The 30/30 Project: March 2018

TP3030-logo-360Welcome to the 30/30 Project, an extraordinary challenge and fundraiser for Tupelo Press, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) literary press. Each month, volunteer poets run the equivalent of a “poetry marathon,” writing 30 poems in 30 days, while the rest of us “sponsor” and encourage them every step of the way.

The volunteers for March 2018 were Maria Hamilton Abegunde, Yvonne Daley, Ellen Devlin, Sarah Hennessey, Frances Klein, Chad W. Lutz, Amy Nawrocki, and Antonina Palisano. 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! To read more about the Tupelo Press 30/30 project, including a complete list of our wonderful volunteer poets and to read their poems, please click here.

Day 30 / Poems 30

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Renga / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde, Yvonne Daley, Ellen Devlin, Sarah Hennessey, Frances Klein, Amy Nawrocki, and Antonina Palisano

Celestial bodies work harder
in winter, delight in how powerfully
they reflect off snowbanks

snow lays heavy, swollen with purpose
elated at the slow release of life in the melting

waiting is the trumpet lily’s job
beneath leaf mold your autumn’s optimism
and casa blanca its velvet scent

each bulb or corm in dormancy
their lessons in patience powered by sunlight

Waiting is the job of each creature
that grows, crawls, dies, feeds the growth of others.
Earthworms live small lives below the surface,

digging and digesting, blind burrowing
brought up short by winter’s freeze.

Moths eggs in silken slings ripen
and fall, winter under
honey locusts leaves. Armed only

with hunger, want of their lives
they eat plants, creatures

in accord with instincts given.
Neither arrogant
or boastful, they hide from birds

and beetles do not kill
in the name of God.

They kill in the name
of day-to-day survival,
for things unspoken,

but especially to love
one more day in the sunshine.

Forest-filtered daylight
cradles the oak’s final pulp—
one more day for the drum

of woodpeckers, for night
to speak its echo.

And the only sound without
or sound within the orbit
is a kind of quiet hum,

the incremental waking-up
of a young and wider world.

*
*

Because Poetry Can… / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
(For the little Black girl in the 5th Grade, Dawes School, 1990-something)

You’d think after nearly forty years I’d forget you.
How your hand popped up and you jumped out
your seat to answer the question no one had asked:
why invite a poet to community leadership day?

You wanted to make certain that everyone heard it,
especially me, the one who had asked the question:
Because poetry can change the world!
And then, the world never returned to normal.

Not for me, at least. Not that it was ever so to begin with.
But right then, that moment, standing in front of you,
I knew that if you knew this truth, then I could hope
one day my words lyrically placed on a page would heal me.

And heal the world. I am that hopeful that the poem
that tells the story of a broken heart can mend one that is.
That the poem that tells the story of a lost child
can help a wandering one return home.

I am equally as hopeful that the poem that reveals
our frailties, fears, and penchants to maim each other
is also the poem that teaches us how to be brave,
to comfort each other, and to love ourselves and strangers.

And the poem that tells us stories of love is the poem
that teaches us how much we need to be still,
how much we need to laugh when children embrace us
because so much joy should not be wasted.

If you ask me how long I have been writing, I will tell you:
I have been writing since before I was born.
Another fifth grader asked me once:
does that mean you had a past life?

You can’t lie to children, so I told him the truth:
Yes, I did but now I am here, this life, with you.
Did you have a sister in that past life?
Yes, I did and I loved her then as I do now.

We were standing in the doorway of his classroom
after my teaching, and he did not want to move.
So I told him: I write when I don’t know what else to do.
I write so I can understand the world around me.

These days, I am writing all the time. I can’t stop.
If I stop, nothing will make sense and I am afraid
if nothing makes sense then there is no purpose
in taking the time to notice hummingbirds.

Or the color purple. And the color purple on brown girls
running down the hallway of a university in a war-torn
country where there is no water in the pipes and
the living seek refuge in graveyards where there is space.

And, where there is peace – at least for brief moments.
If I stop, I cannot tell you about the courage it takes
to sit at the road side begging for food from people
you know don’t have any to give.

Or the selflessness it takes to share the water you found
when you were looking for rice, and after a whole day
of walking up and down the road the only thing you have
is what you started out with: nothing and your hunger.

If I stop writing poems, I can’t tell you about how going
to Juba changed my soul and how I cry sometimes for days
because I want to know what happened to that little girl
and I may never know because I don’t even know her name.

Instead, I imagine she is a fifth grader who still loves purple,
and that no one has told her that girls can’t run in dresses and can’t
wear pants to be more comfortable or can’t run down
university hallways because girls don’t go to school.

And, I imagine I am a Black girl in the fifth grade or a toddler running
down a hall, and I think that I would want someone to write me
a poem that one day I would find, a poem that begins:
Who says Brown girls can’t laugh in the midst of war zones…

*
*

I hope you have a lovely holiday weekend. / by Yvonne Daley

Each jacaranda sunrise

Each jacaranda sunrise
The cerulean sky
Each grain of sand

Our lanai evenings
Air of perfumed velvet
Jasmine is your memory

Cardinal chatter and the hawk
We saw drop the squirrel
Who lived to see another day

Our shared and separate words
Cannot convey how there
Never is the right way

To say goodbye

— March 30, 2018

*
*

A pantoum in praise of dad jokes / by Sarah Hennessey

For my dad

Play is the first poem
We turn words over and over
We volley as a family
Surprise each other with each turn

We turn words over and over
We find hidden humor
Surprise each other with each turn
Sometimes find stoic truth

We find hidden humor
My father’s greatest gift
Sometimes find stoic truth
Lean in closer to see its atomic level humor

My father’s greatest gift
Nothing is “just” a dad joke
Lean in closer to see its atomic level humor
Giving life to language, fuller depth to love

Nothing is “just” a dad joke
Always a puzzle, a gift, even if minute
Giving life to language, fuller depth to love
Play is the first poem

*
*

Sarah / by Frances Klein

We are at a hotel somewhere in one
of the Virginias, your face glowing
with the satisfaction of someone who
has just shared two bottles of wine, then used
a heated toilet seat. The wine, pinot,
purpling your lips to the shade you wore
at my wedding, deep mauve, like you had been
savoring one delicate blackberry
explosion at a time while the stylist
grappled inexpertly with all your hair,
planting bobby-pins like a gardener
to sprout, in time, spiny, metallic buds.
. . .When they bloom, you will wear them with panache,
. . .bobby-pin buds on trend across Philly.

*
*

To Write a Poem / by Chad W. Lutz

to lose your wallet.
to lose your mind.
to loosen your inhibitions.
to follow old superstitions.
to crack the old mold, listening,
we are not done.
we are not done.

to staying up late, typing.
to staying in again, writing.
to staying on subject, fighting.
to quake the ground, remind me:
words have won.
words have won.

*
*

Unlocked / by Amy Nawrocki

No longer sure
that words will come
the poet thinks of motion

and commerce-filled canals
whose water rises and falls
mechanically.

She thinks of
hand-turned locks
and the crew of workers

who opened the floodgates
for barges and brass—
heaviness buoyant

as unanswered questions
and repurposed wreckage.
Down the line, water

crashes over concrete
then slows to a steady crawl.
Reed-lined banks

guard gosling nurseries
and wood ducks waddle
industriously on

rust-colored feet, rummage
in plentiful swaying grasses.
No longer doubtful

the poet finds the end,
breaks the line at
possibility.

*
*

Litany for No Gender / by Antonina Palisano

In this day with rooftop rain I think of the woman
Who said if she could try again she’d want a life like mine

I leave the bodies that I love so I can write
I leave myself in a ditch on the side of the road

The bright dysthymic wives who share my face
Her waist that fits between a man’s two palms

We are swallowed by the city or the ground
Certain or unclean it makes no difference

In a dream I have a man’s shoulders and I never weep
I won’t save anything I kill every insect

I am as much the open hand as the mouth
It was me that set fire to our houses

I loved very fiercely and I hope that’s what she saw
A woman on a pyre in white linen

I mistake the rain for bullets and I’m underneath the bed
I give the word away and I receive a bird’s wing

*
*

Day 29 / Poems 29

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When My Husband Is Late Coming Home / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

I am reminded:
Some woman ancestor waited like this.
Standing still at the window.
Opening and closing the front door.
Holding her breath.
Praying in tongues.
Until he arrives.

And I think:
She and I are the same woman.
Different centuries and decades.
Different years and days.
Different states and cities.
But, we are the same.
Some people mistake our husbands
for the greater of some evil.

I think again:
Some people can’t see our men.
How they are the selves the sun reveals
when we pay attention to how we walk.
The selves they can’t run away from
or hide from or ever put away.
They see our men as the shadow,
something they cast off, repress
or try to drink away. And when that fails,
the thing they must kill.

I’ve been wondering:
How he does it every day, leave home
not knowing if he’ll return because he is Black.
Then he tells me why he is not afraid:
At the end of the day, he says,
to have someone who wants to be there,
someone who does not mind waiting.
This is beautiful.
You are the reason I make it home.

Then, I am reminded, again:
Some woman ancestor waited like this.
Standing still at the window.
Opening and closing the door.
Holding her breath.
Praying in tongues.
Until he arrives.
Dreaming of where he will touch her.

*
*

Eagle’s Eye / by Yvonne Daley

Your anatomy is your perception
Your magnificent head that beak that eye
How you blink up not down your nictitating membrane
Nature’s windshield wiper protecting you
From salt water’s sting and bacteria
How each of your eyeballs moves separately
Sights prey two miles away
Your near extinction

How you can turn your head 270 degrees
And hear the call of your mate across the bay
The chicks now almost large enough for flight
How your wings beat as you returned
We heard you as did they the silver fish
Still swimming in air as you swooped to feed
Your columbine talons
Your survival

*
*

Found / by Ellen Devlin

Please click here to read the poem.

*
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Repertoire / by Sarah Hennessey

I can do a wicked Macarena
and a pretty boss electric slide
I don’t know the exact moves
to the I want it that way music video
but my take is pretty fresh

I’ve never been as smooth
as Michael Jackson
or as herky-jerky as Jagger
but you can bet
I can whip my hips around

I know the basic foxtrot,
the bunny hop, and even
the box step, although
I would never say
that I can waltz

I can conga like a fool
and even get in a few
high kicks in a kickline
can cha-cha
for a few measures

I can cha-cha slide
exactly once per wedding
and I’ll cheer on
the brave soul who dares
to cupid shuffle

I can line dance worth a damn
grapevine and even do-si-do
I’ll wear the cowboy hat
and boots and all
even though I’ll smell like horses

I can still find the heel-toe
the high knee and gliding arms
tight braids
and flaring skirt
of the fancy shawl dance

I can two-step
swing my fringe
otter furs, and beaded bags
in time to the beat
and raise my eagle fan
just all tradish

But where in there
did he hear
rain dance?

If he’s asking
if I dance in the rain
then I’ll grudgingly admit
of course I do

If he’s asking
if my dancing
my 90s kid boy band dancing
my suburban phys ed dancing
my plateau tribal dancing
has anything to do
with rain
I’m going to have to ask
that he take his seat

My short answer is no
and my long answer
isn’t something
he’s earned.

*
*

The Futures We Forgot About / by Frances Klein

The one where we all sit around watching laserdiscs.

The one where we are whisked to work through an overhead tube, our legs atrophying from lack of use.

The one where we live on the Moon.

The one where we live on Mars.

Any of the ones with flying cars.

The one where an automaton gives us a straight razor shave, draws a bath, tidies the house, raises our children.

The one where the test is positive.

The one where hoverboards are so passe as to be children’s toys.

The one where we live underwater, aquadomes bubbling across the ocean floor like blisters.

The one where a tadpole with your nose swims in negative space to the beat of my heart.

The one about vampires.

Any of the ones about zombies.

The one where the fallout crawls through our blood, where we shed our fingernails, teeth, hair.

The one where we can finally speak to animals, and they turn out to be dicks.

The one where strangers congratulate me in the grocery line, give me unsolicited advice.

The one where all nutrients are administered in pill form.

The one where we have evolved beyond the need for physical bodies, our essences pulsing light.

The one where my body makes another body to be laid on my chest in the hours after midnight.

The one where alien lifeforms, strangely humanoid and comprehendible, establish embassies on earth.

The one where any major city is merely an hour away by zeppelin.

The one where we sleep only in two hour increments.

The one where we are amazed by the basic functions of the human body–the opening of eyes, smiles, yawns.

The one with lasers.

The one with clones.

The one where your doctor can be shrunk to the size of a grain of rice and sent in to fix the problem in hand to hand combat, your champion.

The one where the continents decide it’s time to find another arrangement, see other people.

The one where a tiny whirlwind–us in miniature–rockets around the house at the speed of light.

The one where none of that happens.

The one where we accept an alternative.

*
*

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? / by Chad W. Lutz

I used to have to
Take out the trash,
Vacuum the cars,
Mow the lawn,
Clean the bathrooms,
Dust the furniture,
Get the mail,
Sweep my bedroom,
Empty the dishwasher,
Fill the dishwasher,
Mop the floors,
Scrub the basement,

And then I still wouldn’t watch TV.

*
*

Parenting / by Amy Nawrocki

Yards away, the library marquee declares Sunday’s closing,
Pilates and story-time, a seasonal potluck,
and free tax advice. They head past the no parking sign,
and he is two or three steps ahead. She’s reaching
for a muffin in the folds of a greasy bag when he tells
her firmly, no, throw it away. Then again. Now.

The trash can is the kind that compacts recyclables
and separates waste from possibility. She is wrinkled,
grey and slight, wears a white sweater too threadbare
for early spring. She is too agile for a cane, too
capable for hand-holding, too sweet-toothed

to listen. Her son is still trying to figure out
whether he’s gained the hour of sunlight
that the calendar promised or lost the argument
that one has with gods who sacrifice their children.
Too young for caretaking, he’s unsure
of timelines, how quickly a reprimand converts to a sin.

*
*

*
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Day 28 / Poems 28

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Tupelo 30/30 Day 28 / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

all day the rain falls
sporadically and gently
i am lulled to dream

a life of writing poems
every moment till I die

wouldn’t that be grand
to let poetry spill out
of my memories

to let history arrive
as it will when I summon

instead of always
disrupting my existence
shattering my peace

let silence suture my soul
let love be its only song

*
*

Eostre / by Yvonne Daley

Dear full moon goddess of spring
Our appropriation is nothing new
While your dawn quickens the land
We celebrate your light your equal darkness

For fertility, the egg
For abundance, the hare
For beauty, the lily
For clarity, the meadowsweet
For tomorrow, the sweet roll
For eternity, the lump of clay

How in our most ancient cells
We wander still in deserts
Your April fool your butterfly

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Carol Shields

I think I’d like to make a study
of obituaries, see if Daisy
is right about the weight of flashpoints
in a woman’s life. She thinks women
are smothered by them and gives in evidence
the story of Bessie Perfect Trumble
whose left arm and leg were severed by a fall
or a jump, from a Canadian Pacific
Stock car. Her last words, “I am so bloody”.
Daisy says that’s all Bessie will be remembered
for, is the woman who jumped or fell. This story
does take place in 1936. Most women
did have dull lives, made as they were of servitude.
Maybe only the flashpoints would sell papers.
But surely, now as then, women have insights
while coaxing purple cornflowers to a stake,
kindnesses that are St- Francis- of- Assisi- sized
bear the tedium and sludge of raising children
with dignity and love. I think about diminishments
I have allowed, the size of my life. There are stars
called failed. They don’t have the mass
to become full, shaped as they are, in available light.

*
*

Aboard a seiner somewhere near Sitka / by Sarah Hennessey

each salmon struggles
swimming hard against each other
but their net rises

I watch from the wheelhouse recounting all the times he’s explained this before. The skiff and the buoys, piling the net, the explosions of jellyfish as they’re pulled through the winch. The detail I can’t recount is how the fish writhe. Their cascading bodies as the net is piled on deck. The detail I can’t recount is the cacophonous slapping against bodies, and water, and the deck.

It is a melancholic mesmirization, the way they’re drawn first together, ever closer, and then up, out of the water. One gets tangled in the net, pulled high and seems to always untangle in the moment before meeting the winch. Others slap and slide over the deck, flip themselves around behind the net, into some unseen crevice. Odd to later find a calmed body that snaps back into spasms.

*
*

Seven Days of Mist / by Frances Klein

1
Mist hangs limp on the cedars,
a shawl around the shoulders
of an old, bent woman.

2
On the screen, mist saturates the landscape.
Soon the chiseled protagonist and his lady-love
will be fighting the Aliens! From Quasar 7!
that emerge from it.

Over my shoulder a professor type
mutters about barometric pressure
and weather patterns, to him the most
unlikely thing about this scenario.

3
Smoke follows beauty,
but mist lives in the low places–
crag of a weathered cheekbone
valley of the hollow cheek

4
The road alone exists, the rest
of the landscaped whited out
by thick mist, like driving along
the edge of a drawing tablet
where the backdrop hasn’t
yet been sketched, only
the single, meandering line
of the highway.

5
They died in the fire.
The telltale smoke was lost
in the absence of alarm,
smothered by morning mist

6
Smaug nested in the Misty Mountains
partly for the convenience,

(Esgarothian take-out? Nothing better!)

and partly to avoid embarrassment
at the smoke that dripped perpetually
from his nostrils.

7
Fog is not mist
and a cat is not fog
not even in Chicago.

*
*

One Grunt Means Yes / by Chad W. Lutz

What a waste of paper
Being a writer is;

your laptop sucking
juice straight from the
dinosaur’s tit;

paper drafts:
the
leveling of entire forests

and here
we are
scratching at keys
like kittens

getting smitten
with something
a little

tactile.

*
*

Saliva / by Amy Nawrocki

I lick the tip of my finger, but the cut is shallow
and thin and the blood stops
before I start to taste the iron. My saliva sets the wound
and I do not rust.

Rough winter lips chap
in the dry room. I circle my tongue obsessively
and trace the cracks, bite the edges
of dead skin and moisten vermillion

but the wound-healing qualities of saliva
do not seem work on my tongue,
the slot of the thermos spilling hot coffee
into my mouth, too quick for me to stop it,

no place to spit. The burn is mild;
I won’t die or lose taste or fail
when the next sip comes.
I crowd the glands with requests—

send more saving enzymes
to edit glum synapses that speak
in shades of pain and listen reluctantly
to the body’s annotations.

The day is done, and still I can’t press
the roof of my mouth without
remembering cuts and bites,
canker sores that went away

before I charted their frequency.
But I am inept at resuscitations
so I keep swallowing, sending
the silence of unconscious healing

down my throat, drowning
the windpipe with placebo phlegm,
oiling the rusty hinges of vocal chords
who need to stop apologizing for not

anchoring the tongue more staunchly.
After all that slobbering, any vibrations
are too doused to give voice to delinquencies
or gratuitous praise for body’s slow recovery.

*
*

Dog And Pony / by Antonina Palisano

All this time without agreeing
I never knew the terms of my life

The cracking favorite mug
The fat commonplace book

Alive in my unlined skin
A kind of benevolent gloat

Leaving the body in the bed
The fields in their low light

The hedgerow and the holly
The wet ballad of the season

My scoured throat and stomach
A hidden map or rubric

Was red a real preference
Or just my blood responding

The angel’s flat commandment
Defining and falling away

*
*

Day 27 / Poems 27

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The Sister Georgina Suite: 4 / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
(for Sister Georgina Abingkwaec)

My tingshas belong to you.
Day one, I know this.
Your eyes close.
Your feet rest on floor.
Your hands fold in your lap.
You sit silent, still.
You breathe.
You wait.
Sound fills you
passes through you
surrounds you
like wind before rain.

*
*

Valentine to a Generation / by Yvonne Daley

— For Linda Brown
She went ahead

Guarding nothing but themselves the old guard
Their cold ideas their withered bloom
The way the whiskey in the glass
Rimmed golden on their discarded principles
And later on the golf course how easy
The deal went down

How from afar they charted the course
Of battles playing tin soldiers with real
Or your money inventing new ways
For it to disappear up their sleeves
The boardrooms in which the one woman
Was there to keep her smart mouth shut
Or take the notes

Back room dealing the handshake the dotted line
Demarcations on a battle map for bodies or votes
Deciding other people’s fate before fondling
The ones they would never marry dismiss
As a minute’s dalliance a man’s prerogative

The balance might be different now the cloak
Uprising on hypocrisy the kind that comes home
On a February day while they were still just students
How when the battle is for something that matters
More than another zero in your banking account
Another trophy on your wall of endangered species

Come full circle grandchildren we have
Songs to sing together and miles to march
At last to overcome.

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Fannie Flagg

There is a study of nature so close
you know the language of bees and can hum
a song that tells them you mean no harm. You
put your hand in the hive and for your bravery
they will not molest you, but let you fill the jar
with honey, bring it to your love in your hands.

There is too, a study of your kind, that lets
you split a skull with a cast iron skillet. And
for your bravery, you have a powerful secret.
You killed a man who tried to steal your child
abused your body and spirit, because he could,
because he wanted to. And all your life
the pleasure of that heavy handle, lifted
by your arms, will make you smile.

*
*

Oh joy of spring / by Sarah Hennessey
For Liam and Livia

Hello spring blooms,
dew drops
on your leaves
small and sparkling.

You are such joy,
you embody delight,
yawning toward sunlight,
radiant like laughter.

Hello tiny tulips,
once bulbs,
now unfurling skyward
and my heart,
Oh anatomical anomoly,
beats but for you
little bud, little bloom,
little lives so richly colorful.

With cherishing hands
I hold you,
without words enough
to promise to be both
spring shower
and summer sun,
to be the boughs overhead
and the earthworms below
making certain
you stretch long into the season
and deep into the soil.

Hello little spring blossoms,
welcome to our garden.
Your blooms are greeted
with rainbow wrapped sunshowers.

*
*

North Tongass Highway / by Frances Klein

Orphan island in a nameless inlet,
the boats used to pass on either side
with no thought for you, intent
on delivering to or taking from
the pulp mill. That was years ago.

Now it is quiet, save the occasional
car heading north along the highway,
the occasional raven hopping
through the trees bristling your back,
squawks scattering the stillness.

Along your ridge stand five trees,
the rest logged down, still recovering;
unevenly spaced, of uneven heights,
like the only remaining snaggled
teeth in a punched out smile.

Being an island is tiring, the constant
reinforcing of the roots holding you
to the ocean floor, the constant beat
of rain on your trees, your soil, absence
of people who fail to populate you.

You sleep most days, your outline
that of a back-turned dreamer, hump
of shoulder on the land side, curved hip
sloping to submerge on the sea-side,
dreams watery and indistinct.

*
*

Weather, California / by Chad W. Lutz

You’ve grown used to this weather:
The amount of moisture in the air,
The thunder of gunfire,
The clouds of Marijuana,
The steady thrum of traffic,
The constant construction,
The threat of earthquakes,
The choking smoke of forest fires,
The whine and whir of the 57;

Landscapes change.
Lights change.
Seasons change.
Grades change.
Jobs change.
Faces blur into
The backgrounds
Of their own oblivions,

But whether you stay
In California or not
Doesn’t matter.

You’re here,
Right now,
And for whatever it’s worth.

*
*

Unsigned by Amy Nawrocki

The painting sagging on the wall
says something about trees,
about distance, reversals
and foreground finishes. Trunks
sequestered to back space flatten
the possibility of concrete bark
and shark-skin branches
bemoan the quiet reflection
of ones who are being watched.

In the crowd of limbs,
the farthest point profits
from the journey
of the most obvious red leaf
to an invisible seed of paint
that had to have been set
a long time ago by a painter

who understood that futures
begin in the background,
that the most important strokes
exist to be buried, forgotten
by gazes in the nonchalance
of a spotlight.

*
*

*
*

Day 26 / Poems 26

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Brown Girl in Purple Dress Running Down Hall ( #4 ) / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

For the toddler at University of Juba

*dusting off the moon: moment when a flash storm occurs to end the dry season.

