The February 30/30 Project: Part 2

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 February 2023 are Hank Blackwell, Kevin Dubin, Lexi Eagles, Kimberly Ellingson, Mike Hackney, Ava M. Hu, Christi Krug, and Judy McAmis.! 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 28 / Poem 28

We are cobalt and made of chalk / A Cento

Lines by and from Hank Blackwell, Kevin Dubin, Lexi Eagles, Kimberly Ellingson, Mike Hackney, Ava M. Hu, Christi Krug, and Judy McAmis.

A small flower you sense     like
  a     woodwind     in            your       chest.

We tease the dead magpie’s
heart-bones for                    clues

This flock of birds
                            black        lightning
                with   no       storm

    stretch       thin                   across                 sky,
  swiftly     pull themselves together
& darken like flowers bloom
the color of                             bloodrot.

Colors will save you
but salvation is 
Darkness is a ghost
memorizing                            scripture

Behind birdsong,
tones of soft storied
urgency:                                  Straightaway.

a silent souls’

unprepared to
witness the amulet               rise
from time’s rubble.

The earth, a deer                  running           for her mate.

the silent current
flowing    between      our      electric        animal 

A passing
                                                     haunt           clots
the                          air.

we meet
in life’s                                          saline
or in the                                       delta
of our own

across hum of air,
the maw of wasps as they         feast
on soggy meat of fruit,
threaten stinger: feign 

I won’t call it an omen.

texture of
gravel and malice
                                                      dances                          oceanic—

It’s the wind                                  curling
a                                                     whisper                        in the ear 
of a dying tree.

It’s a tender act
reimagining                                   infinity.

We     take in     as much                                      starlight
as we                                               can bear.

Wishing / Hank Blackwell

bloody eclipse
celeste’s visit

starry sky
to the east

I wait for me
as tenaciously
as I did for you,
hope a weightless

sky veiled,
memory clear
of one night
that one night
when we would wake
to the east
before you were gone…

In The Beginning     / Lexi Eagles

Begin the poem with a word,                        
The saddest one you’ve ever heard,               
And know for certain as you write,
Some truth within your heart has stirred.

The wisdom in that word takes flight            
In lines of sorrow and delight,                                               
Revealing what you’ve never known,                                   
Like Homer’s guide, providing sight.
They take you places yet unknown,                  
And show you how the seeds are sown;                    
Sing now, they beg, their melody,                             
Weave wisdom with enchanted tone.                                                                                      

The primal word’s seductive plea
Begins your lyric elegy,
And yearning lines require you be                                                     
Mindful of their destiny.

The Mother / Kimberly Ellingson

She slept in a wrought iron bed
suspended above the town center
and bolted to a brick wall.

She silently worked alone, building
a son inside her body. I climbed
the long stairway and laid down

next to her to rest. When I awoke,
my womb was empty. Peering through
the iron bars, I panicked at the height.

Last Lines / Ava M. Hu


The very last of pink sky.
Last of the sea pines darkening green.

Tell me, how long can heaven hold you?
Can you touch fire without getting burned?

I hold my breath a very long time.
Only the sound of my heart,

it beats so loud can anyone hear it?
We are one arrow of flowers,

previously thought to be two.
Attention to form and detail, 

conscious placement.
This soft space we float in, 

big atmosphere. We are pulled 
by things we cannot explain.  

We are skylarks who hold back
for a moment, song.

The way maps are drawn
of the old world.

Stories about Houdini, 
your white doves.

As if the nodding
of your own head,

is the very rhythm
of the universe.


Light / Christi Krug

snatches and twists
like a magician’s
gloved hands.
Shore pines
rustledance in a line
of bewildering
west-bluster. Work-
aday clouds
shake out wool
coverlets from which
satin bluebird
sheets peek,
ready for royalty—
I’m the only
would-be guest.

Thirty-seven things
to do
but I don’t
move. Four
thousand seventy-
two trees and three
geese, that eagle
skimming, six crows.
New scotch
broom blabbing
yellow, too early
in the morning
and year.

Beginning to do
what dunes do
better: wait, glow,
rise in one’s own time
while dawn, valley,
and tree-spire
conspire. Hills
turn on pale
heels, there’s a hush
of lavender rain
and just that quick
the stage darkens.
Look south: ruffles,
white pomp, berry
bombe, clementine
embarrassingly overripe.
Clatter of drops
on window pane.

Watching all this
beneath a
prism prophesy
against slant of hail.
Almost I hear feet
on tiptoe
off to wrap and
tie my gift—whose bow
has no ends, can’t
be measured
twice, cut once.
The end
of doing.

The fire was unexpected, what a wild blaze…   / Judy McAmis

She arrived singed, dirty straight from the blazing fields
unannounced and unexpected nonetheless, welcome. 
A child of the earth she bears its scars,
knows the anguish of every soul lost in the great
destruction. The water is poison, the fish are dying.
The forest is shrinking, burning, giving up, and so is the air.
Did you know you increase your risk of cancer by 33% 
just by breathing? Don’t bother with the internet, it won’t
confirm that as fact. We are all the whale beached with a belly
full of plastic. Petroleum starts fires, wars, pollutes oceans, 
and makes lipsticks so we can feel pretty as we die
slowly too. She is the last pure seed trying to grow
in earth barren of nutrients, poisoned and starving
like the bees we put on t-shirts. She is the passion
in the eyes of every child who fears what their tomorrow
will look like and if it will come. She is our Mother
and she has had enough. I cradle her, use my tears 
to heal her wounds, shelter her from the constant 
LED light killing our fireflies, and no, don’t blame them
they didn’t start anything. We must ask ourselves 
is our hunger for faster more than our hunger
for food? We watch the West burn every summer 
but nothing changes. The Earth will recover feeding 
off the ashes of progress and greed. A war over petroleum
garners far more headlines and strangely, sympathy 
than hunger, starving children in countries 
where the brown people are, where war is so common 
and never-ending that we have become desensitized. 
She is burning, the world is burning 
and you have to offer her is a Coke. 

Day 27 / Poem 27

Origins / Hank Blackwell

lifeboat survivor   
floating on
titanic secrets
slipping below

in the  
empty bouys
of silent

Moral Mercury   / Lexi Eagles

Decades ago, I loved to
slide the small silver ball
of mercury out of a broken
thermometer and swirl it
in the bowl of my hand.

My parents can be forgiven for
allowing this customary fun;
they could not have known its
toxic potential.

Somehow, however, they did know
that the customary naming of a
black youth for a murder in our town
was the result of toxic chemistry.

Back then, in a fever pitch
to name the criminal,
folks fell back on practiced ways.                     
The local paper laid it out.     

The youth confessed
after he was beaten (reporters said).
The officers who roughed up the suspect
won’t be charged (police chief said).
A cap found at the crime scene
was not his, did not fit.
He was at the football game,
witnesses affirmed.
Will the truth set you free?

