Welcome to the 30/30 Project, an extraordinary challenge and fundraiser for Tupelo Press, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) literary press. Each month, volunteer poets run the equivalent of a “poetry marathon,” writing 30 poems in 30 days, while the rest of us “sponsor” and encourage them every step of the way.
The volunteer poets for August 2023 are Emily Ahmed, Lucie Chou, Susan Dambroff, Sara Dudo, Ann Huang, Amy Jasek, Jules Lattimer, Tate Lewis-Carol, Anna Priddy (Anna will join us in October). Read their full bios here.
If you’d like to volunteer for a 30/30 Project month, please fill out our application here and warm up your pen!
Day 31 / Poem 31
SUNLIGHT THE HEM OF TIME AND FERNS / Cento by Lucie Chou
A mesocrastic cento composed by Lucie Chou with lines by and from Emily Ahmed, Lucie Chou, Susan Dambroff, Sara Dudo, Ann Huang, Amy Jasek, Jules Lattimer, Tate Lewis-Carol, Anna PriddyCento-for-Tupelo-August-2023
Day 30 / Poem 30
Caught / Emily Ahmed
I am a small fraud,
I don’t actually know enough
about myself or where I was born.
But can you believe I created
so many little things?
That I was my worst enemy and
lived to tell the tale?
That my soul took on this unaccepting
body, tried to create a song?
Encounter: A Cento after George Oppen / Lucie Chou
What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see this again?
in the steadfastness of the world
deer nibbling the moist
luscious solitary word
letting the grass have sex
canopy of trees hide and seek
your eyes a vase as wide as the field
the sun has dipped its brush in gilt
in the boat of your young
eyes green & sincere
my skin singing
popped up beside me love
with the tip of a tendril
I can break my own heart
as birdsong over us
rest my forehead against the planet
Ochirbatyn Dashbalbar tr. by Jessica Madison Pískatá,”Ode to Grass”
Chard deNiord, “Thistle”
Hannah Fries, “House Plant”
Robert Gibb, “Rewilding the Yard”
Forrest Gander, “Forest”
J. P. White, “The Fig Tree in Lourmarin”
Anne-Sophie Balzer, “Invasive Species”
Tara Bray, “Lemon Verbena”
Barbara Crooker, “Credo”
Khadija Anderson, “Eaton Canyon Wash”
Erin Lyn Bodin, “Birch Tree”
gracias to the biodiverse commons of Plant-Human Quarterly & About Place Journal
Gratitude and Grace / Susan Dambroff
to this body
that still works
that turn, pluck, and wring out
that spring, anchor, bend
up the hill
Not the organ recital
but the tapping present
an easy trot
across the keys
for the grace
of my swirling hips
my yawning mouth
the singing sea
AUGUST / Sara Dudo
Reconcile with the earthdreams
that fill you with dread for being
human and being
in your rest and rest
and watching the birds
while love falls
off the trees.
Wall of stone, old crab traps
graffiti in snow:
A swallowtail followed the car
I know it isn’t her
but I cannot look away as I keep faith
in the restless numerousness.
When I close my eyes: sage, sage.
The sage in sagebrush: salvus: safe.
On any given hill,
a choice of being.
Make love in an octagon, soon after
stand in the drive and catch
little specks of ash
sprinkling the sky:
this is what it means
to revisit an old home.
jacketed fists punching out window glass
handlebars in frog thrills of night
cool air of slugs:
I don’t know where
I shouldn’t have been.
God, show me the faulty
globes from bulk day roadsides.
Now that the dust is settling
the difference between purging
and pouring comes to be
the will and the sound.
In the desert,
an army of whispers.
What may come between the tongue
of wind and monsoon
and rings of silent sun,
an eruption of zinnias
blackberry awakening on the streets
of my youth, smell of drying herbs
on the table
filling the house as I cradle
a split thumb:
shock is not a fruit,
shock is a bag of soil
to plant new ground,
to waterfall a gorge of earth:
I told you it all starts and ends
with the ground.
Rain / Ann Huang
Shapes of rain and shade under my terrace
Shapes that cuddle their bodies in and ensue
Envisioning a place with their souls beaming
–expansive swaying legendary matching—
Allowing travail of mushy ponds, or swamps,
Possessed by their full glass of water and love
Above the ground:
Where are you going?
Why allow me bright-shape-full to
Dwell at your mushy place?
Rain and light house,
Who on earth cleaned your eyes?
You the underground of my
Faded Love / Amy Jasek
I remember the jukebox, how it would whine
out choices at the pizza place, vinyl
within belting out I Love Rock & Roll
I remember the once upon a time
the songwriter, my New York neighbor, still
a jukebox legend, black coat & beret
I remember all those honky tonk nights
George Jones & A-11, cowboys lured
in to dance to save their belt-buckled souls
I remember Dad’s loud records, china
cabinet-rattling, speakers peddling
legends, stereo tuned-in jukebox whine
I remember all the faded times brined
a soak of pocket change while laundry falls
around it, we danced to the beat with cokes –
the old recipe – syrup of those fine
days, young, running barefoot to flip vinyl
I remember b-sides, jukebox dimes
lyrics a mystery but belted out
popsicles, playtime, let the good times roll
Last poem / Jules Lattimer
Today the quarters
splashed loud around
the laundromat. Today
is about turning around. I’m out
of soap. The coffee kerplunked
everywhere, and it’s still
spilling. Before 9 my French
friend took me on a
promenade, we tugged
our dogs around
the bristly sidewalks,
goat heads out of their feet.
It was morning
she had a meeting.
We were running out
of time. And quelque fois
I’m in bed with my legs crookt
up. I think the universe
stopped noticing me.
I feel my home growing
crowded, filling up and
smudged, performing as bunker,
no one invited and piling high.
It’s a different kind of reassurance,
the kind with no bottom, the plastic
wrapper trapped inside
the tumbleweed. Even from here
I see an insect creeping
its way across the bookshelf
by the spines, and when
we’re in this house together,
I suppose we’re both home.
It’s in the room it’ll die in,
and I’m shaking
popcorn on the range.
Letter to a Young Poet / Tate Lewis-Carroll
I am glad I resisted
the temptation to write
sooner. I know you—
start anything, finish nothing.
Sleeping is an uphill…
and the bed is impossibly…
even when lying in it.
A rat in an endless
maze in a narrow
laboratory without a science.
Would it gladden you
to believe the bridges
through the fog drip
are built with poetry,
somewhere a road
is being paved straight
to you? Rather,
let it relieve you
to know poetry
is a bruised apple
in a bowl of plastic fruit.
Look, I’ve watched
you flounder at the edges
of your distraction,
to and fro between mirages
of fear, and said nothing.
I had wanted to go
somewhere I had never
wanted to go. I wanted
not to be there
You need your mistakes
in their proper order
to make it
So go on. Get out
of bed. How will you ever
without fucking things up
and trying again?
Day 29 / Poem 29
American Autumn Approaching / Emily Ahmed
Why is everyone thinking of death
all of a sudden?
Article about human composting,
poems about the years left,
podcast about the planet,
if you’re lucky, you’re fleeing from disease
and the headlines.
I suppose it’s because it’s
nearly September and soon
the trees and flowers will sprinkle away
like ash blowing into the wind,
everything that has felt so alive this summer will die.
Why is everyone in love with autumn and afraid of death?
Apple picking, apple cider donuts,
that long vintage coat you bought last spring.
Dark bars, shady corners
where the lovers gather with their cups pressed close to their pumping chests.
No excuses needed to stay in
bed, to shelter from the rain and sludge.
Refuge in your floral sheets remembering
summer times, aromas from your kitchen, slippers on feet to fight the icy tiles.
Ending the endings that were overdue,
another season in life.
Why do we wait til everything dies to miss it,
til everything dies to do what we’d like?
Meeting with Mr. Mud / Lucie Chou
with an endangered verb rescued by Galway Kinnell
As torrents bore down
on my umbrella, thickening
din tamping my ears against
numb, insatiable silence,
I stepped along a lane
of oil-slick London planes,
slipping on serpentine
silver of crashed snails,
bits of slimy bark,
mounds of greenish mud.
Brilliantine of rain
the long tumbling
hair of lily turf,
green tufts brooched
with pale amethyst.
The scalp of earth
sparkling in rain.
By the curbside crouched
a splayed wet clod
rich brown as mud’s
very muddiest self,
a piece of earth’s ownmost
being, like a chip off the block,
a drop from the sea,
a breath coursing through air,
fire in flame.
But you take a big bite
of yourself off that blocky
brick! You, Mr. Mud,
bleed the living and
leaping blood of this
wet, semi-wild land.
Your rich brown skin
slit with black eyes.
are your powerful
thigh muscles, small
puddles of muddy
water the stretched
of your determined
webbed toes. You pulse
around plane trees
rubbing your half-fluid
body upon sluicing
bark, then sparkle
1963 / Susan Dambroff
on the train my mother unpacked cream cheese and jelly sandwiches,
I was safely white, tucked under my father’s arm, we moved through a sea
of placards, Jobs and Freedom, now the 60th anniversary of the March
on Washington, history repeats its lynchings, in Jacksonville three black man
murdered in the Dollar Store by a white man,
swastika on his gun.
I have a Dream
FORGET-ME-NOT / Sara Dudo
Twice, the yelp of coyote
black bowl an underskirt of onyx.
Dust twisters bend the high plains
on either side of car window
a desert wrinkled by road.
Bar of broken sunroof,
moonbeam in the eye, rustling pack
howls above the butte.
Amidst the summer simmer
of coastal chaparral
we glean berries hiding
in glochid shade.
Do you not hear this chime
of bodies being
lacespine carving your path
to a year of falling
out of touch with
Crimson and Colors / Ann Huang
You love what you father used to
Love, bright hospital light, cake-frost-like
Birthday cards. You love my scribbles,
The checker dress shirts and blue pashminas, part
Of your love hoped to be left hanging
In between the tall office windows. You saw
Arizona, a retiree spot, your passion oozed out
Like an airtight cell. Mornings
You sipped dark coffee on disposable
Cups made especially from
Paper. You coughed on the smeared
Ink of your lined notebook. WILL IT
STAND STILL FOR THE TIME BEING? WILL IT
ENDURE THE ETERNITY? ARE YOU WITH ME?
You have left so many things
Intact, an ending, a quest, a
Chain, a lock, a clock, a shrine.
Poetry is more than one life.
Windmill / Amy Jasek
wind in the wheel, drawing up days like marks
on a calendar, a tick of time
moving on wide wings while memory arcs
motorless, dream-driven, silhouettes parked
for safekeeping. the shadows incline with
wind in the wheel, drawing days with bold marks
half-light, half-life, gently growing the dark
that comes soon enough, arriving on kind
wings that spread wide above memory arcs
reckless traveler, movements bookmarked
for revisitation when summertime
winds leave the wheel behind, its days embarked
for the other side of the year, postmarked,
sent packing, with contracts drawn in the rime
of memory, wide as the farthest arc
everything begins on a sudden lark
calendar pages turning on a dime
like wind spinning a wheel, leaving its mark
on wings that beat on, riding memory’s arc
Waiting / Jules Lattimer
The last inhale of summer the clouds
finally came. You don’t have to water
the green when it rains like this and
there’s a baby rattlesnake in an eight,
driven-over by the school, flat
as a flat-rolled penny.
