The August, 2023 30/30 Project

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 15 / Poem 15

Dear Ms. Murphy, / Emily Ahmed

I know you said I have to do three things
a week for “community building” in hopes
I will stop crying over
my lack of friends so much.
I went to the painting group, or, rather,
I fumbled into it.
my hip hit the doorknob
on the way out of my foyer
it started pouring rain
I couldn’t run in my sandals
in that water
and I already
have a messed up ankle
I twisted when I was eight.
Did I ever tell you that?

My classmates carried me back to class
and my teacher said it
surely couldn’t hurt that badly,
so after hobbling home and resting it
on the couch for a while,
I never said another word about it.
Now, I can’t run like I used to, not without
my ankle failing and me falling
to the ground.

So, I couldn’t justify running to my car in the pouring rain even if I was late to painting.
I was wearing a dress and everything,
and finally I showed up and this building looked
Bb like a prison or a high school.
I had no idea which way to go.
But you’ll be pleased to know I got there.

There’s something I discovered at painting
I think we can discuss some other session:
I am invisible.
Or shy.

I’ve always been told I was shy,
but I never believed it.
I fumbled into the painting group and no one said hello or turned a head.
I asked for some spare paper or canvas and
someone spoke over me, but one guy heard,
offered me a sketchbook page.
I said thank you. I recognized a woman there,
and even though I wanted to cry from my throbbing hipbone I said hi because I know
you’d tell me to.
I left early because it turns out
I was supposed to bring all my supplies so I just pencil sketched on my lap, I used a palette
as a hardcover for my flimsy paper.
I think I messed up and looked rude,
but no one looked at me go.

I know my parents always worried I would
turn up like this, but were relieved I found
a way to meet some people growing up.
Now I’m grown and I think most people don’t
want to meet me. A lot of them left over time.
You might say surely it can’t hurt that badly,
so after living in seclusion and resting away
in my apartment for a while,
I never let it stop me. But
now, I can’t ignore the signs, not without
my resilience failing and my heart falling
to the ground.

Either way, I have a party this weekend
and I’m still searching
for my third community building session.
I’ll make a note of all this for the next session,
Ms. Murphy.

Fern, That Earthbound Argoverdant Arch-Albatross   / Lucie Chou

Ferns, ferns, ferns. Tree ferns tower over
my head, bark armored by primordial 
plumes like the flightless archaeopteryx.

All shapes a Chinese paper-cutting artist
can imagine, a leaf can also. In the beginning
the leaf was a wing. From per-, to lead, pass over,

that which carries a bird in flight, comes fearn,
filix, pteris. Feather plant. Draw any cute
or fantastic or grotesque or baroque

or rococo or art deco or art nouveau shape
and some kind of fern would have found it
the exact fitting template for its flying suit.

It has sewn neat rows of sporangia into 
the webbed seams of leaf-veins. Buttons
are meant to stay stolidly on and hold

folds together, but these small round brown 
boxes reach their entelechy by bursting
to spread their kind wherever wind or water

carries them in flight. Magic dust sprinkled
from rooted wings whose element is not air
but wet, worm-swirling, fertile earth.

For centuries their flourishing had remained
a mystery. Like people once fancied that birds
of paradise had no feet and lived in clouds,

drinking dew and feasting on ethereal nectar,
they made myths about the fabulously invisible 
seed of ferns: it births at dusk a small blue

flower the night before midsummer, ripens
in a blink of eye, and dies; it flies through
eleven pewter plates and lands on the twelfth;

it confers knowledge, treasure, invisibility
on those vigilant enough to elude fairies;
It guards against ill weather and dark magic.

It heals. It kills. The Devil spreads it as chaos.
It attends Christian rituals that celebrate light.
The first gods were trees. The first trees, ferns.

Stand beneath Dryopteris erythrosora or cycadina. 
Turn over fronds of Cyathea dealbata. That silver
bird, Ponga, has flown from its ocean home

into dark woods. Its underwings’ reflected light
guides me to an opening. There I spread it out,
sew it onto paper barbel by delicate barbel,

write on a small card where and when it hovered
bowering me, who else witnessed the tryst,
transplant my memory of it to a hortus siccus.

Missing Amy / Susan Dambroff

you taught me
how to massage kale
with olive oil
my slippery hands
in your black and white tiled kitchen
where everything was served
on a perfect platter
each artistry
of size, shape, and color
some kind of match
with your long elegant fingers
spooning the food onto the plate
with sprigs of garnish


now in my kitchen
I rub the kale 
and remember
the food I would bring 
when you got sick

each text exchange
I’ve saved

Can you pick up-
seaweed, organic chard, fresh blueberries?

how in the midst of it all
your heart
never thinned  

So glad you are coming
I wish there was a skipping emoji
over my head.

those months 
where your faith never waivered

I’m steady, stable,
All is well, beloved,
Ganesh made me smile today

 and we continued to cook food together

Can you bring
miso grilled vegetables,
daikon radishes, bokchoy? 


I remember when your hair was gone
and you texted

I’m in the hat shop
on the square
waiting for you

and as you hurried to finish writing your book 

I’m trying to rally,
Today my wig- and a wedding,
The radiation had a beautiful blue light

 I’d bring chicken broth with white rice
and even when you’d say

 I don’t know where and when 

there was always your miraculous hope

the doctor shows me a bell
says if you need anything
it is here


Sunny Day Tomorrow/ Ann Huang 

Sunny day tomorrow,
…. my love
While morning shade
is dissipating your heat
The beginning
Of her wholesomeness
Or the first whale season
Has begun.

Sunny day tomorrow–
Warm as a fairytale,
Keener than any tailspin
Amid waves
whereas whales swam

The Private Gate / Amy Jasek

take the wheel that bars the way
give it a turn to the left
see what the latch has to say

“Private,” in sotto voce
new discoveries bereft
where a ship’s wheel bars the way

of weathered bronze, the lazy
sign is all there is to cleft
what the latch might have to say

shady mysteries await
concealed in the garden’s chest
behind the wheel’s barring way

curiosity’s short gate
would see it open deftly
but what the latch has to say

must go. Intruders, delay
allow the sign its due heft
here’s the wheel that bars the way
the latch only says no today

Starting with bugs  / Jules Lattimer

Today I’d been wrapped in red 

in daylight, fingering the netting 

on my ribs. I tapped at a grasshopper 

on the glass, shook something 

wingèd out of the linen, pressed 

my face up to the screens on my next 

home. At dusk I walked 

the chalky nightfall, scanning 

for movement in the grass. I took 

a stretch of highway for myself, 

and the little jumpers snapped 

their bodies upward all around me, 

firecrackers popping in my stride.

Urban Dictionary / Tate Lewis-Carroll

This is not so much a dictionary
as it is a field guide for the ruralized
explorer, who, perhaps once, knew
the common courses of slang,
but now is hopelessly lost in the babblings
of the everyday speech of children.
They pour over the map of phrases,
first, in hopes of understanding—
litslapspeach. But soon the slow river of fear
achingly snakes them further down
toward the rumored comings
and goings of fiendishly dirtier trends
until, finally, it floods with suspicion
at every odd word carelessly dropped
by their children’s foreign, forken tongues.

Day 14 / Poem 14

Cottagecore / Emily Ahmed

She said she would catch up on Sunday,
finish her book, restart an old painting,
change her address and stamp some letters,
but her body can only remember
the ache in her bones from the car rides
and the headaches from the screens at her
office job, so terribly inconvenient
for someone who would be content to
pick flowers, poke holes into seashells,
and weave them into strands of jewelry,
who would cook fine meals and learn
her first language and catch up on the
really important things in life,
if she didn’t have to do what life told her
to do. Maybe she’d be happy once her empty
kitchen has a couch, or if her job
paid her enough to afford a place with a living room for this couch.
She’ll go online and read lists of
the dying who said they wish they’d worked less, but also that they should have followed
their dreams. So exhausting, all the chatter,
she falls asleep.


Watercolor Field Composition  / Lucie Chou

Spontaneous growth:
an inky green curve.

It becomes a spray
of cardinal creeper.

Tendrils uncoil.
Finely pinnate leaves

unfold affinity
to fern fronds

and pine needles.
Five-pronged red star

emerges out of air,|
reaches for the stem.

Another flower, half open.
A bud at curve’s end.

Three cardinals chorus
a canon: beaks unclose

by turns. Large velvet
sap green hearts 

in upper left corner
shadow two smaller 

hearts floating below.
A pendent stem strays

a little from straight
to string them all.

Is this purple clump
of crumpled tissue

a morning glory unborn 
to the gaiety of sun

or sagging overblown?
Dew-soaked, dangling soft.

The lower right corner 
is filled with a quarter

of a goblet in full flower,
showing two of five pale

rays on the corolla.
Faint Tyrian veins.

Afar, high, a cobalt streak
wet-on-wet. Four o’clock

light begins breaking
darkness to unbind day.

The horizon is revealed
brimming as a forest

with fungi after rain:
square silhouettes

of buildings push up
in a light, slightly

mossy grey matrix
mixed from cardinal 

red and sap green.
They push up against

morning’s glory:
luminous, saturate

orange raptured into
unbearably bright

lemon gold. This hour
seethes with citrus zeal.

Everything glistens.
Gloss of wet paint

or is it rain? Purple light
spills in furred sfumato

from morning glory’s soft
edges into the misty 

auras of lichen-grey 
mesas. Every color

bleeds a little from flower
leaf tendril sky earth sun

to mingle in the field.
An organic field where 

beings fountain from
my brush, mesh, make love.

Like a Metronome / Susan Dambroff

88 year-old sisters 
call each other every day
to say I’m alive
and you tell me the story 
of your mother in her last years 
who had a sign on her door
I’m not Dead yet

these conversations
we have these days
about aging

as we walk up a hill
of neighborhood garage sales
where I buy
a mustard -colored crochet hat
as a donation to Muttville –
a rescue for elderly dogs
and a woman sells
her old reading glasses
because she had cataract surgery
and no longer needs 
the speckled rim 
3.0 readers I buy 
so I can read the directions 
on pill bottles

Later at the dog park
Marianne’s dog –
in his last days
lays his big shaggy head
in my lap
then shuffles back and forth
like the old man

I see walking from his front door
to the corner and back
tapping his cane
like a metronome

OMPHALOS / Sara Dudo

Your life begins and ends with how you deal with returning
from the wilderness. The stance

         of unbelieving the jade in your teeth, versus the loud vacuum
of false humility is dead. Your notice

         will always change everything, just as death will always enter
a poem, whether invited or not.

         Just as my knees sink in orange must count for some flower         
of gorgeousness, the true skill

         is getting death to leave, feeling it has no place here. You must
find the world again and again.

Clear the intaglios of each past prognosis, what’s left: seed, aroma,
the miracle of the iris,

Lily falling through snow drifts, everything gossamer. The roadway
was flooded, a series of sisters

         making what once was a path a grave of our fish tales. In all
the flooded canyon, spheres of pink

         beavertail, truck engine cools in small smoke, a desert floor
of yellow poppies still opening:

         of course death is a thief, also a botanist, entomologist, ophiologist,
and lover of dawn.

         If it is just you and basket evening primrose, beds of orange sand,
would you accept the world

         the same way the mountain cutthroats in the midst of hunger
still live in their small pool?

Sign of Love / Ann Huang

The moon is seen,
the ovation is there;
the tiny white pin
is left out.

You go to your counselor
in these very moments,
an inquisitive notion
flaming to the sky.

You had worked until
You were dying from illness;
To enter the gate to heaven
from the eleventh way.

The visual therapy
is a given
All my love
is a given

The fierce
flame is deadening.

The moon will be seen

the sorrows swallow
the hearts worn,

somehow you had 
been puffed out
in the air.

Time Window / Amy Jasek

In the glass, all my decisions greet me
with expectant faces.  Minute-watchers,
patients makers of chimes.  Ever nobly

they show me their hands, brimming with the seeds
of my life.  Reflective hours defer
me to the glass, where time looks back at me.

List-ticker, trickster, taking what I see,
sending it back again.  Regimenter,
patiently making the chimes sound nobly,

clapped to my wrist.  Complex inner workings
speak to mine.  Well my body’s strict clocker
watches while all my decisions greet me.

It won’t wait for me any more than thee,
insistent scheduler, a task master
impatiently chiming, ignobly keen.