Our home was hot with it:
mother on the phone, outraged,
finding an voice for the wrongly
accused.  Our kitchen filled with
the smoke of her cigarettes. 

Sixty years have passed. 
What have we learned?
What have we learned?
How do we read the
moral mercury of our lives?

untitled / Kimberly Ellingson

about butter churning in the big machine 
at the dairy plant where your father worked, 
how it shut down, stood abandoned. 
Years later, when it became a high-rise 
apartment building, you dated a man 
who lived in one of the sprawling 
industrial lofts, didn’t tell him about playing
there as a child, or anything. One night, 
you took off your gold rings and left 
them on the bathroom sink. In the morning, 
you found they had moved.

Repetitions / Ava M. Hu

The nodding of your own head is the very rhythm of the universe.
By clutching close, in a sudden rain-
We are minus the myth of light.
It was a long day and night we reached for one another.

By clutching close, in a sudden rain-
Let them have the most beautiful darkness. 
It was a long day and night we reached for one another.
A small flower you sense like a woodwind in your chest.

Let them have the most beautiful darkness. 
We are swans lifting ourselves, heavy, looking for the light.
A small flower you sense like a woodwind in your chest.
A white cloud moving over water.

We are swans lifting ourselves, heavy, looking for the light.
Mind is a candle, a yellow flower lit.
A white cloud moving over water.
The way maps are drawn of the old world.

Mind is a candle, a yellow flower lit.
We are minus the myth of light.
The way maps are drawn of the old world.
The nodding of your own head is the very rhythm of the universe.

Snug / Christi Krug

Creaking hinges,
shuddering frames.
Rush of prim-
rose frost
and sea
salt just before
the slam, then puff
of warmth, oated
breakfast, woolen
socks, teakettle.
Safe again-
st the world.

Closing the door
to people,
freedom, being
loved less
than I like.

room to room,
sins of o-
mission only
I know. A passing
haunt clots
the air.

On the other
side, no one hides
wide gull-strewn
shores. Undoored
places are seen
for what they are.

The doors of my heart
close one hundred
times a day.

Uncurious, un-
peopling the peephole.
I’m not
behind the lock,

drawing the dead-

Maiden Song  / Judy McAmis

She sang a song of curses and riddles, incantations trapped in the night sky. 
Swirling melodies and memories left trails of light like will o’ the wisps,
trapped in lanterns with wide open doors. 
Fireflies! The hill children cried out, but the maiden never paused to speak.
Children, she thought, were the stuff of nightmares. 
She had long since lost her mind, her innocence a directionless traveling companion.
She was too you to have seen what she had seen.
All children are too young to witness life’s tragedies.
It was said she was found in the stables with the young calves.
The world had left her catatonic for years.
After the last sighting, a handkerchief was found
stuck to the end of a willow branch, 
dragging the side of the moat trapping shadows left by a lingering sun. 
The crows caw from the branches dropping runes from their waste 
a message for any sorrowful creature. She is the heart of the tree.
The sweeping branches carry the scent of her hair.
Roots drawn down, the willow is the tree of immortality.

Day 26 / Poem 26

Life Changes / Hank Blackwell

in trillions;
two intersect-
life changes.
in deep cold sea,
high in mare’s tail
in dark alveoli
microscopic exchange,
life changes.
tyrants, heroes
angels, despots-
confluence avails
in translucent bow,
life changes.
no permission, no
divine hand,
claw, cilia-
life changes
human hearts
atrium, ventrical
each impulse
no greater than
single cells
in carbon and salt

life changes…

Wedding Joint   / Lexi Eagles

Up in our hotel room
I opened the gift bag,
explored its contents.
A small card offered
thanks for coming to the
wedding. A water bottle,
Tylenol, chips, a map.
What is this? I held up
the slim brown tube for
my husband to see.

A quick twist & out slid . . .
a cigarette?  Just the slightest
moment of hesitation, the
exchanged looks, and the
lovely denouement laughter.

What will we do with it?

 Later, ready to leave our hotel
for the airport (where our bags
would be thoroughly checked)
we explained our predicament
to a clerk.  He was so kind –
understood completely – and
was glad to help.  

Pipes / Kimberly Ellingson

The car in the shop again, 
$350 for more exhaust repairs – 
all the money we have left. 
The mechanic said the metal 
rusted away where it met 
the catalytic converter. 
I think of driving for miles, 
the pipes disintegrating 
beneath us.

Double Fantasy / Ava M. Hu


There is no  difference between 
the worshipper and worshipped.

Mind is transferred to other mind.
Take a photo of water

and see who it reflects. We disappear 
into the pages of a book

in a second-hand store
with this scene underlined:

the dialog emphasized
by not what was said,

but by the breath taken
in between, by the moment

the two actors held
the stage captive

by clutching close,
in a sudden rain-

A stone thrown into a water
sinks fast.

I was so centered after the experience 
at sea that I was tuned in to the cosmos.

If two people picture the same image 
at the same time, can they have

a double fantasy?


Landscape: A Body without Voice / Judy McAmis

I am standing in the doorway of retribution waiting
To be finely redressed for a pain and suffering 
without limits, a list of grievances days long. 
                          For I am a woman 
and have lived too long stripped of my bird song. 

Day 25 / Poem 25

Tides / Hank Blackwell

upon wave
rises from 
shallow sand
leans forward
wave upon
wave rises
from shallow
falls wave
    from shallow
sand leans

Ode for East Palestine / Lexi Eagles

No stranger to derailments,
East Palestine. Its stories are
written into the Ohio hills,
nestled in the farms, carved
into cemetery headstones.

Here are Anna and James Atchison,
side by side. A forbidden marriage,
then their young son’s death,
and then his.
Anna lived a century, grieving.

Farther up the hill find Fanny and Ellen,
twins dead at four months. Diphtheria.   
Next to them, their father, killed when
the startled horse turned the wagon –
throwing him under the train. 

Lives too early derailed.                                 

Young Eddie miraculously lived through
a burst appendix. (The local doctor assured them
the pain came from eating green apples).  
William, though, did not.
He was just twenty-eight.

Do not imagine East Palestine a stranger
to tragedy.  But know, too, it is no stranger
to the love and hope and resilience that move beyond.  
Its hills are grass-covered and rolling,
and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.

With thanks to my sister for helping me remember,
and to Alan Paton (Cry,the Beloved Country) for the final lines.

Untitled / Kimberly Ellingson

Overnight winds knocked down trees 
in the cemetery across the street. 
Something about old roots growing 
around graves rather than digging 
into solid earth. All morning, 
we watch workers clear debris 
into flatbed trucks, trim jagged 
tree stumps into neat columns.

Poem of First Lines / Ava M. Hu


We are minus the myth of light,
my sorcerer, my winter king. 

I sink beneath water.
The earth in between you and heaven.

