Welcome 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 September 2019 are Roxanne Bogart, David Hall, Adam Hughes, Carol Jewell, Jennifer Santos Madriaga, Denise Miller, Matt Sadler, Vivian Sanchbraj, and Celia Stuart-Powles. 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 20 / Day 20
Running / by Roxanne Bogart
Spider webs rip at her throat
she wipes the invisible threads
from her face, with each step
flattens acorn abundance underfoot
showers from plentiful oaks
as her mind spills a flood
of thoughts and the interior
an all-consuming foreground
blinded to the far away forest
her step quickens
avoiding rocks, roots below
forcing curtains to close on
the continuous replay
reenactments of past stories
projections of future scenes
the constant reeling
not even disturbed
by raucous jays
so many acorns flattened
thoughts to jettison
with every step.
Echo / by David C. Hall
Indoor swimming pool
filled with black water,
rectangular, deep and long
dark beneath the low ceiling.
Fear is wet like air.
The white tile walls
are cool and moist to the touch.
The echo is the echo
of a hollow empty voice
nowhere and everywhere
The lines are straight,
the surfaces plane,
a box within a box
within a box…
The only divinity that
these men know
is all right angles.
Autumn Chores? / by Carol Jewell
Don’t rake your leaves this autumn;
birds and other critters will thank you.
If you go ahead and rake anyway,
don’t expect to see many birds this winter.
Birds and other critters will thank you,
in silent and unseen ways,
but don’t expect to see many birds this winter,
if you remove their food sources.
Silent and unseen, but still communicative,
their actions speak louder than words.
But if you remove their food resources,
next growing season, you may be overrun with mosquitos.
Actions often speak louder than words,
although you can’t un-ring a bell.
You might be overrun with mosquitos next year;
natural mulch is better than man-made.
You can’t un-ring a bell, so pay careful attention!
If you go ahead and rake anyway
all of the mulch be for naught, so
don’t rake your leaves this autumn.
Knowing / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
The worries have not faded,
even with you by my side.
It is not that the troubles disappear.
In fact, they are sometimes amplified
by a love that complicates.
How will it work with factors
like distance and conflicting schedules
and illness and family obligations?
Too many questions about
the how can cause me to lose hope.
So I have to remember,
Not the how, but the what.
What I want. What reasons exist for loving.
And then to say yes to whatever comes.
I know we both contain resilience.
In fact, that is why we are perfect for each other.
You told me one good day together
is better than a thousand mediocre days alone.
It’s true that to see you erases
time like it never elapsed.
It has never happened in this way for me.
Every sad turn, every misstep
has in fact brought me to you,
to that moment when you said,
“I’m scared because I know
I can care for you.” You wanted to say
love but it felt too soon.
But we already knew.
All my life, I asked, how will I know?
And the answer is you just do.
Without Justifying: How to Make an American Mass Shooter – A 30-day primer / by Denise Miller
Buy them bullets and a bible for their birthday—
new lead but Old Testament. There is no
substitute for that “Vengeance is mine” kind
of tutelage— no stronger script to be used
to shapeshift women into wanton and wicked,
or center sin in the souls of the dark-skinned.
Strawberry Moon / by Matt Sadler
Drunk & 4,000 miles
from my girls, above
the cedar peeking in on
my little slice of patio,
crowned with a ring of
cloud wisp, I see it.
puffed out like a
dandelion, the moon,
& the white dot of
her tiny lover, Venus,
by her side
like a toy dog.
Perception is funny
sometimes. If god were
a real thing it’d be
a quail egg to our
eyes & we’d eat it
for a penny. As if I’m
not some bag of cells
fattened by water, sitting
next to a painted
dividing our views.
4,000 miles is nothing
if my love is as big
as a venus. The flower
I picked today, tiny
next to the babbling
creek, I put it between
the pages of the book
I’m reading, to bring
home, to show them
how much bigger it is
than anything else
they’ll ever see.
No more / by Vivian Sanchbraj
I encounter myself
in the whiteness of your bedroom
my breath abandons me
blinded by the striking white
of the ceiling and walls
a golden icon gives a brief pause.
Whiteness mist keeps falling into
the bed linens and pillows.
Your back is warm, your body is so simple
and I think it weighs nothing.
I encounter myself
in your embrace, nothing but your face
and the whiteness fades behind.
Huge is the flesh, scarred the fingers,
an unsinkable ship carries us.
I am still figuring out
what part of me stayed
in all the whiteness
now that you are no more.
ODE TO POLKWEED / by Celia Stuart-Powles
Polk-weed, Polk Salad, or more formally:
Phytolacca, you are a tall, strong girl,
But alas! Once more I find you rooted
Firmly in the ornamental bed.
I confess I do not love you, native
That you are—and useful too, if
Poisonous—a nightshade? Well,
Why not? I have tolerated Henbane
Lurking low among the posies, let
Moon-lilies take possession of a bed,
And Passionflower a wall and a bench.
True her fruit is not poisonous when ripe,
But I’ve yet to take a bite—and your leaves,
Too, are edible if picked young and
Properly prepared—and those berries
Mighty tasty if you are a catbird, mocking bird,
Cardinal or thrush—and if not for human
Consumption may be reduced to red ink
Or dye. Even your deadly taproot can
Be used to make soap—but do not touch
It with your hands: wear gloves.
That you are useful there is no doubt,
Yet with my shovel I’ll dig you out.
Oh true, your red and purple stems
Are attractive, and you are handsome in
Your own right, so perhaps the fault is
Mine: I am perhaps, a pollinator at heart:
A fickle lover of blossoms, which you have
Not. I’m a sucker for dandelions in the grass,
And give wild violets free range in any bed—but
They are small, and you can grow to ten feet
Tall—smaller than the Oak leaf Hydrangea,
That’s taken over—so I’ll allow a discreet corner
For your pleasure, and remember that you
Were an accidental gift, from a friend.
Poem 19 / Day 19
Late Summer Skinless / by Roxanne Bogart
The electric hum of cicadas
rises in waves
like heat from pavement,
the morning run
an annoying sweat bath
I slap deer flies that land
with sharp mouthparts
to cut tender flesh
to lick oozing blood
off sliced and sticky skin.
Hornets and wasps lift off wood
drenched by hotheaded clouds
that let go of so much rain
in violent outbursts
the night before.
Bumblebees, honey bees, butterflies–
white admiral and cloudless sulfur
work purple flowers
of echinacea, aster
and thistle, and I wonder
how donkeys can graze
on the prickly stuff.
Summer in all its vibration:
blue jays cry
from the wood
in foraging displays
above the lake.
Out of near necessity
I have become
only eyes and ears
trying to forget
my hot, wet, bitten
Thing / by David C. Hall
With the bare white wall behind it
it seems to surge out of the black tile
as if straining to emerge,
as if about to fall,
as if at the last minute
by what might be taken
to be a knee bent,
wings, heavy and contorted,
It is made of a dirty red iron,
brutal flecked with black,
rust-pocked and heavy,
the heavy twisted
wings as if unfinished,
not quite like all true art,
it is not quite anything,
maybe a butterfly
shrugging off its shroud.
A Lyric for Today / by Carol Jewell
Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday, myself,
Happy Birthday to me!
Note written during lunchtime in September / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
Oh, love, these days run so long,
and it’s been weeks since I’ve ssen you.
Fall is coming, and already the air is
signlaing change, blowing cool streams
all around me. The sky is punctuated
with puffy cumulus clous that speak
of fair weather. But it won’t be like that forever.
The last time I saw you, a storm was brewing.
I drove in high winds and sheets of rain.
It was the night the coast was flooding.
Whe I arrived, I was soaked through
despite a slicker and rain boats with
a ruined and failed umbrella.
Why am I always nervous when I see you ?
It always feels like meeting you for the first time.
Even during the initial encounter,
I already knew I loved you.
The only unknown quantity was how much.
I stepped out of the tempest and into your arms.
You felt my nervousness and kissed me on
the forehead so tenderly that all doubts
floated away. Even now that tenderness
carries us. I am recalling the way you looked at me,
sleepy-eyed, almost innocent, before bedtime.
I feel so alive at this remembering.
Time apart is heavy but this memory
makes all things lighter. That’s how I know
summer’s love will survive the arrival of
this new season of the unknown. Have faith
that love grows. The thread may be stretched
but will never break.
Without Worrying: How to Make an American Mass Shooter, A 30-Day Primer / by Denise Miller
Teach them not to love at a distance,
lassize faire should never venture in
their vocabulary. Tell them, ignore the ex—
that begins any relationship explanation.
Assure them, merchants will never ask
their mental state or evaluate their hate.
Nakie / by Matt Sadler
The first thing my youngest does
upon arriving home is to tear
off her clothes, strip down to
her undies, free herself from
that prison. Her face is radiant
when she’s done, her pale
skin gleaming. Sometimes you
need to feel air on your chest
and thighs, face the reality
of life with true bravado before
diving under the covers to
Spring Nocturne / by Vivian Sanchbraj
On a Spring morning –
the latent summer’s fury
roams and leaps –
like my bitter shame –
it is vigilant of your death’s –
Repentant – I can finally cry –
nobody is waiting for me –
what a cross-bearing relief –
I’ve been longing –
to see you – vivified again
in the splendid realm –
of my dreams –
sometimes you disregard me –
And frankly – I’m more
wondering about –
-fragmented mirages –
I don’t mind dying –
anytime – soon –
at dawn – in the entrails of a bar.
People dare to point out –
your flaws- so
pitiless – if they only knew –
dying for love
was your real –
cause of death.
In your last days-
you set up everything-
The black irony-
-to save us-
Was it a blow of madness –
or it was your way –
of fooling us all –
with your exalted heart alone –
You couldn’t grasp –
that loving in nimiety –
turns into a haven
for martyred monsters.
ODE TO A ROACH / by Celia Stuart-Powles
I’ve tried, god knows, I’ve tried to love
Lowly you: bargained and bribed,
Allowed the porch and tossed you
Gently into the garden with a cup.
I have tried to see you as beautiful
Patent leather shoes as you scurry,
Admired your fame in song and dance,
And acknowledge you as Yemaya’s
Calling card and crunchy protein snack.
I’ll admit your legs are delicate, and envy
Muriel’s epiphany—and often I muse
On you typing late into night and
Imagine your sensitivity, agree even,
That the butterfly is perhaps shallow,
And ubiquitous you, equally talented—
Man’s shadow companion, and if not
Necessary, then symbiotic symptoms:
Our excess, our waste, draw small opportunists
Lurking in the dark—but now you’ve overrun
The mark—so please consider,
Mutant toe-rag, you walked the earth before
Mankind—and will trawl our erudite remains,
Feast on spines of books and glue, but now,
I offer you a trail of sweets, so please,
I entreat old friend, retreat.
Poem 18 / Day 18
By the Sea / by Roxanne Bogart
My senses, moments isolate in still frames
as I release to the ocean’s way
hear only herring gull
cry from above
see only stone slabs
steadfast in their knowing
smell only beach rose
as I make my way to the edge
where seawater gathers
around my feet and recoils
pebbles and shells frisk
about my toes and slip away
the moments become each wave
my mind the body of the sea.
Our neighbor / by David C. Hall
When our neighbor comes out of the house
every morning to go to work,
she presses a button that unlocks her car.
The lights flash on and off.
Then she presses another button
and her house disappears,
leaving behind only a thin
twisting column of smoke
and a tortoiseshell cat.
Then the cat disappears too.
I was starting to worry.
We were concerned about all the burglaries,
she explained, one Saturday
when I was out in the garden killing slugs.
You should try it.
An American Sentence / by Carol Jewell
The deed is done: though my anxiety rises, still I push forward.
Alternate Ending / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
In the letter I write myself,
I say, “I’m not the same person I was before.
I am still trying to figure out what that means.”
It’s a letter I want to write to others
but can’t find the words to say.
I only know that I want things to be different.
But how? The lack of specificity
is what prevents me from ever sending it.
As well as lack of potential recipients.
Really, I am that much alone.
All I know is that disillusionment
seems to the be the same ending for
every scene in my life. Wanting something
larger seems to end in sabotage.
I was meant to be a character in a sad story,
full of ashes and forgetfulness.
I walk a path of thorns, sharpness
shaping everything. The sweet dreams
are interred in a place that I no longer visit.
