THE JULY, 2023 30/30 PROJECT

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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 June 2023 are Michael Dechane, Sarah Degner Riveros, Andrea Ferrari Kristeller, Jeff Hill, RJ Ingram, Zac Kline, S.A. Leger, Thomas Locicero, and Athira Unni. Read their full bios here.

If you’d like to volunteer for a 30/30 Project month, please fill out our application here and warm up your pen!

Day 31 / Cento

Maintenance:Unmasked at Last / Cento composed by RJ Ingram

A Cento composed by Rj Ingram with lines contributed and drawn from Michael Dechane, Andrea Ferrari Kristeller, Jeff Hill, RJ Ingram, Zac Kline, S.A. Leger, Thomas Locicero, and Athira Unni.

In circles and circles two rows of garlic bolt 
Strange flags laid over a wash of gravel where
Flood has a message for a rose how staunchly
The weapon of truth that buries into the skin 
She was not six feet under space being sullen 
Aloof     Can you forget how to read a poem? 
Its highway song the hummingbird’s flutter
Becomes the thumbed pages of five thousand 
People searching for the same slow progress 
But gravity is different here quick to remind me
I’m still playing finning around in my dark deep 
The name of this love they won’t bleed again
Stretch the lines of what you believe is summer
I mutter to myself about anything even murder 

Day 30 / Poem 30

Night Cartographer / Michael Dechane

This pearled, wavering line
of moon-soaked sand
marks the borderland.
Let’s trace its vague
northern orientation
with our naked feet.
Walking, we see the glinted
obsidian mouth of the sea
in the east. Our questions rise
out of it like insistent turtles
the tourists love so much.
They die, even our best questions,
in the forest west of us, 
if not before, in the arms
of these Australian pines.
Of course, all the trees, these 
leaving, slurping, rooting things
are our once-perished queries.
Ahead are as many miles of beach
as we may find we need 
to pursue. Who can say what 
the south is? It keeps disappearing. 
Even our footprints, gone already.
Just a small bit farther,
please. This is what I made
with the way we came
to show you: the wide, fresh
river meeting the sea. 
One mouth pressed to another,
both of them full of the boundless
fleeting night. A confluence
of tender, salted darknesses.

night silence / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

you seem silent tonight
perhaps because there is no wind and the cold
muffles us and crickets

the talkative birds of morning seem so far away

perhaps you and I need to be silent to
stretch our empty branches
as if they could be stretched until spring

returns and words appear on us
like buds. or flowers.

If Only I Had Listened / Jeff Hill

Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want 

Sometimes we aren’t given a second chance to fix our mistakes 

And sometimes life has a very dark sense of humor 

I wish Sadie had given us a warning before the raid 

I wish she was a better person than lover 

And I wish I had listened to my brother when he told me to run 

But none of that matters now 

No one seemed to care about the collateral damage when the bombs started to fall 

All in a day’s work, mission accomplished, evildoers beware, no rest for the wicked 

No one seemed to notice when entire buildings full of grade school children were reduced to ashes in seconds 

The son becomes the father, the strong will inherit the earth, he flew too close to the sun, survival of the fittest 

And no one seemed to be bothered by the empire’s gradual rise to power and prominence 

The enemies of our enemies are our friends, we all hate the same people, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, revenge is a dish best served cold 

I lost everyone that day 

My parents, my brother, Sadie, the kids 

I lost everything that day 

My home, the company, our photo albums, my career 

I lost my mind that day 

Feelings of regret, hopes and dreams and fears, the driving force of morality, the ability to care 

But what’s done is done 

And now here we are 

The aftermath 

Those left behind 

I’ve heard it spoken often times in whisper that the lucky ones died in the blast 

But for those of us still here, still trying to survive, we are united in our single quest: get the power back on 

from Reading Harmonium at One Hundred    / RJ Ingram


We buried our dead behind the good Denny’s 
Slipped french fries & magic cards in pockets
Applied makeup from crushed beetles on skin
That flakes into ashes & blows across waves
We split an eggs Benedict but not the check
It feels like going out for breakfast after church
Remember drawing maps on the place mats?
Remember pouring the flat soda in the toilet?
You hardly joined us on those Sunday outings 
When grandma picked me up I always asked
If you wanted to come or to keep sleeping in 
I stopped sticking around for the long sermons
Instead would wander around the cemetery 
Place a stone on grandma’s grave w/out you


The film they made of our childhood was cast
Terribly you as a Bart Simpson type & me Lisa
Yes we are comedically opposite but come on
The way you rode around on a stolen bicycle 
Like you slept on the streets in an old alleyway
Behind the amusement park where you worked
Exchanging quarters for tokens to be fed into
Carnival games & coin operated fortune tellers  
At least they got my necrosis down to a desire
To impress everyone I meet first w/ a card trick
Two jacks grow up together in the same castle
One spends his life running away from trouble 
The other learns to embrace his misfortunes 
Who expects the cards to fall from my hands


As I collapse in the bathroom from a seizure
Withdraw from alcohol in a hospital window
While middle school sweethearts get married
In a catholic wedding I planned to speak at
I needed to take better care of myself I’m sorry
And here I thought you were a wannabe rebel
But I was the firework that went off too soon
And needed to be stamped out on the beach
Or wind carried me & burned down the house 
But I couldn’t even hear my own cries for help 
Not when the doctors asked what I was doing
When on the phone you said I love you RJ but
Missing my wedding drying out in a hospital? 
Not one of your better moments get it together 


After the accident I remember an amphitheater 
Like the operating room from a Caravaggio 
An implied round space w/ the surgeon flanked
By a cast of specialists a real carbon copy 
Of what a hospital is supposed to look like but
The room actually resembled a choir practice
Chamber where I had a few trombone lessons
The symbols on the wall were revolutionary 
And to look at them triggered enlightenment 
So I did my best to squint w/ one eye closed
A woman in a white coat entered from upstage
Holding the universe on a clipboard like divine
Bureaucrats blessed her w/ power in the form 
Of forms & lists & signatures & notaries public


At this point I am wheeled to our back patio
Which is impossible & laid down on sandstone
My body strapped to a surfboard w/ my head
Slid into the family room through a hole drilled
Through the glass door & a boy about twelve
Calls for his mother behind me as he’s weaned
Off morphine after a not entirely dissimilar 
Accident of his own his wails haunt graveyards 
And stray cats who stalk them call him Sam
So you call him Sam & his mother grabs you
Water when our own mother finally gets rest
Or thinks I’m asleep so she sneaks outside
For a cigarette bummed from a young doctor 
Who doesn’t know the best way to propose 


I wake up in the empty lobby of a used car lot 
A TV hangs from the paneling of an A frame 
And plays TV Land muted w/out any captions
As I turn to look for someone to help I fall over
On the carpet I find blank pages of homework 
How is it possible to be this close to oblivion
Yet never have set foot out of your hometown? 
The person who sits me up isn’t unfriendly
They wrap string around my hand & my eye
Wanders back into place like returning from 
A vacation in Europe chasing the old masters
Filling notebooks w/ poems & line drawings
How is it possible to so narrowly escape death
And still find ways to push each other away? 


The people in our hometown were a little afraid
Of the empty house next to the one we lived in
A witch was spurned & you know how it goes
When you try to break the heart of someone
You loved what seems like another lifetime ago
Maybe that’s what happened to us & her spell
Drifted over to our house when the lost magic
Couldn’t find people to hurt next door to us
So it snuck up from the basement like a snake
Looked for a pair of boys to pin against each
Other like a proverb or an old urban legend
About turning the lights down at twilight
You know the one: there’s a bump in the night
But the real thing to watch out for is the road

The Last Drive  / Zac Kline

In the last hour,

of our 7-hour

drive home,

We stop—At a Rest Stop

And I finally,


Take the Wheel.


I haven’t driven

in years


I haven’t felt this scared, lonely,

worried &

terrific, in the way

I feel terrific 

right now.


I can’t keep up

with the speed limit,

other cars pass me

and I don’t mind,

I am driving


In this dark, my eyes blur

my body clenches

but for a moment

between exit 66

and exit 63


I am my most alive self,

singing along with

Love Me Like a Rock

and every word is

forgetting I know pain


and like everyone else

on this road,

I am itchy like a man

on a fuzzy tree

and on this road,


I am closer to—

Minding My Own Business / Thomas Locicero

for William


I am driving just above the speed of death
On my way to Alaska from Long Island.
The only link between the two is a tidal wave
In the Long Island Sound caused by an
Earthquake in the Prince William Sound
In 1964. The magnitude 9.2 qualifies it as a
Megathrust. Close by, in Chenega, a tsunami
Killed twenty-three of the sixty-eight residents.
The tsunami was twenty-seven feet high.
In Shoup Bay, the waters would reach about
Two hundred and twenty feet high.
It would seem impressive to report
That an artesian aquifer was affected
In the Florida Everglades were it not for
The fact that tsunamis were reported in
New Zealand and Antarctica. A tsunami in
One country caused tsunamis in twenty.


I, too, was minding my own business
When I purposely avoid the children’s wing
Of a hospital. I am already running away.
I survived the death wing without a gasmask
And took the wrong staircase. A simple mistake.
When I realized where I was, he was there,
Staring at me through the door’s window,
Waving like we were old friends. He was ten.
He summoned me over with a small gesture.
I said hello. One word. The nurses thought I was
His father and it occurred to me that he
Was me when I was his age. I am revisiting
A sad childhood in the saddest place on Earth.
After months of secrecy, I was provided
With information the boy did not know.
He was dying. He had AIDS when it was called
A gay plague. Had it been an illness that affected
Congressmen or senators, he would still be alive.


A tsunami in one country…
Fact: > Health officials were aware of AIDS
     in the summer of 1981…
(Ronald Reagan was serving his first term                             
     as President of the United States) 

    …1985 of September until AIDS mention
publicly not did Reagan < :Fact

(Ronald Reagan was serving his second term
     as President of the United States)
Fact: > The boy became my business in 1988…
Fact: > Had funding been released in 1981,
     the boy would have become my son…
I knew when he was gone, I would be gone…
The boy was gone in 1989. He just turned 11…


My weekend retreat would take months. I know
I am running away. I did not ask for this. I did not
Ask for love. I did not ask to have this cowardly
Response to my pain. The Earth and everything
In it had been mine, but now I watch it fade to the
Rearview mirror of a small car. Yes, I am also racing
Toward it, but as I reach it, it is in my past. Everything
Has been snatched from my hand. It is as empty as my
Heart. I enter through Tok, an appropriate name for
Someone seeking numbness. There are no skyscrapers.
Here, the locals call them trees. The wilderness is
A lovely enemy. I am lost. I see a man on the side
Of the road. His forearms are the size of calves. He
Is throwing a hatchet at a bull’s-eye nailed to a tree.
I wait until his hand is empty before asking for
Directions. (What kind of man am I?) I just need
To eat again. He tells me there’s a local joint just
Around the corner. I drive for thirty miles before
I see a turn in the road, but there it is. And here am I.
Only here can I heal. How do I know this, here, in the
Most dangerous place on Earth? The same way I knew
To say hello to a little boy in the saddest place on Earth.

A Warning  / Athira Unni

You sip your beer
alone in the big city. 
The taste of it is easy, 
a homely bitterness. 
A pale moon 
against the clear blue sky, 
you must have felt 
so out of place. 
I want to call you and warn
about the potholes
out of which monsters 
emerge with slimy sentience. 

Do not be absent. 
Your life is worth your presence. 

Day 29 / Poem 29

The Line Where Blues Bleed / Michael Dechane

This morning between
the wrack line 
and the tide taking
itself back, I walked,
filching shells
like a first-time tourist:
whelks and a cowrie,
sunrise tellins,
one pink lion’s paw,
and the coiled sherbet
scroll of a Queen conch.
My hands full
of what I will leave
behind next week
before flying home.

In palm shade
all afternoon, reading
Jung, turning over
my dreams, watching
the line where blues bleed
into one another.
The turquoise shallows
going cobalt deep 
at Deadman’s Reef.
All of the Atlantic
yawning beyond.

I took a fitful nap
inside the villa
but couldn’t say 
what troubled me.

Toward sunset,
ceviche and sweating
bottles of Kalik,
some surf-muted music
blanketing the beach.

Now, a swollen moon 
icing black, midnight waves.

And finally, I remember
you, David. How I felt
your dying would matter
more to me. Would keep
making what had seemed 
ordinary about my life
more of the gift I had not
been willing to recognize.
Your tragic death somehow
engendering a vitality
in the gratitude I should have
always lived with anyway.

A riptide stole you — plucked
from among your friends
where all of you were swimming.

How can I explain any of this
day where the sea returned
to being only again like the sea?

the sky under / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

underneath the water
clouds are gliding fish
parading wet light

 the air rivers strong
currents of silent masses
pushing and rolling cradles
of mud leaves logs

 there are no stars but
a moon of secret later
surfacing in quivers
when one may be fooled
into believing

it’s just a mirror moon
reflecting a mirror sky, never
the rushing silent dark sky
that lies under water

from Reading Harmonium at One Hundred  / RJ Ingram


Age settled like a stiff snowdrift on the lake
Where we brushed aside enough room to ski
Our parents never taught us but you learned 
From some neighbor boys while I made cocoa 
As if I was everyone’s mother or patron saint 
Of hospitality except we weren’t even home
The two of us were somewhere else that winter 
When you unrolled the hose down to the dock 
To pour a fresh smooth layer onto the surface
I didn’t expect it to actually work I had thought
You ruined the neighbor’s fancy garden hose
And that we were going to get lectured by men
Who were much more strict than our father
But I was wrong & the next morning you skied 


Caught in the mouth of a bluegill was a hook
A babysitter begged you not to use practicing 
The stroke of your cast in a September twilight
I was practicing the piano when she screamed 
At the thought of removing the baitless hook 
Pedestrian was my every attempt at the piano
I pretended like I wanted to play professionally
When really I wanted to master a few flashy 
Songs to show off at parties we were pathetic
Me benching any talent before getting started
You catching a fish & not knowing what to do
And the babysitter begging one of us to free it
None of us were heroes that day on the dock
But I stuck my hands in & pulled out the prize


Fast forward to an argument about an island 
We chased ourselves around river towns drew
Lines under our eyes w/ red permanent marker
And called each other nasty pet names like
Comrade Rutabaga that we tossed around 
Like an extemporaneous toast made by a man
Sipping on decadence from a champagne flute 
Our pockets were heavy w/ sand but we tried
Our hardest to kill each other until we could 
The way I drove us around in my hatchback 
Always looking for the next protest to picket
I thought we got along better than most
At which point self sufficiency had to kick in 
But I’m not going to admit all my losses  

Ladybird  / Zac Kline

My shame is a flea-ridden dog
draped over dusk. A wolf

in the mist, or maybe just a mutt
chained to a mile marker

waiting to dissolve into dust
at my feet. I go years without

seeing the brute, though he is
heavy & hot on my back. My

therapist says it’s geographical
grief but look at him panting

on the shore of the reservoir—
can’t you see him standing

right next to me?

Ash and Dust / Thomas Locicero

I see the ash lay amid the dust,
cremation and creation forming
something else entirely, something raw.
As I beckon in my half-sleep, I
feel you draw near, knowing clearly,
the way the hallucinating feel
certain they can fly, that you,
like me, are willing to draw a line,
not between, but upon, ash and dust,
with our hands and our mouths,
with the urgency of lovers,
with a sense of newness, and

a greater sense of martyrdom.

winter / Athira Unni

clouds like a sea of sacks/ sailor moon

winter robs the house/ warmth denied

to hide under a table/ wait for snow 

to subside/ pray for growth 

and peace 

Day 28 / Poem 28

All Those Other Nights / Michael Dechane

Moon wedge blaring without restraint.
Salt-thick air blows balmy, then cool
in turns, troubling the dry palm trees
overhead. They flick the darker black
of their fronds against the outer deep.
The persistence of the ocean
calling its own name along the shore —
this is all it takes for me to feel
my life folded upon itself, tonight
touching all those other nights
that held the briefness of my being
there as easily as disintegrating stars,
nights with so many versions of myself
I did and did not walk away from,
like the starfish that breaks
itself in half and then regrows
its own past. Michaels and Michaels,
a chorus of us in the relentless moon.


dots / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

spots of sun on grass
gnat meetings gold in mid air
a child’s pimple, fleeting
as the wet eye of a bird,
sizing us before the dart
holes in trees and lichens like eyes
drops of night water on leaves
hanging early like lovers ´smiles
flowerbed brushstrokes silent in song
of bud sleep
leaves swirling madly in strange nest-like
spider webs and twigs twirling light
the gentle slow curves in vines
the red round mushroom no one will see
hiding, minute on the garden bed
the edge of that cloud bronzing
a fingerful of chocolate late in nights
feathers in frost, still stirring
the water´s liquid truth in the sun
under the painted leaves, bubbling,
the soft patch of universe
a sleeping cat is.

 constellations pointing somewhere
freckling the night in
dots of beauty of circles of perfection

Where I’m From / Jeff Hill

I am from family 
The one I was born into and did not choose 
The one I was chosen by and would do anything for 
From Bill and Diane 
Recently retired and loving grandparenthood 
Recently rediscovered old loves and new adventures 
From Larry and Carol 
A life full of accomplishments but only wanting grandchildrens’ names in an obituary 
A life full of keeping up appearances and matriarchal duties 
From Willard and Marilyn, 
A secret past that no one wants to talk about 
A burdensome future that no wants to take on 
From stability and past and a hopeful tomorrow 