I see past and future’s kiss-hug meeting,
expectantly facing time barriers
in the glass.  All my decisions greet me.
I chime back to them with stoic nobility.

Poem in a hurry / Jules Lattimer

In the poem I almost wrote 
tonight we’re in the hammock,
sun sweating against us, and 
flying orange flowers —

In my old city life I always
wrote the flowers down, 
but in the pretty
place there isn’t time —

Too much sky and heat poison,
running to my car, burning
electric, brushing a spider 
off the seat. In the poem

I almost wrote tonight 
there were children at the edge
of the pool, smiles on, dipping 
their legs underwater in the thunder out.

The adults were doing it. In the poem
I almost wrote we had gentle sun, a drop
of fruit juice fell down your perfect 
hand, and I wanted it.

Dear Reader / Tate Lewis-Carroll

I am collecting my stethoscope 
to help me crack the safe of your ribs
while you sleep.

If I do this right,
you won’t realize it.

If I do trip the alarm
and you notice the window’s ajar, 
curtains billowing, when you scramble

to take inventory of your treasures,
nothing will be missing.

If I do this right,
you’ll even mistake what I’ve hidden there
as your own.

Day 13 / Poem 13

Carolina / Emily Ahmed

There is an unraveling 
of the sun over the marshes
into dusk’s dark gown, 
I think I heard a voice, 
the trees are bent like
wilting flowers and from them
hang their greenery like long drapes,
or a veil on a moss bride. 
Walking to and from the pier
smells like mud, smells like
crabs on the dinner table.
I’m scared to slip into the bog,
the walkway has only one side
of fencing, scared to 
to walk down an aisle if there’s
no one on the other side. 

I can see them now, they’re in 
their sunset dresses, heels swinging
off the pier, unconcerned about
falling or breaking. 
This is a setting for a story
or a lesson,
I just haven’t figured out what

Rhyme Creatures with Treasures  / Lucie Chou

At the exhibition fair, connoisseurs of shells
upend their cabinets of curiosity. Emerald 
snails, cinnabar scallops with barnacles
like jagged amethyst crystals, heart-shaped
bivalves mimicking pods of goldenrain trees.
There’s one the size of my stretched palm,
a rich burgundy, sleek spikes shorter on centers
of cheeks and longer towards the lips, blood-
stone geode or Venus’s flytrap turned inside out.
Venus rose from the waves on a cockleshell
large enough to hold all the gorgeous, fragile
and price-tagged body-houses of sea creatures
laid out on these counters. She wore treasures
on neck and wrists. Pearls are sold. A girl bawls,
bright fragments at her feet. Break something
and you have to take it. Beauty for sale sounds 
an atrocity. A terrible prosody rhyming
beauty with booty. I think of the soft bodies
that inch along strands bared at low tide,
soft but not formless, each making a form
that selves—goes itself, each its own creator
of shell as dwelling-place, daydreaming-space,
taking field notes to write organic poetry.
When a creature dies and vacates its house,
the meaning its bodily existence has made
lives on. This meaning we value and collect.
Sometimes when we covet the meaning, we
kill the maker to lay claim to its vacant shell.
We ransack creatures of reveries we can’t read.
We are so proud of our rich spoils. Playing
on the beach we find shells of an infinity
of unknown species. We call that bounty our
commodity. Catalog it. Sell the catenated
charms of the cosmos to those who love them
enough to pay. This fair will end but hopefully
the ocean will live on, coming in, going out,
workshopping artifacts of vibrant matter.

Argument over a Basket of Fruit / Susan Dambroff

you want your lemons
picked fresh
from our backyard tree
when you need them
for salad or fish
or squeezed into water
with a sprig of mint

but I like to catch
their readiness
in bunches
each one
snapping off 
from their branches
into my hands
I like to make a bowl
of them   
with my arms 
big enough
to carry 
their small weight
up the steps
I like the way they fall 
with their shine
out of my hands
into the basket

but you 
like to have one lemon
at a time
because then it will be
the ripest one
and nothing will go bad
and it will leave more room
in the basket for 

I looked for a poem
this morning
and here it is
a silly argument
in the kitchen
what we both feel about 
what is enough


A closet full of hyacinths
a dream my voice begged
for forgiveness
from a gramophone

a sunny floor
outside, a blue mountainside

even in dreams
solipsism, guilt, whatever
you want to call it

a wall of white chipped agate
red streaks a snow mound
my father and I climb
the minerals
into a new state where

      the cat pants
under a suspended wicker arch
coolant breakdown in Missouri,
an ocean of crested wheatgrass:

         wishing everything
did not come down
to life and death,

we lay the blanket with one less hour
       in our pockets,
         wait for the clouds
                  to do something

and wake to wet faces
sound of mayflies crushing
the distance between egg and light.

In the Red Sea / Ann Huang

Dearie when I picture you climbing down from the bridge-
-dom. You are forfeiting aging wings, the last decade

Of our life in camederie, standing still, the first time
Without your favorite suits and shirt, face down, ashes bonded

Your legs leaned backward, like you are drowning, only if I
Were there, beheld under your sight. Dearest love

You see you are gone and it seems I bow you down

Horse Marker / Amy Jasek

Just think about it!  All the horsey sounds
that echoed around here.  Clopping hooves
against cobbled streets.  Carriages abounding

instead of cars on this island playground.
Oats instead of gas.  Getting in the groove
of brushing and petting, and snorting sounds

outside the window.  Horsepower around
town would be literal.  It would behoove
you to love your ride.  Happy steed-heart sounds

are what you’d want. No doubt, of course, the town
would need to employ street cleaners to move
through the cobbled streets.  Carriages abounding

would be a sight to see.  Traffic hounds
would have a field day, and disapproving
carriage drives in the street would be wound

up with hurry.  Olden days travel round
history dear as local books.  If you’ve
got time, think about it.  Horses make sounds
nostalgic on the cobbles, but now Uber abounds.

Twelve lines / Jules Lattimer

In the dream 
I might have 
had we sat 
upright, oars 
pulled in, water 
clear as the air 
and still as a cup. 
We benched there, 
we could’ve moved, 
we didn’t push 
ourselves toward 
any shores. 

Two Moons / Tate Lewis-Carroll

Did you see the news? Turns out
the moon was a diploid cell all along

and it just divided. The Weather App
says the tides are already getting screwy.

Just wait until they align! California’s
definitely going under this time—

great for the fires, bad for the homeless.
The other coast is expected to face 

some issues too. But I got this girl 
who’s been studying overseas. Every night, 

first thing in my morning, she calls
to tell me she received the kisses

that I left for her on the moon—
our own personal Hermes. How do I

choose only one to be ours? What if 
now she can’t tell them apart? 

And when we finally hold each other again, 
what if she’s busily gazing at that moon

and I this one, both of us convinced 
the other has got it wrong? 

Day 12 / Poem 12

Mermaid life, dipping
like a biscuit in tea,
Friends are sixteen again, 
                                              community pool,
snacks and
                       together and
                                               can you do a handstand?
My mind quiets only
when there’s seashells to be collected,
on the shore
                 the waves roll to and fro roaring,
What do you want?
Take it            (At my toes)
            Take it                     (At my ankles)
                         TAKE it                          (At my knees)
And a shell catches on my ankle,
rarely does life ever fling a treasure at you.

The voice inside when you press your ear to it
is as loud as the longing you feel for August.

A Splendid Specter  / Lucie Chou

I will paint myself back into the landscape
of snow-caked pines and a whited-out pond
waving slender arches of rimed dried reeds
in the glaring glade. I am disappearing into
the foreground as one of the two white herons,
folded wings faintly suggested by traces of ink,
feet long and thin, blended into bare bushes 
of willows. When a knub of my joint twitches,
it’s the eager stirring of a bud in its dream
of March. When my claws shift their roots
you doubt you have been blind all your life
and are regaining sight this very moment, 
discovering the dazzling truth of trees walking.
I want the light above me to be the palest ink,
the mist and clouds as weightless as flakes
that never fall. I know there are unpainted
fish under opaque ice. I will feed on them 
when I wish, but need make no rush because 
no boat, no net, no rod, no hut. The landscape
is so clean it seems scarcely real. When I paint
myself into it I’m not thinking about this earth
but an earlier world, another mode of being
in winter. Snow had a different texture there.
To tell you how it felt, I omit my long shadow.

Memory Startles Me Up / Susan Dambroff

from under
a blanket of faded roses
my beloved
Social Studies teacher
dies again
and my mother hands me 
a glass of brandy
we sit on the edge of her bed
on her purple woven quilt
without roses
where another day
she tries to teach me
knit/pearl knit/pearl
and with all my mistakes
we roll the stitches out 
with laughter
loop by loop 
now her hands 
have become mine
as I stroke
the tan silk of my dog’s ears
and under
the August skirt of the elm 
I pull open the morning
through lace curtains
and she offers me brandy
on the bed
by her window 
under a spring spray of dogwood 
her fingers on the glass 
become mine
around a teacup painted with pears
and out my window
wild roses climb 
into the last seam of summer

SUN/RAY / Sara Dudo

Sun, midday sun, nothing but outlaw sun
on this concrete apartment, and quiet traffic, and me
remembering your stairwell confession,
of leaving me, dying first
and neither seeing the sun nor praying to it
for lighting our faces into a field of love
unknowing he was born with this… 

The W[H]ole / Ann Huang

Your daughter’s words, your son’s meme
You rewind the words of pain

You left after a rainy season
Force Major, imagining the many faces of me

The sky after this bleeding
The rains tear it off deep

Ars Poetica
A true space of home, a place

Two whole lives of waiting
after waiting
& then what?

Provincetown Door / Amy Jasek

I think of robin’s eggs, and Tiffany’s.
Manhattan is never far behind me.
If it was my house, I’d choose differently.

Yellow would be a good color, for me:
a ray of sunshine the first thing I’d see.
Somewhere I have pieces from Tiffany’s

stashed in a drawer with other old-life things,
buried like a forgotten memory.
In my house now, I choose differently.

Yellow would be like coming home to the
joy of new beginnings.  Yellow is free
to be happy as a small egg waiting.

Blue is sky.  Blue also means sad, and we
left that behind with Manhattan.  The sea
nearby makes them build homes differently.

A painted door is a surprise to me,
giving meaning to mundane openings:
robin’s egg blue, portals at Tiffany’s.
In my new house, I make choices differently.

Quiet poem / Jules Lattimer

At midnight there’s ghosts in the house

and the dog’s a dead bug in the bed,

little pinchers upside down, surrendered.

She’s a lake of a dog, deep black and reflecting

always, turning outward, following 

the phantom flying through the rafters

— and me too, I guess, I’m watching.

Companion: Haiku / Tate Lewis-Carroll

pond’s edge—
I reflect
into clouds


mulberry thicket—
a cardinal marooning
her nest


walking companion—
the moon continues on
into the field

Day 11 / Poem 11

Hero’s Journey  / Emily Ahmed

My fellowship is failing
and it has been for years.
We are scattered as the
jackets we left behind in the north.
Being an outcast should lead
to fame and greatness,
but greatness mainly means
cooped up for hours alone,
outcasted for a living.

Whose greatness?
Is it for you or for everyone else?
To finally think I’m worthy,
to find companions,
to be right back where I started,
Mama’s kitchen table, her telling me
she spends money on grocery store
flowers, something Grandma would have
found frivolous, would have put into savings.

Who is saving?
Surrounded by beauty or security?
Every path could be
leading to your beginning,
or the complete rebelling opposite.
Whose hero? Whose rebel?
Yours, the hairdresser’s, Hollywood’s,
your daughters, this ungrateful, ugly world’s?
Whose hero would you be?

I think we need people
and people need us,
but the lone path is mine,
I am no one’s.

Love Letter to the Buttress Root  / Lucie Chou

I know I am an outcast from you,
have never been allowed within
the temenos of your buttressed
cathedral of lignin and cellulose. 
Root evolved into buttress only 
to sustain the stupendous height
and weight of your own, to stand 
and flourish in the unforgiving 
rainforest. Why raise up Santa 
Maria del Fiore to shine when 
you are yourself a basilica though
with no rainbowed rose windows?

How many love letters are written
on you though? Mary to Jon, Seamus
to Sinéad, countless awkwardly
carved hearts. How does it feel
to bear testimony to human love
you don’t understand, as I don’t 
tree love? I will venture to say
Swiss Army knives don’t confer
holy scars, and maybe I’m writing
on your bark because I long to be
married in you, or by you, to have
my love buttressed by your root.