Dervishes whirl like pink ribbons
from this life to the next.

A woodwind in your chest.
I pour water out of the boat.

We are flower sutras.
Invocation and evocation. 

The earth, a deer running for her mate.
Egyptians wrap their dead with such precision.

Oil of death. Your metal of honor. 
We take in as much starlight as we can bear.

No desire opens me I am full.
You would be the target

the love arrows of the gods hit.
What’s in between your shoulder and mine,

Erasing continents from maps 
we find spinning on light-up globes.

A seed must become
it’s root, and leaf.

It was a long day and night
we reached for one another.


Being Thirteen / Christi Krug

Thirteen Words to Hand Within a Thirteen-Inch Radius


How the camp
counselor de-
me in her letter.
Granna chewed
on the word.
“Why weren’t you
friendly?” Granna
wore reading
glasses steeped in
White Shoulders perfume.
Peered at me as if
the letter were a
report card, which
it wasn’t,
merely a concerned adult
noting a child
who was quiet—
too quiet.
Please pay attention.


How Mother began
every letter from the
hospital. Also a term
of endear-
ment I never heard from
anyone real but her.
June and Ward
Cleaver used
it for each other.


at the mouth. How you
know to stay
away from the loping
bloodhound behind the chain
link fence next to
the trailer park.


tunneled through
slitted window
opened by hand
as I sat in the back,
dizzy on a drive
with my new
foster parents,
just this once
I didn’t get sick.


Habitual and weightless
as the white sluggish
liquid tipped into
my fingers after
every shampoo. Acts
performed for parents,
teachers. Seeking
sleek belonging, tangle-free


ollecting, creating
something new which is
calling out to me.
Lettered for me.
Nevermind my whole
name; a slim stiletto
profile will do. Let
identity shorten,
Do not cover
your past with grinning


went out of my ‘69
Corona six years
later, but my friend
the mechanic poured
jug after jug of
fluid under the hood,
into a tinny, airy engine
so light you could see
the street underneath.

Daring Blush

When I
did the sinful thing
of sitting on Nick’s lap
in the elevator. Yes,
I was blushing
but daring
too. Pastor
Stan said a girl
should never let
herself get
that close
to a boy.


I handed in my
Language Arts
essay, my Spanish
quiz, my Social
Studies homework.
Sweat dampened the
fingers in my
lap at church service
guested by the dashing
traveling minister. If
I couldn’t be him, then his wife.

Do not cover

your past with grinning
glib photographs in
gummy albums before
acid-free paper was invented.
Do not cover bare ground with
rototilled, chemically-
enriched refinements.
Do not say things
everyone would much
rather hear.
Do not cover your eyes.

Collage of 13 items in a 13″ radius

Dead Beat / Judy McAmis

I bought a record of Allen Ginsberg reading the Kaddish
I love to read his works in his voice –
I want to possess the cadence of kool.
I want to love Blake the way he did
I want to understand the obsessions that infect
all good artists.
So far I’m hooked on death (how tragic),
dead things like dying flowers (already done)
the little death I’m afraid to write about.
I have faeries, the real ones,
I have feminism, the intersectional kind,
I have hauntings, more dead things.
In death and fairies we have something in common,
and art, and flowers, spiritualism, and the other worlds.
I am no visionary. Though I’d love to be.
I offer few social commentaries outside of conversation.
I do not have the rhythms of jazz,
but I do love a good, dead Beat. 

Day 24 / Poem 24

Jocasta’s Sacrifice / Hank Blackwell

thin veil

your breeze

does not

wisps of
slowing pace
or masked

of your


Catastrophic     / Lexi Eagles

He left this morning.
Out the front door,
no questions asked.

We both understood,
given the circumstances we
found ourselves in.

It was no one’s fault, really.
Habits change.  

A third party was involved—
does that surprise you?

We both loved him—
our mutual friend.
Does that seem strange?

So dear to us both
he has been –
all these years.

But today,
tangled emotional bonds
and the difficult situation we faced
demanded immediate decision.

Resigned to what must be,
no reasons given,
no regrets,
we accepted
the unavoidable

Our dear friend,
You see,
was sleeping
at his food bowls
so close to the back door
that exit there
was impossible.

Cyclones  / Kimberly Ellingson

Even though it is -30 degrees outside, I turn the thermostat down to 62 degrees, per an urgent email from the energy company warning of a natural gas shortage, on account of a major equipment failure on one of the interstate pipelines. I open the cabinets under each sink, sleep with an electric heating pad and all the blankets I could find piled over me.

In the morning, I go outside to start the car and let it run for 20 minutes or so, to keep the battery from dying. Sitting there watching my breath, smelling the cold oil and listening to mechanical, dull sounds and metal grinding metal. I watch the snow whip veiled cyclones across the lawn through a partially covered windshield.


Mirror / Ava M. Hu


It was a long day and night
we reached for one another.

Being moved beyond being.
We reach into the secret universe.

Dichotomy of forms,
beautiful paradoxes,

halved and forbidden
to become one.

Mirrors reflect 
the vanishing point 

that makes two one.
Light to form an image

of an object placed in front of it. 
What if we turn off the lights?

Let Juliet, not be the east, 
the sun, the moon,

unplug the stars. 
Reckless playwright

longing for God.
Let them have the most beautiful

darkness. Tell them
darkness is the answer.

Tell them
I am you.


Mixed States, Fort Worden / Christi Krug

The microphone
worked intermittently
and rambling seams of my
journaled walk are couched
in the elemental—
ragged port town breeze,
panting garbage truck. Ferry’s
moving out—it creeps away.
Xylophone zip of backpack pocket.
I like improvising.

The voice thinks it’s pro-
found. Writing a poem
bright with red berries.
The boots crinkle, creak as
shout of truck
driver shimmies.
A crow scolds.
Pinched off,
Average Joe,
a candy wrapper
in the wind. 

Behind birdsong,
tones of soft storied
urgency: Straightaway.
Crunching of gravel
and twig. Some people
renting bikes. Clank of
garbage cans.

Deafening leaf-rustle
of gately branches. 
Changing maples.
A jay makes a demand.
Three shunting electronic
snaps, picture-taking.
A utility truck’s back-up
alarm, high and insistent.
There’s something grand
about deciduous trees.
Against water.
Wind, murmurs, brush.
What if I don’t deserve it?
Musical notes—café down the lane?
Clomps, then soundless feet, wheel-rumble.
A new crow, perhaps returnee.
So much I never heard while
scheming what to say.
How about that!
—a sand pile.

wearing grief / Judy McAmis

picking out the right outfit
morning black or evening black
mid-day drab gray
I do not mourn friendships the same
the cord-cutting kind.
Snip, tuck, remove, good day.
I chose to analyze a ransom note
sent to the Lindberg family
re: their kidnapped child.
I used to tell the story
that you grew up in the Lindberg family
house. I was not true.
Your mother dressed you up once
like the Lindberg baby
at a Halloween party.
Rather disturbing if you ask me.
The handwriting didn’t provide much,|and the note was quite short —
like our last conversation.