Pumpkin Spice Launch / Tate Lewis-Carroll
A decaffeinated crowd rallied in the café
with their watches cocked
at disturbing angles. I was doing my best
to keep up with the onslaught of orders.
But then a man in an ill-fitting suit
climbed onto a table and addressed the crowd,
Already the wind is sharpening its fangs
for winter. Even my step-son knows
how to grind espresso. I looked and saw people
turn toward him and one another, nodding.
We don’t mean jack squat to the circles of mocha,
a woman shouted. No we don’t, replied
a dozen others. The man continued, All my life
I’ve waded through fog froth with my pockets full
of snapping turtles, but still I steered the course.
And you kept the course, many shrieked.
I was stationed nearest to the front. The excitement
was catching. I must admit, I couldn’t look away.
And what do the avocado green aprons
of the millennials mean to the investors
holding down the front lines, he paused,
nothing but broken bones! The crowd went nuts—
aping the conducts of fealty, hurriedly folding
paper airplanes with the lobby napkins
and firing them at us behind the counter.
In my most convincing customer service voice,
I smiled and said, You seem to be building
a tree house out of the entire tree. A woman
with a mouthful of cheese sneered at me
and said, he’s just saying what everybody’s thinking.
He pressed on, The beast of minimum wage
is on the move again because we did not shoot straight.
Our grandpappies would be ashamed. Did we get
anything from the blender besides the memory
of the blending, or all the poorer for it?
No we did not. People were unfolding their planes
now to wipe away tears. The entire crowd
was flushed and out of breath. We too
were starting to sweat. He went to continue
but I called out his name and set down
a pumpkin spiced chai on the counter.
He stopped and looked over. With a little help,
he climbed down from the table and took it
with both hands. I could see the smell
was intoxicating the crowd. Without another word,
he turned and hurried to the parking lot,
where the geese in the drive through
were laying on their horns.
Day 28 / Poem 28
Hot Day / Emily Ahmed
At the community garden,
planting and weeding,
introductions and trowels,
and my memories erupt,
slow motion volcano:
It took too many years to end up here,
to follow through on this city,
to swap numbers with a recent transplant,
to come out of the shell that was my life.
There’s a compost station,
I used to compost behind the yellow house
in the suburbs
that became a graveyard for my young self.
I’d have to park down the road,
walk alone the long path at night alone
to meet him there,
the driveway reserved for the rest.
Pulling at the weeds, remembering
how I wish I could have pulled out
every false friend I could have not known.
Watering the seedlings, remembering
every shower curled in the corner,
every terrible whisper at the office.
Too many memories,
covered in lava and heat,
I rage over what I lost and never had.
Heat like I worked so hard today,
heat like love, heat like fire,
heat like I think I’ll go relax,
sleep through the day.
Heat like, I can feel every drop of sweat.
So hot I burn,
then I become mindful,
then I’m ready to forget
everything that came before
I burned it all down.
Interview with My Companion Flower, in Which She Riffs on “Pied Beauty” / Lucie Chou
I murmur to Morning Glory:
how do you be
-lieve in four o’clock to
arrive each day as a sun god
holds a dew’s faith? Through the pale throat—For
light and shadow, blooming and drooping, dappled
dance of ten thousand things –
the mist-blankets of skies
that shelter my dreams of
wrapping round windows of that couple
of fairies polishing their changing-color
mirrors in palaces of grass as
the sun flicks a
long needle of light to knit brinded
clouds into a chrysophanous cow–
my companion trumpets her joy—For
though not a rose
I have my own hour—moles
witch the night of All
Souls—it is in
this very hour you, human friend, a stipple
of sun upon
your lip leaping like a trout,
speak to me, that
I find it time to swim
my tentacles into full swing. Fresh
breezes breathe cool from the firecoal
of that blinding globe. A miracle that this chestnut
tree I began to twine yesterday is scattering falls
of fragrant white and finches
fanning my blue wine with golden wings;
No monocultivated “landscape”
will I make of the plotted
land below my midair home and
when you ask how do you believe in morning, I ask, those pieced
concepts, every piece saying the same, fold on fold,
how come you believe in them? I let my soul rest fallow
but various with weeds. When the gardener comes and
plans to plough
me down to plant
new flowers, delphiniums, snapdragons, all
flash and fancy in full day, all trades
of plant people, each about to claim their
hour, each holding tight and ready their gear
wound up in seed clothes and
to cast diverse colors over the dreams of fairies with their tackle
of stem and stalk, bloom and bract, root and
shoot, to upend his toils to keep the garden in trim
at the end of the day, as I am doing, I do not panic at all.
Life is a perilous jewel, a mystery, full of things
and clash with one another. I am an original
and so is every living being. The world is spare
and lush. My own face strange,
strangely familiar. I suck whatever
wells up or pours down, make green out of that which is
within reach, stay my lease. Rain is fickle,
Sun’s face freckled.
There is no knowing who
will come to me next, whether he knows
or cares about how
I would love to hug his body with
my tendrils if he would only let his swift
down enough for my quick. Will the showers taste sweet
because there’s acid in it? I keep myself adazzle
even when the day goes dim
with a total solar eclipse. He
beams at mothers and fathers
plucking me for their kids. I will put forth
another flower, another me, whose
hope for four o’clock’s beauty
ever steadfast, past
everything that can change
in the garden. Yes. Yes and yes I say. Even the gardener will praise
me on a good morning. Oh a merry good morning to him.
Last Days of Summer / Susan Dambroff
mother and daughter
with twin pony tails
bob down the street
a basset hound
looks like an old man
his short legs determined
at the farmer’s market
the wrinkled skin
of heirloom tomatoes
my weathered hands
the mottled leaves of kale
the long climb home
rosemary sprigs and the last
my mind everywhere
how old will I become?
my puppy meets
his best friend Mabel
for a prance
MERCY / Sara Dudo
catcalling cows to turn their horns
between rotten fence teeth
a host of rolling knolls
weeping trees arching in hard wind
shoved the door of greenhouse 12
off its hinges yesterday, impaled plexiglass.
A May window:
the Quanzan cherry
undresses in wind.
You argue with your father
about your death, whether you can
fish Gravelly Run after high rainfall.
What good is lucid love?
Sold-out signs on every chicken wire table
cradling pansies, traversing
swamp board with Olivia.
Surely, everything is a last time.
Fragility has never been the question, we are
all fragile in skin and mind
every wake of mourning dove
on stray dogwood beside the window.
spring rose and snapdragon,
morning of your hips
shuddering against mine,
the cat begging
Summer Solstice / Ann Huang
Inside, the house is dull with lies
and fancies, the sun’s immense capacity.
A stranger tries to come in from the broken mirror,
its sharp entry has shaken the glasses.
You whistle your limbo from the damage,
marking the red lips on them forever.
peace from yourself without mayhem.
A skill you will need to conquer:
Less lines and dots. Much more colorful.
Amarillo Morning / Amy Jasek
Travel book falls open to a new page,
a blank page, and a pen ready to hand
is freshly inked, primed, and prepped to engage.
Toes press morning pedals, gears earn their wage,
fresh coffee brews the travelers that stand
with books falling open to a new page
Archetypal, the road waits, age to age
north, south, east, west, opens up to commands,
pavement refreshes, ready to engage
The unknown’s appealing voice upstages
commonplace working days, demands new plans,
coyly opens itself to a new page
It begs to be written, won’t be assuaged
by “maybe tomorrow,” promises pan
out, reveal gold, discovery engaged
The now inside you busts out of the cage
Life calls to be lived, fully present and
traveling as open as a blank page
It waits for you, primed and prepped to engage
Agua Fria / Jules Lattimer
Today in the cottonwoods
the sun fluttered white
behind the canopy, little
orange ants pocked at my legs
all over and in the milky water,
I couldn’t see but there were other
worldlies uncurling their tentacles
up from the springs, impossible
yards of seaweed, or something
making colonies of bubbles
finding tiny kicking feet.
Picking Up Sticks After a Storm / Tate Lewis-Carroll
Choose a few
to whittle, the rest
for burning. Your hands,
sticky with sap,
will smell how you
remember your father’s
workshop. Breathe deeply
when you wash them.
But be sure to
wash them good
and clean. There’s
no use in holding on
to that crud
once the job’s done.
Day 27 / Poem 27
Small Town / Emily Ahmed
Wearing sunglasses at the grocery store,
disguised like the red moon tonight.
The moon was a gemstone,
a pomegranate seed.
I stitched those seeds into my ribs.
Ribs for hunger and how I’m tired of that ache.
That ache is what got me into trouble,
that meant I’ll have to stay out of it.
Staying out means a disguise to the store,
to the library, and to the cafe amidst its steam.
Running out of steam,
we tear through ourselves.
Hungry, we keep going back for more.
Inter-Leaf f / Lucie Chou
for Alice Oswald
the leaf that now lies being made
to shiver in the translucent dark
in its shell of scale, the hush of things
before dawn, rain and rasping gales
unseen inside, the heartbeat of dead wood
flickering like a lover’s sleep.
the slow through-flow that feeds
a feeling of a silhouette before the silhouette
a form curled under, hour by hour
lifting into light toward summer’s late fires
the thick reissuing starlike shapes
that shimmer like Lucifer at the edge
of cells and pores and water-rods
greening, expanding, straining
which builds up, which becomes a pressure
to ply time to the zenith of future,
a gradual fleshing out of a longing for light,
on the up-crinkled starboard of a leaf
a small hand unfolding, feeling about
to fall freely down the rapids
into that hand the entire
earth spreads underneath. The last
object of the self being coldly placed
in the mindless mind that moves
the provisional, the inexplicable I
to the heartbeat of the elements
in mid-air, meeting the wind and dancing
is a mutable trust in the seasons
to shiver in the translucent dark
before dawn, rain and rasping gales
flickering like a lover’s sleep.
a feeling of a silhouette before the silhouette
lifting into light toward summer’s late fires
that shimmer like Lucifer at the edge
greening, expanding, straining
to ply time to the zenith of future,
on the up-crinkled starboard of a leaf
to fall freely down the rapids
earth spreads underneath. The last
in the mindless mind that moves
to the heartbeat of the elements
is a mutable trust in the seasons
Note: here I see the lines of Alice Oswald’s poem “Leaf” (p. 8 in Woods etc. Faber and Faber,
2005) as pages in a book, between which I place my own lines as autumn leaves picked up from a
forest floor, to be pressed and preserved, plied into the future. My lines make a song of a leaf at
the edge of summer plunging into autumn, or “fall”, a counterpoint to Alice’s original, which is a
supreme expression of a leaf’s voice unfurling in pre-spring. These two times, diametrically
opposed on the wheel of the seasons, engage in a kind of dialogue or stichomythia, overlapping,
interleaving, ghosting one another’s song, ending on the shared ending of the two poems, which
also ends the third poem, a poem that is both the merged body and merging edge of the other two.