 This much I know: it hurts to be
a writing surface, however loving 
the words. You are more than 
my letter to the world that never
wrote to me, more than a sentient
newspaper rock or bulletin board,
more than little Helen’s hand
tenderly tickled by Miss Sullivan.
You make me see my ballagárraidh:
I am a name wandering rootless
in the wilderness, longing to be
written into the root of being.

Note: The “buttress root” of this Tetrameles nudiflora at the Xishuang Banna Tropical Botanical Garden bears many inscriptions of sentimental love. Ballagárraidh is a term coined by John Koenig in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows; it is defined as a sad sense of our radical alienation from nature, a postlapsarian wound in our relation with other life forms, “the awareness that you are not at home in the wilderness”.

Because of the Fires / Susan Dambroff

people attach phone numbers
to their horse’s backs

                         our new vocabulary

flash drought, global boiling,

            this dystopia 

people jumping into the ocean

to get away
from the flames


a body
made of rainwater
is a girl born
by the sea


A child recites
an old farmer
proverb on rain
and its absence


Jay drives us to the reef
telling fishermen tales
of sensory deprivation
in a wall of sea fog at night


North Atlantic coasting
precipice swells
the bottom of a trough
look up:
captain finds the sun behind a wave
and reigning above him,
the silhouette of a whale


One day a girl carries milk
to the river
the next,
the grief icehouse
where water
teaches ice
how to wait


Somewhere she watches
from a total eclipse zone
a stolen sun, total darkness
open sea.


Girls born by the sea: say
I am a lake,
I am a river,
I am my own
body of water.


Little loots
of sunflower
and blueberry
along Lake Webb−
tell me why
you’re terrified
of water silence


Blackened meteorites
around a dinghy


Amidst hot rain,
the bodies of water
grant little love
to floating. 

The Truth of Love / Ann Huang

Change the conversation.
Resume the last
genuine word.

Hearts juxtapose
one another.
Feeling abound.

This mind game
is baited into

Recipes through life, 
and in its
reflections from the moon.

Urges surface

What will this worth, without any footprints?

Someone is utterly quiet
in holding all things true,
rock rocking.

Rumor has it.
soaks in deeper 
and deep.

Brant Point / Amy Jasek

Would you know the history of the light?
The fire it’s tasted, what it has seen.
Its navigating eye protects the night

from watery calamity, and fright.
Through the fresnel lens, time takes on a sheen
skimming from the history of the light.

Oily industry brough the island might.
Into the harbor, countless ships have been
navigated by that eye through the night.

Many incarnations have known the site,
many keepers have come to know the scene
and guarded the history of the light.

Round and round, while sea birds rest from their flight
the flame sweeps across the waves with a gleam
to navigate and to protect at night.

I stood on the ferry, holding on tight
to the moment, that first view, in between
my thoughts and the history of the light
whose modern eye still navigates the night.
For this visitor, the time was just right.

Three things / Jules Lattimer

The greenest garden 

hose roped left 

and feeding right

the fantastic vine, poison

squash stretched 

across the gravel 

roadway The snake 

we turned into a bird.

I didn’t help at all.

Today / Tate Lewis-Carroll

If ever there were a summer day so miserable,
so breezeless and stifling 

that it made you want to nail shut
all the old, leaking windows,

throw open the fridge and freezer doors
and strip yourself naked, yes, even skin yourself alive,

a day when the asphalt could tar a mastodon 
and the corn in the brattling fields

seemed ready to pop
that you felt like taking the hammer 

to a framed picture of the sea 
hanging on the wall and draining 

the western coast like a bathtub
into this room, drowning the house,

the neighboring towns, the interstate,
the whole goddamned Midwest

with a second flood,
well, today is just that kind of day.

Day 10 / Poem 10

Final goodbye / Emily Ahmed

Tear my name
From your wishes,
the lamp is best
wasted on the dark.
If I am listed in your
obsessions, forget the
order, I’ll slip away
and disappear.
There are worse ways
to lose things, a slipped 
ring, a shoe left on a beach.

Dwelling in the Mountains These Summer Days / Lucie Chou

It’s Just Pain / Susan Dambroff

this tussle of the body, this slam dance search for translation- 
it’s just pain, she says, just pain – like a tree is just a tree,
or my lawn chair with its rusty bottom is just a chair, pain is just pain,
she says – this tightly buttoned, stick between my eyes, these creased longings-
it’s just pain, she says, like this faded quilt I leave my pen on without its cap,
just a quilt with a black splotch on a pale pink rose, just a loved quilt
with another storied spill, just another hidden rose, another mistake of morning –
this cry in a crowd, candle in the dark, this don’t come back tomorrow-
it’s just pain, she says, just pain


Orange sky
plateau silhouettes
of Joshua trees
the last time
we see them,
Layla sleeps
on a bag of cherries.


There is a stretch of yellow
aspens considered one
dense organism: identical & grow
through extensive underground
root systems, all originating
from one parent tree.
Pando: I spread


Some men write in their books
there is no death
& then die.


In Verde Village
sweating from the elbows,
I looked for a girl in Arizona
with a cobweb.

I find in her place
a woman
with a small spider
for a cataract
loving too much


Layla & I sit in the shade
resting along the back wall
of a convenience store
& watch the trains
run east and west.
We wait for the men
to change the tires
& buy sausage.
She is not afraid.


The blue morning:
we eat chiquiadores,
dunk them in café bustélo
while dreaming with
the petroglyphs &
a one-legged man
shows us pictures
of the stars.


Sunroof propped open
above small bed, sudden
wind shakes the bus
& small sparks of dust
trickle down in moonrays.

I rest my chin on a guitar case
& watch lightning illume
absolute geraniums of cloud,

one stubborn red bolt
again and again strikes
a thin tower.

The earth is loud
as rain pounds the roof
into several leaks.
Waking in sleep & falling again,
twisters of light as I watch
my yesterday self
look for honey
down aisles of
unfamiliar stores.


My friend says everywhere
he notices pregnant women
because his wife is
with child- in Monterrey
the magnificent haul
of sea glass
bursting from my pockets
because I am
haunted by cobalt seas.


Everywhere, the orange
flowers on desert floor
frolicking with Mikaela
our bodies lying in the meadow
while a pinto grazes, not listening
to the call of the capesmen.

The rivers & hills dictate
how we move: heaven 
may be moving 
through the land
or rather,
not needing 
to move at all.

The Eternal Memory / Ann Huang

(for the Chosen One!)

Anima, under your life-filled soul
Yellow roses, bright as sun.
If only the life, not bending this short
Is giving credits to your bloodline.

Now after all, your soul must know
Its life of Love and Sorrows,
You must seek a side for them to derive from,
and be a keen vagabond.

By mis-calculating the art of poetic kingdom,
Almost never you find the perfect clarity.
When they gave me His name,
You, on that day and forth, know where I belong.

Joy Ride / Amy Jasek

A rabbit contemplates the bicycles.
Having seen people disembarking there
he wonders what all the fuss is about.
He finds with his four strong legs he’s able
to travel around like an average hare,
yet now he contemplates a bicycle,
with its swift wheels, rims shiny as nickels,
and confounding elements that dare
his imagining to wonder about
the reality of bunny rides.  Tricked
out with special pedals, and with some care
to size, a bicycle seems possible.
How quickly he could escape the pickles
of dogs and cats and car horns that forbear
to honk.. . . the fuss is worth his checking out.
Basket full of grains and vegetables,
observe him speeding by, devil-may-care:
contemplative rabbit, how he cycles!
Now he knows what all the fuss was about.

Wednesday poem / Jules Lattimer

It’s evening time again 

and I’m spread out like a crab, 

limbs everywhere, wobbling 

and silent. I think in August 

I get the blues. I spent today 

in a notebook, scratching 

at my legs, the windows 

throwing boxes of light 

around my home, whiting 

the edges of everything, 

mountainsides of clutter 

and unrest. In a poem 

I threw out I was spitting up 

blood, erupting, my entrails 

hitting the tile with a smack. 

I wanted my shape to be 

inside-out and flattened, 

wanted to step out 

of my skin and keep walking. 

On a break we went outside 

the dog pulled me left 

found the body of a robin 

in the brush. I leashed her 

back into the living world, 

a galaxy of dust and sun, 

the one too hot for the little 

bird and much too bright for me.

Dream / Tate Lewis-Carroll

I awake in the bathroom to find
my father crying into the sink.
He whips around at the commotion
but he has no face,

then the face of an elephant,
then a cherry pie—a stranger
getting stranger by the second.
Not understanding his garbled gibberish,

I recognize those sudden hand gestures.
I’m trying to leave but the door opens
into an Irish trainyard, then again
onto the Chilean coastline. Once more

into a field of AstroTurf. I leap
forward and slide into a tree ripened
with cups of applesauce. I look back
to find a doll house, all the rooms

constricting. And in the bathroom,
the mirror is collapsing too quickly
to hold the face of the figure,
reassuming his position over the sink.

Day 9 / Poem 9

Lovers in the Grass by Alois Kalvoda / Emily Ahmed

Do you think we are a recreation of
paradise here,
me in my blue coat,
your head bowed like you want to
make an offering?
Do you think anyone in the party will see us?
I like hiding from the world,
keeping things small,
I’d like to fit into one of the fairy houses
by the red blooms.
I think you might hand me something,
but I don’t know what it is.
The curve of the branches here
is perfect, it bends like it’s
protecting us
from the worst of this world.

I’d like to stay in the company of flowers
and you and your mop of hair,
in anticipation of the gifts
we’ll give each other.


Wood Falls / Lucie Chou

slow tumble
thunder absorbed
released silently by time

it takes decades
for root to become root

reach up a hand to touch
sprays of wood falling 
down to earth-pool

in Chinese waterfall
sounds like ragged cloth

weave weft warp woof
words of wood-fabric

wood falls through spacetime 
gravity is grace

a small seed
a singularity
out of which a world 

words fall back to roots:
hylos—matter to wood

to fall is to fail        die      decay
to be fallen as in
fallen world

this tree has not fallen

but stands vertical 
by willing wood-roots
to grow down to earth 

its fall     like a whale’s
will feed living worlds

a tree falling
through life         toward death
a loom of hylos

under the wood falls
at the root of being

This poem is a meditation on this photo of the spectacular “waterfalls of wood” or “tree falls” that I took at the Xishuang Banna Tropical Botanical Garden. The ancient arboreal giant might belong to the genus Ficus, a sacred banyan, a “tree of the world” in many folkloric traditions and mythologies.

Are You There God? / Susan Dambroff

taken from Judy Bloom’s book, “Are you There God, It’s me”

I pass a flier
on our neighborhood church 
Are you there God? It’s me
and the name of a talk 
they are holding
becomes my mantra
as I walk home
on the slow street
no cars
but birds and toddlers and whiffs
of star jasmine
Are you there God? It’s me
my puppy prancing to the next smell
I pluck a sprig of rosemary
twins with orange caps in a stroller
ride under a canopy of billowing trees
I don’t like religion
I’m a pagan Jew
my divines are 
angels of nature
that cherry red bottle brush tree
that purple cluster of wisteria blooms
Are you there God? It’s me
I tame the voices in my head
that plan, shape, reshape, calculate,
negotiate, ruminate
and take the trail instead
of sidewalk gardens
I leap into lavender 
jump into the plump petals
of a jade

AUGUST / Sara Dudo

In the following days,
where there is no short way
to a place, we begin to
walk dreams backwards.

Coffee near the sea or
the snow and it’s falling
in sheet meadows
of children running
with red plastic sleds.

Are we to love ourselves
into nonbeing?

At one time, we were all
river girls embodied
in the sumac greens
and using the hand
of black water
to glide granite.

Later in life: the names
of birds known and
an orange cat at sundown
chases the hawk moths pink
through a summer solstice.

It has been nearing dawn
a whole month long,
the cicadas shed their skin
after the herd song and
I lean on sycamores
to hear the message of runaways.

The Idea of You / Ann Huang

Your texts have ceased to come in.
Your flannel pj pants arrived in
snail mail.
Watching the car-wash lined up
You are not in sight, the thing missing
is my passion.