Day 23 / Poem 23

Wood Ducks / Hank Blackwell

bookcase balsa
floating  flock
waiting upon
dusty lake,
young man
long since
for an aging

Improbabilities  / Lexi Eagles

While he is studying logarithms
(a dead end in my world of rhyme
and metaphor, though I am comforted
to hear they express relationships),

I am thinking of metaphors,
working backwards,
starting with what it’s like,
or is, then searching for it,
in order to make a poem,
which you could say is
an equation of sorts,
X + metaphor = poem.

It is improbable a poem will
be born out of logarithms — as
improbable as Athena springing
from the head of Zeus. (I hope
you see how I have worked
the waiting Athena myth
into this poem).                      

However, the best poets are all about
using improbables, leading readers along
to the big surprise.  Not to be outdone, 
mathematicians have purloined the idea,  
called it the improbability principle,
and provided their own big surprise: 
extremely improbable events happen frequently.

Do you see how the numbers folk have
gone poetical?  For thousands of years
poets have championed life’s ironies, while
mathematicians have aimed to make
both sides match.

What is the use of studying logarithms, anyway,
I shall ask my friend.  If he asks the same
about poetry, I shall show him this.

The House on Wilson Street  / Kimberly Ellingson

Or, what is left of it, is now a black-and-steel construction site. A puzzle piece of my life made into a high-rise. A decade later, I can still recall the details: The carbara floor in the bathroom where I so often thought of death.The ivy-covered lead windows and built-in cabinets in the dining room. The green mosaic tiles around the brass fireplace (oh, the fireplace!) The kitchen, with the mice scratching behind its yellow walls. The cracked porcelain farmhouse sink, with the old, empty pill bottle underneath, discarded by a previous tenant who suffered from migraines in 1972. The tall, roman columns in the living room. My mother stopping over for lunch with salads picked up from the restaurant down the street. The dust of a century’s worth of dwellers. All of it bulldozed into erasure. But there is not really such a thing as gone.

Woodwind / Ava M. Hu

A seed must become
it’s root, and leaf.

Bright lanterns lit.  Rooms
made of rising water.

I hear the wind bending
the tops of trees.

The river, a silk scarf
wrapped around my neck.

Black-winged birds circle 
the sky long past sunset.

These images, meaningless 
in their ideology, take form.

We are pulled by things
we cannot explain.

A small flower, you sense 
like a woodwind in your chest.

Forecast / Christi Krug

A flurry of pleasing,
a slant hard rain of isn’t-
that-something. Please
be moved by my
gusts of try, sheets of
unusual, a weather to
squeeze and delight,
ice you in, freeze
your attention.

Blizzard of pretty words
blanketing your
whims with white,
sifting whirling softnesses.
Hushed hope-shapes
melting upon
your outstretched
warm, pink, good

My geology,
my atmosphere:
your praises.
My world: how
you respond right now.

the bright
burnish of my own
heart zenith
in the topaz day.)

The Groundskeeper / Judy McAmis

It’s a different view – driving 
away from the side garden in winter,

once tall stalks proudly toppling under the weight of 
cosmo blooms and bees
topple under the weight of decay.
A bleak reminder that every tall thing 
at some point 
returns to the earth. 
The groundskeeper kept the dying flower stalks to feed the birds, provide safety for the butterflies
and the other burrowing insects,
no doubt, realizing the remainders would start to play tricks 
with the landscape.
Bent stalks 
now look like skeletons 
trying to break free 
from their tombs.
Nature has a funny way of turning 
to the avant-garde. 
Instead of a light filled snowy tunnel of trim stalks 
balancing against one another, 
they resemble more the dark hedges where the mischief lives.
The groundskeeper has created a place for the nightmares to twist and turn and the crawlies to creep out from under. 

Day 22 / Poem 22

Hermit’s Fire / Hank Blackwell

columns boil,
climb, skyward
with red screams
and the ashy smoke:
human ignorance…
endless appetites
lust of surface
and mass,
hungry dog
pushing earth’s
empty bowl
across scarred

no gentle flow,

red tsumami

covering our last

In the Backyard   / Lexi Eagles

the daffodils
have ascended,
pushing through
winter sterility,                                  
writing their
in full color.

The figs
begin with
paintbrush tips
in green.

The cat
waits patiently,
secure in
his pinestraw

for the birds
who will
come to the
on the hill.

Bridge Coda  / Kimberly Ellingson

Years later, I return and settle in a house next to a Victorian cemetery on the west side of the city. The bridge is now encrusted with thousands of lights, which change color on somebody’s (I don’t know whose) whim for holidays, sports events, and other dates of significance. I can no longer see the bridge from my new home, yet on a clear day the lofty tombstones blend seamlessly with the buildings in the distant city skyline.

untitled / Ava M. Hu

Erasing continents from maps 
we find spinning on light up globes,
we find pinned to walls in rooms
hidden underground, 
filled with men  huddled in the hushed 
talks of war and defense,
of metal that can break the soul from the skin,
do they even know our names?
Do they know the names 
we wish to call our children?
We are swans lifting ourselves, heavy,
looking for the light.
Erasing continents from maps 
we find spinning on light up globes,
we find pinned to walls in rooms
hidden underground, 
filled with men  huddled in the hushed 
talks of war and defense,
of metal that can break the soul from the skin,
do they even know our names?
Do they know the names 
we wish to call our children?
We are swans lifting ourselves, heavy,
looking for the light.

Listener / Christi Krug

“i like your playing very much,
a sick old lady”
—Robert Lax, “Alley Violinist”

Together with the poor family dancing,
the sick old lady likes my song—
these few do

so I play while other
violinists’ notes flood concert
halls and burnished wingtips tap
marble terraces.

I look down and tie the
loose laces of my sneakers. 
None of this matters.
What can it matter?

If I count gleaming vinyl LPs
or masters on digital, or obsess over
what has been done, I’ll lose the tune
and shuffle off.

Papa is twirling Mama, and there’s a
fourth-story corner window cameo
of Mrs. Beasley drawing an old blue
quilt around her shoulders, smiling a gap-
toothed smile.

I hunch against the chilly wind
stepping over a carton gasping
a last drop of curdled milk;
a weeks-old newspaper somersaults past.

Wherever you come from,
I’ll take you in and give you
music in this brick-
walled valley of shadows,
the street, my heart.

Chew Your Words / Judy McAmis

Sometimes it’s involuntary 
opening my jaw and moving my tongue
instead it should be an act as deliberate 
as holding my tongue is proverbial. 

This structure of musculature 
at times immature, at times 
wildly uncontained and thus, regrettable. 

I wish the words that make it into the universe
the words said “out loud”
Were as selective as my discernment for foods taken in. 

