of history
into the present tense

where my feet have not quite
reached the shore.

Tupelo #11 / by Jordan E. Franklin

     1. Read fanfics in a small attempt to revise canon as you know it.
     2. Wear headphones from the hours of 7am to 10pm to let in the world as little as possible.
     3. When you squint at the grass caught by the sun, you can almost remember a time when your parents were together.
     4. When you write poems, you are still in hiding.
     5. When you write poems about your family, people will call you brave. Just smile and nod.
     6. Accepting compliments reminds you that nothing is under you control.
     7. When men on the train call you beautiful, tug the mask tighter unto your chin.
     8. List poems are an excuse to organize and control your thoughts.
     9. List poems are an excuse not to think too deeply.
     10. You are going to be 29 tomorrow. This poem will not reach 29 points.
     11. This is the last poem you will be writing as a twenty-eight-year-old. Make it count.
     12. You write because you don’t expect anyone to read this.
     13. You sometimes tug at your left ear and wonder how many stitches it took to close it.
     14. Skip the next bullet.
     15. Skip the next song.
     16. You are a surrealist masquerading as a functioning human being wrapped in a metaphor.
     17. This Emily Dickinson-phase is lasting much longer than you like.
     18. You don’t care about #16.
     19. You don’t plan on having children to embarrass.
     20. Don’t trust anyone over the age of 8.
     21. You should have trusted #10.

the mOOn is a wOman / by Abigail Hawk

the ancient greeks believed the mOOn’s dark spaces were cOre-deep seas,
and they called them
marias.

theia (the mOther Of selene) came tOgether with earth,
Or sO it gOes
in this lunar Origin stOry.

in dOing sO, the twO created the mOOn:

shall we call her selene?
Or maybe maria?

Just as adam’s rib Of primOrdial dust was remOved tO fOrm eve, sO tOO the mOOn,
fOr, as yOu shall see,

the mOOn is a wOman.

maria-selene-mOOn-gOddess-supreme was Once nOthing but is

nOw a wOman.

behOld:

she bleeds and harvests.
she’s made Of cheese (fOr yOu are what yOu eat).
she can be super Or blue.
she swings her mOOd as
she mOves thrOugh her phases,
her interest waxing, her attentiOn waning…
she pulls On the tide, that black brackish blanket;
her need fOr cOver is based On her menses.
she is keeper Of calendar and speaker Of tungsten.
and, as any gOOd wOman, is
perfectly pOsitiOned
tO sustain
life.

she has nO weather. if yOu stOrm her surface Or crater her canyOns Or pOck
her terrain,
she will always remain, bravely hOlding
thOse flags and fOOtprints tight,
shining light in her dark spaces by
shOwing her scars tO the sun. (and everyOne).

she wears nO ring. every year, she duly distances herself a little
mOre frOm her partner, fOr

the dark side Of a wOman is
a man in a wOman.
therefOre, the dark side Of the mOOn is
the man in the mOOn.

the man in the mOOn? Oh, he’s arOund, tOO,
fOr the man in the mOOn
was a babe in the wOmb Of a full-bOdied wOman and

the mOOn is a wOman.

After Graceland / by Amanda Moore

There were no heart-shaped water beds for us in Memphis—
3rd week of the honeymoon and low on cash,
a hotel whose sign we could read
from two freeways: $19.95 per night.
We hadn’t known to calculate the price
we’d pay in silence, desperation pressing
through walls traced with cockroach trails
and someone else’s tears. In truth,
we were hardly speaking then
after days of nothing but one another
and the blind, indifferent road:
California, Arizona, a string of decimated jewels
along Route 66 that would eventually leave us
exhausted in Chicago and later banging down
Detroit’s defaced front door. I was young, worried
we had exhausted a lifetime of conversation so soon
but still thrilled at the new language
which rose between us without words
a gesture, a pointing, head tilted, eyebrows up,
a shrug. With no practice we somehow stumbled
into the kind of long marriage that had once seemed
impossibly far away.

Can’t call you King / by Ismael Santos

Enjoying the day is not in your vocabulary.

My mind is a wasteland of Marvel movies, pro wrestling, and Game of Thrones ideas.

I do not want to drain myself for a faceless entity.

I am no Faceless Man.

Calluses on your feet mean you gotta listen, sometimes.

Risking mental health to sell paper supplies is bullshit.

An idea is just that, floating in the ethereal ether/which has a nice ring to it.

Ready or not, life happens to you.

No, I don’t want this job. I don’t’ want something that will cost me much.

I do not claim anything, beyond the known, and the unknown unknowns.

The soul is a heavy thing, it heaves in the wild winds of the heart,

The heavy storms of the mind.

 

Time is never a flat circle, we’re just caught in the mucks and reeds.

Can’t call you King if your kingdom ain’t shit.

Pitch for Biopic of My Life / by Laura Lee Washburn

Never been attacked by a rooster,
stomped by a cow,
come face to face under rimrock
with a coyote.

Used to body surf.

Never lived where machetes
murder in traffic disputes
or hidden under the desk.

Used to roller skate and shoot the duck.

I fist fought boys
until I was 12, as necessary,
and saw a brick swath
past my brother’s head.

Never raced motorcycles on 60.

I walked tearful and slow
across four lanes one night.

Spelunked John Brown’s cave.

I stopped drinking,
left the house at 3 a.m.
and hid in the bushes
while dude’s car went looking.

A couple of times, food
poisoning despoiled body.

I flew through the air once
off my feet completely.
Stuck a landing on bricks,
metal, roofing supplies,
head and wrist breaking momentum.

My Chevette spun in snow
and nosed up embankment,
18 wheelers sloughing past.

At the pool, smacked belly.

My Datsun smashed
through the red light
broadside.
                      Never
held tissues for a blood-
raining nose.

The brown Ford spun wet
on the on ramp. I climbed
down to some store phone.

My brother’s leg bone
exited through his thigh
from a motorbike I never
rode on dirt trail, driveway
or pavement.
                          Went head
first over handle bars
of the silver kid’s scooter.

My father wore fire boots
and hazard gear and sprayed
chemicals white on runways.

I watched water rise
to the steps while wires
shorted and mom panicked
on the phone. And I
went back to sleep like she said.

Before credits, Scene:
Coffee shop. Counter/bar.
Blonde gone to ash.
She lifts the warm mug
to her lips, burns her tongue,
winces. Fade scene, Title.

repose: figure one / by Leia Penina Wilson

the poet female      silver mutant eyes

               (says
               he calls us female      like ivan ooze might say teenagers
               so i might say male      like i have centuries built-up      of disgust & some distain
               for an unpitiable subject      such position

                                             & more than a small desire
                                             commit harm

                              & more than a small desire
                              to commit
                                             to committing harm

                                   the mean secret of this fatferal apostrophe

                                                            how did you get humpty back together again      i need that
                                                            vulgarity of appearance      now

                                   i need it to secrete everywhere
                                   secreting everywhere
                                   —what can’t
                                   be housed
                                   in parenthesis)

Poem 10 / Day 10

Times New Roman / by Sage Cohen

I want a font strong enough
to hold me, the certainty

of serif. I want a language
light as fingertips tracing

white space, back to belly
couplet aching with refrain

I want to taste the phrasing
as the line breaks

your body over mine.
I want to erase all margin

let metaphor rest
its abandoned alphabet.

Tupelo # 10: Veteran of Baggage Claim / by Jordan E. Franklin

I decided it is time
To say goodbye
To you,
My favorite bag.
I’ve kept you through
Every door and every smile.
I kept you until my knuckles
Cracked and stung.
I’ve kept you fat
like a cat that lost
Its outside ways.
I’ve kept you content.
I’ve let you talk freely
Until your zipper rusted
Unable to close
And you never shut up.

You who lovingly holds
The corners of rooms—
You who eats all
The leftovers, who sags
On my back and has
too many bones in your spine
So that you can Doug Jones
Your way under chairs
And through pipes
As thick as my eye.
You for every weather
And every season
And every thought—
You who knows your way
Through the alleys
Of my tenderness
And doubt.

Army duffel bogged
With cannon fodder
and Dad issues
In every stitch,
I’m going to leave you
On an army recruiter’s doorstep—
I’m going to leave you
And watch you through
The bus’ rearview.
Some times, when I’ll remember you,
I’ll see you beaten and forlorn
As you sit there.
Some times, when I’ll remember you,
I will see you chasing behind me
On the wheelchair you stole
From my guilt.

(((((migraine))))) / by Abigail Hawk

          The first time I thought I was going blind. I looked at my math teacher and she divided before me. (She was the one who’d multiplied in popularity the phrase, “You go, girl,” and I was fond of her.) She looked back at me with her half face and sent me straight to my mom, gray. “You go, girl.” It wasn’t praise this time, but grave concern.

          The second time I feared I was paralyzed. Numbness entered my left pinkie first, then spread like wildfire to each finger in turn – the ring, the middle, the pointer, the thumb. It engulfed my arm, my clavicle, my throat. My tongue froze next – and, for once, I was speechless.

          The third time I wished I was deaf. Every sound was hideously amplified, my brain distorting all auricular entries and rendering them perversions of their original selves. I thought the pressure might drown me as it splintered wooden boat planks into my temples, a splitting skull ship. Even silence became siren.

          The fourth time, I wrapped myself in my mother’s coat, the one that reminded me of Narnia and Mister Tumnus. But this new world was not cold and white, and the thought of Turkish Delight made me want to die. I buried myself in the taupe faux fur and prayed for relief. I just wanted to keep the normal beat of a fifth-grade girl. I was missing a game of foursquare on the blacktop.

          The last time was last night. I swallowed some ibuprofen and said, “Hello, old friend” to this familiar foe sidewinding its way across my cranial landscape. It laughed maniacally and went through the motions, business as usual, all casual-like: this Sizzling Fissure, this Jackhammer of Light.

It’s funny: I never thought a headache could manifest as a mindfuck.
But it can. And it does.