Unluckiness is what some inherit.
These things are pre-destined, I suppose.
I had a funeral for hope long ago,
and grief for it seems so wasteful.
Without Attention: How to Make an American Mass Shooter, a 30 Day Primer / by Denise Miller
Feed them equal parts Apple pie and aggression and when they formed an appetite seed their obsession—. Plow up any empathy that lay fallow, Hollow then furrow their soul. Let. them fertilize with their own delusions.
Plate Tectonics / by Matt Sadler
for Harry F
I want a geologist to turn me into
a metaphor, a mighty heart
meeting another at the subduction zone
and pushing itself miles into the
thinning air, but it’s not fair
to bend science into symbolism yet.
A bee cruising my yard over the
first dead leaves of fall
isn’t the same as my epic quest
to find beauty in something
ordinary. None of this is ordinary.
Moonlight spins itself into photons
and flies a million miles to
turn upside down in my cornea
while the effluvial miasma my
heart pumps through my body
volcanoes itself into a bruise
when I fall down overwhelmed by
delight, a thing I created inside
myself that changes me. I want
a physicist to explain to me how grief
swells a heart and shrivels a gut
without an equal and opposite reaction
but I feel the ground shifting
beneath me, the plates moving inside,
forming and reforming the
surface ever so slowly, right
now as we speak.
The white room / by Vivian Sanchbraj
They lived consummated affairs
And reunited by infatuation under different skies.
In their last rendezvous, she drank
His repulsion like a poison and said goodbye.
She can’t stop dreaming with him
And along came the lack of caresses from other men
And her body inexorably ages untouched and unkiss
She longs for the moment he finds her
“Come, let’s go back
to the house of the hill,
I’ll make you a new woman
between dreams and reality,
in the white room.”
STARRY NIGHT / by Celia Stuart-Powles
Vincent Van Gogh
With a nod to Wallace Stevens
In that September near the asylum
The wind grew bold and turbulent one night
As in the sky the stars waxed doubly bright
And made one think of dots on maps of France,
Each dot a gas lit station far away
To which the artist added haloed nimbi
Who then but he, evoked such hallowed gleam?
Like angels singing glory to the highest—
A paean for his wild tormented mind.
A cypress rises darkly like a hand
Or prayer in greens and blacks against a sky
Of varied hues of violet, cobalt blues,
And pinks—and there’s the crescent moon, a hook
In orange and scarlet, borrowed from his hair,
As heart and brush illuminate the scene.
Poem 17 / Day 17
The Call / by Roxanne Bogart
Raindrops showering down from leaves where they gathered the night before
glint in morning rays as I climb to the top of Five Tree Hill. Below,
a fledgling sparrow rises out of a hayfield, its body floating upward on rapid wingbeats
as a larger bird, more steady and sure-winged, follows close behind, together making their way
to the safety of a beech tree. I continue further along the dirt road down a steep hill
to where the wetland lies when scores of blackbirds suddenly lift off
from deep within the reeds, wings clapping air, rusty backs shining in an August sun
waves of them, one after another, heading south, roused by my presence, reminding me
that every life must eventually leave the hours and homes of youth
hear the call that stirs us into flight, begin our own journeys toward joy.
Crossing the river / by David C. Hall
On the bank of the river
on the bank of the river
on the river bank
in the night
I think of yellow
smell of wet
and earth and weeds
of the frogs
it is hardly even a river
more like a creek
over the stones
if it has a name
It is a question
of crossing the river
of crossing the river
in the dark
stepping from stone to stone
when you slip
the water’s cool
on a warm night.
On the far side
of the river
faint flickering lights
in the windows
some of the windows
along a dirt track
At the end
of the row of houses
from the last house
light splashes out the open door
a plank bar
propped on sawhorses
one bottle of whiskey
in a plastic jug
on the shelf behind the bar
a long time past.
A man with
a round red face
on a stool
at a little round table
his fat hand wrapped
around a tall glass
I came here as a child
and I’ve been here
who would’ve thought?
Mantra / by Carol Jewell
Hey, don’t forget:
what goes around
be careful what you wish for,
all that glitters is not gold,
you can’t tell a book by its cover,
you’ll get yours in the end,
and, I am hopeful,
that the end
Wondering / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
Some things are a clear indicator
for rest. I feel depleted as the sun
comes up. I know I slept but
it’s like it never happened.
Life just wears on me sometimes,
even though I know that
I’m lucky enough to be alive.
I need to touch the stones
in the river, to feel the cool water
flow over my feet. I can only
use memory to smell the mist
of an early morning.
I can almost quiet the voices within,
absolve myself of unneeded
responsibility as I make a cup
of coffee. Almost. So many things
weigh upon me. I wonder why
some things work and why others
do not. I wonder why some of
the largest loves I knew
have failed and disappeared.
Did I grow too much?
Or was it even love?
(Deep inside, I know the answer
is yes, even as those persons,
those things no longer serve me.)
I am still dreaming about the water
while awake. Maybe it’s a need
for baptism, to rinse away those
invisible burdens I cannot identify.
Without Reckoning: How to Make an American Mass Shooter, a 30-Day Primer / by Denise Miller
Teach them how to pen their manifesto—
preferably in ink, but blood will also mark
the mythology that makes them lone wolf
wilderness walking and wielding manifest
destiny. Teach them how to missionary metal
or lead so that they are able to demonize the dead.
Homework / by Matt Sadler
I don’t know how to write about mass shootings or the hot death of our planet, so I’m going to tell you about homework. Have you ever had a vision of yourself, only better? This is not the kind of work I’m talking about. Not the monster inside you, but the one outlined on the page. The instructions say to color the monster using only red, yellow, green, and purple, but the monster, one-eyed & four-handed & smiling at me, seems to be telling me hey, man, just do your best, just give it a try! When Gretchen walks in & asks why I’m staring at her homework, I hide the black and orange crayons I’m holding behind my back. I could teach her a lesson now about conformity & individuality, about race & will & agency, but instead I say Do your homework! like a boss before going outside to mow down the yard.
Mother migrating / by Vivian Sanchbraj
You emerged from motherhood
Shattering the harmony of your husband
And daughters hearts, but who am I to judge
Preaches religious rhetoric over and over again
Young, powerful, proud until this day
You sought a better life against all odds
and decades passed and you carried on in America
You provoked anomalies in our minds
by your sudden absence, abandonment still
terrifies little girls in their adult lives
You gambled with our saneness, even yours
To a blind country for whom exactly the bell tolls?
You set up for glory and culinary idolatry
Glorifying every step taken on the way.
HOD / by Celia Stuart-Powles
“But magic has a way of lying low, like a rake in the grass.”
Terry Pratchett, “Equal Rites.”
Watery and reflective: this is where
The magic happens. Try it on
Like a new shell; does it fit?
Trickster or Hermit, the lantern
Held high: light, shadow, illusion,
Or dreams of the perfect machine.
It’s all in the mind. How doth the
Little crocodile? He that hath the how:
Like the plumber who just walked
Through—aha! Plumb the depths,
Monitor the mind: what are the connections?
Or where? Thought slips through
The sluice like water, like magic:
Mercurial, swift, and just maybe, lying low.
Poem 16 / Day 16
Endings / by Roxanne Bogart
There are beginnings
and there are endings
growth and ripeness
in between. Some endings
just need to be made
a sharp blade to sever
the cord of attachment
set free the life
to continue its journey
other times it’s a boundary
to be set after a long spell
Illusion finally burns out
like morning fog
under the sun
Like the flow of seasons
we learn to move on
corn grows tall
and must be harvested
tobacco leaves thicken, widen
and must be cut
the red blood
of streamside cardinalis
signals autumn’s arrival
a celebration of vibrancy
summer’s spirit wilts
descends to soil.
Sleep / by David C. Hall
For as long as he could remember
the old cowboy drank his coffee
from a red tin cup,
careful not to burn his lip.
That winter nights were hard.
Death crept in beneath
the warmth of the blankets.
In the morning he was cold
and would never snore again.
At the DMV / by Carol Jewell
listening them call out letters
and numbers like bingo
or a lottery
Benches hard as
Children running up and
down the aisles
How come people who came
“C470! C470, window SIX,”
“C470, window SIX!”
“A511, A511, go to window number seventeen, A511, window seventeen!”
I was “R0743.” It seemed like
f o r e v e r
until it would be my turn.
When I finally got to the counter
–90 minutes after my arrival—
it would be too much
to get a new photo taken
so I kept the old
the younger version of myself
Deed / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
What’s there in the quiet,
Part of me already knows.
Summer is waning,
the early mornings now reclaimed
Even the singing peepers
have diminished their volume.
The season of change
is always upon us–
it’s just sometimes we notice
more at unexpected times.
I used to need the drama of
announcement, the bold
entrance to cue importance.
But now I know differently.
Aging is happening cell by cell.
Wisdom accumulates in
Like the time I realized
love can still exist in
that a song of freedom
can still be sung
just for me as the only listener.
I managed to love
in the saddest of circumstances
where the only one left to love me
I climbed down the tower myself
and spirited myself away.
And I didn’t know how
large that task was until it was done.
All that was needed was
the deciding to do so.
Without Questioning: How to Make an American Mass Shooter, a 30-Day Primer / by Denise Miller
Tell them— live in a land that has more guns
than people. If possible, publicly carry because
concealing won’t call attention to the right they
got to wear their fear near their fist. Should some-
one walk in their direction— law says they’ve got
the right to stand their ground without question.
You have to listen to the world / by Matt Sadler
You have to listen to
the world not just
the throbbing glow
of the screen not just
intellectually. The soft
hum of it under the
crickets, the chorus
of room noise, the
breathy flutter of a
frantic moth, the snap
of its body crushed
There are so many
other things you are
not guilty of…
You have to listen
when you have no
power, when the world
says me too, all
of us, everyone
you know, everyone
Ivy climbs the bark
of an old cedar by
your creek, but that
can’t cover the madness
outside you and all
around, inside you if
you decide to listen.
You have to build
a home there, a life.
You’ll build it with your
own hands, from the
smallest pieces, from
apple seeds and
plastic caps and moth
parts in the debris
field, from whatever
you can find.
Maybe Bukowski / by Vivian Sanchbraj
Bukowski is in my car’s back seat
in the middle of my friends –
annoyed thus he’s not holding a drink.
I sit comfortably in front of the wheel
careless of the road, the car drives itself
this is just a dream after all.
I complained about macho poets
privilege of writing about women
and sex –he knew he belongs to the list-
Charles sudden advice: don’t write books
like the Fifty Shades of Grey
is preposterous, a disgrace!
The luminous summer is fading into autumn
in a public park a pregnant woman
introduces herself, Charles kisses her
and touches her belly followed
by a doleful look, and tells me: “Maybe.”
“Everybody needs affection” I said to him,
and put my head on his shoulder
a tormented sob took hold of me
while he held my hand.
YESOD / by Celia Stuart-Powles
The ninth Sephira
As the moon waxes full, like a womb,
Above earth, so Yesod , the Foundation
The vision is here, the idea wants a form,
There is a passion for incarnation,
But will it work? Is it viable?
Even a table must have a working plan
Or leave the carpenter liable—
Passion and pattern must walk hand in hand
As yes, over time, nature sometimes evolves
A solution to problems of chance,
But this is the test lab, through which revolves
Permission to enter the dance,
A chute through which each thing must tumble,
And without which creation would crumble.
Poem 15 / Day 15
The Wish / by Roxanne Bogart
She sinks her hands deep into soil
gardening gloves left lying on the shelf
her skin longs for dirt’s cool sweat
feel worms wriggle.
Her nails fill with blackness.
After softening the soil
she shoves hard with the cylindrical trowel
creating deep round holes
squeezes flowers from their pots
tears roots before laying them
gently into the earth openings prepared
wild geranium here, verbena there
in beds of wetness and nourishment—
space to grow, absorb
from above and below
all they need to become.
When she is done
she leaves the yard for the forest trail
climbs the rutted, rocky hill
rising along Dean’s Brook
reaches the right-of-way
that opens wide with western views
of undulating, green hills
plants herself on a fallen log.
A raven lands on a nearby tree branch,
joining another, black feathers gleam
in late day sun. She hears them growl
to one another, low tones of a secret language.