I am from Nebraska 
Cornfields and endless nothing 
Obscure celebrities and midwestern niceties 
From Southeast Lincoln 
A family home that has and never will change 
Weekly dinners that celebrate everything and everyone 
From Northeast Lincoln 
A career that started out as a job and became a passion 
A place where learning looks different with each and every student 
From Downtown 
University campus frat houses full of partying and gossip and forging relationships 
Overpriced apartments full of the same but labeled as networking and business 
From a small town that refuses to admit it’s a city 

I am from New York 
The home of every writer at some point in his life 
The place on TV and in movies that never really seems real 
From Brooklyn 
Living with a world-famous chef who preferred remain off the grid 
Jamming with neighbors until sunrise after partying at Coney Island until sunset 
From FiDi 
Pretending to be a Wall Street Bro and getting into places I had no business being in 
Finding the one place in the City That Never Sleeps that does in fact sleep 
From Hell’s Kitchen 
Experiencing gentrification firsthand for all of its good and bad 
Reminding myself that employment and benefits are not guaranteed for everyone 
From never fully committing to this home away from home 

I am from writing 
Short stories and novels about ghosts and narcissists and criminals who get away 
Essays and reviews about teaching and politics and superheroes as a valid artform 
From workshops 
Where instructors are not above lighting your paper on fire in front of your peers 
When dick measuring is an art form and something that bonds the marketplace together 
From lectures 
To students who sometimes are interested and passionate but sometimes are court-ordered 
To colleagues and professionals who are much better than whatever I can share with them 
From novels 
Too controversial to go with a small press publisher and risk losing my job 
Three to four drafts in what makes up seven total books 
From the stories I’ve read and the people who have written them 

I am from teaching 
Something I went to school for because it was expected 
Something I’m back in school for because it is a passion 
From a father who taught for one year and always regretted leaving 
A dispenser of wisdom at strange and often inopportune times 
A provider with thousands of stories that seem to walk the line flawlessly 
From a mother who never went to college but had a love for stories 
A word of the day calendar and mandatory reading time every night 
A gift for storytelling, sometimes with alternate endings, but always with a moral 
From the Lincoln public school system 
LSW, the Arts and Humanities Focus Program, LNE, and UNL 
Kids are kids and the struggle is always real 
From making a difference, one kid at a time 

I am from hopeless romanticism 
Finding a story in everything 
Making a story when one can’t be found 
From lifelong friendships forged in unlikely places 
Peers, coworkers, colleagues, and rivals 
Family, buddies, connections, and lovers 
From life lessons that take too long to sink in 
Money isn’t everything, but it makes everything a little easier 
Travel and experience are more important than material things 
From living out daily walking contradictions 
Collecting memories and friendships and books and adventures 
Still reading comic books and playing video games and navigating dating apps 
From 36 years hoping for at least 36 more 

Reading Harmonium at One Hundred / RJ Ingram


I spat out the kernels as they came up calling
The names of our new ministers of indulgence 
What worlds they wobble from some halcyon
Suburbia before the great summer sugar rush
A panoramic outfit from the Midwest humidity 
Either a cheap matinee feat. Child Star #1 & #2 
Or the eve of the debut of a forgettable flick 
We recline in the front row of a cheap theater
Pass salty snacks between the seats while
A restless world behind the family convalesces
If the cow was in labor pls let the calf be born
If the dog was in labor pls let the calf be born
If the radishes rotted pls let the calf be born
When we drove home tunnels wound upwards 


The answer Harmonium is but only half true 
I want to say words like bewilder amphitheater 
But what comes out is a monologue about not
Reading which wasn’t true at all the low stakes 
Sent me in the wrong direction forfeited hold-
Out I had leaving impressions unless reading 
Was an unfavorable hobby for booksellers
Which I could see catching on someplace so
Focused on image & less focused on books 
A pretty common vibe in some stores so I get it
Unfortunately I had pitched a case for no one
And honestly didn’t expect them to hire me
So when they didn’t [And they didn’t call back 
I decided to actually read a book I was reading 


I like to take the small ones first my mom says
About a bowlful of strawberries but it turns out
She was talking about the facts of life as well 
If not all of the small ones the most of them
Save a couple for the end game just in case
So I started w/ the snowman & the emperor 
First pages turned into fine sand & fell around 
Erecting me into an island w/out a radio lifeline 
With every poem finished I returned home to
The Comedian as the Letter C as if a reward
For a job well done in the front yard warranted
An extra special projected to do in the back
I’m not a glutton for punishment just a regular 
Glutton & boy did I pick a meal to try to eat


We filled the tank w/ freshwater fish although 
I never saw him doing it I know my brother ate
Some of them this was before the cats & dog
Before we moved across town & drove into
Adolescence w/ the windows down arms out
Handing a hitchhiker a ten on the freeway
Before we invited her into the passenger seat
Drove her to the truck stop for help this was
Before she was carrying her high heels since
This was before she broke them walking w/
Her thumb up bc you didn’t know folks actually
Did that the way they sometimes do in movies
My brother thought he was so smart eating
Just a few a day but the tank emptied quickly 

A Day Late  / Zac Kline

I wake with the dread of catacombs
thousands of my kind gathered
from the hills, deposited into a bank
of corpse storage. Some survivor will likely
attempt to get compensated
for such a feat. Turns out you can kill
every living thing but you cannot kill
capitalism. Look at the poor things
extinguished in the storms. Some of them
have jewelry of saints burrowed
into their clavicles like botfly larvae.

I pour water over their now parasite-free
wounds remembering that even post-
apocalypse, nothing is really free
of parasites. I glance at my wrist
where my jailer is tied. A periwinkle ribbon
to remind me: do your work, keep your head
down. Ignore the hunger that lives
in your belly and whatever you do,
do not leave the safety of the already
gone. Turns out, a wall is a wall
whether it’s made of death or stone.

First Lost Friend / Thomas Locicero

for Sam

Each time we went to the park, the same talk.
It is no small thing to be cynical
And a father; just one would be enough.
His misunderstanding was unfailing.
Mere moments after having met strangers,
He would introduce them to me as his friends.
You are a child, I tell him, and you will
Have many friends and then you will learn the
Difference between a friend and an acquaintance.
The latter part of that I said to myself.
One day, he will understand protection.
I fear a monster would need help finding
Its puppy and my son would simply vanish.
So I teach him, knowing he is too young
And far too sensitive to know my heart, to
Understand that all the world is not his friend.
A few years later—he is seven—he says,
Dad, do you remember when you told me
That not everyone I meet is my friend?
Yes, I answer, watching his lips quiver.
And then he whispers the name of the boy,
His first lost friend, and he cries as only
The brokenhearted do. As I cradle him
And my tears mix with his, I dare ask him
If he knows why, and he actually does.
His parents said I couldn’t be his friend
Because I invited him to come to church.

Negations  / Athira Unni

The Apple Pencil is not a lead pencil. 
It is not an eraser. 
It is not an ink pen. 
It is not a pink mechanical pencil. 

The Apple Pencil is not a refillable one. 
It is not a bag of truths. 
It is not a free item. 
It is not valueless. 

The Apple Pencil is not an object of just writing. 
It is not an isolated gift. 
It is not the best friend of a page. 
It is not a truthful thing. 

The Apple Pencil is not a lead pencil. 
It is not childhood. 
It is not something you lose.
It is not something to be found. 

Day 27 / Poem 27

18 Minutes / Michael Dechane

… without any hope they will stare at the horizon.
— William Stafford

Red tail lights blink
gibberish code
in this stop and go
and stop again traffic.
The clairvoyant
floating in my phone
knows this delay
will set back my plans
18 minutes.

There’s a wreck ahead.

I’m going somewhere
but I have nowhere
I need to be. I remember
the possibility of seeing
the invisible island
of today — here — now.

In the lane to my left,
a man hunches
over his phone.
In the lane to my right, 
a man hunches
over his phone. 

We are coping
with our needs
that cannot abide
this slow approach
to a fender bender,
a life-ending horror,
or something in between.

I notice and immediately forget
the shape of a cloud.

I see the gray veil of dust
coating my dashboard.

I feel some excruciating pang
under layers of numbness.

Among the articles
of trash on the shoulder
there is an obliteration
of styrofoam —
some large panel crushed
to airy granules
now sifted on the unseen
currents of our passing here
like spume from waves
at the shore they are lapping.

Nimbus / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

swollen escalating
it hoards light

holds the seed of storm
in the grey of no linings
immune to pareidolia

feather, dough-white
treading stratospheric blue:

the surprise of its unfolding

Critical Failure  / RJ Ingram

Thwart became thrill which unfortunately grew 
Into shrill which wasn’t my idea at first but we
Decided to let shrill play out for a little longer
The lab tech became a great surveyor of rites
An administrator at the fertility clinic opened
Portals to the center of the earth—not our own
Earth but a similar one full of unique injustices 
A dancer & poet cracked their knuckles about 
Absolutely blistering on the faces of the fallen 
But I’ve got this trick that usually doesn’t work
A single note I can play on a cursed harmonica 
That when played correctly can stun enemies
For an entire round & buy us just enough time 
But when it doesn’t work I need to start over

Savannah  / Zac Kline

In the nine blocks 
from Lincoln Center until
the last time we will be together 
this summer, the sweaty night lets 
a breeze turn just cool enough 
for me
to tell you: 

I see you. 

Government officials won’t go so far
as to rule out UFOs. Though the vanishing
white cloud blimp that a whole military
unit watched was likely a—what?—dragon?

J and I pick popcorn shrapnel from our couch.
We have decided our family motto will be one word:
SKEPTICAL. It’s pouring out, listen,
I tell her. She raises her eybrows, staring

a meteor shower through me and tilts her head
toward the salmon sky as if to indicate
the unlikelihood of precipitation without smears
of cirrus clouds to warn us about the deluge.

I watch a simulation of how a Civic
would crash if we had the gravity
of Mars, Venus, Proxima Centauri.
People say that car accidents happen

in a matter of seconds but not
on other planets. Imagine the agony
of waiting minutes for your car
to go belly up on the freeway

knowing that you will suffer the same
physiological impact as a sped up
version of equal disaster here
on Earth. You watch, hand to window

as the cloudless sky appears
motionless and distant, then more sky,
then a horizon of fire, dust cyclones, ice,
then the immediate future of your crash site

in 30…29…28…27…

Now that there’s a gaping space-x-
shaped wound through our ionosphere,
should I wear steel-toed boots
and a weighted vest to adhere firm to Earth?

The sentient race of sky unicorns
(mainly fictitious) may still
be able to beam me up wearing
such apparel but my sessile deep-strata

nature as Earth’s gravity slowly shifts
will remain. Shallow-rooted tamaracks
will be sucked out of bogs into the vacuum
of space while I watch, assuming the red beacon

across the sky is finally a god, attracted
to our flimsy tech like a moth
to a plastic, telescopic-handled
bug zapper.

The Company You Keep / Thomas Locicero

for John Diesso

The first day of my first summer job, I see
lean men leaning against trucks and fences,
comparing tattoos and forearm sizes.
The less lean sit in air-conditioned pick-ups.
It is a town job, and there is no hurry.
No one is working. Breakfast is cheap beer.
Shadows melt into the earth. Vapors dance.
Everything is a mirage. Ambition
is a bygone allowed to be a bygone.

One man, far older than I, but far younger
than the rest, breaks out an acoustic guitar.
After but a few seconds, I wonder
aloud what he is doing here, and I
assure him that he could find work playing.
The others become my enemy. “Kid!”
one says as abrasively as a new wound.
“He will never leave here, and neither will you.”
It wasn’t long before we’d prove them wrong.

living on water  / Athira Unni

painless. almost womb-like tenacity.
we have dwelled in wells. shhh.
listen to the lashes of waves on the rocks
stoic and cliched. it smells like
coconut-flavoured translucent piss.
no escape from the tenderness of it all.
layers of liquid segue into a path.
there is a lot of memory in water.
living here is being unable to forget.
seven colors visit occasionally
leaving nothing behind. frogs are silent.
no bird sounds. there is no rain.

Day 26 / Poem 26

Appetites / Michael Dechane

If we are what we eat
that might explain how poets are so wasted
away as we eschew insipid cliches
as we insist in burning words.

But is it also true to say 
we are what has eaten us?
If so, then we are the gnarled memory of humanity.
We are the unlikely possibility.
We are sleep with a dream inside
with an unsayable longing inside that
with its sun igniting unceasingly inside that.
And, we are the ravening darkness
the birthplace of all our metaphors.

Consider the hardhead catfish
one of the noble mouthbrooders among us.
Right now, a pair of them are making sweet fish love
in the deep, salty folds of the Atlantic.
Soon the male will fertilize a fresh clot
of eggs and then gather them all
into his mouth. Until they hatch
around 70 days from now he will eat
nothing unless some of these marbles
that could become his kittenfishes
slip quietly down his rusting throat.

What I mean is, hard as it is to bear, 
we are our parents.
And we are their hopes they never realized —
until we are not, until we eat ourselves
out from inside the unfitting walls of those shells.

What appetites we might find, then.
Some litany of strong proclivities rising up in us.
And I think that’s where the starving, for artists, begins.
It’s our own desire, isn’t it? What we need
and what it costs us and everyone around us.

Doesn’t it seem that artist desire only roots 
in the arid land we all carry inside? 
The one place we can make what we make
is mighty thin on provisions:
so little water, food, or shelter. 
No road. No bed. No friends. 
But damn if there ain’t a bar 
around every cactus. Am I right?

I don’t know but this reminds me
of another question I, for one, need to face.
Since we know that being an artist
means we cannot be anything else,
that already, the question of how much
this will cost us has dissolved
the way light after sunset still colors the high clouds
until, in a moment when you look away,
it winks out and the pink, orange luster goes gray,
since the best of us has already given everything,
what will I let my face say about this small suffering
I have chosen and I choose and I choose again?

Consider the emaciated desert ascetic.
The bright-eyed mystic with the sunken cheeks.
The forgotten mother who remembers us
and even the bugs and the dust in her prayers
that vanish upward like the little rain that falls there.
Can you see how the sands have eaten her for centuries? 
Or how it is to befriend our appetites and desires enough
to welcome them to our tables empty of all but the light
or empty of all but the cool rest the desert darkness brings?
I can’t. I don’t know why I invoked her now.
I know less about her or suffering than I do about catfish.

And I don’t know you, but as I consider your faces
I remember our hidden stars of desire, how they burn
so that, even for some fleeting moments
before death we might live 
before death unfurls its one bloom in us we might live
before death incants our name softly we might live
inside that desire that arrived for us once 
that longing so incapable of forsaking us. 

winter / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

I like the apparent sincerity of winter
the bones are closer to the surface,
visible, as if we turned transparent and
cut short of spring’s shy candour or the
talkativeness of summer, that old aunt

winter is not for the soft

it will reveal the knotted limbs, the roots
made snakes, the stark brown beneath
it will speak in wild consonants
killing any ornaments except if they’re
red, like blood

with or without snow, conversations are
hushed as if one feared any word would summon
death, or darker skies

we stay inside, run around in slippers, grow dishevelled, white
haired and in no mood for dyeing

yes, there’s fireplaces and soups, and
cakes on tables of checkered cloth. Frail spells

as all along it convinces us of despair.

Yet all along it holds its buds, like new candles, chuckling

Aubade with priest looking for answers  / RJ Ingram


Windows frame his bald head & scribbles spill
Out onto pages before the marble mortar 
Where ants are crushed for ink vermillion 
That drops onto the parchment symbol after 
Infuriating symbol dry bread & then stale wine
There’s never enough time to settle his mind
He thinks better check the work twice this time
Then melts scarlet wax to seal what he finds 
When he was a child he was cruel to animals
He pinned butterflies in boxes not for study
But bc he loved the way light blew through 
Their wings like mosaics in a church window
Today he uses light to trace meaning around 
A thousand revelations circles what he found 


He discovered that love was revolutionary
And a single selfless act a mere pebble beside
An endless winding road from which there are
No detours or shortcuts just a small wayside 
Inn where the hostess mixes up your order but
It’s ok hon bc the next round is on the house
A lanky guy in a tweed jacket sits & pulls out
Pocket watches & the audience laughs on cue
How did I end up here the collared man asks
The handsome bartender flipping a bottle cap
One minute I was at my desk & next I’m here
In the foreground of another insensitive joke 
Relax Father, the bartender offers some water
You’re safe here until the lunch rush is over


For lunch they served liverwurst sandwiches
And salted chips on plastic reusable TV trays
The kind from hospitals or school cafeterias
A red paper napkin was folded around a spork
The likes of which there was never dire need
Men in the corner discuss their wives while 
A waitress recites poetry to herself in a mirror
The lucky bottle cap catches light as it falls
Fed but weary from study the priest again asks
From where suffering & all authority can end
Hands pressed for time but diligently tapping 
Away at yet another untranslatable rhythm 
How is it possible to unriddle what’s unasked? 
Where can mortals go to ask the unseen? 