Bingewatching / by Amanda Moore

What we are gorging on is not
the dark waggle of eyebrow, quick flash
of flexed tricep, tattooed flesh
of the boy actor. It’s not
the way he brushes his teeth on screen
or tosses his hair back and nods a hello.
It’s not his smile titled,
an accent mark over the dimple
in his wide chin.
             We watch another
and swoon, all goose flesh
and flutterings for loves we used to know:

I was sixteen in the hottest part of August,
my heart wrenching around inside me like a summer storm.
This boy actor is every boy I touched then
each one I wanted to touch but couldn’t,
             and when we watch,
I return to a place I never quite reached:
all those slanted shoulders
and thin white shirts pressed
against me nameless and quick.

I used to do the most foolish things for love,
and I still can’t explain
how that ripping in half
at a boy’s glance from down the hall
or through a car window
could open me with so much pleasure.

Return to me those feelings, that flesh.
I want to find it again, and so we
binge on the boy actor
and I do.

For the Night is dark and full of terrors / by Ismael Santos

The skyline promises the good times, the future

That we all merit. But, drive down the highways,

Edge out past the dangerous traffic,

See past the shiny facades, whether it’s Miami Beach,

Fort Lauderdale, Little Havana, Wynwood/all of these

Names that mean something and say even less.

The summer here will melt all the words away.

The sweat will cover up your eyeglasses, make your sunglasses

Radiate for hours on end.

The sunlight drives you away.

The daytime is an endless wake, a running towards the shade

Of something else. I have been down these many streets and alleys,

And seen dogs rummaging in corners, cats perched on tops of garbage cans/

Their green eyes looking at me. I have had my worst moments, in the sun,

On rainy days, on windless nights. Why are we so obsessed with light, like it purifies

Just by its presence, by its all-encompassing blanket of humidity and sweat? I didn’t sign up

For this human gig to act like an ant under a lens. The light is overrated, the dark, the night,

Promises a perfect standstill.

All the people who kiss the Sun’s ass, y’all need some hobbies.

Love Poem / by Laura Lee Washburn

for the cat whose claw
climbing from my lift
slices my neck lightly

for the dog who scrambles up
and up stairs to find me
in the farthest room

for my grandmother
who sent cards on time
every year and underlined

for my friend who meets
us after absences in coffee shops
and buys fruit for soccer parties

for my husband who
rides hours to meet the friend
or buy pie and American pottery

for my father with coping
saw and indecipherable
instructions about hanging doors

for the family picnic
and the softball fight
and the hot metal slide

for the former students
who believe I helped and
invite me to the party

for the brother who stands
up and the nephew and
the jellyfish thrown over wave

for the two-year-old
I’ve only seen in photos
who can do it herself, by herself

for my mother singing
an old jump rope song,
not last night but the night before
a nickel and a pickle

for the laughter, lady,
lady touch the ground,
lady, lady turn around

for my mother and the
bagged pickle behind
her back knocking knocking

at the door and the room
in the house that will stop
its spinning once unwound.

volta or what instrument of other feeling unfastens impetuous harsh thunder or a thousand women’s eyes riveted to the unrealizable / by Leia Penina Wilson

lung
the whole lung
the whole lung
the whole lung      the whole lung!
air it!      air it our

new fleece      our new
sacredthing      breathingthing      freeflowingsoftthing

fairwell venus!
watch me take in the air!

such a breezy day such spring

i undeliver my sinful state
do not invite obedience

who knew
there’d be so much fish so freeflowing in one blood

would you
raise me to death’s wound
to love immortal

to attend the will of my great daughter
to be good

i smell the miasmamagnolia—
burden me instead with abandon
& sorrow

the scales.
the scales got everywhere.
but
the smell
well my best friend says if it smells
like murder it probably is
murder.

i have no bloodguilt yet minerva
do not assume
you should not take from me

theseus who has two fathers by what right
do you forsake
their sheep here      my dear march my maddest hare
                                    in all cultures then
                                    can we not abide      a certain confidence—

the mysterious sucking!                       is it arrogance always      ah—honor

the right of gods the right of first refusal

painful superstitions is not my neighbor
though i would love every vain exploit
to be deemed a god
& to be deemed untrepidwicked

rub the horses down

we all need
hard exercise      the parade of an allusion
of an elusive      adjective (an illusion)

whose power      is a terror to my own
sanctuary

trust no vulture
that would not eat the entrails

Poem 9 / Day 9

Dayenu / by Sage Cohen

It would have been enough
to let the bed hold me

self subtracting story.
It would have been enough, this

ballroom dance of electrons
waltzing its threes through me,

each in step with itself
and gulping light.

It would have been enough
to let that first beat fall heavy

ONE-two-three
more motion than fact.

Everywhere and empty.
Resistance ruled

by the force of arrival.
It would have been enough.

Tupelo #9: Meditations on “Rock Me Amadeus” / by Jordan E. Franklin

Rainbow wigs
Sparkling like candles
Over a grand piano.
The event,
Part-festival,
Part-bastard
Of rock, classical and rap,
He is carried
On the shoulders
Of bikers
Onto the stage,
These men made to rev
Their engines and ride
From the mouth
Of Hell.
To make music
And style his own life
From the ashes
Of another star,
To ride into infamy,
The way white powder
Turns his veins electric
Like neon rivers
From the belly of some
Horrorshow back street.

Falco wasn’t just
Writing a hit,
He was hitting the wall
With a star-studded glove,
The crash accented
With a synthesizer.

when the poetry came / by Abigail Hawk

open me like your favorite book.
crack my spine.
i am thine; thou art mine.
read me line by line and page by
page.
dog-ear my chapters and underline my
passages.
table my contents and recite my
phrases.
remind me how you found me, discarded,
when the rhythm had left me, blue.
the poem had departed when the poetry came,
the same day you rewrote me, and published me, new:
freshly bound, ink still wet, pages fresh and smelling
of your printing press.
the poem had departed when the poetry came,
cannot faded from my canon.
tragedy bled into comedy.
how novel.

Life / by John Long

Life is a bowl of cherries
Life is a stage which we never leave
Life is an island on which we’re ship wrecked
Life seems to be an impossible mission that never ends

Whatever else life happens to be
It is some times worse than getting stung by a bee
Even when there are soothing sounds which are supposed to help
We cannot always relax and be happy

But life is life and for every individual
it is allegedly different which may be hard
For some to understand regardless of demands
Which seem to be all around in different shapes-
Oh why can’t there be less stress in life?

Stargazing / by Amanda Moore

Without the app
we wouldn’t be able to identify
more than Big Dipper or Orion’s belt,
and here at the edge
of the city it’s too bright anyway.

But on a clear night, why not try?
We fold back our heads
and attempt to distinguish
satellite from star
twinkling planet from plane.

These configurations, light and ash,
mean nothing to us now
more than beauty
                           or maybe memory:
hot breezes even after midnight
when we snuck out lakeside, an excuse
to lie down beside another young body
and point out the little we knew
of heaven.

We might never have predicted a day
we could angle a phone untethered from wall,
that it would have a camera
and could orient itself, know true North
and all the stars of the season, charting
even the dark absences:
finger of chained maiden
claw of crab
tip of chisel
that we might, right here on the beach,
Google stories and the ancient
forecasts, navigate an easier path
through fates and furies of our modern age.

And even if instead we try to read
the tattered pages of your dad’s old Stargazer’s Handbook
we’d still be weighed down
by knowledge and noise,
our pockets full of light.

The Day / by Ismael Santos

I have a long day.

I think we all do.

I hate the same old words.

What else is there to think about

While on the bus?

Two interviews down,

The body a ramble of nerves

The lack felt at home/

The lack of everywhere and everything,

These things make up the Day.

When you can’t help,

But you can distract/

When you can’t really speak,

But you have some good music to play/

Things happen and you have no control,

So let the chips fall where they may… Whatever that means.

Or maybe stop looking up “Stannis the Mannis” Game of Thrones videos.

That’s a start. The Day started, rumbles and grumbles in the belly,

Eyes too sleepy to stay open, or eyelids, however you call it;

The Sun shone brightly, and the sweat on the plaid shirt

Looked a little gross, but also like a haunted face, from somewhere else.

The Assignment:
Why Dogs Are Better Than People
Solved / by Laura Lee Washburn

You must learn the dog breeds
How terriers, bred for killing
Vermin, don’t return their prey,
How they hang on
tenacious even in dark underground
Their loyalty is prized

The working class takes
Work seriously enough
To nip your heels toward
The door, to loop parting
Friends back together again.

The poodle told to guard
That purse will protect
Even the child in the chair
Whose cousins wish to tease.

The rasping pug or bulldog
Can’t help it’s gasp

The drooling lab keeps
It’s soft mouth for
Your next meals you
Might or might not share.

The Pyrenees and and Danes
Put the heads of giants
On your knees, content
Against your size.

Sometimes the Saint
Bernard will soothe
And other times he bites.

The German Shepherd can
Lock his jaw
On the leg of a thief
Or retrieve the small
Red ball.

Just look at the man
Then recognize his breed
And forgive him
As far as reasonable
For who he was bred
Or maybe chose to be.

volta or a pretty common part of the human anatomy most notably used to manipulate plant & flesh protein for chewing & swallowing or how to create cultural norms / by Leia Penina Wilson

an animal wild answers another wild animal’s mating call.

Poem 8 / Day 8

Boomstick / by Sage Cohen

After seeing the video she asks
if I use a boomstick which I assume

is some kind of professional mic.
But a Boomstick is another kind

of amplifier: a lipstick, blush, eyeshadow,
bronzer, and much more, all in one

convenient 7 gram stick
designed to give every woman the color

of happiness and excitement.
Boomstick: a woman

who has returned to her body.
A woman who writes love letters

to a man who doesn’t exist
for seven years until he appears.

A woman who walks uphill,
sobbing at the enormity

of who she has become
as the color pours in.