She looks down at her black fingernails
remembers why she has come
as the edges of her body dissolve
and she becomes a wish
to assimilate the avian discourse
the world all around her.
The lion and the semicolon / by David C. Hall
The lion and the semicolon
went to dinner one evening.
Wishing to be comfortable and undisturbed,
they chose a restaurant known
for its eccentric clientele.
The waitresses in their black trousers,
men’s white shirts
and little black ties
were too cool to seem to notice.
The semicolon fed on abstractions.
The lion ate grammarians.
Herb Ritts’ Janet / by Carol Jewell
Herb Ritts’ Janet looks at you
from her frame on the wall.
She’s black and white,
but I can see the
chocolate velvet of her skin.
Her eyes are kind, her smile,
I can see the wind
running its fingers through
My friend calls her,
“my girl,” and
When I met you / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
Some big things happen quieter than a whisper.
Witness the sprout pushing through the husk,
the declaration of existence in tiny unfolding.
Who would suspect that something so miniscule would
grow into an entity of beautiful substance?
I still remember the moment before I knew you.
I saw the back of your head as you walked
through the door, and realized you were the one
I was supposed to meet. I had a fleeting thought
that you were a dark horse as I walked through
the entrance. The light was dim. Initially
I could not find you.
In that space before knowing
There is before
and after and that space
The space before knowledge.
The space where change
is already happening but not
recognized until hindsight happens.
I stepped into that space and
then turned a corner.
You were sitting there, waiting for me.
You had been waiting your entire life.
And I had been waiting too.
We both didn’t know this
until we saw each other.
What else about that night
when we kissed and laughed?
And how we felt fear because there is still
surprise at an answered prayer,
especially a prayer you never knew you had
but your heart had been hoping all this time.
Oh, heart, betraying me, opening
the high walls I built so carefully through the years.
How you opened the door without my knowing
and said, “Come in. This door was meant for you.”
Without Regretting: How to Make an American Mass Shooter, a 30-Day Primer / by Denise Miller
Name them hero— a white knight in a
too black, too brown, too female, too
immigrant world. Make them believe
they are Arthur and label the sword pulled
from that stone the Ruger AR-15 bullet
fished from the flesh of their first kill—
Teach them to eliminate failure
by eliminating the origin of the no—
the girlfriend or wife— estranged or
restraining order— the boss or the boot
camp— let go or disciplined will all
disappear with the snap of a trigger finger.
The look just before the happening / by Matt Sadler
The creek is a gift if
you let it sing to you
about what’s up there-
is a kind of future,
echoes and musty brightness,
hope if you point yourself
the right direction and
smell the water’s clear,
crisp, blunt refusal
of the life it’s
*title from a line in Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, by T Kira Madden
The visitor / by Vivian Sanchbraj
Between sunset and sunrise
the constant monster arrives at three a.m.
the Cyclades gale-force winds sound
like witches yawns and slaughterhouse howls.
Desert dust swirls under the moonlight,
he closes the door, crumbles and ashes blow,
silently enters but his bellowed breathing
never cease and sits at the edge of the couch.
Lays his hands on the dormant prisoner
he kisses her closed eyes and hair
he kisses everything that is dead
and wakes up entangled in alga bloom.
SUMMER / by Celia Stuart-Powles
Summer is hanging heavy and sullen
With heat, and as days shorten she is
Undaunted, flinging flower after flower:
Thirty moon-lilies this morning, waning
East to west; hot afternoons, the passion
Flower squanders pristine blooms: ten or so
Today—and even the Persian lilac is
Giving it another go. One chrysanthemum
Is anxious: a flash of yellow here, there,
As temperatures soar—and if there’s rain,
Mosquitoes ruin the game—and yet,
As Monarchs pass this way again,
There’s no denying summer’s end.
Poem 14 / Day 14
Soul Sonnet / by Roxanne Bogart
I wait for my soul to rise into the day
exert body and mind till both have done
their duty, their fill, grow weary and forfeit the rest
opening space amid the heaviness of both
for a sinking in, a lightness, and then a sudden
lifting into the wind where vultures soar
above sky-filled water, summoning a winged life.
Above sky-filled water, summoning a winged life
lifting into the wind where vultures soar
for a sinking in, a lightness, and then a sudden
opening space amid the heaviness of both
their duty, their fill, grow weary and forfeit the rest
exert body and mind till both have done
I wait for my soul to rise into the day.
Brief history / by David C. Hall
A column of ants marches determinedly
across the gravel driveway
in more or less single file, unaware
that all around them the Empire is falling
and the streets are filled with people
struggling to strap Steinway pianos
on top of their Mercedes.
The ants, when they reach their destination,
have still not evolved sufficiently
to feel a sense of satisfaction,
as far as we know.
Origin / by Carol Jewell
My mother’s and father’s fluids, energies, co-mingling, formed my sister, my
and a non-gendered sibling I never knew; miscarried.
Emerging / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
I know working the shrapnel of sorrow
out of my heart takes time.
When that metal surfaces,
it’s grief all over again,
the sharpest of pain where
no forgiveness exists,
for myself or others.
But then that hollow in my heart
becomes open again,
ready to be filled with something
of my own choosing.
And what will go there?
It’s September and the harvest moon
is rising over the road, between
the trees, and that sight
is both familiar and brand new.
The leaves aren’t changing yet,
but they will, and I am changing
in ways I don’t know yet,
my body still healing from near death,
my heart still recovering from
having all its buried detritus
exposed by the shock
that all of this, everything I know
will end in some way that
is mysterious and inevitable.
My dog rides in the front passenger seat,
looking out the window.
My son reads in a book in the back seat.
Before, all of this was mundane.
After, all of this is miraculous,
to be able experience life as normal
right now, despite the realization
it is all leaving in a quiet way.
Reductio Ad Absurdum / by Matt Sadler
You can’t put water in a box
then call the water itself a box
because of its shape. Instead,
you’d say water in a box, or perhaps
a box of water, and I bet
you can’t step into the same
box of water twice, but it’s
gotta be statistically easier
to do than in a river. Imagine
the universe aligning just for you
to have your special moment
of return, only to find
the molecules, fussily arranged
into their previous positions,
refusing to hold their shape,
because of nature and fluidity,
because of the way things are.
This is when Heraclitus and Zeno
start dueling like clown cowboys
inside your brain as you
nervously step into your slightly
different box of water, you brand-
new master of ceremonies,
center ring and the mustachioed
waiters begin freezing your water
into ice- ice we call cubes because
of their shape!- To plop into the
highballs they keep delivering you there.
In the realm of death / by Vivian Sanchbraj
In the realm of death
my father appeared in front of me
in the middle of the desert
He wanted (he was downhearted)
to say something
but didn’t dare.
He looked at me,
and then lowered his chin
touching his chest.
I asked him –do you like that realm-
I understood him perfectly:
he despises being dead.
And then I embraced him
and his muscles and bones
I sobbed like a young girl, and saw
him no more, just an empty space
shattered by knowing
that I will never see
the genuine smile, that showed
how charismatic he was.
Awaken by sobbing,
my father has abandoned
the realm of my dreams.
SUNRISE / by Celia Stuart-Powles
Compared to yester morn’s display:
Flame and fire against the slate smoke
Of a cloud bank—today’s is quite humdrum,
With naught but a low lying lavender
Dragon, not yet awake as the sun
Breaks from citrine to ruby, the serpent’s
Hoard escapes, abetted by a gnome?
Or does she doze and watch with pride
As her egg hatches from the ashes:
Phoenix rising, as each orbit proves
This alchemy, sure and true, makes gold,
Makes light—and so she rests,
A gentle amethyst, silent, slightly dazed,
But nonetheless, amazed.
Poem 13 / Day 13
Four Morning Haiku / by Roxanne Bogart
Two ravens fly past
a glowing belt of salmon
the early sunrise
Thousands of green fans
a phoebe alights on the branch
Ginkgo is adorned
by the dark pond of morning
two oaks, two hemlocks
Maples leaves hover
over the chattering stream
winter wren arrives
I knew / by David C. Hall
I knew what I had to do.
I was already high above
the land below.
I still had to climb the mountain.
There was a path, a trail, then steps.
It was a long way,
but it was not a difficult climb.
When I got to the top
I had to walk out onto a ledge.
I have always been afraid in high places.
I looked down from that immense height
and felt terror.
Then it passed.
I must have become a god.
I would have thought there would be
a crowd of worshipers
gazing up at me from down below,
but when I saw there was no one there
I was not disappointed.
I looked down from that immense height,
and knew what I had to do.
Missing You on Your Birthday / by Carol Jewell
I’m missing you, Dad, on
what would have been your 111th
Your mind was starting to go,
when you left me,
and I sometimes wish I could talk to you,
find some sense
in this world.
I asked, a long time ago,
whether there was an afterlife even
for people who didn’t believe
I never got an answer.
What would you have to say
about all the messes we’re in?
you have a beautiful great grandson;
someday I will tell him
about you. If only
you were here to
read to him.
I can still hear your voice.
The Slow Trek / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
Some days I manage better than others.
I cried everyday for weeks
after being discharged,
not even sure what I was grieving
though every past mistake
came back to haunt me,
every fear came back
to live in the gut, stretching it
to the point that I wanted to vomit.
Did I stand in front of you, fully intact?
Or was it just a convincing illusion
of who I was before?
And to whom am I addressing
The imaginary audience
judges harshly, deeming
everything as failure.
How to overcome this loud
and self-inflicted penalty
is something I am still learning.
I place my hand over my heart to
feel the rise of my own chest.
Breathing in, breathing out–
an act so simple and miraculous,
refuting the silence of the abyss
where no songs exist.
I prefer the sound of the dirge
to the vacant void.
Let the quiet always be punctuated
by the sonatas of heartbeats.
The Myth of the Penobscot Building Destroyed by a PoemTitle / by Matt Sadler
The Penobscot rises like a cubed beacon
into the Detroit skyline, its edges melty in
perfect curves, an art deco masterpiece,
it’s hundred foot top hat emblazoned like
Rudolf with a blinking red jewel, an aviator’s
lighthouse back in the day. The heart of
our grit, built by a lumber baron
from Maine & named after the Penobscot
tribe he helped destroy as he rose from
working the river to exploiting it.
If I could name a thing after what
I’ve destroyed I would write a
poem called My Lack of Confidence &
add a tower on my dalliance
with the wrong girl back then and then
trellis the thing with reflective windows
and then try to make eye contact with
myself. There’d be a weedy river inside
full of bass & we’d sing the thing to
sleep. I couldn’t name it
Insomnia or Anxiety but they know
their names already, they’ve built
palaces inside me, they don’t need
my tower they are moons
in orbit, and I think about honor &
naming & know this rich dude & his
architect didn’t know shit about
rivers. Not the Detroit. Definitely not
the Penobscot, running
from God all the way down
to the ocean. Not about sustenance.
not about family. Only about
desire, at any cost. You can’t build
a monument to exploitation.
You can take something, but you’ll
never own its truth.
Athens 2007 / by Vivian Sanchbraj
Every day he leaves me alone and I walk through the streets
following my instinct. I like to photograph children
playing football, and lonely old women. I drink coffee
among the Greeks and I observe. The heat, and the reminder
of his promises strike upon me, evoking the desert
where I was born. I vindicate the mistake that I’ve have made
since ever, falling in love at the speed of light
with my best wishes in vain. My loneliness is more hurtful
and I move forward with everything I’ve lost and won.
The images in the Greek T.V.: fires among hundreds
of trembling trees arrive at the edge of the city.
The flames spread like the arms of the dead
snatching more men turning them into a constellation of stars.
ROAD WITH CYPRESS AND STAR / by Celia Stuart-Powles
Vincent Van Gogh, 1890
It is a wild road, more like a torrent
Of water, and yet two workers stroll
Unperturbed and perhaps thinking of dinner;
And the horse drawing a surrey isn’t balking
At the odd cant of the slope just ahead.
Is that corn is ripe and tall in its disarray?
Is that a river and mountains in the distance?
But why is no one looking up? And is that
Crescent touched with scarlet the moon?
The Cypress separates them, snaking up and
Out of sight, making the small distant house,
(The asylum?), insignificant—the travelers as well.