The bartender said for me it was a used car lot 
We haggled for days on end until I realized 
The cars had an unusual thin veneer of dust
That couldn’t be explained but for the waitress
She sat in her professor’s office always waiting 
For him to return from ending things w/ his wife
Hours turned into weeks then cyclical seasons 
A postmaster & insurance salesman kept quiet
Not wanting to talk about being trapped in bed
At an understaffed hospital plagued by death 
Or an endless loop around a zoo each exhibit
The resemblance getting more undeniable 
With every passing by but it was the hostess
Who had known real love who was most afraid 


Agony is not knowing what’s beyond & sending 
Them off to throw rocks at cars or drop stones
Down wells or catch pond frogs anyway only
To have your worst fears continue to come true
She was still a young woman when she held
Her son’s face together w/ a red beach towel
On the roadside the cicadas pulsed their song 
While she counted her breaths again & again 
Agony hearing that song on the radio because
It was that particular verse in the lyrics that 
Kept him safe for all those unexpected years
Safe from the weather when it rains or people 
When they hate or when life burns unbearably 
hi yo we drift in & out / sing into my mouth 


And that’s when he scooped up the bees into
The peanut bowl himself & washed his face
In the three compartment sink as if hungover
The bartender refused to stop his rummaging
Through the back room as he looked for paper 
In all the wrong places his frenzy was a dance
That was so beautiful to watch two angels did
They rubbernecked so hard that earths shook
And that’s when he snapped himself out of it
He had fallen into a place so sunken & cold 
It had reminded him he had been there before
Except this time he could walk out on his own
Whichever place the shadows may take you
I hope the jukebox plays at least one good hit


Low croaks from the courtyard frogs echo up
All the way to the priest’s buttered porridge 
Which was left undisturbed outside his office
Inside lay no evidence of the work or progress
After all nearly all of the heavy lifting was done
In the familiar dive bar sound stage of the mind 
He snaps a pencil & brews some strong tea
And hopes he can convince himself it was real
An epiphanous hostess w/ pens in her hair
Who snapped gum at him once in a dream
While she might be fiction her message wasn’t 
Love is revolutionary & can’t be weaponized
Of this he was confident was his true mission
Discover this particle & keep it safeguarded 

Summer Passing / Zac Kline

I am moving

back into the sky

like the lightning

after the thunder

that never came.


The rain stays longer,

even though I say

this will only last

another twenty

minutes or so


It rains,

while you call

the bank

to dispute

the charges,


It rains

while I clean

the bathroom,

which hasn’t been cleaned

in weeks


It rains

while we spend

the afternoon guessing

what fifth  

the cold water might  

wash away on a hot day


Our more somber reality

along with the air conditioner

we have yet to install

this late into July

has to wait, in the car


While we go on

waiting out this

summer slowdown

between us that

is a fight disguised


As question

after question after question

that can’t be

answered now

even if we try.


Even if we know,

if we wait, an eternity  

to answer, we might not

know if we can last together  

another summer long


The afternoon forecast

say rain at any time

then stopping

in an hour

but in an hour, it starts again.


On a summer day,

in our less

probable future,

a kid might ask

“When can we

go outside again?’


Not right now it’s raining

Why not?

We’re Not Sugar

We won’t melt!

Not right now it’s raining


Why not now!

Nothing bad has ever

happened to


in the rain!

Day 25 / Poem 25

The Sometimes Gifts of Nearsightedness / Michael Dechane

An obliterating fog this morning.
It has eaten my neighbor
and her high-summer meadow
of white and pink flowers.
The valley beyond her
is caught in its seething mouth.
This fog devoured the trustworthy
mountains, trees, and the way
their places were printed into the sky,
which now claims everything for itself
except what’s nearest at hand.
Seven dogwoods suggest a better fence.
The tawny twitch of a rabbit
incises breakfast from the grasses.
Two rows of garlic bolt 
in my garden, strange flags
of the redolent undercountry.
And the dark wand rises
out of the coverlet of cloud.
A dead and leafless branch
this goldfinch alights upon. Flies from. 
And comes back to, now at rest.

water talks / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

the water in me talks
to the water in you and we waterfall
on mushrooms, dandelions, finches
in dew of rainforest mornings

 we have shared the same drops over and over
the same lakes and livers and mammoth urine
and the same rain galloping on rooftops

 in circles and circles
our waves have turned beaches white
fish looks at us with one eye

 when I touch you I touch plasma in currents
cascading, crimson layers of
rocks with moss as brilliant as stars

 we can also talk rainbows

Injectable Butter:  Now Marked Down 95% / RJ Ingram

Machine gun sapphire gin mouth will become
Better start looking for dyslexia in a war zone 
Tackling paradise quests shuttering started at
The melting point of the 27 club’s lost tapes
Negotiate heartfelt stories about school plays 
In trouble like when Harry Met Santa to raise
Awareness for more confusing circumstances 
The first meta sneaker a real disease dilemma 
Tips four platform market dominated meals
An unlikely friendship cyber bullying meets
Women’s Equality Day pairs w/ signals for help 
In arguably the most well known virtual cities
Native life scripts oddly specific sportscasters
Stand for silent dream drop women in games

Tik Tok / Zac Kline

I wish I had gone,
to see you 
the afternoon 
at the Tik Tok dinner 
where you sat in silence 
and ate your very last 
turkey club 
and taught my sister 
the key to the scriptures
and which key 
to play 
Blue Moon In.
When she told me there was an apology,
I no longer wanted to see you 
When she told me we could forgive each other 
I said: I’m okay.
I’m sitting now fooled 
by a new diner 
on an old block 
where they don’t even know 
what ‘extra thick’
for your milkshake means. 
The server tells me:
‘They won’t look at the ticket anyway.’
So unlike you, I won’t: hold the tomato, 
hold the mayo, 
hold me and hold everything. 
I will just eat, and make myself,
the most prolific son.
you never ever got to see. 

Bombs: Ghazal/ Thomas Locicero

The anatomy scatters from righteous bombs
in the same manner as unrighteous bombs.

Virtuous bullets punch into bodies, tear
flesh, break bones, ricochet, implode, like small bombs.

Honor rapes, bride burning, daughter stoning—
God’s wrath for such men will detonate like bombs.

Just machetes wielded in religion’s name
will revisit the murderers like sharp bombs.

Moral rhetoric opposes the Good Book,
and he who lives by bombs shall die by bombs.

“Good” and “god”: the same, etymologically.
Evil men, not good gods, choose to use bombs.

The way Natives with arrows felt facing guns
so men with guns feel when faced with men with bombs.

Wars were once fought by men in close quarters;
now they are won by drones carrying bombs.

When bayonets are fixed, soldiers perish,
but civilians die when soldiers use bombs.

Survivors of wars have died from old age,
yet the fields they fought on still contain live bombs.

A dictator who is a caricature
of his insane father likes to play with bombs.

One who initiates bombings should be feared
but not as much as one who strikes back with bombs.

A noble man left a legacy of peace
with money made from powder used to make bombs.

Day 24 / Poem 24

Small Town Saudade / Michael Dechane

Our city fathers could have insisted
on the Beatitudes, a better scrawl
for the courthouse walls than a conscription
of Heston’s translation of commandments.
Better still: they could have given us art.
They could have shown us what it means to live
when your heart — that place of deepest belief —
eats words that give life. Words that unbuild walls.

But that’s not what they needed us to need.
No, that’s not how you keep a small town small.
As the mayor of my own, I should know.
Every day my citizens petition
against change. Main Street floods with seawater.
They riot for how it’s been, set in stone. 

Tadpoles and water snails / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller


fish slide sideways,
like arrows signaling
pond miracles

 young tadpoles speed
across with their twin shadow,
hanging in light, darting to dark

 two water snails, clasped to each other,
balance in the bliss of convoluted bodies

 another, lonelier, trails lines
probing sunken messages

 all of us merge in mud
slippery curves of morning

 as motorway cars and I
have to rush
I wonder
are underwater cliffs more difficult?
bird beaks plucking
more dangerous than what calls me away
from this sun of water quiet
we are all in?

Confessions Change You / Jeff Hill

Just sit there and wait for everything to change 
You cannot get caught up with what others are going to say 
You cannot worry about how others are going to react 
All you can do is just sit there and wait for everything to change 

After that sets in, you have to fully commit 
You have to go upstairs and pack 
You need to make sure your kids see you doing so, otherwise they’re not going to get it 
She’ll look at you in a way in which you think she might cry and beg and plead 

But you have to put her in the moment with you 
You have to make it real 
Yell at her 
Belittle her 
Hit her if you have to 

If she makes a scene, make it into a public one 
If she doesn’t, start a fight with your words 
This is vital 

When the police arrive, take your suitcase to the front porch and greet them 
She will cry and beg and plead 
You will just sit there and wait for everything to change 
And the whole block will watch in horror 
As the officers call for backup 
And begin to dig all of us up out of your backyard 

Now, finally, you can regain some control 
You can live your life 
You have to 
Because we can’t 

Movie Night At Our Parents’ House  / RJ Ingram


A case of PBR chilling in a garage refrigerator 
Ubiquitous as a pool house in the suburbs 
Parents gone or perhaps the kids are gone
Old friends reunite to celebrate the mundane
Accomplishments of their lives: PTA secretary 
Divorce just announced or finally finalized
Either way the one friend who just doesn’t fit
Who got cut out from the rest of the group 
Years ago finds themselves back in the fold
Sees in their empty medicine cabinet reflection 
A detail that the others will continue to miss
And it will probably take most of the audience 
Until the twist at the endgame to notice that 
The group virgin was holding onto a weapon


Silence falls out of fear not respect for the fool
Who packed a ludicrous activity for the group
Be it charades or Yahtzee or ballot stuffing
Who likes a know it all w/ an inferiority complex
Or himbos in cut off shorts gunning for doors
That were clearly locked before the second act 
But our group has got an enabler who listens
To bad advice at the beginning bc paying 
Attention to their surroundings is apparently 
Not their thing so after another close call let us
Regroup a little to freshen up the stakes as if
Our idiot accidentally turned over an hourglass 
On the alter of bad ideas he lites the candle 
So now not only are we locked in but on a timer


One of them has got to know a thing or two
About the situation a man on the inside who
Explains just enough to get the story going
Once there were six kids in a cardboard box
Who argued while the stage began to shrink 
One by one they prayed for resourcefulness
To save them from the inevitable consequence
No one came to their rescue they thought 
They want reasons to hate well made points 
But can’t so they listen attentively like lambs
About to be guided away from the pasture
Teacher! Teacher! Teacher! I’ve got a question:
If we behave ourselves can we think survival 
Will be enough or should we embrace chaos? 


In an active shooter situation one runs or hides
Or fights but has to commit to their first choice
Like the jerk who picks the glass out of his eye
To run after the unknown blessed w/ a clarity
Unparalleled & unfortunately unfairly deserved 
For this reason the asshole suggests splitting
Not everyone can be a hero but he sure can try
And if there’s a red herring it’s certainly him
And if there’s a red herring he’s betting it’s her
He had it figured out since before the invitation 
All it took was a broken window & a lost key
A foot on the door jimmies the jammed drawer
A flashlight or a torch or gimme those matches
Anything to lite the way during the final search


Not enough has been said about best friends
Who hold your hand while they pick up guys
At the bar on your birthday & leave you to chat
To yourself in the bathroom mirror while they
Leave drinks on the dance floor so other folks
Can kick the cups over during a group thriller 
Does it make you terrible for sleeping w/ them?
You wanted to for so long how could you know
You locked them inside your unsolvable maze 
And that’s where you find him: in your arms
Crying & only bc you wanted to see him cry
But each of you is terrified now & the others 
Who thought you finally had your shit together 
Are closing in on the idea that it’s all your fault 


It was someone we didn’t expect to remember
Like an old classmate or a star crossed lover
A babysitter who was abused by her employer 
Society definitely would have denied acquittal
To a friend who accidentally invited the killer
Into the house to begin see all those suffering 
See all those in the other room licking wounds 
It wasn’t the mediocre celebrity after all it was
A combination of bad luck & permitted rage
Now a days it’s less about motive & instead
More about the less convincing set of alibis
Regardless: it was wrong to slap my mother
I wasn’t sure where else I could practice that
I’m sorry but I was wrong to slap my mother


If I could do a long landscape panning I would 
We would see the trees in the foreground
Approach a small postage stamp river town
Stuck between summer & fall the breeze
Catches the marching band’s early practice
Or the boats lift out of the water for wintering
I was raised in the house down by the lake
We called ourselves happy bc we didn’t have
Anything else to compare it to at the time 
We once caught a snake in the basement
It was so big it couldn’t even cross the street
I let it wrap around my leg before I ran off
What I’m saying is that I’m not a survivor 
I just don’t know how to get out until too late 

A Half Dozen / Zac Kline

3/4th of the way on our first
beach walk of the summer,
we start to talk about

what Dad calls:
all the old things,
who is sick and who

is well and who
is moving along still
just fine.

Cleaning out my desk,
I found a letter dated
June 2004:

            Dear Zac:

            Thank you so much for Walking to Martha’s Vineyard I was not              that familiar with Franz Wright’s work, but I am enjoying this                   wonderful book. And shame on me for  not being more aware                  of a Pulitzer Prize winner. I love the poem Father, as well as                    Dudley Wright—perhaps because I lost my own father a half                    dozen years ago   and so I easily could feel the pulsing tender                  spot in my heart. And the Poem and Reunion says it all, doesn’t                 it?

            Warmest personal regards,

Lynne has dementia now,
the person who read
with such diligence

Then gave to me back,
what I gave to her,
is gone in years,

Not in hearts, as we walk
I asked my Dad:
But does poetry ever really go anywhere?

We keep walking
Can you forget how to read a poem
horizontal to the sea

I put the letter back
in the desk drawer
tempting me to never

Take it out again, I gave
my father
his own copy

Of Walking to Matha’s Vineyard
and the collected poems
of James Wright

Back at the house,
our dry mouths eating
salty snacks, watching

The bottom of the 8th
he says: it was good to catch
the low tide.

I asked him:
I wonder what it was writing.

Welcome to Hell?
Like James, said to Franz

Or maybe instead
the words written
over Lynne’s hand: 

            Love you, Pop.

Border Ghazal / Thomas Locicero

To some, all hope exists across a border.
Some hope heaven will traverse their own border.

By its nature, a border belongs to two.
Child: What is natural about a border?

Man: Draw a demarcation line in the sand.
A child asks, How can we have our own border?

The Garden of Eden was an open earth.
Sin began with the crossing of a border.

The only thing man made that is seen from space
Is the Great Wall of China, a great border.

A dividing line: 38th Parallel.
A circle of latitude, but a border.

When the Berlin Wall was crumbled to the ground,
Despite the rubble, what fell was a border.

In every home, a threshold sits at the door.
We keep bad out and good in with a border.

If thresholds are crossed, the bad are imprisoned.
Each inmate lives behind an iron border.

Nakedness is seen as an invitation.
People do not need clothes to have a border.

When people cross an imaginary line,
What is it called if there isn’t a border?

Man: Those people live across that borderline.
The child responds, But I don’t see a border.

Ask a child to draw a map of her country.
A child draws a map by drawing a border.

Day 23 / Poem 23

Our Funk & Wagnalls / Michael Dechane

What about Egypt? 
Do we know what armadillos eat?
When was the Great Wall built?
All summer long, escaping
the repressive, fecund Florida
heat inside our air-conditioned
single-wide livingroom
I drained the reservoir
of my boyhood curiosity.
Between the Precious Moments
figurines and other bric-a-brac,
the shelf space at a premium,
we found a generous home
for the rich burgundy and gold
Fund & Wagnalls encyclopedia set.
But what did it cost my folks
to bequeath my brother and I
all the knowledge of the world
in 28 abbreviated volumes?
More than I know, even now
with doors to the 1.13 billion websites
on my phone. I was bored. 
How naive we were then,
before we invented fake news
rumors or needed to lie
about everything we couldn’t stomach
in our pallid pages of history.
I pored over the skinny paragraphs
of those compressed, essential columns.
Grainy, black-and-white images
illumined the yawning chasms
of my public school education,
feeding my febrile imagination
in ways it would take Achebe
and Lahiri, Dostoyevsky and Wiesel
with a 1,000-volume chorus of others
to nourish into life.
But in the widening unknowable
expanses of the universe, my parents
gave us the best books they had
with a quiet place to read ourselves
into the strange, alongside the other
entries of the colorful, burgeoning facts.


Untranslatable / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

Soft vibrating red leaves in breezes
like choirs
thrummed surprise hummingbird flutter
threads of mist rain on leaves
or water drop statements firm on ground
like the paws of jaguars speaking spots
or swift bird conversations
in a background of shy crickets
sap flow under rugged rough bark
silent in movement of wood rivers
hanging of spider webs in rain
or in sun discs
tenderness of small snails sleeping underleaf
or light under wings of butterflies

 are untranslatable

 Perhaps most things are wordless
devoid of definition and description
like the wet eyes of animals
or the moment between the lightning and the thunder.

 Yet perhaps there is a language that can speak them
and yet I have to learn it

Mirror / Jeff Hill

I always deemed him the victim of two evil powers 
First and foremost, he was never going to please his parents 
They were utterly and completely lost 
To say that they lived in a world entirely their own 
Would be a gross understatement 
Secondly and slightly more obvious
He was never going to accomplish his goals 
Delusions of grandeur had taken a front seat years ago 
And he’d never been fond of backseat drivers 
Direction is one thing 
Ambition is understandable
But if he was truly to complete his tasks 
And right all of the wrongs 
He was going to have to realize that his greatest strengths 
Were always going to be outshined and outweighed by his greatest weaknesses 
His flaws were many 
But his money could hide them when placed under the microscope that was public scrutiny 
His life was rarely as exciting as the tabloids made it out to be 

Father was an old school aristocrat 
A retired playboy 
And a philanthropist 
Mother was a professor 
A writerly type 
And a socialite 
Their boredom outweighed their desire 
And the only thing that brought them true happiness anymore 
Was the destruction of a business rival or social climber 
It was his greatest dream to please them 
So he would expose corruption 
Or frame his father’s enemies 
Or bed and humiliate his mother’s loudest detractors 
He was the president of the country 
He was the prize-winning humanitarian of the world 
He was the most feared and hated and loved and adored man to walk the Earth 
But it still 

So he left it all behind 
He left his parents 
He left his goals 
And once he overcame the two greatest evils in his life 
He began to accomplish great things 
Once he left the planet 
He truly was able to ascend 
He was finally free 
He had done it 
And all it took was the simple daily act 
Of looking in the mirror and not seeing someone else 

Overheard after the last Tupperware Party / RJ Ingram

I’m not a fun person to play hide & seek w/
I’ve got a sunburn big as Southern California 
And it smells like a blistering padrone you see
My oldest kid is going through some shit her Brother is a monster but that’s not a metaphor 
They rose from the water looking for fields
To burn but she’s really mellowed out this year
Her friends re-elected their bitchy leader
So she’s been taking some time to herself 
The move was hard on all of us like it always is
But when my son gets up it’s all warfare 24/7
We’re trying a new diet but how do you feed
Children the size of a biblical seraphim? We lift
Cranes to his mouth & make airplane noises

Psalm (for a Saturday night) / Zac Kline

Do you hate your job?
Are you playing 
to say you are alone 
is to say you will be alone 
when the asteroid comes,
and to be alone, 
is to be in love 
with the fallout shelter 
ruins of ancient luxury hotels,
where you can check-in
to the other form
of more worldly grief
and check out
from fire and rain.
To be alone,
on a Saturday night 
is a form of slow-dancing 
you way to a clean shaven heaven,
where the only sin 
is forgetting that to be lonely 
is closer to god landing a plane 
than any of us can imagine. 