Tupelo #8: My Name / by Jordan E. Franklin

1. There is a song about my namesake. Some nights when I was young, Mom would sing it to me—the syllables half-lullaby and half-prayer, the lilt and sweetness of her voice enough to send me to sleep.
2. It is rumored that just sitting on the bank of my namesake is enough to save a soul. Sitting next to me does not achieve the same effect.
3. Although 1 and 2 have already been said, I feel the need to elaborate further: I wasn’t named after the basketball player.
4. Growing up, I was often mistaken for a boy because of my name. After several years, I was able to convert this into an advantage.
5. Sometimes, I like to watch the way people say my name; the way it works their mouths and the glow that breaks their eyes as they taste it.
6. I’ve been told I have an artist’s name, as if it was spoken just for me. The fact that it is Biblical means this pen moving and the ink that trails under it is kismet.

“the dead of Winter” / by Abigail Hawk

I never liked that much.
Death is a stop. A separation.
What if instead we called it “the rest?”
“The waiting of Winter?”
“The pause?”
“The staying?”
Then again:
the opposite of death is life.
And, Spring! What a thing to behold after
the dead of Winter:
the quickening.

ALANA / by John Long

Alana Fauna
How is your flora?

Is it growing happily?
Or is it in need of replanting?

While I have your attention
Is your bake sale mañana?

It should be held before everything
Goes stale like bread or you haven’t
Anyone to help you with it


Los Dos Amandas /
by Amanda Moore
after Frida Kahlo’s Los Dos Fridas, 1938

I too would hang a backdrop of storm cloud—
who that has been through a human life
would choose only sun and blue?
And as for which duo
which versions of face
anchored by the same eyes (left a bit smaller)
creased nose and lips
so withered and cracked
lipstick traces seams onto my face:
how to decide?

Mother and Patient.
Poet and Wife.
Teacher and Taught. Where is
the split down the middle
                                                     the coming apart?

Any one of me would clasp the other’s hand.
And because no one cares what my heart looks like
I’ll paint kidneys hanging from belt loops,
a shared brain
nestled in the pannier of skull,
a hundred scars between us to mark
what’s been taken, the blood left behind
spilled, caught, and cleaned.

Something Something Something / by Ismael Santos

Sucking at job interviews is my career specialty.
Only, due to that, I’m left at home, and the phone becomes my savoir.
My life is an odd mix of all-nighters with no purpose.
Eating sushi with friends is a golden vacation.
Timing might be everything, but it’s not cool to be on time.
Hitching your wagon to spendthrifts helps no one.
I say things all the time, but I’m not sure I’m even listening
Not to humblebrag too much, but I’ve spoken to Krysten Ritter and Gillian Anderson.
Great job, Mr. Me; go talk to yourself.

so many things happen on a daily basis, when do you stop and breathe?
on my way to a party, or a dinner, or a long walk, and when does it end?
mirrors at night are odd things, is the doppelganger napping somewhere?
endless insomnia is nothing new, but where are the jazz bars?
the times are tougher than I expected, and who wants to stare at watches?
hitting keyboard keys does not lead to wealth, but neither fulfillment?
i do not know anything anymore, so is that where education leads you?
no one way to live, or do things, but do you listen to yourself?
good things happen at random, and yet, why are they so few?

So, this is a poem about one thing or another.
only if a scene could be made, painted, written.
Maybe I’ll give it a shot, as follows:
enjoying the skyline full of skyscrapers,
The clouds part and you see a circle of eagles
High and away, almost looking at the planes flying/
imagine all of this, and ask why does it matter;
not seeing is just as important, and dangerous, as seeing.
good thing we try not to notice, live, and drink our cafecitos in peace

The Theme is Escape Most Likely / by Laura Lee Washburn

The dog on the metal radiator
cover in the picture window
second floor makes panicked
barking resonated with metal
vibrating barks behind
my desk chair. Elaborate
panicked barking metal
booming barking. NO!
When I was 2 they took me
upstairs to Aunty’s
while Mom vacuumed.
I have never had a cleaner
run a vacuum so very
continuously. I am
aware I am not to complain.
The vacuum like distant
civilizations unwinding.
Do you think when Thanos
snapped, he controlled
the consequences of absence,
the pilot missing from the plane,
the mother gone just
carrying the baby up the stairs?
A parent no longer
listens to the news with
children who ask, Do
they shoot children? The
parent no longer listens
to the news with the eight
year old already training.
I assume my neighbor
on the sloped 3rd story roof
had heard his wife crying
and telling the boy You
can’t do this to me. I expect
the basement leaking
wasn’t half his reason
for blowing the leaf blower
leaning down toward gutter
twig and distant earth.
I have closed the door
and for the moment, I suppose
the vacuum machine sucking
endless things into its empty
might even be lulling the
dog toward sleep. Carry me.
Carry me. Carry me.
I cannot be here and don’t
know where to go or what
to do. The computer requires
my presence. The work
requires my body in desk chair.
Even at four, I wanted to be back
safe and unencumbered
in my mother’s strong arms,
but she had a baby and a policy
against tantrums and took me
to the car for a whipping
I only remember from stories.
Carry me. Carry me. Carry me,
please! Oh my God, she
has released the machine
from its long whine. The dog
incessantly licking his paws,
and how many minutes
until the next outlet and cry?

volta or click on the instagram link on my donation page there’s a collage that’s also the poem (aka @rakishheir) or fuck utensils / by Leia Penina Wilson

the scholars construct a flesh & bone lover.
the flutter is amazed      wow they say just wow.
wow wow wow wow wow      what is a pleasure even if venus & diana agree.
horoscope says focus     clarity      determination. take.
i can’t laugh and i do delight.       decoy you for the contrast.
contact haunts hunts cunts.
the bone is infected with the gender. get it away. get it out. take it off.
the rains are coming.
the rains are heavy.
the rains are always heavy.
so horseheavy. they don’t make a maxi pad thick enough.
i know you spotted the period jk from far off but fuck off i like it.
i also like you know that song agony     the wife      cuts a knife—if only doors.
i like last thing to go in      first thing to come off the stack.
subordinating herself to another nighthag one nighthag is at ease.
against all force muchness       a spear. a dead heroic.
a dead heroic waits to be desired.
everything falling to mutiny.       the demigorgon throws wide.
what word closed that sovereign.
such compliant tastes like a challenge.
now birdlessness. yum.
do you have hope—hang on.
i love my abject      aggressive.
i love my abject.      aggressive.
i love my abject.      aggressive.

Poem 7 / Day 7

Freedom / by Sage Cohen

It is not possible to enter
the same river, so we swim

each inside our own
idea of scenery.

Fog rests deep in the trees.
Beyond agreement, the river

rocks accept my feet.
His hands cut through

the water clean
the way a kiss

divides then rejoins
two people

before moving
them downstream.

Tupelo #7: Baldur in Conversation with Jeremy Davies, Interview II / by Jordan E. Franklin

When you put your words
in my mouth, they should come
out riled, as if they climbed
a mountain and every stone bred
holes into their skin.
They should know the cold
of Nifelheim, of every circle
and whip of its snow.
They should be darkened
by the whispers of Hel
and the scalding press
of Muspelheim’s hands.

No, not quite.
I hear too much life there.
Puff out your chest
and spit out the air.
You must sound
like a man who wants
to leave the realms
of his skin.
Every day, life
should be digging its heels
into your chest.

Speak like the motherless child
you are, Coward.
Drag the boy
out of your voice box.
Kick him
into the booth.
Speak through his bruises
and begin.

Approximates / by Hope Guirantes

Pillow songs of your rendition of Crazy Love and my
rendition of Crazy You. Earth, Wind and Fire’s
Imagination and I Write a Song. We believed that
Van Morrison, Prince and Maurice White dreamt of
us before we became us while penning these songs.

Rushing kids to doctors, schools, movies and
keeping promises made. You made the best
hamburgers. My smothered pork chop sandwich
made you pull over and call me. “Damn woman,
what did you do to that pork chop?” We shared
bowls of Captain Crunch in the pre-dawn hours.

You told me your breath caught in your throat the
day I told you that you were beautiful. You smiled
each time you remembered those words. I loved how
you called my name. It took you to help me finally feel
at peace with it.

8 years
96 months
417 weeks
2,920 days
70,000 hours
421,000 minutes
608,000,000 bpm
The number I love you’s impossible to count

From those first hellos and good byes, all those moments in
between beyond the forked roads that separated us, for a while
in our life travels to connect again and again when merged.
To converge into a moment that felt like a lifetimes crammed into
that last hello and the long goodbye.

That night that I knew you would never come home again,
and I whispered,
I love you
Salanghae
Ai shiteru
Doostet daram
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I
love
you…
Until I was hoarse and there
was no more sound. Just your pillow
heavily infused with those words and
my tears.

questing for aum / by Abigail Hawk

the fluorescent bulbs sing their chorus
of neon ceiling rain:

namaste.

i triangle myself into a bind and catch
the trees tickling the sky and watch
the chimneys smoke, exhausted.
i breathe in some air; hold it – there-
sit it in my lungs, let it oxygenate my blood
and then, stalemated,
push away the carbon dioxide chemistry changelings.
i breathe for the trees and they for me.

i am supposedly shavasana-ingbut i can’t un-hear all these humans breathing and
the thunder of weights outside the studio door and
the latest pop song thumping through the floor;
i can feel it beating in the back of my knees.
these external grunts, that corporeal exertion
compete with my intention:
to meditate on mental inertia.

DOES THE GROUND HOLD ME OR DO I HOLD HER?
A POX ON THIS DAMN FROZEN SHOULDER.
WHY IS THAT GIRL BEHIND ME WEARING SOCKS?
THE CLOCK HAS HER HANDS STANCED LIKE A WARRIOR,
ONE AND TWO, DEFENDING TIME.
THIS LINE OF ABLE-BODIED POSERS LIE PROSTRATE BESIDE ME
LIKE ZEUS’ OBEDIENT LIGHTNING.

relax your face, relax your jaw.
relax your fingers, relax your abdomen.