Yes, the Cypress dominates—challenging
Star, moon, wind, like a Druid priest;
Rooted in earth, yet wending its will
Towards the heavens—a prayer or a spell?
Poem 12 / Day 12
The Number Two / by Roxanne Bogart
Grasshopper, I see you
everywhere I go
here in Chesterfield (sorry for the cricket reference)
on the porch climbing away from me
on the railing, you stop then turn around
face me with your big (relatively speaking) mandibular head
topped with lenses by the thousands
fused in two obsidian eyes
with two more at the base of and one in between
your stubby horns that set you apart
from your Locust and Katydid cousins.
Here we are, just you and me
and the occasional chickadee
basking on this sunny morning (sorry for the reptile reference)
after a cool New England evening.
So many of you irrupted this wet year (sorry for the bird reference)
especially out West
where you swarmed, migrated north
invaded the skies of Las Vegas
hit the casino-lined strip
gathered and swirled in hotel lights–
“a living snow,” they called you,
caused quite an uproar.
You were just searching for some grub
leaf and vine in the city’s lush green spaces
where water is shunted–and why not?
Your species is pretty darn old
has been around the block a few times
for like three hundred million years
since the Carboniferous period
and now, in my estimation,
just reclaiming what’s yours too.
Some of us sprayed you
some took you in, adopted you
others stir-fried you
birds and coyotes also
partook of the Acrididae feast.
But you were mild-mannered
only stayed a few weeks
didn’t eat too much (unlike some of your relatives)
didn’t bite or infect anybody
but didn’t entertain either
for you are not musically inclined
like Chester, sorry
but you do listen well
with your low-lying belly ears.
Here in the Northeast
you can spread out a bit more
it’s nice isn’t it–so much green and growing?
Perhaps that’s why I don’t get to see you
in such fantastic numbers.
But I’m happy with the number two.
Just you and me on the cupola.
Something breaks / by David C. Hall
Remembering Ingmar Bergman’s “Persona” (1966)
When the actress falls silent
in the midst of the play
This is not what anyone bargained for,
not even her.
A kind of perfect moment,
there is nothing
except what is.
As if one day
a great hole opened up
in the middle of town
and we all stood around
for something terrible
that didn’t happen.
Between Seasons (Haibun) / by Carol Jewell
Yesterday was unbearably hot. I’d almost forgotten what summer felt like, because the days had gotten cooler. Sweat poured down my face with my first step outside. My roses, almost dormant for a month, bloomed as if it was spring again. I noticed, though, that the maple across the cul-de-sac had started to fade from summer green to autumn red, in an in-between color melding of the two; dappled. We had a lot of rain this year. Supposedly that foretells a vibrant autumn. And here, on the edge of New England, I know we’re in for quite a show.
I often think of
that well-worn song, Och’s, “Changes,”
as the year deepens.
Burst / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
I hardly knew him.
I just remember his smile
and how he dispensed hugs
like candy, and you were filled
with well-being as a result.
He was always smiling.
His face was that of a happy buddha.
But sometimes when he talked,
he said things that made me wonder.
He told me he was working
as hard he could on keeping his shit
it’s such a hell to be here, he said
and even while being fearless,
he was pushing through fear.
I could relate. I could feel the anxiety.
But even then I never thought
he would drop out of life.
I didn’t know that flying too close
to the sun was always the plan.
What was he touching when
he got that close?
And could he still feel it as he fell
from the sky?
Without Precluding*: How to Make an American Mass Shooter, a 30-Day Primer / by Denise Miller
Teach them that their maleness or whiteness
or both will be bent around their bodies tighter
than armor— will shield them from laws that
should lay visible their lawlessness. Although
they’ve transgressed, their principles, parents,
police will protect so we are none the wiser.
*The accounts by two former classmates emerged after police said there was nothing in the background of 24-year-old Connor Betts that would have prevented him from purchasing the .223-caliber rifle with extended ammunition magazines that he used to open fire outside a crowded bar. From “Dayton shooter kept a ‘hit list’ and a ‘rape list,’ classmates say” (Cincinnati Enquirer) By ASSOCIATED PRESS AUG. 4, 2019 10:47 PM
Poem in which Hope ends up being a thing with feathers and then it lights off across the yard / by Matt Sadler
If hope were a shape, it’d be a stack
or a heap, something tells me
is already taken by the crow,
but that’s a kind of hope, too,
passing something along, that your use
will outlive you.
If hope were a steak, it’d be a flank
or a hanger, but the line of saws and
knives is too long for hope, and we
skipped dinner anyway to gather
grape leaves and purslane from all
the neighbors’ yards, that crow still judging us
from his perch on our fence, & telling
his daughters no more, stop growing,
it’s going too fast.
And if hope were a child, it’d be ugly
and loved, & you could just name it Hope
because that’s a name & just because
it’s hard to be optimistic. A name is an
expectation, the first in a line of years
that are really dreams, dreams that are
stars in our eyes, stars created by the big
bang of a little one crashing into an us.
And if hope were a bird, it’d be a crow
bringing a ribbon to its nest, paying
a pop top for some bread crumbs, giving
life a fierce bet on its own.
Its darkness glows from within,
not absence but excess. At any moment
she could burst open & glide like
lightning across the yard, toward home.
Little poem / by Vivian Sanchbraj
The fatal union of desire and loneliness
are like the waves and the burning sand.
I have thought that my sex is a cistern
of bitter honey and poisoned water.
I carry the desert inside me,
in my red-purple blood
the extremes cohabit.
The double face of love and pleasures
will be with me until my last day.
THE DANCER / by Celia Stuart-Powles
A gift from a friend, she flies
Suspended from a ribbon, her
Legs stretched in a grand jete,
Arms as well: perfection in
Purple toe-shoes, laced and
Matching her dress, the sweet-heart.
Neckline studded with gems—her
Tights too, delicately trimmed
With sequined vines and sequins,
Leggings themselves in rose
To match the cummerbund
Holding her flight fast.
Her face is in ecstasy:
Eyes closed, smiling—and perfect
Whiskers, oh yes, they go with
The cat ears rising out of her
Cerulean blue hair. Her hands
Have perfect black pads.
Yes, there I am, as I should be—
Not holding a sore hip or keeping
My arms down to avoid pain,
No hands curled like claws.
That face, that form: that’s me
Suspended by a ribbon;
Watch me fly!
Poem 11 / Day 11
Two Questions / by Roxanne Bogart
Why bend to forces of the world
that disguise self beyond remembrance
bury early seeds of imagination, belonging
to decay in dry abandoned territories
erode the slow gathering of wonder
under incessant waves of acquiescence?
Why not stand tall in open air
like the Ash trees of Abenaki origin
step beyond screens of no reflection uncover what lives in Nature’s mirror
where arise the languages of currents and stone, unremitting song and silence
lessons of quick and wary Wren
plain and persistent Peewee
messages of Raven to feel
the unsettling, what struggles
underground, open wide, let roots cotyledons, thick and firm, emerge
nourish the life that has
Of course it was raining / by David C. Hall
Of course it was raining that night,
and the music sounded
just like the music
the last time I walked into a bar.
Writers used to hang out there
I sat down and ordered,
a Cutty Sark and soda.
I am a chronicler of the human condition,
the guy next to me said.
He’d had a few.
Is there money in that?
I asked him.
Wondering (September 11th, 2019) / by Carol Jewell
As hard as this day is for me, and millions more, it must still be
devastating to others:
friends who lost family, and family who lost friends
nearly twenty years ago. Twenty years; it seems
improbable, but it’s true.
I later found out that another friend,
who would’ve been covered with the dust of co-workers,
never even went to work that day;
how must he feel?
I hugged my daughter, then fifteen, very tightly.
She said something like, “Hey, Ma! Stop; I’m safe!” her adolescent self acting more entitled than she actually felt.
And we were, 130 miles north of New York City.
But I knew that one day she would completely
understand, as she sent her son off to school,
wanting to hug him until he, too, rebuffed her,
wondering at his small self, growing up in
our changed world.
After / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
The flesh has failed us.
We are only spirit now.
For what is life ?
I am leaning with my head
against the door listening to its
humming on the other side.
And I do not have the key
to unlock the door.
I searched for some trace of you
but found nothing.
The floors were swept,
the cupboards emptied,
the sheets changed, the walls painted.
But here is the room where we once lived,
where we once made love, where we ate figs
and tasted sweetness.
Yet how can I even be sure
that you existed?
Tell me, did this happen?
It was summer and we lay
in the green, green grass on a hillside.
But we were burning, you and me.
We were one flame that set the world afire.
Did we consume each other?
Did we become blackened bone?
Did something remain other than
scorched earth and smoky vestiges?
I remember the taste of you as we burned.
You were flavored with yellow ardor and salt.
I make no claims on my own heart.
It has been incinerated, and
where is the vessel for its ashes?
90s Mixtape / by Matt Sadler
Do you remember hand writing the names of the songs you copied onto the little lined insert of the cassette, how your hand shook trying to get the print so small, how your stomach fluttered because you really liked the person you were giving it to, how nervous you felt because you were so sure the songs you picked said something real about who you were as a person, how you were scared that the songs were right about you, how you risked a smiley face and a punker X, but not a heart, and how you stowed it in the smaller front pocket of your backpack before moving it to your coat pocket because that’d be smoother, how you planned your route in tomorrow’s hallway, how nervous that made you, how you dreamed before sleeping, how, when you couldn’t sleep that night, you put in the tape, the copy you made for yourself, and listened to to the same music, and it was like listening to a special part of yourself, the future part, the together part, the part that was really really real and not fake, and how that’s how you finally fell asleep?
Nine-eleven two thousand one in America / by Vivian Sanchbraj
Among the shiny towers
the monstrous mechanical believers
in the race to gain glory beyond death
timed to cause as much carnage as possible
in the land of banners and stars
shuddering amid American skies
Our scarlet and grey entrails
burst in anguish watching the horror
everywhere in the world news
pure martyrs leaped first into the smoke
and the others sent their blackened hearts
to the far horizons of their love ones.
DATURA INOXIA / by Celia Stuart-Powles
Owl-light: they stand poised and folded
Like small pleated fans,
Candles, or dancers
Waiting in the wings—ready.
Come night, come moon—they unfurl,
Slowly spreading their creamy gowns
Among a flurry of perfume, sweet
Debutantes making their debut.
It’s only one night, one chance
To fill their dance card—one chance,
But look! A suitor comes winging.
Dark above the beauties: the Sphinx
Moth, hovering like a hummingbird,
Whispering (perhaps) sweet nothings
As he dips his long proboscis deep
Inside each lily’s silent trumpet. Yes,
The princesses will dance all night,
Grow weary by the morn—when yet,
A thin gown may reveal
The shadow of a bee, before
They take their final bow, and fold in reverie.
Poem 10 / Day 10
The Invader / by Roxanne Bogart
In the morning I advance
through woods, noisy
break things as I step
hear strident alarms
the rustling of retreat.
The pond surface, alive, also
a microcosm of interplay
dragonflies tap tips of
long tubular abdomens
falling leaf reflections dance, dark
before silent green arrivals
frogs squeak, plunge
as I near the granite edge
water striders echo my body
glide when I stride, stop when I still
Sensed by more then I sense
I become the invader
the world shrinks back from me.
Nobody ever asks / by David C. Hall
Nobody ever asks
where the mouse that lived in the cupboard
I guess they think it wouldn’t be decent.
We never talk
about anything that matters any more.
Shopping/To Do List / by Carol Jewell
2 bags Macintosh Apples (go to an orchard? Which one?)
5 lbs. flour (white. Otherwise I would have written “whole wheat.” Or maybe even “Rye.”)
Sugar (white. Otherwise I would have written “brown.”)
3 pie pans (large) (Preferably glass, even though they cost more.)
1 big can shortening
1 bag roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (because, why not?)
ice cream? Vanilla? Coffee? Chocolate? (yes, yes, and yes)
time to read while the pies bake
Without Failing: How to Make an American Mass Shooter, a 30-Day Primer / by Denise Miller
Convince them they must draw breath
from the muzzle of Smith or Wesson—
Ensure they learn the lesson: breath in slowly
while you identify your target beyond any doubt.
Exhale squeeze the trigger before they’ve
had a chance to run—a chance to shout.
Expanse / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
Just know that the way I gaze at you,
I have gazed at no other in that same way.