A Sense of Disquietude / Thomas Locicero

A sense of disquietude dwells in ruins,
or in the savage aftermaths of cyclones,

or in the imaginations of those
inhabiting a monsoon’s next village,

or beyond the protective gates of sand dunes
upset by a deer tracked by a playful pup,

or anywhere forces collide or conspire
like wind and water intending pillage,

or where fools stay to safeguard replaceables,
or where a flood has a message for a rose,

or where grounded things need to be lifted up,
or where life resumes just as it had before.

Day 22 / Poem 22

Strawberry Supermoon / Michael Dechane

Twenty miles outside of Taos
our headlights against the night
no sense of what could happen.

It started like a red knife
carving the sky from desert
along a thin, searing seam.

An igneous stitch, stretching.
An em dash interjection.
A question asked from nowhere.

We pulled over. It began
to round itself and we knew —
here is the moon we forgot

rising, a restoration.
Wonderbloom. Burning signet.
An impossible fullness.

To remember it is like
staring at another life
from a room we still carry.

Folding a Day / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

Take day and fold it neatly like a napkin¹
as tap water turns waterfall in the sink where you
get lost in thought and may drip

Take night and unfold its sheets
where you may hide like in a pasture
smelling the clouds²

where you will get lost
(for sure you will)

And when day returns you can open
its jar, transparent, a bit more ready to eat
those words that speak of distance

1 No, not the paper ones, but those that softly re-join into oneness
2 The white puffy ones, those that expand like flowers in slow motion

Calvin / Jeff Hill

Calvin’s real name was Sam 
but there were already enough Sams 
in his class 
in the world 
so he had it legally changed 
when he moved to Montana to attend college 
it wasn’t a major change at first 
but when he graduated 
and decided to attend law school 
the following year 
he realized the only thing he craved more 
than success 
on a professional and academic level 
was to get away with lying 
on a personal and global level 
that’s when Calvin made the decision 
to not only study hard 
and become the best lawyer in the state 
but the country 
maybe the world 
the only problem was that Calvin 
the summer before he took the bar exam 
had become a moron 

well you see 
he had been struck by lightning 
a childhood fear 
that had become an adult nightmare 
a professional and emotional reality 
his phobia became debilitating 
his brain wasn’t working the same way it once had 
and when some of local kids 
broke into his house 
to steal his vintage coin collection 
he didn’t call the cops or scare them off 
he beat them to death 
with an aluminum baseball bat 
and when the police and reporters 
asked him what had happened 
all Calvin could say 
was the same repeated phrase 
“Sam was smarter than them” 

Still life with snooze button / RJ Ingram

Isn’t it funny the way fortune feels cyclical? 
Every time you oversleep imagine a tiny bald
Paper pusher in the proverbial cubical office
In the sky marking his notebook w/ a shiny pen
His ledger fills w/ a swarm of tallies each line
Another notch then another one by one until
Pages become books & then libraries upon
Silver libraries whose foundations were shaped
By your gentle rocking of the snooze button
Just five more minutes you whisper to his
Narrow focus as he makes his slender crosses
Pages glow while focused on your dreaming
What is it about his cool hand on the pillow
That makes you pine for another then another

Twenty-Two / Zac Kline

Hard to know when to say again
what you’ve already said—first
draft, a line with training wheels.

This line doesn’t bear repeating
I yelled to you over the kick drum
pointing to my lips. Whether I was

overcome by the stage lighting
or the beacon glowing inside your skin
I don’t know. You yelled back

I want to feed you gravy.
Gravy? I said, concerned.
GRAPES! you repeated, laughing.

Bojeski, alias James / Thomas Locicero

for Thomas James

Once dubbed a “pale Plath,” your hue
is a red rose pink in a sun
that discerns whom it shall deepen
and the ones whose colors will reduce.
If we could separate your ribs,
what would be found in between,
or what, if we would examine your mind,
shot free from its brain, would it whisper
now? Did you know that your synapses
can’t be stop-watched like a listless bullet
from a .45 subject to glacial pace?
A bolt of lightning can slap a bullet,
but the bullet has no hope of countering.
Did you know then what you know now,
that while you died instantly,
there was time for new and clear thought,
for regret, to atone, for one more line?

Day 21 / Poem 21

What We Cannot See / Michael Dechane

— after Joan of Arc (1879) by Jules Bastien-Lepage

The fire, already kindled
how it overcomes the kind
features of Saint Margaret
where her hands fill with grief.

The life, already asleep
inside the nearby house
she will leave — all
the darkened window signifies.

The path, already bent
from the coolness of the garden
and its long, plangent sweep
along a yellow sea of rapeseed.

The tree, already grown
into its broad bower of fullness
from this sapling or the progeny
of leaves she once held in its crown.

Between parallels / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

I knew well the other two parallel
streets from the past; this one
lay unpeopled in between, uncharted
like letting go of my last child.

It was a bit like travelling yet never lost
the taste of the familiar–ajar, like in a dream.

I opted for the sidewalk on the right and listed
as I went: a flock of grayish baywings,
an avocado plant, several tree trunks felled low
and filled just in case they dared to re grow,
stove-smoke rising thin from a rusted pipe,
no music except for highway hooting,
no moss but some ferns, a pink iris,
a group of daffodils in waiting, and the afternoon
prize: A bunch of jonquils beside an empty house.

Perhaps it’s not that bad to walk along unknown
parallel streets as lonely as this sun of winter
absences. Perhaps one discovers middle ways
different from sorrow or anger streaming down
their usual roads one block away, one on each side.

Unfriended / Jeff Hill

Today I ran into the only person I hate 
And I am not a fighter 
It’s hard to be an empath 
When you act like you don’t care 
One of my best friends committed suicide 
After being unfriended 
By the woman he loved 
On Facebook 
We came together as a friend group 
Walked miles 
Drove cars 
Took planes 
Dug up the past 
Buried him 
And then buried the hatchet 
With all that shit 
We made a pact 
To reach out to someone who had crossed us 
And make amends 
Or forgive 
Or apologize 
Or just act like nothing happened 
And move on 
We all made good 
Everyone was on board 
Some had success 
Others had less 
But we all had closure 
And repurposed our lives 
Deciding to make the most of it all 
A few quit careers 
Some started families 
All stayed in contact 
In their own way 
But unfriending became a thing 
An unspoken evil 
That we would never do 
To anyone 
So when I had the unthinkable happen 
To me 
Know damn good and well 
That when I unfriend someone 
It means that I am done with them 
It means that I am no longer part of them 
It means that I am okay 
With them 
Their own life 
So I unfriended her 
It’s been two years 
We made contact again 
And it wasn’t a moment of closure 
It wasn’t a moment of conflict 
I’m starting to let go 
But it will still be much easier 
When she’s gone 

Minutes from the safety committee’s special session on hand washing & birthday candles / RJ Ingram

The consensus of this body is that to wash
Remains a verb & evidence suggests we sing1
To ourselves like mothers scrubbing toddlers
Or teenagers scrubbing dolls in the sink after
An older cousin2 rubbed crayons to nubbins
All over miniature pleated denim bell bottoms
The company doesn’t allow music3 to play
In the bathroom for various reasons so please4
Use this as an opportunity to teach each other
Your favorite song from your favorite album
The one you played during your first date
When your fingers tapped out the rhythm
To Happy Birthday5 bc you forgot to turn
The record over when the music stopped

1 Policy can’t specifically encourage singing
But we strongly recommend a kind of prayer
Much like the short minutes we held collective
Breath after the pastor started a sermon by
Referencing that morning’s talk radio factoid
No matter how twisted up the logic became
Knotted around a cartoonish kind of fiction
Take the oil spill he spat out the morning
Of your grandfather’s funeral what a blessing
He said about the earth taking back the sea
We live strung between such shortened strings
That one calamity might ease our suffering
From another as if the dead come to cleanse

2 Let the record show that the dolls belonged 
To that particular cousin who brought them out
She knew you liked to pretend they had jobs
That took them far away from home & shared
A house & ate meals together like the family
Your cousin didn’t always have at least not
Like you that summer The Planet of the Apes
Came on & you both stayed up past midnight
To see a famous ending you knew was coming
Your cousin didn’t know & Barbie didn’t know
The way the world continues to remain cyclical
And continues to fascinate you even today
At this meeting held once a month to keep
OSHA & her devote acolytes happy once again

3 The company defines music here as audible
Noise played from a personal handheld device
Such as the cassette player you would strap
To your arm w/ electrical tape from the garage
Which allowed you to skate & play Madonna 
Which means your hands are free to vogue
Just in case you fell but you only fell that once
But trust me once was enough to teach you
That even though a skill that may come easily
To your cousin Caralise could take practice
Before you’re ready to show off to a new friend
Who you think might actually be impressed by
Your ability to not just dance the Hokey Pokey
But to really show them what it’s all about 

4 Please let us be grateful that hand washing
Or lack there of has not grown too problematic
For we your unelected safety representatives
Feel strongly that the bathroom should remain
A safe place to conduct businessa privately
Therefore will continue to peacefully enforce
Standardized peer presser & for us to express
Heavy eye rolls to any & all employees refusing
To wash their hands after trips to the toilet
That invoice the touching of a shared surface
Up to & including door handles & counter tops
As well as the touching of a person’s privates
If eye rolls fail to to enforce the policy we found
Enough money in the budget for hot gossip

a Business not only limited to eliminations
But also trips that require silent or loud crying
After loved ones have passed or came out
Supporting a bigot or his fan base or his wife
Trips just to collect yourself after a customer
And his face tattoo cuss you out for simply
Trying to answer his questions w/ sincerity
The kind of trips that take one to five minutes
Depending on a strange combination of diet
And position of the moon & stars you know
Trips that grandma would say are just for you
And Jesus to talk about in heaven those trips
That are sacred bc it’s five in the morning
And there’s no toilet paper but you manage

5 The committee recommends Happy Birthday
Bc it’s catchy & one day it might save a date
From escalating into a mistake & just bc sex
Sounds fun & exciting you know this isn’t fun
It’s a long drawn out meeting at work the kind
That’s required by law & relationships are work
But shouldn’t feel like work the way this does
So go back out there & order the cheesecake
And if when she kisses you it feels like work
Sing to yourself the only song you remember
Remember all those birthday parties skating
All those trips to church w/ grandma all those
Coworkers singing in a low deadpan as if she
Isn’t your girlfriend but instead just a safe friend

Jumpstart / Zac Kline

After the breakdown,
there’s another
breakdown worse,
than before.

Stop, Start, Stop, Start
say I’m sorry
I don’t want
to live

like this

When the feeling
inside takes over,
the whole great world,
it’s highways even,

its highway song
then, am I driving
toward or away
or am I just:

IMPORTANT: DO NOT attempt to jump start your vehicle          more than three consecutive times. If the vehicle will not start after three attempts, consult a service technician.

Stalled, like Achilles
slow bleeding,
waiting for the war to end,
the trail of blood

Will be my trial
and I’ll plead with the Gods
above, that I won’t let it
(this time) let it happen (this time)
it won’t feel so (this time) bad

 Recharge the unit as soon as possible after each use.

ever again.

Arrogance / Thomas Locicero

He asked how long the War of 1812 was,
And his rowdy booth all laughed themselves to tears,
Then I said, “More than two and one half years,”
And, thus, was an accomplice to his cause.
He broke into a know-it-all applause
And told the tender he’d buy all my beers.
He’d set the whole thing up, he said, because
Of arrogance, then smiled and whispered, “Cheers!”

Day 20 / Poem 20

Almost Nothing / Michael Dechane

It didn’t, couldn’t last, today
still two hours from sundown
something no one can say arrived
how it was and was not the light.
There came a breeze. It baptized
her face, my face, our wine.
It was almost nothing, what I can
best hope to approach the edge of
an unpronounceable, an unbearable
goodness. It lasted some minutes
inside this reek, this wracked
out of true day. Maybe I can say
this: think of the merest touch
you have known. The blush
and another degree of heat
when you hear a certain name.
The ragged, salted edge scenting
the air miles before you arrive
at the sea. The sound of one leaf
falling onto the floor of October.
Think of something you hardly dare
to want, to hope, desire. If you can,
notice the fingers of your mind,
how lightly they touch it
like a child petting stingrays
rippling by at the aquarium.
I can’t do this. No one can.
The surface of the eternal river
breaks. The unexpected ephemeral
glimpse, its coolness comes to us
and closes again its ordinary veil. 

The Orphan / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

My mother didn’t die, but left us when she stayed
until she could no longer

All the while we knew there were more important things
All the while we knew she had to listen to them not the crying not the tangled hair not
the pet scratch no
there were other things like a castle far away
All the time there were other distant deeper things
like umbrellas hanging over our dinner table, gyring

Now I know now that she was right
in gardens at night
like strange orchids in greenhouses with broken windows
they lie soft where there is silence
near brooks alone with stones
in a shine that dapples forests

The child in me that waited behind the door
now knows what it opened to
yet because I was the child behind that door I cannot go

You’ve gifted me the longing and the road
never in a person or a place
but always in a person and a place

I cannot hear you not even in your deepest silence or in dreams
I stand here allowing the wound to expand like an O in water
both a moan and a circular door

 I linger outside

Everything Changes Tomorrow at 4 / Jeff Hill

The industry 
The work 
Things that sound fake 
But aren’t 
The future 
The past 
Be present 
It all comes to this 
A meeting 
A contract 
A negotiation or two 
And then back 
Back to the start 
The words 
The page 
The work 
And the hope 
Of something new 
Something that matters 
As much as it does 
To them 
As it once did 
As it will again 
As it always will 
To you 

The Old North East Kmart Burning / RJ Ingram

We ordered stones for our rings from a jeweler
Who specializes in alternative & fair trade metals
From fire to fury our activism burned itself out 
Lighting bugs suffocate in a glass canning jar
We can lie & say we weren’t given a choice 
Drove our citizenship right past the Main Street
And into the arms of a queer small business 
Who forge wedding bands for gay couples 
Unsettled swifts are gonna have to relocate 
To a chimney kept in a clean painted lady 
Owned by a rockabilly power throuple w/ cash
To burn on hot real estate & vintage vespas
I nicked my jawline shaving w/ lavender lather 
As my blood spilled I thought I smelled smoke 

Letter to New York City arriving at 12:13 am, July 19, 2023 / Zac Kline

It’s not that I’m not not
excited to see you,
like a toddler running
to Mom and Dad, after
that very first day,
of pre-school screaming:
I had fun, I had so so so much fun
but I can’t wait to be home,
back with all my things,
and you.

It’s not,
that I’m not willing
to do my very best,
like you’ve brought me
McDonalds after the most
horrendous day,
of the 7th grade,
and I am sitting,
in your parked car engorging,
my fragile frame
with a Big Mac and a 9-piece McNuggets,
eating so many fries so very fast,
I might break a ribcage,
and between devouring
the anger I have at the world,
I am slowly coming
to the words of:
thank you, thank you.

We can skip high school
in its entirely
because all I did
was Dream Big
of being here,
the only Here,
no other here,
with you.

Four years plus two years,
studying Bleeker Street, Washington
Square Park, The Bowery Ballroom,
the way that 4th Avenue appears,
and then disappears suddenly,
was so much better
than any book, I took out
of the library for
a night away.

To return, the city lights,
from the New Jersey
Turnpike, looking at you,
feeling again, again and again,
the anticipation of that thick
envelope of acceptance,
sitting on the kitchen counter saying: 
You, Belong, Here.

An irregular time,
an irregular line
of cars to the Lincoln Tunnel,
how long have I been gone now?
A week or two, a month, I said,
it would never go this long,
I said, I would never not gush,
at that first feeling when
the skyline comes
into bright clear move screen view,

That I would always clamor
and ring my greatest bell
for you, the same boy who’s parents got
a street vendor hot dog, mustard, no relish
right outside FAO Schwarz,
and 5th Avenue sang
its only song to me,
and I didn’t even
need a toy.

It’s not that I’m not,
excited to see you,
but must admit,
I missed it.
That moment when your lights
said hello back to me,
or when I said my first hello.

Yes, my love, I’m as surprised as you.

Of Islands and Inlands / Thomas Locicero

An economist rightly predicted
that the rich would live along
the water and everyone else
would work for them. That is
not to say that the Inlands, as
the commoners were called,
could not own boats as the
Islands did. Some did, few,
relatively speaking, a small
percentage when compared
to the Islands, almost all of
whom owned boats but rarely
left their slips. The Inlands,
in contrast, were owned by
their boats, paying the Islands
for the privilege to dock and
purchase gasoline and even
bait. The Inlands who could not
afford boats but who could
pay for 12-packs were the ones
who made the boat-owning
Inlands feel rich. As they toast
the good life, one man raises
his bottle to his becoming an
Island while the other to his
one day being owned by a boat.