I FORGOT TO BAKE COOKIES
FOR THE TEACHER APPRECIATION LUNCHEON.

relax your eyes, relax your throat.
relax your legs, relax your toes.

i just want one moment of stillness…
to simplify my stunning

DEFIANCE,

but i think

I THINK

in terms of

NONCOMPLIANCE.
CALL THE THOUGHT POLICE.
I SHOULD JUST

let go.

the fluorescent bulbs sing their chorus of neon ceiling rain:

nah,
           ma.
                      stay.

Imagination / by John Long

She stands there in front of the desserts
Like a porcelain doll that’s healthier than a stick
Her dark brown hair straighter than fir with a tiny smile
And a little voice in addition to Barley eyes looking nice in a Chocolate blouse
And blueberry pants

Though I cannot seem to place my proverbial finger on who she reminds me of
And can only guess her actual name which might not have any fame
I can imagine the little lady in a lemon top and cherry skirt dancing during a duet
Resting with a cold glass of pop between songs

It’s curious what the imagination show us at any one time
Most of the time it’s something good but on rare occasion it isn’t
Even though it may seem like it is-such water that’s not really there
Or tourists on an Island who appear to be buccaneers

A Villanelle about something other than Poverty / by Ismael Santos

Poverty, I’m tired of writing you.
The days of celebrating you were never good,
And I figure you must be tired of me, too.

Maybe it’s just because I’m feeling blue,
Inside I’m an old tree, sappy wood;
Poverty, I’m tired of writing you.

All of I’ve told you is partly true,
The winds demand more than I should;
And I figure you must be tired of me, too.

I dream of rest, of a break-through/
Given a choice, would you make good?
Poverty, I’m tired of writing you.

Time tends to become one giant deja vu
(And what weird a word is brotherhood)
And I figure you must be tired of me, too.

This is the bottom near the bottom, a crowded view.
Worrying about worries, I guess this is adulthood.
Poverty, I’m tired of writing you.
And I figure you must be tired of me, too.

Ode to / by Laura Lee Washburn

Joe

We should call it Kaldi, apocryphal goat
heard noticing trembling jolted
goats aleap without danger, joy
jumping, eating plant beans but, no.
The goats never sleep and the monks
of Abyssinia stay awake in their prayers.

Dirt

The berries were the kahwa cherries.
The birds grew lively and dipped
to the shoulders and back in circles
around the mystic Yemini.
Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili.
Name your children after him.

Mud

Cave-exiled starving Omar. Exiled
for healing, saving the sick. Starving
Omar. Whosoever eats these red berries
can only throw them in the fire, too bitter,
too. And, oh the scent they draw us to.
Lift from your weakness. Come home.

Java

Sudanese slaves survive journey chewing berries to Arabia.

Brew

The bitter invention of Satan is granted papal consent.

Cuppa

Roast aroma, dark beans darker in their pan.
Mortar grind, arabica, robusta. Cloves
or cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, pepper
join the dark boil. The pourer raises hand
and wafts the scent ceremonial.

Go Juice

Dutch thieves, hard labor, soothing sip,
the barista’s bold two-bodied leaf of love.

volta or please read this whole poem to Static-X’s “Chroma-Matic” not unsimilar to Blake’s thought is act or she says the octopus-darkness is powerless against her cold immortality / by Leia Penina Wilson

& i agree—                 *cymbal******                   *clashhhhhhhh**cymbal*

what is a worse death than the one i yield      a grain of grief it sprouts deathwet.
ah ah ah like la la la like tu tu tu     et tu brute.    brutus why shut me down.

a rustle tussle rustle—      it sprouts.                                  *clashhhhhhhh*
                                                                                *cymbal****cymbal*********
protocol decrees. where—there!        a sapling stood
is suddenly a savage pain. it will never clothe us. the way      once. it did.
*clashhhhhhhh* the boar hunt charges.
the boar hunt. i let *cymbal**cymbal*
the harvest out. so near his murderous soul.

please rebuild my memory.      *clashhhhhhhh**cymbal******clashhhhhhhh*
two naked runners.       not three—i should have known prophecy turns against
                                                                                                                                 against
                                                                                                                                 against (the flutter)
                            —or the flutter againsts. motives uncertain.

                                              (i won’t turn it down)       *cymbal**clashhhhhhhh**cymbal*

come quickly death.        us against us.       & were it not that old bridge still stands
once blazed.

o constant hate constant heart your value intrigues me.
let me blow
your mind.       you’re mine.      were you pretty once.

 

         uselessly i know.                                what i was when living i am now
                                                                       that i am deadly.                        *clashhhhhhhh*
                                                                *cymbal**clashhhhhhhh**cymbal**clashhhhhhhh*
when he saw us he began to eat himself as one who is enraged with himself might.
when the final goad delivers the deathwet stroke.              *cymbal*      *clashhhhhhhh*
so did the minotaur.                                                *clashhhhhhhh*
                                          run to it                            *cymbal******************
                                          while he is still preoccupied with his own
                                          fury.

i divorce it all       (because i want you to understand my woman motives) (& i understand
                                your economy only knows small syllables)
         *cymbal**clashhhhhhhh**cymbal**clashhhhhhhh**cymbal****

         i don’t see. the need. to control.        *clashhhhhhhh*
         what i can make baroque.    i learn from barbara     my entire
         ambition.     the world.                                            *cymbal*
         the worldless.      all the boy tears to fertilize
         keats my dear march
         my maddest hare my undisciplined pussy.     rabbit!      *cymbal*
         telescope! *cymbal* looked! *clashhhhhhhh**clashhhhhhhh**cymbal*

         speak fancy or you’ll lose.
         my favor.

                      once.     you have a subject
                      & object     & verb.
                      you have power.
                      a power structure.
                      a responsibility.           *clashhhhhhhh*                     *cymbal***********

                                   *cymbal***************************clashhhhhhhh*

                      fuck i miss filth.
                                                                      to see. the absolute necessity of life.
                                                                      hit together the regeneration.
                                                        hit the regeneration together. *clashhhhhhhh**cymbal***
          *cymbal*******************************
          *cymbal*******************************
          *clashhhhhhhh*

Poem 6 / Day 6

Six Weeks / by Sage Cohen

The woodpecker digs for insects
in the telephone pole.

You, too, are starved
with imitation.

When he leaves your body,
what remains? The heart

inside your heart divided
into four chambers and pumping.

Arm and leg buds too new
to reach. Neural tube

just beginning to come
to conclusions. When he leaves

your body, the fog drifts
its umbilicus of light

over the cold water.
Even the geese are still.

Tupelo #6: when you listen to MF Doom, you will relearn your name / by Jordan E. Franklin

stretched or distorted
with a strange accent
over the first vowel.
No longer will your namesake
be someone else’s holy river
or a country you’ll only explore
on a globe.
He’ll pull you to Double Entendre-stan,
right up the multi-syllable channel,
part a dead sea and bring
its fish back to life
with a verse.
He’ll rock the bedrock,
burn the bush
and then philosophize
over its ashes.

He commands you
to spell the man’s name
in ALL CAPS
and here’s how he taught
me to spell mine:

Jumping into a sky of beats
Overhead, headphones on. Everyone
Resurrects when Mister MF
Doom tramples the
Airwaves and that’s why radios
Never share his gospel.

Untitled / by Hope Guirantes

Let the blood tell the story of…

Reverie and dreams of lullabies cut short.
The moment you announce that you are,
you have to announce that you aren’t.
How do you return gifts that were given
after the thank you letters have gone out?
Regardless of how long or short, the vessel
that once held life betrays and hands over your
dreams into the cold embrace of death.

Let the blood tell the story of…

Kids playing on porches and sidewalks.
Music blaring and grownups dancing.
The sound of fire crackers on a hot summer day
with Mr. Softee playing in background as feet run
in tandem with his music. A child lies in a pool of blood
from a ricochet bullet and the running wasn’t for ice cream.
Are our babies safe to play anywhere?

Let the blood tell the story of…

The first man and woman, the split into the 12 tribes after the
Tower of Bable. When you look at someone you feel
you have met before, but haven’t. You walk into rooms for the first
time but know about the pool in the backyard beyond French doors you
haven’t seen yet. That when we yarn, others join in unison because it’s
the angel’s song to the heavens long forgotten but always heard.

Let the blood tell the story of…

Memories and histories of time misconstrued –
Misinterpreted. We can’t trace back our roots
so easy. It’s like a Pandora’s box if you let the blood tell it’s
story. You find out things you weren’t supposed to and open
up wounds that were figments of a bad dream. Linked to a database
that matches you in ways you don’t realize until you get that call
for a kidney from someone you don’t know.

stew / by Abigail Hawk

A well-done poem can taste so damn good, especially when you savor every flavor. Chew it; stew in its creative juices; enjoy the expansion of pen on palate. Just mind the bay leaves, for even one can make the sweetest soup bitter, if cooked too long.

A CHERRY PIT / by John Long

Time continues flowing
But very little changes
Besides location; there have
Been no provocations nor
Much rain for even grains

Life without emotional pain
Would be better if there was
Somewhere to go every day
And someone with whom to share it
Preferably without having a fit

Except for being happy this day
Or even once and awhile how can
I not sometimes feel as if a cherry
                              Pit that has fallen into grits?

After Surfing I Sit with James Turrell / by Amanda Moore

in Three Gems, a skyspace where the whole round room is narrowed up to aperture.
I watch light change blue and darker, blue and paler

while clouds wander across and dilute. Everything is focused
on that single shaft that moves across the room: light through interstice.