I can’t eat barbecued ribs 
because I think of my ribs, 
close to my heart
beat, rhythm. 

I’d rather play the xylophone instead 
or listen to the accordion breathing, 
keeping time with my mind. 

Perhaps the phrase ‘choose your words wisely’
would be better stated: 
chew your words and swallow before your mouth opens.

Day 21 / Poem 21

Quill / Hank Blackwell

Silver feather

falls to
the one
            most in need
gratitude rises,
for the wounded;
               souls’ yeast
filling the glass heart.
anchored in the quill;
life force
pointing the way

                arm’s reach
now flightless, nested
on shaded earth

Hobo   / Lexi Eagles

Memories persist:  A  warm, sunny                           
summer Sunday and me outdoors, galloping
barefoot across our clover-rich lawn,
avoiding bees.  The kitchen windows
were cranked open, and I could hear
mother fixing dinner. It would be bountiful –
roast beef, mashed potatoes, beans,
bread, and her incomparable gravy.                                     
Meals were a family observance.

I don’t remember the moment I first saw him –
the strange man. I must have come into our
breezeway connecting the front and back yards,
and suddenly, there he was, laboring up our gravel driveway,
opening the breezeway door and stepping in.  
What did he want? His face was dirty. His clothes hung. 
His eyes dropped on seeing me.

I had not yet reached double-digits;
imagination primarily guided my days.  
I determined he was a hobo.  We did have
train tracks and a station in our small town.
As my story took shape, dinner’s aroma
filled the breezeway.  Enter mother –

and apprehension.  The what-will-happen-next
part of the story, mother being a spirited soul,
and it being, well, dinnertime. Here, memory
turns the pages  quickly. I don’t remember the stranger
asking for anything (though he may have).  I don’t remember
mother saying “of course,” (though she may have). 
The persistent memory, distilled to its essence
over these years, is the image of the plate she brought him,
heaped with roast beef, mashed potatoes, beans, bread,
and gravy to top it all.    

Brief History of a Bridge to Nowhere: Part II  / Kimberly Ellingson

Finally opening in 1977, the bridge
precedes its reputation by becoming a prevalent site
for suicides. Nothing but a four-foot concrete wall stands
between a flesh-and-blood human on the ledge

and a 120-foot drop into frigid, dissolute breakwaters.
In such a redlined, fragmented city, the jumpers
are diverse. People from all neighborhoods,
ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

An official, yet conservative estimate:
over the past 15 years, 30 people have jumped
from the bridge; however, it is widely acknowledged
that this number is far from accurate.

Easy to assume some people jump when they are unlikely
to be seen –-in the middle of the night, for instance. Bodies
are swept into the immense waters, lost forever. Surely,
there are people for whom nobody is searching. 

untitled / Ava M. Hu

What’s in between your shoulder 
and mine,
the word and its execution,
the moon and your hands,
parenthesis and parenthesis,
we rub snow from the bellies
of sleeping gods, our arms
shaking darkness from tall
trees, do you wonder 
what’s between 
your head
and the sky?
+ from yoko ono “between my head and the sky”

My Ocean of Tears / Christi Krug

began as a man-made channel
barely wide enough
for my little canoe
and I kept getting stuck
running into rock walls
high and hard.

I stroked and strove
but my hands shattered
one finger at a time. My wrists
tinkled to the ground; arms
were blown glass, tong-teased;
biceps slimmed
to shards like sucked
candy sticks; I couldn’t
paddle anymore.

My feet crumbled
beginning with the ankle-
bones; the shins split
clear down the middle
lengthwise. Femurs were fiddle-
strings, fraying and snapping,
and my head deflated, crooked
as an old football, leaving me
slant-eyed, more wobble than

A scrap of human
abandoned to my craft on
a low waterway to which
my tears had been tributary.

Puddles and shudders,
tidepools and sandy sobs;
I wasn’t going anywhere.
Until: billows billowed, wavelets
peaked, pitched and rolled.
Capsized! Sucked by currents
violent and vast, submerged—

I had cried my way to the high seas!
Sailing deep blue in salt and joy,
tourmaline and tangerine,
summer-within-winter. Sunlight
refracted in each tear and seventy-two
percent of earth’s surface was covered
with the stuff and nothing
was dammed.

My tears had known all along
what they were doing.


I saw him standing on the side of highway 85
just outside of Atlanta. It was dark and he was 
dressed in all black, arms outstretched as if waiting 
for the messiah to come and take him away. Maybe 
he was the Messiah I was waiting for?
The scene looked like the middle of music video.
Back when music videos were a thing.
His car was pulled into the breakdown lane
face dripping with rain and I imagined fire hot
tears. It was summer, but rain is usually cold. 
I thought for a flash that he might need help, 
But what kind of help could I offer? I am no AAA. 
I don’t know my way around a tire iron,
and he could be a killer waiting for some dumb
blonde to pull over and offer up condolences 
or a hug, but nothing useful. Nothing really useful.

Day 20 / Poem 20

Keep / Hank Blackwell

satellites deep
in near
distant moons,
billion-year light
arrives upon
human retina.
we able
to look further
into our origins,
stardust, we are
too small
to know
what we are
you          are          here…


Ohio Reverie   / Lexi Eagles

In the fall, leaves blanketed our yard   
in color – scarlet, orange, yellow,
looking like Joseph’s coat,
my personal autumn birthright.   

School mornings I rustled through them
on the way to meet the bus,
my saddle oxfords marking the path
of my crossing. 

When winter chill arrived
and the first frost powdered the leaves,
it looked to me like sugar on a bowl of cornflakes. 
I hated to disturb them, and I thought of
my father inside, eating his.

Brief History of a Bridge to Nowhere / Kimberly Ellingson

Part I 

As if to keep myself from jumping
off the bridge, I instead dive
into hours of research on its history.
Death was there even in the beginning,

when three men plummeted into the river’s
inky mouth after a faulty set of scaffolding
collapsed during construction. The structure
stood idle for years afterward, amidst

an unfinished freeway system, unable to open
to travelers until the connecting roadways
were completed. This is when it received
its name: The Bridge to Nowhere.

SkyLarks / Ava M. Hu

You would be the target
the love arrows of the gods hit.
Leaf, flower, unfold, 
give me your hands.
Death to the flower goddess.
Hydrogen, dust, flowering galaxy.
Botany of stem elongated by fluid.
Being moved beyond being.
Trained in the curvatures,
places who long to fit.
Intelligent inspiration of the universe.
A white cloud moving over water.
Attention to form and detail.
Love when pushed to its limit 
bears life. Skylarks who hold back
for a moment, song.

On the Coldest Morning of the Year / Christi Krug

I’ve seen you
in many a hunting ground—
creek, wetland,
riverbank, estuary—
high stepping,
wading, waiting, eyes and
feathers and long toes trained
toward hint of prey until comes
the stab of bill as you
feed your head:
your S-curved throat
a delicate chain of gulps,
pearls, once-minnow.