Day 19 / Poem 19

Excavation / Michael Dechane

What? Nothing
to say? How
is that possible
with the entire
world on fire?

What. I just want
to drink my wine
tonight. Forget
the flames
licking our doors.

What solace
do you deserve?
Those burning words
entrusted to you
roar — hear them now?

What I am 
afraid to hear 
is the empty well.
The way that means
more digging. Deeper.

What are you
hoping to find?
My magma seep.
Where is your mattock?
In each of my dreams.


Winter night / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

Cold brings nights with no insects
a lonely ghost moth, perhaps

one sits in the freezing
heart of night to try to listen

pulses are out, even yours almost

only this silence as if on top of a mountain

it’s the sweet knowing there is warmth and bed inside
that allows one to sit in the silence of this cold
blessed in this silence

unlike so many others for whom shelter
is a blur is a lie is a cardboard distant song
in this silence

Courage is proportional to available safety

A Single Syllable Death / Jeff Hill

Sam just went in for a raise 
But left when his boss yelled for the guards 
It was not rare 
For him to do things like that 
Come to think of it 
He had 
In fact 
Done this just last week 
To one of Sam’s friends 
But this is not her tale 
It is his 
And though he could use her help right now 
A phone call was out of the… 
A shot rang out 
As Sam jumped next to his desk 
And hid 
The boss did not want to wait for the guards 
And sure as hell did not feel the need to call the cops 
(For quite some time now) 
So it was up to him 
Or so he thought 
This time 
The shot whizzed right past Sam’s ear 
And he could feel the sweat pool 
At the base of his jaw 
Feel the drop fall off his chin 
And hear the sound it made 
When it hit the plastic sheet beneath him 
But it was not sweat at all 
It was blood 
Sam was hit 
The boss would want to have a team in 
As soon as he could get them to take care of what was left 
Of Sam 
After he was done with him 
Sam knew this from the last time 
The time the boss took out his friend 
The girl who could have been the one 
If she was not six feet under 
That is 
Click, click, click 
The boss shouts with rage 
He is out of shots 
Now is Sam’s chance 
But he has to act quick 
It has to be now 
As he had once seen on an old show 
From back in the day 
Sam jumps up 
And dives at the boss 
And just when his fist hits the arm… 
And a blur 
Then black 
The end 

Telling John Cameron Mitchell I Wrote a Love Sonnet About his Hair / RJ Ingram

Look I know we think we’re sorta clever damnit 
Having found where our parents hid their porn
But we’re less like Nancy Drew in this re-run
And more like Mystery Incorporated swooning 
Over an animated celebrity guest appearance 
Really what’s the chance of a double feature 
Triple threat even responding to a compliment
In the shape of yet another spiraling sonnet 
Don’t you see how it’s not really a complement
It’s more of a Valentine or at least we hope 
It comes across like that & not like dick pics
Which when unsolicited are kinda unappealing
So instead send this instead & think about
How we might actually get attention our way 

This is not another poem about laundry / Zac Kline

In the late morning,
after you’ve left

I finally go to sort
the bag of laundry

overstuffed from the trip,
and the trip before that

            You’re tired,

                        Teaching your 9:30 am class

                                    I’m tired,

                                                From everything about last night.

Sorting, surprised
only two whites.

All greys,
summer blues,

I won’t make
the mistake

of thinking
they won’t bleed again.

You were awake long
past when I went to bed.

I fell asleep saying:
            But do you want to talk about it?

And you said:

The bed is made, the coffee gone,
the oatmilk has run out of itself,

You will come home awake, alive
then, when will you be tired again?

The washing machine chimes
like Calliope

I hope I’m not asking
too much of her.

I remind myself nothing
of ours should go in the dryer.

Day 18 / Poem 18

Wonder Numb / Michael Dechane

We are skittering along
on jet fuel and physics
I don’t understand at all
over the lives we left
in a city with many names.
What a deafening kaleidoscope
of untellable stories we carry —
just these souls, on just this plane.
And any moment, 10,000 aircraft and
half a million humans suspended
in the roaring miracle of flight.
From my back row poet’s seat
I see almost every head is bowed
and listening to their device.
Things get bumpy. Enough
to pay attention. Bodies jostle
in synch on invisible currents.
No one looks up. We scream on.

Snail Sleep report / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

Snails are also called gastropods, and are mollusks that belong to the class Gastropoda. Snails and slugs belong to the gastropod family. This family makes up around 80 percent of all mollusks. Gastropods live throughout the world. They live in equatorial regions. You can even find them in the Arctic and the Antarctic regions and in

secret silent curves of tender leaves
dawn-green; their babies hang in convoluted sleep
their icicle eyes tucked in.

Instead of a 24-hour daily cycle, a snail’s sleep cycle can last up to three days. In a 13 to 15-hour period, snails sleep in around seven bouts. Then follows 30 hours of activity in which

they wind and wound their ways
in waves of slime like lit trails
lining the edges of dreams
to signal the night has been theirs

Aside from their regular sleeping cycles, snails also go into deep sleep. It has now been proven that snails also hibernate. They do this in order to avoid adverse weather conditions. This is also done when food is scarce as

when we chop and cut and raze
to feel we are in control and the grass
cries in molecules of a smell
we find agreeable.
Snails mourn in frail
caskets of skin,

snails go into hibernation or estivation; they seal themselves safely inside their shells. They use a layer of mucus that forms a hard cover over the opening. This will keep them safe from predators during their prolonged sleep. This seal can also protect them from small insects like ants, which can harm them when they are defenseless and so

they hang like rounded stars in family
constellations spread out under
salvias or inside pooled water
plants who will not tell

their bodies are soft and have a viscous texture. They often have dark colors with gray or light spots. Although snails and slugs lack legs, they can move because of their muscular ventral foot. The said foot has a wave-shaped movement. This movement is a product of muscular contractions that make them glide

like boats in the night when you dream
of the sea and they are free
to traverse paths of shine, signaling
domains of dented borders
with their tiny

ribbon-like tongue. This tongue is the radula, and it contains
thousands of teeth.
You just can’t see them because they are
microscopic in size

but fierce on innocent plants and your sleep
you cannot hear the
emperors of rainforest beds of flowers
leaving traces on the gardens of your mind.

 Acknowledgement to:

Moveout Walkthrough / Jeff Hill

Why he keeps insisting 
That I be present for this walkthrough 
Of the apartment is beyond me 
The lawyer suggested I show up 
Make small talk 
Pretty much just follow his lead 
My wife and son think it wise 
Just do what the lawyer says 
But after four years of aggressive tones 
Wild accusations 
And outright threats 
I just want him out 
And to be done with the whole ordeal 

He claims my property manager dropped the ball on numerous occasions 
I get that 
That’s why I offered to settle out of court for one month’s rent 
He claims my lawyer was being obtuse and purposely not giving him answers he wanted 
I get that 
That’s why I let him more than double the amount of the original proposed settlement 
He claims my family and business and reputation are at an all-time low 
And I am essentially a living 
Piece of human garbage 
I get that 
That’s why I fired the property manager 
Delivered a signed apology 
And offered to do this walkthrough 
So he can have the moral high ground 
And tell me off in person 
One last time 

But now he’s professional 
And conversational 
In this small- and quite-obviously-illegally-rented-to-him dwelling
But also genuinely nice 
He’s telling me about his plans after moving 
He’s telling me he’s sorry this all went down this way 
He’s offering to shake my hand 
And part as equals 
As professionals 
As friends even 
It’s almost as if he genuinely thinks it’s over 
Like he’s won something big 
Something important even 

As he gets into his car 
I can’t help but ask him why he thinks it went this far 
He asks in return 
And I nod 
And the lawyer walks away 
With the interim property manager 
Leaving us both alone 
“You’re just a shitty person.” 

Thirst Trap With John Cameron Mitchell’s Haircut  / RJ Ingram

Call it a river that splits town down the middle
An imaginary county line pushes the dry side
Away from the schoolyards & cold cemeteries
A chainlink fence we hop to capture the flag 
We use the word scar to illustrate the body 
When really we mean it’s a zipper that’s stuck
All the way at the top of my face & forehead 
At the hairline & one day I said just keep going
I laid my my pieces down on the chessboard 
And set up a game for myself & my evil twin
And he’s quick to remind me I’m still playing 
Fillip a coin he’ll say knowing we’ll both call
Faces bc when the stylist talked up concealer
I decided to accentuate the scar & reveal her

The Fan / Zac Kline

Waiting for / the moment
to arrive / This time / it will be
better than / the last time before /
this time He / will call out my last
request song of the night / a life
in cue sheets is / some—
times the only thing that /
get us both / through the rougher night.

His song is my song / and
for that I am / so very /
delighted and / indebted and / when I do
finally say goodnight when / I’ve stared at you /

as very much / as I can,
what am I then?

I am only a green potato baked,
for your perfection

I am only longing,
if you one day may answer. 

Passing the Torch / Thomas Locicero

He dreamt of an angry face on fire,
closing in on him. Just a torched face,
impervious to the water he doused
it with at every hip pivot, which
slowed his sprint, permitting it
to gain on him. It spewed livid
rhetoric and demanded he assent.
He was too winded to speak, to say
he had no opinion on the matter,
terrified to overtly disagree with it.
It began to smolder. Now it was
smoke and, though it had no lungs,
it choked on itself. It coughed out
ash, which clung to the sweat of his
skin, and then it was gone altogether.
But the ash penetrated his pores and
liquefied into his bloodstream. One
day, his child heard him say what
he had heard his father say and yet
another generation believed in an
intolerant, aloof American god.


October / Athira Unni

the last silverback leads me to
a patch of boiling water.
secret moths fatally
burn their wings.

I watch horror movies,
overdose on the elemental.

do you search under the bed
of your nasty mind? do it.

find the poised and sober tribal
waiting with a spear behind you.

sense the old flying deity
in the house, the ghost of fungi.

fear lives in our deepest forests.
there is no map. carry love. 

Day 17 / Poem 17

Latest Request / Michael Dechane

We move through space as moments die …
— Ama Codjoe

Let me be the deathbed
of our life together. 
Its familiar place to lie down
after our first burning chapter
before what may come next.
A haven within we tend for many years.
Where we disorder with love.
Claymate, turn down with me

those comforts that speak too easily.
Remember Eavan’s proving darkness.
Somewhere ahead is a threshold.
Inside the heart inside the heart
of where we live, of how we live
hold me in the flames of your arms.

When you go into Day / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

When you go into Day and it is cold water
let liquid light lap your face-shore
opal, primordial, like first yellows

 stretch the lines of what you believe is you
before Day takes over

 as in amber
your morning golden
will shine of suns gone and returning
you will reflect the shine as if trapped
but curving, in the grace of light

A Story / Jeff Hill

I always tell my students 
Never to confess to anything in writing 
But we have already established 
That I don’t often practice what I preach 
So here we go 

A high school student once threatened to rape and dismember a colleague of mine 
In his personal narrative 
When the colleague’s husband got wind of this horrific story 
He marched to the school 
And demanded that the principal act 
He tried but failed 
This student was promptly booted from my colleague’s class 
And immediately re-labeled as a student in need of special education services 
His IEP (individualized education plan) was short and cryptic 
He was to have no contact with adult females 
While remaining a student in the public school portion of his life 
Now, this accomplished a few things 
None of which were the intended outcome 
He would now be the responsibility of our district 
And building 
Until the age of 21 
Rather than 18 
Which made him an obstacle for an additional three years 
His choices for classes was significantly reduced 
Due to the fact that the faculty was roughly 70% female 
And possibly most importantly 
It taught him that he had won 
And could always get whatever he wanted 
As long as he remembered to make the adults in the room as uncomfortable as possible 

It was my birthday 
America’s birthday 
When we had taken a long weekend 
During the middle of the second of three summer school sessions 
When I first lied to the police about a student 
When they arrived at my doorstep 
I was heading out to watch the fireworks on the pier 
We were smart and remembered to buy tickets ahead of time this year 
And two brutes cop knocked as hard as they could 
And asked me about the kid in my remedial composition class 
Basic questions at first 
How long have you known him? 
What is he like in class? 
Do you know about the system’s failure in terms of his education? 
So I took a chance 
Only slightly buzzed from the day’s drinks and celebrations 
And gave them what they needed 
What I wanted 
And what the world was too polite to ask for 
A story 
One about a rape 
One about a fight 
And one about a shit-ton of drugs 
The only problem was that it was just that…  
A story. 

But it worked 
And he was arrested 
And tried 
And locked up 
So when the students went back in the fall 
And the colleagues saw that he wasn’t on their roster 
And the principal looked me in the eye in the parking lot 
We both exchanged knowing eyes 
Understanding that what was done was done 
The school was safe 
The world was a better place 
And justice was done 

Thirst Trap Drafting Sam the Eagle / RJ Ingram

Look we both know your retirement’s in danger
Any minute now a little green frog will roll along
To recruit you in an effort to get the band back 
Together or perhaps a significantly minor role
In a reproduction of a major theatrical classic 
Or perhaps you don’t want to work & instead 
Enjoy afternoons flipping through paperback
Mystery novels w/ a Tom Hanks type solving
Riddles while eating sheet cake w/ your hands
But hear me out & how about a little goodwill
A series of commercials done in collaboration 
With indigenous leaders encouraging folks
To call the tribes to handle found dead eagles
A loving act of which even you can be proud

The Wake / Zac Kline

                        after Rilke

             For now, and forever, this is our rainy patch of sand,
            with the little lighthouse, with its stupid name.
            and the wayward rocks on which our then friends,
            dove: for now and forever busting their spines,
            in the ruined wake, while we lay on the shore,
            among the sandcrabs, dying, or diving back below.

Gilgo Beach / Thomas Locicero

Far lovelier in wintertime,
Though visitors will never know
Our paradise that knows no crime,
Which bathes in golden subtleties
And never leaves you once you’ve been
In snowy sand or sandy snow,
Once you’ve felt winter on your skin.
Then something drove the devil in.
The first of many bodies found
Alarmed us of a monster’s sin.
Sought pleasure leaves us ill at ease.
We’ve joined the world’s societies,
Our paradise a dumping ground.



Libraries I Have Known and Loved / Athira Unni

The library at my school 
opened its windows to the sea. 
In the distance, the waters, 
the currents bearing my father 
beat against the sands 
while I yearned to bite into 
the pickled lime suspended 
inside round-bottomed bottles
at the reticent beach. 
The library at college was the site
for blind book dates, events
for St. Patrick’s Day featuring
Joyce and his legion. Naughty
earphones suddenly detaching 
from devices dared disturb
that universe. 
The central library in my hometown
is always changing skins, 
an artwork here, a digital kiosk there. 
This library is different. 
Mostly surrounded by old readers, 
their experience testing the books, 
I sit in a corner surreptitiously 
watching the daily non-work
unfold in the public shelves:
the books whispering gossip
and shuddering when picked up. 
I have not known such shame
as when I sneezed and colonial debris
poured from the top shelf 
of the History section on my left. 

Day 16 / Poem 16

Exhortation / Michael Dechane

I believe I need to stop
thinking my life alone,
what appears to happen to me,
its raw datum, is enough
to make a decent poem.
And the words, forgive me
my unbelief, aren’t out this mouth
and I want to tell you something
that happened to me today.
Canal Street station, waiting
for the Uptown Local 6.
Hot, and getting hotter. 
July evicting its own days
like rent-delinquent tenants
or a parent out of patience
with a couple kids left in the nest.
And I saw myself
in a window of the downtown car
coiled across the tracks
and taking on passengers.
My face was blurred and gleaming
in the grime, my shirt, a white flag
raised against more bad news today.
The train began to move. I couldn’t.
I saw in each passing car, a window
fast, then faster flashing
this unfair glimpse of me
like days with empty pockets,
the exhausted blink of a month,
my years like smoking Cavafy candles
until I disappeared. Squeals receding
in the dark. I recant part of the way 
to tell you this half-true thing that is
doubly real, if you will bear it
with me — we must do it now

Airport demonstration / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

At his departure, demonstrators hammered drums
and said they were musicalizing salary raises
but I knew better

It was you they’d come to say goodbye to
as you left home for the whole world opening out in an aerobridge

Their flags read as they waved them “He’s leaving home”
and “Once he sees the world he’ll never return”; one even
said what we’d never: “How can he leave them?”

On they drummed and choired, so kind of them it made me cry

The demonstration came out in the news, and I feared
he’d read the protest signs, no clear words from a distance though.
Only blurred letters, as if it rained inside the terminal

Of course he didn’t; these things never come out in the news
of developed countries.