Don’t mistake my silence for lack of feeling.
If I’m tongue-tied, it’s because I lack
the vocabulary for the newness of how I feel.
When our hands meet, I am rendered mute,
no better than that little mermaid,
who sold her voice for love.
But I have made no such bargain.
Part of me is unwilling to compromise anything.
Yet I yield, my eyes full of salty rivers.
No one is more surprised than me
at my willingness to open up like
the skies after the darkest and meanest of storms.
Witness how my heart has blinked open
and is displaying the boldest of colors
that even I am beyond amazed–
the vision for the largest of loves
has ravaged my own corruption
back into innocence.
Winter Poem / by Matt Sadler
We are not a greedy
species, we give freely
like a river
to a lake.
So in winter at
In the cold
we give each other
warm breath frozen
into little puffs,
clouds that rise,
they could be
in a comic, full
The lover / by Vivian Sanchbraj
In the morning mist of the volcanic island
a bitter awakening from the caresses
of my lover. Shivering amid pleasure
I’ve never bared myself to the bone
of my existence for a stranger.
For what purpose; to be remembered
For what purpose; to be loved
But I embraced him like a volcano
to alter the finite into unbroken
and all I see now
is from my own funeral procession.
AUTUMN SONG / by Celia Stuart-Powles
As doe-footed days relent to the call
Of Herne, that seven-tined stag—and
Summer’s low hum to the wild ride,
The Monarchs pass through, once again.
Now frill-skirted chrysanthemums,
Frolic like gypsies, gay in the newly-cooled air,
And even the old trees grow wanton in hennas
And gold as they shed all pretensions:
Practiced old souls in their dying:
Discarding what’s left of spring-times disorder
And late summer’s fruited remains.
Day tip-toes out clad in sunset hues,
Owls lament and spiders web doors,
As the walls between worlds start to thin:
The dark lord now reigns, Persephone
Enthroned—and the dead start to wend
Their way back, as they whisper:
Dance, while you can and sing, sing into the wind.
Poem 9 / Day 9
On the Cupola / by Roxanne Bogart
Holding a long pole punctuated
with a small metal hook, I pull
down the wooden ceiling
door, unfold shaky, orange and white
metal steps, then climb up
the jittery contraption
to a rectangular, steel
hatch that pushes open
like a freezer lid
revealing sky, clouds
of oak, maple, ash
and sensuous Ginkgo
so near at hand with
thousands of tiny green fans
all along branching
arms that grace
the dark wooden railing.
I bend my knee
in a tall step, rise up
out onto the deck
closer now to the
slow cumulus migration,
and though the air
above this hill
is cooler than below
where gardens flourish,
a bumblebee hums
explores the flowerless
floorboard, my toes,
and I start to wonder
why we are both here
as guilt seeps in
for the sudden
emergence of comfort
in my struggle
to release netted
of demands I’ve left
behind in the valley
that lies below
as pulsating crickets
and long locust songlines
reel me in to present
page and pen
as a chime sounds
on the awakening
breeze that I pray
Surrender / by David C. Hall
You’ve lived this long,
never seen a war,
a famine or a plague,
never even got beat up
since you were a kid,
never had electric cable
wrapped around your balls.
You scribble your stuff
in a lambswool sweater
with your view of the trees.
Did you really think
you get all that for nothing?
It’s time for you to do something
for your country.
You got Facebook, Google, Twitter,
so who do you think you are?
Just give us some names,
tell us what they did –
or didn’t do.
It doesn’t matter,
we don’t care.
Saudade for Marc / by Carol Jewell
All it takes
for me to remember you,
for me to miss you,
in an instant,
is for me to inhale the
Northern, familiar scent
of Paine’s Balsam Fir
incense; the kind you burned.
One whiff is all it takes
and you appear in
front of me; you smile, guitar
in your lap,
on the table beside you,
your head thrown
back in laughter,
Banished/Vanished / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
The body contains memory
that the conscious mind has forgotten.
In my dreams my mouth
speaks Ilocano fluently,
and I can sing the highest
notes on pitch.
And my body is pliable
and able to climb high places
I am haunted by the shadows
of large mango trees
in passing. I can still remember
the juice that overflowed
upon peeling their fruit,
my mouth and hands always
grateful and sticky.
The emerald world was full
of noise and talking in
my native dialect.
People I loved were still alive,
laughing and smoking
brown cigarettes, and
the air hazy with burning
and a pending rain.
All these things are buried now
and belong to an amnesiac earth.
Certain moments I feel
the full weight of their disappearance.
Like when it is quiet at night,
and I realize returning is only illusion.
On being asked why most artists and musicians are liberal / by Matt Sadler
When I tell you
you are the molted
skin of a cicada,
an empty husk
to a dead post,
I mean it
I know that you are actually
with skin and eyes
and I know that fear
is a burden
in heavy robes,
that we imagine
wan, pale, emaciated
full and right and true,
that it’s the burden
to hold us
when we wont
The Unloved Lover* / by Vivian Sanchbraj
Inside me there is guilt, ancient, strong.
As for love, time will tell. The truth is
they call me spinster, bitter childless woman,
and witch who bathes in herbs.
If you could only know
how tender I am still inside.
In my wine-filled chant
I am made of moon flowers
and horse’s blood.
Misfortune, my great companion,
when will you leave me?
During this dialogue with misfortune
body of mine stay away
from lovers …
Time to time rest
defeated confused and hurt
invite your heart to join
and rest together.
My heart will testify,
I am indeed my worst enemy.
There is a slow spinning wheel of beds
and I see a little girl
jumping on them under the rain
lost in her own game
her parents have forsaken her
she is utterly alone and her desires are insane.
*Some words taken as a practice of appropriation from poems by Henri Michaux.
I AM THE ROAD / by Celia Stuart-Powles
To hell, paved with good
Intentions: the kind letter
In my head, the hand-made
Cards: un-made, photos
Still in boxes: albums
Empty, phone call not
Made and emails unsent.
The child’s unfinished
Bunny in the sewing basket
(Child now with children
Of her own,) embroidery
Stranded on a shelf with
The nearly knitted muffler.
Poems abandoned in a file,
The novella wasting away,
While short stories hang
Around in silence. The
Novel needing one last
Edit, the half-illustrated
Children’s book—and the
Other. The requested presentation,
Now lost for years (I know
It is here,) and let’s not
Mention research, languishing
In notebooks: like the Lost
Boys, not yet flown..
Poem 8 / Day 8
Red Efts / by Roxanne Bogart
In balmy seasons,
on soggy days
in the many places
I call home,
I step carefully
to avoid the demise
of red efts en route
that crawl for years
on needle strewn ground
or warm pavement
tiny glowing embers
that one day will relinquish
for the way of water
bloom spots on toxic
become the newts
of their amphibious
When the soldiers / by David C. Hall
When the soldiers burst in
there is a small boy
cowering in the corner of the kitchen.
He’s seen stuff like this
plenty of times before.
It doesn’t help.
Contents / by Adam Hughes
I am terrified that I will back over
my daughter with my car.
I’m even more terrified someone I love
will back over my daughter with their car.
These are the thoughts that make me
shake my head the way I do when I think
of the story of the man who had
a three-inch cricket pulled from his ear.
Our bodies possess such ability
to hold things within ourselves-
a Russian man had emergency surgery
to remove a two-inch fir tree growing
in his left lung-to hide them away
in distant ventricles and abscesses
like damp caves full of paleolithic paintings
and pirate ships. The longest
tapeworm ever removed from a human
was eighty-two feet long. A friend
told me that tapeworms have to be removed
inch by inch because they are actively
feeding on the body and if you rip
them out, they bring organs and tissue
with them. We contain horrors.
When I am supposed to be sleeping
I am thinking instead of watching
a loved one get in an accident
in the rearview mirror. I am the best
torturer I know. I fear
myself more than anything.
When I close my eyes, I see
a God who holds the reigns
lightly and smiles with the edges
of his fingertips and whose hair
smells like wildfire. My daughter
has almost gone ten years without
being run over. Kyrie Eleison
and the peaceful extraction
of all parasites and foliage.
Untitled / by Carol Jewell
Now the sky
is cotton candy: pink and blue,
Only to be with you / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
I know I am full of excuses
of why I can’t love you.
Life has been so hard,
full of dark obstacles that
make it easy to shutter my heart.
I know you’re asking me
to say yes, a word so loaded
that it brings me to my knees.
If I thought this love was a slow burn,
I was wrong. All that I have known
is being incinerated, and I am standing
in this collapsing world, unsure and trembling.
You want to kiss glowing embers
in my mouth, the wet sparks from my eyes,
and be consumed by the inferno,
so that we are ash, disappeared
from what we used to know and no longer need.
Your unspoken promises tell me that
the residue of this demolition contains
everything we need to grow anew.
So yes, I choose you.
The wreckage of our past is not what
we will sail on. We’ll let the wind
of uncertainty blow these ashes
to wherever we are supposed to start again.
And it will be to a place that
neither of us has ever seen.
We will be carried above the waves
of sorrow as a milled single flour
that Neruda once spoke about
in a sonnet about springtime and light.
Without Humanizing: How to Make an American Mass Shooter, a 30-Day Primer / by Denise Miller
Give them something to put in their crosshairs—
a tin can atop a fallen log, a stray cat cutting
through grass, a baby robin— their belly not
yet rust colored. Later, let them site their own
targets— a student standing in a hallway, a black
man in a church pew, a baby in its parents’ arms.
steel, iron, Kevlar.
to buy their
* WITHIN A YEAR OF THE SHOOTING: Mr. Paddock legally purchased 33 firearms from Oct. 2016 to Sept. 2017, Ms. Snyder said. Most of those guns were rifles. Such purchases do not prompt reports to the bureau because there is no federal law requiring a seller to alert the bureau when a person buys multiple rifles. From “How They Got Their Guns” By LARRY BUCHANAN, JOSH KELLER, RICHARD A. OPPEL JR. and DANIEL VICTOR UPDATED FEB. 16, 2018
Blueing Bolete / by Matt Sadler
Is everything a test these days? My students
ask because they want more-
seventeen like a knife edge
to them- perched at the crevice
between everything and freedom.
I ask because I’m halfway, if you
consider my genes and allow
for some good luck. So many things
feel like it, so let this be the test:
First, you must wander the forest
until you find a Blueing Bolete
emerging knobby and bulbous
from the forest floor. Then
smell it’s spongy underside
and realize what soil really is
in the depth of that mustiness.
Cut it open, and hurry, before
the flesh oxidizes to its sheeny
deep metallic blue, pop it in your
mouth and chew it to a pulp,
swallow, and then stick out
your tongue. Does it turn
your teeth popsicle blue?
I’m just a teacher.
But that’s the question
you have to answer now.
Crushed flowers / by Vivian Sanchbraj
Now, that she is gone, and have lost
Her fire within, and neglect tonight’s memories;
Candles and dinner, enclosed in the beast’s burrow
Upon every corner of hell, among a bed of poison ivies
Crystal iced limbs of her warm life flesh
But oh, her fear spreads like titanium.
The demoniacal huntsman with sour breath
Carries on, and harms something beyond words
But doesn’t kill
Just leaves null evidence of crushed flowers
But their stain is in his guilty hands.
MALKUTH / by Celia Stuart-Powles
She sits at the foot of the Tree of Life,
Malkuth, the fruit of creation:
Earth pregnant and ready to wife.
A bountiful garden, an Eden,
All round us, you just have to look.
It’s also our heaven—or could be:
Potential will always take work—.
But work’s what we do, watch the honey bee
As it peacefully tends the hive.
See the eiderdown nest, hawk feather, and snail,
And possums and bears: Oh my!
Tides rising and ebbing, the moon’s changing face,
Rainforests burning, the whole human race.
Poem 7 / Day 7
Ode to Cottongrass / by Roxanne Bogart
Your untidy, white tufts sit high
on long, lean polyhedrons
a common misnomer, indeed
for your Cyperaceae stems
are not soft and round but sturdy
and edged—sedge siblings
at home in moors, bogs, tundra,
earth’s elevated, harsh places
exposed to wild winds
in open spaces
tucked amid dry boulders.