This moment negates you.
This fact negates your existence,
you are everywhere
and nowhere.
Dry wind gasps with black

Are you a moonlight child?
Am I a damsel?
Our dry land is
enveloped by my grief
from whose soul
shall I follow?

Pine / Amy Jasek

I can say nothing
about this tall pine it can’t
tell you itself

You might have to cup
your hand to your ear to hear
its needling words
if the breeze isn’t blowing
if the birds are too loud

Once I saw one fall
It didn’t make a sound when
it hit the garage

The wind howled for it
I ran for the telephone
but my voice dried up
like sap turned into amber
like a far off whispering

You can plant a tree
away from the forest but
the forest stillness
remains in the tree

I can say nothing
about this tall pine that it
can’t say for itself

After 10 / Jules Lattimer

I’m in the habit of checking doorknobs. I’m delighted 
the sunlight is breaking. Here, in my dark house, messing 
with the screen lights, I watch the shadows pull across 
the sofa, and I want to ruin your day with my love. 
Some years from now I’ll be clipping your arm
around my waist and the blue will be coming in 
slanted and between us there’ll be liquid. In my today 
world, the next door construction blew plastic sheets
into my scenery. I stare at the mess from my doorways, 
browning, bright and burning — the opposite terrarium.
In my today world, I’m the one in the box, 
encamped with the dog spilling salt out of her eyes. 
I’ve put nothing new around us, nothing 
I haven’t poemed into obsolescence. This is the practice 
of continuation, of counting bug bites, of checking 
sundown, of pulling moths out of the grill.

Re: Re: Happiness, in pursuit thereof / Tate Lewis-Carroll

            After C.D. Wright

It is no longer the next generation
but the one after. Everyone needs
help. Few can afford it. I’ve found 
a grave of cut flowers, clovers. Do the trees
keep you up with their silences? The constant
tapping on phones? All this wasted blue
light blinds me. This fog’s friction sets no fires,
save this one. This one. You’ve burnt yourself
useless. Is it freeing? What’s the word, enlightened?
Regretful? I don’t want to hear the dead
can cover their ears. Have you tasted the salt
of starlight? Their blistering reflections? C.D.,
no one is running anymore. We are like cows
penned together before the storm. Smelling fire,
exhaling fog. Or maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe 
the gate has been left unlatched. The question being: 
intention or carelessness. Occupation or disobedience. 
Is the farmer also hostage to his labor? The city’s 
radio antennas like tassels of corn—sending 
and receiving. What should we be then after concrete? 
Why is it only dust to dust? Sending and receiving 
the shape of the west wind. The sleep of apples 
tart on my tongue. The snake. The garden.
Even the snails here are sluggish. Everything 
but the bread is broken. Jesus keeps fermenting 
my tears into wine. The mirror being 
the most prepared observer. No, you’re right, 
the ice we make of ourselves must be to melt, 
to gather, to run. To every nail, a hammer. 
Every tooth, a core. Lightning, 
a more direct route.

Day 8 / Poem 8

Marilena / Emily Ahmed

I bought the same pink clearance top twice
to be a belle at a ball or a club.
I had money only some of the time.
I nannied rich children and I made coffees
for older men who tipped well.
Us girls were excited when one regular
would come in for his cup with his coins
til he said he admired our figures,
and one day
he tried to follow me home.
Marilena had a photography exhibit
in a gallery in the city,
and she’d only lived there a few months.
It was after she sued that cafe
that withheld our wages.
She had a boyfriend before those days
but she said it was bad news, at 26
I figured she knew what she was talking about,
and I marveled at what a “spinster” could be.
She left the cafe to work downtown
in an ice cream shop.
We couldn’t text much for our language barrier
but sometimes I saw her ponytailed head through the glass windows.
I wish I hadn’t spent my time so wrong,
writer’s block at every bakery on the block,
let myself get paid badly under the table,
I learned, “a job was a job,”
Marilena learned never to settle.
When I got followed home, I ducked into
the thrift shop and hid til another older man
made a try, I was scared of life and saw
ghouls for years and years.
When I was 26 and got into bigger bad news,
I thought I want to be bigger
and braver than me,
I got out and got help,
I wanted to be like Marilena,
wherever she is.

Field Notes of a Body: Mountain’s Eye Lake / Lucie Chou

After lunching on the lakeside lawn 
                                 she walks slowly on
            a zigzagging wooden bridge
  floating so near the lake’s surface 
                       water spills through the chinks between planks
                                  under her moving weight
                        no more than that of a waterlily 
        a breeze presses softly upon leaf-pads
The sun is a round opal 
                             now dimming
                                            now brightening
          Then standing nearly as still as the small
                             mosses sucking moisture under her feet
                    she observes how even stiller
                    stands a great blue heron
          barely visible against far hazy hills
                                    on the bobbing red dot
                           of a ball buoy
          It’s only when the slight
                                               swivel of the compass needle
                    of its beak lifts it into the foreground
                    after a spell of tranced watching
                                          that lasts many hundreds of breaths long
                                               that she could let her suspended disbelief 
          that it is really a                                              feathered
          not a stone sculpture
          land softly on the calm water
          or a sturdy transverse branch
                     bending flexuously
                                  affably towards the calm water
          as the inborn belief of a wading bird
          in the safety of water
The opal sun turns totally opaque
                      into charged mammary glands
                                   dribbling thick patters onto the lens
                                                             of the mountain’s eye
                                   turning it cataractous 
           little translucent fish invisible
          Then as the mountain’s eye clears again
          she insinuates herself into colonies
                                                  of long-beaked 
                         cameras perched on tripods
        to direct her eyes towards 
                                                             the objects
             of the photographers’ desires—
                 colonies of white herons
                 and great blue herons
               among pond irises and pickerelweeds 
                          walking gingerly along 
                                      upward-and-downward-bending limbs
                                 of paper mulberries weeping willows and river birches
                            swallowing slippery writhing fish
                         unfurling and furling
                      like white waterlilies 
                captured by time-lapse
                                 circling the shaggy sage-green island
                                             describing in the sun-hazed air
                                   intertwined infinity signs
                     spreading strong lithe wings
                                                                                                            so wide
                             they seem enormous
               Can you believe they are less than a pound light
               says one photographer to another
                                      There are beings with mass
                                      on which gravity
                                      seems to lose its grasp:
     the twittering scissors
                        of wagtails and swallows
                 Do angels ever worry about
                 putting on so much weight from ambrosia
                 they won’t fit into size-zero wing suits
                 How are they measured and weighed
There is so much levitating around me she thinks
As the opal of the sun slips lower
                 she too slips behind trees
         feeling water giving way to the the more gravid element
of damp warm fertile earth
         feeling little grasses groaning
                                                                     under her weight
                                                                     abandoning herself to sit down on magenta globes of clovers
                                 looking out onto floating lilies
                       flying birds
                                  softly crooning to the mountains
I am the center
of a circle of pain
                                                          Pain of self-parturition—
                                                          pressing out her own weight down on the world
                                                          compassionating                 communing with its counter-press

Note: Mountain’s Eye, or Guanshanhu in pinyin, is a lake in Guizhou Province, China. The two lines in italics is from Mina Loy’s poem “Parturition”.          


For our Daughter Turning 27 / Susan Dambroff

so many miles
you’ve already

I’ve lost count 

how many National Parks, 
how many trails to follow, how many photographs
of sunsets, sunrises over red rocks,
sand, snow, lake, river,
all the light 
you continue
to capture

your drive across country,
with graduate school behind you,
each solo navigation –
sleeping in Rest Areas, Walmart Parking Lots,
 the luxury of one night in a tiny glass house in the woods
as you make your way home

to here 
where our puppy grows
into your dog,
prefers to sleep in your bed

as you prepare for interviews –
the science, the tech, the 

words I can’t even describe
about what you know best

and between interviews
you take our dog

you take apart our patio,
put back the stones
like a puzzle,
carry 50-pound bags of
gravel to fill
in the spaces

between interviews
you paint our kitchen door
you paint the bathroom door
you lift, you carry, you fix
the computer
the phone

and you land a job
in time for your birthday,
negotiate your salary,
moving expenses,
negotiate enough time
for the next adventure 
the Tahoe Rim Trail

And we,
your parents, 
are proud witnesses,
as a flurry of change
rushes through the house,
as you try out your new
lightweight tent,
and plan your nourishment 
on the living room floor –
packets of almond butter, zip lock bags
of banana chips, ramen, enough salt,
enough sweet, for 10 days on the trail

we call you Our Warrior
keep the dog out of your way, 
as you count your proteins, your calories,
stuff everything into your bear container, 
and go


One day
         my own field

sunlight webwork
in the living

         broken silk spikes
             knife through my chest
         I am graced
with a million holes

where these lives
            stasic lives
           vertiginous lives
         have reached through me

in a time of strange rain
and spring amalgams
of greenness and heatwave

              Sarah and the wind

I tell her wild sugarcane
volunteers to rise of its own
                      free will,

as any good weed should.

The same relics of desire:
grain to the knees

            I wonder if there will be
            children, if we will
            bring them here
            one day
            to know dead of
            in windows
            of summer

Some desires
can leave us barren
         unable to find

         a new way
to say the cosmos colors
            we hope rise
            from the ground
where small feet
glide seed.

The Great Escape / Ann Huang

isn’t a defiance
such as life
which is a defiance
without your image

in my mind

to go through
the hardest time of my life 

of poetry 

of cinematic art

from sky
that is so wide

never stopping
we aren’t breaking
the fifth dimension 

or falling

you have not found me
Yet constant harmony takes place
to center me
in defiance.

Shadows / Amy Jasek

in the doorway it is always the same
light & shadow, old & new names
a trick of architecture
mere conjecture opening portals
always the same 
light & shadow undulating
in the sun’s gyrating rays

they come with locks
so the breeze blocks
entrance – mere conjecture
but from here the architecture
is always old & always the same

in the plaza people
browse proudly in a name
that tastes new and round in their mouths
while progress stacks blocks
approaches the door
blows smoke
turns the lock


she waited
until light and 
illuminated ghosts
and the doorway
became her
portal away
from the 
lowering reality 
of going home again
and putting on the
heavy yoke
of her old name

In Boston / Jules Lattimer

at the end of the springtimes
I would still be waiting for the snow 
to stop, for my toes to dry off, 
for the cars to stop 
whipping sludge onto the sidewalks.
In Texas I am an alone person
in a fiery summer that never
ends – I live in a town of bugs 
and birds and snakes and giant 
rodents eating all the cactus 
and in the stinging bright afternoon 
I can’t believe there’s anyone out there. 
I have to start somewhere. 
Somewhere in my past I walked 
up to a house in the middle of the night, 
unwell and swaying, on a street 
I wasn’t supposed to be on. Tonight
I took my dog down the road
in the dark and the flashlights 
around us belonged to our 
neighbors and all of us
With our hands and sandals
Under the light said yeah,
together, it’s the only time
I leave my house.

The Beginning of August / Tate Lewis-Carroll

Through the windows come
a heat to deaden my lover
and me. The hardwood

smolders, and when we cross
to retrieve some fruit
from the fridge, our feet

blister as if walking over
coals. We do not have a deep
hunger yet, for it is the beginning

of August, but we know 
a sudden coolness is coming
to resurrect these passions.

Day 7 / Poem 7

The free bus to the train station / Emily Ahmed

didn’t show this morning,
Let’s walk the way panting in humidity and

hero’s journey,
Did they all feel the mundanity
of the ride
to the top?

Asking themselves, what do I heavily desire? An array of sundresses to keep it light,

a friend to walk the path with.