4 Centos / Susan Dambroff
dear star, that just happens
numberless autumn with its leaves
there was nothing and then…
ten thousand flowers in spring
how wide does the crack in heaven have to split
in this story of forever
you are the air of the now and then gone
You must learn one thing
gather all the kindling about your heart
this sorrow, that great love
suddenly the air is filled with snow
the music of what happens
you gave me blue and I gave you yellow
that is all you need
geography and memory
the tambourine sound of the snow cricket
- Mary Oliver, Lucille Clifton, William Stafford)
- Ellen Bass, Joy Harjo, Ross Gay
- David Whyte, John O’Donohue, Jane Hirshfiled, William Stafford
- Olga Broumas, Alberto RÍos, John O’Donohue, Lucille Clifton, Mary Oliver
JUNE / Sara Dudo
A sunflower bag on Carmel beach
filled with pink stones I wish
to make into a mosaic
of our wet and dry lives.
Post office on Camino El Norte
in my yellow heaven: palo verde coats
the desert golden in June and once
the bees do their work, edible fruit beans.
Nothing is hidden, nothing is prolonged.
Green trunks do as green does:
live, expand, die.
The pacific: spectral grove of rock and seal.
In the midst of our lives, we sleep
with sand dollars, roam wine country
and meet our Monterrey glass angels.
Blackberry days I still cannot write.
Watering lists: saguaro cemetery,
rabbit pen north, east of greenhouse
little ones, pine irrigation. Clouds
floating low enough to cast shadows
on the ground are usually followed
In between rain and dust meadows
and twilight fossil beds, time has
its way with us. My girl is grown.
Every poem is about Nevada.
Baskets of gold at Point Lobos.
We smuggle in the dog and cowboy boots.
Stanleya pinnata in Green River to lost
in panoramaland, then a grapefruit
and binoculars found our way back to being human
with cherry stains on our lips and
a red merle resting in sawgrass.
Rodeo sweaters. Bonnie Raitt.
Within these small membranes
we house ourselves in,
a salamander of road,
a sea pinnacle,
a blueberry bush.
Young Love / Ann Huang
Buffalo / Amy Jasek
There’s something sacred about a canyon, how the land gave way to waterpower and a slow, slow hollowing. The wind blows through it like breath through a horn, glossy black and sacred in itself, pressed to lips and sounding a haunted cry across the river. Feet plant on the surrounding flatlands, surveying the prairie as if it could be measured in arm lengths, or herd sizes, while one decreases and the other grows, nomadic as ever. In the canyon, their kind is protected, a holy right, a tiny try, an attempt at saying sorry.
In town / Jules Lattimer
At the yard sale
I got three
pendant lamps and
two chairs and
new shoes and
a sunburn, the
or a tide line,
and we all
were just walking
No Moon / Tate Lewis-Carroll
When the museum curator first encountered the white stag-like stillness of the moon, he screamed, You belong in a museum! But that just scared it away from its grazing of tree tops and steel roofs. The curator drained the funds in the museum’s Ancient Artifacts Room account. He needed money, but he vehemently refused the offer from the rival baseball museum from across the street to buy the relics. He’d always hated that baseball museum. How could you people, he would shout down from the observatory, care about some over-paid athlete who doesn’t even run his own bases more than the bones of a goddamned dinosaur? The patrons usually flipped him off as the rival curator handed out cups of warm Old Style beer for the inconvenience. Instead, to raise funds, the curator held an assembly at the local high schools. He began by saying, Punching holes through dry-wall will never satisfy anyone. It’s too new and easily replaceable. Boy, do I have a once in a many lifetimes offer for you. He made a killing there selling baseball bats and crowbars for $30 a pop. Next, he turned the Ancient Artifacts Room into a rage room. Tickets were an arm and a leg. The rich teens, being angry and hormonal, didn’t hesitate to make quick work of the terra-cotta soldiers lined up like dominoes. Crazed with affirmation, they soon broke loose into the rest of the museum. The curator was too busy counting up his earnings to notice that they had just made it through the European Art Wing, where the only pieces left intact were ones with any exposed breasts. It didn’t matter. The curator had made just enough. He called and went to meet a guy in the back alley. A shady figure named Teeth, who was a revered smuggler, popped the trunk of his ’74 Chevelle. Take a look at this beaut, he said and held up the fabled harpoon gun used against Moby Dick. I thought this passed into legend, the curator gawked. Nothing stays retired for the right price, Teeth chortled. Now, armed with the White Whale Defiler, the curator began the hunt. He shot out every street-light in the city in an attempt to lure the moon, but no luck. Instead, in the cover of darkness, the pissed off teens moved down the block, bashing up every mailbox and garden gnome in their path. The moon was wary of the commotion and stayed away. The curator, realizing his error, hid in a clearing outside of town. Later, the unsuspecting moon, loping, munching away at maples and steeples, stepped right into his line of sight. The curator fired the first shot. Birds fled. The moon hollered and thrashed about, but the curator held tight and fired another shot. The moon tried to wane away, but was pulled back full. The curator fired another shot. The townspeople overheard the struggle and gathered to watch. The curator fired another shot. The people cheered. The moon fell to its knees. The curator fired another shot. The moon grew still. In his bathrobe, the mayor pushed his way to the curator through the crowd and held up his hand. The people cheered. The moon stiffened. This man is a hero, the mayor shouted, and he belongs in a museum! The people cheered. The moon darkened and deflated. The curator began to grow pale.
Day 26 / Poem 26
Summer / Emily Ahmed
Letters in snail mail/ in your words I’m
Bathing suits sticking to skin/pressed to me like
Kisses under trees/so glad you noticed this top it’s
New self/I am broke I think I will sell some
Lemonade/let’s watch it all come together and apart like
Sunset strolls/summer will end let’s now just hold
Hands outside car windows/could you remember the color of my
Eyes closed in the wind/ask me anything just don’t ask me my
Background music at parties/can’t we still ask our neighbors for a bit of
Salt and sunscreen/I don’t like the cold, I want the ones who act
Warm skin/I can’t keep up with all of me I come in many
Shells poking/you stopped noticing the new
Sundresses/this is the season I get resentful and
Achy muscles/I must be so overwhelming and too
Deep sun-baked sleep
And do it all over again
Reading Nobody on the Birthday of the Radioactive River1 / Lucie Chou
excerpts and annotations of Alice Oswald’s book-length poem
floating on the sea-surface wondering what next2
even out here where the water is painfully clear3
and it is blind a kind of blind blue eye4
finds even far down there are white5
How does it start the sea has endless beginnings6
have to keep moving over seemingly endless yellowness7
human-salt already at ease in the ocean-salt8
in its flesh of a thousand faces all facing away9
there are fish in it there are shearwaters searching10
throwaway in all this what is it grief grief grief11
water still in acute discomfort12
ragged dead in the crypts of the sea13
turned in its cloak14
into flames into fur
frightened of its own stupidity16
but the sea itself has no character just this horrible thirst17
might as well waste this ever replenished18
what the sea does
suffering faces watered away19
but a river
coming looking for
stories all end
waves grow nervous covering up their crimes
the simple mineral monologue of
who is it
no-one the black wave covers
11.09 million tons. Fukushima. March 2011. August 24, 2023.
2 people worry about the fishing industry but what about the animals themselves who move in their
environment as water in water as radioactive water in the sea
3 tritiated water is pretty much ordinary water
4 my friend posts on social media how she regrets she has not seen enough of the beautiful ocean
before it is scheduled for death. color of thalassalgia
5 no posterity certainly will not find it out
6 what does it matter: off the coast of Japan, in the Pacific Islands, near Australia, in the Bering
Strait, Antarctica. The beginning has no end
7 Japanese fishermen say the world will never stop seeing their products with a jaundiced eye
8 Iodine 129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years and can cause cancer of the thyroid; ruthenium 106
is produced by nuclear fission and high doses can be toxic and carcinogenic when ingested
9 on this day an old friend turns away, we believe we have not betrayed her. that we have
committed an acceptable crime. we stabbed her but the wound is safe
10 my mother says marine animals are not dumb. “they will not got near dangerous waters”
11 grief for the sake of grief. not for tainted money. the sea is making an elegy for herself it is true
12 we comfort ourselves the radioactivity is much less than in waste water from other nuclear plants
that it’s in accordance with international standards and regulations that it’s the kind of thing that
looks bad but is actually the least bad of a slew of bad options
13 hear the Geiger counter ticking
14 it has no protective clothing against soul contaminants
15 the ocean is a Dementor demented by the schizophrenic urge to turn into a million frightening
16 scientific facts and political chants flow like sirens out to sea
17 we do not think of it in that sense of horror. in a horror movie everyone believes they are not
losing their mind
18 ah the old romantic notion of nature’s endless capacity for renewal. the waste water itself is ever
The Perfect Mobster / Susan Dambroff
I did nothing wrong
the perfect mugshot
the perfect fundraiser
his glowering face
on a T-shirt
21 counts of forgery
$25. for a coffee mug
the perfect mobster
8 counts influencing witnesses
$15. drink coolers
his slick yellow hair
3 counts election fraud
$12. bumper sticker
his signature blue suit
his red tie
1 count racketeering
I did nothing wrong
1 count perjury
Mug shot at Fulton County Jail
with $47. donation
I will never surrender
our mission to save America
THE SPLITTING / Sara Dudo
in my field
of a plowing
a finch wing
a small girl’s
a red field
lifts out of
hangs in air
pressed to sun
from an open field
with a strange
the cry of
folds of a door
an empty field
smoke a cloud
the true image
so we know
where we are
in the universe
on the outskirts
of a white
Long Walks on Love / Ann Huang
Wichita Falls Fall / Amy Jasek
it isn’t real, but it’s nice
and still a waterfall
recycling the river
in an endless
I went to Sotheby’s
once, and they auctioned off
a glass of single malt
to start the bidding
to make a point
a donation is about giving
not getting, to the thirsty
a drink is new life
the glass of scotch went to war
the winner paid a lot
for that inch of amber
liquid, ice half melted
and he gave it to his opponent
so who cares if the waterfall
comes from a pump
the point is that
a city whose namesake a
flood washed away
has a waterfall again
Outside / Jules Lattimer
I took the dog down
to the reeds where
jumping bugs smack
at her nose while
she walks and she flips
to her back to splash
the brown puddle
and in the full
sun I mouthed je
désert avec ma
chienne et ici
il y a beaucoup de
soleil et rien et
Friday Night / Tate Lewis-Carroll
I found myself crouching among a crowd
along rows of metal beams. Everyone was facing
one way, mostly fidgeting with empty, glass boxes.
Below us was a field tamed with imitation
grass, bending slightly under the weight
of children, suited in aerodynamic armor.
They would collide with one another
and the crowd would cheer, or they’d boo.
I never seemed to get it right.
And off to the side, others
were standing on top of one another, calling,
turning, deliberately, into the night.
Day 25 / Poem 25
Lessons / Emily Ahmed
No one is going to rescue you.
You will be working the shift at
the grocery store
and your best friend will stop in,
you’ll gossip and giggle behind the register,
without turning your head
scanning items for customers,
asking, Cash or card?
You two are best friends.
You also visit her on her boring retail shifts,
pretending to run your hands
along floral shirts with interest.
You think maybe if you pair up, two lost people isn’t so lost, right?
One lost person is so much worse, right?
One person’s luck could rub off on the other,
But you’ll find that even when you thought you were aiming for the same thing, people aim their arrows differently, some go towards something else entirely, some swerve and go
right for your heart.