Albino Truffula trees in miniature
your lackluster flowers
give way to animation
and purpose: cotton-like wisps
Harry Potter mops
warm, fibrous blankets for bristly seeds
that emerge as fall temperatures drop
protect your next generation
on their descending journeys
to soils of lack, if not picked
along mountain trails
by small hands enticed
by your playful head
Outside / by David C. Hall
The poem is printed
thick, inky black letters
on a glass wall.
A man, whom we may assume to be the poet,
seen from behind in a shabby brown overcoat
(though that is probably not important)
one hand out, reaching toward it.
Perhaps he is already touching the glass.
This image would seem to suggest
the poet is trying to get back
inside the poem
or to take the poem
at the cold still glass.
American Sentence, Almost Last-Minute / by Carol Jewell
Shit; I slept all day, and now dinner’s been ordered–can’t wait to eat it.
Words fail me, but I will continue to try / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
My life has encompassed
thousands of moonless nights,
containing kisses tasting of wine
and poison and definite regret.
I collected hearts on a string,
dissecting them with spare satisfaction.
Sometimes I gave mine up
for similar disfigurement.
And for a time I moved through bodies,
and they moved through mine,
inhabiting universes in ways
that could be elation or pleasure or pain.
There would always be the leaving,
and I collected flasks of disappointment,
from which I would sip.
I had no faith it could be different.
And then I met you, and you loved
my brutal heart from the start.
Because yours was brutal too.
But brutality has made us tender
in our older age and wiser in recognition.
And love, which always lived
in a distant port, too far away
to visit, finally came my way,
beguiled by the lighthouse
of longing on my eroding shores.
Forehead to forehead,
we inhaled and exhaled
each other’s breaths
as all past cruelties fell away
from our hearts to make room
for something that I previously
believed was fiction.
In your arms, I am always wordless
with tears. How can I explain
how every wounded winter
within me has now bloomed without effort?
Without Acknowledging*: How to Make an American Mass Shooter, a 30-Day Primer / by Denise Miller
Teach them, that a gun in the hand
is worth two bodies in the grave: First—
their sibling shot accidentally, in the stomach
at playtime. Later— their lover’s co-worker caught in the crossfire of their “if I can’t have her” bullet-riddled display of affection.
*Taken from the proverb “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” which means that having something, even if it is a lesser quantity, is better than taking the chance of losing it in order to attain something else that seems more desirable.
One small day after another / by Matt Sadler
One small day after another
and you refuse to thank
the big cedars peering in
off the balcony.
Instead of listening to the near
constant bird calls
from the garden,
you are inside yourself,
making the emptiness bigger,
peering into the microscope
at your transgressions.
The price of being alive
is the pathway ends
at the abyss.
That’s why the birds
are yapping at each other
to get their work done,
and why you are trying
to make them into a metaphor.
And that’s what the tall cedar
is running from,
despite its roots
holding it deep
in the ground.
In the land / by Vivian Sanchbraj
I am non-existent
in the land of my birth
abandoned am I am I am I —
I am an idiotic phantom
in the land of my death
already am I am I am I —
I am transient
in a faraway land of my rebirth
intoxicated I am I am I am –
a sheer stranger.
TALISMAN / by Celia Stuart-Powles
A talisman is like a poem, or rather
The magician’s equivalent equipment
Imbued with sigils, names, and gesture
To contain a power—an embodiment
Like a metaphor to coax a less concrete
Notion into a more corporeal existence,
Ensuring the purpose is pure and complete
And like poetry, honed with persistence.
For all arts demand some practice and cunning
To translate the meaning to others,
A tool of the trade, a good go-between
Wrought with aforethought, potent not rough—
Magicians, like poets, have to be tough.
Poem 6 / Day 6
The Good Red Road / by Roxanne Bogart
Broad-winged Hawk cries
from above the thick woods
from within its secret spaces
pierce the skies of morning
pierce the sighs of early evening
transform unawareness into perception
signal the time to let go
of narrow thoughts.
Feathered messenger of wisdom
with tidings for journeying the Good Red Road
keen eyes and a bold heart
from time spent close to sunlight
share your vantage point
your higher perspective
from beholding the vast vistas
of your wide open circle of flight
your flight of freedom.
Of what was coming / by David C. Hall
One day the thunder god and a bacteria fell in love. No good will come of this, the man from the Weather Bureau said, shutting his briefcase with a click, and shook his head. That night, as he lay in bed with his young wife, he would have liked to warn her about what was coming, but, unfortunately, he had been sworn to secrecy.
Migration / by Carol Jewell
With nary a wall for keeping them out
Monarchs float on a cool autumn breeze.
Every year they make their treks,
return in more numbers than when they left.
Monarchs float on cool autumn breezes
lighting here and there at will.
Returning in higher numbers in the spring,
their color makes me want to follow.
Lighting here and there, testing, at will;
something to eat, here, perhaps?
Their orange color will become a mass
of fluttering wing and dizzying hue.
Looking for something to eat,
–I grow milkweed for them each year–
fluttering wings and dizzying hue
reminds us of snowy winter to come.
I grow milkweed for them every year
and every year they make their treks
reminding us of winter coming,
with nary a wall to keep them out.
Without Thinking: How to Make an American Shooter, A 30 Day Primer / by Denise Miller
Bleach their vision so all they
see is teeth white skin— ordain
every other color, sin. Begin when
infant skulls are still soft enough
to bend. Make sure there is no mending wall.
The Truth / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
So many things I want to say
can only be whispered in the dark.
And can’t be said with words at all.
All I know is that I can already feel
everything with you–
all to be gained, all to be lost,
the feeling of the first and last sunrises
spent with you.
Your hands in my hair
is the most tender greeting.
And everything I have ever done
or will ever do to disappoint is already forgiven.
What did I ever do to deserve
a love like this?
The answer is nothing, and
yet it still arrived.
And now I understand when Rumi said,
“Your calling my name is My reply.
Your longing for Me is My message to you.”
That Time When Grace Lee Boggs Stopped Time / by Matt Sadler
Instead of quoting Marx
at the cerebral bar,
shake your neighbors hand
and pick at the grass
while she hovers over
her blooming savory.
Take a leaf. Eat it.
There is nothing left of print
after it’s processed
but the contradictions.
So meet me at the hammock
and you’ll see me there
frozen, mid-sway, another
book in my lap, a decade
younger. It seemed
like life went on back then
but I am still there
with her book, looking out
at the yard, trying
to summon my will
to change what’s real.
(In small, local ways, without globalized corporate autocracies- or in spite of them- through the radical transformation of a vast network of small relations, one community at a time.)
Santorini / by Vivian Sanchbraj
At two p.m. I arrived in Santorini alone
when the summer sun was at its utmost.
The turquoise sea and its thousand mirrors
blinded me for a moment.
I looked up at the gigantic volcanic island,
and felt smaller and lonelier.
Santorini, dormant Titan made of multi-layered creases
colorful quartz, red, citrine, amethyst.
A bouquet of white houses speckled the island’s crest.
I drove up the zigzagged road in a rented black Fiat
terrified by the unknown, led by scarce road signs,
and despite my bad sense of direction
I found Mathios Village hotel in Akrotiri,
an archeological site in the south of the island.
The lava fragments in the facades of most houses
remain like ornamental scars.
My room was a humble haven with wooden blinds
shut against the heartless Aegean sun.
I’ve been longing for darkness to restore my sleep,
and I laid down for a nap that turned in a long good sleep.
Next morning, I woke up in haste to catch up the caldera tour.
I got in the minivan a few minutes late, and the tourists ireful
stares on me felt like needles, I said kalimera with a smile
but no one answered back. All coupled up, and I was alone.
REDBUD VALLEY / by Celia Stuart-Powles
in hiking boots
a young boy looks
above the trees
a bee swarm
steep and muddy
the Smurf hunter
lends a hand
going back down
does the same
a copperhead basks
in the sun
back at last
a hiking stick
I nod and grin
but think not
Poem 5 / Day 5
Unveiled / by Roxanne Bogart
The day begins with such vibrant clarity
that trees, stones, water, sky
appear as if polished with morning dew.
I barely notice my skin
touched only by the faint breath
of tepid air: ‘Skin weather’
we used to say as kids.
Dry, brown pine needles
lie at all angles on the forest floor
amid a patchwork of shadow and light
like the windows we choose to close
and those we choose to open
to seek out the places
that can unveil us.
I make my way along a spit of land
that is usually flooded
but now in the height of summer
is covered with tiny yellow blossoms.
I step onto the tethered island
sit facing southwest
near an aspen tree with trembling leaves
lit by late morning sunlight.
On the reservoir’s blue canvas
hundreds of black striders
in dense congregations
skate in all directions
in short, erratic lines.
To my right, a low blueberry bush
holds pale pink fruit
and the occasional ripe blue.
My brown hand picks
one small berry
places it into my mouth.
I press down
the skin breaks
and the tang of soft, moist flesh
spreads across my tongue
as the shoreline of the world fades
and all I taste is blueberry
and all I hear is kingbird call
as she lifts off a high branch
flutters for a moment
to seize her prey
then crosses the still
and shallow water.
Knock on the door / by David C. Hall
There was a knock on the door,
and when I opened it
three men were standing there
in not very nice suits.
I thought they were salesmen
or maybe Mormons.
We’d like to change your mind,
the first man said.
It’s just an experiment,
the second one explained.
You’d better come with us,
the third man told me.
FRAGMENT / by Adam Hughes
if the moth
with the owl-
its own illusion
or if it knows
like a mantle
and an epaulet
of war paint,
the sad eyes
Weather / by Carol Jewell
premonition of something:
Obscuring / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
In between birth and death
are the spaces too many to count
and remember, but some survive
Like the time I saw the sun’s delicate corona,
gray and green, tendrils so fine
that no photograph can capture it.
The moon’s shadow
cooled the afternoon by 20 degrees,
and the insects hummed in
the most surreal twilight I will ever know
during an early August afternoon
in Greenville, South Carolina.
Beside me stood a man
who could never love me,
but he placed his arm around me
as I shed tears at the sight
of a fully blocked sun.
He could not love me, and yet
he was here, locked with the unforgettable.
I looked over to my son,
who loved us both, his face
bathed in streetlight and eclipse
shadow, and I hoped he
would only remember the purity
of the moment, not the fighting
beforehand or the trip home after
(where we struggled through backroads
traffic, so terrible that some cars pulled over
in surrender to wait it out.)
That man could never love me
but he knew enough to be tender,
to walk over to kiss my son
on the forehead. Some moments
are so quiet. Those are the ones
that break me wide open
with the strength of their staying.
Questions for Mortals / by Matt Sadler
One of Mary’s sunflowers
this year, a volunteer,
hit 14 feet before
she bloomed the smallest
head of any – one little
unblinking eye looking
down over her queendom.
Sunflowers are made
to bend, their old heads
kiss the ground
with seeds. She stands
tall, perched on
her beanstalk, watching
her old sisters plant
themselves for next
September Second / by Vivian Sanchbraj
I’m having exotic cocktails
with friends, in a vintage bar
strangely happy and ignorant
while on the other side of the world
my father agonizes alone.
The heat is unbearable,
this is Hanoi and it feels like summer;
Vietnamese eternal humidity
circulates into my clothes
and penetrates my bones.
Every day in a suffocated state
mugginess slender fingers
block nostrils and I open my mouth
to grasp for air aware of the imagines
that aren’t judgmental beings.
Next day, Sunday, September third
after teaching English to little children
a phone call from home
violent as a cold knife in the jugular;
the unimaginable tricks of Death
revolted in me by not being there
for everything I did wrong to my father
from the last years until now, for moments
pain changes our red blood to pale
disarray and grief: I must leave in the first plane.
My closed fist into the family photos wall
as wind struggles to shake trees.
I have never despised being alive until now:
Those whom emotions do not control
become borderline in return.
Thousand faces per blink of an eye
surround me, I am the stranger sobbing
and waiting for my flight to the USA.
Agony of birth, ache of death
intertwine in my gut, defenseless.
What is true of the death of a loved one;
we’ll never understand it.
I have to live the rest of my life
without his voice and presence
I must pretend I’ve gotten used to it…
ODE TO PASSAFLORA INCARNATA / by Celia Stuart-Powles
Dog days, and it travels
Like a great poly-footed,
Which having conquered
The brickwork castle,
Sprawls lazily over a bench
And creeps towards the next.