Not like this morning when I was lost for a moment in vast:
the ocean tilting at me as it fissured and cleft beneath a flat, endless sky,

waves raising me and dropping me into jaded chambers, hiding
my surf crew from view. Which serves us best, I wonder,

the ceiling’s chink or the colossus? The bench I haunt
beneath the vent, inverted oracle, orifice that reveals just a slice

of what we know is true, or immersion in cold universe: unfamiliar terror,
companion of shark and newly-emaciated whale. We are all so close

to what will kill us, if we aren’t far from it. I marry one to the other,
moving in to moving out, a rift in the sky that brings storm or light, sun bright

wound or neon dawn. Do I open or do I close the passage?
I travel and wait. I take what I’m given. I breach the chasm, no matter the size.

Poem 6: I have lived here / by Ismael Santos

The raccoon scurries for garbage outside,
While the thunder subsides, the lightning rests.
This is a tour of Miami, I’ll be your guide;
the streets of Little Havana, all for guests,
For tourists who flash cameras and wide smiles,
Who hoot and laugh and dream about salsa,
But leave quickly, the ghost town empty for miles.
This is Miami: sunshine, beaches, poverty, trauma/
But what else is there? There’s got to be something.
What about the bars and taco joints, the books and movies,
The will of the people, struggling, hustling, the life humming
For the next payment, rain check, rent. A city with self-made duties:

The voices of the neighborhood still clink at night,
The products of a people who’ve lived in flight.

I have been down many streets, sore red feet,
Dreaming about lives and ideas, never too concrete.

I have sat in Versailles, the hazy memory
Still in my head. Here’s a quick summary :

I went into surgery, and awoke afterward.
I felt hazy, living in the new afterworld.

I was taken to Versailles, the salmon and rice
Staring bacteria at me. The haze was too nice/

I almost fell face-first into my plate of food,
The pain always there, the Cuban coffee good.

I have lived here. I still live here.

The Other Kids, They’re Just Over There / by Laura Lee Washburn

I had so much trouble
remembering phone number,
tying shoes, the worst
was drawing a picture
with nothing to copy
but the girl beside me
whose picture was ugly
freckled circle I’d never
enjoy. I’d been good at
coloring.

I had so much trouble
with the multiplication
tables. I had so much
trouble with the locker
combo. Grammar,
frankly, kind of bored
me, but the teacher
came in one day in a chair,
both ankles broken
in tennis.

I had so much trouble
with answering email,
changing the phone number
at the websites, telling
the certain entities
of any change in status,
dealing with the will
lawyer’s office, remembering
the heartworm monthly,
scraping and washing
the washer door, making
him medicine the face,
reminding him water,
work out, scheduling
weights.

What I did was go out
with the dog in pajamas
and start pulling weeds,
ripping vines, throwing
them all in piles. What
I did was read headlines
without stories. What I
did was read novels
where folks went deep
underground on pulley systems
they forged and twined,
where children drowned,
where punishment took decades.
What I did was put
the dog up on the bed
even though it wasn’t allowed.
I let him sleep. I patted
his chest. All my life
I have leaned on the metal
post and cried. All my life
I have remembered five.

volta or there was so much sand i thought it must be love except i didn’t download that feeling so horror or chosen vessel why so faint of heart / by Leia Penina Wilson

habitually my dreams
empty themselves

saved: sacred: silence (with love forgotten trust ruined too)

is connection                        horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying sand
its own prison                      horrifying sand horrifying sand

                                                                             for a regular prism to reflect light
                                                                             it must rip the light through its own body
                                                                             break the light its own body
                                                                             remake fiercely some owned body ideal slow
                                                                             it down      violence
horrifying sand                                                  is done

horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying
sand horrifying sand horrifying                                   forget your hopes they were
sand horrifying sand horrifying sand                         what brought you here idea
horrifying sand horrifying sand                                   isn’t that broken too as if
horrifying sand                                                               more torn
horrifying sand                                                               than barely touched
horrifying sand
horrifying sand horrifying
sand horrifying sand                                                     with dire warnings! of! woe! (wonder!)
horrifying sand horrifying sand                                   beware beasts who despise!
horrifying sand horrifying sand
horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying sand                                 from stranger trees
                                                                                                                     sad ill will!
                                                                  horrifying sand
                                                                  horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying

                                                    sand horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying sand
                                                                  horrifying sand        fill your eyes
                                                                                                             with things
                                                                                                             fill your eyes
                                                    uncertainty of
                                                    being      bring me back
                                                    formless      careless
                                                    & too unrelenting      it’s hard to listen to me
                                                    & not them      the refrain of rupture     i am enraged
                                                                                                                          help help. the victors yelp

horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying

horrifying sand                                       sweet galahad your horses’ bridle
horrifying sand                                       is the same color as your hair      you have the same look
horrifying sand horrifying                    in your dead eyes      the horse
sand horrifying sand                             bows his head in reverence      you proudly try to catch
horrifying sand horrifying                    my eye      always boys try proudly      i bow my head
horrifying sand                                       to your horse      haven’t i given enough haven’t i given enough
horrifying sand horrifying sand          to the escape
horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying sand horrifying
sand horrifying sand

 

Poem 5 / Day 5

Namaste / by Sage Cohen

My son and I walk through the early morning neighborhood arm in arm.
I can’t remember the lyrics to the Maroon 5 song One More Night

so he is coaching me through it. I cross my heart and hope to die
is easy to remember, but I wander off into improvisation at the lipstick part.

We stop to make sure the worm crossing the sidewalk
makes it safely to the grass, speculating about how

the rough cement feels along that slick, undulating body.
See how he expands and contracts? See how he knows where safety is?

Oh, baby, give me one more night rises up again
between us and sweeps us right through to the tattoo part

and I know this is a ridiculous song for a mother and son
to be singing, but he is focused only on the pattern

of words and showing me how to follow them.
Can we stop, he asks? I want to Namaste you.

I’ve been in yoga and meditation and acupuncture classes
where we bowed Namaste into the circle of strangers

as if blessing were a casual thing
until my son came home from second grade one day

eager to share this prized new word.
Namaste. May the light in me be with you.

Namaste. I see and stand in his light.
We stop singing.

He closes his eyes, and we walk step in step in silence,
the rhythm of our paired bodies carrying us all the way home.

Tupelo #5: Bullseye / by Jordan E. Franklin

I started playing Darts
as a grad student in Southampton.
I didn’t question how the only
Black things for miles were me,
the sky and the patches on the dartboard.
As expected, my aim was poor
but my teachers were good.
Sophie and Cameron taught me
over beers and wings
and an electric jukebox
that sang whenever my change
rested in the middle
of its mouth.
Within a week or two,
I nicked my first Bullseye
over sawdust and parted feet.

I take pride in my accuracy.
Ever since Dad put a gun
in my hands, ever since
I landed a bullet at the heart
of the standing target,
I found myself the target
of his pride. There is a power
in getting at the heart of things—
levels in video games,
texts, poems, people—
I have to see the damage
I do, otherwise
I’m not worth it,
so when I say my final words
to Dad in the nursing home
and hear the bite of his retort
behind his door as I walk away,
there is a brief tang of joy.

On Transcience / by Abigail Hawk

Spring comes on frosted windowpane,
condensed to dew, perhaps precipitously.
Spring comes in wind-thrown cirrus clouds,
whispered soft through rooster weathervane.

Spring comes in ache of bone before rain,
in the rich red breast of robin, ready.
Spring comes in shake of sycamore, small soil-quaked as
a bulb its shoots thru dark earth strains.

Spring comes as tulips part, and sing,
seeking sky with a vibrant lullaby.
Spring comes on ducklings’ winged shivers, and sighs:
Break forth: Awake, ye little dormant things!

Spring stays, content ‘til the time of the ticks
and mosquitoes comes relentless, those
harbingers of hydrocortisone and redness,
signaling Summer, with its high sun transfixed.

Old Style Country Music / by John Long

Simply remove those ancient discs from the safe
I want to listen to them
Modern music’s such a bore
It bores me down to the core
I love the old style country music

Duplex: Our Bodies Are Scattered / by Amanda Moore

Our bodies are scattered, unanchored without words.
But aren’t I also trying to think about afterlife?

After life, anything we think is moot anyway.
My mother’s mother knew about foundations.

To be a mother is to be a foundation:
I am a bottle, a mouth, a meal, a bed.

I am a bottle, a mouth, a meal, a bed.
Morning elbows its way through my windows to find me.

Morning finds me on my elbows at the window.
I used to puzzle over coincidence.

Coincidence feels like a puzzle I can almost solve.
Strange enough some days to wake into a body.

My body is a stranger when I wake.
Words are anchors, hold our scattered bodies.

Every time the power goes out / by Ismael Santos

The darkness veers up, again.
The fan slowly moves, like a wind-up toy
About to end its routine.
The fan dies down, and the thunder and lightning threaten everything,
Including my PS4. Oh, and my dog, Shena is scared.
Job applications got to wait. Instagram comments and snap chat memes
Will have their day, soon.
The night belongs to humid dreams that are not remembered.
These things happen all too often.
The rain hits this old house, the ceiling cracking, debris
Making its way inside.
Is this paradise? Is paradise dependent on sunshine, rainbows,
Cheap margaritas, trinkets and sombreros?
Are the red tour buses out tonight, the tourists pelted with rain on second-floor
Seats, the Cinco de Mayo festivities ruined, or adaptable, or
Happening, regardless? Every time the power goes out,
The things to do, to get done, the money that’s not here,
The food and the coffee and the boredom and everything slows
Down; I dream of a hammock rocking in the wind and the rain,
To forget all my problems,
To breathe deep and let Nature
Take its course.

Sunday Morning, Just Be Nice / by Laura Lee Washburn

The dog is barking at the friend
leaving. The dog is barking
at husband’s step, step, pointing
at barking dog. Just be,
can’t you? Why do you even?
Because, like later there’s
going to be tacos, even if
mostly meat and you don’t—
Quit complaining—
beans and margaritas with a couple of friends.
He’s yapping high in the window now.
People are so strange not answering invitations for outings.
You’ve got your icon Frida cartoon
copyrights stolen china t-shirt
and your hair pulled up.