You might find yourself with a lover
on the East Coast, gazing across the sea,
Let’s swim back home, to North Africa,
you two will say it earnestly,
you’ll know it’s a joke,
the same way you learned to stop believing
every man who said he’d run away with you,
the same way your friend would fantasize
about buying a house with you
beside her childhood home in Casablanca
and living together,
marrying siblings, growing old together.
No one is going to discover you.
You won’t be walking down the street,
and some official won’t tell you they can see
your untapped potential,
your boundless beauty.
Except for the lucky ones, but that’s likely not you. But their luck will drive you mad.
Six figures, Manhattan apartments,
dental insurance, health insurance,
vacations, kind lovers, degrees,
community, respect, light periods.
But envy is a lie or a bow to your arrow,
your friends show you
the different possibilities. You will not live every life you wanted, but you might see glimpses of it in them.
You may be pushed by these visions,
or watch them unfold, not for you.
That’s still something.
Anytime you think you know something about life,
that you are cooler, smarter,
that only failures work
in this or that profession,
that only naive ones date this kind of person,
life will humble you.
Except for the ones who don’t get humbled,
but they don’t know what they don’t know
Everyone will surprise you.
That one love of your life? Doesn’t last.
Your terrible boss? Apologizes.
Your best friend? Betrayed you.
Your mother? She quit smoking.
Maybe, just maybe, you’ll surprise yourself
after this world sucks you dry,
grow old, live with your friend,
swim all the way across the world
holding your holy fire / Lucie Chou
your fresh green fruit is a fragrant peninsula
on the furrowed isthmus of a stalk. a valley
is split into you. you expose your treasures
& i walk through. my hands roam your roads
sinuous & overgrown with jewels. they walk
veins of your magic mountain then break you
into small shards to mine your aromatic ores.
i thought i could chop you as a juggernaut
cuts up any land with claw and maw.
i thought your body a trove to broach
as a barrel of my own. but like the earth,
that greater fresh green fruit, you hold
a holy fire inside, mythic, huge, terrible.
capsaicin is your seminal brimstone.
long after you rolled on my cutting board
my hands are burning with your holy fire.
what you have held and spilled in the pain
of being split open gives me pain to hold.
unlike the first fruit of sin or blissful seed
of fire in the hands of primordial humans
you sear me with such subtle elusive flames
i seem to be holding nothing but my own
fingers in a skin slightly pinker, more aglow.
your transparent purgatory, unquenchable,
uncooled by water, unassuaged by anointing,
not to be washed away with any detergents.
I ask myself, how can i be making myself
clean when i try to cleanse the cleansing?
i dream holding your holy fire, remembering
what i am beholden to, the ferocious souls
of fireseeds inside all fresh green fruits.
At the Eye Doctor / Susan Dambroff
before my eyes blur
I finish scrolling
down an old post
about thousands of copies
of Roget Thesaurus
spilled when a truck crashed
a photo of all those lapping words
in the breeze
and think about
all the times I’ve searched
for a better word
how I was stuck to my father’s lap,
shy around grown-ups
who had too many questions
I couldn’t answer back
how in junior high I had to go to the dean
because my score on the vocabulary test
was so low
and how I loved diagramming sentences
learning the old way
a diagonal line
for adjective, adverb
the comfort of knowing
where words got placed
how I was a teenager with a tiny notebook
spooned against nature
with a birch
scratching out my best words
I imagine the thousands of copies
of Roget’s Thesaurus
strewn across the road
and the journalist who listed all the words
stunned, startled, aghast…
I see the E K Z A on the screen
before the letters begin
River Balm / Sara Dudo
In these last days, green rain
at a new river.
Glass angels leave their cenotaphs
and I lower my face to the water.
Sorrow: a good reason for our forgetting.
Guests without devotion
on the balcony
Acceptance: a sudden clearing
and splitting what belongs
Standing in front of the largest organ
in the world, what you will find
is the pipes speaking to you.
is the butterfly effect.
These are the blessings:
berries on the blanket,
writing a letter to my sister
in bad Utah weather,
the way promises leave
their life balm.
Final Slate / Ann Huang
The clouds are seen,
the sun is not out;
the low green mountains
are due about.
You whisper my breath
at the bedside,
flow above the ceilings.
You have traveled till
you are blended and awakened;
to become someone I get
to know and love.
is in the air.
There is an order
from where I command,
I receive it
and get drowned into.
The clouds are now
myself on fire,
my name in demand,
or else you see
you’d better swing by
Cyanobeach / Amy Jasek
Anna Atkins* prowling the beach
for algaes to turn into prints
Daddy’s girl, botany in reach
Looking, gathering, each to each
with Herschel* around, doing stints
of science as he prowls the beach
I think of the old fashioned pleats
and layers, long skirts catching bits
of pollen, seeds: botany’s reach
carried with her, echoing sweet
background blue in all her prints
Anna Atkins’ immortal beach
The water lives, the algaes bleach
in the ache of those prussian tints
putting botany within reach
Becoming art, simple to teach
cyan gains steam beyond blueprints
Anna Atkins prowled the beach
put more than botany in our reach
* Anna Atkins, (1799-1891) was the daughter of an English botanist who was friends with * Sir John Herschel. Herschel devised the cyanotype process, which Atkins used to make prints of algaes found along the British coast. She is known as the first female photographer because of her use of the photographic cyanotype process. While initially not widely adopted by photographers, cyanotype was the original method of making blueprints Today, artists all around the world are engaged in making cyanotypes; World Cyanotype Day is the last Saturday of September every year.
Thursday poem / Jules Lattimer
In the afternoon my head hits me, and i’m available
for panic. Sometimes the sun goes blue. Today
everyone is counting and my friend brought the wrong
balloons. I can’t hear anything but the fan. I smear
cream over my face and check my teeth and show up
at attention, like the dream where you forget all the lines
If I Hadn’t Have Sat Down in My Chair / Tate Lewis-Carroll
If I hadn’t have sat down in my chair,
I might have scrubbed clean the toilet,
cleared the clutter from the counter top,
taken a toothbrush to the grout gone auburn
with rust. The baseboards would be spotless
and all the laundry sorted into their colonies
of hot or cold, delicate or not.
If I hadn’t have sat down in my chair,
my garden would be ripened and overgrown
with crops, despite the weather. I would harvest
enough to prepare an entire meal,
and I would—sweet corn boiled and buttered.
The rest ground in a mortar and pestle
into flour as a vehicle for my grilled peppers,
cooked onions, and rice stuffed tomatoes.
Hell, I wouldn’t stop there. I’d prepare meals
for the whole week and enough to share
with my neighbors, hunched over and wasting
in their chairs.
If I hadn’t have sat down in my chair,
I could at least be practicing meditation,
yoga, shortening the leash on my breath.
I would definitely be able to touch my toes
easily by now.
If I hadn’t have sat down in my chair,
I could be out in the silty atmosphere of the barn,
lit by shafts of light wedging through
slits in the weathered slats of the wall,
standing alongside the others who have stood
here before, each of us generations apart,
ghosts, glimpsing the yellowing
fields in the late summer heat, searching
for a piece to a part for a project
I might have completed if not for this chair—
a rusted wingnut, perched atop a length
of beam, resting its wings without threat
of a hunt.
If I hadn’t have sat down in my chair,
I could have taken up another shift,
gotten a promotion and a pay raise,
or at least a second job mending fences
or panning for gold. Anything to feed
my retirement account so one day
I will be able to sit in my chair
and never get up.
If I hadn’t have sat down in my chair,
who’s to say I wouldn’t be halfway
to Yellowstone, or halfway up
the northern face of Mt. Rainer, Everest,
slowly crawling my way free of this
chattering, sea-level world.
If I hadn’t have sat down in my chair
to pull a pack mule of thought forward
through Elliot’s wasteland, keeping an eye
on the fading light, drunk on little sleep
and an empty mind, I wouldn’t have been able
to picture myself successful in everything else
I might have been doing. I wouldn’t be
motivated now to get up and try.
Day 24 / Poem 24
Missing It / Emily Ahmed
I miss what I love:
Flower workshop by the citadel,
I had a yellow daisy in my hair
as I brushed my hand along pottery.
Three birthday parties, FaceTiming
over cake delivered from the bakery off Tersa.
Cafe with my father, the cats circling us, he read me passages out loud while I took notes.
Garden sitting on picnic blankets with roommates.
Tennis twice a week, the girls singing pop songs always skipped ahead of me on my turn.
Bouquet sent from Oakland all the way to my door.
Cairo autumn, sunlight and sweaters.
Carolina summer, romantic and free.
I love what I miss.
Becoming Eremozoic / Lucie Chou
for Jim Naughten’s surreal “digital photography”
How shall reality be known then?
Everything so lush and sparse.
Are jackfruit leaves cryogenized?
Cobalt blue. Chromium green.
Tundra is magenta, glaciers
purple as underskin blood.
An aniline hyacinth sings
in the silent symphony of sky.
Cliffs are cochineal, incarnadine
as coral branches no longer are.
No wind. Pampas grasses lean.
Iodined with dioxazine.
Is ocean a dyeing vat? It swirls
with alizarin mermaid hair.
Where is water? Perhaps it too
is virtual. As all reality is now.
The landscape asks the animals:
are you dreams within a dream?
The animals paste themselves
back into the dyed digitals.
They float over the background
like a cloud above The Cloud.
The landscape is no more a place
on Earth, it’s an eidetic dream,
an animal nevermore body but
memory that exits without end.
Early morning / Susan Dambroff
covered in garbage bags
asleep on the sidewalk
I think he’s a man
the orange soles of his shoes
an apple strewn
and the man
rolling himself out
from under a
roll of plastic
who puts everything
in a Target Grocery Bag
old coffee cups
at the bus stop
an old woman
wears a T- shirt
Searchlight / Sara Dudo
My epochs are framed in plumbago,
trimming lobelia in the years
I have been where language stops,
and only hands exist:
fading light as retreat
in phantom celosia fields
through red rivulets a woman wades.
My bardo must be breathless,
fireflies in the corn,
or a chiasmus of lilacs and lilies to…
We exile ourselves before another can-
find contentment in shoving
water amidst the aria of birds
hiding their jewels
in the chimney.
Now in this elegiac time, monstrous
moonshine. Little doves
Nimbus of vines.
of all the firmament above me
as I pluck vinca.
Birthday / Ann Huang
While sun dawn
Will dissipate away
Of her silk turquoise robe
Or the first bursting
Steamy as a forever fairy,
Closer to heart than wandering
Beyond ocean whereas Humpback whales played
Smokies, 2 / Amy Jasek
Just one short turn at the edge of town
and you’re there: where green becomes purple,
where mountain breath drifts in-out, up-down.
Time is kept like a secret around
the base of ferns, where sunlight hurdles.
It’s quick and easy to leave the town.
What you want to follow are the brown
signs; they lead to the natural pearls
where you can breathe in mountains, up-down,
dear as your own breath. Distances drown
what gets left behind, the tight girdle
of civilization, edging towns
off and away, catlike to the ground.
New views push away the old bundles
and cares, like breath drifting out and down.
Give back the time that made it. Astound
yourself again: feelings recycle
as you edge yourself right out of town.
The mountain will breathe your worries down.