We are no longer in the times of global warming / Lucie Chou

but the times of global

the earth is a singed piece of meat

those high boutique
techniques of cooking:

air-frying our eucalyptus woods
evaporating our inland waters 
lasering the skins of rainbow trout in simmering streams

somewhere on this earth
in a high boutique restaurant
someone is boiling a lobster alive
while the ones about to pry it apart
to gouge out the firm white meat

so hard

sonic vibrations get the air boiling

somewhere on this earth
calves oxen & cows are farting
ratcheting up the CO2 content
in our 412.5 ppm atmosphere
calves oxen & cows are eating
mountain ranges of soy & corn 
raised from grounds razed of selvas
that exhale ether-cooling cloudy whispers
calves oxen & cows are being carnaged
pinkstained hands are breading veal
& plunging it into boiling oil

cheesebergs are melting in the oven

the antarctica is a molten slice of cheese

descry this earth’s fate by tyromancy

those high boutique
techniques of cooking:

crispening chollas & prickly pears
popcorning wheat seeds on their stalks
smelting whale blubber in crucibles of living cetacean skins

somewhere on this earth
girl scouts peel bras from pink sweating chests
like saran wrap from moist & tender chicken breasts
ice bags put on foreheads to heal heatstrokes
wilt like ice cubes put in pots to make premium mutton soup
& a tourist plunges a thermometer 
into the sun-baked soufflé of desert sand
it reads 133 degrees Fahrenheit

are greasy duck egg yolks

some days
we sit by the stove
of the horizon

timing the hard-boiling

who’s doing the cooking

we set the timer
but don’t know 
when it will
go off


Note: this poem ignites from a recent quote by Antonio Guterres: “The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.” and is co-fueled by this prompt from Rattle magazine: “write a poem in which something is cooked.”

Today at the beach / Susan Dambroff

a dog leaping through the waves 

            I worry 

                        but each time his chocolate coat 


 I gallop with him back to shore


my puppy chasing his ball

                        each time finding it

            that yellow triumph 

a gift he keeps receiving over and over

dropping it at my feet

to begin again


my puppy finding his ball

                        again and again

            and the lab riding one wave and then another

                                                            the joy of going out

 and coming back in

            everything new 

over and over 


On zzyzx I mourn myself
in a monsoon while a friend
         formulates epistemologies of boyhood:

from a point of youth, a crochet hook
“it is hard to be new,”

the man who lived/
the man who died/
cherry tomatoes
to ghost lines/

to the other side.

Suffering and rejoicing can look
the same.
White sacred thorn-apple awake
in the nightshade: devil’s trumpet
         jimsonweed moonflower hells bells
comes to be given so many names
but the poison remains the same.

Stop calling
the desert dead.

Swim the community pool in your underwear
with four names you do not know
and see if your body still feels belonging.

All the little sunworshippers
sail first loves
in the gleaming yet grey.

Just once I’d like to memorize sand.
The shark’s cartilage strikes the shin
         and it’s as if he’s never known fear. 

In the Mi(d)st of Love / Ann Huang

The windows are opened for me to breathe in.
Your visage of scars is stamped under the ceiling fan.
I picture a whale flipping its tail
the undercurrents behind your door, the toxins
that have been taken from us with the tsunami.

You thank me for this.
You thank me for all my love
that is fought alone from my end,
The dry coughs overpowering decaying limbs
or notes of silence,
or you, death with its own malevolence,

fought alone with this summer’s bounty
from Seances
to estrangement
to a sacred sovereignty.

Cimmaron / Amy Jasek

Western town
where the mountains end
and old bones’
wooden stones
whisper pioneer secrets
across the prairie
In between
a long canyon road
and hours 
of grasses
like a wide ocean of grain
time seemed to stand still
Upside down
traveling suspends
daily grinds
and unwinds
necessities drop by drop
and mile by long mile
we grip the wheel
and fight the urge
to turn around

It’s a hundred degrees and the power’s out / Jules Lattimer

and for hours we drove 
around each other quiet
shaking our heads through
our windshields shrugging 
shoulders waving with our wrists 
propped on the steering wheels, 
just a little bit, just a bit
too hot to touch. The dog’s 
decided her day’s over.
Spent hours with her nose 
tipped up toward the ceiling,
wasps hovering in the rafters 
and they were hers and we’ve
waited for autumn long enough 

Breath / Tate Lewis-Carroll

            If you do the math, you’ll find that roughly one molecule of Caesar’s air will appear in your next breath.                                                   —Sam Keen

 It wasn’t only Caesar
who I’ve picked up along the way
to the bathroom this morning,
but the entire roman legion
performing their sacramentum 
for Augustus and his newly acquired position.

I brushed Jesus’ first cries
as he squirmed in his straw bed
from my teeth and spat out
the romans’ chant for Barabbas,
Jesus’ last prayer, and the apostle’s
many spoken tongues.

Likely Attila the Hun’s orders
and the men whose limbs
he tore apart by horseback
might also be mingling above the toaster,
burning my raisin bread. 

And what about a little bit of smoke
from the firing of the first cannons
in 1308, the witch trials of 1692,
or the first fleet of Model Ts
to hit the American roadways in 1908?

Certainly, there must be residual mustard gas
from the first world war and the bomb
that ended the second, tickling my throat.
Surely Chernobyl will never finish collapsing.

Even so, It’s not all of this in my breath 
I’m concerned about, but yours. 
You, leaning in a doorway with a cup of coffee,
watching the summer rains come and go,
and me, quietly stowing away in 
your next inhale, hitching a ride
to a more peaceful future. I won’t stop
until I get there.

Day 6 / Poem 6

Aisha / Emily Ahmed

 (after Khaled)

Aisha has a coral dress like sunset,
eyelashes like wings,
false aircraft,
she’s always floating.

Aisha is always living,
loudest one in the room,
but she sleeps
the deepest, star of dreams.

Aisha leaves when she’s still wanted,
loves and lies in her stomach,
butterflies in place of organs,
nothing ever real.

Aisha dies when she’s anything
like you or like me.

too beautiful for their own good / Lucie Chou

today i think of those daughters
           of mother earth 
           who are femmes fatale
           unto themselves 

fabulous flora
           powerful & handsome
           bodies of rock
           & waters

i think of orchids
           with bees butterflies stars
           & crescent moons
           spiky spirals & filigreed ferns
           miniature atlases of yet undiscovered worlds
           painted on percale or poplin skirts
grown from grains of dust
           no more than a single cell each
           trapped in soilless
           hairline cracks
dancing above sheer cliffs
precipitous beauties 
           deracinated by plant hunters
           who feed our hunger 
           for harems
           of foreign flora
           even if they wilt & die
           of nostalgia
(robbed of it
           is it a fault
           to hurt for home)

i think of spectacular forms 
           sculpted from the same matter
           as the transparent liquid
           in my drinking glass
the magnificent tumult 
           of huangguoshu waterfalls
           ceaseless susurrous avalanches
           solid yet in perpetual motion
           dancing with & defying gravitation
the chatoyant mirrors
           in jiuzhaigou valley
           each little lake an eye lidded 
           with a rim of sinter-snow 
           each gaze limpid & iridescent
           each luster lapidary
i think of the crowds 
           of loud mouths voyeuristic eyes & predacious hands
           that coagulate around the aqueous tissues
till thrombi of noisy shutters raucous shouts
           ugly smug scarves & sandwich paper
           crumble from 
           & clog the aortas
which burst & bleed
           themselves of their unfortunate beauty

i think of plastic bottles
           tossed onto prodigious buoyant patens
           of royal waterlilies

           morphos pinned to fake paperwhites 
           behind glass like cicatrices
           scraped off sky’s sapphire blood

           sweating mobs of summer tourists
           scrimmaging like thugs or madmen
           for a view of yosemite’s rosy firefalls 

i mourn for these daughters
           roughly wakened by rapers
           to find their bodies’
           sacrosanct wonderlands
           bombarded by impertinent popularity
           like disneylands 

i think of how in some countries
           women & girls are warned
           against dresses too bright
           eyes too sparkling 
           cheeks too rosy
           lips & breasts too full
           for their own good

nature is beautiful
it can’t help being so
this is too true

too beautiful 
           a truth

mother earth 
           are you helpless to protect
           your daughters
           too beautiful for their own good
           whose pulchritude
           blinds us to the fact of our lust
           with such aphrodisiac dazzle
           we think it’s love

Note: the title phrase is indebted to this article in the Down to Earth newsletter by The Guardian, August 3rd, 2023: ” ‘It’s a photo orgy’: was Yosemite’s rare firefall too beautiful for its own good?”

A Sudden Sun / Susan Dambroff

this morning I listen

for what

I can sway into

                                    the way our laundry


my friend said

            the sound of the refrigerator


            in the tattered house of her childhood

            was the mother she never had

today the sky is heavy

I look 

for what I can bake into                                     

                                    I fold 

                                    the warm clothes


a sudden sun

TORPEDO / Sara Dudo

Today I am an aunt to a little boy. Last week the news said daylight
savings might come to an end− an ode to new light in winter.

We take all time into our hands. Time is only the relativity
of our events. There is need for the broken back, a river full of knots

a neighbor drinking, a man of the country holding a sea urchin.
Time will always be the diagnosis of our vincibility.

Ignore the way I was a toddler struck in the belly by a front loader
and then all at once a woman wishing for my own son.

Look into the eyes of a dusty burro, caress the jaw and know
it will not last. We prayed from the backseat during a thunderstorm,

you pulled me closer & lightning heaved lilac light upon a face
extinct extinct extinct. Under nectared tendrils of sky, a disco

of heart monitors in middle school to scallion picking in a yard
inkberry stained where the ghosts find it hard to be new. 

Meme on Me / Ann Huang

When your aura found me and kneeled for me.
It was he who had his own best interests.
He who brought your light to my dark days.
He who nourished my soul from a long haul.
[For the loss of my beloved]

Anti-matter: your meme nourished me
[From my tragedy]
I washed my fuming heart like a rope
before he imagined to have
laid your eyes on my being.

Your shadow eased away my pains
Your smiles brightened my sky
Yours in beauty and innocence
are what matter the most
with an everlasting a[r]mor.

Georgia in Abiquiu / Amy Jasek

She loved this place as if it was her own
I think it was the other way around
The desert makes it clear:  life is on loan

On borrowed land, she made her art at home
which was everywhere around.  What she found
was a place she could craft style all her own

Other people come here to be alone,
like me, secluded at camp, where the sounds
of the night remind me:  life is on loan

She belonged to the place she called her home
the way I belong to the chosen ground
that I love, yet I know it’s not my own

Rain recharges the valley. Life from stones
returns, abounds.  The river’s voice resounds,
the desert makes it clear:  life is on loan

Where the heart is, wherever I may roam
I leave a mark.  I seek, I may be found.
I love some places as if they’re my own
but deep down, it’s clear: my life is on loan.

Before work / Jules Lattimer

We all learned 
the name 
of the woman 
who fainted 
at the funeral.
A hundred degrees, 
toes burning 
in my boots, 
white wilting 
flowers, two 
women with 
Ice chests
of bottled
water the man
I saw buying
bagels I stepped
closer to the 
cowboy to 
tuck into his 
shadow we were
children of God
We were family.
On my way 
out, the black 
cows crossed 
the road in 
front of me 
it’s a good time 
to make yourself
be seen. 

Drinking Alone / Tate Lewis-Carroll

            After Li Po
            After Billy Collins

I am in line, waiting for my turn
to step into the now fabled outlook
where Li Po first toasted the moon
with Billy Collins on his heels
centuries later. 

The tuition priced ticket 
would have been bad enough, 
but now the line winds around the block.
I’ve been given a numbered pager 
and ushered away to a seat at the bar
outside the gift shop. 

The other tourists here, laden with cameras
and fanny packs, have congregated
and are now laughing, comparing
pictures of monuments, trading roadmaps,
sipping margaritas and cheap beer,
asking for menus—

And finally, I imagine, after such a wait, who 
could resist toasting the next travelers in line
with the intoxicating tastes of their own name
before offering the staggering reflection
of the moon yet another drink?

Birthdays / Anna Priddy

It’s a minimal number
of cards that make
my birthday, my birthday,
one fine dinner with cake,
dozens of media messages
(thank you, media),
scads more willful forgetting,
including a sister who says
that sending cards to me
is not her problem anymore.

I will not be widely mourned.

These days I think a lot
of Stephen Crane who just died
for me in Paul Auster’s book.
I think of his bitter heart,
his bleeding lungs, sickness
and shipwreck and the love,
the love that moved
Auster’s hand one hundred
and thirty years on, and
the writing that’s not forgotten.

It’s a solid, good thing to be born
with the will and the talent
to write the immortal, but who
would ever trade a year for a sonnet?

Day 5 / Poem 5

The Cottage / Emily Ahmed

Look at how I drop my last
life gliding through my fingers,
I wash up on this new shore
tired again of being stuck
and nowhere I go gives relief, so
might as well
keep going.

Here, they say the plankton
will glow at your toes,
the rooms are blue as grief
with seashell decor,
swamps craggy on one bank,
waves debating on the other.