The dog is nervous around the door
waiting for threat, but you can
pet him under the chin. He
never gets enough love, more
than he deserves, never enough. He worries—
just be. Just be nice. Sunday, man.
Men have written about this;
easy, all good right, right?
As little as you get invited, you say yes
to everything, unless they all
come at once, like they do. But
Sunday morning, it’s Spring. Cool.

Sunday. Be nice. You went once
to Sunday school and had to copy verses,
never could keep up, confused.
Are you always this negative? Be nice.
I think it is my parents needling
or maybe Sunday morning isn’t nice.
It’s when baby leaves. It’s
the old man making God break.
The dog knows why he’s barking.
It’s the men that go to war, and
pigeons sinking darkward by the flock,
and the body all alone and all the world
behind you in the glaring [but
appearing one day only limited
engagement] Sunday morning sun.

volta OR all the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass OR one nighthag to another
nighthag what powers has she experienced / by Leia Penina Wilson

“do you” “want” (some of my blood)
                             (to fuck me)

“do you” “want” (the fuckme blood)

Poem 4 / Day 4

The Container / by Sage Cohen

It works like this.
Say what you want,

seek agreement,
then let go.

When the kiss
doesn’t come

don’t make him
the man who

won’t give
it to you.

Strip this moment
of resistance

let the overlap
imagine you

backfill your heart
with what is offered

let your body rise up
into its ache

There is nothing wrong
with wanting. Let

it move through you
broken and breaking

a lace of foam where
the ocean meets the shore.

Tupelo #4 / by Jordan E. Franklin

After Johnny Cash

I’ve left my bed
in strange altars,

swallowed the slug
rusted in Dad’s right hand,

leapt through the ring of fire
and pulled stories out like teeth.

I promised to stop
telling these stories

but they sit like thorns
in my head. When my mouth

opens, they cut its roof
and sing.

Untitled / by Hope Guirantes

Aurora gently kisses me awake and
I give thanks for the gift of a new day. This day of renewal and opportunities to pickup where I left off and to try again in a new way. As I move about, may Spirit
envelope all in loving care as the Universe prepares the way for life’s journey today. Let me forever be mindful with compassion, discernment and kindness as I interact with the world. Let names of all that I pray for be included in this affirmation. As I acknowledge the divine in all whom I meet each day, let my actions, thoughts and words be the affirmative of love and peace. And so it is, Amen.

kinesis / by Abigail Hawk

cold war brings hot peace:
indifferent action breeds
an uneasy rest.

Truly sorry / by John Long

Years ago, when we met at a picnic
You were like a breath of fresh air
And it was my hope that we would
Forever be friends, as opposed to trends

Something went unexpectedly wrong
And neither the distance between us nor the
Conflict should have ever happened even at
The drop of quarters- I am truly sorry!

Ocean Beach Full Moon / by Amanda Moore

I know to blame the tumult of last night’s
fevered dreams on the full moon which wakes me
hours before the alarm clock. I can hear
the sea wild in its cage pulling me down
like an element of tide before dawn
where I watch the bright coin begin to sink
into the deep pocket of sea. I’m not
alone—in the water hooded surfers
in the line up unafraid of what lurks,
circles in the dark beneath them. One stands,
scrawls his name across the face of a wave
and falls back into foam. The shard of moon
remaining glows fluorescent announcement:
Dawn. Am I mid-point or just beginning?

Dog thoughts / by Ismael Santos

What is this strange human yapping about now?

He’s either yelling at some pixels on the big black box

His grey face looking sad and haunted, smiling and joyful/

He’s probably barked more words at me than anyone I’ve known.

He’s probably cried more than I have,

But that’s not so bad. His tears fade into the yellow of his shirt, the blue

Of his hands, the grey of his face.

Where’s my mom?

She is tired, sleeping, on the same bed I spend most of my days on, this formless mass,

A color I can’t really see.

The house, or Casa, as they say here,

Is old, and the roof is falling apart, and the cockroaches
That I used to

Eat, have multiplied and occupied this place. I’m not allowed to eat them, anymore

I’m called Princess, Bella, Sucia, Old Woman, Young Sister/

All of these names, these hulking things called humans

Have a penchant for naming names.

Except for themselves.

Handheld / by Laura Lee Washburn

I take a minute to unbird
the tree frog singing in rain,
in downpour, amidst thunder
clap. I’ve read the roots
of trees speak each to each
in language—or is communication
always language? Grass
screams to warn grass
or so we believe the scent means.
Does grass remember screams?
What does grass do
with warning? Meanwhile
people are locked
in thumbprint solitude,
antithesis, electronic
blips and codes,
and lights that flash twice
for imagined golden coins.
Surgical sleep is joined
to memory loss so the cut
or cracking bone, the
surgeon’s joke or nurse’s gasp
doesn’t follow patient
through the years. The patient
wakes and feels
and can have no more
sedation. Root on root,
tells me
only skin to skin is real.

volta OR lacking true vocalizations my wings make a metal-on-softer-metal sound during flight OR i
would do anything to have her touch me again even though she was partially human & i hated my
own wanting / by Leia Penina Wilson

“poetry is”  “the bloodjet”

“can you”
“pour”  “it”
“into me”       “my
wetness”  “lacks”
“the blood”      “the poetry”
“the”  “poet’s”  “blood”
“the blood”  “of the poets”

“could”  “you”  “pour”  “the poetblood”  “into me”
“is this”  “the act”      “of exchange”  “after all”

“my heart”  “excited”  “covers”
“my mossy”  “passage”  “redwet
redemptive organ”     “i”  “get disturbed”

“run on”  “two feet”  “livelyeyed”  “wet”
“my lungs”  “with wine”  “wet”  “yours”  “too”

“our moist”  “lungs”  “our wet lungs”  “moisten”
“wetting”  “wetten”  “wettening”

“do you”  “want”  “want

Poem 3 / Day 3

Besheret / by Sage Cohen

Can we know only
when looking back

what was meant to be?
When your husband

left you crawling
sobbing blood

across this threshold
could you have seen him

now, crawling after his toddler
daughter, child of another woman

as you hosted her birthday party?
Could you have imagined

when you lost that baby,
the one you wanted more

than your marriage, more
than your sanity,

that this was the way you
would make it out alive?

There was no way to know then
how loss carves canyons

into cradles of shadow
that amplify our light.

Baldur in Conversation with Jeremy Davies: / by Jordan E. Franklin

1) I’m not always a god of light and love.

2) When men plead at my altar, I send their prayers to voicemail.

3) Not every call to blood is worth my time.

4) The tattoos winding on my torso were meant to greet pains that never came.

5) My anger is a three-letter palindrome.

6) The All-Father is quicker to call me
“attack dog” than “son.”

7) Some days, I know I am the son of an epitaph.

8) I don’t miss the women or mead, just the memory of them.

9) Although the world ends when I do, I don’t really care.

Some day, I will walk into Hel, mistletoe like a lapel tattooed over my heart.

Some day, I will thank my killer.

Persona / by Hope Guirantes

The sum of all that exists between
Paradise, Mud and Perdition.
Reaping souls and thrashing them
on the stone altars of birth and rebirth.

Swirling and twirling upward towards
Heaven, where I can never enter.
Resting midway in purgatory before
my downward spiral to
the reflective pools of the Underworld.

Climbing back up to center to wait…
Perched dead center with clipped wings.
Yearning for warmth towards the light above
While the cold of darkness below nips at my feet.

Taking flight when the call of souls comes
wanting companionship.
Clasping all lovingly on their journey.
Will I recognize you this time around?

grOWing pains / by Abigail Hawk

little bodies in lobster pj’s:
spooning, mooning, heavenly bodies:
swimming, pINCHing, clawing bodies:
drawing you
to your deeper pool: the darker, much more bitter side.

little bodies with limbs akimbo, minds askew, mouths ever-moving:
me! me! me! me!

but, peace, parents:
the molting comes so hot and quick and it can scald
you with its speed and then you’ll miss these
smALL potatoes with their big EYES:
and those little bodies who sway your tide.

Baker / by John Long

There is the baker, standing up straight
Looking out the window, his thoughts drifting,
In back of him is his old oven inside which is a pie
Baking and turning brown in the heat.

His apron is covered with flour and grease
stains from previous tasks, waiting to be cleaned
but he only has the one apron and has been busy
Baking, delayed mostly by interruptions.

Baker, keep on baking your wonderful treats,
Do not disappoint your many customers;
Tomorrow, those customers might recommend you
And this is what you wanted to do.

Baker, your cakes are moist and the icing is delicious;
Your cookies are enjoyable, even with chocolate milk
The scones are served with hot herbal tea, and your
crumpets are tasty with hot chocolate!
Baker, bake in the name of Christianity,
Build and keep your personal reputation
Now and forever, spiritual love shared
in everything that you make

Bake here, bake there, bake every where you can
Bake, and allow nothing to discourage you
Just concentrate on what you love to do,
And sell your goods to whoever you can.

Fill the plates and napkins of hunger customers
including those who hand their plates up to you
with little smiles on their faces- it’s the Christian
to do!

Retreat / by Amanda Moore

The humming bird strums open air
in silent agency. Jasmine, its throat steamed open,
cloaks the path in scent and chokes
the hot afternoon with purpose:
breathe in, breathe out.

In the pool, a robot trolls the depths
to suck up leaves and seeds. A thin scrap
of shadow makes its low, quick arc
across the surface. Strangers bob and circle
in turquoise silence, only there to cool themselves.

Missing home I watch the honeybees
busy at the blooms outside my door
and the bottle-blue bird, its kickstand of tail
going up and down, up and down:
they all know what to do with today.

And I sputter and stall,
walk the labyrinth, trace the passage
to the dining hall, bow on my mat
and count poses. Pranayama, tadasana,
shivasana: labor without fruit.