But I’ve never before seen
you sprawl into the sky at
dawn, wings opening
with slow pulsings, lifting
you to tops of trees
far above your wetland
prowls, where you fasten
like a silver pin holding together
the long low green
cushion of coastal forest.

You have put yourself away,
afterthought, apostrophe
with spear-white head and stick neck
gray as the winter trunks of spruce
below, and all around: an evergreen
velvet theatre where you
have taken an unaccustomed box seat.

You do not blend or stalk but survey
the valley between us, your sharp
pointed bill the brightest
stroke in all that green, and only the
suggestion of your storm-gray back
as you sit patient and erect.

Strange to me, your devotion
to stillness when there is nothing to catch.
Your transformation into an unsung
treetop hero, a quiet sky-bird.
Your greatest task has arrived:
being warmth, making home
for what has not yet
come to be.

Stubborn Child / Judy McAmis

I want you to tell me 
what the orange peel tasted like 
after you ate it and I said you shouldn’t.
You said it was good,
but we knew it wasn’t.
I want you to tell me 
what it felt like 
when you walked into the bright snowlight 
without glasses when I said
it wasn’t a good idea. 
You said it felt fine, 
but we knew it didn’t.
I want you to tell me 
what happened to your foot 
when I told you to wear shoes on the jetty.
You said it was smooth and warm, 
but we knew it wasn’t.
I want you to tell me 
about your descent from the stars,
but the trip made you weary
and we know you won’t. 

Day 19 / Poem 19

Congress of Ravens / Hank Blackwell

droplets, shiny.
wet paint
off morning’s palette.
Blue jays,
pain in the ass
as they are
now scattered
like dandelions,
bowing to some
great shamanic
myth and
corvid congress in
iridescent caucus;
desert monks chanting
in black robes.

Crows In The Churchyard   / Lexi Eagles

To argue with a person who renounces the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.    Thomas Paine

bring bad luck, they say.  And please 

speak of Macbeth as that Scottish play.

666  is the mark of the Beast.

Walk under a ladder – your peril’s increased.

Unless, that is, you’ve a lucky charm,                       

and have never let ladybugs come to harm.

Beware of black cats crossing your path

And when strolling on sidewalks, of stepping on cracks.

You’ll find devil’s blood on the magpie’s tongue –

But knock on wood – you might not get stung.

Yet another means of being redeemed –

Toss salt over your shoulder and blind the fiend.         

Hang a lucky horseshoe above your door,

Keep your fingers crossed, rabbit’s foot in store,

Remember, bad luck runs in threes, and worse,          

When a mirror that’s broke brings a seven year curse.

Indoors, you must keep umbrellas closed.

Those who know charms have also proposed

That finding and keeping a four-leaf clover                                                                

Will help to ensure much lower exposure                                         

To most of the ghastly and frightening fates

That humans for eons have hoped to escape.                          

Providentially, some say that now is the season                   

To eschew fabrication and give way to reason.

Where We Used to Live / Kimberly Ellingson

Surely some of our

skin still resides in the dust 

floating in the air

Untitled    /  Mike Hackney

In the slices of silence 
between bird songs
can I find a space for pondering.
The stoic trees stand, like soldiers, 
along the mighty riverbank, 
defending flowers and beasts.
Gold and silver I lay 
at the feet of the muse, now,
to buy my freedom 
and return again to fields 
of native moonlight,
to enter rivers of my beginning,
without any sense of loss,
without the naked envy
I might have harbored
at a differing time.
With a mind of poetry, muse, 
and moon, comes the peace 
of a lifetime, 
if one dare own it.

Effigy / Ava M. Hu

No desire opens me I am full.
Boat made of rising water.
Thief of beautiful things:
mirror, sutra, spool of thread, 
pocket-sized many-armed effigy,
blood erupts through
the veins, we are pulled
by things we cannot explain.
Mind is a candle,
a yellow flower lit.
Silk of this life trailing
just behind the next.
Sit still. Focus on the center
of your forehead 
until you are sticky, numinous, 
as if lit on fire,
induced by your own 
repeating sound,
as if the nodding
of your own head,
is the very rhythm
of the universe.

Clutches / Christi Krug

The moon has me; not
the other way around—
I have no choice of orbits.

Moon: cat with mouse,
toying, batting,
whiskers electrified, tail
kinked, eyes slitted.

To be the moon’s prize is
to be paralyzed.
What can I hope for?
I am so small under the stars.

Moon-caught, shy.
Prey that I may not choke
on the owl-thick air.
Who among my grinning
predators will
guide me from naked
meadow to
sheltering wood?

I mince through hypnotic
night-haunt; cover
my tracks, unsheath my claws,
scratch out a throaty devouring song
lest I be pounced upon.

For the Love of Bees / Judy McAmis

Careful not to tear the skin when you pull the pappus away. 

             Protect what is encased within. Unburden the dandelion seedlings.

When the wind blows and the yellow leaves the flower

             the seeds will spread on the wings of the wind.

The bees will come dancing during daylight. Love the yellowing. 

             All things yellow over time, just look at the smile of an old dog.

The deeper the yellow, the longer the root. Turn the soil, 

             fertilize it, add lime to keep it fertile. If nothing else, 

love the yellow for the love of bees.

Day 18 / Poem 18

Poets May/ Hank Blackwell

me, a shade-tree
silver taping
one used part
to another
hoping for
breath on a page
or a thought’s
pruning errant
sap, oozing
in amber

A Morning Meditation /Kevin Dublin

What does a cloud look like? It’s strange how anyone could see a cloud and not think of how beautiful change is.
Today, even when it wasn’t seen, it was a beautiful day. One step forward. Always forward. The world filled with so much beauty that it is impossible to see it all. A smile of pure joy on a child around the corner basked in sunlight; outside the window there is a bright yellow flower blooming and leaning forward with the face of its petals washed in light.
Who made the world? Who made the clouds, and the sun. Who made this beautiful cricket and the beautiful American Robin who eats it? The bright, orange-chested American Robin who eats it and then sings.

The song of beauty brings motivation. It brings motivation while sleeping. It brings motivation while awake. It brings motivation while eating and drinking and dancing and singing. One step forward. Always forward. It even brings motivation while breathing. Motivation as hearts beat like a healthy drum.

The motivation is like warm rain. Like walking through it. One step forward. Ever forward. The motivation is much-needed rain. And that rain was once a part of a cloud, and before that just vapors in evaporation. And before that a part of a slow moving river, and before that it was a rain puddle at the edge of a creek that filled and was pulled into the creek until it made it to that river just as it was once ocean, and now, right now as it is rain, splashing off of shoulder during sunshower, it will soon be a rain puddle again. One step forward. Ever forward.