Endings / Jules Lattimer
On the last night of my year
I watched a pink cloud
skim into frame in the overhead
at sunset. I was indoors,
with Escalus, holding a smile hard
as wax, women wailing
at our feet. The light was done
before we called it, but when
the morning burns red, I’d be me
again, a year older, in the body
I’ve already known.
Barred Owl / Tate Lewis-Carroll
I saw one lift into the pine gallery
surrounding my yard tonight
as I let my dogs out for their final pees.
Before I knew it was an owl,
it was a silent flurry ascending
from a patch of long grass into the trees.
It was similar to what I had always imagined
when my old preacher described
the audience of angels he could see
seated above each of our heads, winged,
huddled together in quiet curiosity
at the awkward absurdities of God’s chosen.
They were, as he put it, unable to fully grasp
us, having never been humans themselves,
and that’s what delighted them.
But then I found it with my flashlight.
Just a barred owl, adjusting its drab overcoat,
squinting into my light, not looking
I remembered then what else he preached,
that seated across from those angels
were hordes of demons, equally as curious,
but for all the wrong reasons. All of them
busily calculating new and more tempting lures
to lead us away from the light.
I became so caught up in this that I missed
the owl leave, and when I looked back,
it was gone. It must have taken that opportunity
to escape my harsh light and wing
across the aisle to a quieter, darker seat.
Day 23 / Poem 23
Ghazal: Blue / Emily Ahmed
The moonlight was a cake sliced with seawater, a black mirror that replaced the sunlit blue.
It was a night of union and community, a groom and a bride in her gown of blue.
There is something about love when it lasts, and something about when it begins,
the bride recounts her days in the before, the nights when she was blue.
She had her goals and ambitions, always work, grind, head heavy,
she’d never known softness in romance, her heart was beaten, black and blue.
A flower has thorns, a sea has its depths, power in the far reaches,
she ran to the shoreline and cried seven tears of loneliness, crystal blue.
The myths said a selkie would appear, shed his skin, be a companion,
it didn’t quite go like that but armor was shed and something was borrowed and blue.
Tonight, there is the midnight sea, the lanterns like fairies and falling stars,
and there’s two figures carved in moonlight, the suit and the dress periwinkle and blue.
Transfrisson / Lucie Chou
You tumble into the sink. Off-white to snuff-grey
to rot-black, you look like charred cabbage roses
that have, non compos mentis, pressed petals through
a paper shredder; or branched corals bleached
then bleared, smeared with the smudge and smell
of coal dust or car exhaust. Thelephora ganbajun.
I had not expected our encounter to be like this:
against stainless steel, out of place, inscrutable,
your chalk-white body already fossil-like in life,
severed from fragrant composts of pine needles,
packed with ice bags and stamped for a plane ride
to be torn into needle-fine filaments, scrambled
with minced green chili peppers, eggs, and rice.
Had I found you piercing though the dark duff
of a Yunnan pine, an animate marmoreal bone
crossed between an antler and a ginkgo leaf,
felt your yielding reluctance when pulled slowly
from the temenos, and contemplated for a while
the hollow left after harvesting, your wilderness
would have seemed more of this earth, creaturely.
Mom, born Yunnanese, forager as a kid, tells me
unlike the blackening of the peppered moth
under duress of soot, your nigrescence is natural
oxidation by connivance of time and bland air.
This explanation makes you no more explicable.
I tell myself you are but what the field guide tells
you to be: the last wild mushroom to be replaced
by tame genomic reprints in labs then markets.
It remains, when we’re writing this, unamenable
to artificial cultivation. I breathe a little easier.
A modest mystery, unbreached. A tiny oasis
in gargantuan deserts of despotic gardening.
Scattered in the sink, indifferent to your umami,
you beg a song beyond human language, beyond
even the well-meaning strivings of ecopoetics
or biosemiotics. Translation is a violent form
of expression. We imperialists have known this
for too long. My fingers begin to translate you.
Splitting you into spicules. Forcing out the dirt,
the tiny stones. Residues of the life you’ve led.
It is summer. Monsoon season. Water runs cold
over your body, your memory of the world being
meticulously disparted like strands of loved hair.
Then the hand that rubs tenderly is transfixed
by a pin the lover snuck there. Blood broached
by a brooch whose entirety is a purple-brown
pine needle. I had not expected my response
to be such a violent frisson. The syringe pricks
only skin-deep, but the icy fires from woods
lovely dark and deep have transfused shivering
knowledge through your pine-pinned Thelephora
body through my transpierced translator’s body.
The transfixer shakes and breaks. I bleed.
Cold water running. The transfrisson complete.
Tag You’re It / Susan Dambroff
That pink rubber ball back to childhood,
A my name is Alice, and the leg passes over to
B my name is Bob, the way the sequence knows itself
as the leg rises over, C my name is Cathy
Anything to bounce, kick, throw against the ground
again and again, dodgeball, kickball, handball,
Monkey in the Middle,
that volley of thud and pop and bound,
that catching on a fly
Any chance to run in, run out, stop, go,
Red Rover Red Rover -let Susie come over,
Red Light Green Light, Freeze Tag, Hide and Seek
Under the bed, behind the piano,
beneath a pile of laundry, that small and silent me,
that determined detective, lost and found over and over
How my legs would carry me, Chinese jump rope,
rubber bands threaded together, the foot catches, the rope rises,
the perfect in and out
Foot games, hand games, Cats Cradle,
the confidence of fingers lifting, widening,
dancing in and out of the strings
Clapping games, confidence with where my hands meet,
where they rise and turn, and clap again,
Tulips Together, tie them together,
bring back my love to me
This back to basics – foot, hand –
clap, tap, throw, catch, kick
run, run, run
Tag, you’re it.
DREAMLAND / Sara Dudo
“Comfort me with apples” Song of Songs 2:5
Comfort is a flat of marigolds,
comfort is red celosia flames brushing your chin.
There is no new place, nothing is ever gone. We could die singing of security:
no elegy will suffice because he lives.
To be uprooted is to be human.
Just as your body receives light, your body projects light,
your light is our infinite vincas in a room always temporary.
Enough to witness first snowfall. Enough to speak of the future apples with no land.
To say what is here:
these tiny pear-shaped stars of strength each life holds against anything is
heaven’s promise of no longer being thimbled.
Comfort is heaven,
the orchids in sweet grass.
Final Reward / Ann Huang
Everyday we gained an infinitesimal of it,
the wide space and mileage
in between our continents
slowly sighing open
like a mountainous horizon that ensues
a fine day of poem ingenuity
brings about an passionate affair—
of every breath it has ever made
as a yogis prompts
to let out his atonement
back into his soul,
body and all.
Blue Beach / Amy Jasek
I shook the sun’s hand on the beach.
The seashore was a skim of heat
palpable enough to ride on.
He said he likes to put his feet
in the atlantic tide at dawn.
His hand was as hot as the beach
but I shook it, surprised to meet
such a star, reposed in his brawn
at the shore with its skim of heat.
I had questions about this feat,
how he’d taken on human form
with hands to touch the sandy beach.
Instead I stood and watched him teach
the kids how to balance on boards
that could skim a ride on the heat.
His presence almost blistered me,
this encounter not counted on.
I shook his hand: farewell, beach!
The whole shore was a skim of heat.
Working poem / Jules Lattimer
Today my brain is making lists.
I’m watching my words. I have books
in the house, and junk all over my table.
Really, all my nerves are alive.
College and grad school are something
we did once, and next life we’ll pay entirely in cash
and the government will never know.
It’s no surprise that the string snapped.
The dog pops her head up above her little body
like a lid you tap on to open. Earlier in the week
we were blossoming. In the evening light the puppy reflects
orange, because if the sky’s on fire then so is she.
I’ve filled out all the forms and I’m trying to make it
work and I’ll show up on time and do the very best,
the very best for you if you just choose me
Under the Weather / Tate Lewis-Carroll
only wet. ate
might as well write—
out my window
a light wind
stirs the pines,
the high travel
Day 22 / Poem 22
For Centuries, Bad Memories / Emily Ahmed
A temple has an altar 1
and an animal waiting for slaughter,
only it’s unaware that it’s waiting.
A bar has a counter 2
and a young woman wanting wantedness,
only she’s unaware what she’s wanting.
Poseidon will whip his waves,
throw foam and spittle in the sanctuary,
envelope who was unknowingly waiting. 3
A young man, he will try
belittlement, charm, but the best trick is to
wait til his prey is unaware what she’s wanting. 4
The unsuspecting sacrifice didn’t know
she was a sacrifice, thought it was
something godly or loving for which she was waiting.
A flurry of whispers, another woman 5
will punish the sacrifice 6 for being touched by a tsunami,
even if she wasn’t wanting.
The young woman is tainted,
the town won’t look at her the same way,
might as well have a monstrous face, snakes in her hair,
for acceptance she is waiting. 7
She will hide herself from them,
while Medusa will become a wild thing,
bare her teeth, so cold she turns you into stone,
revenge she is wanting. 8
4 Modern-day Medusa.
6 A young woman/Medusa/animal waiting for slaughter.
7 They hate her for this for centuries.
8 They hate her for this for centuries.
your margins are wide / Lucie Chou
enough to house
the back and forth
of birds and words
to gather a prairie
for chipmunk to tuck
for fairies to break glass
then in a bubble
build it back whole
your writing fingers
winged your margins wide
your mind perched alert
on the verge of nootide
ready to leap like monarch
off milkweed by the wayside
The Way We Love Our Dog / Susan Dambroff
If we could love
the way we love our dog
in spite of
the sock in his mouth
in spite of
the ball he drops in the bathtub
if we could have that simple kind
for each other
for all the lost keys, the clutter in the pantry
if we could accept
the astrology of our differences
your earth and my sky, your dystopian novel
and my pearls of poetry
if we could love
the way we love our dog
with every romp of affection
stroking and brushing
and carefully pulling apart
to find the easy bounce
of a curl
COUSIN-CRY / Sara Dudo
I count the list of bodies
under the ground
that would disagree.
Salvadoran children bombed
in the living room,
the skeleton of a baby
in the Mojave Desert
set ablaze by her father,
Rhi’s broken body lying
in Russel Road on Sunday morning.
To celebrate the intersection
of youth and death
you must be a fool who reaches out
to hear your own voice below
knowing it is to come. 3
Beside the Ford
outside Joshua Tree
a jackrabbit scurried
a line of yellowing sage:
animals know tranquility
but cannot identify it. 4
1 The seventh elegy finds much to celebrate in dying young. Rilke suggests because humans are defined by their
transience, there is something beautiful and elegant in “transitioning” into death more quickly than normal. He
lived 48 years before the publication of this lyric.
2 Rilke ends by reaching out to the Angels, despite knowing they are beyond his grasp. He is proud of his defiance;
he likes hearing the sound of his own voice.
3 In contrast to the last section, this elegy explicitly details the poet’s anger at death. It is not death that is the
problem for Rilke, but knowing that it is to come. And yet, they are one and the same.
My fingers burn
from spring sun
and it is good.
I cannot be angry.
In the river town, I was a child afraid to venture
into her basement for a grief-like pit in my stomach.