Your purple dress flows
behind you: a royal train,
a small reminder

that in Juba, South Sudan
“dusting off the moon” is real.

*
*

When you need beauty / by Yvonne Daley

I know you also long to lie down in those green pastures
Hike the bog in search of that rare orchid
Get lost among Monet’s blue waters
And listen forever to Joan Baez Amazing Grace
How sweet that sound

I was searching for some way to stay with that green
And flowered horizon that I’ll be leaving soon enough
The way the sun last night marbled the water
Each reflection reflected dappled multiplied in benevolence

I was thinking of our voices how we knew the words
The linnet’s wings the deep heart’s core
All the beauty in the world that we could be absorbing
Not this chain of duplicity the same old war song

I wanted to hold that kiss on my lips while the friend
Held on to the certainty of numbered days
The morning sounds the evening’s hush
The way we walked together as the night fell down

If tomorrow I couldn’t write another word or see another thing
If this were my last expression on this inexplicable planet
Why should it be to rail and grieve and deplore
While the barred owl in the giant pine across the way

Defied his gravity his wing span’s elegance its small miracle
And that gardenia I breathed in yesterday its profound opulence
How more and more we understand why Prufrock rolled the trouser cuffs
And walked again along the beach. Each to each.

— March 26, 2018 For KB

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Karen Russell

We find ourselves in lives we don’t want
don’t remember choosing, our bodies swelled
with tables and mirrors in someone else’s house.
Contracts were pitched to our fathers, by theirs,
to make us part human female, part receptacle.
We swallow what was given as food, lowering
our faces to the floor. Something is wrong
you always knew. You dreamed buses that drove
past you with signs painted on them, something
is wrong.
Your regret can sing you back to when
you were eleven, knew who you were, what you
Tell yourself the story, over and over of all you let
slip your hands and you will find the way out.

*
*

Harbored / by Sarah Hennessey

For William

there is no more sincere love
than to listen

I read sleeping breaths
their depth and rasp
listen to the sweet easy moan
and yawn of sleeping stretch

and where is a more sincere love
than giving warmth unflinching
where sometimes it is fleeting

beloved, you are not the body
nor am I,
but our bodies know language
minds cannot
and our articulations
carry boundless love

I welcome your body
as I do water
necessary nourishment

I invite your closeness
because of your delicacy

our hands have known
breakage, as they’ve known
gentle restoration

and in your hand
I place my own
we do not take each other
but give ourselves

*
*

Louisiana Rain / by Frances Klein
for Kris

No one told this winter sun we’re five days
past turn of spring, so its watery light–

apple juice after the ice cubes have melted–
keeps splashing through the west-facing windows.

Tom Petty is reaching out of the grave to break
hearts via record player, and because yours got broken

three days past spring I bump and grind across the floor
to the opening bars of Louisiana Rain.

Your smile up at me is as weak as the light so I lean in
to the inherent ridiculousness of the dance–

Tom Petty isn’t really made for what I grew up calling grinding,
what my Catholic school counterparts called freak dancing–

lacing my fingers through yours, pulling you up and close
on the tiny triangle dance floor between couch, coffee table, TV.

The song is made for a moderately up-tempo honky-tonk,
but it only takes a few moments for us to lapse into

middle school slow-dance grasping, arms around neck and hip,
head to chest. Someone wrote us before the wedding,

“may all of your dances be first ones,” and here we are,
taking our first dance in the days after. No one hires DJs

or dances at funerals, but shouldn’t they? Wouldn’t the ones
we take the time to bury right want us dancing to their memory?

Wouldn’t the days and weeks leading up to death be more
if we spent them making that final mixtape?

Myself, I want to be played out with a ?uestlove drumline,
Kamal Gray making that keyboard sing. I want our sons alone

on the dance floor with Diana Ross to hold them for me,
shuffle-stepping on each other’s feet when they forget who’s leading.

*
*

Telegraph Ave., Oakland / by Chad W. Lutz

Noise: constant;
Idling trucks,
The low thrum
Of traffic, complaints
From passersby about
Trump, guns, and
The environment.

A woman at the taco stand
Flashes me a pleasant smile.

Cement trucks
Patrol the street
Like SS; road construction
Somewhere else.

A man with a cane and bullet-wound scars
Sings anthems from the berm.

Graffiti covers murals
Painted just months ago,
Along the same street graffiti
Covers bare walls like murals.

A banner
Hanging above
The road serves,
Not as a PSA for
Upcoming burlap
Sack races or
Sunday-morning
Farmer’s markets,
But as a petition
To the city to please
Repave the street,

While a smiling man in jean shorts roller
Blades down the lumpy sidewalk.

*
*

No Crumbs / by Amy Nawrocki

A prune, three pecans,
sips of slowly brewed coffee:

fast broken by lunch
and the foreboding planning
of dinner’s roasted fodder.

Carefully measured,
the rigatoni is heavy
with artichokes, cream sauce,
peppercorns slowly braised

and crushed under a fork.
If my teeth could stop
a calorie from speaking,
they’d find cast iron
a fine place to lose control
and scrape the crusted edges
of roots deglazing

without bones. Before the meal
is finished, I miss
the idea of it. I see
the coming emptiness
of a plate that has

memorized my fingertips
and known the surface
of my misbehaving tongue
up close, like a biopsy

pressed under the lip
of a microscope. Fast
goes the satisfaction

of slow sips. When nothing
is left the dishes are done.

*
*

Mort Moyenne / by Antonina Palisano

I learned about sleep
when I watched another person
enter its imperative,

tossing waking bias like a shirt.
A medium death. Less than sex,
but a stronger pull. For instance

I never saw a weird fire with wings
that I hesitate to call an angel,
perched in the tire swing beech

after three days without sex. Nor looked
for an eon at the miracle signals
of a face above or below me.

I only knew a brow completely
when I watched it knot over a dream,
artless and separate, speaking to a need

that spared my any involvement.

*
*

Day 25 / Poems 25

*

An Equation that Can Only Be Solved with Oriki / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

“…you’ll remember
because there’s so much
we refused to forget.”

“Lesson 1: Nez Perce language is Nimiipuutimt” by Sarah Hennessey

“History”:
always
being (un)/(re)written

plus

Memory
always
being (un)covered

equals

Abegunde
/‘Ah.beh.’goon.dey/

noun
1. Ariran.
2. an apocalyptic archive.

adjective
1. to be born with ancestral knowledge.

verb
1. Sankofa.
2. remember everything.
3. forget nothing.

*
*

Palm Sunday / by Yvonne Daley

We wove the palm fronds
Into little crosses we placed under our mattress
The priest said they would protect us
Even when the house burned down

I can pull back that year’s Easter coat
From the scrapbook of a time
When I could nestle its beehive buttons
Into their proper alignment
The coat’s baby blue

But the palm doesn’t choose what tribe to shelter
A fossil remnant from the human past its generosity
Our food our protection from desert winds
The heart of palm its delicacy its story
The tree of life the crown of thorns
.
From you the open palm, the sweet palmier
And palmistry: your people’s psalm written
In palm-leaf manuscripts: the wisdom of Tibet
Sanskrit teachings Hindu poetry the sacred texts
Of Bali and the Khamsa: the hand of Fatima

How when we trace our story back and back again
We are grown from the same sun-star in your crown
Your radiant fronds, your sheltering halo of green.

— March 25, 2018

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Barbara Kingsolver

My mother was not one for corporal
austerities, even though we were
Catholic. She had a fine understanding
of the ridiculous and thought if she did,
so would God. Lack sat at our table, no
need to invent it to keep us from self-centered
love. It was hard enough to love yourself
or imagine anyone else wanting to,
when your good dress has a nylon skirt
that sticks to your legs and most of the buttons broken
into plastic half- moons like chipped teeth.
Want didn’t save me from the world the flesh
and the devil, soon as I had a little cash and
the sometime use of a car.

*
*

Wedding on a half-shell: an ode to the Klein-Kmitta wedding / by Sarah Hennessey

Tomorrow I will find
that I’ve stained my dress
with icing
while I cut and served the cake

Tomorrow I will find
the hairdresser
used 78 bobby pins
that didn’t hold anyway

Tomorrow my feet will ache
in odd places
from dancing with
and without rhinestoned sandals

Tomorrow I will wash
a kitchen’s worth
of cake pans, spatulas,
piping tips, and icing bowls

but tonight I toast
with laughter
and dance
with abandon

tonight I am awash
in love– blessings
pouring from two families
into two beautiful people

tonight I am in love,
I am not a cake decorator
or a bridesmaid
but a reveler

*
*

A is for Allergy / by Frances Klein

In an allergy test your skin is pricked
at evenly spaced intervals, and distilled drops
of allergens are placed on each perforation.
When raised rashes rise in stately rows
like alder trees, then you know you’re allergic
to mold, to pet dander, to grass, to alder trees.
This last one strange, since you’ve never met
an alder tree you didn’t lick. You’ve never met
an alder tree you didn’t like, slender, branchless
trunks much too narrow for a nymph to fit inside
and therefore safe, grey knots crawling
the white wood like it’s undergoing its own arboreal
allergy test and coming up positive, allergic
to pineapple, penicillin, to people who chip its body
into fragrant smoke for perfuming coffee, seafood,
who harvested millions of the slender trunks to build
the pilings under the sinking city, Venice.
The alders now unable to enjoy a gondola ride without
the flood of ancestral memory, the boats gliding silent
over the catacombs. They shudder at the submerged
trunks warped and twisted, the salty Adriatic insinuating
as the wood grows ever more porous, the branches
pulled surfaceward in an unanswered plea for salvation.

*
*

Racey / by Chad W. Lutz

she pushes herself
on top of me and
instead of saying No
or something stupid
like Ive got a race
tomorrow I
lie back and feel
her mount me
and smile at the way
I always thought
it would feel

*
*

The Monographer / by Amy Nawrocki

With apparent forethought
and generous attention to margins
and spines, some resourceful book binder
has pasted The Night Watch into place.

But it’s hard to say
pasted without underestimating
a toothpick’s precise caulking,
or tailors who stich invisible hems
or bricklayers who forgive the bricks
for their lazy adhesion and easy stacking.

Whatever mistake the printer admits to,
the cover-up is as flawless
as the captain’s fingernails blended
into the lattice of his outstretched hand.
Silent, satin glue holds the replica
as honestly as the watchman holds
his lance, as secretly as the golden girl
hangs her chicken by its claws.

*
*

The Guillotine Museum / by Antonina Palisano

A whole room of gauze.
Our glowing intro not untrue,
but still a gloss. Although we bow
and are abashed

in greeting praise. In sheepish haste
we hear the news. We totter
at its meat-and-gristle. Every guest
has seen their end. Moving quickly

toward a loss. You know the dead
are marvelously coiffed,
and what a comfort, this panoply
of cigarette. The sandy-bodied mantis

in its case, as if before a blade,
its slender waving excess.
Damp, as if emitting fluid. Slighted
as it turns and creeps away.

*
*

Day 24 / Poems 24

*

Dream: Because It Was Chaka Khan’s Birthday / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
“I’m every woman…” Chaka Khan

I am at a performance watching Black women
sing their lives together with joy.
They wear suits and dresses, and sing
their songs simultaneously but in harmony.
I can’t distinguish one story from the other,
but I know the stories are different.
I am in awe and I begin to wonder how
they are coded and just as I do one of the women
catches my eye and the scene changes.

Suddenly there are more women and they are
holding a huge canvas cloth in front of the stage
and the singing women move behind the curtain.
When they disappear, the women drop the canvas
and behind it is a king-sized chocolate-colored leather
bed with a canopy that seems to be floating.
On top, more Black women and they are entangled
with one another, laying in each other’s arms like
sisters who have just finished playing a game.

These women are singing one song.
How once upon a time when we were slaves
how we were brave enough to use what we had
to stay alive and to protect our children. How now,
we don’t have to do those things and are free
to be who we want, and all we have to do is
look in the mirror – at each other – and see
that we could be whatever and whoever we
wanted to be no matter what the world said.

I am sitting in the first seat in the first row
and when I hear these words, I weep.
I reach for the hand of the woman next to me.
She takes it and then reaches for the woman beside her.
I look around and realize that all the women are Black.
We sit like this for a long time, none of us moving.
All of us witnesses for each other, unafraid of silence.
The women on stage catch all our eyes and
through their gazes we are healed.

*
*

Today as before the children / by Yvonne Daley

Speak our truths
Return us to Harvard Yard the Square
Not an inch without some beautiful
Body the day we gave daisies
To the National Guardsmen
Our gentle naiveté

And later in New York
How we were corralled between metal
Gates penned as if we were the danger
Tear-gassed blinded for testing
Our constitutional rights
How fear emboldened us
Our dead brothers strangers

In Washington the children spilled
Red dye into the war memorial fountain
It turned the water pink
We rode the cold hard bus all night
Then walked the cold hard streets
What mattered was to link arms
To sing our anthem all we are saying

The VA hospitals filled the limbs lost
The places where insanity won
Jungle sand concert school cyberspace
Our self-destruction pulses while the children
And the cherry blossoms hold tight their tender hearts

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Sandra Cisneros

I am the one who leaves
the table like a man,
without putting back
the chair or taking
my plate. I don’t
answer questions.
I am not pretty,
I’m sovereign. I am
the city’s only smart
second-hand store filled
with mirrors. I am
the one carrying a brick
in my hand, dreaming
stairs, nailing boards
across doors. I will
not look out windows
the way so many
women have, sitting
sadness on an elbow.

*
*

Bloodshed begets bloodlust; how western civilization was interrupted by colonizers and how we can rebuild civility / by Sarah Hennessey

1.
When does a man
run his hands
through another man’s hair
because I can only picture violence

When does a man
summon affection for another man
because I can still only think of violence

2.
I run my fingers through my hair
until my whole palm is on my head
and I grip the hair
tilt my head back
think about the knife
that enters at the forehead
the human hand that guides the blade
along the human skull
to sever layers of human skin
so the skin can be ripped
from the skull by the hair

Think about the human hands
holding the human head
and the knife and hands
sticky with a human’s blood

Think about a human’s blood

3.
For many this was warfare
but when men
placed bounties
on the scalps
of humans
100 for a man
50 for a woman
25 for a child

one can’t call that warfare

When men placed bounties
on the scalps of those
they didn’t consider human
one can’t call that warfare

When men placed bounties
on scalps
as a policy of extermination
one can’t call that warfare

4.
According to your legislation
I’m not supposed to be here

Should have died in the battle/
ambush/prison camp/
reservation/boarding school/
systematic disassembling
of my identity

At very least I shouldn’t know
who I am

But I know, and I know
who you are
sometimes even before you do

I’m not here for vengeance
I’m not here for blood

I’m here to heal
and wash the human blood
from the human hands
and rebuild human kind

*
*

Sea Legs / by Frances Klein

If you spend all day in the Atlantic,
summiting peak after green peak,
you will spend hours afterward feeling,
always from behind, that familiar push
and lapse, push and lapse from the beach
chair, the couch, the empty air.

If you spend all day with children,
singing small songs to nurse small
hurts, you will spend hours afterward
adjusting your gaze up instead of down,
cutting your partner’s food into shark bites,
standing in an elevator a beat too long
because no one raced to push the button.

If you spend your whole life relying
on someone to be there with an atlas,
an answer, color commentary on
the Cubbies, the bums, you will spend
years with the elevator dropping out
from under you, waves cresting
and receding, and just when you think
you have your sea legs, another wave
will lift you up, sweep you out, leave you
beached, salt water in your mouth like blood.

*
*

Who Gives a Fuck About a Poem? / by Chad W. Lutz

Sometimes the page writes me,
And why shouldn’t it,
At zero dollars per word?
This isn’t the 1700s.

Who gives a fuck
about a poem?

If it doesn’t pay for some
Kind of advertising,
What’s the god damn point?

You don’t get to decide:
If there is or isn’t a hashtag,
If it isn’t buzzworthy,
If it reads higher than a sixth-grade level.

Who gives a fuck about you?

*
*

This Test Result Has Been Released by an Automatic Process / by Amy Nawrocki

Impression:

stable white matter
no new brain identified

Narrative:

The patient is normal in size

history of enhancing
without contrast.

Findings:

There is no evidence
unchanged

The orbits are unremarkable.

*
*

In Situ / by Antonina Palisano

One can identify the bodies in a collapsed house
by remembering where each sat at the feast

One can identify the feast by the feeling of distention

This is the push-pull of meaning,
of not meaning anything at all

In which I mean that I have passed the boundary of the house

In which I do not mean that I am collapsible

The faces here have the sheen of plums
A complete body is not a real exigency

I am impatient to be cut and healed

Tissue gown like a festival garment
White moon of my breast with its blue pockmark

Will I reach for my body after meeting the knife

This room of ritual dress and marks

Each to their pre-assigned seat

I don’t think this means –

(See my chest in the machine
as the world warps down -)

I don’t think it means anything at all

*
*

Day 23 / Poems 23

*

Why I Wanted Bootsy Collins’ Hat: A Praise Song for Those Who Know / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

for Bootsy Collins and Patricia Collins, March 20, 2018

“I got to have that groove.”
Bootsy Collins, at age 18, after first meeting with Fela Kuti and hearing his music

Elegbara: another name/aspect of the Yoruba orisa Esu
Pomba Gira: consort of Esu
Osun: Yoruba Orisa of love, culture, women’s power; owner of the mirror, honey, sweet rivers

1.
I am not afraid of genius, especially my own. And,
I am not afraid of the genius that reaches deep
to pull the funk from under the illusions of reality.
When Elegbara’s son bounces into your life in full and living color,
in a top hat made of sequins and silver dust, and walking
on air, his fingers ringed with silver skulls (and you want to ask for one),
when you get to stare into the stars on his eyes and into
his mouth and not get lost or consumed, you know
this being you call your Self is nothing but the Universe
gazing at herself with unconditional love.

2.
When you dance with the Pomba Gira who carries the whistle
(and you are certain a whip and shield inside her pocket)
that will open dimensions to women warriors waiting for
the moment they can lift their machetes out of their baskets
to cut down predators of children and purveyors of injustice,
the moment when they can open their mouths and chant down
Babylon and chant up Kush in the south, that’s when you know
this thing you call a path is nothing more than your Destiny
come to claim you on the road you’ve been walking.

3.
If you got to have that groove, like I do. The one that makes you
get up, stand up, and make the power for the people, and make
the people the power, then, yeah, I’d rather be with you on this dance
floor instead of being at the table with people who built it out of plywood.]

4.
That hat was mine. The moment it was made. The moment Bootsy
touched it. The moment the auction to keep our babies safe began.
What daughter of Osun would not recognize her other crown, colored
gold and rimmed in red and black? What daughter of Osun would not
take the opportunity to be crowned by the funk master who has been
shapeshifting longer than she? Hear me now. There is nothing sweeter
than an Osun when she gets what she desires for pleasure. Because pleasure
fuels power. And in the end, this Osun girl knows that both can lead to love,
the type of love that tears the roof off everything that wants to nail it down.

5.
When a way is made for you to enter the line before everyone waiting
with their CDS and no one complains when you are pushed forward.
When Bootsy leans back to take a closer look and says: Look at you.
I like that. Of course: your gele for today is perfect. Shades of red, black,
and green in non-concentric circles and arrows leading to everywhere.
You don’t shiver or cringe when his hand touches your shoulder and before
you know it you are telling him: I grew up on you, back then, it was the future
and right now, it’s still the future. He laughs and says Man. I’m gonna write
you something special, and he does. Something more than his name. I tell him,
Call me Maria. She was who I was when I heard you the first time. And so he writes:
To Maria, A Chocolate Star and Beyond – Love, Bootsy.

6.
When I softly call the final figure and Ray yells sold! The crowd cheers.
Nah, you can’t see me coming. Ever. Even if you do, it’s already too late.
A friend sashays over to the last bidder, leans in and whispers, you don’t know
who she is, do you? She was gonna have that hat. And when I interrupt the line,
again, my hat in hand, everyone nods, and Pomba Gira directs me to the table with a smile.
(Later, we will have our turn with pictures for her album and a pledge to uplift
and protect young girls and women.) She guides me towards her man who is still
gracious after two hours of signing his name on guitars and LPs.

7.
I place the hat on my head and Bootsy, like a good stylist and friend, adjusts it
so it rests on top of my gele without crushing it, the rim just above my forehead
and eyes. I am doing what he said to do: If you see something you like, wear it.
Show up real and back up who you are.
Which is how I got here in the first place
wearing a top hat that only a man who got his first bass from James Brown would design.
What daughter of Osun, laughing with that man who could talk a black hole into escaping
gravity, would not know that this moment the master of all roads that lead to funking
the future, has made her immortal.

*
*

When you find the poem / by Yvonne Daley

When you find the poem you wrote
Fifteen years ago and its message
Is as desperate as the one you wrote today

To discover among the millions of letters that have filled
computers notebooks your desolate diatribe against
Another miserable leader humanity’s bitter story

Tomorrow we will march for sanity
Our upright daughters and sons arm in arm
Another generation fighting other old men

Shall we tell them how tyranny repeats itself
How there is always something worse to protest
How their bright eyes and words our balm against despair

Is the thing we need the most and fear
How we look back at all the marches the petitions the votes
The legacy of hope the reality of the human heart

My own optimism dashed a thousand times
And yet we persist our mantra what our poet laureate Grace
Told us again and again: you have no choice

The road to her house was uphill muddy the angelic
Looking grandmother with revolution in her blood
She climbed undaunted until her dying day.

*
*

Found / by Ellen Devlin

Chris Cleave

When I say I am a refuge,

understand there is no refuge.

Listen:

Always watch for men coming

plan how to kill yourself:

in the medical wing, morphine.

in the kitchen, boiling fat

in the cleaner’s room, bleach.

a restaurant? hide in the refrigerator—

long, cool sleep

at the seaside, steal an ice cream van

and drive it into the sea.

I know they planned to deport me.

In Nigeria, I would chop down trees

build a tower of branches and vines

to hang myself.

*
*

Weaving / by Sarah Hennessey

I am weaving
and though my fingers
know the way
and though the yarn rubs raw
one small patch
on my knuckle
I am weaving in the old way.
I am weaving
and though I change out
and change in
each color chosen with care
and though the yarn rubs raw
one small patch
on my fingertip
I am weaving in the old way.
I am weaving
and though my eyes are weary
and though the jute rubs raw
one small patch
by my fingernail
I am weaving in the old way.
I am weaving
kenwíise
I am weaving
I am doing as my elders
I am moving as I’m taught
I am teaching as I’m moving
I am weaving
with color and care
with purpose
and I am weaving
though raw or weary
because these nimble fingers
have love
for the dexterity others lose
and that not yet developed
and so I weave
with patience and with humor
while quiet and while roaring
with laughter at our stories
I am weaving
with my family
even when I am alone.

*
*

The Dance of the Gaslights / by Frances Klein

The style of the time–
close-fitted bodices,
skirts gauzy confections
falling only to mid-calf.
They went always
toe-shod, flower-crowned,
like pastoral visions
the average Parisian
had never been far
enough outside
the city to see.

The light of the time–
gaslights that ring
the stage, open flames
stage-side, hooded
from the audience
to direct the light up,
the better to illuminate
a delicate ankle,
artfully turned calf,
precise foot positions,
shadows a set-piece.

The event of the season–
Marriage of style
and light; an instant spark.
Flames eating eagerly
up gauze, making
short work of silk,
flower crown wilting
under sudden summer.
Career in its early spring
ended, bundled, carried off,
mind the lights.