Here, I could awaken in gentle
white frills when the day trips
over the moon,
be the linen caressing soft one,
though once I dreamed in denim
and desperate concrete callings.

After the spring flowering I could bloom,
see the convenience stores and
the red and yellow of fast food restaurants
of the mosaic of the Main Street.
I could drop everything right now
and spy the tentacles of the Milky Way
against the stars nightly. Don’t we all move
and imagine if we stopped
we never would?

Tenebrae / Luminae / Lucie Chou


We drive against an imminent storm
into Xishuang Banna botanical garden.
The clouded firmament darkens
like an apple sliced open, oxidizing
inexorably. At eight o’clock we walk
a hundred steps from our hotel lobby
into complete darkness. The driver
who takes us here to the rainforest’s
heart says the nearest “starry night
fair” flashes with LEDs, fluoresces
in the fifty miles distant downtown.
But here the night is opaque, black
enough to prompt us to contemplate
the original nature of light’s absence.
We sigh our regret that the sky
does not clear in time for darkness
to light up with real bands of stars,
for the holy spirits of luminescence
to come into glorious manifestation.
We know they always exist, abide
there even in the brightest daylight.
When we chant prayers to serenade
electric power to sleep, sisterhoods
of sparkling eyes may or may not 
awake, take wing, swing abroad and
aloft, alight in our field of vision.
Sometimes they are swaddled in
the bat-like plumage of Thestrals.


Eight years ago we lay open-eyed for three nights
in a holiday suite on the shore of Lake Erhai 
which had been contaminated by rampant algae,
water hyacinths, untreated effluvia from villages,
thus unfit to nourish Ottelia acuminata, an imp
that indicates the health of waters. Every effort
had been taken to disentangle the miasmic mesh.
By the time we went there, silver fringes of petals 
were again whiffling in the fragrant, transparent 
night air, sparkling on the starlit dark waves.
The skies over it sympathized with the lake
by pulling off shrouds of amaurosis to show 
the efflorescence of their own indicator species:
the heavenly fellowship of planets and stars.
We lay on our backs, feeling eyeballs unmoored
between lake and sky. We remember turning
our fancy candelabras off and falling asleep
while Ottelia acuminata bloomed, Orion blinked.


And there is another memory deeper back in time:
ten years (or is it eleven?) back from the present,
we drove forty miles into the mountain to a valley
where we spent the night in a farmer’s cottage
lit with dim wavering flames of a kerosene lamp.
It was summer, mosquitoes having orgies, but we
lay in the yard in cool breezes under a pear tree
whose green fruits merged perfectly with leaves.
We gazed through the foliage’s traceried windows
at the Milky Way, fully revealed for the first time
in our family’s penurious experience of nature, 
gazed, gazed, and gasped, speechless, all words
vanished into ineffable phenomenologies of stars.
The skies were so dark we had to grope around
for the bridles and saddles of our own souls.
The galaxy coruscated so brilliantly that they
galloped into our dreams. For years their ghosts
would dance among our rapid eye movements.
That midnight my uncle rushed to the outhouse 
over which he glimpsed the Leonid meteor shower.


After two nights in the rainforest scanning royal waterlilies with flashlights, we visit a National Geographic exhibition in Kunming. It shows a photograph titled Dark Night Sky Park selected by International Dark Sky Association. We linger in front of the starry sky framed and fixed on the limelit wall to read a dialectic of darkness and light, to recite a Tenebrae of the text:

The night is disappearing. The Owachomo Bridge at Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, USA, speaks of the fact that “natural darkness” is also something to be conserved, like endangered flora and fauna. Light pollution in the city has taken away a lot of stars from us. People who visit this place, which the International Dark Sky Association named “Dark Night Sky Park”, say this— “It feels like the sky has been restored.”                                                                                                                                                                              


symbiotic algae and fungi 
live and die 
on roof beams 
of deep time

In order to feel / Susan Dambroff

My brother      screams all night


he        is 


presses harder             and harder
on the call 

until the 
turns the T.V.
back on

a man plays 
by his bedside

it reminds him
of breathing

my brother is
and flat

a stick figure

he remembers

how he would
sing Elvis songs
in his small apartment
until the neighbors 
knocked on the ceiling
and he would sing louder        and louder

he remembers

how he loved to light things
on fire
how he imagined
a blazing line of trees
and the houses on our street               screaming
in surrender

he remembers how

as a boy

in order to 


he would go out 
at night
and lay naked
in the snow


            What once was silence in snow fields
now diagonal parties of tumbleweed shattering
against the glass into a million little arms,
miniature hands diving into sage. 

                                      The light
and the body: one always lives for the other,
until the sleepers that join hands at night
witness little beams orange from the hunger
of the honeycomb splintering into their side.

Where does this leave us,
naked land of lands? If I could truly see flowers, 
I’d name them neither God, nor my children.

Half-grown poppies and fiddleheads
In April rain jump from bed to bed,
straining to live in the light to see
and we are caught rubbing our eyes. 

Child’s Play / Ann Huang

[La Realidad Absoluta]

[Subtitled in Spanish]

in an action thriller
we rode on
a yellow bubbled
ocean foam, juxtaposing
our heart of gold
our unicorn

our seahorse
from the moon
our eyes 
savory and 
a perfect mirror
luring ourselves
You act 
as if withdrawing
from angels 
that hide their face
pushing yourself on
to a visceral vibration

Cabin Fever / Amy Jasek

Time has been abandoned
while the old homestead falls
away, silent, slackened
an unspeaking jaw shunned
from speech, from sagging walls
all time is abandoned
no more are there jocund 
voices here.  They’ve all gone
away.  The silence slackens
what remains.  It sinks, done
with its old purpose, calls
on time, clocks abandoned
and unwound.  Now the sun
shines through the cracks.  The tall
trees silently beckon
and the forest hearkens
the old boards joining sprawl
with time now abandoned
silence returns, unslackened

Bits / Jules Lattimer

I had my fingers drawn 

through another person’s hair 

and said lately I’ve forgotten

to eat. When I close my eyes

my knee hurts. When I 

close my eyes I see hands. 

My dog as usual is 

running around with kibble 

in her mouth, spilling it out 

onto the carpets and sofa 

and once I even found it 

in my bed. This morning 

I thought of my dead 

friend which I always do 

in August. I dreamt 

I was in the devil’s apartment,

in his shower. I woke up wanting it,

couldn’t even put my glasses on. 

There were crowds of women 

around me which I guess 

means I was one of them —

and when we were the most naked 

he would appear. It’s Friday and I want 

to be laid across the benches 

of a rowboat, rocking 

on the thoroughfare, waves tinking 

at the sides. Little bits of wind 

breathing through me and 

back-of-the-eyelids red. 

I think I had a dream it was Easter. 

I have an image of some outdoor scene, 

a park with a house and a pond and 

children and everything’s alive and 

in a flash it’s dead and rotted and 

brown and crumbling and 

it smells awful and the air 

is so thick with dust 

and pollution I can barely 

open my eyes. The water’s 

green sludge and steaming 

the animals are all teeth and anger 

and their eyes are red too and 

this is all I’ve got it’s not much 

it’s just what plays in here. 

I have heartache but 

it’s not your fault.

Lifeguarding / Tate Lewis-Carroll

Poetry saved my life,
is a claim I hear often enough
to imagine it perched

atop a lifeguard stand, muscular
and oily, in a red one-piece, scanning
the happy beachgoers,

who are filling their pales with sand
or shooing away the gulls
from their zip-locks of Cheetos.

That poetry is not interested
in coquina shells, tunneling 
below the surf, or the surfacing 

cormorant, taking flight—
it’s too preoccupied
with the drowning.

Though I tip my ball cap
to its service and abilities—
comforted, even, by its unwavering gaze—

I’d rather stroll the beach with this 
uncertified poetry,
who has a healthy fear of the ocean

and no problem with stopping
every few steps to examine
pieces of broken shells,

who lazes on its stomach
using its book as a pillow,
or easily becomes distracted 

by the thought of digging a moat—
its sunburnt back, all afternoon,
facing towards the water.

My Cloud is Full / Anna Priddy

The little and big signs of wear
And disrepair and despair,
None are welcome here.
All the machines complaining
While the dog just stares,
Nonplussed as Buddha.
The fence peeled away in the wind,
the car won’t start in the heat,
Stove’s down to two burners
And the computer is unmoving
And looks at me too, but
Not with the dog’s equanimity.
This one is downright hostile.
Even my cloud, apparently,
Has taken all it can take. 

Day 4 / Poem 4

Untitled / Emily Ahmed

Hazel and I sat at Dunkin’ Donuts
after school, commiserating
for our lack of suitors.
For her, a charming, kind prince,
For me, a brooding Mr. Darcy
who’d find me intelligent as he did harsh.
She wore leather jackets over spring dresses,
I had long brass necklaces and tight jeans.
It wasn’t so black and white,
not like the tuxedos at prom
where we knew nothing
of true romance.
The drip candles had silver ball gowns,
but we never did.
Not even the white dress,
on the day of her wedding
she wore periwinkle
in triumph
against her starry skin,
Dunkin’ Donuts felt far away
but we walked away that day
both knowing of true romance,
it was charming, and above all
to her and to all of us
he was kind.

Photos of Nature: Pantuns / Lucie Chou


A bee-brained girl kneels caressing dirt,
The insides of her mind turned out.
Caring about nature is a work of art,
Each honeybee an original thought.


An electric flash in dark woods by Lake Spyri;
Three white-tailed deer scatter like spindrift.
By the window, behind the counter, in reverie
Till a skiey rose dismisses the graveyard shift.


Animals, plants and stars are painted in ochre
On stone faces black as the unlit universe—
Photographing the Newspaper rock, the hiker 
Tries to, but can’t transcribe it into words.


At Copán by a sublime pyramidal tomb 
A phoenix tree is in ebullient bloom.
A monkey saunters by. It had lived here,
At peace amid ruins of a thousand years.


From the circumference of a circle
Giant sequoias grow and converge.
A fish gazes up at the stars’ sparkle
And feels pulled by life’s tall surge.


A kinkajou drinks deep at a balsa flower
All night, taking ceaseless free refill.
At Nectar Bar each hour is the happy hour.
Of consummation of pollen and pistil.


A dying ring nebula is a carmine rose
With turquoise eye and golden whorl.
Stardust drifts like love into my nose.
At life’s end, beauty and truth unfurl.


Pygmies gaze in horror into high canopies
Where man conquers trees with nylon rope.
What else sparkles in their startled eyes?
Outraged awe? Pity? Or desperate hope?


Ebon-eyed, this brown man takes huge pride
In beautifying his beard with golden flowers,
His face a bough whose laced mosses provide
Birds with nesting space, orchids with bowers.


The pantun is a poetic form originating in Southeast Asia—Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore. A popular version of it, pantun empat karat, is a quatrain consisting of a first couplet that introduces a story or idea followed by a final couplet that provides a response or conclusion. The rhyme scheme can be either AABB or ABAB. This series of pantuns are visually inspired; sources include the Exomind sculpture at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, summer 2021 (  and a series of photographs published by National Geographic. Here is a list of their titles and authors (in the order of the sections):

Deer leap in earliest nighttime flash photography shot by George Shiras 
Petroglyphs from the Puerco People at Newspaper Rock by Rich Reid
Mayan pyramidal tomb, North Plaza, showing silhouetted Pancho the monkey who lives at the site by Kenneth Garrett
A fish-eye view of the Milky Way above giant sequoia trees on a starry autumn night by Babak Tafrashi
A kinkajou drinks deeply of balsa blossom nectar by Matthias Klum
Messier 57, th Ring Nebula by STOCKTREK IMAGES
Pygmy’s awe for the Ndoki Forest by Michael Nichols
A Meakambut man with flowers in his beard by Amy Toensing

At the dog park / Susan Dambroff

a woman takes out a small bottle of whisky with a cherry red cap to celebrate 
the indictment, there are jelly donuts on the table, the dogs have their own
politics of who chases who, my puppy knows when to lay belly up for the big 
boys, an old chihuahua jumps into my lap, unconditional love, the grey sky 
drips, my dog understands the back and forth of balls, understands yes, doesn’t 
know about lying, at home he likes to drop his ball into the bathtub, doesn’t 
understand no, doesn’t know about insurrection, wants a donut,
outside the courtroom, protest signs – traitor, coup, loser, on the grass a toddler 
twirls her pink tutu, the sky refuses the sun, the woman takes off the red cap on 
her bottle and  takes another sip

Gold Sunday / Sara Dudo

Set fire to the year
of souvenir

darling lagoon,
seafoam never
talks about you

If you swim
these depths
of doubt:
a loveless anthill
in place of
Miss Blue

Three tides
before the shade
of pink hotels
turning good luck
into a salty
franchise of
taffy balloons

The lightspeed
as a man
hoists the boy
into cedar trees
so he can see
the black river
to first sights
of you. 