This is what peace is like. Actually, this is peace. Walking through this humid drizzle toward shelter. This is peace. And so is the distant thunder. And so is the chance of lightning. And so are the clouds from which they come. And so is birdsong. Birdsong sang and Birdsong unsung. Birdsong seeping into the mud. Songs that say nothing of fear, nothing of death, only change. Walk into the day. Another step forward. Ever forward.

Requiem   / Lexi Eagles

In the morning, the nest seemed nothing more than an anachronism,

half-fallen as it was, debris scattered across the porch, twigs and strings

dangling from the cross-bracing, marking the trajectory of its fall.

Murderous weather last night, the sky opening like the gates of hell.

Here now, the mother bird fluttering from porch fan to brace to table,

conducting what life remains for her. Tending, as she must.                        

What is left in the wreckage? Where is her brood?  One left?  Two?  

She finds open mouths, serves them holy communion – my life for yours.

Wind-scattered, sorrow-saturated lives, and a mother holding on.  

Invisible / Kimberly Ellingson

When the worry gets so big that I can feel it pulsing through my veins, I do what any contemporary person would do–I download an app. 

An invisible doctor writes a prescription for a 90-day supply of Sertraline via text message, emails a shipping confirmation.

Days later, a pill bottle arrives in the mail, and I marvel at the tiny-ness of each sky-colored capsule. They almost look like sprinkles, or plastic garnish for a doll-sized cake.

I place the quarter-full bottle back inside the compact shipping box and stow it on a shelf in the hallway closet.

Parachute   /  Mike Hackney

In autumn morning’s indelible tapestry,
children wave a rainbow-colored parachute
through far off field-grass. One boy stands
in the center and pokes his head through
the giant eye. Feeling puffed up, excitable,
he sings above the chatter of the dull-eyed
I wish to capture this perfect moment before
it is swallowed by that chameleon called time.
For, often we get tangled in time’s restraints,
like little boys and girls caught in the center
of things, long after the school bell rings

and signal’s playtime’s end.

untitled / Ava M. Hu

We take in as much starlight as we can bear.
Stories about Houdini, your white doves, It is our safe place.
We are minus the myth of light.
We take in as much starlight as we can bear.
What’s in between the moon and your hands?
As if the nodding of your own head is the very rhythm of the universe.
We take in as much starlight as we can bear.
Stories about Houdini, your white doves, It is our safe place.

Trinkets / Christi Krug

After Elizabeth Willis

on the boulevard / a coffee shop

in the coffee shop / a steaming

in the steaming / a mountain

on the lake / a loon

in the loon / my mother

in the mother / a mirror

in the mirror / a jingle bell

in the jingle bell / ice

in the ice storm / cocoa

in the cocoa / a map

on the map / a bus stop

at the bus stop / a confusion

in the confusion / my sister

for my sister / a dandelion

with the dandelion / midsummer

at summer’s end / the circus

at the circus / my family

in my family / uptown pharmacy

at uptown pharmacy / a soda fountain

at the soda fountain / long ago

in the long ago / our whispers

in our whispers / skin on the surface of cream

in the cream / a blindness

after the blindness /a harpist

in the song / your blessing

for your sea shells / silver dollars

untitled  / Judy McAmis

The pain is buried 
in his body
in the gray suit 
in the mint green shirt I chose.

I forgot blue was his favorite
He looks nice in green. 
If his eyes were open,
blue would have been 
the obvious choice. 

The pain is buried in the casket. 
In the satin walls
The pain is buried in me.  
Pain is meant to be buried.

Mother is covered in fear,
anger, and a quiet I will treasure. 
A rare quiet 
louder than the noise of together. 

It is the quiet I will miss. 
The quiet that lived 
in his blue-green eyes. 

Day 17 / Poem 17

Gap / Hank Blackwell

many years
ago, detained.
A refugee
of fear.
steel fences,
while tending
wounded souls.
a geology
of moments
in the strata
of memory.
                on one edge
on another
which of us

Encounter of the Fifth Kind /Kevin Dublin


A fragile hand waters red snapdragon in the moonlight.
Spills a drop into a shadow’s footprint.

POV: The hanging plant watches clouds fly low.

POV: Something hovers like drone to another window.


JOE (14), sits on his bed in the dark. Stares at a phone screen like Issa’s orphaned sparrow waiting for someone to play.

An unearthly insect WHINES behind the blinds. Joe climbs out of bed and peeps a pink glow.

Are you speaking to me?

TIMELAPSE: Hours pass between first contact after twilight and dew thaw in the courtyard morning. Glow retreats like a shy bud, promises in cicada-like-screech that it will return as it leaves.

Smoke from incense swells out and thins. The boy’s breath is stiff at his desk chair, eyes wide:

I just spoke with an alien. 

Heart DRUMS louder as the sun lifts as the extraterrestrial torchlight it is. 

How strange. I’ve always thought that intergalactic beings would be hostile with a plan to conquer and enslave us. Who knew they’d flee sad and ashamed they couldn’t do anything to save us from us.


Dreamstate   / Lexi Eagles

My life plays out in dreams
misty images gathering –                      
words floating free in my mind                            
like dandelion down 
carried by the wind
to the distant corners of my life

Soundlessly they reel before me
threading a story
spinning a familiar scene          
knit from the fibers of my life
and now unraveling
to be woven anew

Images coalesce                                  
a distant tale begins
a moment from long ago
but fragmentary
black and white
before and after lose their lines
move on, move on

Someone I have known is there           
unexpectedly cast                                            
from the darkling waters of memory
a place I’ve been
I know it, too               

I sense the knowing
and yet                                                            
out of sync, out of time   
(no matter)

A gathering of several 
and we begin
a piece of what we’ve done before
continuing as ever somehow
a seeming purpose
doing, doing                
a fog of knowing why
now blurred

The dreamcloth shifts again
the images drift and diffuse
all slips away
beyond reason
beyond memory’s grasp
dissolving deep in the inescapable
moorland of my mind

The Cost of Everything Coda / Kimberly Ellingson

Later, we sat in the car, waiting for warm air, 

our sparsely-filled brown bags placed dutifully 

in the backseat. After a very long time, She said, 

I’m so glad we don’t have to be poor alone.

Daily Morning Caper /  Mike Hackney

I’m under the hot, dust-bustling lamps  
in the provincial laboratory of my mind,  
embracing fluidity of thought, creating alchemies,  
humbling the buzz of the eccentric,  
and orchestrating quite divinely.  
I’m up the ramp of repeated mornings—  
gouged apple, fish-eye soup, my cold hands  
carrying the splotched notebook satchel,  
or ringing the rusty bike bell.  
The work I do glares back at me, rattles  
and stirs my heart, even guides my baser instincts…  
No other poet runs the precinct; latches are unlocked  
at the boathouse; I swim in the cold,  
ebbing waters before me like a drive-hunted porpoise.  