*
*

Clean Up / by Chad W. Lutz

she drunk texts
while I’m in the room
I’m eating graham crackers
some new age shit is playing
in the background like Enya
and as the music swells
she grabs the pretzels
then she does the dishes
and heads for the bathroom
she throws the trash away
stumbling and takes her pants off
throws them in a heap on the floor
smiles at me and resumes texting
the music pans out
the music pans in
and I understand

*
*

Between and Among / by Amy Nawrocki

As far as we know,
a proton never strays far
from its nucleus

so there must be something
that draws it so closely to
this other thing; its opposite

its life-long companion.
Loneliness, perhaps,
looking eternally
for some kind of solace

stitched into the cloth of hand-holding
nucleotides or a bonded between
the neurons of a tear.

*
*

Take Arms / by Antonina Palisano

for Mary Galloway, dyspeptic

In the bright moment I remember
It can always become unbearable

I sit and eat with myself
I sit and eat with a lover

When use and consolation
Are absent or very distant

What could I do in that year
But wait and wane embarrassed

Chantal in her Paris bathroom
Virginia on the bank of the Ouse

The incredible sense of exhaustion
My balsa wood wingspan

How do you forgive your continuing
How do you feed your children

Was it a real question
Or a flare in the ancient dark

The wild prismatic option
Color-shot as dispersing cloud

*
*

Day 22 / Poems 22

*

After Philando Castile / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
for Fidelia Igwe

JULY 6, 2016

Reacting
We stopped classes to let students cry.
We held one another as we passed by.

We did not look white people in the eyes.
We did not want to see their lies.

We knew this is how we mightwould die.
Every day – we didn’t even have to try.

We spoke and lived like this: tightly formed,
neatly ordered, to not explode into shards.
Angry.
Livid.

Acting
Fi enters the classroom already shaking
already stifling a moan that emerges
in lamentation: not again, not again
how much more can we take?

I want to hold her. I want to hold them all.
On the floor how the old people do in a healing.

We contain the moan in a room filled with sun,
surrounded by trees and bushes
and the endless sound of people walking outside
as if our lives have not stopped. With his.

The Struggle for Black Freedom:
What was it we were supposed to teach today?

Between
I turn away from anything that tells this story.
I am married to a Black man.
I cannot imagine this is his body.
I cannot hold the camera between my hands.
I cannot stop myself from cursing.
I cannot stop thinking what we must do.
All the fucking bloody goddamn motherfucking time.

Praying
If I keep my ears covered, my eyes closed, my mouth shut,
I can stop my vulture’s beak from opening.
Oh, My Mothers, let it be so.
Do not make me hungry in these days to come.

JULY 6, 2017

Watching
Breathe

Breathing before thinking

Is this real?
This is real?
This can’t be real.
This is real.

Covering my mouth so my neighbors
will not hear me scream and call the police.

Sitting still at the edge of the couch afraid
to move because I will faint if I stand up.

Breathing: My heart is pounding but whole.
I am not the woman and child in the car.

Today.

Living
I watch a lot of comedies now.
I don’t like comedies.

I like action movies.
I don’t watch them anymore.

*
*

The answer / by Yvonne Daley

The answer wasn’t on the surveillance tape
Nor in his old room in his parent’s house
The clues to mayhem are not there
In the chards of what was once
Someone’s son his wanton anger
His parents their terrible knowledge
The pieces they will bury as if
Their back story our collective brokenness
Can simply be pieced back together

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Alice Walker

Furniture broken, windows, wall clocks
whatever can be thrown lands hard:
shoes, lamps, scalding coffee pot.
A grown man and a grown woman
going at it, wordless. She’s good—
strong and fearless. All her life she’s
had to fight men, fathers, brothers,
uncles, husbands. Like everything else,
she got good at it, can take a man.
There is an evil property to the ability
to hit someone in the face with a shovel
but it has a loud and shining
beauty to it sometimes.

*
*

As our painter paints the fox so too does she paint herself / by Sarah Hennessey
For my mom

Each morning she picks up her paint brush
and chooses how to color her world
sometimes she starts with the sunrise
other times she’ll start with the moon
high overhead, stars singing their closing number
and a fox in a garden, meandering with care,
he knows morning is coming,
and he knows he must move quickly
fresh snow makes his tracks pool darkness.
She paints the fox with rusty auburn
and strokes of a noon-time sun
and she paints his tracks brown-black
knowing well the truest hue of black
should only be used in pupils.
She paints the sun’s whisper on the horizon,
the low glow giving nighttime its notice,
and she paints the boughs of the bramble
through which her fox would egress the field.
Our painter, she paints through the morning
the sky’s every blush and fade
and the sun’s every stretch of shadow
until she paints the evening into peace
the blues of the moon with the ocher of stars
and the umber of sun with its rosen horizon
and she paints, for her fox, a trail
through fields and forest,
through river valley, and to the coastal sands
whereupon he dances, his fox toes light
and his tail thrown high
his fox head waving so his fox ears catch
the dune song of summer
and he may rest in the reeds
and watch the painter paint indigo waves
watch the moon kiss each crest
as it claps the shore, rushing high on sand
bubbling with life within it.

*
*

La Cancha / by Frances Klein

La Cancha-
. . .careful construction of stalls
. . .roofed in tin, secured by stones,
. . .un mercado masivo sprawling
. . .across fifteen square blocks,
. . .selling everything conceivable for

La Cocina-
. . .ladles, strainers, plates
. . .like china till the vendor bends
. . .and taps against concrete, muy fuerte,
. . .trivets, bone scissors, mixers
. . .intermixed and mingled with

La Ropa-
. . .scarves, socks, sandals
. . .with foam platforms like the 90’s
. . .left the US and headed south,
. . .de moda, the leggings, the blue jeans,
. . .the weavings a riot of colors like

La Fruta-
. . .platanos, bananas, mangos,
. . .yellow flesh hidden in the rind
. . .like sunrise wrapped in night, que cosa,
. . .bins of almonds, of walnuts, cobnuts
. . .savory and meaty like the best of

La Carne-
. . .cattle, alpacas, the llamas trussed
. . . .and bled, suspended from the rafters,
. . . .the chicken, the women, como siempre,
. . . .spearing the hearts before roasting
. . . .in peanut sauce, only to be stolen by

Las Animales-
. . .The monkeys, the pigeons, chicks
. . .sold ten in a net bag like oranges,
. . .the cats, the hamsters, small panther
. . .on a man’s shoulder like nothing,
. . .pues nada, walking casual as day toward

Avenida Barrientos-
. . .the chaos, the color, the muddle
. . .of people, taxis and trufis jockeying,
. . . .ruidosos, the vendors, the buyers,
. . . .money changing hands in kaleidoscopic
. . . .patterns, the chatter, the all of it, the market.

*
*

Rain in the Desert is Donuts / by Chad W. Lutz

It never rains
In the desert,
But it does
The night we
Leave.

The next morning,
We pull into
A donut shop
With its outside
Walls boarded up
And expect nothing

Only to open the door
And find bear claws
And apple fritters
And freshly baked
Glazed donuts;
Jelly-filled,
Bavarian-cream,
Powdered,
Maple,

Potent
Little sticks,
Sugary dinner rolls
Sold for $0.50 a piece and
Shining like stars
Behind the display case,

Yellow plastic seating
All but swivels as you sit,
Brown and white tile flooring
Making this feel more like
McDonald’s than
A one-off dive
in Twenty-Nine Palms.

It’s an unexpected gem
In a place to be expected.
It’s rain when we
Know it shouldn’t.
It’s leaving when
We don’t want to,
Because we’re the rain
In this side-show rest stop.
We both order coffee,
And go.

*
*

Hourglasses / by Amy Nawrocki

This is what it means to commit to reading specs
the cheap kind, heavy as an owl on the edge of your nose
with lenses that pop like tops of medicine bottles,
frames sturdy as drafty doors of a 1973 Holiday Rambler
that sleeps six, rusts in patches and takes the nostalgia right out
of getting old. You’re better for having the memory
of sight, better for landing on hands and knees
in front of the sofa, running your fingers through
crumbs and dust and wishing to find that place where lost
things are found, wishing hard, so hard that headaches
and bloodshot eyes suddenly free themselves from attachments
and neurons triangulate in the shaded lint of evening
and there it is. But not the plastic one point five
magnification fake eye you were looking for.
Instead you find the Ticonderoga three-sided pencil
that your husband has been missing. Because you love him
you place the pencil next to his notebook. Because
you see his eyes, dark as blazed whiskey, framed
in titanium, you turn the light in his direction. Up close,
a thousand words resolve with careful plotting inside
a teaspoon’s worth of sifted sand. There is no harm
in practicing mole-ness. There is no failure
in blinking yourself into clarity.

*
*

Day 21 / Poems 21

*

A Good Friend… / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
For Dawn Edwards and Carol Glaze

Will help you kill the person who left you for dead
Will help you bury the body after covering it in lime
Will buy the pick ax and shovel to dig the grave
before you even know you need it.

But, a really good friend will convince you to walk away
will help you crawl out the grave your killer dug with his hands
will bathe you and rub your body in warm frankincense
until you can stand up without hiding from imagined attacks.

That friend will sit with you until you can breathe
until you can recount the story of how you hid in the forest
under the bodies, how many you don’t remember,
only you remember that one was your uncle

And you remember how your uncle was an old man
who believed that the young men would respect him,
that they would remember how he fed them when they were small
and how surprised he was when the first one cut off his hand.

This friend will cook for you every day even when you vomit
everything you swallow because it all tastes like blood
and blood reminds you of your sister’s friend, the fat one,
looking at you and screaming as they dragged her away.

You don’t believe it now, but this friend will rock you
when you cry in your sleep and will understand that you did not help
because in that moment you were so afraid you wanted to die
because you knew death was better than what that girl would get.

A really good friend will soothe fear out of your skin and help you recall
how you waited to be pulled out from under the pile of flesh or sliced
with a machete or hit with a bullet – how random the violence was
not caring what heel was slashed, what eye was gouged, what head was split.

This friend will look at your scars and will want to kiss them
so your skin does not forget what it is to be touched. But she will not.
This really good friend will wait because right now all that matters
is that you know that you are loved for no other reason than you are alive.

*
*

The seed catalogues / by Yvonne Daley

If promise is a perfect Picasso dahlia
Christened with dew on the cover
Of Swan Island’s book of possibility
Or Quail Seed’s sacred datura inoxia
The almost blue of hesitant sky

If the photos in Abundant Life’s catalogue
Of hope its dragon tongue snap beans
Its Dakota sister melon and Anasazi corn
If these still hold their promise in kernel and seed
May will come and hummingbirds

The pile of catalogues each a celebration
Of diversity the planet’s unrepentant coupling
Awaits our swift reprieve among travelers’ palms
The yellow-flowered Tabebuia and the pink
They buttress the believers through the last weeks
Of woodstoves and sugar snow each sprout

Awakening in its brown medium or under snow
What we remembered or forgot the winter aconite
The snowdrops the bloodroot by the cellar door
The poppy seeds sprinkled before the first snow
The box of bulbs your autumn extravagance
Your grand mystique daylily awaiting to perform.

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Jean Rhys

The red dress and I

are fire and sunset

cinnamon and frangipani

intemperate. He says

my thirst is not sane

makes me give myself

to anyone. How can

a flowering tree do that?

If I weep, he will hold me

call me my lunatic? No

mirror here,

in England. Grace says

I am in England.

I don’t know what I look like

in a grey room with a grey sun

days and nights falling

through my fingers.

*
*

Horses don’t get enough credit as tricksters / by Sarah Hennessey

Watch as steam heat rises
from each horses neck
snow melting from their backs
and down their blankets.
Listen to their languid jaws
grinding at hay
they pull into their mouths
like linguine.
Their hush won’t last
they know there’s grain
and they know you have it
and soon their hooves
will rap on their gates,
ears pinned when you approach
with still empty hands,
and isn’t that barn work?
A moment’s peace
chewed up
into an impatient quid.
And isn’t that horses?
Miming impatience
with cartoonish anger
anger that you only see
because you see it
in yourself?
Chances are a horse’s anger
is not anger
is a constant inquisition
doyouhavefoodcanihaveit?
Chances are my anger
is not anger
is a constant inquisition
doyouhaveanswerscanihavethem?
So I put patient hands
on their impatient bodies
asking with pressure
if there is pain
asking with pressure
to lift and hold and stand
and thanking them
with gentleness.
And isn’t that horsemanship?
Learning gentleness
after asserting pressure,
learning persistence
in asking for what you need?

*
*

The Problem of Describing the Caribbean / by Frances Klein
After Robert Hass

If I said a stone set in silver,
bought from a roadside stand
in southern Utah, black flecks scattered
across its surface like lightning–

If I said a turquoise robin’s egg rent on the patio
after the cat raids the nest–

If I said the Indigo Bunting bird, its name a blue lie,

no relation at all to the Turquoise Honeycreeper–

If the lie continues in Degas’ “Green Dancer,”
where said dancers are draped in a turquoise deluge–

If I said snake, Blue Insularis, skin a thousand
thousand interlocking, undulating gems–

If I said his eyes, vibrant behind black-rimmed glasses,

barely visible when he plays the guitar like B.B.,
King of the Blues, stage lights on the lenses–

(how could you not love a man
who keeps sapphires under glass?)

Blue, I said, unbelievable, turquoise blue.

*
*

San Jacinto / by Chad W. Lutz

eons of erosion &
tectonic slippage
snow sleet
rain lightning
the vacuum of space
the pressure of time
millennia

the mountain
is in charge here

the street sign
says 29 Palms
and the traffic
is moderate today
but there just
isn’t a name
for what’s
at large here

*
*

The Olive Tree and the Gravedigger / by Amy Nawrocki

At five in the morning
after the night of the final gypsy ballad
in the green light of a slow August sunrise
he dug the grave as he was told to do
then toppled loose soil over the four
who did not die alone. Two bullfighters,
a schoolteacher with one leg,
and the poet, who wrote of bullfighters
and spilled blood and wore a scarf
when he was executed. The olive tree
still stands or did even after pines
scraped the war away with their green
sandpaper branches
. . . . . .. . . . .  . . . .and the for all that time
the gravedigger remembered
the topography of those sap-soaked bones.

*
*

Collateral / by Antonina Palisano

What presumption in asking.
Ancient penance for more:
A wild need, need.
Cutting gift tomatoes
And I only see below:
The knife, the damp board.
No nail or blood or nightshade.
All my evenings piling
Behind me like a cairn.
Fracture on the porch.
The meter of the lake.
Hostage in our finitude,
Guest of my given face.
Is it because I asked
For a dozen cool selves?
Why else this flame
To stay and keep staying.
As good as anything else

*
*

Day 20 / Poems 20

*

Random Thoughts on the 20th Tupelo Day / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
“All of our thoughts are prayers.” (Michael Harris)

To write a poem is to pray.
These days, I pray every moment I can.
I pray with people I don’t know.
And I am healed.
The prayers are evidence:
Once I was silent.
They are contracts:
do what I agreed to do.
They are reminders:
do what I was born to do.
Poems are incantations.
To write is to incant the dead to life.
When the dead come alive,
pray.

*
*

How we became addicted / by Yvonne Daley

To dogs needing rescue
And birthday reminders
A platform to brag to rant
To defy anonymity
To learn the last male
White rhino had died

It addicted us on purpose
As all stimulants do
While Austin seeks its serial
Bomber and the swamp
Feasted on perception
How dope came in through
Your eyes your fingers

Your chromosomes this very
Moment rearranged by the
Drug of misinformation
The archer in alliance with
Money like a moth that beats
Against your window
Pay attention

Is the world still there
Decoded advertised harnessed
Nobbled by influence
The graveyard of the refugee
Your willful complicity

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Louise Erdrich

A woman loved a man other than her husband
and bore him a child. In this story, the woman
took her daughter to go to the man she loved
and left her son behind. The boy ran after the sled.

There are so many insults to living: parasites rot potatoes
or someone sets fire to the wheat field, fish wash up dead.
We eat grubs and wild grass and plant again.
Why would a child leave her body in the snow for wolves?

In this story, wolves circled the fallen boy. The daughter
was found in pieces, her shawl torn and drenched with her blood.
Did she jump, or was she thrown by the half-crazed mother?
Every living thing wants its own life.
Why would a child leave her body in the snow for wolves?

Disease comes, accidents break bodies in two, women die
in childbirth. We get up from sickbeds, walk with crooked bones
birth again, always pushing against the insults to living.

In this story, many believed, the sister knew the baby would die
without the mother, without the guide who knew the way. She knew
her brother, lying in the path of the wolves would die. Hers
was the only life that could save all the others.
Why would a child leave her body in the snow for wolves?

She was Anishinaabe, the good people, created from a breath of God.

*
*

On the edge of mourning / by Sarah Hennessey

It takes years to look back
on the pictures from Before.
There’s a gnawing at the wrist bone
an ache– the page is heavy
turns over like stone
and my knees twitch with the effort
of cradling these volumes.
Each smile pinches
some small vague nerve
and there is a seamlessness
to the loss. There is sullenness
of course, and a picture,
a certain kind of family portrait,
how long has it been
since we’ve all been together

–remember the moment where everyone
quietly calculated the last time
then quietly calculated the next time
scanning the room
trying not to gaze too long
at any one person.
The pictures go on,
complete with smiles,
picnics in sunshine, and presents
hoisted above head and partygoers
side-eyeing an uncut cake.
For a time it feels like
there should be footnotes
Not pictured:…
and it feels like each picture
should explain itself
how can you be happy when in six days…
how can you be happy when only a month ago…

but each person in each picture
seems to know, as I do now,
the fleeting nature of grief
and how its seasons
are prone to happiness like sunshowers.
We know too how the season’s end
still promises a return
and we grow to read the clouds
and wait for the rainbow.

*
*

Stingray Cove / by Frances Klein

They are half listening to the guide
* . wild atlantic
* . heels down
* . pet gently
* . no teeth
fidgeting in bikinis and board shorts,
sunburns blushing across shoulders.

There is no land in sight. The cove
hosts a flotilla of dive boats,
the whole industry out for the daily show.

Once given the go ahead they jump
into water clear enough to see
sand, sneaking fish, stately angels
swooning in lazy ellipticals.

Lessons are given in feeding
* . bait fish
* . four fingers
* . thumb tucked
they try not to flinch as the ray slides
over the arm, bone plates in the mouth grasping.

The guides are in love, have favorites,
know their names (or at least as close
as human tongues can get) but rays
are a finite resource,

and soon other tourists descend,
accompanied by guides with less scruples
who hold the rays roughly, hoist them
into the cold air for photos.

These rays lash, gasp,
plates grinding, wings flapping
until the guides declare them “wild ones”
and release, not acknowledging
that they have flunked Nature 101,
too far removed from their own
wild origins to remember fear.

*
*

Up Ahead in the Distance / by Chad W. Lutz

you see
the carrion
first,

a murder
of crow
pecking
the kill,

then you see
a person, strong
body, flesh taut
and glistening and
hot from the sun,
through the shadeless
reach of Joshua trees.

it’s what they don’t see
what they don’t hear;
footsteps scraping
the asphalt; earphones
blotting their breathing,

you see
the carrion
first,

a bunch
of stupid birds
standing over a
splattered jackrabbit;

then you see
the turnaround point,
like a mirage
amongst the finger-like
trees, but there
and with promise
of water,

but, what you don’t see,
what you don’t hear,
are the pitter-patter
of hungry feet
following close behind.

*
*

Home Health Care / by Amy Nawrocki

Rusted and achy, the hinge breaks clean off,
pneumatic no more. The newly detached storm door
shows symptoms of choreiform gait, though
spastic hemiplegia isn’t out of the question
if the wind were to tunnel just right
and send concussed glass into the post light
which needs a new bulb. Recommendation:
stay shut, external repairs are easy, another trip
to emergency hardware. Internal medicine

has more pressing matters, low energy
washing machines are prone to
violent shakes, hypertension.
Porcelain fractures on impact; self-
diagnosed varicose veins purple into
the clean white of an undermounted sink.
Hopelessly persistent glass tumblers
struggle with terminal velocity, half full
usually with stomach-soothing ginger ale
or vodka-soaked ice cubes. Either way

someone has to sweep it up. Faucets,
of course, suffer from acute melancholia
but you knew that, washing off the blood,
standing there with your ungloved hands,
your blue dust pan, your hypochondria and
portable x-ray machines.

*
*

Day 20 With Swollen Eye / by Antonina Palisano

Like pulling rank.
Watching your body do
What a body does.
Coyly antihistamine.
Tearing through
Six years of notes.
Poems are not
Your therapy
. My eye
Is not a bomb or gun.
Liquid core. The son
Of my fictional son.
Sight and prayer.
Or ticking eye.
A task again
In dizzy glue.
Sense of sink or rise.

*
*

Day 19 / Poems 19

*

Dream: Avatar… / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
“I found god in myself/and i loved her/i loved her fiercely” (Ntozake Shange)

In the background “Outstanding” is on repeat.
Charlie, Ronnie, and Robert
are pitching sound and 100-dollar bills at me.
I tuck the bills in the waist of my lappa.
I dance the rhythm down the street.
A vulture leads me to a burning bush.
The fire whispers Osunbimpe.
I say bẹẹni, yes
grab a feather
stick it in my gele
jump in
burn brilliant as a Phoenix.
I’m so alive.
Makes me want to shout.

*
*

Found / by Ellen Devlin

Margaret Atwood

Winter
a maroon sweater
with twice-breathed air.
Like movie stars
our mouths are impervious.
We are thirteen.
On streetcars
old ladies with gaiety
invention, have escaped—
bizarre costumes, chosen.
I’m going to have a pet
iguana, wear cerise.

Cordelia
without warning
your hands are warping,
gnarling, you
in a worn coat
old socks, rubber boots?
You must be living
somewhere.
I’ve started
to chew my fingers again.

*
*

Love in the change of seasons / by Sarah Hennessey

She danced in red, into and away from you
such a butterfly rapidity
such gradual and graceful seduction
you didn’t know you were in love with her
until the last footfall in the last four beats

And when she takes her hand from you
and she takes her gaze from you
you are chilled and overcome
just want to see her head turn back

you just want her mindful anticipation
of the undulations of your body
want the warm press of hip whipped away and around
and back to you again

yet your feet have grown roots
and your arms reach into the sky branching out and out again
and your roots bore deeper
and your arms grow buds that snap into leaves

and your voice is lost to the wind and the hum
of the hive lodged in your depths
the swarm and the writhe of it

wait, wait for the rush of springtime
let the bright breed ache
and let that ache unfurl as the blooms
petals blushed with your love for her

let each blossom’s silk
grace her cheek in the quiet of twilight
as they leap from branches and in the falling
be gifted her gaze once more

*
*

Sunrise Over Grand Cayman / by Frances Klein

Palm trees in the fore–narrow stalks rising
improbably high before exploding in a riot
of fronds, like nothing so much as settling
into the perfect seat at the movies
just before a flock of gangly teenagers
slouches into the row in front of you.

Lower right, a small jetty extends a single,
tentative finger over the ocean from the cluster of
support pilings and cabanas huddled near shore.
The water will later reveal itself to be
the shade of sea green that launched a thousand
crayons, but for now is merely dawn gray.

(When you approach the beach after
breakfast, you will recoil from the jetty’s
intercession between body and water
like a Lutheran from a priest, opting instead
to navigate the porous rock directly into
the ocean of all believers yourself.)

Splashed across the background
is the main attraction, forge oranges
and yellows drifting up from behind the trees
like smoke from a bonfire, spreading light
tinting the upper edges of the sky blue-pink,
your grandmother’s favorite color.

In a few moments the sun will fully rise,
and you will progress to the day–walking
the beach, swimming, watching your niece
and nephew chase iguanas– but for now
you are arrested by the sun going, without fanfare
or comment, through her morning routine.

*
*

Interstate 5 / by Chad W. Lutz

The only trees
Around are the
Ones grown for food,
And yet, growing
Through the median
Is an oak tree, limbs
Gangly and outstretched
Like arms in twisted rapture,

But there’s more to this morning,
And while you’re not saying anything,
I don’t need a cue from John Cusack
To know the miraculous can happen
Wherever anything remains possible.