Immunity / Jeff Hill

Ever since elementary school 
Kids have always called me “Sick Boy” 
At first 
It was because I was different 
I had what the history books referred to as “allergies” 
Which made my eyes puffy 
And my nose leak 
And sometimes it was hard to stop coughing 
Gardens were off-limits 
Recess was to be inside 
And whenever the seasons changed 
I was to wash my hands 
Every fifteen minutes 
And shower six times a day 
To keep well 
This led to skin rashes 
In one case 

For a while 
Kids started calling me “Hospital Kid” 
That one went away 
Because it was a positive story 
Only celebrities went to hospitals 
Only people who had it all ever got sick 
And I was elevated to the status of drug addict 
Before I entered middle school 
When I got better 
Kids left me alone 
And I was normal again 
Until I got sick again 

“Sick Boy” was back in full force 
which made me sad 
They didn’t understand 
Why anyone would be sad 
Especially when I was already getting all of the attention 
That they suddenly felt they deserved 
I was no longer a freak 
I was no longer a joke 
I was hated 
I was feared 

“What else is wrong with him?” 
I heard them whisper
As I walked to gym class
Which I wasn’t allowed to participate in 
On days where my allergies were acting up 
Or if I had been seen crying earlier in the morning 
Little did they know 
There was more to my sickness 
Much more 

You see 
They were right 
I was different 
I felt things that they didn’t feel 
Which meant I understood 
Things that they couldn’t grasp 
And that’s why 
When I entered high school 
I knew I could get away with anything 
Even murder 

from Listening to Pet Sounds after work / RJ Ingram


To cure our cold loneliness we rescued a skunk 
Whose energetic eyes pierced through the sad
Wanton efforts that lingered past adolescence 
She foraged for blackberries under the bed
And sat through melodramas of daytime TV
At night she scurried on the kitchen linoleum 
Even though her claws were neatly trimmed
They marked the surface w/ wonderful shapes
First there was her being held in a hospital 
Surrounded by all the beasts of the forest
Then there was a solemn still life of her bottle 
Propped against a window overlooking a field
Finally there was a family portrait that outlined 
Her struggle to find her orphaned siblings 


The nut could not would not should not dream
That life beyond the forest was anything less
Than one adventure after another & sure slow
Days must exist for some like when the mind
Of beavers know when it’s time to build dams 
But oh how the nut wanted to see commuters
Ride the bus to work & dancers dance in clubs
Folks run around just to wait in line & some 
Drive great distances just to turn around again 
The nut said life beyond the forest never slept
While the life of the familiar refused to wake 
And the sounds her brothers & sisters made
Began to drive her restless the low humming
On the forest floor the creaks’ eternal echo


At first the songs were quite familiar a classic
Romp about boys & girls running from death
The way swans & bats take off & defy gravity 
But even now as the lights go up in the bar
It reads as a funeral march for those still living 
Towels get wrung & shoved into a little sack
Guests cash out & wander the streets a bit lost
Aimless seems our drive to escape the animal
In each of us lives both a beast & humanity
Gripping for control one supersedes the other
Only in brief moments do we let them coexist 
The dance floor swept of cups & loose debris 
And the trash collected & taken out back 
A line of ants marches on its inevitable mission 

Wards Island / Zac Kline

As the floodgates open up,
we look around and say:
This Isn’t Hell,
it’s fire we don’t deserve.
Medication and Meditation
Laps in a Bone Chiller
can only help,
a more willing mind.

Summer knows nothing
of winter frost, if it did
we might,
just be able
to get some help
from the 
screaming nights
this time. 

In Times of Fear, We Are Quiet / Thomas Locicero

Perhaps, if we kept silent,
we would have less to fear.
Maybe it is our noise
that attracts that which we fear.
The bragging…about how our teeth
are perfect, how our children
never get sick, how we’ve never
been in a wreck, how no one in our
family has ever gotten cancer. Noise.
The wise men spoke about the birth
of a child who would be king. This
troubled the man who was king.
His fear led to a decree: All
the children of Bethlehem
two years old and younger would
be slain. All that blood for noise.
All the sackcloth and ashes worn
simply because wise men spoke.
If only they had heeded the proverb,
A wise man holds his tongue. Only
a fool blurts out everything he knows;
that only leads to sorrow and trouble.
Sound so easily traveled across the
plains that Navajo infants were taught
not to cry so as not to attract hostiles.
Less noise, less to fear. Seems wise.
There are noises that we carry in
our heads. We call them thoughts,
and they can keep us up at night,
fearing. Sometimes, they cause us
to dream dreams of fear. Sometimes,
they cause us to pray, to say,
“Father, if you are willing, remove
this fear from me” when we should
be asking for the noise to be removed.
There is a reason we should let
sleeping dogs and giants lie:
because the fear that startled them
awake will visit us in our sleep.

Unmooring  / Athira Unni

A poet’s job is to unmoor you
From time. In a chariot of light
Fly you to the shadows of life 
Where all is the same for both. 
Thanks to history, it’s jokes
And bouts of irony, this is easy. 
Camouflage. Khadi. Red dupatta.
Garments hiding our sameness.
Time etched on paper is boring
Unlike salty myths, cruel truths.
How else does my brown fingers
Find a secret thrill in Milton’s Eve
In Granny Nanny and in Sita:
Women with death on their lashes.
I never knew a greater sin than to read. 
To revel, reap, rise, retire and reveal
Faces of death. Unmasked at last. 
Rigor Mortis sets in sooner than
You think. Drool sticks to the pillow.
A poet’s job is to unmoor you. 

Day 15 / Poem 15

Another Unmarked Anniversary / Michael Dechane

Of all the things to see
in this world, this bar
in Tribeca, in the muggy grips
of July, I spy something green.
A very particular green.
It is a forlorn bottle of Midori
in bottom-shelf accent lighting.
The first, the last, the only
occasion I drank Midori was July, 
1996. Tonight could even be 
the yet unmarked anniversary
of that emerald evening.
Myrtle Beach. High school
buddies, just beyond graduation.
We were an iced bed of raw
oysters. We were the way
we laughed. We were mighty
and idiotic, amplifying together. 
And yes, we were very drunk
from guzzling melon liqueur. 
Worlds more sober tonight, 
I wonder if more and more 
of life from here will be like this.
Us finding unexpected reminders 
about the things we chose
and things that chose us
tucked into crannies, like notes
our former selves seeded 
the wide world with, waiting
in the dust, the burning light.

Distance games / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

There is this fizzing soda
joy as you are playing cards so close
I can almost breath your green pepper
baby nape daughter smell

The younger, your occasional lover and I
smile when you make fun of me
or taunt everyone in the card game

Something grins in me at how this place is with you

And yet the husband stands alone upstairs in his
room of not being wanted, perhaps part of the game
love plays with absence

The girls win as it seems we do a lot of late
widening smiles and complicities and the bonding
feels like a rope across this such a wide ocean you will cross


I will tend the other child, the husband, the plants
and wonder at how water can become so wide
staring at this blue thin hose
thinking of distance games
a knot in my throat holding all the ropes

Shari / Jeff Hill

So I’m at this ridiculous party 
When the unavoidable happens 
Shari spots me 
“Oh my god!  Tom!  How are you?” 
Before I can formulate an answer to such a fake question 
She blurts out 
“Oh, shit!  I just spilled!” 
And again 
Before I can say another word 
Or make a graceful exit 
Shari takes center stage 
“Look, everybody!  Tom’s here!” 
No one looks 
No one cares 
“So, Tom,” 
She leans in close 
“You know, my husband is out of town and my father is God knows where…” 
“That’s nice.” 
The drinks come in 
Liquid courage for some 
A one-way ticket to rehab for others 
What the hell 
I grab one 
Down it 
Grab another 
“So you’re working on a new book?” 
“Yeah.  About, well, the incident last month.  What about you? 
“What are you up to these days, Shari?” 
I pretend to care 
She starts, but trails off 
I can literally see the life leave her eyes when a younger woman walks in through the front door 
“Not much.  Just…  Trying to keep busy.” 
“Oh, Tom.  Such a sad, quiet man…” 
In another life 
I think to myself 
We’d work 
But we live the lives we are dealt 
So I move on 
And as I leave the party 
I hear Shari scream 
At our daughter 
For sneaking a beer while her we were talking 

from Listening to Pet Sounds after work / RJ


What started as a small paddling of ducks
Flicking cigarette butts into the briny shallows
Has escalated into an old fashion mosh pit
Where they stripped down to their boxer briefs
You see the tattoos drawn on their skinny legs
Half of them w/out bras the other half are men 
They all have part time jobs running errands
For the lameass geese who come from money 
You think aloud you could’ve been a rockstar
Except that your parents loved you plenty 
They taught you how to swim & build a life
Out of reeds & sticks & grubs from the marsh
The band is about done w/ their rehearsed set
And what comes next will remain a mystery 


Your mother made the dog a shark costume
When she really wanted to make one for a kid
In exchange for a large coffee cup collection
Marked World’s Greatest Grandma so instead
She spoils the hell out of a neurotic doodle
Who pees the bed when your work takes you
To The World’s Worst Wedding Reception 
I’m talking about a serial killer themed party
Machetes & zip ties in the guest’s gift baskets
A cake cut w/ a box cutter that slit throats
Everyone wears a mask from a different victim 
Everyone wears a mask from a different victim
Your mother picks up the phone & asks to talk
About hypnotizing the dog after the wedding 


The problem is who has the time for an affair? 
The book of big magic wants me to weaponize
Free time w/ seduction to wine & dine myself
Like a fuckboi who skims a little black book
On a lunch break looking for a little after work
Snack & what the fellows in the balcony forget
Is I’ve never compromised on treating myself
There’s never been an hour spilled on the floor 
Or a missed opportunity to spoil RJ Equality
It makes more sense to unplug my hands 
From the frigid monitor & bury my feet in sand
Or to walk through the deepest forest & find
The darkest cave & dig up stones sky black
And heavy & stack them in tall piles 14 high 


The rabbit on the other side of the door looks 
Worse than a warren from where he wandered
Elbows pinned to the floor palms opened & out
Prays to the doorframe for a second quarter 
To rub together & sparks conversation in arias
You who cross your legs at the ankle me who
Dives into the deep-end w/ my clothes still on
And the heavenly host in beehive wigs & tiaras 
There’s a word for what we have now it rhymes 
Only w/ itself & another silent word of praise 
Let’s say it’s my last name & I open the door
Only to let the spirit of the night in & take care
Not to say anything that might awaken rage
The shape of thorns wrapped around crowns

For Parker, on her 13th Birthday / Zac Kline

She reminds me, she used to say:
more pink, less green
because that was how she drew flowers.  
I tell her, I am not one of those people
who get mad when children get older,
because it means, we can talk more,
about the real life shining down
on her. Tomorrow the birthday flowers
on her windowsill will thrive,
the day after too. One day soon,
she’ll find out they will too
become yesterday’s trash, but not without
noticing first the way, the petals fall all the way down to the ground. 

On Submitting / Thomas Locicero

I coddled many-a-word,
Kept images tethered
To my doubt,
Held them bound and casketed,
Hostage corpses weathered
In a stout
Clouded vase,
Each a prosthetic leg in 
A pair of pleated pants.
At last, I 
Am willing to wander in 
The chambers of chance.

Anthropocene  / Athira Unni


How early do you pack
when you travel?
Before moving, do you take
all of you
and arrange parts neatly
in suitcases?
Or do you lock yourself up
in the room to think
before packing your journals?


The sibling of poetry is absence.
Before it is born, there occurs
a fear; an ochre-tinged jealousy—
is it going to be better than the place
you leave? will your poetry survive?


It is said that men have made such changes
to the world that going back is impossible.
Irreversible. Think of that.


Before moving, do you say goodbye
to the place? Do you move on like an eel
swiftly, slyly, or do you take your time
with your shell, finally removing it
and letting your face show?

Day 14 / Poem 14

Upbringing / Michael Dechane

How I come up
we might say
where I am from
which now I love
for insisting on a present
tense inside what we remember
about the dimming past,
almost as if it still is
happening, our “early training.”
Come is becoming
before my eyes
a disobedience we love
having grown up enough
to put off our first grammars.
None of this is what I want 
to say about what it meant
to be so small 
when we learned
what we learned.
Jesus is furious.
He’s raging
at the door
of his dear friend
newly dead. He bellows
Come out!
And rotting Lazarus does.
And I am supposed to 
believe something
about grief-love-power
in this resurrection
lesson from my childhood.
Out of the depths
it raises up once more,
that dirty, beautiful
verb that won’t go back
to sleep. No, come
commands and cajoles.
It remembers
where we are
from is where we are
still carrying everything
we were given 
and not given —
all we can’t 
cast off so easily
as burial clothes.
A word that knows.
How we all come up.
A syllable in our deep.
How we all come out.
I believe in this 
late, kind upbringing of all.

evening / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

cirrus clouds like claws try to break into this other
side of the blue cloth of sky

a white heron lands like paper
in folds

leaves murmur tremble sway
form eyes hands faces

preening reigns in dark green until
silence obeys the night


Just Like Her / Jeff Hill

My parents grounded me the other day 
And I’m still a little bitter about it 
No video games 
No TV 
No Netflix 
No comic books 
No going to Denny’s house after school 
No basketball practice 

“Just like her” 
I’d said after my sentencing 
Before even my father 
That my mother would be extending the punishment 
Into the weekend now 

“And no party Saturday night” 
She’d said 
Glaring in my father’s direction 
As if my actions were in some way his fault 

Just like her 
I’d thought 
After heading to my now fun-free room 
Collecting my cell phone from my nightstand 
And handing all the various cords 
And boxes 
Of everything I loved 
To the mom who refuses 
To talk about things that make her uncomfortable 

Sometimes it’s a late-night phone call 
That results in a fight between my parents 
Other times it’s a letter 
That sends my mother to her room 
Now separate from my father’s 
For “scheduling purposes” 
For days at a time 
Most recently 
A bill for a collection agency 
That my father will hide from my mother 
As he “stays late” at the office 
And returns home in a taxi 
Smelling like booze and a night full of regret 

“Just like her” 
I say aloud 
To no one in particular 
Just like my sister 
The one they scared off 
Like they will each other 
Like they will me 
Like they did her 

from Listening to Pet Sounds after work / RJ Ingram


Did you just call me a Karen? Watch it you 
Better go get your manager bc I’m not happy
And haven’t been since I retired from teaching
Cursive & now it seems like no one knows how
To knock before entering since everywhere
Seems to be as good a place as any to park it
To wonder about the mind of our dear cashier
Who woke up today already kinda bummed 
About an email she had to send before bed
To a potential new employer & the note said
Even though & thanks for the great opportunity 
Of course I understand we do what we can
Can we maybe keep the door open a smidge 
I’ve gotta stock up enough nuts for the winter


Which brings us to our dear sweet heroine
The buckeye maple nut who can’t decide what
She wants to be when she’s done being a tree
But we’ve narrowed it down to these three
Paper used in a book that sits on a tall shelf
Overlooking a warm yet foreign seaside 
Or her wood made into a frame laced w/ string
A ukulele sent to space for experimental music
Or mulched into a million pieces then a million
More to be used to cover seeds in a nursery 
That grows into a park where people sit & talk
About how funny the clouds look today like
One minute we’re grasping onto images from
Childhood & the next they shift darker still


They’re outlawing gender performance here
Which is excruciating gymnastics to watch
Considering it means admitting that gender
Is a performance which means now the suits
Politick about in the bathroom giving each 
Performance an evaluation & still they have
No idea which bathrooms are for drag queens
Which is alright for now bc they won’t untuck
Until after the second show after the number
Where they sing Happy Birthday, Mr President
To a country boy dressed in Banana Republic
Shorts & sunglasses he hasn’t needed all year
Before the evening is through the host will 
Use her tips to buy quarters for the jukebox 

The Red Top Market / Zac Kline

The highway is plaintive, just not like a song.
I am dying, as slowly as tomatoes on a vine,
This morning I told my therapist over-and-over:
            I am a rational person.
She questioned how many stops I make on the way
to the final house on the drive.
I can forgive myself,
for having a coffee this late in the day,
even though
I have said to myself:
            I don’t have to stay up all night.
I’ll ravish myself
by the high-water mark and
I’ll only eat cold things
so the house stays cool
I’ll play the radio, that is all.

I’ll enter, as I believe I’d like to exit.

When I earth these annuals
I purchased
at the Red Top Market
with the courage
to of planting  
what I may never see. 

Anonymous / Thomas Locicero

When it is clear to the woman
That she is the widow-to-be,
There is a change to her posture.
Somehow, she becomes statelier
Or, at least, gives the appearance
That the revelation of death
Has pinched out of her a noble
Gene. She is sure to cross her legs
For a more pious perception.
For some reason that eludes me,
She, and not her dying husband,
Is the center of attention.
No one says his name; he is “he.”
His eyes look wild in their sockets
As he recognizes the flesh
He’s lost but not his reflection.
How is it possible, he asks,
To put weight on flesh-colored bones?
“Anonymous” has been taking
Care of the bills for the woman.
Trays of lasagna are for her.
All that bread pudding is for her.
Sympathy never seeks him out,
Although she breathes it in like air;
She is encouraged to take more.
You’ll need your strength, she is advised.
We are puppets in her mourning.
Her eyes are less vacant when asked
“The question that needs to be asked”:
Is the life insurance enough?
Before the incidental pain,
Before the curious weight loss,
Before deciding to get checked,
He was sure of his love story
And she was always at his side.
Now all he does is wait: for her,
For God to take away his pain,
For a crumb of toast to stay down.
He mostly waits for who she was
When they first met, when they married.
He hears her say the word “hospice,”
And he realizes he’s dying.
No, this is not a shock to him.
No, he has not been blindsided.
His surprise is his aloneness,
That this journey is now solo,
Without the woman that he loves.
Instead, this decent and upright
Stranger prepares to bury him.
The name of this love eludes him.
It’s as interesting as pain.
He remembers only one thing:
He will take a secret with him.
One: the name of “Anonymous.”
And nothing matters anymore.

Clay Butterfly  / Athira Unni

In my secret boroughs and multiple borrowed skins,

I have hidden sutures and crevices through which
my delicious love for you drips, sets, breathes, flies. 
Devotion to a flower is fatal. Yet, I persist and resist
the winging of my wings, match my colours to love’s flamboyance. Self to lover. Original alchemy.
I become but an image of your making. I go from
a being of solitude to an open wound of joy. I am 
but a mere moongazer, withering in your shine. 