The Rain / by Ismael Santos

The rain would bring a cool breeze, you’d think;
It doesn’t.

The rain has stopped and started all night long,
The raindrops yelling outside my windowsill.

Now, the daytime is grey-clouded,
And my dog doesn’t want to go outside.

Does she sense this, the future of things?
Can she tell that it’ll rain and be warm, forever?

Now she looks at me, waiting to talk about the Rain,
The thing that’ll flush out all the beach-goers today.

Imagine it: beach lovers, tourists, assorted fishes,
All angling for cover, rushing away from the endless waves.

I’ve swam in pools, in beach waters, during thunderstorms.
It’s not too bad.

The thunderstorm sounding from the horizon, the flashes of beautiful
Light in the distance, the lightning that has scared men for eternity.

What’s the worry? Death? That happens, anyway.
Fear of getting wet? I’ve heard people jump out of pools during the rain/

It makes no sense, to me. I understand my dog’s fear, and maybe it’s
A different one: the fear of the silence before the storm, the unpredictable

Beauty

Vengeance

And utter devastation

That Mother Nature

Designs for us.

Wet May / by Laura Lee Washburn

First the termite treatment
killed the termites, or
so we hope, then the young
snake living at the garage.
A month later four baby birds,
two without feathers,
on the driveway. My dog
pukes bile in the morning.
When my husband comes in
smiling I try to uncross my arms
in time.
Last year or
perhaps the year before I
called a black man another
black man’s name. I,
apparently, suck. I am
looking to escape and
only want to eat sugar or
coffee. These feelings
are uncomfortable.

I have a friend
who has not cared about living
since her husband died. She
had a necessary hysterectomy.
She lives in physical pain but
can’t face treatment and recovery.
The grief counselor offered her pills.
The chiropractor offered her a counselor.

I bring her chocolate brioche
and the fragrant white hyacinth
blooming with courage.
She shows me the luna moth
she has followed all day from tree trunk
to wood shed, its green wings
spotted brown, its safe space trembling
with humans. She goes to work.

Outside I hear birds I have not killed.
This time cardinals, insistent.
Sparrows nest high on the house.
I wonder should I trash the now
abandoned wood house nailed to garage?
Does my dog need treatment
for eating grass?

A whole
generation is ready to throw itself,
trembling like a moth, vomiting
in the mornings, at the shooter.

When we pass through these days
without sun, I think
When we pass through these days
of the pesticide fading away
When we pass through these days
of neglect and distrust
When we pass through these days
of undisguised tyranny and lies
When we are past the children under mylar
When we are past the for-profit jails
When we are past the generations jailed
When we are past drugs for feelings
and guns for feelings and what—
my stomach feels queer—

When the sun comes out, I think
the small Russian irises will open,
we’ll have two weeks without mosquitos,
we’ll eat happy on the back patio,
under the red umbrella in the cozy
enclosed yard where we used
to watch birds feed in their Audobon
house nailed high to the garage wall,
and the dog will bark through the fence.

volta OR the psychology of the pyromaniac OR a chorus of cunts begins a howl when i read that you howl / by Leia Penina Wilson

was! it! revenge!

attempting to undo myself
i left you behind sister

there is no object so soft as shame

—capitalism’s one true dream: forsaken son of the amazons
i might have left you dead yet
by jove i thought instead to make
your meat useful

no apology with merits challenges
that fatal bond      expectation

red queen fertility goddess almost oldest shameless girl
of course you would advise carelessness      i admire
your bravery      however distant a landscape hard remembered
carelessly so that nothing not green will survive

carving red meat ready cunt

& you
disappointed by that advice
again am i to be spared by mistake!

my dear march my maddest hare beloved evocator       from what
tradition persists adequate ventriloquists

haha any white man could tell you
the sounds of nature (too chaste
for my taste)

love me        would you love me

(strange         you’ve become my own
mythic

at the entrances it didn’t matter how many pieces of clothing i left
the wind never carried

(begin a howl         *a chorus of cunts begins a howl*

holy bitter madness rabid
holy bitter madness rabid
holy bitter madness rabid))

Poem 2 / Day 2

Harmony / by Sage Cohen

I have always wanted to get it right
before stepping off the curb

but today I don’t wait
for the traffic to stop.

Sometimes we have to trust
Elton John when he sings

You can tell everybody this is your song.
I’ve spent my life looking for signs

of the absolute. Painted into the ache
of shadow and light while

music held my place.
Each ratio of resonance

with its allowable proximity.
Harmony a kite gliding

above the melody line
distance its dependency the way

words can never say what we mean
the way you hold me an octave apart.

Tupelo #2: Girl with Headphones, Pt. 1 / by Jordan E. Franklin

Song: “Plastic Love” by Mariya Takeuchi

I’m just playing games…

There’s a girl
on the subway platform
smiling, her head bobbing
to its own gravity.
Her face, a moon bathed
under dustbowl lenses.

I’m just playing games…

Her humming breaks
out like the marks
on her dimples into singing.
Today, bells rebuild
their steeples in her mouth—
they are relearning their songs.

I’m just playing games…

Under the sunlight,
she is what prayer
could be—a oneness
with air, heartbeat
and blood, an electric
lotus, church in motion.

Avowal / by Hope Guirantes

I don’t love you.
I never have and I never will.
You are every moment of my day and thoughts.
My greeting and my farewell.
The words of every chapter.
All the ink and every page of the book of my life.
In every hymn and song that I sing.
The foundation of my every prayer.
The seat of my soul.
The comforter of my spirit.
You are my faith and religion.
Commercialized and romanticized,
the word that so many long to hear.
Incapable of encompassing the me of you
and the you of me.
I don’t love you.
I never have and I never will.
You are the air that I breathe.

MIND (THE GAP) / by Abigail Hawk

Sometimes I want to step in
(THE GAP)
between the train
(and)
the platform,
but
stepping there means flirting with death
(and)
skirting
the
edges
of this realm
(and)
next.

It’s not dying that I desire.
It’s living
              deeper.
It’s that
nearness to excitement’s abode,
a slow

S
  L
    I
     D
       I
        N
          G
into an abyss,

swim,
a sink or
a do or die,
flight,
a fight or
an engagement of my core, a braving of a little more,
a creating of space for
what lingers there
(and)
what lies beneath.

Listen, I’d just like
to pay a visit,
to offer my two cents
for passage down the River Styx
(and)
a chance to
hug the grands
(and)
cuddle cousin Maverick
(and)
laugh with Mikey
(and)
act with Tim
(and)
maybe be a neighbor to Mister Rogers.

I guess I just want to
exist                                                                                    in
(THE GAP)

                     inspiration
between
(and)

                                                                           release.

But, after all, I suppose that’s             , isn’t it?
(life)

Friendship / by John Long

Friend is a word of Royal tone
Friend is a poem all alone
Friend is a word that must never
Be taken for granted and a tree to
Never be cut down

       Friend is a phrase that should never be ignored
A term that should be respected and never
Really questioned even due to a lack of
Understanding

Friends and family are something everyone
Should have- friends and family is something
Even fish have even though they may know it not

May Second / by Amanda Moore

an erasure from Donald Culross Peattie’s An Almanac for Moderns

Bird-foot violets:
pansy purple      pale lavender
and the leaves                               cleft
like claw.

Seeds in fat little pods.                   Flower

untrue to
the Canada violet, yellow
violet, the common blue,            the

white marsh.

Little runners from the stem,
colored swellings
—unopened
bud.

Gnomish, colorless flowers
fertilize themselves                    but

violets

are vagrant blossoms

the caprice of bees.

What’s needed for successful applications / by Ismael Santos

A cover letter with clearly defined goals and motivations/

An email that isn’t permanently overcrowded with spam/

An agreeable sounding name/

The willingness to sacrifice all your soul for eight bucks an hour/

A resume that has words like “Proficiency” and “Efficiency” and “Fast Typer” and

“Good Kisser” and “Good at getting coffee” and so on.

Maybe, by the time you get a job interview down pat,

And the insomnia and the anxiety and the Cuban coffee

Have all mixed into a toxic stew coursing through your veins,

Well, maybe you’ll be ready to fill out another job application before your job interview

Where important questions will be asked of you, such as:

“What animal would you be and why? But no, seriously, why a nightingale, bruh,

You should have answered LION because that’s what we fuckin’ want here, LIONS!”

Or “Describe your life in three movies, and if you say Wolf of Wall Street or Casino or

Goodfellas, then you’re on the right track for our Executive Junior Mid-Entry College Grad

Assistant Slash Coffee Runner hyphen Rubber of Feet.”

So, you meet face to face, finally, With the same electronic Pitbull-Eric Clapton remixes blaring in the lobby,

And the resume in your hands lies limp and tired, like your dreams,

With the interviewer looking at you and asking, “So, why do you want this job?”
You let your awkward tongue wag around, shake hands, and then wait 20 minutes for an Uber.

Next Door Triptych / by Laura Lee Washburn

I. Barking Dog

I’m called down from frustration
to a ringing the doorbell two times.
“Company” my husband says.
Construction paper flower cone
for May Day, something
that still happens in small town
Kansas, my first ever. They
moved in last year. Sometimes we
talk about bugs in the driveway
or how my dog almost bit
him once, but Ethan still wants
to be friends. He’s afraid
isn’t quite getting through.

II. Wet Basements

Later, after a lot of things
have gotten more frustrating
and strange, I come upstairs
to see if the computer reloaded
the system or hung up again
and hear loud sounds no
computer should make. Not
the computer, but Ethan’s dad
with a leaf blower, 3.5
stories up on a wet sloped roof,
squatting, leaning toward leaves.
I go back down, tell my husband
call 911 if you hear a loud
thud. I go to a windowless room.