Roads lead somewhere
For some reason or another.
We’re never just quiet.
We’re never just driving.

*
*

Mouthbrooders / by Amy Nawrocki

With no mind for words, no voice
to echolocate underwater, no sink hole
to burrow or free unforgivable limbs
from pen caps whose plastic scratches
leave no trace of helpful blood,
I take on the company of cichlids and catfish,
mouthbrooders who clutch their young
in hopeful mouths, and search for a more
sanguine version of the art of persuasion.
Send me one of those fry harvesters
who coax the unspoken out from
worried tongues, without harm,
without counterarguments.

*
*

I Try To Write About Cancer By Writing About Bog Bodies / by Antonina Palisano

held by a flexible birch
pursed, limb at the chest

plum or another dark fruit
unable to hold our vigil

skin like a foreign oil
skin like a kind of sister

thumb’s celestial whorl
perfect, and from where

split neck and impatience
furred wrap and plastic gown

millenia of companion birds
palette of the exam room

our twinned ritual tattoos
soft despite the consonant

the sky changing over us
our flashing placeless light

*
*

Day 18 / Poems 18

*

Full Moon in Pisces Confession: March 17, 2018 / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

“It rained today. Big old dust storm before it arrived. ‘Silence please. A tree is growing in South Sudan.’ And with it hope, change, transformation, love, peace. Peace.”
from my personal journal, last day/night in Juba, South Sudan – March 17, 2016

in the name of my grandmother Eliza
my mother Linda
my godmother May
all the women who taught me to pray

my last confession
was 39 years ago
my mother had died

i have committed
the cardinal sin anger
fear lies beneath it

full moon in Pisces
this year could not stop crying
I confess I know why

it has been two years
since I visited Juba
I dwell on my fear

for people we left
for the country we live in
it will be Juba

i make my anger
into long poems and haikus
to control my wrath

last day in Juba
little boy walked to our car
placed hand on window

i wanted to touch
the window and let him know
yes child I see you

i did not could not
safety was a big concern
yes child i see you

i cannot help you
i cannot help anyone
but yes i see you

what do i do now
i will remember your face
your unfed hunger

a friend once asked me
why Juba what draws you there
why can you not leave

i tell her because
i am angry all the time
and my soul so sad

to see part of home
dying every day in pain
and i am helpless

nothing prepared me
for this grief and mourning
for this connection

39 years past
Juba is my dead mother
and i cry for days

her soft voice calls me
from her own handmade coffin
i jump up say yes

a tree is growing
there will be peace on this earth
the people said so

*
*

Waiting on the porn star / by Yvonne Daley

It’s not that he’s any different
But that he’s worse
For when you start wondering
If the adult entertainer
Whatever that means when there’s
Only one adult involved
Will be the last straw
If there ever is a last straw

It’s not that it’s any different
Than the years my brother went to war
His shattered eardrums
His shattered mind
We waited for the end and when
It came there was no balm
Dutified marginialized their stories
Spilled out in heartache along another wall

It’s not that it’s any different
Than the other philanders except
With this one you have all the deadly
Sins except murder unless you consider
The dulling of the human spirit
The breaking back of Lincoln’s better angels
The moments you spent waiting
For a porn star to bring a huckster down

It’s not that it’s any different
Than any other war cultural
Or military except that in cyberspace
Your own words and more exotic poisons
Are used against you along with
Evangelical permission to misbehave
Our western decadence our myths undone
Their kleptocracy where once an iron curtain

It’s not that it’s any different
As somewhere at this very moment she awaits
Her own moment of lousy fame we sink so low
To watch another devil’s deal unravel in prime time

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Alice Munro

She wants to find the place herself
the wooden walks in city gardens,
The names of flowers. Evening
has become potholed with unreadable
street names, darting alley cats to trip over.
She’s a little older, a little off.

She does know the couple on the porch
sitting on kitchen chairs, are too cordial
to be married. That is accumulation,
and has meaning, not the usefulness of
today is Tuesday, or the location of your car, still…

*
*

emergence / by Sarah Hennessey

birth and death
are the lifting of life
from the body

the muscled movements
begin long before
the body is aware

no man can know
the mountainous movement
of the lifting

but all bodies
move dance love
in that musculature

all bodies
are bound
in this muscled movement

bodies at their best
assist in the lifting
sanctifying the sacred

*
*

Duty-Free / by Frances Klein

The bottle doesn’t require small talk.
The bottle doesn’t expect a call three days later.

The bottle doesn’t need to be driven to the airport.
The bottle doesn’t need to picked up from the airport.

The bottle doesn’t need you to check on its bird every few days while it’s out of town.
The bottle won’t ask you to meet its parents.

The bottle won’t insist on watching Fight Club together, really watching it.
The bottle will always let you pick the radio station/tv show/movie.

The bottle won’t insist on taking you to its office Christmas party.
Or to a high school friend’s wedding.

Or a nephew’s little league game.
Or a cousin’s daughter’s son’s christening.

The bottle looks great on your arm at the parties you want to go to.
Your friends all know the bottle.

Soon, people will be talking about you and the bottle, how inseparable you are.
You will tell them you have never known anyone could give so much and ask so little.

People will invite you to dinners, add, “but just you, okay?”
But where you go, so goes the bottle, regular Sonny & Cher, Bonnie & Clyde, Sid & Nancy.

Like all good relationships, other connections fade until it is just you and the bottle,
the bottle that never takes, never asks, duty-free, and yet gives and gives and gives.

*
*

What’s More / by Chad W. Lutz

She’s naked
And standing over you,
Asking what makes
The other girl so
Appealing

she screams
I’m damn pretty, too!”
Heels grinding into
The floor as she
Marches toward
The desk for more Ketamine.

*
*

Mostly Found Poem
from a Stack of Note Cards
Left Over from Poetry Class /
by Amy Nawrocki

What is the difference between a question and answer. There is no question and no answer. There is an announcement. There is at the outset. ~ Gertrude Stein, How to Write.

Are things better left unsaid? she asked, written
in careful straight lines, three by five file cards,
one of many piled contemplatively, out of order.
Does the cat purr like the smoke
from a steam engine, and where
does the sun go when it sets in the south—
if indeed there is really one sun and only
one moon for this whole escapable planet.
Announcements by curious cosmologists, engineers
who lurk where the sky ends and the ocean
begins, where happiness evades the soul.
At the outset, it pours when it rains.
The best feeling in the world is that of a bee
after the sting, when the earth
stops shuddering in volcano sadness.

*
*

To Shirley / by Antonina Palisano

I write to you after the new moon. A cat climbed my jacket and I thought of you – how you stood on your porch and chanted for all the cats at once, called till they came from the woods in a descending line. And at home I think of you, resolutely occupied – making pies, unpicking stitches, conjugating Latin. Muscular, that kind of distraction. Bearing or barring danger. Easy to do our real work under cover of another occupation. And yes, better to hold a word in my body before I try to reach for it. And if I’m always making food, my double is always eating – rhubarb pie, little pastries, soft-boiled eggs. The woods are full of named things. I played Merricat’s town game years before I knew you. The heavy door is Home Base. You lose a turn if you see a person. You lose a turn if you have to speak a falsehood. You lose a turn if anyone looks closely at how you occupy yourself. The food is not for others. The languages, the armor, not for others.

*
*

Day 17 / Poems 17

*

The Sister Georgina Suite: 3 / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
(for Sister Georgina Abingkwaec)

When you tell the story of how a man walked into your neighbor’s house
and killed her and her family, you are careful not to judge him. Instead,
you recall how kind your friend was to him, how she invited him
into her kitchen night after night to feed him. After the war, no one wanted
this man and he had no place to go. He was grateful – or so it seemed –
for a stranger in a house with running water, who did not look at him with hate or fear,
who did not ask him how many people he had killed, how many women he had raped.

When you tell the story of how this man during dinner that night, left, then
returned with a gun and shot everyone to death, you do not judge him. Instead
you remind us that men like this, women like this, returned from the war
so wounded that the smallest thing – the thought that someone was
laughing at him, for example – the smallest thing could return them
to the fields they had left behind. Although your friend is dead, you know
that this man was dead long before he killed her.

When you tell the story of how this man killed your friend and her family,
and how she and her children died that night, you do not judge him. Instead
you wonder what will be done to help the men, women, and children
who no longer know how to sit in kitchens and living rooms without shame
or shaking. You wonder what will happen to people like your friend
who was being a good neighbor to a man who could have been her son.
You wonder, too, what would have happened that night if you had been there.

*
*

St. Patrick’s Day / by Yvonne Daley

The ladies in the not-knew shops
Wore green as many shades as the eye
Can manage, their perfect hair,
Their genuine dispositions we spent our
Green on things no one has ever needed
Just to make them feel necessary

For no explainable reason, we were
Drawn to the necklaces adorned with
The tip of a pandorinat anteater
Only later, did we think to hope it had
Come to hang from its silver chain
In some way that didn’t hurt them
The man who sold it to us was a stream
Of commentary: rocks, alligator claws, the power
Of totems, of bugs long dead, stone and wood and animal
No green in that shop just blacks and browns and silver
His wife her crimson purple hair.

Otherwise the day was all blues and green
At the rookery, the snowy egret, the great blue heron the great white
Their spring plumage their nestled newborn
Fully fluffed the down of snow open-billed life-hungry
And later at the celery fields, a proper St. Patrick’s Day destination,
The volunteers, one woman older than the other and more perky,
Made us long for mom, for nana, each so put together,
So sweetly unpretentious in the way the women were back then,
They made us long for a little Tora lora lora.

— For Mom and Judi Servis, 3/17/18

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Julia Alvarez

I always knew there was something to be done but was not exactly sure what.
Directions came in short sentences:

Money means everything to people who have it, and nothing to people that don’t
Homely people are always looking in the mirror.
If you raise your hand to your mother, your hand will stick out of the grave.

Except for the one about mirror-looking, there was no context for these admonitions.
They were pronounced by a parent drinking coffee and looking out the window at the
clothesline, or pulling the front door closed or reading the newspaper.

Your mother is your best friend.
Your brothers and sisters are your best friends.
Friends come and go.
A coward dies a million deaths, a hero dies but once.

I never knew where to place the crowbar in all this heavy life-lifting. Don’t have money?
Friends should be relatives? Dying, even once, didn’t seem attractive. I was always anxious.
Was the multiple–death option waiting for me? What about hitting your mother? I never saw
a hand sticking out of a grave, and who would do that anyway?

*
*

The stages of dealing with unchecked privilege / by Sarah Hennessey

It’s like the time
I laid long on the beach
and the wind
whipped sand in everyone’s
eyes and sandwiches
and the sun
bleached the color from the sky
and overheated the sand
but couldn’t overpower the wind
so it was hot
then cool, and cooler still
when a meager cloud
crawled overhead.

It’s like laying there
heavy-eyed
from the brightness
and the sand
and a tiredness
that bloomed
lazy and half wilted.

It’s like the headache
building at the back
of the skull
charging forward
in stuttered
fumbling steps
as I’m wrapping a towel
around my legs
because I’m cold
but too tired
to walk back to the shore house

It’s like dragging myself
back to the shore house
ready to tantrum
but opting
to make coffee
try to perk up
and as I’m grinding
I’m reading
decaf hazelnut
decaf hazelnut
de-caf haz-el-nut

It’s like
the honest rage
of betrayal
of drinking decaf unknowingly

It’s the amazement
at the ease of resolution
Running out
be right back
gotta get real coffee

and the delight
with which I tell
what can now be a funny story
that’s right, decaf the whole time
three whole days
I can’t believe it either

and feel vindicated
that it wasn’t just me

*
*

Haibun at Half-Price / by Frances Klein

Semi-opaque stain,
unmistakable,
clotted on the tile.

There’s only one way semen could have ended up on the floor of a women’s bathroom at a bookstore–deliberate intent. The best I can hope is that someone was overcome by lust at the sheer amount of bound knowledge before them, and stumbled into the wrong bathroom for relief, but I doubt it. This is the mucous equivalent of every coworker who appropriates your ideas in meetings, sans credit, every classmate who makes you read poems about his dick in workshop.

The attempt to colonize women’s spaces is not new, just recall the outcry when we got “women’s only rooms” at gyms, ostensibly so that we could work out without a man looking on, stroking his adam’s apple, really so that the gym could put their second best equipment somewhere.The one by my house was closed for two days due to colonization–an angry ex-employee had marked his territory all over the two treadmills and mismatched handweights–accomplishing his goal, perhaps, in adding to the daily choice between relative privacy on one hand, a space marred by annexation on the other.

*
*

Rebecca Black / by Chad W. Lutz

The Lyft driver swerves
messing with his phone,
the guy in the front seat
won’t say anything,

rain puddles jump
off bridges where
cars speed to nowhere;
this is all hours of the day,

but this is midnight,
and I’m human,
and what else is
there to do on a
Friday night?

*
*

The Other Ark / by Amy Nawrocki

Say catastrophe,
lay down old towels and dry
the tiles, set buckets,
then go back: Erase bucket
from poems written

yesterday, last week
when bucket meant restore each
place that has drowned before
.
Look for synonyms, plumbers,
and while you’re at it,

and a glass blower
because next time, the vessel
you choose will be
a crystal vase, beveled, fluted,
full of lead and white sand

big enough to hold
pairs of legs, the arms and
knuckled digits that bear
callouses and connect to hands
that know how to row.

*
*

Women I Haven’t Been / by Antonina Palisano

Shrieking on the steps of Kingdom Hall.
Waving from the median, companionable.
Purple honeycreeper.
Halogen bulb on Oxford Street.
Twirling in a babydoll.
Every wormlike wrong.
Pissing on the monument.
Genus of cicada.
Wrist conferred upon.
Coffee by oneself and sour.
Ocean out of nowhere.
Climb, sing, fuck, expire.

*
*

Day 16 / Poems 16

*

The Sister Georgina Suite: 2 / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
(for Sister Georgina Abingkwaec)

Do people ask you the same thing?
How do you contain it all?
The pain and the horror?
And when you tell them,
do they ask you?
But, how do you do it?
When you ask them: do what?
They respond:
Be so joyful and hopeful?
Then, do you wonder, like I do:
What do they really want (or need) to know?
When you think of all your possible answers,
like I fall in love every day with every moment,
do you ask yourself if they would believe you?
Or, better yet, if that answer would frighten them
into silence?

*
*

Shape Shifters / by Yvonne Daley

When all the available evidence and expert opinion
Is incompatible with your tongue’s history
When your rhetoric contradicts what you said
The year before and the year before that

When each season it’s something worse the waterboarding
The culture of graft the treatment of the powerless
When time and time again your past beliefs your moral bankruptcy
Your incidental posturing to avoid your inconvenient truths

When endless myths and disinformation become the agencies
Of your shape shifting the story of Nemesis the winged goddess
Of retribution is there to remind us there will come a day
When you no longer recognize your own reflection

She rides a chariot into the dark of night seeking justice
One from whom there is no escape

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Carson McCullers

Everyone’s looking
at the bitter hate
few can stand up to:
chimney spinners night roosting,
a loafer’s smile,
cars hauling green sky
chain gangs.
A meddler’s questions draw
a heavy line
around slaughter,
low oak barbecue fire

*
*

the exclusive right to usual and accustomed places / by Sarah Hennessey

lay your rainbow down on me
sweet sun, blessing
field hills trees boulders streams
each body
perched on branches
poised in meadows
gleaming in rivers
gliding on thermals
each one
rustling foraging nesting writhing
offering
songs
life

I need this now,
this solitude,
need healing

I give over anger
to rapids, they know
better than I
how to channel
surging aggression

and I give over
despair to sandy banks,
they know better than I
how to move obstacles
piece
by piece
by
piece
trusting sky and water
will aid in its shifting

and I give over song
as prayer as grief as gratitude
for sun and sky
and each body beneath

lay your rainbow on me
setting sun, bless me
and promise to rise again.

*
*

Jervis / by Frances Klein

lives at the base of a willow tree
on the bank of the Willamette,
can panhandle up on Rosa Parks by day,
. . .no drugs no intoxicants u.s. vet no home plese help godbless
slide back down the bluff out of sight
when it gets dark or the cops are coming.

The drooping branches form a wall
that envelops him from the outside world.
The mummy-style sleeping bag
. . .u.s. vet every pennie helps have a blessed day godbless
he has wrapped in wax paper mostly keeps
out the ever constant Oregon rain.

He sometimes thinks the freckles
on the willow bark swirl and cavort,
change places when he’s not looking.
. . .whatever you have done for the least of this you have done too me u.s. vet matthew 25
he watches them like clouds
but doesn’t let them tell him what to do.

The tree is his version of television.
The knot on the left side has unrequited
feelings for a lower branch; the upper branches
. . .for the price of a cup of coffee you could by me a cup of coffee u.s. vet no home godbless
have constant family drama.
He misses them when the sun sets.

He hopes when he dies he will be
fossilized just as he is, just here.
He wants future scientists to explain
. . .if you can pay tutition you can spare a dollar u.s. vet no drugs godbless
to their interns why the richest society
in human history allowed this to happen.

*
*

What is Me isn’t Me is Me / by Chad W. Lutz

I know I can stop,
I know I can change,
I know I can grow,
I know I can keep eating,
I know I can keep drinking
I know I can spend the night restless

Knowing everything
I do is everything I do,

Knowing yesterday was me
and tomorrow is me

And this second is me
And this jar of peanut butter is me
And this vape pen is me
And this text message is me
And this medication is me
And this peace I can’t seem to find is me
And this marble lodged deep inside is me
And this dry mouth gasp for air is me

But something feels different,
So, I reach for the remote
And watch other people
Live out dreams they never had
While I search for mine in a bag of chips.

*
*

Buckets, again / by Amy Nawrocki

In the thaw’s spongy
garden, leaves shine like marble
countertops; spilled rain
collects in dull amber saucers
and steel skies hide snow smirks.
As puddles overflow
with easy, cyclic composure,
we walk the neighborhood, sulk
past rusting swing sets, tree stumps,
and wilting pachysandras.
A truck barrels past; I step over
beer cans and miniature liquor bottles,
but don’t pick them up.

There’s snow in the forecast,
six inches, then sun, then rain
then mid-week highs in the 60s.
The basement will flood,
but I don’t expect the metronome
of water to fall from the skylight
or for the sadness to creep
with such faithful drips
that neither wood nor soil
can hold in these indispensable purges.

*
*

*
*

Day 15 / Poems 15

*

The Sister Georgina Suite: 1 / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
(for Sister Georgina Abingkwaec)

When I was 15, I wanted to be a nun. When I told my father,
he said, and I quote, there’ll be no nuns in this family! So,
I gave up my dream of living in an old brick house with women
whose days were filled with prayer and chanting. Or maybe,
mornings in their garden planting food for needy children
before they walked together to the neighborhood school to teach.

In high school, all the nuns I knew were cool in or out
of their habits – even Sister Helen Jean who terrified us
for years with Bunsen burners and beakers. She was a conundrum.
Screamed at you if you couldn’t light the burner fast enough. But,
showed up hours early to teach if you wanted to learn.
I arrived every morning at 7:30 to accept her gentle guidance.

Over time, she became more patient, or maybe I imagined it.
What matters is that I passed the class and lost my fear of chemistry.
Now, I wonder if we terrified her: 20 teenage girls playing
with fire and air every day, asking questions about how
to mix chemicals and solutions to change the nature of things.
Or did we remind her of herself, once womanly and wild.

Since meeting you, I’ve asked myself what type of nun
I might have been had I surrendered to Jesus and the Holy See.
If, like you, I would have joined the nuns who were kind to me, after
I swam through rivers in search of my mother who had died. The truth:
the day I heard my mother’s voice at her own wake, I knew my father
was right: no nuns in this family. Only me: a priest who talks to the dead.

*
*

first memory / by Yvonne Daley

yellow walls without
the word for yellow
faces above large with eyes

without the word for eyes
the ceiling her voice

what do you dream
before you have memories

or do you

the window
green before you knew green
and blue as well or heaven or nothing

they came they looked
feeling love without
the word for love

no memory of first touch
just the faces like balloons
before you had the word for balloon

what do you dream

bars and blankets the womb
of each day unfolding the faces
was this in an incubator

or later in the yellow room
drifting forward out of the dream

before you had the word
for dream for family for mother
for staying alive

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Toni Morrison

Two things fright me when I set out to find you—
hunger for you, and being lost. From a child, I fear
the pathless night, the mother choosing the other one,
not me. This make me mixed up forever, confuses
the signs I need to read when I am among the boneless
bears. Which way? I am a small beast who can make
words but unsafe myself if I speak them. To get to you,
I must leave all places of hiding. Some men don’t like
to be invisible, will set fire to living arms and legs,
for their own face-shine in the heat, say, I will take
the girl to settle your debt.
And you will never see me.
I am told a freezing cold comes before the fire of hell,
and anyone can take my coat and shoes.

*
*

Distortions / by Sarah Hennessey

Given space and time enough
anyone can tease out
whatever demon lives
wound around organs
and deep between brain lobes.

Try as one might
to reform diet
or exercise, or sleep,
or attitudes, or
each extreme measure
to exact one’s perfection,
but that demon lives.

Not only lives, thrives
serves as judge and jury
of each action:
right-but-tough?
wrong-and-easy?
wrong-by-way-of-inaction?
right-but-is-it-really?
right-but-showy?
right-but-vain-and-selfish-therefore-wrong?
wrong-but-anonymous?

Punishment is in waking
is in being and knowing
is in not needing a verdict
to rule your guilt.

Sleep. Sleep now.
Guilt is for morning
to be washed away
by warm water over face and hands
bring it to your lips
be at peace for a moment.

*
*

Lottery Should Not be Played for Investment Purposes
Or: How Logic Ruins Every Good Daydream /
by Frances Klein

In the dream where we all win,
there are no haves and have nots.
No one needs to run the drugstore,
grocery store, gas station, post office,
middle school, doctor’s office, emergency room,
missile defense system.

(We’ll all have electric cars soon, anyway.)

In the dream where we all win we can rise up
at the same moment across time zones,
all the workers telling all the bosses
where they can shove these jobs, the bosses
cheery because they’re telling their workers
to shove it right back.

(The service industry is staffed by robots, maybe?)

In the dream it’s always summer pool life,
cloudless 80 degrees day after late-waking day,
and we all have time for the
exercise/artistic expression/sleep/
meaningful bonding with our families
we’ve been putting off because of work.

(So maybe climate change has now advanced to the point that there is no longer any
distinction between seasons?)

In the dream every serious social division
has been broken down. People mingle
across gender lines, racial lines,
across religions, the lines of political divide
no longer significant in the face of money,
the great equalizer.

(Ignoring, of course, that money usually makes people more set in their ways, not less.
Just ask any new money country club applicant)

In the dream there is no recidivism,
liberated prisoners returning to a safe home,
not forced to make difficult choices between
food and rent, not forced back into crime
by the inability to find work–

(Except we already established that everyone quit, so that must include prison guards.
What happened to the prisoners when everyone quit?)

In the dream, formerly chronic diseases
are more nuisance than death sentence,
all the collective wealth of the nation given over to–

(Double-blind studies take time. You can’t just money your way into a cure for cancer,
believe me, people have tried.)

In the dream, every child is–

(Okay, stop. Walk into any prep school in this country and tell me that wealth
automatically makes people better parents.)

In the dream–

(In the dream society collapses because everyone switches from the generally outward
focused, social-contract bound system we’ve established to the moneyed equivalent of
a lawless wasteland. Put the ticket back.)

*
*

Where You Are / by Chad W. Lutz

they say smoking
causes limitations,
but so does every war

gas runs out
children need fed
guns need bullets
and here we are
about to arm
our teachers?