Day 13 / Poem 13

Before We Go / Michael Dechane

We are leaving tomorrow, 
and planning an exuberant
kiss-wet welcome home
to each other on Sunday.

You’ll be in Tulsa
with your mother.
I’ll be in NYC
with the poets.

Just a few days gone.
I’m grateful we are 
rehearsing our little leaving.
How good to eat grief
in such small bites. 

What I mean is not rational
but there is still so much 
that might happen.
Faulty planes. Veering trucks.

What I mean is your love saves me
from life that’s too small.
Without end, you give
what’s good in me more
to say. When you walk in
your spirit enlivens us all.

What I mean is you deserve 
my best words. Those that resist
brocade, instead, insist
on plain ways of standing.
Thank you. I love you.
I am so proud of who you are. 

rain-reading / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

words fall, not rain

fooled by a transparency of lines
we do not read their traces confused in mud
in scattered in soaking creating
ponds here and there like poems when sounds
are joined by quiet trickling into
reflections (where they seem to say)
wet trees

only birds read

we tend to wear raincoats, protect our
selves with red umbrellas
undrenched, unsoaked. dry.

Are there more alive people or dead people in the world today / Jeff Hill

Is there any way to truly every know for sure? 
If I could travel through time and get the answer, would I waste it on this? 
Or would I do something more historically important? 
Would I find out the cure to cancer and take it to the past? 
Would I kill baby Hitler before he could start the Holocaust? 
Would I prevent the tragedy of 9/11? 
Or would I simply tell younger me that she isn’t worth it? 
I think a lot of people have lived before me. 
And I think a lot of people will live after me. 
But whether or not there are more here, alive, 
Or more here, not alive, 
Isn’t really all that important in the grand scheme of things. 
I have my guesses. 
I have my ideas. 
But in the end, 
I’ve got more important things to consider. 
And so do you. 
Because we are currently alive in the world today, 
And we won’t be forever, 
And we owe it to ourselves to spend our energy better. 
Because when we are eventually dead in the world tomorrow, 
And we will be soon, 
And we owe it to our descendants to spend our time better. 

Listening to Pet Sounds after work  / RJ Ingram


I’ve never met a turtle who wasn’t on a mission 
Or a frog who couldn’t ride it’s tricycle to work
Even on the hot days or even on the rainy days
Pets these days are shaking suggestion boxes
Like finally onto something when they find pills
Tucked into cheese but not buried in the litter
The Pomeranian called the office again looking 
For the good treats like she think she’s sneaky
Forget *69 we recognize her wheezy barking 
The rhythm of a better than average belly rub 
But she’s right you’ve been holding out on her
Sneaking over to the park fountain past dusk 
Sure I get it a man needs a place to be himself
Where it’s completely free to feed the ducks 


Living in Portland means living next to Mystery
Incorporate bc everyone is either living in a van
Or a greedy landlord trying to spook neighbors 
Every friend circle has Fred who hosts parties 
At a stepdad’s brownstone hangin’ from a hill
Daphne plugs in karaoke & Velma deep dives 
Into the history of Kabuki Theatre & face paint
Plus Shaggy’s on Grindr cruising for Scoobys
The monster shakes the bushes but everyone’s
A little high from cookies Fred’s mom left out
A little drunk from the home brewed kombucha 
So we don’t notice when shadows slink around
Just when we have to decide between party &
Paycheck fireworks scare the dog to pieces 


The surprise was at wedding there was a dog
Who didn’t want to be there didn’t want to be
There didn’t want to be there didn’t want to be 
A dog who didn’t want to be a dog who didn’t 
Want to be a dog who didn’t want to be a dog
To be a dog who didn’t want to be a surprise
Who didn’t want to be surprised at a wedding
But who wants to be surprised at a wedding? 
Everyone was made to feel sorry for the bride
Meanwhile I’ve got Jacque here swimming in
A child’s diaper leaking w/ cheap champagne 
Poor Jacque doesn’t even know what he did
Sure it’s one day you’re the pick of the pack 
The next day you’re just somebody’s problem 


It’s been 14 years & my cat finally watches TV
Which is great since windows were wrapped 
Around the same time as Cleopatra & get this
Since Brenda can’t watch birds in the window
She can watch them on our large flatscreen 
Instead of the news she gets squirrels stealing
Seed from someone else’s feeders & instead
Of reality gameshows there are birds on a wire
When it snows it really blows but woodpeckers 
Drill & give our old lady new reasons to pounce 
Now she gets excited by nothing over & over
It’s like us teaching our folks how to FaceTime 
Which stopped as second childhood entered
Through same door both our grandfathers left

True Love  / Zac Kline

On a day this hot,
I want to be forgiven,  

Then forgive you,
for all the mean things 
I will say
Go on,
Say Your Very Worst

Go on,
Say It Again

How I lied
How you lied

We were only doing
what every else does

When they are
in their first true love

We like to believe
we are more than the thermostat reads

And that a relationship
is more than its seasons

You said to me,
you got married in spring

and divorced
in winter

And I say I will love you
all summer long. 

How to Enter the Ocean / Thomas Locicero

I entered the ocean like it was my
Front door. I paddled invisible surfboards,
Timed the waves just right, and taxied to shore.

Once, after a hurricane, a small band
Of surfer groupies gathered by the shoreline
And deserted the wetsuited would-be Christs

To watch Chris and me, shirtless and freezing,
Bodysurf tunnels of irritated swells.
In the height of such waves, gravity was shackled.

We were floating between two worlds.
The drop was a blackhole. Our arms were wings.
One wave propelled me chest first past the seashells.

I turned to see the groupies converge on Chris.
His epileptic body was underneath
The whitewater. He was on his back, choking.

I rushed to him. The water had subsided
And revealed his nakedness; a certain appendage
Bobbed from side to side with each gurgling cough.

The groupies laughed as fitfully. So did I.
Chris slowly stood to his feet like a drunk
Regaining his wits and staggered into

The open mouth of regurgitation.
This was how the ignorant learned respect.
My turn to learn was when I jumped off a boat

And landed on something far larger than I.
To this day, I do not recall racing back
To the boat or climbing up its ladder.

My memory is this: slipping off something
Swimming and then being out of the water.
Now I enter the ocean like a burglar.

Day 12 / Poem 12

Judicious / Michael Dechane

A red-tailed hawk squats
on the bluebird house.
It preens in the rain.
Plops into the grass.
Eats worms. Returns
without welcome
to the family’s roof.

From my living room
window to window
I watch the mother
inside, two fledglings
and the silenced 
nest, waiting.

Two butterflies / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

A lemon one hovered over the chilca in its own
personal autumn, and got caught on an invisible
spider web. I tried to disentangle, it tumbled, fell.
Could not see it emerge from the mulching below
perhaps now too much like any another

An orange one sunbathed on red brick.
I offered water and she clambered to this open hand,
not sipping but more like gulping all the time staring
at me with insect eyes, until it flew.

How is it with them -and us-
that the sun shines equally on both
destinies, despite any helping hands.

Follow Me / Jeff Hill

She said 
Knowing I would crawl over a mile of glass just to hear her laugh again 
My wife was always trying to cheer me up 
But it just wasn’t going to happen 
No matter how hard she tried 
No matter how much effort she put into the whole thing 
It just wasn’t going to be enough at the end of the day 
She’d take me on secret day-long vacations to the places we used to love 
She’d take me to new and exciting spots where I’d never even dreamt of going 
She’d take me places so intimate 
So personal 
That I’d be a fool not to reconsider my mood 
But it was never enough 

Follow me 
He said 
Knowing that even though I was still good at my job 
My heart wasn’t really in it anymore 
My boss was always trying to make things run smoothly 
But it just wasn’t going to happen 
No matter how hard he tried 
No matter how much effort he put into the whole thing 
It just wasn’t going to be enough at the end of the day 
He’d take me to secret spots on different floors of the office that only he had access to 
He’d take me to big client parties in hopes of getting a new perspective 
He’d take me places so cool 
So fun 
That I’d be a fool not to reconsider my outlook 
But it was never enough 

Didn’t they know? 
There was only one person who could take me anywhere she wanted 
Only one person who I would willingly follow 
And then she came to me one night 
And everything changed 

Follow me 
She said 
As her whole arm went through my shoulder 
It had been seven months since my daughter had died 
Not yet truly coming to grips with her own mortality 
She lingered in our home because 
As she would state daily 
“Grandma did…  why can’t I?” 
She had a good point 
But when she would lead me around the house as a child 
She would grab my hand or my pants leg and drag me to investigate her discovery 
It was always something gruesome 
Whether it be a dead animal in the backyard or some other ghastly sight 
Until one day 
She grabbed me and pulled me to a discovery that I wasn’t quite ready for 
One that I could never truly embrace 
The ghost of my daughter just showed me the location 
Of her bones 

Alright I know I’ve got #FairyGodmotherVibes  / RJ Ingram

But let’s face it on a good day I feel like Annie 
Wilkes played by Kathy Bates What she not 
Diva enough for you? Her magic wand might
Be a sledgehammer but it does the trick when
Hobby Lobby is out of the plastic sparkly stuff 
That most definitely clashes w/ the uniform
The exact same denim jumper kindergarten 
Teachers wore in the 90s bc it’s about time
Culture brings back Jehovah’s Witness chic
So maybe that’s why I overdue it w/ the black
And whites & chunky gold jewelry & witch hats
Bc way back when I fell in love w/ storytelling 
I didn’t have a bibbidi bobbidi boo to fix things
Just a darling in a frock w/ a minor hangover 

Tunnel  / Zac Kline

We stop
just for a second 
longer than 
the second before 
the great city 
is now all around us
for the last time 
there is no 
saying like the saying 
that there is no saying goodbye 
or goodnight 

can a city 
ever really 
Be a home 
a bird’s nest
is nearer to my heart 

The traffic 
across 41st Street
is so bad 
I’m not even sure anymore
I will ever make it there 

Though I won’t 
ever admit 
I ever have 
any doubts 
who would I even be 
my hands can’t leave 
the honking horn they
don’t even know how 

Metamorphosis / Thomas Locicero

It begins with enough,
then there is abundance,

then an awareness of
strange pinball chemicals,

then the brain is developed
three decades in. All those

decisions—the choice of
careers, partners, children,

and all the daredevilry
with no thought to consequence—

made with an undeveloped
brain. What were we thinking?

Then the body’s betrayal.
Each decade, we lose more

of ourselves, but the tradeoffs
are wisdom and memories

and awareness. Of breath,
of strength, of skin, of hairline.

Of gravity. The tide
turns on us without remorse.

Of the importance of
awareness. And of time.

Time to reconsider
or to set ourselves in stone.

how to insult a friend  / Athira Unni

I just saw a picture
of the Malabar pit viper:
black-tinted with bulging eyes, 
frog-like, but reptilian in soul.

Could your poison
be an antidote to its poison? 

Day 11 / Poem 11

August / Michael Dechane

Forever the bell month
ringing us back
into primped classrooms.
Summer’s coda.
Sweating usher
of a shoulder season.
What an unfair face
you gave us, August,
canceling our freedom
so slowly, still
shimmering heat.
31 sputtering 
gas jet days, 
my early lessons|in the pains of lingering.
Even now, you are
the calendar’s kiln
firing the majestic
images I carry.
Citrine cherry
tomatoes crowning
our shaggy garden.
Faces of poets
tending a bonfire
on Whidbey Island.
Ice beds
and splayed mackerel
in the Algarve markets.
Dust, resplendent,
rising at sunset
after an Oklahoma tractor.

Snail night / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

snail sits
watching raindrops slur on grass
expanding in a glow of distant houses

shine-trails ring in roads opening to his own night
immense galaxies

in his dark green sky, only starred
when wetness seas and flickers
each drop a light

Two Prison Letters / Jeff Hill


Kinda weird, you know?  Seeing you here and not being able to actually tell you every single day that I’m the reason we’re both here.  I mean, you’d probably just say that it’s both of our faults because we both decided to do what we did and we both were dumb enough to get caught.  But that’s not entirely true.  I got caught.  You didn’t.  I gave you up.  So we’re stuck here because I wanted a little bit lighter sentence.  You could be spending your days with your family.  You could be spending our earnings on your dreams.  You could be doing just about anything and everything you could ever have wanted if you had just picked a better person for your partner in crime.  In short, you should have been a better criminal.  You shouldn’t have been a good person.  I’m not.  And, after all, it is true what they always say about our kind.  There is no honor among thieves.  I’m not telling you this because I’m upset with you or because I think that I need forgiveness.  No.  I’m being completely selfish yet again.  I’m telling you this because I can’t live with myself anymore.  And I’m sick and tired of hearing you talk about the future.  There is no future.  There is no us.  You have a family.  I do not.  You have the money stashed away.  I don’t have any of it.  You have a wife and a woman you love on the side.  And I have, well, you.  And that’s it.  You’ll never understand because you’re not me.  You’re not wired that way.  And even though we’re related and share a special bond in brotherhood, it’s still not enough.  I love you.  And I hate you because you know that I love you.

With no regrets,



What can I say?  I’m shocked.  And pissed.  And very, very hurt.  There was absolutely nothing I could do when I heard what you had done.  It was already too late.  You organized a meeting in the cafeteria and tried to buy off some of those thugs from down in cell block D.  Obviously, it didn’t turn out so well for you.  They let me leave for the day to go to your funeral, and Mama was there with my wife and our little kiddo.  He’s so big, dude.  You’d think he looks just like Dad.  God, would he ever be angry for what you did.  And for what you said.  And for how you never had the courage to tell me to my face.  I know you love me, bro.  I get it.  I always knew.  But why did you always have to be so weird about it?  I mean, just because Mama and Dad weren’t ever lovey-dovey doesn’t mean it’s weird for us to tell each other that kind of thing.  I don’t think you ever did say it, though.  Out loud, I mean.  But whatever.  You’re gone now.  It’s too late.  I’m upset that you did such a stupid thing.  I’m upset that you wrote a letter to me to tell me you loved me and never actually told me in person.  But I’m mostly just upset that I never told you that the main reason we got caught is because I kept a photo of us doing what we shouldn’t have been doing and I knew that the cops were going to find it if they searched your glove box in your car.  That picture, you know the one, it would have broken Mama’s heart.  I know you don’t think she has one, but she does.  She’s a cold woman, but human nonetheless.  And what we did that summer in our freshman year of college was far worse than what we did last fall in town.  No one can ever know what we did, who we are.  Who we really are.  And now, no one ever will.  I buried it with you.  And this note?  I’m gonna toss it in the fire as soon as I get out of prison.

Your brother,


The Jolly Roger Closed Yesterday Damnit / RJ Ingram

Imagine tossing three pennies from the bridge
Into the river & sinking in the sand or Tuesdays
Without a care in the world for forty minutes
While the bartender next door wipes plexiglass 
Dividers w/ a terrycloth dishrag as he snaps 
Grape chewing gum his keys knock on the bar
Like the footsteps of orphans walking along 
A beach in a place where it’s the longest day
Every day imagine such a place is reflected 
The partitions shine the warm salty glow from
Spray falling off sails & are packed w/ nets 
Wooden mermaid carvings & a crate of limes
The folks in the next bar could probs still use 
Imagine those orphans actually leaving there

Creon / Zac Kline

The vivisection
            of my summer soul
            is on my mind this July night.

            The East Coast is roaring
            with canned heat and canned laughter while
            all the TVs show Summer

            of Sam Ash guitar shop         
            is closed now so standing
            on a street corner

            with my red Gretsch
            just steps away
            from becoming Jeff

            Buckley has been dead
            for so long now
            that my children

            won’t know who he is
            but will know
            a summer night like this

            where all I do is wait
            for the sun to go down,
            and then remark

            about how it stays so hot
            and the dream
            of the last nightmare passing

            is the only dream worthwhile since
            there are killers on the streets
            and they want to read the last draft

            of my poems
            the one just before
            I sent it out to

            My children asking
            for a summer vacation
            so I gave them all the Creon, I could find

For MCH / Thomas Locicero

Your words harness a celestial towing.
They smack of a dispatch that I’m called to read.
I imagine your muse to be a doula.

We share a cohesion portioned to lovers
Of writing, not that one-flesh Bible thing.
No, we’ll never touch; we’ve never even met.

I was pleased to follow your sentences down,
Delighted to be surprised, until you wrote,
“After six months of chemo, the mass grew.”

Day 10 / Poem 10

Enough / Michael Dechane

Yes, the wine and
yes, the glazing August heat.
Yes, too the nagging angst
giving way to more ennui.
Yes, ambivalence is exhausting.
Yes, the mid-life doldrums and more
yes to whatever
my therapist says
I resist, yet, facing.
Yes to the heavy.
Yes to the weariness
the heavy grows.
Yes, if we made this
list complete
we’d spend all our breath.
So, no.
I can’t go back 
to sleep, or accept
this insufficiency of feeling
I have tonight, pleading
for another round, another
Ukraine won’t stop exploding.
In the sweetening valley
of my lover’s thighs
there is a hidden, fifth season.
And our parents are dying
in awful, contorting diseases.
The vast, pure forest
north of us
where we thought we might flee
is burning. New nazis
emerge from pale roots
all over my stricken country.
Any of the faithful bring healing.
The indomitable human spirit
is burning. New poets
are rising, raising a darkness
out of our deep — one
even the bleary noon can rest
within. I am not fit 
to tie the great ropes
of their tent or set
another stake in our ground
but here is the hammer
here in my hand.