No one speaks of dying, only houses
of alternate living 5 ,
rivers of joy
only after a stroll through the lifequarters
of false blossoms 6
why would you concern yourself
with explaining death to me? 7
In the spring, we disappear
little confetti pieces of her name
decorate the floor
small blossoms I will one day
show the angels. 8
4 Rilke envies animals because they lack knowledge of their own mortality and can thus live tranquil lives. This is
incorrect in many ways: animals feel fear, in a connectedness to understanding death and danger, and animals in
the wild seldom have tranquility due to this fear of predators and climate. Rilke was a man and wrote under a roof.
5 Rilke imagines what it might be like when he dies in the final elegy. It is fantastical. It looks far too much like
6 After singing to the Angels and discovering the reason why human suffering exists, he travels to the City of
Mourning, followed by the Land of the Griefs. He encounters increasingly older “Griefs” on his way down the
River of Joy. Isn’t it tiresome: constant reminders the dark evergreens of our listed anguish as foundation and soil?
7 He finally disappears, regretful that he cannot relate his experience of death to the living. Everyone believes
they are the chosen one, plucked from heaven.
8 Men can mutter all they want about life and death, and what special meanings they’ve carved out of bad dreams,
but one day I will join Rhiannon, and the angels will touch and see the human condition of waiting.
A Diamond in My Mind / Ann Huang
after Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World”
Life after life
A flash of lightning
A Totality of
Laws of Attraction
I want to feel
Young again with
You made me miss
a lot of wonderful
I dream of:
The fun filled
Gazing into your
hazy elephant eyes
miles of emptiness–
arms to give you
a humongous hug–
ears to listen to
a heart that’s
aching to feel
your supreme smile.
Smokies / Amy Jasek
Every summer was the last wander-time,
with caveats: maybe, and hopefully.
I never know what hills I’ll have to climb.
Mountain scoliosis is just fine;
valley twists and turns come more painfully.
Every summer wander was the last time
until the next year, with rhythm and rhyme
packing the truck again, til it fully
strained for the hills, with adventures to climb.
Every road is a gift, from shine to grim.
Sometimes you skate, sometimes it’s like pulling
the dead weight of summer up a hard time
to show it the sun again, and in kind
holding its hand along the ridgeline, knee
deep in the hills, worn out from the steep climb.
I’ve seen how paths can turn on a dime
quick pivot from clear-wide to close-foggy
and every trek seems like it’s the last time.
But if you look into the hills
you never know what you might find.
When it rains / Jules Lattimer
In this poem there’s a hat
hanging on the wall, a lamp
without a shade. We’re done
with the summer of no relief,
the inferno summer of burning
islands, and horrible horrible — done
burning our hands on our seatbelts.
I have one minute left and I just want
to say that when the summer bursts blue
I know there’s love, I know there’s light,
and In my sleep I’ll be screaming Malabar!
Malabar! Let me talk about the orange
spilling out of the brush into the road.
It’s just a symbol of starting over.
I need to hold trust, to let the sky fall over me
and cash it in — this is the home
I’ll leave soon, a triangle of a house,
the ceilings arched inside the roof, the roof
lapped in metal sheets. I’m safe from the water.
All I want is a pretty room for me to eat breakfast
and in this place there’s tiny creatures of dust
crawling my concrete floors and the overcast
pours gray into my home and if I’m my most
honest self, monsoon in the summer is the only
summer I’ll accept.
The Majority of My Resume / Tate Lewis-Carroll
Tell me about your experience
as an editor—
Well, firstly, let me convince you
you need me. C’mon, look at this—
And this fish,
suddenly on the line,
isn’t really a fish.
We get that.
But I want to know which organ
the swallowed hook
And what if the reader’s rowboat
isn’t also missing its oars
or leaking pond water?
Don’t even get me started
on these line breaks.
Remember to fight that fish
all the way through to the end!
But see the poem still fails
to turn me
toward the night sky
or the reflection of the full moon
on the drying eyes
of the caught fish,
still hanging in there.
Day 21 / Poem 21
Cinema Interlude / Emily Ahmed
Grieving and grey,
we finally caught a break this summer
sitting in the movie theater,
suburban, dramatic, decorated with paintings
of ancient temples we’d traveled to together.
We giggled out loud at the funny bits
and held hands in the mall,
poking our heads in stores looking at
hot sauce and sage autumn shirts.
Just before, I paid a lady on the strip
for rose pink glassware that caught my eye,
imagining them holding dessert for my friends.
It was like being on vacation,
that morning we had rolled out of bed,
danced around jokingly in front of the cat,
and I forgot my bag so I dabbed your SPF
and my crimson lipstick onto my bleary face,
wore your crinkly denim jacket
and last night’s dress.
At home, my lock broke my apartment bare and
you fixed it. We forgot the noodles
weren’t spicy enough, that we were
late to the movie, that my head won’t silence,
that the world is so sick.
Life is lots of grief, lots of grey,
lots of good, lots of grace.
Fabrics & Flora / Lucie Chou
My bedsheets are a field of flowers. Not ornate Romantic rosettes but rigorous botanical renderings in watercolors, brightened with a little light touch. Like the poetical gardens of Clarissa Munger Badger–violets, wood lilies, wild roses–which inspired Emily Dickinson, poet, gardener, sender of fresh & pressed flowers from the small plot under her large window, to plant her own. I like to remember her as emblem of an era when intellect & imagination were not too shy to be bedmates.
My dress is a garden of magenta clusters & sap green sprigs–“Red Prince” weigela. I keep a nature journal: the first snowdrop, blue sage, bluestem, the last aster. I buy notebooks with William Morris covers. I do not fear the sentimental stereotype of young maidens as blooming flowers. I fall into a pond photographing a blue waterlily. I make a watercolor painting of that lily, larger than a square yard, flower devouring all the paper, in homage to Georgia O’Keeffe.
At Zara Home, the salesgirl keeps smiling as my shrill, thrilled voice chirps the Linnaean names of plant motifs on the quilt covers and pillowcases: Bellis perennis, Gypsophila capituliflora, Salix babylonica. I savor the pristine scent of fresh printed cotton. I do not fear domestic comfort.
Ophelia gives me an exquisite pang I cannot pin down as pity, empathy, or pure aesthetic pleasure. Unlike other girls I grew up with, whom rowdy boys freaked out with tortured & frantic bumblebees & honeybees, I have brewed my anthophilia, melissophilia & petaloudophilia into a wild eclectic honey of literary & liberating arts. Some mornings I sit on my bedsheets reading Amy Clampitt, my favorite poetess of outdoorsy-domestic / whiff of vanilla and waif with a mesh of faint purple pencil marks.
dried azure days
preening my parched
Four Stories: at any moment the flames could come / Susan Dambroff
a friend tells me
sometimes she goes into bookstore
and feels so much despair
that there’s not enough time
in a lifetime
to read all those books
a single white house
untouched and gleaming
the red metal roof
the line of stones
A friend tells me
it can take 30 years to build a garden
the skeleton trees
the 150 year-old banyan tree
Three strangers meet
at a columbarium
visiting loved ones
and become friends
sweeping up the leaves
COUSIN-CRY / Sara Dudo
(In Response to Rilke’s Duino Elegies)
Spring Valley howling
I call out to the angels: heal
my grief, hear
my cousincry. 1
You say angels are terror,
seek mending from thistledown,
bird with a ruby-throat and cat window-
watching, a bouquet of hands.
Still, nimbus nothingness. 2
to be envied
by the angels. 3
You are brief,
in a sky lake of love
while the earth men
hold on to only parting. 4
As the Jackson bear
in the Tetons rises,
pushing out her brown belly
1In Duino Elegies, Rilke calls out to the angels in anguish. I have just lost my cousin and have been
directed to write a series of elegies.
2You believe angels to be terrible, too much goodness, yet, the pleading. You seek consolation in
more earthly things, such as your fellow man, animals, and lovers, but find that none of these
consoles you. The inconsolable seeking consolation. Rhiannon died on her way to pick up
groceries in the south valley.
3Man does possess something angels do not: transience. Humans die. Only alive men relish in the
thought of their legacy. I want to ask Rhiannon about the other side of legacy.
4We leave something behind, but why must love be bound to parting? Some men can only stand
love in the scope of losing.
Standing Alive / Ann Huang
We were at a concert
Hip pop rock
a handsome guy
in an orange jacket
took me by surprise
by my arms
for he had to show
me where his daughter
had been stolen
and he came back
every night to prevent
that from happening to any
girl he found attractive
WAR ON GENDERCIDE
What have I done
The human race?
Pigeon Forge / Amy Jasek
In the hall of my giants, faces loom
like a woven nightmare in the basement.
In the wee hours they come to haunt my room.
Foolishly I leave my happy cocoon
to spark old doubts. I set my heart like flint
in the face of those giants. How they loom
over the confidence whose fragile bloom
craves the light of a higher firmament.
At night, I let despair into my room.
Morning comes like Lazarus from the tomb
I rise and rip apart the veil that went
between me and my giants. Looming looks
get zipped back up in their tent and resume
waiting for my resolve to absent itself
once again, when deep hours bring their gloom.
Not this time. I will deny the heirlooms
of perfection, expectations’ fervent
giants lining the hall. Re-weave the loom,
expel the darkness, be gone from my room.
Sunday poem / Jules Lattimer
On the island there are blossoms falling rotten
off the hawthorns and the bodies
of my ancestors and I don’t expect anyone
to answer an August phone call.
Lines Read and Remembered by the Mail Carrier / Tate Lewis-Carroll
Cento composed of lines from Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison by Ted Kooser
in the silent domain of starlight
I walk the dark hall of the road
as if each morning might be trusted
the old house is cracking its knuckles
no bigger than a baby’s fist
under the dripping, lichen-rusted trees
the world is made of wind
a thin flag of starlings billows and snaps
what season of my life is this?
the skin of a pearl
the skin of an onion
man with the moon on a leash
only a crust of moon is left
Day 20 / Poem 20
Cinderella Retelling / Emily Ahmed
Fled along ribbons of lakeside
lustrous blades of grass,
she is stumbling over the shimmering
gown in its folds,
fashionably forgoing any care.
Sometimes a leaving is a leaving,
sometimes a freeing, sometimes a summoning.
It can be powerful to simply disappear when
you’re at the wrong party.
Toby the Learned Pig / Lucie Chou
Discourse on the Feudal System, the Rights of Kings.
Spell the saints’ names. Tell the time by taps of feet.
Prove by example: animals are not mere machines.
Disarm the aggressive narcissism of human beings
By flaunting your charisma, docility, and wit.
Discourse on the feudal system, the rights of kings.
If a lady thinks you a figment of her imaginings,
Read her mind for her. She’ll give you a big treat
And suspect that animals are not mere machines.
Take your proud seat among other marvelous things:
Parliament of Monsters, appearance of the Paraclete.
Banter mistresses of feudal lords, paramours of kings.
Be a show master, puller of your own puppet-strings,
Unravel the cruel cat’s cradle of our crass conceit
That animals are nothing but mere dumb machines.
Tour with the circus, climb the great chain of being,
Compete and win championships as a cerebral athlete.
Discourse on the feudal system, the rights of kings,
Prove by example: animals are no mere machines.