I can track a
package across
the country,
follow my
delivery driver
on my phone

I know what
my brother in Philly
and my parents
in Ohio and my
friend up in Portland
and the musician from France
that stayed with me
for a week,

I know what they’re all doing
and I don’t even have
to ask.

so,
I have to ask

does that
scare you?

I know where
you are.

*
*

Animal Lines / by Amy Nawrocki

You told me once
how coyotes run in straight paths
but family dogs frolic with curious toes
and ruin the topography of parallel lines
with their playfulness.

We looked up foxes together
on tracker playing cards and that day
when you told me look up I did
and we both saw the sandy oak fur
look back at us then quicken away.
We haven’t seen her since.

We hear coyotes far over the hill—
too far for visits—and wonder about
wildness, about suburban naiveté
and our wishes for kinship among
mammals. When spied from window

the tracks this morning are straight
and purposeful over the driveway.
Up close, I see the shape of nails
iced into place and try to judge by size
and tame my thoughts of benevolent
shapeshifters. The only other prints
belong to mole or mouse, and they
disappear in mid-step.

So which canine
visited the back porch
last night and spared a leaf
from trampling, tiptoeing around it
so close to human windows
silently down human stairs, not wanting
to wake us? What story does this
one line begin?

*
*

It May Not Be The Answer / by Antonina Palisano

I knew right away and I was nearly singing
You never talked about the suddenness of knowing

Singing or at least safe
Finally in range of the porch light
The hint of change before the sunrise
Kneeling forward at the thought of beginning

With the distance between us solid as a body
I had a clear image of the tango
Of the flow of music or perfect conversation
The distance with its head thrown back
The distance in greeting with its arms open

I know in all my life if there is one moment
A shift that allows a kind of light
Not to any theory of our boundary
But toward home despite how brief
Even as the answer recedes again

Even as I turn to greet you
Vague and beloved in the expanding air

*
*

Day 14 / Poems 14

*

Brown Girl in Purple Dress Running Down Hall ( #3 ) / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
For the toddler at University of Juba

Your laughter is all
I need to forget this war
please, laugh forever

*
*

Hawking and the Blizzard / by Yvonne Daley

Snow as white as brilliance
A cosmos of flakes a small universe freed to soar
A parade of cardinals adorned his flight

If the zero gravity of disease released his mind
A worldview exploding in quantum theory
So daunting we can only accept our befuddlement

If the word disabled was redefined just as
The maze of physics became his magician’s cloak
May possibility be his legacy: mind over matter

His galaxy a covey of doves beneath the bird feeder
Discovering what others had tossed to the ground
While snowflakes expanded the measure of chance

Of planes and plans, our black hole of calculation
His gravitational pull radiated in paradox
The freedom of space outside of time more cosmic

Than mere determination, launched into the immeasurable
Manifestation of the unknown. He went ahead.

For Stephen Hawking, 3/14/18

*
*

*
*

Lost cat / by Sarah Hennessey
Inspired by Kara Klenk

Both owners and a few friends
[I imagine]
took time to post
homemade fliers
color-printed, bold sans-serif font
LOST CAT
answers to Jingles
[and Miss Jingly
and Jingle Jangle Jingle
and the prettiest Jingle
with the prettiest belly
and Jingle me whiskers
and singing Jing jong the cat is fed
and whispering pss pss pss pretty kitty
and Mrs. Bo Jingles]
If found please call…

But the “LOST” was crossed out
and the “if” was too
and the “found” was circled
in teal marker
below which was written
“home safe, thank you!”
below which was written
in black marker
different handwriting
“aw, so great, yay Jingles”
below which was written
in blue pen
different handwriting
“sooo glad”

And with open heart
I too want to exalt
in the finding
[my pockets
contain only eyeliner
and a keychain pocket knife]
I touch a hand to my chest
give a warm little smile
keep walking
[not wanting to upstage
the well intentioned fanaticism
of the owner
and the two well-wishers]

*
*

How to Fight a Nightmare / by Frances Klein

Wake up

Go back and get the dog from the previous dream,
a mean Pit, and this time, when you turn around
to see the men stalking you, eyes lit like cats,
release the leash.

Know ahead of time
that dreamcatchers aren’t for you.
If you have to ask who they’re for,
they’re not for you.

Cut all alcohol save Gin.
Quinine has nightmare-fighting properties.

Cut all cigarettes save Camel–
the hump holds in nightmares.

Cut caffeine entirely.
even a latte’s worth could heighten
your likelihood of good-dream miscarriage.

Spend fifteen minutes before bed
meditating on weaponry.
Knives are good, guns are better,
bullets chased in silver best.

Wake up

Consider a white noise machine.
Everyone knows there are no nightmares
under the ocean, in the forest, in the rain.

Start cataloging any repeating motifs.
When you notice a pattern, remove
the troubling stimuli from your life.

Dream for days about deteriorating vision?
Laser eye surgery.

Stressed by nightmares
where you’re stuck on stairs,
risers stretching ever wider?
That’s why God invented elevators.

Or maybe the motif is missing,
save that the problem is always men
who want to embarrass-hurt-kidnap-
kill-mutilate-etc-etc-etc-etc-etc-etc.
In that case, consider a convent.

Wake up
Wake up
Wake up

*
*

Kicking the Cat / by Chad W. Lutz

We didn’t know that cat,
But I kicked it off the couch
When it scratched my legs
Trying to snuggle in the middle
Of the night,

The way I told you
I was fine on the couch when you asked
If I wanted to share your bed.

It’s too late to let the cat back now,
Neither one of us knows where it’s been,
And that’s the line you have to walk

When you only have left
so much heart to break.

*
*

Idiopathic / by Amy Nawrocki

this is the word that has been given to me
as in peculiar, as in my very own
as in pathetic, as in
there is something wrong with you
but we have no idea what caused it
as in paralysis, broken music box, wind-up toy
with no lungs

as in post hoc ergo propter hoc
as in return to sender addressee
unknown, as in begging
the question, as in speak
when you’re spoken to

as in limestone pillars
and irritable muses who do not visit
as in many screams, more sound,
as in make me speak as in
choke on it

*
*

*
*

Day 13 / Poems 13

*

Waterman Hemisphere: Caribbean Sea Blue Marbled Sky Ballpoint with Gold Trim / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

Why it feel so good when she touch me?
Sometimes she recall that one she see in Curacao a long time ago.
She would have bought it had she known it was a limited edition.
Didn’t have no money to be wasting at the airport.
With me, though, she have the thing remind her most of home.
The water. She grow up on it, you know. Play in it all she life till she come here.
When she feel me up, with a nice soft cloth to keep me clean,
I feel all she missing for the waves and such. The mango trees. The salt in the air.
She love me so much, I got my own case though I don’t use it.
Don’t make my color no more. This deep ocean with bits of night and dawn sky.
And she know it. Guard me real close. Don’t even take me outside.
What I love: she save me for she journal. That’s right, the good stuff.
The black gold trim one, my brotha, he her work nib.
(Yeah, he a he. Executive type with his gold trimmed obsidian self.)
The other ones – the fancy Harley and the fountains?
They been wrapped up in that leather pouch for a long time.
Bigger not always better. And all that glitters – well, you know how it goes.
Those big ones, she can’t wrap she fingers ‘round them as much no more.
Me, I fit nice in she hand. Light enough even with the brass barrel inside.
No. I can’t tell you what she write.
I can tell you that it nice one day, not so nice another day.
I don’t be mad, you know, about what she make me write.
Like when she go to Juba.
I write things I never want to see again. And she cry every day.
That’s when I flow easy so she don’t have to wonder what to do.
That’s when I move like the waves she play in as a child.
Cause sometimes she can’t see what she writing through the tears.
That’s when I have to think what she thinking before she think it.
But, other times, it just about the day.
A woman need a place she can just talk about the day.
How she man buy she ice cream and chocolates. (You didn’t hear this from me.)
The characters she not want to meet on the bus.
True, true, it not every day she be holding me, but it don’t matter.
I’m ready when she is. She know that.
…whenever she need me, I’ll be there… I’ll be around.
That’s what friends are for. To be there when needed.
Cause, eh, a woman need someone she can trust.
Someone who not going to question she every action and word.
Someone who believe she stories real and poetry – before she make a poem.
At the end of the day (or at the start), a woman need someone
to lay it down just the way she want.

*
*

The Poem / by Yvonne Daley

Ruth Stone said they came at her
Like a freight train
So fast she’d have to rush
To write them down
Sometimes from the bottom up

Grace Paley
Awoke with the words
Already in her mouth
Their shape already
On her fingertips

Sometimes she’d hear a line
While making pie
Or at the recycling center
They found their way to paper
Scraps forgotten in pockets
By the side of the bed
On the back of a bill

Which Robert would gather up
Place in a little cardboard box
Labeled: Grace was just thinking

As flimsy as the dreams you can’t recall
Just the taste of it
That impression on the edge of memory
The tang of what you can’t call back

Others like the two-year-old
Demanding that you stop right now
Pay attention
Nothing else is more important

As when I find my own random
Scraps of paper and wonder
Who wrote that
What was she thinking
What does it mean
What else was she trying to say

*
*

The Keyboard / by Ellen Devlin

The wave that starts at q a z and crests at y h n

are for people who can type, not you,

which is probably why you keep missing the a and hitting Caps Lock,

producing a lot of tHIS in your writing.

And those blue buttons up top you don’t get? They’re icons, El,

tiny pictures that mean something to people who didn’t see the first Telstar pictures of a U.S. flag

outside a Maine receiving station on, a 7-channel, 21 inch, black and white TV.

My ergonomic wrist rest, where yours does not rest, is more like your thumb rest

so you cAN shoot out index and middle fingers to work the buttons. I know you’re aFraid

of the buttons on the right with numbers and arrows. Why are they there if you

already have them on the top row above the letters? Yeah, you think maybe

they are the numbers people use to make changes to their bank accounts and if you

touch them, you will forward money to someone . . . . . . . you don’t know in Idaho. Why do you
. . . . . . . love to play with the space bar?

Go ahead, like your kids said to you in 1990, just press anything, Mom. I am a state of the art

wireless, ergonomic Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5050 PP4-00001

curved keyboard with a numeric keypad and customizable shortcut keys.

1.5 billion sales at Best Buy a year, and I had to get you.

*
*

Scrap quilt / by Sarah Hennessey

Though threads fray
and some seams
have loosed their hold
some patches yawning open
some missing altogether
this wear yields soft slumber

There is a perfect joy
in stretching long
between the lap
and the heft of the sleeping cat

There is divine warmth
snugged between
two bodies at rest
two bodies that stretch
in unison, a contagious
gratification

There I rest and stretch
warm and cool
unwinding seams
a half-stitch at a time
all the while trusting
that as much undone
will be repaired
with new scraps
by new hands
maybe clumsy or unsteady
but no less heartful

*
*

Dead Blow Hammer / by Frances Klein
After reading Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror”

My crown flames orange, handle pebbled
in night. Finish of a sunset when the light
flares above horizon, then drowns
in evening. When I was born they fed me
sand, filled my head to the brim
with it, so that all my memories
are of the Atlantic licking its way along
the Maryland coast. I absorbed that shock,
and all that came after.

I lay most often atop a tool chest
in the garage, easily at hand, a needful
thing. Drivers come in fresh off
fender-benders, pissed about pothole
damage, having kissed bumper
to telephone pole like they were meant
for each other. The workers say words
I don’t know: minimal elastic rebound,
non-marring, peak striking force.

What I know is the air is in love with me,
murmurs promises as I move
unfeeling, to strike the chassis.
I am the unstoppable force yet to meet
an object I cannot move, my own god.
What I know is the man who clutched me,
late after closing, beer in the other hand.
He hoisted me like a firstborn child,
into a new world, gave me names like offerings:

Sunset Hammer, Hammer of Need,
Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove,
God Hammer, Dead Blow Hammer, Mine.

*
*

Mountain View / by Chad W. Lutz

Cheeks red and puffing,
They talk about perspective
And the view from the top;
A place I’ve always been,
But somehow they’ve just
Realized.

I hear them coming,
The muddied footsteps
Of the people,
Their voices ragged
And weary

From the
Pounds of granola
Water, flashlights,
And Band-Aids
Nothing in nature
Needs to survive,

But lug out
Here anyway
Just to catch
A glimpse of
Something they
Already have.

Up and over,
Through the rain,
Under the beating sun,
I shake my back
In anger for the names
They’ve called me
I never once
Agreed.

*
*

No Provenance / by Amy Nawrocki

This is what I hear before you shelve me:
jeweler’s eye, antique tripod loupe, steampunk brass.
Watches still ticking with the slow cadence
of stalactites whispering in dark caves.

When you shut me away, I see
the hollow of oak, the shadow of hinges.
I see lost manuscripts in rag pulp and flax;
dust bursting like sparks in the barrel
of a flintlock pistol. I see engraved tendrils
choking the silver edges of the forge’s mouth.

When this mantle top magnifies the fire’s heat,
I remember the earthquake of fingers
and tweezers dancing like needles of polygraphs
before amethysts were laid and settlements
paid on the auction block.

*
*

Object Rebuttal / by Antonina Palisano

A. says this is a trick question.
You’re never not writing
the inanimate. Every poem
is about death
. Well, that kiss
hurtles toward a moment
where I’ll never kiss again.
Which is to say I’ve heard
it’s harder to close the eyes
than the living might expect.
Full fathom five, etcetera. I watch
when A. is sleeping and this
is about death,
a day that looks the same
but where I speak another language.
I love, love, and then
I will lose you. By your body
or divergence. Which is
an equal end, though the body
walks away. The crowd
or the earth. Takes and then
re-takes, and it’s like
composing photographs,
squaring in the frame. I have
a single chance, and in the wake
I see its death. The phosphorus
of every kiss or dance.

*
*

Day 12 / Poems 12

*

A Message to My Spellcheck / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
(After writing “For Ruth Ann Miles and Lauren Lew” Day 11 Poem)

In my last poem, you waited until the end to call attention to a word.
A word that had already appeared three times, mind you. I was curious.
I counted how many times I had used the word before you grabbed it,
placed it in the little box with a suggested change. I was horrified. Then,
I became angry. So angry I had to write about it. This may not be a poem.
But then, your suggestion was an anathema to the very meaning of my poem.

Last week, I said to students: I am concerned about our lax use of language.
Perhaps it is because I am a poet. One of them asked: Can you give an example?
There were so many, but I chose this: the things or names we call ourselves.
We use the “b” word or the “n” word for and against each other, sometimes unclear
which situation calls for which. We believe that appropriation changes meaning.
They become badges we wear to mark our tribes and survivals.

I should have said Spellcheck has encouraged badly written everything.
What you did this morning was reprehensible. Unwarranted. Shameful.
What algorithms and beliefs are embedded in your soulless program? Of course,
I’m mad because I need to use you: My eyes are not what they used to be.
I still read everything out loud to know how the words feel on my tongue, in my ear.
I learned a long time ago with your upgrades to not trust you completely.

Now, I don’t think I can trust you at all. You are not compassionate.
You are programmed to conjoin popular words with political actions
without considering their consequences. Because if you were, – yes you –
you would not have done what you did this morning. You would have known
that in a poem asking for healing and mercy after unimaginable trauma,
that additional violence is not the answer.

Right. You don’t remember. You move on, one line after another.
We both know your grammar sucks. Let me remind you:
“For Ruth Ann Miles and Lauren Lew” begins like this: There is a balm in Gilead.
“Balm” is mentioned two more times: the balm shares, the balm and I.
Each stanza is a prayer, an attempt to soothe women I don’t know.
I plea to mothers to love their children and to hold these women close.

But the last stanza is where you suggest I have made a mistake.
I am asking the Blessed Virgin, the orisas Osun and Yemanja,
to make this simple perfume strong enough to heal these mothers.
This is where you got it wrong.
This is when I realized how much our language is full of destruction:
You thought only one word complemented powerful.

I want to turn you off.
I want to write your developers.
They need to help you become intelligent.
They need to help you recognize intention.
They need to teach you how to read poetry.
Make this a powerful balm.
No, I do not want to change balm to bomb.
Thank you.

*
*

At the airport / by Yvonne Daley

The airport was a Don DeLillo novel
Or Pynchon. So many narratives.
The dueling final calls. Brucie singing
Wings for Wheels. Talk of snow.
The news I’d decided not bother.

The couple by the departure gate
Wore pajamas, the footsie kind.
They baby-talked their way to Muji to Go.
The Latino men talked so fast
I couldn’t practice my Spanish.
They laughed like girls, wore bling and rosary
Beads over T-shirts. Heading to Vermont.

The woman pulling a suitcase weighing
More than winter
Her halter top stretched to incredulity.
False spring, I thought, makes fools
Of all of us. Still, I’d packed my warmest mittens.

Where ExOfficio iS BEAUTY
And the bookstore full of books
Written by teams of formulators
Where all the workers were busy tweeting
And all the babies were crying
Where somewhere between arrival
And departure our mutual clocks
Had known to spring ahead
And all the flights were on time
Miracles do happen.

What people did before they were
So connected they never connected.
He texted her 15 times. We heard all about it.
How he’d been waiting where
she said they’d never agreed to meet
and she’d been waiting where they had.
Now their public fight over Boar’s Head
And Jamba Juice.

When I got caught gawking
The man said, we’ve known each other
Too long. Since I was 14, she said, and cried.

At Gate 1, the agent refused to open
The door for the late-comers. She wasn’t impressed
By tears or tantrums. Too bad you stopped
For donuts, she said. Truth hurts.

As for me, I didn’t eat the worst croissant
I made the mistake of ordering.
I translated the sign language
At a nearby table.
I moved away from the cougher.
I watched the birds fly from window
To window as if there was a way out.
I killed time. Or vice versa.

I thought maybe I was the only one
In the airport writing a poem
Trying to read an actual book
Writing the back stories as I offered
The crying woman a tissue, her saga
Already too late to have a happy ending.

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Leslie Marmon Silko

The Grandmother/Mother always knows,
feels it in her body, broken open by birthing,
digging home from earth.

Some years the rain comes late or not at all.
She knows a welcome song to sing
her ancestors home as rain. To know

where to plant muskmelon, speckled beans,
where wild grasses will find their own way
is the wisdom of living itself. This too:

She pushes the hard knowing of danger
into her daughter’s ribcage until it touches her
beating heart. She must know.She must know.

*
*

The cusp of spring on a horse farm / by Sarah Hennessey

Who knew fluttering finch wings
sounded so much like a whisper
like one that when I wake
I wonder if it was dream-born

Peace is distant grazing horses
pine and timothy hanging heavy
in dust-haze

Night’s chill lashes my limbs
shows me each measured breath
as I’m working

Meanwhile morning sun
melts hillsides to mud
and ornery horses
have taken to rolling

*
*

After Listening to Everclear’s “Santa Monica” on Repeat for Two Days Straight / by Frances Klein

Songwriting credit to Art Alexakis, Craig Montoya, Greg Eklund

I have forgotten the sleepwalk
dance. I know to limp my arms
at my sides, shut my eyes, sidestep
any familiar obstacles,
but I don’t remember the steps
that come with the key change,
the ones you do when someone
goes against centuries
of Old Wives advice and wakes you
in the middle of the dining room.

I don’t want to be the bad guy, but

I live most days with the ghosts
of the Pacific hovering around me.
Point Reyes opens and closes
my doors, walks around loud
on the second floor.
Puget Sound rearranges
the photos in the picture frames,
lifts teacups to the ceiling,
puts them back down without
breaking them. Tongass Narrows
burbles and murmurs in the corners
of my bedroom all night,
giving me water dreams,
hungry and hollow.

I just want to find some place to be alone, and

the world is ending, so now
is the time. The Narrows is too itself
to have breakers, but I can drive out
to the end of the road on Gravina,
lay on the roof of my car,
watch the world play itself out
between the borders of the mountains.
I’m taking bets on what color the sky
will be when the world dies.
Moneyline odds put orange
as the chalk, and no one’s laying
points on the cool colors.

Come sit with me. I’ll teach you
the sleepwalk dance, the dance
of the ocean ghosts, the little
I remember.

*
*

2008 Jeep Wrangler / by Chad W. Lutz

I drive it
Across the low country,
A car that isn’t mine,
Across bridges that span
The marsh: the terra prime.

They’re all back at the condo,
Shooting tequila:

My dad,
My brother,
My brother,
My mother,
And Sgt. Peppers, the dog.

I’m driving back from the beach,
And while some classic fogey
Drones on about peace and love,
The wind hits me in the face
And it smells so good I can’t breathe
So, I just turn the gospel up
And lean back into a heat
I know won’t last.

I pass a house with a confederate flag,
And then one supporting gay rights,
And see the biggest problems
Facing America summed up
In a quarter-mile stretch of road.

A storm brews overhead
And I’m thinking yeah, it is,
And put the petal to the metal for home.

Everyone’s drunk
And the sky is black,
When I get back,
So, I head for
The beach to sit by myself,

And, for a while,
I watch the lightning,
I wade into the water,
I taunt the devil,

And run sprints
Through the rain
In the tide.

*
*

Aide-mémoire / by Amy Nawrocki

I wander in circles around the kitchen
looking for a water glass filled after
the open refrigerator door told me
my purpose for standing there.
A jar of mayonnaise has been waiting
on the counter for me to remember
how it got there. A pair of glasses
sits on my head, that pencil secured
purposefully behind my ear.
I forget that I was looking
and wonder why switch the laundry
becomes take out the garbage when phrases
leave the chalkboard of my mind
and find the tip of a bitten tongue.
It’s called a socket wrench, like eyes
beholden to the skull’s bony emptiness.

Many faucets left running; gooseberries
that used to grow down the path,
the package that sat next to me
all the way through errands
without making it to the post office.
Today’s blue pill and yesterday’s umbrella;
the last stanza of Dream Song 29
dog-eared in my mind as I lay
thinking about flower arranging
and mnemonics. What important lessons
did I hide in the slogan: run home sad reptile
seize god later?
Which of my humors
have been displaced by the key
finally located in the very door
it was meant to open? I wish I knew

to say kenzan instead of thing-a-ma-jig
or had understood how to save
that keepsake holder of stems
from the old cupboard in the old house
where gooseberries grew in the backyard.
How could I have known that round disks
with lead nails could give life
to cut flowers? I should have listened
more carefully when my mother told me
to retrace my steps because now
I need that spiky frog
and a few long-stemmed daffodils
to locate the vocabulary of loss.

*
*

Tarot Poem / by Antonina Palisano

for C.B.

You call to say you’re dead and in the morning it’s a joke
I mourn without a place to sleep or anything to box up

You descale the kettle sun and come away with mica
With its flakes you make an armor that can’t be useful

Seven growing years were a breath exhaled slowly
We kept chatting in the stasis of our intimate air

If I hope and fear together and my face won’t move
And having reached the summit will stay and paradox

My layers removed because I’m warm in this wind
The wheel turning because it turns until it doesn’t

Selfsame where self is void and also wine-dark
The image of you that I hold against your absence

A map of a palace that sank into the ocean
A candle that we leave for a woman we never met

The aching language of signs their marrow depth
Their thorax their handshake their unsaying

You call I don’t pick up again and I am always waiting
I didn’t have the right shoes and I’m sorry for that

*
*

Day 11 / Poems 11

*

For Ruth Ann Miles and Lauren Lew / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

There is a balm in Gilead, I am sure of this. But what I am not sure of:
if there is enough to make you whole the way you want to be whole again.
Still, when I lay myself down to sleep I gather all I can and anoint you
with it when you are not looking, when you are re-living what happened
or willing a different ending. Or, feeling everything at once.

I’ve never been to the Jordan River, but it doesn’t matter. The plant is calling
me these days with its sweetness and I follow its perfume all the way
to its point of origin, deep in the earth before it had a name, so deep until
I can travel no more and have to sit down at its roots and listen. Oh, the stories
it tells are so old. There is sickness and disease. There is genocide and war.