III. Pink Paper Cut and Glued on Green

After Ethan fed the cat treats,
and poked treats and a toy
into the dog’s crate and asked
if my husband lived here
and if he was like a trainer,
a dog trainer, and after he
politely took just one small
sugar cookie for a thank you,
and waved feathers at the cat
near the front door, his mother
rushed up the walk frantic,
talking only to Ethan, You
can’t do that to me. I’ve
been calling for you. I
called the police. The police
are on their way. I
didn’t know where you were.
Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
I I brought the flowers. Sorry.

He made the cone in school
and kept it safe and not crushed.
He doesn’t ride the bus. Someone
in the family drove him home.
Sweet old tradition, his cone says,
May Day Happy your nabor Ethan.

volta OR german chocolate layered cake but built with words & imagine sprinkles though i
                                know sprinkles are purely decorative & don’t go with gclc OR what is fire / by Leia Penina Wilson

cakes for snakes
cakes for each replication      of an imagined image
and their truth (i imagine the image so
many times i know only this truth competing needs
ethical choices      what is owed
much     (i break first
seduction’s one true duty my love
whose life is a sorrow i suffer))

cakes for clouds
cakes for crying (i love a slow death
every year i rejoice
in your slow death
though i want your body
kept
safe       from a father’s inheritance
uneven sidewalks headaches      that old quaint family
democracy biting the side of your cheek)

cakes for each obscure mischief (o don’t worry          yes
managed yes)

cakes for fear       of doubt        doubtless delight (o
daunting surely       yet yolo yolo)
dog it like some city (curbside splendor!
such pollution! i do it unpolite!
yo! ho!             & a bottle!)
cakes for the rage       all intellectual        the rage!       if not victory
is yet revenge!
cakes for snakes
cakes kept cool as school       milton my love
to repay you lemon meringue       i have three
copies of the same son    twice birthed     what dragon would voluntarily
come down who wasn’t cut out before she’s dead

she remembers some involuntary casting
she remembers some sort of solution
some it’s the muted voice of the dying winter embers
              which enchants this heart of mine
              this heart which like the covered flame
              sings       as it consumes                    our first necromantic sequence

(resolve yes
resolve)

Poem 1 / Day 1

God Mouth / by Sage Cohen

When God starts giving me instructions,
my actions are so immediate

I don’t know I am listening.
It is time to return my son

to his own bedroom says
the God that is me dragging

his twin mattress down the stairs,
this rotting carcass of mother

whose body was long ago left behind.
In the empty space I now call pleasure

shaken loose of all the men unable
to love me, there is a blue flame of rage

awaiting further instruction.
When God declares me ready

I have already birthed three generations
of poems. I am willing to be amazed.

When the body of the man arrives
in my bed, head on my belly,

listening for the world
passing through on the way

to rejoin itself,
I begin to listen, too.

Tupelo Poem #1 / by Jordan E. Franklin

I think “Dirty Harry” by the Gorillaz
should be our new National Anthem.
I mean, really. Dawn’s early light
is too fairy dust and whiny
for our next generation
of cannon fodder.
They need something
with some grit—something
they can sink their barrels into.
I mean, this track has kids singing
about slinging a gun for country
and what better way to fill
the glock-shaped holes
in our souls
than with a catchy jingle?

We want kids to eat,
sleep, and pray gunmetal.
We want them to ask God
for an AK,
for the kids in Chicago
to have typewriters
they spray like dice
all along their blocks.
Let us Abraham
these Isaacs ‘til the dye
ain’t read enough
to stripe our flags.

Wait, what do you mean
it’s a protest song?
If Reagan could draft Springsteen
into an anthem
for red, white and blue
then why can’t we?
Just pull a pop, pop,
pop station move and nix
Bootie from the record—
no need for Brown
in this flag.
Besides, no one will hear
the words over the refrain
of .45 church bells.

If November Was A Flavor / by Hope Guirantes

Cloudy and cold became my flavor for November.
Walking past the annual day of gluttony and
a birthday that shares that day every five years.
Only two days exist in a month of thirty.
The last time I said I love you and
The day a stranger told me you had died.

The world full of color became monotone and
I am always cold, even in the summer heat.
Perhaps it’s because there is a part of you that exists
Right there…
That space in between two collarbones
Aching with the memories of your kisses.

It rains most days in November.
It’s salty flavor a reminder that we all
come from the sea.
I recount those moments. The conversations,
the kisses and declarations.
The planned for wedding day that never came.

When the rains come, I let them pour over me
in droplets, drizzles and streams.
I don’t worry about my hair frizzing or makeup running.
I let it cover me like a sheet as it soaks into me.
For my soul needs to clean house and clean it must.
November is almost gone and how else am I to heal?

A Ledge / by Abigail Hawk
-Ed Lee

I don’t actually know how to write poetry.
I don’t actually know how to write.
I don’t actually know how to.
I don’t actually know how.
I don’t actually know.
I don’t, actually.
I don’t.
I…

Ask A Friend / by John Long

When I was growing up
People sometimes said
‘If ever you need help
Regardless of a gap
Ask a friend – you can rely on friends’

But if ever that was true
it must have been a trend
Because in my experience
It is no truer than stew-but I want to think it is

May Day / by Amanda Moore

Help me decide how to begin: dance
or destruction. Across town they’re kicking
in windows and torching trash cans
while at my daughter’s school they’re raising
a maypole strung with candy-colored ribbon.
The truth is both feel about right: I’m angry
all the time these days—the thumb of capitalism
on the back of laborers as good a cause
as any to unleash rage and raise
my voice at last.
                              But it’s also finally spring.
Heat builds in bloom-scented mornings
after the sun tosses up a riot of color and wakes
commotion at the lip of the hive. Wheat turns
its ears toward us, cows jump
over fire, and beans sprouts are crowning
the rich, rested earth. An all-night revel, the children
in their lupine crowns could be the protestors
clotting a smoke-filled street aring with siren It’s all of a piece:
this world, its desires and tantrums and furies.

Graduation / by Ismael Santos

Early hours
No sleep
Time to rise
And order an uber
While your mom gets her makeup done
And makes sure her hair and outfit look good/
While you struggle into a pair of jeans that used
To fit, and you stare at your belly and think,
“Yep, I’m getting a degree.”

The uber takes you (relatively) where you need to go,
The “Convocation Center” aka the place where the
Basketball team practices/
Your mom goes to the main entrance, to find a seat
In the upstairs bleachers. Your ass goes to the student entrance,
Where #2 pencils are collected in little bowls, in case you
Messed up somewhere in your life.

You probably did.

Anyway,
You sit with your friends, and fumble your way into the cap & gown,
Praying all the while there won’t be too many speakers.
To be a speaker at a graduation, at a “commencement,” is the equivalent
Of putting yourself in a straightjacket, with only a few minutes
To escape. Do you serve platitudes, cliches, speeches about perseverance,
That rove around poverty but never mention the word?

I ask this at buffets, too. I’m a bit of a party pooper.

In today’s graduation madness,
It was the president of your prestigious institution,
Fighting back against Spongebob memes on Caps
Of students,
And also mentioning words you can’t tell are what you
Really heard/or just products of insomnia;

“Bling,” “Homies,” “Squad,” “Hamilton/My Shot”/

Really, just remember to buy the merch.

Or see the football game, too.

You try and record everything down in your head, to remember the feelings

That can’t occur again.

I have skipped out on plenty of celebrations, ceremonies, interviews,
Opportunities, because while it’s nice to celebrate,

It can get a bit heavy.

The passage of time, demarcated and bounded by one ceremony,

The “Before Commencement”/ During Commencement/ “After” Commencement

Part of life.

The ceremony ends, the streamers fly, the Pitbull music starts (because this,

In my case, and now your case, dear Reader, is Miami)

And you’re ushered out,

To the sunlight that is way too bright.

You pause and try to remember an important question:

Did you actually stand up on stage and get your diploma?

I think you did.

You think you did.

The pictures and the webcast

Prove this.

But when is proof important

For poetry’s sake?

Feeling Race and Sexism are too Complicated
I Decide to Focus on Birds / by Laura Lee Washburn

Ruby-throated grossbeak on
the shepherd’s crook. One
keeps watch from the high
curve while three feed, their
throats sharp and the color
of blood. Males, again,
are marked with flash.

Wrens are nesting at the
high turn in the copper
downspout, arced toward
roof. No fools, they’ve
built strong and dry.
They don’t trust me
to walk by the window.

The dog goes as high
as he can, to the chair’s arm
and growls from second story.

Once I heard a terrific
chorus of squawk and scream
and saw the sparrows
chase the hawk with
sparrow in talons. They
shrieked and did not give
up through battle air and
chase.

The species are marked.
The dog trainer says
this one has a strong prey
instinct as if they admire
his dogginess, but I see
it manifests in bark and
fight and fear. He
rarely chases birds. Robins
light on our wet grass.

This is my second
sexist dog. I dress
in more colors
than my spouse. Social
constructs follow me
everywhere. Yesterday
was all thunder rumbling
and unceasing rain.

Today we break for
bird calls, arguments
we cannot understand.

volta OR is there any surprise left OR my best friend says to write a poem about cannibalism
but make it cute / by Leia Penina Wilson

—red reconciliation

:against an infernal broken mirror      deep
fear      what doubt reduces
the miserable

i want not
to be violated
and      to be amused

     attached      halfdead
halfdivine halfdead halfsnake
formlessness & fondness wild      let us execute
all our malice: paradise lost a filibuster the fall of men again
a sacred bog      treasury wet      the snake does the prophesizing while i eat

     your trashbody
love the evidence of your desire for me      who now
never moved passed the stage where everything is
in terms of their own needs

who now refuses their own memory—

from what from who do i conceal you from
is my affection too permanent

i know not what to do
thought renders unusable our empty—

     thought renders unusable our empty
house      my mossy passage participates in the making of the myth
am i master
architect      or
some image i don’t want
to remember

i don’t want to remember myself the wreck
of the hesperus     some toadstone grown magical
ingredient      many things are worse
than my refusal      i would

i would
poison you