Note: in the late eighteenth century, a humble black suckling was adopted by the itinerant animal trainer Samuel Bisset and named Toby. In order to make a fortune out of his new “asset”, he trained the pig intensively for sixteenth months. A porcine prodigy, Toby was toured throughout Europe and feted wherever he went. Robert Southey said, “The learned pig was in his day a far greater object of admiration than ever was Sir Isaac Newton.” In the words of thelearnedpig.org, “The Learned Pig is therefore a strange kind of symbol: both a reminder of crimes perpetrated in the name of authority, and an opportunity to put them right.”
How Many More / Susan Dambroff
how many more summers –
apricot roses, dahlia gardens, those glorious puffs, that first glance of amazement,
a juicy plum, pink lady flowers rising on city peaks,
how many more days to notice-
back-to school days, spiderman backpacks on chubby arms, new shiny shoes,
a boy clutching his new red pencil
how many things left to remember –
being as tall as a mound of leaves, a trail of yellow dog pee in the snow, those honeysuckle springs,
the times we rang random doorbells,
before anyone came to the door
FLOWER MARKET / Sara Dudo
In the future, there will be rooms
to fill with deadheaded blooms.
At dusk while the clouds burst
I heave flowers into the lake’s
[in relativity, a black hole
is defined as an expanse of spacetime
in which the gravitational field is so
strong that nothing can escape it.]
[A black hole is
a summer offering.]
gold & peach halfglobes
scattering spheres, a reflection of nimbus rings.
The Sebring sits stuck in deep sand grooves.
Between us and the light, a fermata of yearning
and fable of the windmill still above trees.
Bullfrogs. Orbweavers. My waist
closing the seam between water
a seam joins but also closes.
[String theory says everything
is made up of exceptionally tiny strings
whose vibrations produce effects
we interpret as atoms and electrons.]
String theory is my arms
around your neck
traversing day waves
lives into boxes.
The Precious Ones / Ann Huang
a window to art
a bush without reasoning for it
the characters of love
Contemporary, unlike goddesses
clumsy in black
makes the space and time prolonged.
a pink t-shirt
Never seen before, never seen
in the public, in raw pop ways
Cape Hatteras / Amy Jasek
It took a long time to reach the lighthouse
longer, even (maybe) than Virginia,
but I forget what that book was about.
On the road I mainly read signs. They tout
destinations and give us ideas,
like Pea Island on the way to the lighthouse.
The people who live around here don’t flout
it, but the land moves, in minutia.
Stability they must forget about.
We drove to the island’s tip to check out
as much as we could under that aqua
sky. We followed the signs to the lighthouse,
and there it stood, in its new spot, so doused
with light it seemed to shine. All the drama
of the deadly shoals forgotten about
in the safety of the sun. We looked out
toward the sea. I pulled out my cameras
to capture the long-awaited lighthouse,
this destination, the end of the route,
recalling what the journey was about.
Something I heard / Jules Lattimer
How do we let
in? And how
do we share
Tonight the dog
left her food
piles all over
the floor. And it’s
my little love
of all pleasures
coiled at my hip
like i’m shelter
we’ll tilt up
toward the sun
Film of the Production of a Book of Poems Viewed in Reverse / Tate Lewis-Carroll
After Austin Smith
Backwards up the sidewalk, a mailman stops
in front of a mailbox and removes a package
before continuing to the neighbor’s. The book
arrives at the printing house where
the glue softens. It’s vacuumed up
before hardening again into horse
hooves, clopping back to their horses
who march, hind first, from the factory’s
loading bays. The horse’s dark eyes lighten
as they cross over familiar country
lanes to pastures where they remember
their mothers cresting those very knolls.
The pages ride a conveyor belt to a blade
that sharpens as it kisses them into sheets.
The paper rebinds itself into lumber,
trunks, returning torn to the saw mill
but leaving mended, soaring through the forest
and screwing into their proper stumps.
Abandoned nests flutter from the ground
and settle into the leafing branches
for the returning young sparrows and finches,
balling themselves back into eggs.
The poems fall apart into earlier drafts,
riddling themselves with mistakes,
until they are pulled up and out of a notebook
by the tip of a pen. A heart monitor
jolts back to life and the dead father
sits up in his hospital bed. His IV bag,
hooked to the crook of his arm, begins to fill
with a gluey solution of saline and chemo.
Day 19 / Poem 19
Nokomis / Emily Ahmed
Felt trapped in a new life,
missed the old life,
wanted to escape back to it
but got lost in the new
til it got old.
Then left to make another life,
it also got old.
Didn’t know the days of
muffin making in Minnesota
were precious like the days of
Los Angeles that never came.
Didn’t know I should have treasured
baby cheeks and every bus
that didn’t show up
after every lake swim the way
I treasured every paycheck to get out
and counting calories.
I saw two kayaks with two hammocks
hung over them at the lake once,
connected and fused together,
they said, No matter the weather,
don’t let go.
Then that life and lake got left behind,
made a new one,
thought I could fashion it out of previous
models. Have had many lives since,
fused and unfused, sailed many rickety
boats in dangerous waters,
but you can’t miss something to return,
you can only miss it to death.
Taste of a Day / Lucie Chou
warmed to bechamel haze.
I pestle boiled spinach
with a microwaved potato.
I toss in salt and parsley,
black pepper, nutritional yeast.
I repastinate it with a spatula.
Serve with a portobello
burger, a green apple.
Late afternoon, butterfly pea blue.
Camellia bushes in wet aquerelle.
I make arrabbiata pasta
with three fresh tomatoes.
I slice red, green and yellow
pimentos into shapely quarters,
keeping all the seeds.
I bake them on tin foil
at 350 °F for seven minutes
till they develop lovely burns.
Spicy and sweet.
Aunt Amy got matsutake mushrooms
from Freshippo’s discount store.
They smell queerly grassy
sizzling in the skillet.
In my sandwich the slices taste
bitter like poisonous almonds.
Tomatoes, bread and asparagus
polluted by the leach.
I have to pick them out
as lovingly as I had
tucked them in.
Still I relish the tomatoes’ piquancy,
the asparagus’s umami,
bread’s fragrance and crunch.
I chew, savor, swallow. My stomach
not queasy. The aftertaste
lingers like heat after summer sunset.
Orange Pond / Susan Dambroff
the shimmering sound of leaves
on silver birch, the quiet scratching of pens
at rest hour,
army blankets on the grass
were weighed everyday
the thin ones
got cookies and chocolate milk
the rhythm of ping pong balls on the porch,
the sound of Pachelbel’s canon
as we silently crossed the dirt road
to a circle of benches
to hear parables
to eat apple butter sandwiches
on Sunday evenings
the delicious scent of the cedar dining room
in the afternoon sun
the bell ringing for Mail Call,
the thrill of hearing my name
envelopes opened on the grass
the rattle of stones on the bottom
of the old station wagon
field trips to
Orozco murals, granite quarry, mica mine,
counting off three bridges
to Mt. Cardigan
the old schoolhouse
a stop on the underground railroad
milkweed, tiger lilies,
the sun sparkling on Orange Pond,
the call of the white throated sparrow
a farewell to the lake, our candles
floating out on the water
Hans playing accordion on the dock
OCEAN OCEAN OCEAN / Sara Dudo
and the glass: voice vigiled by wind. Green highlands
and purple sea figs, interpellation of smooth
blue glass rounded at corners. All morphology buried
in secret sun falls between Pismo and Avila. Forget
the study of words, relationship to each other, see
this splendid overbirth of floral plate triangles, gum
I mistake for turquoise, be synoptic or say nothing.
Voice: larynx love affair, upcoming cherry trees
for the sake of safety but for now a woman places
cobalt in my hand and down to the spongiosa
my body damp with seaside aster, sea glass and I
contrafacts at best: how often are we
exactly where we want to be.
Ripening Love / Ann Huang
She reminisces the liking of a lover
She has not met in physicality.
Once for all, she ponders her
Who is my love?
Your answers are usually many.
You had loved thoroughly,
If only to have been matched by
Her wisdom and compassion.
Sometimes that is just two of us
who were meant to love and be
reciprocated in mutual
You are too stressed, my dearest.
Come and feel peace in our dream.
Stations / Amy Jasek
Sometimes in conversation an unexpected
passenger pops out, having slept
at the back of the carriage and missed his stop.
The other night at dinner it was doodlebug: unexpectedly
no one knew what it meant and pop
goes the word, changing the conversation.
It was like being the foreigner in the room. I expected
that overseas, but my own passing spaces
are usually full of familiar conversation.
So we looked it up, and what I found was unexpected
as the passenger itself: new definitions popped up.
My vocabulary refreshed, disembarking its station.
Once upon a sometimes, little was unexpected,
I was padded into the kind of rocking sleep
that can make you comfortable enough to miss your stop.
But trains are always changing
expectant relics thriving on arrival
until the conversation departs
and with sunset-flare the carriage rides on to another stop
Scaredy / Jules Lattimer
Tonight in the rush
I stepped into the alley
holding a roll of bread —
sky on orange, wind like
sugar. We captured
the cat I named Scaredy
for her intake at the vet.
Standing in the cat’s space
I felt I was without her
looking in the shadows
for a set of silent eyes.
But she was elsewhere, blinking
quiet at new humans —
wimpy and unflappable,
buzzing under the blue light.
Mr. President / Tate Lewis-Carroll
was what we called a game we played,
which had nothing to do with democracy
or governing the free world.
No, ten years old
all we wanted was to escort the president,
safely, from the backyard to the front,
or, better yet, to be the assassin
lying prone along a length of hedge,
picking off the secret service members
who would charge sacrificially into the fire.
I used to believe in dying for
some ultimate cause
in a similarly spectacular fashion,
fulfilling some sacred oath
I’d vowed to keep.
All afternoon, I’d perform my best
to make my death look good—
floundering the contortions of dying,
cradling my exposed innards,
sputtering some prepared, final words—
until it was nearly dark and my mother
called me home. There I’d play Queen,
my least favorite game.
Day 18 / Poem 18
A Feeling / Emily Ahmed
There’s a feeling in the air
like a castle’s final brick was set and lodged,
like a handsome man just brought courtyard flowers
to the banquet hall, set them in the center of
the round table, like we forgot to puzzle over
how to withdraw a sword from a backyard stone,
like we know there will be dancing here one day,
and just like that,
something fell into place.
Bigfruit / Lucie Chou
for Oenothera macrocarpa
Catch Bigfruit Evening Primrose in bloom
Along gravel roads lighting the prairie night.
Her large yellow flowers will carry you through.
Her bold golden faces beam in multitudes.
In legendary towns of the lost countryside,
Catch Bigfruit Evening Primrose in bloom.
She will serenade you with silver perfumes,
Hiding your shadow in reflected starlight.
Her large yellow flowers will carry you through
On resplendent, rapturous, resilient plumes
Braving a prairie homeland altered quite
Radically. Bigfruit Evening Primrose will bloom
For night pollinators and native bees doomed,
Perhaps, to haunt this land as shadow sprites,
Singing, “My flowers will carry you through.”
Sending swirling sparks above suspiring woods,
She sets the hope of struggling wings alight.
Catch Bigfruit Evening Primrose in bloom—
Her large yellow flowers will carry you through.