But this, the balm shares, is the hardest: When a mother has seen
her child die and can do nothing. We sit together, the balm and I, and we do not
imagine what this is like. We do not tell each other it will be okay. We do not
tell our own stories. We sit with each other and pour perfume over your eyes
and ears. We pour perfume over your throat and heart. Over your hands.

We pour perfume over your belly, praying that your unborn child will not remember
that together you have been witnesses. That your bodies, together, have felt
the weight of metal against you. We pour perfume over your heads and necks,
over your backs. We pour perfume over the spots rain has not washed clean.
We pour perfume over your ankles and feet so that you may find strength to walk.

Oh, Osun and Yemanja, oh Blessed Virgin, I beseech you: make this a powerful balm.
I implore all the mothers I know who rush and kiss and hold their children close.
I entreat you to surround Ruth Ann and Lauren in your dreams.
I ask you to pray in all the languages you know, and let your children play with each other.
I beg you to lay hands on these women, to let your motherly love be a salve to their suffering.

*
*

Dear Frida / by Yvonne Daley

How they erased your unibrow
To make you more
Acceptable

What is it they were after
Your ardent emblem of refusal
Your suffering as if that made Mattel
Or Barbie more acceptable

Now we discover
You’re a corporation
Reproduced on socks ties
Shower curtains tea bag dispensers
A rotary phone wall clocks
A light switch all sold on amazon

Whitewashing you
Your pain your politics your doll arms
The way they hang useless
Who is there to paint your
Thirty-plus operations your unripened seed
The elephant and the dove

How everything about you
That was mestizo was reduced
How the colonized colonized you
To sell on International Women’s Day

Memory, the Heart, your painting
Of what it’s like to endure
The corsets to hold you up
The stitches along your spine
Are these included in the little plastic box
You come in, your monkeys, the tiny Xoloitzcuintli
The thorns, the wounded deer.

— March 11, 2018

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

A.S. Byatt

Old hair’s dull and tattered in its thinning,
self-conscious when arranged to look
a little less so. Salons are brave, hopeless
places when I sit in the chair, looking
at my mother’s face. Color, cut and blow dry
is a pricey, bad fairytale without rescue.
I have wandered long through the woods
and walked back again with bird feathers,
low-lying branches. Sea buckthorn oil
will not make it through the next two shampoos.
All that money and cold chamomile tea
and it’s not even what I want.
Give me Medusa’s big hair, all hiss, and poison.

*
*

Clarity / by Sarah Hennessey

As a child, he once tried to break a bottle, but it popped so high
above him that he ran fearing it would break his head, fearing his mom
would have to fish slivers of skull out of his hair

He understood, in a small way, the satisfaction of the breaking,
glass spilling into granules known not only to cut, but also slide under the skin
breed an ache one believes must be imagined

What an underestimation of the body, to think
a bottle could break him, to think that if it didn’t break, something had to,
to think it could only hurt him from the outside

*
*

Bar Bathroom Line / by Frances Klein

It’s not safe to leave your drink on the table,
and taking it into the stall is a non-starter,
so you start chatting up the woman behind you
in line, hoping in the time it takes to progress
down the stairs, through the hall to the single
stall bathroom–fire code capacity 240,
saturday night crowd over 400, one stall, really?–
you might form the kind of bond
that includes holding the other person’s drink.

Twelve minutes later you have moved past jokes
about the abrasiveness of bar bathroom
toilet paper, past detailed discussion
of matte lipstick, beyond agreeing on the moral
bankruptcy of the ivory trade. The conversation
coils back to what is in your rocks glass,
and she runs one lacquered fingernail
down the spiral of orange peel langouring
along the rim, giving you the opening you need.

She takes your glass for the split second
required to do the deed, you return the favor
while she navigates her jumpsuit in the confines
of the stall, and the interaction ends
with the boozy communion of exchanged sips,
she wrinkling her nose at the bite of bourbon,
you mirroring her expression at the melon-burst
of midori, green as a child’s idea of poison,
sweet and ephemeral as the memory of this moment.

*
*

Routine / by Chad W. Lutz

A routine exercise
In routine exercise.

Pick stuff up
& put it down.
Add some weight,
Pick it up again,
& put it back down.

Attention & focus.
Determination.
Dedication.

Pick stuff up
& put it down.
Add some weight,
Pick it up again,
& put it back down.

*
*

Sutures / by Amy Nawrocki

Is it clockwork
or stitching that holds
the edge of the earth to the tilting horizon

and sews my footsteps to a ground
that ticks away from its knotted core
in quakes and lantern-less mudslides?

*
*

*
*

Day 10 / Poems 10

*

Dream March 10, 2018 / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

The apocalyptic ones are the worse.
They arrive first thing in the morning
when you want more sex or
you just found the right pillow spot.

For some time now, been wondering how
apocalypse means end of the world.
Even more, why the end-of-the world
story is one of suffering and death.

It used to mean a hallucination,
an insight, a vision;
an uncovering or disclosure:
in short, a revelation.

In my dream, I tell a man:
I used to believe all will be well,
then I visited South Sudan
and realized it wouldn’t be. Ever.

And I start crying like I always do.
I am paralyzed by impending pain.
We are preparing for war,
for a catastrophe.

Or something. It wasn’t clear.
Only the man’s clothes
are khaki and bright.
Everything else is dark.

I am sobbing now
and he doesn’t know what to do.
So he stands there
waiting for me to stop.

*
*

The orchid / by Yvonne Daley

Performs not for you
How the women’s silly hats
When men are silent

— At the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 3/10/18

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Amy Tan

a small town marketplace
morning tofu, sweet
potatoes, little boys
at weighing scales
warplanes
ground becomes sky
there is no foothold
everyone running in vapor
falling over spilled baskets
barrels of fish
tumbling in clouds.
earth presses down
on prostrate bodies
its terrible stones
grinding into spines.

*
*

To the girl riding a unicorn at the grocery store / by Sarah Hennessey

For Astrid

Your vibrance–
all bright colors
and huge smiles
between huffs
and whinnies
and yee-haws–
delights me
and the list in my head–
because how could I forget–
is gone.

I’m up and down aisles
I’m visualizing my fridge
and my meal plan
and the leftovers
when from two aisles over
I hear your laughter
building and breaking
as you wrangle
your single-horned steed.
Your dad laughs, asks
what kind of cereal you’d like
and you ask in earnest
what kind is a unicorn’s favorite?
Your dad offers Lucky Charms
you counter with Cookie Crisp
but you both agree
they probably prefer Pop-tarts.

You turn down my aisle
ambling easily
on your pink unicorn
with your purple jacket
and blue eyes
and you are lighting
each face in the store
with your bold satisfaction.

You laugh all the way
from checkout through the door
and I’m solemn for a moment
with rice milk in one hand
and stew meat in the other.
I put them both back
and grab instead
hot fudge sundae Pop-tarts
and amble to checkout.

*
*

Pictures of Hammers / by Frances Klein

Whenever we asked my father what video he was playing for us,
his response was, invariably, “pictures of hammers,”
conjuring up the world’s most boring movie in an attempt
to elicit the type of joking repartee in which he and we delighted.
The set followed a standard progression: we would protest,
he would insist, we would protest, he would point out
the 20th century fanfare, “hammer music” he called it,
and when the screen began to show some animated classic,
The Fox and the Hound, Robin Hood, etc. (my brother, small terrorist
that he was, insisted on only movies with animals for years,
and we, held hostage by his volume and energy, acquiesced)
my father would apologize for having put in the wrong tape, assured
of our disappointment at not being shown, yet again,
Pictures of Hammers.

As an adult, I know now that there are niche interests,
films, conventions, countless fetish websites dedicated to every
conceivable interest. It is possible that somewhere,
perhaps in The Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska,
Pictures of Hammers is on display daily for eager visitors.
Silent screen showing photo after photo–
Chasing hammer, chisel hammer, ball peen and brick.
Hammers for all professions, whether welder or lineman, tinner
or prospector. Hammers with names that can be tasted like delicacies
railroad spike maul, stone sledge, half hatchet hammer
and the common claw. Visitors standing in hushed awe
like pilgrims at the end of the Camino de Santiago,
heart’s desire playing out in front of them, swell of happiness
lacking only the fanfare of trumpets to be complete.

*
*

What I Mean When I Say I Write / by Chad W. Lutz

When I say
I’m writer,
I mean
I sit at my desk,

Eat whatever’s
Lying around,
Turn and stare
Out the window,

Blow smoke
Crack my hands,
Drink water,
Drink tea,
Drink beer,
Drip coffee
Chug coffee,
Mainline coffee,
Make jokes,
Make plans,
Pretend I’m a drummer,
Pretend I can sing,
Pretend I’m my heroes,
Dance in my chair,
Check my emails,
Check my Facebook,
Check my Instagram

and then, once all that’s done,
I get down to the business
Of starting all over again.

*
*

Winter Garden, Regent’s Park / by Amy Nawrocki

A ginger-chested bird flutters in blue cedars
and roses have been shut away for winter.
We follow our shadows down the path
under metal skies pounded like the inside of a bell.

The queen’s roses have been plucked clear of winter’s
warmth, and nostalgia has dried its dusky pink petals
closed up under silver skies, bell clouds pounding
like pigeons in flight. Water ripples between cold

and warmth, nostalgic for dried dusky pink petals
and stems that remember duck-bill yellow.
Pigeons in flight steel against water rippled in cold
and borrowed juxtapositions: wings startle open, still

as stems that remember the pale yellow of herons’ eyes
and long for ginger-chested birds in blue cedars.
I pluck nostalgia’s wings, juxtapose startled stillness
and old shadows followed down a winter path.

*
*

Picturebook / by Antonina Palisano

I ask how one could tire of this.
Artery, canal, asphalt. The excuse for a garden
is that it makes a room outdoors. Aloft, I am a guest
in every room. Amused at the thought of borders.
I admit impermeable soothes but of course the lock
is cheap, the skin breached at every second. On the pier,
stern: Cormorants crucify their wings on purpose.
I go on with the feeling I’ve been found out.
There is a halogen lamp on the path and I mistook the orb
for the moon. Allowed my senses to be cocooned
and shrunk. Denied our separateness,
leapt the hedge. In your garden, sumac and mulberry
and a kind of serrated plant. If I treat them like my furniture
there is no distance. From here I see your face
and lifecycle. The beautiful thing as if in sequence.
Let the long bones be fledged and brought to the air.

*
*

Day 9 / Poems 9

*

Morning Prayer Before Class / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

No one told me that the students prayed together.
So, imagine my surprise when I opened the door
and found them reciting Hail Mary’s.
No one told them that, once, I had been Catholic.
Imagine their surprise when I sat down,
bowed my head and joined them, calling on
the Virgin and the Sacred Heart of Jesus for peace.

Some things you never forget how to do.
Even after I’ve walked away from kneeling
and solemnity that would bore the dead,
I hear my grandmother’s words:
Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.
And even though I know I am not, and
will never be again, I pray like she taught me.

I say the Blessed Mother’s name reverently,
remembering that the prayer I loved most
was the holy novena of the rosary.
How when the parish church bell struck noon,
my grandmother gathered her skirt and bloomers,
called me to her side and led me to the chairs
in the corner by the veranda door.

She would guide my hands over the beads,
teach me how to rub them between my fingers,
thumb on top, back and forth, until I finished
all the mysteries in perfect contemplation.
She would wait for me to repeat after her
until I no longer needed to. Afterwards, we would sit,
holding hands until she squeezed my fingers and stood.

No one told me I would open a door and find home
in a country on the brink of perpetual war.
That in a small, hot classroom the Mother of God
would mercifully grant me her presence.
Or that She would take my soul into her hands
and comfort me as if I were a child.
No one told me what such grace would cost.

*
*

The poem that’s too far-fetched / by Yvonne Daley

The dog is the reason the sunshine splashed
Warmth across the wooden floor while
The sunshine is there to remind you that
The dog chooses you not the other way

The window is there to promise green
Will travel north unpacking spring along the way
While fate is the comeuppance that time delivers
Far away as it seems when bluster buries fact

The clocks will spring forward to remind you
That time is the ultimate leveler that history
Is the place where the bones are buried
That the reason god gave Paul Manafort

Two legs was for his two ankle bracelets
That the reason chickens come home to roost
And birds of a feather flock together is the story
that keeps you waiting for the bitter end

How shortcomings can bring long sentences
Just as the emperor’s clothes and the henchmen’s
Complicity the tower of treason is there to
Fall like a Roger Stone a Flynn a Gates

How in the end like the illusion of his comb-over
Something is always under what is concealed
While the dog is there to remind us to distrust
The only one in 130 years who did not have one.

*
*

Half- Found / by Ellen Devlin

Doris Lessing

We
knotting and unknotting
running in wet leaves
slow rain.
I remember saying
to myself
this is it
this is happiness.

*
*

Breaking silence: an ode Part II / by Sarah Hennessey

Sing to the dead
dare to sing
of your joys
so that the dead
might remember
spring blossoms
sing in their honor
sing their joys
their losses
their beauty,
flawed, marred,
and made wholly
their own

Sing in praise
of strength
sing in search of truth
sing of fallibility
sing the minor keys
of misguided youth
and the swells
of redemption
sing the love-gibberish
newborns belt
sing greetings
to the morning
as you do the dusk
as you do
the midnight moon
lonesome in the midtown sky

Sing to the whistling
of trains traversing
townships and boroughs
sing to the tremble of the tracks
beneath where wanderers
amble lost in thought
sing to the moment
quiet befalls you
the quick breath
you catch
with instinctual panic

Sing the concession
that we’ll die
sing the acceptance
that we
are not the body
but the song

Sing the curlers
in the grandma’s hair
turned tight
by her knowing hand
and sing the sadness
of the curlers knotted
in the granddaughter’s hair
when she never asked
her grandma to teach her
sing sequins
on a child’s dress
in sunlight
sing streets
day-heated
and rain-cooled
sing hoof prints
in the mud
some small
and shallow
some wide and wild
sliding down hills
sing small moments
that we all might remember
sing so we don’t forget
sing where you’ve come from
sing who you’ve come from
sing us your name

*
*

The Poorest Bug that Creeps / by Frances Klein

“Gods rare workmanship in the Ant, the poorest bugge that creeps.”
-First recorded use of the word ‘bug,’ OED, 1624

The first line we find
stretches neat and black
across the linoleum.

Revulsion, minor panic,
a whole roll of paper towels
and the hose from the sink
convert the trash can
to a mass grave.

We buy organic repellent,
douse every corner of the kitchen,
sleep poorly, ants marching
through our dreams
like heffalumps and woozles.

The second line is behind my desk,
coming from some corner
straight to the hidden jellybeans.

I clean what I can,
toss the jellybeans–
they all taste
like mandibles now–
spend every spare moment
at work wondering
what the ants are up to.

This goes on through the summer,
each day a new ant adventure.

They are under the living room futon,
in the kitchen,
exploring the steps to the garage,
in the kitchen,
swirling in the space
between bedroom and bathroom,
in the kitchen,
in the kitchen,
in the kitchen.

Our house smells perpetually
of lemongrass and death.

All our dreams are ant dreams,
living, as we apparently do, on top
of a sacred ant burial ground.

All night I march
with the colony, antennae
tasting the air,
moving in perfect
formation with my countless
of brothers and sisters,
all bent together
toward the same holy task.

All night, all I do
is for the army,
match my movements to theirs,
push on without rest,
sacrifice my body
for the common good,
all one, all together, whole.

When I wake, I am lonely.

*
*

Another Cup Celestial / by Chad W. Lutz

Darkness falls on the town again,
Oak trees in as much wonder
What’s out there as I am;
No two of us alike.

Somewhere,
Something enigmatic
Crashes and explodes
A star is born, dies,

Time shakes my coffee mug,
And with it, tugs my heart,
Looking out the windows,
Sadder, at what I can’t see,

Waiting for the universe
To redistribute carbon
Through the placeless
Vacuum strangling the planet.

I know the fog won’t lift
For another hour or so,
But it’s not the same
Knowing Jupiter has seasons.

*
*

Poem for Wall Drawing #786A / by Amy Nawrocki

~after Sol LeWitt, Yale University Art Gallery

snow falls snow everything falls under falls oh blue but under but quickly oh
snow blue snow but falls quickly blue under blue oh under oh everything but
snow under snow oh falls everything blue quickly under quickly quickly everything everything oh
snow quickly falls blue falls but blue everything under everything quickly but but oh

*
*

E.A. 3: Another Wife / by Antonina Palisano

Lacking spark, I do my work.
Sure, I’ll write a sequel
where I bore even myself,
a sap for the adulation
of a Sedgwick cousin. Quelle
cobblestone, hydrangea, the Bouvier
with a red bow. Quelle richesse
and not a whit to eat, or any skill
in conducting conversation.
I needed to be liked, and there
was trapped: a painted hand,
a knife to the meat of my neck.
The posture of being seen,
as when I sat and pouted
in the dining car of a Pullman train,
caught in the heady fluke
of a demigod’s approval. Go on,
furnish the garret. A pen
that doesn’t leak. A lesser gem
to pave the way for emerald,
glowing teak, a white rose
on the breakfast tray.
Nothing like a fire
for the Phoenix trick.
So burns
the world away. Sycophant,
ankle-deep in cream.

*
*

Day 8 / Poems 8

*

When Your Words Want to Sleep but You Don’t / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
(For Tracie, Krista, and Toni)

You remind them that you made a commitment – together – to create something out
of them and to write them down in a form that makes rhythm and sense out of lives
otherwise silent or uninteresting to others.

You tell them that there is no time to sleep, not when you are still thinking about
what you learned yesterday: the fact that a black woman with a PhD in physics
graduates, on average, every 20 years in the United States.

And that you are wondering – they should be wondering – how we are ever going to
get to Mars or Earth 2 or even see Wakanda at that rate. Matter of fact, how are we
ever going to know if the rays of the sun sound like Coltrane (John and Alice), or
Miles, or Roberta – or Minnie.

When your words talk back (they know not to yell at you) and tell you that even they
need a full stop, especially after 15 hours of spilling from your tongue and fingers, you
ignore them and sit to coax them onto the page anyway.

It’s easier than you think. In fact, you discover that all along they were trying to be
kind to you, holding back because the alternative would look like leopards and
giraffes streaking across your page. They would sound like hyenas wailing at the
bottom of a ditch after a kill.

You argue that perhaps they would be like tornadoes approaching your house near
midnight as you sit on your bed, waiting for the first curl of the whip to touch your
roof while you run down the stairs screaming to your husband in Portuguese “Get in
the bathroom! Go! Go! Go!”

But, you don’t want to end the day on bad terms, or leave open the possibility they
will talk to you while you sleep and make you repeat what they say out loud until you
have to jump out of bed at 2 a.m. to watch Lucifer or Hawaii Five-O.

So you hold each other tightly, knowing that what you both want are days and nights
when you can write only about love. When you must write about love because not
doing so would make you sad and unhappy, two things you fight being every moment
you are awake.

The type of love that makes you know for sure that the sky would feel like silk against
your skin. The type of love that smells like patchouli oil when you rub it on your body
and in your hair.
The type of love that tastes like tiramisu soaked in dark cachaça with coffee ice
cream on top.

You conclude: someone needs to know about the things you’ve seen but no one
reports. Like white yolks in the fried eggs you couldn’t eat your first morning in Juba,
and had to throw away or throw them up. You returned them, one of the few times in
your life you were ashamed.

In the meantime, you agree to write more love poems, between the poems that
refuse to die. Love poems that promise humming birds hovering in front of you while
you hold your breath, you dancing barefoot in the rain under a full moon, and children
laughing because their own voices thrill them into falling in love with themselves.

*
*

E.A. 3: Another Wife / by Antonina Palisano

Lacking spark, I do my work.
Sure, I’ll write a sequel
where I bore even myself,
a sap for the adulation
of a Sedgwick cousin. Quelle
cobblestone, hydrangea, the Bouvier
with a red bow. Quelle richesse
and not a whit to eat, or any skill
in conducting conversation.
I needed to be liked, and there
was trapped: a painted hand,
a knife to the meat of my neck.
The posture of being seen,
as when I sat and pouted
in the dining car of a Pullman train,
caught in the heady fluke
of a demigod’s approval. Go on,
furnish the garret. A pen
that doesn’t leak. A lesser gem
to pave the way for emerald,
glowing teak, a white rose
on the breakfast tray.
Nothing like a fire
for the Phoenix trick.
So burns
the world away. Sycophant,
ankle-deep in cream.

*
*

On International Women’s Day / by Yvonne Daley

Mother always counseled
To make a relationship work
There must be compromise

But why was she always the compromiser

Obviously, I didn’t take after her
Although I like negotiation
Arbitration being the peacemaker

Or thinking I am

There was no negotiation in our house
Growing up I learned
How to craft a question to which
The answer could not be no.

And taught myself the value of that word

Mostly I think of history how so few
Found their voice how today even women
Want women to be silent
How the red herrings filled the sky

The year the ERA did not pass

On International Women’s Day
I’m thinking of Sarah, how everything
She did was done with love, how she
Knew her father’s abandonments, his returns

Built her own life around security, gave us that

Still it’s all a matter of where you find yourself
How no does not mean no in North Carolina
How rapists have parental rights in seven US states

How in Oklahoma, it’s not rape if the woman is unconscious

While far away the women I will never
Know, hushed, veiled, exhausted by labor,
Kept from striking, from voting, from leaving home
How the word evil derived from Eve how so many

Fear the power of those who gave them life

— For Mackenzie Carlson, Haley Wells, March 8, 2018

*
*

Half/Found / by Ellen Devlin

Marilynne Robinson

Water wants to fill
our eyes, bowels,
unstring our bones.
A spring evening
made of forest
and sparrow song
goes silent before
a three-day rain over snow.
Morning, an upright piano
floats on its side
in the center of your best room
hammers flailing
player-paper unspooled,
wheat-colored and wavy
as your mother’s hair
must have looked
after a swim in summer.
Be wary of houses
with pianos, big sofas, bookcases.
They misinform with apparent solidity.
You know everything by its lack.

*
*

Breaking silence: an ode / by Sarah Hennessey

Sing
even if low
and quiet
sing even
if muted
or mumbled
sing even
when words
fight coming out
sing to give voice
to love
sing to honor
our fallen and bereft
sing to sweeten
the days
sing the days
into darkness
sing
hands outstretched
sing
eyes shut
tears falling
sing
at a whisper
if you need to
but sing

Sing names
into memory
sing places
into landmarks
sing history
into our hearts
sing bravery
into action
sing of courage
that we might keep
in our shirt pocket
while we march
singing

Sing through
the quake of anger
through the shiver
of grief
sing through
heartache
and the clawing cold
of loneliness

Sing joy
and inclusion
sing love
and remembrance
sing

Sing in every language
sing to the rhythm
or sing off-key
and off-beat
as long as
your shoulders are back
and your throat
is open

Sing for the wounded
sing for the sick
blanket them
with healing songs
sing to heal
your own hurt heart
sing warmth
back into your veins
sing love
back into your touch
sing yourself
back to life again

*
*

Passing Period / by Frances Klein

four minutes between classes
and the hormone game is strong
out here the concern less
navigating successfully from
grammar to spanish to
art to algebra to
history to theology
than seeing that someone
you’ve been trying to text
on the sly all since breakfast

Hallways packed channels, bodies like bumper cars, backpacks bounding and rebounding off each other in endless combinations.

everyone on that hustle
handing copied homework back
to an associate stealing
a kiss from bae before
an adult can even think
about the side-eye maybe
getting books and binders
from the locker if there’s time
but who’s got time

Hallways pulsing with how the heartbeat release of energy, pent for almost an hour, moves students like vessels in the bloodstream, headed to the extremities.

the table at the top of the stairs
is the watering hole of choice
where students can show
off that new dance move
the gazelle-scatter
upon hearing the final bell
forward-dive for the binder
pivot step step
quarter-turn to dodge
an open locker
step step pause
collapse into seat

Hallways now pheromone dusted, energy and excess of youth an almost-visible film settling along the lockers and bannisters, waiting to be kicked up again at the next bell.