Believing His Story / Christi Krug

A Cento from e.e. cummings, Billy Collins, Margaret Atwood, W.S. Merwin

A man who had fallen among thieves
lay by the roadside on his back
Now see: they’ve found a man in a glacier
Here then is where the wolf of summer lay.

Are worlds collapsing? Any was a glove
suggest that certain ideas gestures
The words boil out of me
My audience is owls.

Hunger corrupts, and absolute hunger
corrupts absolutely,
I turn around on the gravel
and go back to the house for a book.

Unpoets do cry
Their prayers still swarm on me like lost bees.
I went away and fetched newspaper
And wrapped it in dead events, days and days.

Something is always missing—
swans, a glint on the surface of a lake
a ghost in his ghost car
I consider the globe, the lights of its cities.

Believe a man, but not believe his story?
he will bow,
There with his hands in his pockets in the end
bundled up to the neck, instead of
naked as a meat sandwich.

Now it is time to say what you have to say
Travel anywhere in a year, five years
before the stars fall
—when skies are hanged and oceans drowned.

Collecting Light Puddles  / Judy McAmis

A freshly sliced blood orange 
hangs in the sky
posing as the moon.
Maps are made down here
measuring the darkness
between stars.
Some are relearning 
how to see in the dark. 
It’s a tender act
reimagining infinity.
It’s the wind curling
a whisper in the ear 
of a dying tree. 
Some wish for a bridge
to another time
when it all didn’t feel 
like an ending. 
I learned that day
rain can rise from the floor
replacing light 
with puddles. 

Day 16 / Poem 16

Far Away / Hank Blackwell

You are near.
This magic
held in my
crystals delicate.
Nestling in
old boughs
survivors of many
Small, I
bow to

untitled anti-capitalist poem on the occasion of Jay Z /Kevin Dublin

I press play with fingers that are too long for the skin that covers them. Much like my mother before she died with scleroderma. I press play on my Android phone’s Spotify player. My cheap phone that is scratched from drops onto gravel, made thousands of miles away across ocean waves and at least six long bird migrations in a nation where six hours of work may be a meal from one or two, yet there are easily three or four and hunger doesn’t crumble like plastic does. I press play to listen to Jay Z. Shawn Carter. Brooklyn’s self-proclaimed finest who is likely somewhere eating dinner by candlelight with a Basquiat painting behind him. I press play as his shadow shifts on a wall as he laughs with his head tilted back to catch flameglow between his teeth like Bruce Leroy at the end of The Last Dragon. I press play, and I hear “Is he Blood? Is he Crip? Is he that? Is he this? Did he do it?” It’s true. If he “shoots you,” he’s brainless. Sheds it like his first set of worries after selling his first crack batch gotten on consignment. This mix of “Streets is Talking” is remastered into a bark. These days, Jay reflects on bars of “God Did” like a type of lightning that would strike salt flats. I press play and wonder, “when will I die? And will this be the death of me?” Jay Z bars, the light of a cigarette, they really aren’t that different. Each day brings us closer to decay whether under ultraviolet rays or sunshade. The first call of morning comes like the  beat drops. These cops of knowledge may not Musk, and by musk, I mean appreciate much more than the fractured mind of Elon as he launches his own crypto ccurreny named Jiggle + Glitter. I hear there are more surprises too. I press play. 

Goliath’s Ghost / Lexi Eagles

So clever, the simple boy. So, shall we say, innocent? 
He had them all believing.  Even I was gulled
By his seeming. Even I. His crafty ways –  I can’t deny
How easily gulled we were.

He will pay. 

O, the King’s daughter was his, to be sure.
And after her – how many others?  
There’s Uriah, sleeping outside the palace gate.
He knows what bully King David did.
He knows.  And now he’s dead for it.  

Even his own son despised him –
Oh Absalom Absalom  he cries.
Slept with all the concubines in full view.

Do you see how he is paying? 
Old, decrepit David.  Raise a toast
To old decrepit David.  Ha!
Look at him abed with that beauty –
Keeping him warm, eh? 
Nothing happening there.  Ha! 

The Cost of Everything / Kimberly Ellingson

We are cobalt and made of chalk, disoriented 
as we gather groceries for the week in a single cart, 
under fluorescent lights. 

Do we need apples?

One of those trips where you count the cost 
of everything under your breath. Still,
we want fresh, new things, even now, 

when so much is expensive, out of stock, or broken. 
The nearly-bare shelves hold bags of chopped kale 
that are beginning to brown, the “Sell By” date gone. 

My mind is the same dull blue ache as yours, 
the same ax between the eyes, as we move
through the line, thinking of the same thing.

Smack the Moon with a Brick     /  Mike Hackney

I desired the day-old cake,  
the grace was swept away,  
the logic was its own circle— 
easy living, the sweet life  
of limited mind, 

 but we want a no gate view.  
we want the mountain stream,  

 to chop wood and carry  
that water, 

here, now,  
at the keyboard  
I found the answer-  
not drunk, not  

Yellow Flower / Ava M. Hu

Egyptians wrap their dead
with such precision
for fear they would not
make it to heaven.
Mind is a candle,
a yellow flower lit. 
Disappearing pattern 
of fireflies.  A string 
tied around the wrist 
to remember the outline 
of your shoulder
against mine.

Hunched  / Christi Krug

“if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.” – Charles Bukowski

All right then.
I’ll dash, I’ll scramble, I’ll lurch
and gasp in heartbeats
of blab, and snatch
the words however small
and plain without buttons or snaps
or stripes or spring gala colors.

Doing because I choose, and
not feeding the gleaming machine
of try-harder, be-better;
not smothering the
hunch of what wants to be said
in its soft whirring
tumble forward, like the gulls in

tonight’s storm that skitter
across our valley
recovering from this gust,
that blast, righting themselves,
wheeling gray wings while
pelting howls and patter threaten to shatter
the thin, old glass of these windows

out of which I’m simply looking,
not fashioning the world, not demanding
nature appear in majesty for an audience.
Anyway, I’m the audience.

My stare is not of glowering demand
or word exasperation, but a gaze of
wonder, seeing what is, finding
myself absorbed or rather, not
finding myself at all.

Seeking something much truer
than the perfect word, something
already here, mute as the wind.

Just an Act? / Judy McAmis

Is it not possible that the whole thing was just an Act? 
One of bold emotion and ultimate sorrow? 
Did you play the melancholy part to appeal to her fragility?
When the curtain falls 
so does the man behind it. 
Another mouthpiece choked  
choked on power. 
Don’t be a Polonius. 
It wasn’t meant to be…
she sighed as she floated past. 
Who knew corpses could be so cheeky? 
Oh Great Dane! In the morning, 
things will surely be right…
Are all the world’s actors back-stabbers
or just the rosey and stern faced sort?
This poem is a take on Hamlet’s disposition.

Click Here To Read Poems 1 – 15