Unsinkable / Ann Huang

You have a captivated heart you bring with 

which can only be a gift for one woman.

At the Formula 1/racing tracks

they want you to show/your fierceness

over your lost/beloved/young things,

they would pick right there from your pocket

and leap from the suffering through your eyes.

Your mother is dealing with dementia.

Your heart’s 2/red pumps got smashed.

Your sister is an angel,

her late-night nurse would hold her chin

and pet her forehead acutely to death.

You can’t picture what your woman has been on

or which place she truly belongs.

On shifting bike rides,

You are trying to stay awake and calm,

distilling your discovery that has been recounted/3.

The Deer / Amy Jasek

What I saw was a shadow, just a hint
of life emerging out of the darkness.
Brightness stepped into the meadow: a glimpse.
Eyes watched me approach, cautious, points of flint
ready to spark and dart in the stillness.
What I saw in the shadows was a hint
of secrets concealed where sunlight glints
and shy things prefer to stay.  Gentleness
stepped into the meadow and gave me a glimpse.
One last evening, at the end of a stint
of mountain elevated wilderness,
when the shadows at last offered a hint.
I brought it home, a snapshot, an imprint,
spirit to spirit.  My own restlessness
brightly stepped into that meadow and glimpsed
the other side of life.  A softer tint,
furred like my own skin, a light sister kiss.
What I saw was a shadow, a slight hint
of brightness in the meadow, a wild glimpse.

Just a guess / Jules Lattimer

Every morning I wake up and think I’ll drive 
to the picnic tables in the Davis mountains, 
because that’s the best place to put a poem 
out here. There’s little shacks propped up 
on stilts in what might be called the swamp 
of the canyon if the canyon ever got any rain. 
Those of us who live here drive through this place 
to go to the faraway swimming pool. This is the part 
of the desert that shows off – once known as 
the ocean floor, I guess a tall ocean, 
since we’re so far off the ground. But the hills 
are far away and massive, sweeping green 
until they reach the jagged cliffs of volcanic rock, 
slanted strips of burnt brown. I know some 
basic species of cacti, the common ones, 
that are bursting sideways off these walls. 
The ocotillo, pipe cleaners in a kindergarten 
classroom, green with little red tips, the cholla 
oozing yellow, a little bit of nopal dusted 
with tiny white bugs, and lots of yucca popping 
like porcupines with giant asparagus stalks. 
The flora of the Permian Sea grew up to hold water 
and defend it but I never leave my kitchen to go look.

First Cup of Coffee / Tate Lewis-Carroll

The first cup of coffee is always the best 
with its rush as you whiz back up from the kitchen,
you’re body no longer hung-over with sleep,
into the little library, as you like to call it, 
scribbling away the morning mist 
and moving headlong into the clear day.

And suddenly, already on my second or third,
I remember again my first—a decade ago
above a full moon reflected in the broken 
lakes of the Boundary Waters.

All day we had paddled through narrow inlets 
and portaged over uncleared trails—
me and some other boys already a week 
into a month of this—to a white capped lake. 
Our strength of arms would not be enough
to cross. We pitched our tents and waited
for nightfall.

I awoke to a fire already warming 
a pot of water. Zippy, short for Mr. Zimmerman, 
handed us plastic baggies of beans,
flat stones, and said, GrindThe grounds
will put hair on your chests

And though we were boys, buzzing
around a campfire, asking for seconds, 
spitting the grit stuck from between our teeth,
we slowly began to imagine ourselves as men,
the men we had always known, slouching 
beside their troubles, their lonelinesses 
raising ever rougher waters—

and then the long call of a loon 
from somewhere along the shoreline,
followed by a distant answer. Cries
of joy or warning—it passed the time
to wonder which.

Siren / Anna Priddy

Late at night I sound the alarm
in a call to someone I shouldn’t be talking to.
We are what we are,
and you know how I loved you.
What does it mean to sing?
What does it mean to want?
I look for you sometimes
and remember. How we talked
as if talking could fill all the hours.
There were so many things to say.
What do you say now? That
I was Circe tempting you
from your rightful place, I suspect,
maybe, that’s what you’ve made of me.
The other day I went to where you are,
was so close I could have called your name.
I think you would have come for me.

Day 3 / Poem 3

At the Reading / Emily Ahmed

Looking for a poetic life in this bar,
there are dried roses hanging from the corner,
like pink moth wings in the dimmed candlelight,
a woman in the corner of the crowd with a listening face,
cowboy boot earrings and the golden curve of her cheek glowing under a lantern,
through the grated windows of the city that would inevitably remind you of danger,
there are a pair of blue doors across the street that will surprise you with their whimsical invitation.
Pink, gold, and blue, but I didn’t order a drink though I am sat at the bar taking it in
as the bartenders are doing their ballet,
stretched limbs, twisting here and there, around each other,
one writer reads about death, one about a national tragedy, one about depression, one about heroin,
small reminders that we are not so different,
we’re all here, aren’t we?
In the middle of the one about depression,
one of the bartenders, short straight hair and flowy top, squats during the lull and places her head in her hand to listen,
the other in the bright red, arm tattoos, and round curly cut
in her dance does a quick turn towards me,
still embarrassed I haven’t ordered a drink,
but she pours a cup of water and slides it to me,
a bartender by trade and in name, she has tended.
I’m here too, aren’t I?


The Telegraph Plant / Lucie Chou

 Codariocalyx motorius

At dawn you raise
small lateral leaflets to move along an elliptical path
hinged at the stem base.

One botanist says
your prestidigitation keeps reconnoitering sunlight’s rapidly
changing maze

to make forays
by that broadest, most ponderous central solar panel into 
bright summer days

not go to waste.
Or do you alter the turgor in leaf-joints to twirl to deter
cattle, to escape

being grazed?
An alternative conjecture is that you mimic butterfly wings 
so that she lays

eggs elsewhere, away
from a strutting rival’s circle of influence. The old myth was
that sound waves

provoke you to sway,
that you have an innate impulse to dance to delicious music,
for which your taste

is “art for art’s sake”
or pure revelry in melody, or tactile eroticism of vibration.
A recorder plays

medieval lays,
grand concertos, jazz, heavy metal, and your arousal seems
about the same.

You are unfazed 
by our irritable reaching after fact and reason, our nervous
hunger to make

mere wood ache
with wind’s tremor or tingling of catgut into harmony.
You’ve no malaise

to keep you awake
on a rainforest’s starry or tumultuous night. Protected from
flashlights’ rude gaze

your leaflets stay
perfectly still, drooped and close-pressed when a poem is read
near your dwelling place

to serenade
you into scotophilia. No response. You are no maudlin maid.
Come daybreak

you again raise
small lateral leaflets to move along an elliptical path
not to convey,

as your common name
suggests, messages in semaphore, but to calibrate spacetime 
with your own pace.

This poem’s form mimics (homage to biomimicy!) the physiological structure of the plant it addresses: each tercet parallels a trimerous compound leaf consisting of a large central leaflet and two considerably smaller lateral ones by having one long line sandwiched between two short (irregularly) rhyming lines. I try to use the repetition and variation of the long “a” sound at the line ends to mirror the whimsical movements of those small leaflets and make the poem formally do what it semantically says, thus pay tribute to the plant’s remarkable feat of moving in its original ways to achieve evolutionary success.

I’m not good at this / Susan Dambroff

            poem a day

so I steal words           like scrape and scatter
from randomly opened pages

which is like the headache
that chewed through my night

            these cheeks of stone

I’m not good at this

            poem in a pocket

I pull from someone else’s alphabet
someone else’s landscape of stars

and find
an opening

in my head

            the phrase, shafts of light

wild pink roses rising over my fence

            and I take the word spill

into the loops of my pen

limitless lines, unmasked interiors, a tossed trajectory, a lapse of linear 

 I take the roof off my head

                                    poem of day

 scalp of sky

EARTHMEN / Sara Dudo

Blue jeans sweep out
         second-floor window
         open to spring’s dreams
         of rain

dance of free legpaths
         sleeves praising willows
a heap of linens
         in dandelion grass

these feral goings-on
of a knife woman
         and son abandoned:

ghost children,
bay window,
ranunculus fields.

In the words of slowly
emptying houses:
faith is not easy to keep,
in my dreams I am always

falling to the earth,
in the wedding tape
a man is living
by his smile a man is
a man and once

he is no longer a man
what more can the earth
men do but hold on.

Under Your Arch / Ann Huang

The roads this afternoon tremble sideways


The menace and adventure of vicious games–

Impatient sun rays by your famous eyes making everyone feeling love,

And the thrilling speed

Someone falls in love again–

The lean probability for a quest to be by your side,

Your prowess–your characters’ possessiveness

Am I good enough for the games planted in your name?

Riding on to excel your whims

“If you love someone dearly you won’t make the person feel sad”

Our sky, your stardom?

My style of loving


Mustang / Amy Jasek

Racing wild horses across west Texas
aching to reach the mountains. Manes flowing,
windows down, on the map charting x’s.

Where to next?  So much choice leads to excess
of possibilities, crossroads going 
every way, racing wild across Texas.

Home again, I will bronco-buck the fuss
of routine, but for now wheeled freedom brings
windows down, breeze charting the map’s axis.

The open road is a summer compass,
a passport to exploration growing
wild as a horse race across west Texas.

Tire tread pit stop, lonely highways pass
like threads of memory, landscape blurring
through the window.  The map gives no basis

for why wanderlust imparts a sweetness
to the sun season.  Reason’s flower sings
of racing wild horses across Texas,
windows down, western map marked with x’s.

Night Poem / Jules Lattimer

When I think I’ve given up I melt against the dog.

She’s nasty, has to touch her tongue on everything,

sleeps to pass the time. On our walk at dinner 

Mac took puppy into a baby-hold, said don’t worry honey,

Uno will be fine now, he only broke 

everything, stay out of the road. The truth is we never go

anywhere. Earlier in the sun we drove up to the tracks 

and waited. The bars were coming down. The town’s 

been loving the four hour freight that we had 

Monday, how we all slugged the arroyo.

I flipped on the fan and begged for this for hours, for cars piled 

behind us and nothing but bright. Last night we missed 

the moonrise — it was red and huge and pulsing. And we

were sleeping, past our deadlines, we have nothing

else to say.


Rereading / Tate Lewis-Carroll

            For Dan Smart

By now, I know every turn. I’m ready
for each jump scare. It’s not the revelation
I’m after, but the richness of the words 
plotted neatly in their rows.

Without fail, with each revisit,
they sit up in their little, black coffins
and reintroduce themselves to me,
not realizing how well I already know them.

Their alphabet houses and streets form
all around as they invite me in for coffee 
and gin rummy. I play along, answering 
their questions, calling their bluffs. 

And when it’s late, you would be happy 
to know, they never send me out 
empty handed, but always with something
from on a shelf or stashed in a shoe box—

a grain of insight, some cab fare.
They walk me out and wave goodbye.
Once I’ve turned the corner and
they’ve settled back into their graves,

I count my winnings and appraise my loot.
I don’t mind telling you—I am robbing 
them blind, one piece at a time—
there’s nothing you can do to stop me.

Final Girl / Anna Priddy

To be the winner
The one left over
After the massacre
Virginal and bloody
Maybe traumatized
A tiny bit just to
Remain, outlast
Outplay, hang on,
Hold on, that’s the way
To get a crown, a
Sequel, a last name.