*
*

We’re Gonna Crawl Tonight / by Chad W. Lutz

but
I feel
a wave lap up and over me
no bank steep enough
to stop the waters washing
grateful you aren’t dead

I look
up and you’re playing guitar
eyes rolling like dice to the rhythm
fingers flirting with the frets
“Music helps,” you tell me
and then move to something else

I ask
you how your day was
I haven’t read the story, you tell me
and apologize for being an asshole
proceed to talk about drinking too much
needing help, being scared,
smoke some weed
drink some beer

I watched
you hop
into the coal bed
of a train passing
through Kent
during the middle of the day
with a head full of acid
off the Main St. bridge

there’s more at work here, you tell me
and push your fist into mine
and every single time
I wanna believe that it is

*
*

Snow Burial /by Amy Nawrocki

I shake the laurel
to lessen the weight the storm
has left in wet snow.

We’re going to lose
this one, tilted almost past
overhanging steps

almost to the ground, almost
in prayer. I shake anyway,
plant my legs like a soldier

tearing down white flags.
I think we’ve had enough of this:
quaking skies, crashing limbs.

Take back your thunder;
give me baptisms under
begging trees. Free my

hands; cut off my hair.
Let me wear velvet antlers
and paw through this alabaster moss.

*
*

On Moonflowers / by Antonina Palisano

I planted them and I’ve never seen them.” – Br. Robert

A monk plants moonflowers
Under St. Francis. Blooming

Riot, mirror-moon, despite
An absent father. Preoccupied
In vesper chant. He chose

A night like this. Oh hexagon, oh
Sacrament. And also Morning
Glory,
which is only

What it bows against.
I planted them
And walked away
. Made

And then remade,
Re-saying to the stone.
To the flower’s pale overlap.

Oh patron saint of small
Mistakes. Of birds
And of the unobserved.

Not waiting for permission.
The curve of garden’s edge.

*
*

Day 7 / Poems 7

*

Each Breath I Take Before Arriving/ by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

“Each breath is different when we pay kind attention to it.”
-Hao Teng during meditation class, 3/6/2018

Flight 1: Indianapolis to Dubai
Breathing in, I am aware I breathe with effort.
Breathing out, I am aware my breath is shallow.
Breathing in, I am aware flight time is 16 hours.
Breathing out, I am aware 16 hours is a long time.
Breathing in, I recognize no one around me.
Breathing out, I know my colleagues are close.
Breathing in, I hear the woman across from me sigh.
Breathing out, I feel her fear become my own.
Breathing in, breathing out, I breathe and turn to ask where she is going.
She holds her breath before replying: Addis Ababa to teach.

Flight 2: Dubai to Juba
Breathing in, I am aware I breathe with effort.
Breathing out, I am aware my breath is flowing.
Breathing in, I am aware flight time is 5 hours 55 minutes.
Breathing out, I am aware I will arrive in Africa in 5 hours 55 minutes.
For the first time. And, I am breathing.
For all the ancestors who could not return
who arrived in the “new world” in the bottom of ships sometimes
after 30 days or 60 days or 90.
Breathless.
The woman next to me barely breathes.
Breathing in, breathing out, I breathe and turn to ask what she will be doing.
She looks out the window and replies: Doctors without Borders, first tour.

Breathing in, I feel her fear become my own.
Breathing out, I pray for her safety.
Breathing: we are quiet with and for each other.

Landing: Juba, South Sudan
Breathing in, I am aware of urine and sweat and the fear of grown men.
Breathing out, I am aware I am in Africa.
I am in Africa.
Breathe in: I
Breathe out: am
Breathe in: in
Breathe out: Africa

*
*

Special counsel / by Yvonne Daley

Psychologists call it the white bear
Syndrome, when your brain can’t stop
Thinking

I call it the squirrels how those tyrants
Of the birdfeeder never rest until they
Find a way in or out

Whose teeth never stop growing
They gnaw to survive

Their name means shadow how they hide
In the shade of their own tail
outsmart outwit outlast

Their memory, the dozens hundreds of
Caches they don’t forget are concealed
Or if they do, how the acorn grows
Another generation’s crop of sustenance

I was thinking of the special counsel
If his brain is ever free of inquiry
How each discovery burrows deep raises

More questions as if we are at the heart
Of something deeper more contagious
Than our own exhausted vulnerability

How at the heart of survival we are tested
How if squirrels can take down the power grid
More times than the zero times the hackers have

If our heads are spinning from the acrobatic
Leaps it requires to get to the bottom
As if there is a bottom

How our special counsel learned to sleep
In jungle warfare steeled his courage
Through another national nightmare

We read the story how he led a fire team
Into enemy territory would not leave a wounded
Comrade behind survived his own wounding

He has called it ground truth
What he is gnawing at the kernel the seed
Of what keeps us awake at night

How he learned to sleep in Vietnam
When nothing made sense except the duty
To stay sharp to get us out alive

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Zadie Smith

Her man left. A lampshade
and some cash left too.
Mold blooms. Your brain
jams, no elbowroom
between you
and all-night street
singing. Eyes blister
and your skin is good
for nothing. The worst is—
it goes away. Martini
and Rossi burns
your tongue sweet again.
Your pension comes
like always. You stop
feeling foolish
for taking up with
another wild man
and painting
your nails blue.

*
*

How to talk shop / by Sarah Hennessey

Take a slow sip
don’t seem too eager
don’t seem too tense

Smile easily–
not like you’re easy
like you’re laid back

Take another sip
forget smiling
instead small affirmative nods

Don’t sip again, not yet
watch them watch you
all ease and grace and knowing

Sip right before
you use your glass
to make a point

Make a sport
of disruptive laughing
calling attention back to you

So often, in fact,
and with such guffaws
that you feel

each slickened knot
of each grudge forming
atop their diaphragms

Order a new drink
to sip, just after
everyone else

Make a show
of checking drink orders
and offering

Take a sip
a slow sip
easy now, just nod

Don’t finish that drink
wait instead to witness
everyone else’s unfolding

*
*

On the Corpse Flower / by Frances Klein
“That corpse you planted last year in your garden/has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?” -T.S. Eliot

While others worry about AI, about robots taking over, turning us to living batteries,

I’ve swiveled my suspicions to the Corpse Flower.  Once Sumatra is laid to waste, one big coffee field, what’s to say they won’t come for us?

They outsize us significantly, blooming ten feet tall, so we know they could push us around,

and after years of luring dung beetles, flesh flies–any insect with a vendetta–they’ve developed a smell like your neighbor in 2B,

found after a week in August. How would we know them from our own decaying hearts?

They’re smart, too, with the ability to heat their plant bodies to 98 degrees to further attract pollinators, or so the botanists say.

(Don’t trust the botanists, their allegiances are with the photosynthesizers of the world)

They have our heat, the odor of our bodies after we have given up use of them.  When will they want all the trappings of our lives before death?

They bloom quietly for now, biding their time in botanical gardens in Chicago, Denver, Gilford,

but how long before their budding leaves start to look less like a child’s drawing of a mushroom, red convex surface spattered white,

more like a human face, speckles swirling in imitation of our features?

How long before they are disrupting the pollinator industry, becoming mobile, taking up residence in our neighborhoods?

We have normalized so much this year, what’s to say a Corpse Flower next door would cause any commotion at all?

*
*

Penny Immortalized / by Chad W. Lutz

I once threw
a glass of water in your face
for not agreeing
with me on Marijuana laws;

I once tried to crush you
with a boulder
Because you scheduled me
With my doctor;

I once laughed
At you because you stepped
Off a curb wrong in
Disney and spent the week in a cast;

I used to dismiss your
religious
beliefs by laughing during
their rituals.

I used to lie
About where I was going and who
I was with
Because I knew you were right.

I used to be
Really close with my mom
And now I’m not
And it isn’t a real surprise as to why.

*
*

Conversation with a Girl Who Hates Poetry / by Amy Nawrocki

She answers with a zipped backpack
full of sharp pencils and train schedules
with grids and estimates, but no
long tunnels and no distant whistles.

Because no one taught penmanship
but she wears callouses anyway;
because it’s freezing in here
and no one told her how leopard frogs
hibernate in ice and resurrect
stopped hearts with warm sugar.

Because they lied, the ones who promised
gourmet cafeteria food, polynomials
that factor themselves, butter with no fat
and lollipops that suck away loneliness
like long-tongued hummingbirds
stealing from coral bells whose color
gives them away.

Because she thinks
I love you doesn’t count
unless its written down.

*
*

E.A. 2: Silhouette / by Antonina Palisano

She uses many names. She is fearful, obstinate. When she came to London
she had to be taught everything. Hat and gloves. How to speak. Another name,
lighter, like an orchid. Hothouse flowers and their care. She prefers the azalea
which does not flourish here. Her eyes are green or blue. She rises to argument
like a dull snake. She was amazed by the pit of an olive. In her youth there were
a dozen soiled dogs. Beloved names, called in anger. Mud on her dress. Fine monogram.

*
*

Day 6 / Poems 6

*

End of the Day Poem (3/5/2018) / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
(After spending the day with Professor Keivan Stassun who talked about stellar astrophysics and TESS: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite – NASA)

Today, I learned why we are made of star dust.
That when stars die and combust they release all
that they are into the universe, filling it
with helium, carbon, calcium, iron, and energy.

I also learned that black holes are the parts of stars
that have died and couldn’t explode fast enough
to escape gravity crushing them so small (so small)
that their existence cannot be measured.

And even more, I learned that star light can be
turned into sound to better know the star’s size.
Not that Twilight Zone tone, but something
full of buzz and heat and melody.

Of course, now, I am thinking of the Dogon and Sirius B. (when I should be sleeping)
How a legend dating back over 3000 years
told the story of a star invisible to the human eye
unless you were the godchildren of the Nommos.

I’m wondering as TESS searches for other earths
if they have consulted the Dogon (or the Mayans for that matter)
or asked the poets what they should do
when they encounter sentient beings in other universes. (because they will)

I’m asking myself if I want to move to another planet – or super-earth –
and if so, what if I’m so claustrophobic and scared I choose to stay here
instead and be swallowed up by volcanoes
or drowned by tsunamis that have appeared in my dreams.

(Shakes head. Rolls eyes. Reminds self: this type of thinking so late at night after drinking strong chai will lead to astral traveling to places that won’t let you sleep. Continues writing.)

But really, the first thing I wanted to know was this:
what kind of star made me, when and why, and
if I look up to the sky, will I hear its brightness singing,
will I see its flickering message calling me home?

*
*

Mister Rogers / by Yvonne Daley

The old farmhouse on the mountain
The glory place where each season
a blessing a challenge
wind and snow balanced
By green days wild orchids
The indigo bunting
No television reception

Except in late afternoon
When the signal bounced on a cloud
Or tunneled down to our neighborhood
Erik blond and round and happy
Announced the hour for “my Mister Rogers”
Climbed the green wingback chair
To hear: It’s you I like

To love us into being that was how
He explained how kids were born
Imagine that

In Mister Rogers’ neighborhood
The stoplight was always on yellow
Go slow watch out for others
There’s always time to stop and think
Koko the gorilla signing love
Mercy the strongest word in his vocabulary

Let us praise his culture of excessive doting

He broadcasted enough sappy love to make a boy
More gentle grow flowers feed birds
He saved PBS by being who he was
And when Johnny Carson parodied him
Even Johnny couldn’t help but be nice
When was the last time someone said
What he said:

You, yes you, make every day special

— For Erik Gallo and Mister Rogers, 3/6/18

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Edna O’Brien

It’s dark and summer
and he asked
her to hold the
whiskey he’d
been drinking. He laid
on her shoulders
two rabbits he
killed.
He tweaked her
chin and then the warm,
bloodied snout of the rabbit.
Start over.
He killed her warm
shoulders, bloodied
her with the asking
that was not asking.
Had he laid the whiskey
bottle on her shoulders,
for the cool
of it, or held it
gently there,
his forehead
touching
hers, it would be
a story they
liked to tell, of
a little too much
to drink
and two warm
rabbits holding summer.

*
*

Heirloom / by Sarah Hennessey

Twin five year old nieces convinced me
that pink was a cool color
making the irrefutable argument
that a rainbow isn’t complete
without pink–
sure, go ahead, try to replace it
with red. Why ruin the rainbow?

They made equal cases
for pink and purple,
to the extent that I had to let go
of my deep irrational loathing
of pink.
Wasn’t purple enough?
Couldn’t I bedeck and bejewel myself
all in purple? No.

It turns out purple and pink
look amazing together, and some purple
clashes with some other purple.
No big surprise.
The surprise comes at lunch
when I am gawking, toddler-eyed,
at my mom’s jewelry.

She takes off one of the rings
tells me it was her mom’s
the silver band, dimpled with two tiny stones
near the setting, and teethed in the setting,
hugging in the unforgiving way
precious stones snuggle in close to one another
two magenta rubies, angled as to appear to swirl in place
galaxies dancing without colliding
you can have it if you want

We are misty-eyed
and the ring lives on my hand alongside
the beautiful dome of amethyst
my mom helped me buy for myself
and I think of these rings,
someday on my nieces’ hands.

*
*

Bugge’s Beach / by Frances Klein

Bonfire nights we’d haul pallets
down the beach and stack them
crosswise, douse them in lighter fluid
exactly like we’d been taught not to
in school. In the morning the tide
would hose it all away save
the pallet nails, dull grey
among the rocks. The parking lot
dotted with signs imploring
people not to burn pallets, to think
of the poor beachgoers, their poor
beachgoer dogs. But the teenage
brain has its own strange form
of object permanence, its own
if-I-can’t-see-you-you-can’t-see-me,
and hadn’t the ocean always taken care
of everything in our lives?
We trusted it now to do the same.

We stood around the flames
passing cans of Raineer, water bottles
of cheap vodka. When the conversation
sputtered like fire on wet wood,
we stared into the flickering in silent
contemplation as the smoke spiraled
skyward, no sweet hickory scent,
no sage, just butane and pulp paper.

If the tide was high enough, the fire
would abut the retaining wall
between beach and parking lot,
massive plate boulders forming
convenient perches for the girls–
bonfire-side viewing.

Ensconced there together, alone,
above the heat like kitchen gods
In our own separate nooks,
the whole scene took on the feel
of an offering. Half-drunk mostly-virgins
dancing, jumping, feeding the flames.
We received our rightful tribute
as the night revolved around our small
eruptions, as the cedars ignored
what they had seen most weekends
for centuries, the magma flow
of hormones. Back then
we were the goddesses
of the pallet fire, pacific rim
princesses, volcano queens.

*
*

SportsBall / by Chad W. Lutz

Sasha, I’m sorry,
But the Cavaliers
Are champions
For the first time
In humanity

So, excuse me
if I pull
Out and immediately
Grab my phone
It’s not a you thing
Or a we thing
It’s a me thing
You understand

*
*

Amateur Physics / by Amy Nawrocki

As above so below and as within so without; as the universe so the soul.
~Thrice greatest Hermes

Considering a bruise and a burn
I could go either way: conservation of energy
or Newton’s third law of motion.

Skin deep, the inelegant approval
of matter and energy switching sides.
Knee in motion to coffee table

at rest, metal pan to open palm,
onion to eyes, sunlight to summer skin.
Needle to broken vein, blood trapped

within swelling without exit. As above
so below.

*
*

After Cole’s “Black Mushrooms” / by Antonina Palisano

What does it matter what the heart wants. I think of the heart
as a death cap mushroom – a whole field of death caps,
convex, pale-gilled. Some benign sea creature
till you understand that three grams will end breath.
The death cap smells slightly of rose petals. The heart
is rose-colored, and also gilled. A squid has three hearts
and, beached, will be roughly a death cap’s color.
I sometimes feel I have no heart, which means only
that my wants aren’t from the world. The heart stops
for a second when it’s startled. Is the light in the chest
like the undersea light, or the boreal forest,
or any place that makes harsh demands. Take
and eat. Avoid, though it seems luminescent.
Beat, though nothing has shown me a reason.

*
*

Day 5 / Poems 5

*

Brown Girl in Purple Dress Running Down Hall (#2) / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
For the toddler at University of Juba

If butterflies learned
To sing or chant their first words
Would be your soft name

*
*

What a Wall Does / by Yvonne Daley

It is not there for division
Although they think it is
But to remind you of the shovel
The rope ladder your fingers
Hoisting me over in common prayer

There are days when you remember
Doris Lessing not the one in which
The notebook is golden is freedom
But the ones that seemed fantastical
Until you found yourself living in them

But the wall does not know which
Side you’re on whether it’s there
To keep you in or out just as concrete
Is merely grains of sand an hour glass
The children will turn upside down

The wall they always find a way around

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Zora Neale Hurston

I love the stories of a woman
walking back home alone, all
muscle and mule, unrepentant.
She’s always pretty, surefooted
and smart with good hair.
Porches appear with rocking chairs
in high summer, sunset holding fast
the neighbors who couldn’t find
an alley to slip away in, would never,
burdened as they are with imagined
expectations. Always enough envy
though, to set fire to tongues usually
lolling like a cow’s.

*
*

Prolific is the sun, but solemn the wind / by Sarah Hennessey

Wind wrings the clouds
out of the river
over the hills

How else to bring it all back
without first pushing hard
down and away

What else could wind do
but disperse clouds
to moderate sun and water

What else
but manage how much warmth
air provides ground

Who else but the wind
could know the finesse
of giving and waiting

Who else
could know
the peace of poignancy

*
*

Haibun on the Occasion of Indiana’s First Sunday Alcohol Sales in State History / by Frances Klein

Drinks like jewelry–
muddled rubies, diamonds set
in cloudy copper.

We got Sunday-drunk off Manhattans, mixed to mark the day from what was on hand in a one-mile radius. Rocks glass from the cabinet, hard city water cooled to harder ice, weekday bourbon. Stood in line at the drugstore across the street with other celebrants to buy cheap vermouth, paid more than all of it for organic maraschino cherries at the only grocery store–local, farm fresh, etc., etc.–in walking distance these days. All day things seemed half-made: brittle, watery sunlight, raw edges of the mixtape on the stereo, our faces in the mirror over the mantle. The domestic soaked in liquor–sting under sweetness, like the cherry at the bottom.

*
*

The State of Motivation / by Chad W. Lutz

live with the faucet on
say you love animals
and then bite into their flesh
drink pop

pop Percocet
snort coke
smoke meth
drink beer

shop at Whole Foods anyway
shop at Walmart anyway
buy everything on Amazon
buy everything with InstaCart
pump gas at BP

say you understand
mommy and daddy own a business
say it isn’t a race thing

spend hours on your phone
spend hours on your computer
spend as much as you can while you can
pay for nothing
and offer nothing for pay

look down
when the homeless
look up
for nothing

leave it in the street
don’t compost, drive Fords,
eat Taco Bell, pick your nose in traffic
and who uses an iPod anymore?

*
*

Begin with Horizon / by Amy Nawrocki

I’ve seen a painter take
the edge of his brush, dip
into blue water and spread
color across paper, exactly
at mid-page of the sketchbook.
Begin with horizon.

He sat with the pad on his knees
then turned space toward him
and splashed a watery sea
onto the floor of the page, turned it again
and sky appeared, wisped over white.
Begin with horizon

then outline a cove and invent
a cliff to shoulder the sky
and shadow a village. The painter
sloped his line toward houses, etched
boats and four tiny piers, fenceposts that
began with the horizon

and the archetype of water
finding its edge and earth wrestling
the parallel. The painter assembled
sails outlined in slate, plumb to clouds
laid like peaks of pewter snow
along a horizon.

This is what I thought of this morning
as I climbed the stairs back to you,
and this is what I know to be true when
I wake from upside down dreams and turn
toward your face gently curved into smile:
beginnings, horizons.

*
*

E.A. 1: In London / by Antonina Palisano

In London he had an eye that turned to cataract
The blind eye was greenish and beautiful
I remember it as keener than the sighted eye

I remember the two years in the disc of his eye
Of the wet lawn . . . . Of wrought iron
In the sign on the iron that remembered another fence

This other fence destroyed by a bomb
I thought of the shock of a force that pulls iron from the earth
His body with its seeming permanence

Each pine in the park beyond the fence
A sachet of cut pine held before his clear eye
And my hollow throat when I thought of a new life

The green disc over each breakfast . . . . Reflected steam
Collection of things I knew about my body
An intense need for the eyes and arms of others

The electric presence of people on the street
My back against the fence . . . . Beneath the heaving pine
The sky another kind of disc . . . . The startled green of rupture

*
*

Day 4 / Poems 4

*

Security Briefing in Juba / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde

I have arrived later than everyone, and, then,
only because someone walked to my little house
to make sure I had not fallen asleep.
What was I doing, you ask?
Choosing the right shoes to walk to the river for the evening.
Spraying my body with repellant.
Even at 6 pm I had to be careful of mosquito bites.
Planning the next day’s class lesson.
Breathing the air in Africa.

Everyone at the bar knows why we are here.
They’ve been through this before.
For some, this is their second tour of duty.
For others, this is their tenth.
For me? Never seen anything like this in my life.
We sit on the high stools around the high tables,
like children unsure of what to expect
of our new teacher, our savior if things go bad.

What we are told
Travel with passports all the time.
Keep throw-away cash in your bras or socks.
Don’t open car windows for anyone.
Don’t get out of car until destination.
Don’t violate the 9 p.m. curfew.
Do inform us of your whereabouts.

And
Remember: This is Juba. Anything can happen here.
And, when it does, it moves like fire.

Translation
Passport: Don’t lose it.
Cash: Pay the police (and bandits).
Curfew: Don’t break it.
Whereabouts: We need to locate you fast.

What I see
The white Nile river flowing effortlessly
in front of me.

What I think
I am sitting in a bar
in a secure facility
on my first visit to The Continent
I have no place to hide
the bed is too low
the bathroom has no door
the wardrobe has shelves I cannot remove
the bushes in front of the house are small
I cannot run fast
I am a woman
I am Black
I am an American
I am talking to the John McClane of South Africa
he is built like The Terminator
and the compound dog loves him

What I Feel
Absolutely nothing. Yet.

What I hear
If. Escalates.
Conflict. Juba.
Run. Hide.
Safety. Anytime.
Pay attention.
Throw you. Truck.
Best route. Kenya.

Come with me if you want to live.

*
*

The Most Detailed Map / by Yvonne Daley

The most detailed map of the universe
A psychedelic rendering of what cannot
Be comprehended our galaxy 500 million
Light years across immeasurable heaven
And even that a speck in the never-ending

On a street corner in New York
Nakesha Williams closed her eyes and left
Behind a constellation of puzzles the street vendors
The social workers the journalist the friends
They offered shelter from a solar system of loss

Her congregation was the librarian who fed
Her books the Egyptian immigrant who offered
Rice and chicken in the park even after a mayor
Ordered her possessions confiscated even after
The Christmas gifts her neighbors insisted she open
Were removed while she slept and two baby boys

While our galaxy its 800 neighboring clusters
Insignificant in a universe we have no mind for
Inventing ways to measure what can never be
Quantified how chaos and schizophrenia
Moments of extreme clarity the dancer the scholar
Lost or found her place deep in another cosmos
Rendered unimaginable in its immensity and beauty

The law of conservation: whether light or matter
Nothing is lost nothing is created
Everything is transformed

Reading the news, March 4, 2018

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Marguerite Duras

The mother takes her children
to the photographer. She pats
the little boy’s socks around
his ankles smoothes the dress
from the girl’s neck to her shoulders.
Her children sit on chairs. She stands
to the right of them, floats her fingertips
over the small table holding moss roses.
She makes a calm arc of wrist, palm,
fingers. It’s a body lie—
hides the fear suffocating her. What if
her touch turns her children’s hands to sparrows?