Abortion Ban Mississippi / Susan Dambroff
she starts 7th grade
as a mother
as a mother
in camo-print leggings
she was 12 years old
raped in her backyard
in Clarksdale, Mississippi
She calls the baby – Peanut
He’s dressed in blue
The doctor said
she wouldn’t open her mouth
She was snatched from her backyard
raped around the side of the house
He covered her mouth
when he raped her
she starts 7th grade
as a mother
as a mother
as a mother
Go Fund Me Page
IN RESPONSE TO NOTES FOUND IN THE MAKING OF A POEM / Sara Dudo
Ponderosa > hesitant cones, grief and growth
Modesty > waking after a storm, sudden peaches
Jammies > strange: we can say peel or unpeel
Fruit Gossip > jagged shape, animism
Casket > can love still be love without memory?
Glove > tear up a lot of ground
Mortician > chronograph racket
Requiem > a sfumato with lemon macaroons
To Put out Wet Laundries > our false town
Specter > under the hill, cold mercy stones
Terra > grandmothers singing everywhere
The Lineage / Ann Huang
Oral lineage is part of The Lineage.
As it is part of living
from coming through the dying,
at the very moment of human connection.
Many know that for centuries
it is impossible to decipher all
the grand deeds of human history.
That they are more than myths, overtly pre-
Destined to become correlated and defined
like a child’s birth.
Many know the humane frailty
is the soulful part of the karmas,
and that it oftentimes surrenders,
like the lovers’ submissions,
which make through the end of the world
for knowing one’s beloved heart
as if it were her own.
Pinehurst / Amy Jasek
What does it take to become a statue?
How long until you solidify,
step by step, with a historic adieu?
The exacting Medusa takes her due.
The sculptor looks: flesh and bone ossify.
That’s what it takes to become a statue.
When a lifetime of achievements accrue
and you are found awesome in people’s eyes
step by step, you make your grand adieu
but you never really leave, stuck like glue
to your trademark place, to be glorified
by tourists who take notice of statues
but possibly can’t identify you.
What does it take to be recognized?
How will the world remember your adieu?
This is the town where they came to see you,
where your celebrity was ratified.
Haphazard, they decorate your statue.
I walk by and bid you a fond adieu.
Dog poem / Jules Lattimer
It’s the end
of the night and
I’m a statue
in my home
a stuffed bird
glued on the perch
But the dog’s
on her own, throwing
her little body
elastic and flying
Early Drafts / Tate Lewis-Carroll
After a year of development
along this river, mayflies
emerge without a mouth
only to starve to death
by the end of the night—
long enough though to learn
how to fly and lay more eggs,
which will later resurface
to, one day, just maybe,
surprise us all by their bite.
Day 17 / Poem 17
Moving / Emily Ahmed
That matted print in the corner
they did together, cut right down
the straightest lines.
Their house is the fruit of all their efforts,
Persephone and Hades covered in
and they are the gardeners.
Her vintage couch was a group deed,
his shelf needed many hands,
every forest friend and roommate
appeared when called.
Each thing has a story, what holds their
wine bottles is the product of adventure,
her vanity you’d swear it came from a queen
or a duchess, swear you could
see her reflection in the mirror
as she readies herself for a ball.
He leaves Persephone with romantic notes
that she starts her day with,
she has the most gorgeous rugs
from her lineage that she walks across to
leave, go to work. Traces her fingers
along the walls they painted together
a tangerine for the sun, for the autumn leaves,
for her mother’s hair.
I order a desk I can’t lift up the stairs,
bland and boring and cancerous,
I return it when it’s no good.
Thrown-together apartment, quiet halls.
I’ll catch up to Persephone one day,
before death, I hope.
The Foliate Face / Lucie Chou
We are being watched by the Foliate Face
Wherever we look walking through the woods
In search for the last remaining wild place.
We stumble into Earth’s terrible embrace,
Tangled by her slowly strangling shoots
Under the surveillance of her Foliate Face.
A stone-carved Green Man makes a grimace
From atroverdant recesses of ancient yews,
Growling to guard his last dwelling-place.
Or surprised by it sticking up from a vase
Of calla lilies, half hiding under the hoods—
Pouring pollen from its warped Foliate Face.
Or in a gnarled bough’s mossy carapace
We see our own ghastly image protrude,
Lost and haunted in this strange wild place.
We’ve turned away from the reciprocal gaze
Of green, dug up our own life-giving roots.
But we are still watched by the Foliate Face
Keening the fading wildness of every place.
Note: the Green Man, or Foliate Face, is a mythic gargoyle that, often carved in stone or wood, appears commonly as part of Christian architecture throughout the UK, said to reflect an occult version of plant-human hybridity redolent of civilized man’s yearning for a return to the natural world. This poem also alludes to the psychological phenomenon of pareidolia, the tendency for humans to see human faces and humanoid patterns in places such as tree canopies and knots of wood.
Tendrils of Hope / Susan Dambroff
I read that parrots are talking to each other over zoom,
cars begin to drive themselves, what’s left of touch?
I pick at tendrils of hope –
my prancing puppy, the prize of a perfect stick, the orange wicker chair
shining in the garden
I dream impossible rooms, limitless losses, embers that stick to my eyes
and hang on to hope-
in the refrain of a river, the rocks that help me remember,
my body glistening in the sun
I watch as my beloved plugs herself in, today’s indictment, the burning banyan tree,
the hook of the news
and find hope –
in the welcome of the bird feeder, the remnants of a robin’s nest,
a ragged bowl above my door, that first coat of feathers
I talk to my doctor over a screen, wonder about the future of intimacy, watch as AI takes
our faces away
and reach for tendrils of hope –
the toddler twirling her tutu on the baseball field, how I once danced
in a meadow, my sweet stir across the grass
PANOPLY OF LIVING VOWS / Sara Dudo
but we are
in the drive:
swaying on mirror
a thousand small suns
spangling the roof.
Trapped Japanese beetle caught in Spanish moss laces its wiry legs
around a finger, temptation for sweet corn silk and rotten cucumber.
The waiting is over
for Adonis blue
to change from pupa
wings taking over
of cosmic dome.
In a yellow photograph Olivia’s white hair is backlit, her oil painting of Anchorage bent on the wall.
In the closet, a small rabbit the size of a clementine placed in cardboard box
In the milkweed-
mesh of trees netting
rain from small girls’ heads,
the last vision
of a tokay gecko
pattering up the screen
while seashells bleach
in a bucket.
Would you not believe
in the act of love
the Atacama Desert
landfilled with clothes
believes in the sky?
There was a field
death’s millefiori of
In front of me-
chime of a rolling spoon
at sharp right turns.
Katie makes gold winged earrings amidst a phalanx of reeds. The cape is the grease stain Sherman left while loving on Jose Cuervo and spilling pink wax across the bench.
Small girls stand akimbo
and sheen beetle’s wings
thorax into a chest of
wild craving cherry in
We are so close to celestial
as we can imagine.
Paddling Out / Ann Huang
Paddling Out (OLI 2024)
The play is not due out yet.
While the man you love
had passed on to the land
of the dying
let him go
let him know
let him have
let him be
in less pain
with your love
that’s a gift
let him feel
Coffin House / Amy Jasek
I was looking for ghosts
in that house, converted
long ago from family to hostelry
I sought some kind of sign
a keyhole view into
a locked room, but even
standing on tiptoe I
could barely see myself
Before bed / Jules Lattimer
In the new moon everyone turns their porch lights out.
This is a place where stars matter, there are laws
about them, about how the lights go. Tonight
I walked the milky way right on my street, and Larry said
he thinks the stars are god. They’re always there.
We were talking about the episcopal palace out in Houston,
its thousands of parishioners, how faith seems to envelop them
even from behind. I talked about walking in the wet woods, how
we pull toward petrichor chest-first, elk to the pond,
and how a desert sun can teach you about water.
He asked me my divine and I said have you ever
laid your ear on the chest of the one you love because
that’s pretty close. Around the corner the night black dog
vanished into the ink, into the nothing, like a cup turned over and
blotted the whole world out. I was earth-side, looking upward
for Polaris or Ursa Major. There were bats whipping needles off the pines.
Praying Mantis / Tate Lewis-Carroll
The young wear their youth securely
as suits of armor. To them, death is merely
a distant flickering at the end
of some faraway tunnel. But lately,
mine has grown heavier, or I, weaker.
I’ve just now noticed all the blows
that must have dimpled my helmet,
slits in the breastplate, chinks in the chainmail
where the light passes easily through. Why else
have I stopped to inspect this praying mantis—
brown and slender as a fallen bamboo leaf,
her chitin wing covers tightening
over the delicate lace of her wings,
her large eyes cocked disturbingly upwards?
As death, curious of everything living,
leans closer in, she swings the tiny blades
of her arms wildly.
Day 16 / Poem 16
Fathers & Daughters / Emily Ahmed
The plan was for the daughter
to go live
with her father,
do all they couldn’t do together
in years past.
She would find some job in his city,
she just wanted milky tea on the balcony
with its teal faux leather seats
and it’s walls that were a gentle blush
of pink. Read the newspaper aloud,
memorize his language. The balcony
would be shrouded in greenery.
Instead, it didn’t quite turn out that way.
They built another building that blocked
the view. The pink walls faded in dust.
The father lived with two others, and
the daughter stayed living grieving
But her sheets she always keeps blush pink,
says it reminds her of being safe
as a child
while she sleeps miles away
from that other life.
The Zen of Shadow Luxurience / Lucie Chou
Found Poem: Maui / Susan Dambroff
embers would land in their hair
a freight train coming down the mountain
a stunning death
bodies in the trees
NIGHTFALL / Sara Dudo
I consult fire:
do we live further
into the night
than we realize?
My grandmother built a circular house
We dance our way through a sarabande
for a place of pearls
will insist your time
ellipses: my organized embers-
how do you feel
Amargosa peaks see
in a year of yellow splinters
and of flower theory:
the gardener and plant
Exquisite Corpse / Ann Huang
Drylands’ darkest black,
Ocean’s royalist blue,
Collided dust of meteors,
Freezing sunrise sparkle,
Under this hardened skin,
In a whirlwind of shadow–
Colliding, more shadow?
Scripted / Amy Jasek
Put it in a letter.
Send it across the world.
Let it go unfettered
on a snail’s back. Better
licked with a stamp, folded:
an envelope letter
that you write on paper
instead of coded swirls,
flying real, unfettered.
Slow motion exchanger
of words. Emotions hurled
wildly in your letters,
by your own hand, where censure
hides in eraser-burled
remnants. Your unfettered
expression, written per
the speed that your pen twirls
through your paper letters.
Let it fly, unfettered.
A delight / Jules Lattimer
The cat on the wall
flipping its shadow tail
and the honey sun
at its back.
Recipe for a Poem / Tate Lewis-Carroll
Drag your hands gently up your throat like a swallowed key on a string.
- Unlock the medicine cabinet, but don’t take the plastic pills too seriously.
- Freshen the bandages over your eyes. Now that you can see the lake the lake will sublime.
- In the center of the crater there, find a rose bush blooming with the heads of dolls that blink when tipped over.
- In one doll’s eye, there should be a landing. Take the stairs up. (The escalator should also be fine.)
- In your back pocket you should find a candle; light it. Begin your search through the dated names and dates.
- The reverse sometimes works for prose.