Day 2 / Poem 2

Better Than / Emily Ahmed

I remember I walked beside Ella along battered streets with tear stained cheeks
where she reassured me I’d have to kiss a few frogs, dragging her bicycle up along the path
as I cried my wintered breath out in little clouds, like them I’d been floating, living out 
of a suitcase, a grey life with no other option to add color except with the flyers and postcards
I plastered on the walls. I wish I knew that I was as young as young can get and that I could have
stopped myself from getting on a plane to a town where the restaurants plastered naked women
on the walls, the patrons with their side-eyes and local princes, and I know no one would believe me
if I told them what I know of their gods, thinking I won’t get better in this life, those hopeless instances
are what I remind myself of at an empty Chipotle in this new city where I buy my first bed frame
6 years later and I have not kissed a frog for ages and I am so, so tired and I know only that yes, time passes,
but the past informs the future, has its lips to its ears, my future trying to stay two feet ahead and
claim it can’t hear a thing, praying, surely, surely I can do better than this.

Himalayan Blossoms Bluer than the Sky / Lucie Chou

Living under harsh conditions, many Meconopsis species bloom only once in a lifetime, and die shortly after setting seed.

The sky sees it all,
the deep blue sky.

Demure eyes beneath 
burqas of lapis lazuli.

Their blue so divine
it veils extreme pain.

Himalayan blue poppies
hang their heads in rain.

The empyreal Afghan
women are bleeding.

Meconopsis blossoms die 
for beauty after seeding.

Rooted in a country
crueler than its land,

they gasp and pray for
a kind stranger’s hand

to carry their broken
bodies’ to soft beds

where blind angels
administer right meds

so they awake healed
and say, We see poppies

blooming brighter blue
than merciless skies.

This photo captures
a flower’s-eye view:

O strong vast air, echo
my brief, fragile blue.

*Ekphrastic response to Lynsey Addario’s “Afghan Women, Bluer than the Sky” published by National Geographic

Counterfeit Summer / Susan Dambroff

this is not summer at the lake
a bathing cap strap
tucked under my chin
childhood of slippery salamanders
the wet shine of their red dots

this is San Francisco summer
insulting my senses
fog dripping into my hair

this is bone cold
this is dull grey

this is too much 
and too little

this is not 
summer by the sea
an unbound horizon
this is not 
a shiny collection of shells 
in the lip
of my terry cloth robe

this is a counterfeit summer

when the sun might come out
by three
if we’re lucky

a summer of puffy jackets
scarves and wool hats
pressed against the blustery wind

I know I shouldn’t complain

that this is not steamy New York
in summer

but I miss the thin dresses 
and thin shoes
and what I remember about fireflies
sparking into the dark heat


The need to grieve,
children selling flowers
on the roadside,
a rubber mallet
for coreopsis prints.


I love my little future
surfer boy who is not mine
red popsicle mouth smile
his hand in mine
we walk the sand.


Mika in a yard of dandelions:
a kingdom for the curly girl
soon a courtyard of wish


The river gorge in last light,
I gave my first stolen hour.
In return, these gifts

pale green luna moth
twitching in my palm
cicada resting on blue tent
cat in basement window
Ray cradles me in the ocean.


Cocina shell cheers
with Cecilia, she stumbles
around in my black cowboy
boots hugging her waist.


In the mirror, Stephen lounges
on car window-side,
green flies and a black sky
behind that restores me
to rain. 

In Love! / Ann Huang

Some yellow and purple, all this discovery
The most intimate meeting of the world
Thighs lulling tenderly
Neck and the bed
Wooden floor! More wooden floor!
Soulache beyond one another
We drink and dance sweetly
Already back into our happy place.

Water Garden / Amy Jasek

Hot downtown where water grows in gardens:
cultivated among concrete landforms,
mist and pools soothe while the city hardens.

Harsh angles stacked block on block beg pardon
of imaginations.  Most garden norms
don’t include water in hot downtown urns.

But here it is:  this strange oasis churns
idiosyncratic, and urban storms
pool soothing mists while the city hardens.

Design can be an exacting warden.
Visitors love to explore these platforms,
hot, downtown, growing the water garden

into something for tourists.  Taps dampen
expectations, but still this place performs
with mists and pools, while the city hardens.

Skyscrapers soar, asphalt makes space barren.
Parks break the cycle and seek to transform
hot downtown, growing water in gardens.
Misty pools soothe while the city hardens.

Thinking about dinner / Jules Lattimer

It’s the part of the day 
that’s been gray for so
long it’s grown greenish, 
nothing but the fan making 
noise in the house, a little 
breath, the dog punching 
paws against my toes. 
I’ve never been good 
at the afternoon, when 
everyone rests I walk 
around in my head, 
punching questions, 
pulling details, passing 
my hands over everything 
I own. It’s easy to obsess 
over a snake. It was writhing 
a figure eight right 
in my path – its body shifting 
in its shape, rocks on a rope, 
uneasy. I’ve seen it every time 
I shut my eyes for days, 
since it appeared just once 
at dusk on quick excuse 
outside. I was barely outside. 
I want the horizon to stay 
pink, but today I saw it raining, 
storming in ecstasy, loud and 
white and making. I couldn’t see 
the ends of the body in that 
knot, don’t know if it carried 
poison or good or bad luck. 
I make up stories. In my home 
I watch my fingers pick apart 
the garlic, scrub the counter,
hang the towel, watch 
the silence carry dust.

Birthday / Tate Lewis-Carroll

My dog has surpassed me in age,
28 today in dog years. I won’t catch up 
until December, which by then 
she will have cracked her 30s.

And now, as are the rules of the house,
she gets to decide what we watch on TV,
what time in the morning she will fill
my metal bowls with food and water

as I prance around her feet, then wait 
for her command. She will tell me to shake 
and I will hand her the bills and checkbook,
the keys to the car, my list of passwords.

She becomes the breadwinner,
I become the bread thief.
It can’t be helped, she will later whisper
into my unctuous ears—a pile of candy wrappers,

a puddle of vomit—you are still just a puppy.
I wonder if she has ever sensed this coming swap,
knew she was running circles around my long,
drawn-out years— But that’s not for me to ponder

anymore. There are trees to mark,
the mocking squirrels up in their nests, 
and her car turning into the drive—wait, no,
it’s that miserable mailman again.

Dealbreakers / Anna Priddy

He said if it’s a dealbreaker,
then it’s a dealbreaker,
a person has to know her limits.
And she said, I think it’s a child
in that photo. And she said,
he is too long married. She said,
Maine is too cold, and
I don’t care for long hair, and
then, he has been dead nearly
thirty years. She said, given time
I will find the line in the sand,
or I’ll draw one. She said,
I am in the business of breaking.

Day 1 / Poem 1

Untitled / Emily Ahmed

Mermaid in a glass bubble,
Message in a glass bottle,
One is protected, one is unread.
Fairies inside their lanterns twinkle,
Make something beautiful in their sleep,
Give somebody warmth and a show,
But a mermaid in a glass bubble can only
watch the world and pretend she can swim.

Translumination / Lucie Chou

The theory of relativity states that speed compresses thickness
and that at the speed of light, everything shrinks to wafer-thin.
The halcyon Alcedo, however, contravenes this cosmic principle 
by stretching its brilliant blue plumage into a vertical streamer 
of light three times as long as its oblong body, a sapphire strobe
that scintillates to sear its flaring silhouette into screens
of sage green leaves, a sword-beaked kingfisher suddenly
a swordfish’s rippling blade that swooshes through the air,
a meteor trailing its tail of cobalt flame. Quantum mechanics
claims that no object can remain untransformed by the gaze,
that every light beam lancing the lens will be transluminated
on planes of photosensitive cells, as bioluminescent specter,
as memorial of a moment, as monument of its momentum,
a feather of no mass or gravity, a flying wave of pure energy,
ablaze, alive, free, captured in flagrante, forever freeze-framed.
Lapis dives in divine rapture, sublime light, a divining rod.

The Hottest July / Susan Dambroff

My love 

wants me         to be more like her

to kill all the fruit flies with my slippers

and save the plums

I want her                   to be more like me

to dance out    of our tender webs                 

and save the spiders

It’s the hottest July on record

I go to the dermatologist         who suggests

that I occasionally       part my hair                differently

to trick the sun

Our dog notices          our jagged silences

splays out on the back deck                to soak up the heat

FIELD SONG / Sara Dudo

“Ta distance de vie s’étend au moins sur un arpent d’oiseaux.”
Marie-Claire Bancquart

In the meadow to nowhere,
two hands holding
not silence, not sound:

open palms to a
field song.

Milk thistle grows purple
holding its diaphragm,

is this how you accept love
or just a handful of names?

We don’t have to be
so yellow-spined,

so ready to be a world balloon
caught in an acre of birds.

There is a time to
and a time to
give silence

each stanza space, line
break is the location

I must swim
the soundlessness
and listen to what
the poem needs to say.

In between, a sunglass
friend wherein I soon depart.

In between, an emptiness
that wants to save itself

this looks like a meadow
to nowhere
through the doors
of neon laundromats

washing the blankets
for the purple
field song today.

The First State of Mind / Elizabeth Fields

You come forth as a fiery
inferno of possibilities
as the archer, you point arrows
of greatness in the bellies
of 11,000 thousand years
of Lenapie and Nanticoke
harmonized while realizing
the natural progression of
this landscape, this time place
to show the way showers forward
grey fox gathers to march 
through the peach blossom 
and American holy lines 
trailheads witnessed and pressed 
in memorial of motion 
as it rears up to engulf 
all that languishes — out to sea. 

Midnight Moon / Ann Huang

You are making everything certain without your fame
from your characters.

You traveled to Napoli Friday afternoon
on the plane in bewilderment.
You found her.

You love the woman you never met
at a line of words you aspired to.

She is full of sweet honey and beehives.
She is as fragile and bold as you can bear.

You know yourself vulnerable
of the past; the man you were

was malleable. Echoing
your forever pursuit that is viable.

The script of movies besides you
is happy by night as your endgame.

Zatara / Amy Jasek

Adrift was the only thing that we knew,
with summer days blazing before us and
time like the sky’s ocean sailing on through.

You’d think that distance might have made us blue,
washed up here, so un-rooted on the sand,
but adrift was fine; it was what we knew.

Dragged into place, hands worked our group into
a new sort of art.  We perched on the land
like time, with the waves often coursing through.

Marooned as a homesick wreck, fabled crews
of strangers passed by.  Our emotions tanned,
adrift.  This was the only thing we knew.

From forests far away where rain was true
from the sky, to drink the sun and salt, bland
as time while meanwhile the ocean sailed through,

until, united, replanted into
beach life, we understood. Then we began
to see adrift was not all that we knew,
while time within the sky’s ocean sailed through.  

At Arrival / Jules Lattimer

It was storming in New York, 
and I was in the practice 
of counting down. Shaking in a plane 
in the sky, blue so bright 
it was just lines. I held my breath. 
I’ve grown used to suspension, 
to waiting. To keeping my hands in my lap, 
to quiet. To loud noise disguising itself 
as quiet. It’s a day of transition, and I expect 
the reflection in the terminal glass will show me 
I’m a new figure, one at random, a father 
with a black goatee or a bumbling baby,
my plastic pink sunglasses falling off my nose. 
The humans of this kind of public, people I’d expect 
to meet on a plane – I’m one of those. A beige shadow 
at a tiny window. When we tip toward LGA 
I grip the arm rest, wide eyes 
on the Long Island parkways, little cars 
on their way to their garages all over 
and the solid clouds sitting flat 
on the Manhattan skyline like a hand 
resting on a burner.

Looking for a Poem / Tate Lewis-Carroll

I searched all the usual hiding spots—
under the nesting hens in their coop,
all around the yellowing garden,
the neighbor’s silo from my window.

I picked through my shelves of books,
both familiar and unread. Nothing
but lint and dog hair under the couch.
I even checked behind my ear,

but all I found there was a pencil.
I examined it under the light
and felt a faint heartbeat, drumming
from somewhere between my fingertips.

Something wants to escape, I said aloud to no one.
I scribbled and sharpened and scribbled
and sharpened the pencil to a nub 
to release whatever must be trapped inside,

but found only shavings and streaks of dust. 
I grabbed a new pencil, the beating quickening, 
and wore it down. Then another. Another.
Until finally, out of pencils, I realized

the heartbeat I’m feeling must be my own.
Yet somehow since this discovery,
I am not any closer to uncovering it,
nor figuring out what it wants.

Weeding / Anna Priddy

Where he meant to write wedding
he typed instead weeding,
so it became a weeding day,
not meant to convey, a lessening,
exactly, when in the mundane,
dailyness, sacred and profane
do still combine and repetition
might govern action until
absence becomes possibility:
We were weeding, we were
wedding, we were, we