Prolific, is too weak a word
For such an invader: think
Roman Army—or Alexander
With his elephants—and indeed,
Those feet were deemed
Lances by Spanish missionaries,
Eager to compare symbols
To convert. It’s Nature—
Written by experience,
And who am I to argue
What meaning we attach?
In India it is Krishna—for me
A great-green dragon—yet
Nature’s rife with symbols,
Numbers, shapes, make of them
What you will: stories, omens, lore.
But now, in the afterglow,
Comfrey is laying down, wilted
For the day, while Passaflora
Is pristine in her well-starched
Pinafore: a ballerina dancing
Unfazed by day’s hot breath.
And she has suitors—oh yes,
The velvet-vested Dumbledore
Calls each afternoon, sporting a
Jaunty yellow spot, a touch sun,
To pollinate and carry, each to
Each, each flower a constellation
Of white and lavender: ten
Petals, over one-hundred
Perfectly permed radial filaments.
And above them all, three
Graceful stamens taking a bow.
And there is fruit, egg-shaped
And always green when I find it,
Because other creatures prize
The maypops. And this is fine,
Poem 4 / Day 4
Living Color / by Roxanne Bogart
A blue marble held between fingertips
so simple, see-through
as deep blue as night sky from some angles
as pale blue as robin’s egg from others.
I tilt my head to change perspective
shift the tiny sphere to see possibility
in the depths of understanding
or the buoyancy of light.
It’s easy to not see
what is beyond time and place
as Earth rotates in and out of days
and time’s overlay brings season after season
Nature’s imperative remains the same: adapt
to a world in motion, in greenhouse overload
where aging bodies swirling
with a myriad chemical interactions
let us feel the sparrow in hand
hear the cuckoo calling from the wood
taste the sweetness of ripe peaches
perceive lost synchronicities and inundated shorelines.
I rotate the marble, see through it clearly—with more than open eyes
to a world where foresight and compassion
prevent destruction of the spectrum of living color
on the blue sphere beyond my grasp.
In our neighborhood these days / by David C. Hall
In our neighborhood these days
we’re all building machines in our basements.
We don’t talk about it, but we all know.
You can see it in those furtive glances,
crooked smiles, in the supermarket,
at the mall. But I can tell you, I don’t mind.
Sometimes at night when I can’t sleep
I like to go down those creaky basement stairs
in pajamas and a robe
and just sit with my cup of tea
and listen to it hum.
Gas Tears / by Adam Hughes
There is no beauty in the shattering
of bones, the snapping off
of grass blades so few you can count
their serrated edges like the legs
of a grasshopper. There is no warmth
in this sun, only heat. No comfort
in this blanket of cloud. No rest
in this sleep. No voice in this oracle.
We are all pilgrims with no destination,
shadows without solid figures to give
us meaning. We are the spent
shells of warning shots, the skins
of wolves found dead full of lambs.
These days are days of not-from-here
and tear gas, thirst and smoke
to drink, when I was hungry you
shot me, when I was naked
you covered me with gravefill,
when I was a stranger you named me
after your enemies. Tomorrow
you might die and I will hold
the water. You can have its shadow.
Cinquain / by Carol Jewell
depressing, demoralizing, distracting
Believe it: here again:
Schema / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
The exoskeleton of ego is so brittle
but comes in layers. We should all be
wearing signs that say
“Fragile: But break at your own peril.”
Look at all the chipping and chafing
and cracking that each of us have.
But we all have fangs, even if
we should deny it.
And some of us have poison
but use it against ourselves.
Depending on the definition of heart,
the earthworm has 10 or none.
Situation defines whether or not
I have one heart or none.
If I leave without looking back,
my chest may be empty.
The soul is dissected successfully
from the body in many cases everyday.
However, no one has yet managed
to bottle it for viewing and scrutiny.
I’m sure of the existence of many
empty bottles that have failed to capture
the soul upon exit.
I know someone is crying about
at least one empty bottle.
Without Connecting: A 30-day primer on How to Make an American Mass Shooter / by Denise Miller
Teach them— the god-whittled white
of Adam’s flesh and cartilage split then
fitted to make Eve is the only rib divine
enough not to divide by bullet, then table
knife, then teeth, then tongue— teach them that their
young are the only ones to keep whole and breathing.
It’s only because I love you so much / by Matt Sadler
Is our life fraught with a kind of
existential absurdity like
you and I trying to convince ourselves
we are a fuzzy little
caterpillar inching towards
metaphorical greatness, when we
know we are just middle-
aged humans, globs of excess
flesh pooling in our
problem areas, baby grey hairs beginning
to emerge from the chrysalis
of each mole. Every year feels
like the previous year if
you take enough ibuprofen, and vitamins
are bullshit but they help you
believe. You have been complaining
about my memory but
my confusion is also
existential. When I’m in
I want to be out. When I’m out
I want to be in. And I will tell you this
only in tortured yowls, pawing
at each side of every
door, like a cat.
He seems to me* / by Vivian Sanchbraj
He sauntered into the boat,
whoever he is who eclipses the sky
casts a shadow over the Aegean
talks to all and drops of fiery water
slip down his neck
and his voice and laughter – Oh it
plays the song of earthquakes into my core
and suddenly his face, he is the bravest son
he just entered my dreams
I am speechless in his presence
afraid of being a fool, he is unnamed
and already my fertile blood is sand
longing for him
who tames the sea
And violent sweat had taken hold of me
shaking, ashes warmer than molten rock
Is my rebirth or death ——something in me aches
indomitable seems to me.
But all this desire is to be dared even if it is sea-risen…
*Poem inspired and partially appropriated from one of Sappho’s untitled poem.
HER #ME TOO / by Celia Stuart-Powles
It was a small party, and cozy,
But I’d not seen HER before
Yet the attraction was so heady,
I was eager to know more
And I’d not seen HER before
So when I did, I headed over,
Quite eager to know more
But was cautioned: SHE is shy.
Nonetheless, I headed over,
Victim of HER wide round eyes
Although cautioned SHE was shy,
SHE was fetching dressed in black.
Victim of HER wide round eyes
I sought an introduction
SHE was fetching dressed in black;
I threw caution to the wind
And received an introduction.
I threw caution to the wind
And moved in—far too fast
I fancied SHE liked me,
And moved in, far too fast.
But I wanted to caress HER
And fancied SHE liked me,
So I sweet talked, made a pass.
I wanted to caress HER,
SHE seemed amenable to
Sweet talk, and so I made a pass.
Yes, I touched HER, I confess,
SHE seemed amenable . . .
But no I got a slap.
Yes, I touched HER, I confess,
And stroked HER lovely back
But then I got a slap—.
At least SHE did not scratch.
I stroked HER lovely back
It was forward—and yes tacky,
At least SHE did not scratch.
Just turned and left the party
It was forward—and yes tacky
And I do apologize.
SHE turned and left the party
And me wiser, if bereft
And I do apologize
The attraction was too heady,
Now I’m wiser, if bereft, and
The party not as cozy—less the CAT.
Poem 3 / Day 3
Across the Road / by Roxanne Bogart
In the season of birth and growth
I am drawn to accidental death.
I drive to the store and before me
a chipmunk crossing the road
is frantic, scurries right then left
eyes wide, limbs stiff
from the giant form of my car
the roaring of its engine.
He turns toward
the safety of the curb
but at the last second
runs right, across the road
and before I can stop
is under me.
Many make it
to the other side
but today I feel and hear
the dreaded bump
look in the rearview mirror
see his small striped body
splayed and still.
When I return later, it is gone
food for some hungry jaw or beak
as I continue to see
more of the same:
the motionless lump of a possum
a bloodied deer
a flattened frog dried out
almost beyond recognition—
all on their way
from the sun’s heat
that is being trapped
on this warming world
where so much life
cannot make it
across the road
of global greed.
Metaphysical considerations of the third kind / by David C. Hall
It’s not that I want to deny anything,
but where else are you going to start?
says Descartes, as he deals the cards,
though the problem, when you start,
is that there must be somewhere to go.
In fact, he says, meaning,
that there are facts
that there are not…
The journey is a tired metaphor.
Somewhere along the way
you come upon a pigeon
gazing at the breadcrumbs
in a birdbath.
mist on the gray air.
The journey is a tired metaphor
of one beginning after another,
of suitcases left behind
in sordid hotel rooms
full of love letters
that never got written.
There is one story I want to tell,
and in this story there is a man in a hat.
That’s all I know, so all the rest
I’ll just have to make up as I go along.
Already I’m disappointed.
There was a time
I lived in rooming houses
and moved from town to town
looking for a story to be in.
Psalm / by Adam Hughes
God, I’ve gone and done it again.
I was supposed to write a poem
today but the sky was brighter
than blue and my sandwiches
were a minor miracle, one
performed by one of the minor
saints, but still a holy type
of satisfying and work was hot
and dirty and there was
an accident on the way home
and now, here I am,
typing these lines into a cell phone
wandering Walmart two steps behind
my fiance, hoping not to run into anything
and there you are, God somewhere
between the ice cream
and the novelty fruit hanger called
a Banana Keeper and I’m suddenly
present and hungry and aware
that sometimes life
is a mix of ingredients that might
go together and if all else fails
grabbing a frozen pizza.
Remnant Snow / by Carol Jewell
It’s another January thaw; it’s nothing new
(like this, another winter poem, nothing new).
It’s just that we haven’t had one in years.
Today, many are worried about flooding.
Today, I am concerned with fog.
Fog of a dubious nature, rising from the
remnant snow, taking on odd shapes:
At 2 a.m. / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
When grief burst full blossom,
I wondered if I had loved too much.
That large sliver of moon,
a hook to stab the starless sky,
seemed agreeable to this conclusion.
That exquisite bloom inside my chest
had devastation in each petal.
To feel your own dying
how you could do no better
even with your best trying.
In the hospital room,
I struggled for breath
though I had all the space
Human is all you can be,
even when you touch the divine.
The endless apology on repeat
in sync with beeping monitors:
Look, I said the wrong words.
Or said the truth at the wrong time.
Or became fearful so I sliced you open
and now your heart can never feel safe again.
I know this and regret everything.
I won’t see you again–
those that I left and those that left me,
either through choice or circumstance.
Does one meet wholeness
ever again, or are the cracks permanent?
I helped carve those cracks.
It does hurt knowing the skill
of my own hand doing permanent damage.
I couldn’t help loving,
sometimes loving badly.
I can take nothing back,
even if I wanted.
There is no do-over, so I have to live
with what is done. If the night permits it.
Without Loving: A 30-day primer on How to Make an American Mass Shooter / by Denise Miller
Tattoo XY on the eye lids and cheeks
of the one whose body birthed them—
make your fists the kiss they see you
leave morning and evening before
breaking bones and leaving, mirror
her inferior— damage domesticity.
“And if there are no secrets/ what is that smell that sweetness rising?” – Mary Oliver / by Matt Sadler
Is there a term for enthusiasm masked
by wry hopelessness?
That’s what I feel
when I dig.
The soil is not
as the sweat starts
to pool and stain my
t-shirt a darker shade,
but the soil
isn’t real yet
I am going
to do something.
Upsetting the level
plane is the first
When I dig
I want to dream,
use science and logic and
magic. When I dig
I melt into
dehydrated Matt, a husk
of leather inside
wet clothes. I know
I am disappearing. You
can barely hear
me now as I
fade. Please, if
you can, finish
dirt for me.
Throw these specs
I think, then,
Little Venice: South of Mykonos / by Vivian Sanchbraj
I’m wearing a dress the color of dreams,
as the moon changes in the summer sky.
The sunlight rays descend on my olive skin
and lascivious curves with grace.
My hair combed by the sea liberates me from grief
and I behave like a nymph in the moor.
I am no longer afraid of getting lost, of never going back.
My diaphanous eyes are like small burning pyres
maneuvering my camera, I attempt to take self-portraits
with embittered serenity. Photographs have been a terrible mirror
that inhibits me. The camera is far more
like a victorious sea monster. I’ve learned to see myself
worst beauty and flaws and I am aware
that my heart and face will always be loaded with dusk.