*
*

Lesson 1: Nez Perce language is Nimiipuutimt / by Sarah Hennessey

For Harold, Bessie, Florene, and Angel

My mouth malforms Nimiipuutimt
sometimes my hands do it too
there’s extra vowels and misplaced stresses
ignored glottal stops
and the hard consonants
that I can’t find on the keyboard
and so often can’t find in my own throat
unless I’m alone, repeating
qo’c, qo’c, qo’c, qo’c

I think of my elders in Idaho
Bessie’s sharp “no” makes me jump
but her smile always soothes me
and Florene’s measured pronunciation
a soft but resonant alto, comes to me
sings me the words
and tells me
you’ll remember
because there’s so much
we refused to forget.

*
*

Average / by Frances Klein

From Middle English: averay- charging
above the cost of freight, cheating, perhaps,
though one would argue to make a profit,
feed one’s family, any cheat will do.
Or from the Arabic: awayria-
damaged goods. Heirloom plate, crack running down
the center image, souvenir photo
with a child crying, messy, in the fore.
Reduce the Arabic further: awar-
blemish. Thumbprint of potter on the glaze,
creeping cancer in the mole on your cheek
spreading slow until you become: wr- blind
. . .to the overcharge, blemish, see nothing
. . .save messy, marvelous, average life.

*
*

Getting Back Out There / by Chad W. Lutz

I miss not knowing
More about the mistakes
My ancestors made
And how it feels to
Get my produce from
An ethically sourced delivery service
When people in Flint, Michigan,
Still have lead in their water;

To stand in the spot
Where thousands
Of people have had their
Lives taken by different
incarnations of the
same roaming beast.

I’m gonna get back out there, I tell myself,
I’m gonna get back out there,
Get back to the business of empowering this pen;

To make sure people know
Buying a Tesla does nothing
To change Wounded Knee
And eating soy only adds
To the pollution created
By industry;

I want to sit at a gas pump
And talk to a man about nothing
For no reason at all and then
Jet into the dust in search of a place
That teaches me the same
Four-letter reason I should
Sit down and be humble.

Fuck. It shouldn’t be far.

Comcast cable is not the answer
we think we are, but neither is the past.
So, I’m getting back out there.
I’m getting back out there.
I’m getting back out there.

*
*

Three Sips of Cold Ice / by Amy Nawrocki

The orchids are fed on Sunday—
three sips of cold ice. The apples
are cut in quarters for breakfast
on Monday. Bread is baked on Tuesday
the rising episodic and calculated
by slow hands and the need for
patience. I wash the laundry mid-week
and fold it when the time is right,
in evening when dishes have settled
into soap and water makes its way
down the drain. By Thursday
the primrose is dead, trapped
by sodden roots, departed buds
and by the untimely potting of winter.
Its seersucker green petals curled
one by one, but the water kept coming,
drowned under tilted daylight.
On Friday, I feed the small plastic pot
to the garbage and fill the birdfeeder
with seeds and nuts and feed
the mailbox with the oil bill
paid in full. Friday, the rains come down,
the lights blink and candles supply
the house with pine scented heat
in the approaching dusk of the storm.
For dinner I steal greens
from the darkened refrigerator, butter
the bread that hasn’t crumbled,
sliced neat like folded sheets or
stacked wood in the fireplace. At week’s end
I take a walk and spot magnolias
sprouting on a tree down the hill
where hawks orbit in the circumference
of late morning and spot chipmunks
feeding on Saturday acorns. Today
I miss the rhododendron that dried
last season and still rusts where orchids,
hot-house born, will be fed with
three sips of cold ice.

*
*

Saints Do Not Move / by Antonina Palisano

for Denise Thiem

This is a parable. Or not. A woman, a question. A walking stick
and a metronome. The palms are pressed. It’s not trespass
if you stick to the path. It’s not a false sign till it’s made by a man.
When did you last sit with yourself. When you weren’t in danger
or pain. Why press a violet if he’ll crush it to powder. Why look
for a flower in the field of a foreign country. Yes I was warned.
Or not. Or wouldn’t listen. Or sat with myself and trusted
my leg and measure. This wasn’t a gesture. Good pilgrim.
You do wrong. Your hand.
In reaching out. By the holy place
in a seeded field. By a little grave. A shift like speaking
words of prayer. A hand in the air that waves, or points the way.

*
*

Day 3 / Poems 3

*

White Women Hold Space for Black Man Confronted by Police (February 28, 2018, somewhere in Illinois) / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
(For Leah Robberts-Mosser and the woman with whom she stood)

Begin by acknowledging your fear.
We are all afraid of something.
Or someone.
But do not let fear or your repressed histories
paralyze you into becoming
the one you will hate most the morning after.
Or worse: into becoming nothing at all.
Even if you can only look the devil in the eye
from the perch of safety,
stare him down and pray for your power, you know,
the one you keep stored on your wrist,
the one that masks who you really are –
pray for your power to manifest
through compassion and love
and through the strength of another frightened human
who mirrors for you your own courage
as she witnesses the possibility of a moment
no one wants to arrive.
Because to suddenly awake is to be on fire
and sometimes
what stokes the simmering indignation in us
will immolate our very souls when we realize
all along, yes, all along
this is reality and we can no longer
stand at the edge of sacrifice.

*
*

In the photo / by Yvonne Daley

The poppies are still outrageous
Petal upon petal scarlet and black
Nothing ordinary about their sleek riot
Or the baby blue-eyes a shade
So silken and happy you’d just
Love to snuggle in their yielding petals
It seems so long ago now when we divided
The iris measured the foxglove as tall
As you planted the tree dahlia
All that remains of the garden
Where we once lived

I was dreaming of California last night
That hike through yellow and orange
The way the lupines so un-wolflike
Filled the places where they’d risen above
The state flower the golden gate
How the fairy lilies hung with dew
A pink that was not pink nor white nor
Any other color we have a name for
And the Chinese houses terraced upon a stem
Fragile as the filaments of lichen
Hanging from the valley oak

Time is the wrenching from the dream
My rubber boots your rusty spade
Separating the hairy borage your favorite herb
From the oxalis the witch grass the vagrant pokeweed
Your voice on the phone after the fall
Fragile as February became March when we should
Be turning the loam trimming the hedge
That abundance of camellia blossoms still in bud

— For Bill, March 3, 2018

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Isabel Allende

At seventy, death is still a distant relative
easy to forget. By eighty, the lies we have told
begin to look back at us with the resolute faces
of moth orchids, in the unwavering way
they look at everything. A premonitory grief
appears in our dreams—rows of pastel-colored
houses, doorless. In day, the man who fell
in love 67 times, writes the number in a notebook
so he would not forget.

*
*

The Ghost Sings / by Sarah Hennessey

He’ll often harmonize with animals
the bassy warbling
of a horse’s hungry stomach
the keening cry
of a cat not
being paid enough attention

It’s faint
as though stuck in the wall
or played over speakers
facing away
just over the hill
in the neighborhood
where children shout
only on days
over sixty degrees.

In the quiet of late evening
he wanders
repeats the “me” and the “la”
of warm up

Do ghosts need to warm up?
Are their cloud bodies
subject to biological law?
I’d ask, but he only knows
Italian, or at least
that’s what I’ve inferred.

He’s beautifully operatic
usually around 2am
the song galloping
around corners
from another room
where the door
isn’t shut,
but maybe there’s a beaded curtain.

What are the acoustics
of a beaded curtain?
Do you think there’s
measurable impediment
to sound? To the speed at which
a ghost can wander?
Do you think a beaded curtain
could serve as a measurement
for ghost activity?
Some kind of ghost-motion detection?

I can’t pretend to understand
ghost science.

Often times in early morning
he’ll sing long and low,
a mechanized bass rumble,
and he’ll carry on for hours

It stands to reason
that the warm-up must be habit
because how could he
be governed by biology
and hold a note for that long?
Surely he has some cloud body
biology, analogous to life,
but removed.
Ghost biology.

What I don’t understand,
or rather one thing
of many
that I don’t understand,
is the haunting.
Or rather, the rules
of haunting–
there’s never a slammed door
or mussed beaded curtain,
never flying books
or levitating pennies
or knocked over decor,
except for what the cat’s been batting
so does he instead employ
his eerie hymns
and devastating arias
as his means of haunting?

*
*

Common Parakeet / by Frances Klein

Summer gardening– clearing a stand
of dead branches from between
the houses, the meditative pattern of
bend pull twist drop.

It is not my house, any mention
of updating the lease met with turning,
retreating, but the task needs doing, so,
bend pull twist drop.

Hot July, the humidity has released
its damp grasp, the branches
hindering the mailman, so,
bend pull twist yelp

step back, stumble over the newly
severed branches as a parakeet settles
in the stand, screeching jade flurry
scattering the usual sparrows.

Here through some combination of
cage cleaning, carelessly open window,
the breeze activating ancestral
memory of the Australian plains.

All gardening is abruptly ended.
It cannot stop attempting
then aborting dives toward me,
banking, turning, retreating.

Branches abandoned, I remove
to the cool dark of the house,
to the meditative pattern of marriage–
bend pull twist drop.

*
*

Haircuts / by Amy Nawrocki

~for Shelly

Maybe we asked for it; maybe
it was parents’ idea, the sheers in dad’s box
suitable for brother’s buzzes and sideburn trims
so good enough for girls.

In the two photos that survived
stuck between some summer album’s pages,
our faces glowed in the camera’s flash
framed by the checkered red barber’s cape
and our long dirty blonde hair. You went first
and ended up with a tolerable bob.
I learned that short hair and cowlicks
don’t look so good on girls who
never bother with hairdryers.

When we split from our twin beds
and wandered two years apart into high school,
I used to sneak downstairs to your room,
listen to Joe Jackson and Genesis
on your turntable, pretend to tolerate
my feathered mess and primp
in the mirror of our grandmother’s vanity.
I got a perm and you got in trouble for
dyeing your hair, stealing back the gold
locks of summer and tinting them platinum.

I’m sorry I didn’t sit next to you
that morning when you lost driving privileges,
giving up the rusting Oldsmobile and its dragging
muffler to suffer the bus. I’m sorry
I never told you how cool you looked,
like a movie star, like a big sister
whose rebellious hair astonished me—
a protective shell, like mother of pearl.

*
*

Cold Frame / by Antonina Palisano

The moment dissolves behind the story
of the moment. My evidence of her love
is a signet ring and strand of pearls,
one mid-century photograph, her mouth
a theory of my mouth. I watch his grief
in its blue clarity, and I think this distance
is the better deal. I have the ephemera
of someone who might have liked me.
I have her precious things, staged image,
notes about her preferences. A guest
at some dim and lovely party. I’m not
a far-off daughter, but a kind of sequel,
a ghost at the floor’s edge, fairy lights
catching a half-seen face. Half-familiar
in the way I sometimes see myself,
othered by an unexpected mirror.
The deep blue of her evening dress.
Passing gleam. Plait in an envelope.

*
*

Day 2 / Poems 2

*

How to Make and Keep a Place / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
(a meditation for the UN forces at the Juba, South Sudan airport – March 2016)

[Place: a space, area, or spot, set apart or used for a particular purpose]

Accept the invitation to be taught by strangers.
Upon approaching the space they call home
kneel at the door
wash your hands
wash your feet
place your forehead into your open palms
wash your head
wash your nose
wash your lips
wash your ears
wash your eyes.

Wait to be invited past the threshold.

Then, allow the youngest child to show you
Another way to get clean.

Whatever you think
or think you know
whatever you have carried
or has carried you
whatever you have heard
or has been said to you
whatever you have seen
or has been shown to you –
forget it – everything
will be pitched out into the yard
where the chickens feed.

Accept the glass of water
poured from a bottle
bought from the store on your behalf
and wait, quietly wait
for your hosts to take
the first sip and swallow.
Then, and only then, drink (half)
noticing how the glass rests
against your bottom lip
and how the cool water cascades down your throat
after spilling over your tongue.

When the people invite you outside to show you the village,
do not expect trees to shelter you from the heat.
You will not need to ask this kindness
if you water their roots and branches
with what you have left in your glass.
Or if you have carried this water in buckets
balanced on your head,
like the women who pilgrimage daily to the river,
the source of their living.

Let the bottoms of your feet touch the burning ground,
Let the dirt settle between your toes.
Seek out the oldest man and woman you can find.
Wait for them to show you what they have created.
Wait for them to show you the past.
Wait for as long as it takes them
to acknowledge your existence.
Don’t anger when they laugh because your asking
Has no rhythm or sense.

When it is time to eat, you will be disappointed.
There is no table, only mats on ground,
and large plates for everyone to share.
Take only what you can hold between
thumb and first two fingers.
Put the food (not your fingers)
into your mouth.
Wait until everyone has done this once
before taking more.

If still hungry, play with the children:
They will offer you their favorite
foods all sweet and salty and strange.
Eat until you are full but leave a small bit
for someone you will meet
along the road towards your next destination.

At the end of the day, when you have heard
all the people’s stories,
seen all they have made,
re-lived all they have remembered,
wait, sit, be silent:
the people will sing to you
their true names and the names
they have for things you think you recognize,
and you will want to correct them
or question the words they use
to call the earth plenty or community family
or sunflowers hope.
Don’t be rude.
Repeat what the people tell you, until
you, too, can speak their language
with only slightly incorrect inflections.

Remember: arrive naked
at your destination
like the day you were born:
knowing nothing
trusting everyone (at first)
and hungry for everything
you don’t even know
you need to stay alive.

First and foremost:
Ask how to honor the dead.
Then say thank you to everyone you meet
and to every place you go.

*
*

Travelling / by Yvonne Daley

The hawk kept us company
Past the sugar canes
The roadside chapels

Tomorrow’s sleet our rear view

The nation’s novella
Played on the car radio
The road flat as a flounder

You tuned to the Billy Joel channel
You thought you were on vacation
Your beach book a Russian novel

War and Peace Crime and Punishment

Buckle up for a dog’s year of saber rattling
Reality TV you can’t shut off
At the rest stop alongside Okeechobee

The dueling talk shows dueled
The travelers the workmen doors thrown open
To pee or look for gators osprey

As each plot thickened villains or heroes
The only universal the benevolent sky above
The hawk circling like a far east message

He brings perspective on his wings

*
*

Half-Found / by Ellen Devlin

Dorothy Allison

There are stories worth keeping
even when they are not altogether true.
Why not put a shine on your ancestors’
intentions when there is no one to certify
the bones pooling around their ankles?
It might have been self-defense in the face of
intolerable longing for someone’s new Chevy
or their wife, or facility with long division,
which never proved its usefulness because
no one paid their fair share anyway.
You have to be the little girl with knots
clear across the base of her scull big enough
to cause the rest of her hair to rise up
and splay like the edge of a bird’s nest
to know you need stories worth keeping
even when they are not completely true.

*
*

Layover in Seattle / by Sarah Hennessey

I want to own these streets
the damp threatening to override the warmth
but I would walk unencumbered
because home is around the corner

And yet

I want to never know this street again
struggle to remember the name
of that one barbeque place
as I recount the story to a fellow east-coaster

And yet

I want to have a favorite coffee shop
where the barista remembers my order
but not my name, and I sometimes
see an acquaintance

And yet

I want to have vague but pervasive nostalgia
when I see this city in movies and on tv
and promise myself I’ll visit
wondering for days how long it’s been

And yet

I want to barnacle onto a ferry boat
and live forever traversing the sound
maybe make friends with the whales
remember their migration paths but not their names

*
*

Henry & Jasper / by Frances Klein

The boys are kneeling in the driveway
next door, heralding us to come see
with the easy friendliness of the very young.

In front of them, a large plastic bag.
Within, two honeybees.
One is now only a specimen. The other
still moves, albeit lethargically.

The horror of this snuff-film in miniature
is lessened by their obvious pleasure,
and the older boy informs us
that they have catched the bees
and named them Henry and Jasper.

Future acquisitions will be Henry-Jasper,
or possibly Jasper-Henry.
They like to catch bees, they are good at it.

They will be scientists
when they grow up, or fighters,
interjects the younger, until he is cut off
by a decisive shake of the head.
They will be scientists. Bee scientists.

The naked love on younger’s face
is so all encompassing that their lives
are layed out in an instant, the way younger
follows older step for step in light-up shoes,
from the lightning bolts shaved
on the sides of their fades to the stiff coats
they will wear to Bee-Science Laboratory.

I know it myself, this walking after
a brother– his shirt draping to my knees,
a book he abandoned clutched in my hands.

*
*

Parking / by Chad W. Lutz

We still rise
In body temperature,
In the field where we used
To meet after my runs,

You in your car,
Smoking cigarettes
And telling me to hurry
Up already.

You wanna know
Who the girl is that called
while I was out for ten.

I get back and we fight,
Toxins still dripping
From my pores;

A soft headwind winds,
Through my hair;
Blisters form little moons on my feet,
Blood rushes to the head,
Tongue dries, thoughts numb;
My ankles are sore, hamstrings tight,
Body burned from the sun.

And you wanna know
Who the coworker is that called
while I was out for six.

I think about how
parking used
to mean necking,
Used to mean
maybe a hand job
Or a harsh truth
Shared in the safety
Of one another,

But when I look in your eye,
And see your hands on the wheel,
Hear the roar of the engine
The curl of the smoke in your eyes
And you unflinching,
Feeling the vibration of the transmission
As it shifts from P to D,

I think about how
We used to stay up
Listening to each other’s
Favorite love songs,
How much that doesn’t
Seem to matter anymore,
And stride up the hill
Like I’m used to it.

*
*

Never Boil / by Amy Nawrocki

Covering the pot saves electricity
but I’m in the mood to test proverbs,
watch red coils flame in flat circles
and wait for transference. I try to count
the barely open bubbles that begin
to congregate like unhatched tadpoles
at the bottom of the pan then morph open
at the edge of liquid, losing the air
that held them solid. It’s almost too much
for me to set the timer, to crack
my breakfast egg or salt this water as I am told
to do by grandmothers and waste a box
of pre-made pasta. Soft boil, hard boil,
rolling boil. Let the water come to it,
like a river to its shore, like a balloon
to sky. Boil over, boil down. Reduce
to simmer. Hold the breath of steam
long enough to break wide open veins.

*
*

Ode For Continuing / by Antonina Palisano

O axiom for when the stars go out
O ship of Theseus self perception

O body I have entered and exited again
O my exit as if pursued

O the pursuit of a strange vocation
O that I might be useful here

O the crow’s feet and your lightning eye
O greeting half-remembered

O renewed focus as light through a prism
O point of final explosive color

O love I am with you on earth
O theorem directing your quiet heart

*
*

Day 1 / Poems 1

*

Brown Girl in Purple Dress Running Down Hall (#1) / by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
A haiku for the toddler at University of Juba, South Sudan

Who says brown girls can’t
Laugh in the midst of war zones,
Reshape life with sound

*
*

Half-Found 1 / by Ellen Devlin

Donna Tartt

The sky looks penniless in winter
a thrift-shop white sheet
bending over neglected flower boxes
tousled by cats. Apartments
with plaster orchids and amaranthus
rooted to the walls are a well-chosen gift
for those looking up for blue, or down
for shoots of red-turbaned tulips,
or what to do with the turn given
by men sleeping in doorways.

*
*

A bearable vastness / by Sarah Hennessey

It arrived in an unassuming envelope
no bigger than, let’s say, a postcard.
Once opened a folded paper slipped out
and as it wafted to the ground
it unfolded, once,
twice, and then
it wasn’t wafting,
but unfolding, again,
and again, and

I opened the closet,
opened the bathroom and bedroom,
and windows
and crouched under the still unfolding paper
and crept to the front door
to open it.

Outside I gazed at the window,
watched the paper billowing out
and saw not letters
but lineation.

It took moments to reach
from the window to my feet
and the paper, unfolding down the road,
bore a map.

Bold were the outlines of continents,
light were topographical lines.
Rivers swept through, and streams
marched to meet them,
and I knelt to see the braided lines
of deltas.

As I watched the river meet the sea
on the map still unfolding,
it stretched past horizons,
crept as a canopy above me,
marking asteroids and planets,
mapping moons
as it had stones in the river.

It was quiet,
but for the whiffling of paper,
and it was still
but for inertia’s faint quiver.

Though I could follow the map,
study the printed birth of each landscape
follow treelines to mountain peaks,
and wander where wind carved earth,
and though I could
watch the skies etch galaxies,
I stayed kneeling, rapt,
content to contemplate
ponds and lakes and oceans
and the brooks
and streams
and rivers
that stitched everything together.

*
*

King/Kong / by Frances Klein

I- Kong Lear
“Apes, not daughters”

Family ties are strong among primates–
you can forgive the old Kong Lear
for feeling betrayed. Driven
from his territory, exposed to the elements,
away from the safe, protecting ties
of power in numbers.

You can forgive him for beating his chest
in rage at the elements bearing
down on him, swinging at fate
like a passing biplane, teetering
on the edge of the Empire State Building–
no fake cliff this.

II- Kong Richard III
“Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting ape”

The intersection of desire and self interest
is well traveled.

It is true that males of the species often kill
the young of the female with which
they wish to mate, seeing them as an inhibition.

It is also true that, late one night,
Prince Edward and the young Duke of York
found their way into a well in the Tower of London.

Was Kong Richard then in some dark turn
of the Tower, back hunched till his knuckles
dragged, clutching Elizabeth to his chest?

Was she there unwilling,
or did she look up into his face, his Fay, his future?

III- Kong Henry V
“Then, imitate the action of the ape”

The monkeys are all in agreement–
French zoos are the worst.
The quiet dignity of their surroundings
embarrasses the apes, who are at home
wilding in a tavern, not idling
in these clean, austere spaces.
They are abashed at the way
butter sun melts along the delicate
bars of their cages, decorative lace
like creeping vines.

Every night they pray
for Kong Henry to liberate them,
to make Paris their Agincourt,
to hang the looters, carry every ape
on his broad back to Boar’s Head.

*
*

A Sterling Example / by Chad W. Lutz

Donald Sterling
High-fives
Some young
white guy
At half court
During halftime
And immediately
Mounts the hot dog launcher.

A six-foot
Air cannon
Built to look
Like processed
Animal parts
On modified wheat.

The look on
His face is certain;
This will work,
This bit of good faith
And humanity
He’s showing
on national television.

The wieners fly,
Fans grab at
them rabidly.

They want
a Donald Sterling
Wiener.

We’ve got one.

*
*

Cornstalks at Dusk / by Amy Nawrocki

I take the long way,
passing cornstalks in the cusp
of twilight. Kernels
are months away, but dormancy
doesn’t come to mind when moods

tiptoe from cold to mild,
from seasonal to expected
for late February,
this strange bridge between white
and green, when skies are quiet

and day—if it had a breath to hold—
sighs with relief. The farm is fallow,
silos closed up; I drive past
the field which has no resolve
fenced as it is

by reflective white paint
and curb lines dividing six o’clock
from one minute past.
It has been a while since
I passed through, since

I unwrapped the husk
of hometown, where in the blue silk
of twilight I see spaces
that I’ve seen before, but never
like this, and never so bright.

*
*

Rabbit Dark / by Antonina Palisano

Now I hear the neighbors through the walls and imagine mild rats
Paws on painted bone china and pianoforte

Against the animal nature of every person I grow sharper
Adapting to deflect or cohabit

I’ve always liked the concept of being calmly out of place
Though I realized that peace can dismay

I was held in familiar arms and held entire
And then in peace came the little knife of absence

I like the concept but I am always shifting
As the cat follows the light in the kitchen

As the spider aligns herself toward and away
Waiting for the crux that precedes the fly

In this nest of a kitchen I sometimes hear shattering glass
And whether that is a teacup beyond the wall

Or a dropped wineglass in another country
The hand of a person beloved to me

Their possible death like a thin film between us
Animal keening always ready in my stomach

In defensive stillness like I might trick loss
Caged in myself but not hunted yet

*
*

*
*

*
*

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