WINGING / by Celia Stuart-Powles
Inseparable since birth
You’ve suddenly taken to winging
It’s annoying, for what it’s worth,
Like calling a crow’s caw singing
Though I admire your aspiration,
This came from reaching up too high
Now stretching’s an aggravation:
The shoulder’s not a butterfly.
Yet, within its limitation,
“Winging” still implies the sky:
Writing, that rough magic:
Carpet of imagination,
The dragon’s watchful eye,
The flight fantastic.
Poem 2 / Day 2
The Merganser / by Roxanne Bogart
The reservoir called me to its service
as a wide open carpet of still gray water
that stretched out before me
enticed me to its edge
where ripples from a fallen petal
rolled along its surface
bringing it to life.
I took the trail to a small spit of land
that felt like an island
surrounded by water on three sides
when a sudden splashing
stirred up white foam and wavelets
revealing the ivory breast and pale red-brown head
of a female merganser
who had just glided in
from a splashdown.
I watched her sleek, flexible body
bend into a tight U
then disappear bill-first into the depths
to appear a little while later
as a silent feathered ship
that melted into another curvaceous
and willful dive.
She lives as her body intends
made exquisitely for a piscivorous livelihood:
legs and feet—not made for walking
lay farther back toward her tail
as muscular levers that thrust
her submerged body downward,
her bill, long and serrated
holds firmly the squirming catch.
She lives with innate respect
for all her body can do
what her body does
in the watery world
that has shaped her
with focus and passion
to ensure she will have
yet another day to live.
In a land of empty swimming pools / by David C. Hall
In a land of empty swimming pools
music and lawnmowers are no longer to be heard.
As if all these homes had been foreclosed at once
and then the bank died suddenly
of natural causes.
Stray dogs dig for bones
in the flowerbeds and growl
at the lonely police car
that cruises at a crawl
down silent streets.
Nothing much has been left behind,
a blue plastic dragon
on the unkempt grass
shriveling slowly due
to an inevitable deflation.
Psalm / by Adam Hughes
is getting full
of ponder. My eyes
are heavy with
Last night I thought
I heard you
that was just the echo
in my chest—
I don’t ask for much—
only to glimpse
that which I’m not sure
I believe in anymore—like seeing
a wisp of thylacine.
Today I’m collecting
all the pieces of you—
sinew, tendon, timber and sea—
tomorrow I’ll assemble
into what I want you to be.
When Help Didn’t Come / by Carol Jewell
They yelled every day, sometimes all day: help me, help me, hurry.
Why were they being ignored?
Why was no one helping them?
Nighttime meds brought silence, at last.
Why were they being ignored?
How could a person not be heard?
Nighttime meds brought silence, at least.
A shock of no sounds at all; almost…freedom.
Their voice resounded above all others.
Seemed like everyone (but I) ignored this guy.
At night, a shock of no sounds; freedom; all slept.
I rushed to get stronger, to leave, to never return.
Why did everyone here ignore this guy,
this guy who called for help so often?
I rushed to get stronger, to leave, to never return.
To my surprise, “he” was a “she.”
This guy, calling for help, all day,
wasn’t helped by anyone.
To my utter surprise, “he” was a “she.”
Help me, help me. Hurry, hurry.
Sepsis/Bridge-Passage / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
In the dark space between consciousness
and the inviting doorway to elsewhere,
I saw the dead, loving and aware,
and I knew who they were, despite
the years making their flesh charcoal
and their atoms swirling in places unknown.
For all I knew, I was breathing them in,
molecule by molecule–oxygen, nitrogen, vapor.
I knew the dead by their utmost tenderness
and lack of judgment, and by the way
things had fallen away from them so
that they were unencumbered by
obligations and resentments, naked
in intention, holding out support
as parts of me died and became re-born.
I marveled at the purity of their presence.
I was dying but not yet dead.
The body had betrayed me but could
still forgive and heal itself.
It’s true that your life flashes in review.
But it was not just my life that flashed
before me, but the lives of others, including
those I had only grazed for moments, such as
in elevators and sidewalks and waiting rooms.
I saw that I knew them all and their walking wounds,
concealed scars and broken hearts,
their momentary joys, and more scarcely, contentment.
I knew them as well as I knew myself,
which also meant not at all.
And I loved them beyond belief even
if no word of greeting was ever uttered
between us. I saw the tether that held us
all together, threaded like notes in
melody, sometimes minor key.
My grandparents were there by my shoulders.
I felt the cool mud of where we sprang from,
derived from volcanic ash and fallen grasses.
They said I was made of fire, and yes, I was burning,
but I should not fear it. I would rise again
on the third day and that is when the fever broke.
Without Weeping: A 30-day primer on How to Make an American Mass Shooter / by Denise Miller
Teach their hands to hunt for
the tug of a trigger in the toy
chest— make sure they muddy
their hunting vest— let them
rest only after drawing blood
— not after bleeding.
6th grade is as afraid of us as we are afraid of 6th grade / by Matt Sadler
I am about to do something
you won’t believe. I am going
to sing along with Taylor
I don’t know about you,
no no not forty-two-oo,
on my solo ride home then
plop down & unwind watching
Arthur & Cupcake & Dino & Hilda,
binge my girls’ whole childhood
at once, the browned milk from
generic Trader Joe’s coco pops
dribbling down my greying
furry chest & pooling in the
indent atop my beer belly &
nostalgia is this majestic, pathetic
that will sing me to sleep,
sling me past middle school &
into a horizon without any stars, just
floating stringy kombucha globules
decaying in the shadows & smelling
like pain, and I will scream
I am ready for you, life
into that abyss, after my nap.
Little Venice: South of Mykonos / by Vivian Sanchbraj
Five windmills face the Aegean sea
as revered guardians oversee
the deserted island of Etesian winds
strike algid blows upon the flesh and lips
lift my dress, make me tremble with silent laments.
Walking into the narrow streets whiter than alabaster
along the houses brushed with stoic blue
these are corridors leading into a labyrinth
and I follow the gray cobbles
but someone repaints them as painting the faces of the dead
During these hours, Greeks are napping,
only the sound of the wind and tree leaves rumble
pass by the silent souvenir shops, the white houses
crowned with bougainvillea and luminescent blue
this is the heart of Mykonos, and I already know the island dark limbs.
CAT BOX VILLANELLE / by Celia Stuart-Powles
Cat boxes never relent
As with shovel and scoop I uncover
Remains of Fancy Feast spent.
Yet I doubt Pablo N. ever bent
Over one box, and then another,
Though cat boxes never relent.
And Hemingway—too much a gent?
And boxes too much of a bother
With remains of fifty feasts spent.
But I try to be diligent:
Or at least a loving cat mother
For cat boxes never relent,
Nor litter quite cover the scent,
So for the future, I am the remover
And scooper of Fancy Feast spent.
Though yes, at times I lament
The remains of Fancy Feast spent
The cat boxes never relent.
Poem 1 / Day 1
Hilltop Desire / by Roxanne Bogart
On the hilltop porch
a chime sways and gongs
on long green stems
wave and toss
as the wind of the world
dons tangible life
a body perceived
rises over the hills
moves through branches
growling, groaning, howling
faceless, unknowable except
for what its long, wide hands
can caress, as the woman sits
fondling dense clay
made from the world,
molds its rich brown, pliable body
into shapes of her own desire
wonders if wind craves
more than just leaves, grass,
flowers, chimes, if it longs to go
where it cannot, as she dares
mold the clay into open lips
that she may kiss
the earth, as she hears ovenbirds sound
from deep in the lower woods
having faced the skies
of so many days
to arrive here on this hill
fulfilling an ancient longing
a desire deeply embedded
in feathered bodies to journey far
return to reconnoitered groves
create more tiny, hollow-boned
winged-ones that will live
off this rich carving of earth
and one day lift off
into the restless wind.
The party’s over / by David C. Hall
The party’s over.
Those of us that are left,
I was drunk for a while,
but I’m not now.
Most of us live lives in black and white
with an occasional splash of Technicolor
that’s not always very nice.
Like riding on a train,
and most of what is going on
is on the other side of the windowpane.
Once there were club cars
where you could get a drink
and watch the lights go by
and gritty old stations
with great high ceilings,
all naked black steel girders
built for goodbyes.
Psalm / by Adam Hughes
If you are the fire
falling on this over-soaked
altar, and if I am
the bloody butchered
stones, what about me
makes you want
to consume me? What
aroma, raw and recent,
drives your hunger?
When all of me has been
returned to vapor
and soaked into your
pores, when all that’s left
are teeth to cast lots
and clatter new
dead languages, will you
then be satisfied?
Or will you hang
and whisper softly
to clean up
of the ashes?
In Gloved Hand / by Carol Jewell
Sasha, last name not remembered, a
Russian boyfriend, once described a winter scene:
“wind-blown, dry snow snakes across the road.” He said
there was a specific Russian word or phrase for
“snaking across the road,” but I can’t remember
what it is. Anyway, whenever I see that kind of snow,
I think of him, telling me that, as we walked,
gloved hand in gloved hand,
on a cold, vodka-fueled, probably-January night,
in New York City,
he in the moment, in New York, and me pretending to be in Russia,
forty years ago…”tomu nazad… тому назад.”
I wonder where he is now, what career he chose, if he has a spouse, kids, and where he lives. How
our lives, of that I am sure.
Does he have
a vodka-fueled memory
Does snaking snow remind him
Who holds his hand,
in gloved hand?
Sepsis/Movement One / by Jennifer Santos Madriaga
I remained lucid through the delirium dream
as I was baptized in the saline waters of
Zoisin and Vancomycin, my biome of
living self and infection obliterating in layers
with each hourly infusion.
Whoever said death came easier
than one thought was right.
The space of being alive is so small and also
so infinite and then all at once not there–
awareness that came with each breath,
a white blood count of 20,000,
a resting heart rate at 153,
and a fever hovering around 103 F.
I marveled how numbers could define
near mortality so accurately.
Even though I felt no pain,
I felt contraction like a slug in salt.
I felt the body become primordial soup.
I saw how it was only fluid and carbon and salts
paired with a soul peering at what would happen next.
The body was a memory, but I could view
the last time it made love one early morning,
when it swam in the waters off Waikiki, when it rode
through a frozen countryside from Vienna,
when it birthed my son, bloodied and lacerated.
I saw I was not the body.
I felt love and loss and suffering and grief
and loneliness and belonging
and my universe so large it defied
my crying out, my helplessness
at seeing how it was too large to comprehend.
Without Signaling*: A 30-day primer on How to Make an American Mass Shooter / by Denise Miller
birth a being with one Y
chromosome— bend the X
in them to embrace the binary.
Bind them— in blue, both denim
and bruises. Tell them— “man
up” before they ever stand.
*The initial report over the Midland police radio came after two Department of Public Safety troopers stopped a white man in his 30s for making a left turn without signaling. – excerpt from ‘We Got One in a Ditch’: Inside the Odessa Shooting Rampage – The transcript of the Odessa Police dispatch during the initial moments when a shooter opened fire along a 20-mile stretch of road shows how the chaotic scene unfolded by Michael Daly, Special Correspondent – the Daily Beast Updated 09.01.19 12:04PM ET / Published 09.01.19 9:44AM ET
September / by Matt Sadler
The last days
of summer like
to the quick-
The tangle of
starting to brown
along the spines
In the world
where dirt is
blood we live
our eyes, darting
from bloom to
ODE TO A SWEET POTATO / by Celia Stuart-Powles
Late summer and here you are,
Nearly forgotten in the dog days
Of salads and sandwiches—still
Wearing your dull ocher jacket—
dusty but still plump,
A bit like Hansel in the cupboard
Waiting for your fate, and is that
Gretel beside you? That tiny spud,
Laying in the dim light? Perhaps
Tonight’s the night—
There’s no escaping—you’ve eyes
But no feet—the choice is mine
What will it be? Lovely in your
Oddity, like a refugee from
The Kuiper Belt—but your bulges
Are earth born, my Sweet: fit
For pie or casserole with pine-
Apple and marshmallow—or
Merely baked intact and peeled,
Yes, washed and scrubbed,
Rub-a-dub-dub: Hansel, your time
Has come. And Gretel cannot
Save you. She’s just a small
spud, after all. Your date is
With the oven—your fate
Is on my plate, and you’ll be.
Sweet with butter, my Yam,
Earth-apple, and Morning Glories kin.
Late summer, and here we are.