The Jaguar / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

A poem is stalking me like a jaguar
rosetted curve in ambush of
moons, following

footprints on mud of nights
with stars spiderwebbed in stories
lines of lichens shine white signals

in the pulse of frog songs wet
it wades the mind
of silence

drops words like roars
on water I wait
the sudden paws

Essential Yet Appealed / Jeff Hill

You’re the most important thing in my life 
I think of you when I wake up 
You’re on my mind when I’m in the shower 
Focusing on the day is impossible 
My lunch break is spent trying to impress you 
The end of my shift is the worst part of my day 
I can’t wait to see you again tomorrow 
Your smile gives me purpose 

You’re the most important thing in my life 
I think of you when I go to sleep 
I dream of you every single night 
I’m on stage and you’re in the front row 
Our parents are nowhere to be seen 
We don’t have any friends 
But we have each other 
I only dream of us 

You’re the most important thing in my life 
But sometimes dreams turn into nightmares 
You lose the child that I never wanted 
My music all sounds the same to you now 
My parents move to the city 
Your past returns when least expected 
You’ll never leave me 
I hate the way you look at me 

You’re the most important thing in my life 
The next day we start again 
We appear okay on the outside 
I start sleeping with someone else 
You know 
Work is difficult 
But life is harder 
I desperately want to believe in you again 
Because you are my love 
Because you are my life 
And because I don’t know who I am without you 

Mansplaining: An Apologia  / RJ Ingram

Good news that the man w/ the snake got on
The next bus except he also had some mace
Which comes in handy if anyone gets too close 
Nowadays everyone’s getting closer to handsy 
The way some shoppers glide their purchases 
Into & out of each others carts as if together 
It was a hipster w/ a Rubik’s cube who caught
Not most of our attention the way he counted 
Out the secrets of the universe on his brow
All figured out in sprays of sweat flicked down
From his fingers twisting the squares around 
But all of our collective breath as he gave an
Infernal explanation of the way viruses should 
Just be let to run their course & the weak to rot

Younger Men / Zac Kline

We watch them in all their generosity 
In spirit 
In song 
We only ask of them what they naturally give 
In step
In surrender 
What does it mean to love music more each day
What happens when song is the only salve
Silence is 
Fear is 
Death is 
Not knocking 
When my father is watching these younger men
How long can two bodies intwined stay alive?
We are mirror twins with this band 
When we’re with them the moon isn’t far away 
Death is 
Silence is 
Music is 
Better than the very long last stance we take 
For love.
      Red Rocks. July 8,  2023 

Poetry / Thomas Locicero

Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat. – Robert Frost

The way you alter your vision
to make a one-dimensional puzzle
three dimensional so do with your
mind until it veers itself off-kilter,
then report what you see. Do not
heed the lie. You do not need to
add to your chemistry to create.
You’ve had the gift since before
you were influenced by that unoriginal
thought. Close your eyes and the
hummingbird’s flutter becomes the
thumbed pages of five thousand people
searching for the same Scripture. Better
still, roll up your shirt sleeves and start
swinging. Then nurse your bloody
knuckles, dress them in white, and
choose your punches more carefully,
ducking and weaving all the while.

on today’s news  / Athira Unni

when the winds arrived,
the face of the lake blushed
and the troubled waters rose 
in teen waves smothering the lilies.
a branch broke crack and the cuckoo nest
plopped to the ground, the red and yellow
threads, like the last remaining kindness
of the ageing aristocratic sun,
ignoring persistent prayers.

a mudslide was on the cards. 
the town sweating brown and sliding along
the valley of the tectonic plate in syrupy chaos
with the motion itself magnetic, arresting, 
pushed by the slow force of a long-dead river, 
its subterranean spirit remembering,
and breaking the new bridges like twigs
and crumbling the buildings into dust. 

after such furore, what hope? what survival?
a little child wakes up 
between the broken frames of a window 
and suddenly the world had wept itself
into nothingness. 

Day 9 / Poem 9

Happy July New Year / Michael Dechane

I love to list the manifest gifts
of having my birthday in July.
The sumptuous, triple serving of light.
Eight pressing reasons for more salsa.
A fight with some thick-shouldered brook trout.
And there’s so much time in summer, the eternal
season, to think or not, napping under a tower of cloud.
I remember my poor, unfortunate kid brother,
born the day after Christmas. Jesus
good as he is, is perfectly glad to share
the spotlight, but everyone is tired by then.
Many of us are so worn out, celebrating 
our lord and savior Benjamin Franklin,
that we’ve got nothing left to spend on him.
We light the candles, but it shows
when we sing. Here, though, is the hidden gift,
the thing I could not recognize for so long.
Each July, when I round another corner
that won’t come back, I get the secret
(or maybe just private) chance to reflect and resolve.
To imagine ways to right my listing life.
While everyone else is sucking beers and tubing
down the French Broad River, I’m scheming
about a serious schedule for my writing.
Deep in the thicket of tourist churn,
ice cream drying on my face, I’m a sleeper agent
plotting ways to do better by my neighbor.
Daydreaming in broad daylight that, even now
it’s not too late to bless more than I have.
Do you, with me, begin to see how
it’s not just me, or today? It could be
any one of us, at an hour that seems arbitrary,
is given a fresh start, a renewal from nowhere.
Or find our siblings have not forgotten us
after all. They are here, hiding with the lights off
holding their breath, their shouts of surprise. 

Forests, again / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

              Away from where moths flicker round
the white of urban light
take me to the darkness of forest skin
the feel of the hind of the big blue animal

Let the mouth of the jungle eat me whole.
It knows who I am

as we both lay in raindrops sieved
by leaves the colour of decay, and we roost
in this tree of night branching
the quiet together

there is a path where a coral snake once saw me
and a hole in the bark where water
sits and tastes of waterfall and thunder

there is a village whose bonfires
smell of the language I still don´t understand
but speaks of the gods among the underbrush
who wait for me there

Influential Questions / Jeff Hill

What influences you? 
And what is real and what is fictional? 
Conspiracy theories? 
Do you root for the good guys? 
Or are you a sucker for a sympathetic villain? 
Would you rather set your story at the end of time? 
Or the beginning of everything? 
Are you more of a “today’s the day” type of writer? 
Or “I’d rather do something different” type of architect? 
Do you believe in world-building? 
Or character-building? 
Or just going with the flow? 
Do you write about your traumas? 
Do you write about your enemies? 
Do you write about your struggles? 
Do you elaborate on your successes? 
Do you talk up your friends and family? 
Do you brag about your accomplishments? Do you write prose? 
Or poetry?
Or something hybrid? 
Do you know your genre? 
Do you understand your genre? 
Do you believe your genre? 
Who are your readers? 
Who are your readers, for real? 
Are you asking yourself these questions now? 
Did you ask yourself these questions back then? 
Will you still be asking yourself these questions later? 
Will you make it? 
Will anyone care? 
Will you care? 
What is it all for? 
What is art? 
What is good art? 
What good is art? 
Who gets to ask these questions? 
Who gets to answer them? 
But most importantly… 
Why aren’t you writing? 

Manspreading: An Apologia  / RJ Ingram

A body of men thrives under the old authority 
Like a quickening shadow they exchange drifts
Jewels traded between kings & the rest of us
Viscose this old fashion venerable game think
Expulsion meets repulsion sure a point of order 
Might mean a man cast out a real thrill penny
Who overstays the weekend & barks at cars 
Strayed too far from the fray & now must melt
Onto the proverbial stoop of his choosing
The only real mark he can leave is his footprint 
So he sizes up at the roller rink & holds a roll
Of quarters to waste away at the arcade 
It’s not his fault he doesn’t see you & stretches
Unexpectedly a weighted fist decks your eye

a chance of rain / Zac Kline

Give it to us,
Right this way,
The perfect day

Right this way,
The perfect day
Give it to us,

This way
The perfect day,
Right before us

If we go walking
Together and then

it might just
be okay

The perfect day
Give it to us
Right this way

Sometimes we are angry
at all the life outside us
we cannot bear to know we can’t control

Sometimes we are angry
that our shoes
become untied, tied, and untied again

Yet we won’t
say things like: snap to it
call me when you’ve calmed down.

We say is:
let’s talk a walk
let’s talk it through, okay?

Right this way
The perfect day
Give it to us

The forecaster says:
the sun will be with us
until noon

The forecaster says:
storms might come later
what does unsettled even mean?

Give it to us,
Right this way
The perfect day

Can we get to it then,  
all that we need to
uncover and accomplish

Alone and then
with each other again
before we run out of time to

Say our: I’m sorrys
before we say our:
I tried so hards.

Give it to us
the perfect day
right before us

All the saids
I never said
to you

Right before us
The perfect day
Give it to us

If it rains tonight
will that be okay
the perfect day

Right this way
Give it to us
We deserve it. 

Designated Room / Thomas Locicero

I scan the room as condemned
inmates must the chamber when
strapped in for their reckoning,
or like surgery patients
just before going under.
If it were human, it would
have no prospects to speak of;
imagine a portion of
space being sullen, aloof.
There is a whiteboard with parched
markers, a wall clock set at
the wrong time, a lapis screen
cornered, relic computers,
intermittent Internet,
a corkboard covered by red
construction paper for the
purpose of communiqué
with nothing of importance
to relay; drafty windows
permit all that will emit
from automobiles below;
outside, the grounds are dead brown
except for the sun-yellowed
hay settled at the foot of
a dilapidated fence.
Only my chair, one among
twenty-five, and a dirty
white three-speed fan, which exhales
without fail upon my face
every ten seconds, are worth
the utility they claim.
This is the room they gave me
to create my poetry.
It is where inspiration
awaits its resurrection,
where sisters Calliope
and Erato will still hide till
they sense I am settled
and, at last, where I belong,
insulted, I wonder, if
I choose to not wait for them.
I leave the room and begin.

home  / Athira Unni

home: two sets of naphthalene balls
hidden behind a palette of clothes 
to keep roaches away.

home is wild. 

my cat’s fur bristles 
before she pounces on 
a thread-legged spider. 

pores align in tribes
around my stretch marks
in a naked alliance under the moon.

home is as wild as the berries
dripping with red, as the moss 
builds on the outer walls.

Day 8 / Poem 8

Birthday Pastoral / Michael Dechane

The wide tongue of meadow tapers
to a bight in Riceville Road
near the volunteer fire department.

Driving through that quick, sweeping curve
you have the best view of the valley
for a second — for another — for one more.

I cannot choose what I love
most, the surfeit spirit of summer 
rioting over this ground, or the fence.

Long wands of Queen Anne’s Lace
hold forth among the insistent
stalks of sky-drop chicory blooms.

The fence has two parts: its rotting posts
and the breathing emptinesses between them
where the rusted barbed wire was stripped away.

And across the road, behind a proper gate,
matte-black cows rove like wonderful things
that happened to me, but I have since forgotten.

This little turn in the road is a good place
to stop for the long, wild, full-throated view
early and quiet, another last morning.

The Silence / Sarah Degner Riveros

a thousand mirrors / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

trees curve climbers into
snakes of root sibilance

sticks stagger into insects

silhouettes on boughs are
a bird a leaf a pod a sudden flight
a fall to tangled darks

lichens spread like suns
shift to snapping butterfly
bark flies off

palms mock feathers in waver-
wind-watered reflections

fungi play slugs liquid
slime swells shines frills

seeds doubt if they are butterflies or seeds

ululating could be river frogs or owls
hidden in trunks spotted as jaguar skins

a cloud disperses in bird murmuration
spirals over a river faking a sky

that travels, embedded, drifting
into a thousand mirrors

Dilemma / Jeff Hill

It rolls into the room 
I’m not sure what it even is at first 
Picking it up 
I can’t tell if it’s a baseball 
Or a fruit 
Or if I’m just imagining it completely 
If there was some sort of light in this cell, I could easily identify it 

Then it hits me 
A sensation 
A smell 
A trigger 
Of a memory of a time when things weren’t so messed up 

I roll the memory-inducing ball between my hands 
Holding it up to smell the citrus 
And think about how great it would be to be back in college 
Squeezing this orange into a perfect screwdriver 
Before morning class that has come too early 
After a night out on the town 
I am no longer in this dank 
Lightless cellar room 
Without a door 
Or a way out 
Or a future 
I am free of worry and care 
I have the rest of my life ahead of me 

My fingers instinctively begin tearing at the outer peel of the fruit as quickly as they can 
Like they have a life of their own 
A better life 
A much simpler life And when the final piece hits the floor and the juices start to cover my hands 
I am brought back to reality 


My mouth begins to water at the very touch of the orange 
I rip it into pieces and force as much of it into my mouth as possible 
I suddenly stop 
And remember 
Where I am 
And why I’m here 

I spit the orange out 
I kick the pieces away
It’s poisoned 
It’s a trick 
It has to be 

Manscaping: An Apologia  / RJ Ingram

Shame is a cockatoo named Dorris who plucks
Her feathers down to the blueish blemishes
Dorris goes at it all day inventing radio static 
As she digs & digs around in her taffeta gown
Dropping each feather onto the old shipyard 
A cadence of worry yesterday’s gossip thrives 
Feathers are swept onto a beach towel or an
Old fashioned Polaroid panorama funeral pyre
It’s not like me to ever want less of anything
But the painful pruning invites maintenance 
And guess what? Shakes hands w/ stateliness 
Anything to give Dorris reasons to stay up late
Quiver over washtubs tearing apart wardrobes
I can’t tell if I should stop & at least help her 

Ponchos / Zac Kline

Why not act
like it’s the very last night,
even if it’s not
we’ll let the rain.
take us away anyway

We’re only here,
for a little while,
not even a while,
we’d like to think,

When the lighting 
warning is over,
we are here for
an even shorter time 

Dangling against sheets
of grief disguised
as songs
that take us back

To another July,
forgiving us for forgetting
about the very last death
that links spring to summer.

                                                                         Boulder Colorado
                                                                         after Red Rocks



Amelia / Thomas Locicero

The hemline of the sky bows
to the canopy of stars,
some of which hold position
like sentinels and soldiers

while others scatter about,
distant, nomadic fireflies,
unreliable guides bent
on confounding travelers.

The sky is an upside down
ocean, just as capable
of stealing breath as water.
Not unlike constellations,

its skeletons will take form.
It holds its dead with riptide
jealousy and welcomes pride
not unlike a virgin bride
expecting to be explored.

dialectics of waxing at home  / Athira Unni

one does not associate candles with hair. 
impressive, then, how the same substance 
makes one and breaks the other. 

easy-gel-wax on my legs is sticky
not like honey, but odourless sugar 
water. look how smooth, how dead. 

how I pull the tab against the hair: 
anti-gravity, the physics of grooming.
it is a war tactic to gel and betray. 

stick, stick, and pull and repeat 
in a cycle of loss. with every pull, 
you exist a little lesser in the world. 

Day 7 / Poem 7

Hour to Sundown / Michael Dechane

At Warren Wilson College
in the Swannanoa Valley
the students grow field corn
for the chickens they raise.

We’re only thigh-deep in July
but you could drown in these rows.
Deep green swells. The fallen light
an hour to sundown gilds anything

just now, even this tipped garbage can
day stank full of shit news
and our dumpster bears wearing rot-meat
grins and ragged judges’ robes —

no. That gold sheen on the hard-working
munificent, extravagant, emerald plumes
of these unstoppable cornstalks making
their one gold, thousand-karat jewel gleams.

They were this high, just ideas-high
yesterday, and now, so completely alive
in solidarity that I feel ashamed
and comforted to see them. Just that.

Rooted. Standing in their place. Rising
in the heat and fog and democratic rain
giving itself to everything. Heedless
flourishing, an utter fullness of season.

When the Revolution / Sarah Degner Riveros

Garden gnats / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

It’s the puzzling I love
sparkling in this thin light like
doubts: Insects? Dust? Seed-flown
thoughts gliding in this cold,
like mine?

It’s good to remain in the shine of not knowing
After all, it’s not only the glitter of gnats
we cannot discern and yet gaze at
gnawing at the light

As if it mattered what this flicker is
inside and sudden
floating around the heart

A Few Thoughts on Reading / Jeff Hill

Reading is fundamental 
That is not a new thing 
Reading can be fun 
But it’s okay if it’s not 
You can’t get very far 
Without knowing how to do it 
You can’t blame your teachers 
If you refuse to try it 
And it’s not an optional thing 
In any aspect 
Of any life 
Worth living 
People who read are more interesting 
People who read have things to talk about 
People who read have questions 
People who read have answers 
But most important 
People who read have ideas 
And they share them 
And they change them 
And they listen 
Because they’re smart 
Teachers are not in charge of teaching your kids to read 
Parents are 
You can disagree 
But you’re wrong 
And either not a parent 
Or a bad one 
The teacher’s job is teach reading comprehension skills 
But you shouldn’t send your kid off to school 
If you don’t start the school at home 
You’re not too busy 
You’re just not making it a priority 
You’re not too poor for books 
Libraries are free 
And you’re not bad at teaching 
You’re just not trying hard enough 
Read a book a week 
For the rest of your life 
Try to read new things 
And re-read the things you love 
And share the words and ideas and wonder 
With others 
Because the more readers 
The more writers 
And the more writers 
The more thinkers 
And the more thinkers 
We just might save the world 

Rendezvous at the Used Car Lot  / RJ Ingram

If death is simple I must have done it all wrong 
Neighbors preen their lawns & grasshoppers 
Exit en masse to the used car lot for sanctuary 
The sedans are tucked in dreaming of joyrides
The floor is polished & shines like a new penny
Mosaics etched into the stained glass illustrate 
The lifecycle of videocassettes & mixed tapes
Why am I here? I ask the teenage attendant
Who picks a zit on his arm the way we all do
You must have missed the parade he replies
In a way I can’t distinguish gossip from errata
That must have been some blow to the face
He circles a hieroglyph on his little clipboard 
There’s nothing scarier than kids w/ clipboards

Seawife / Zac Kline

Tonight—I’ll go to bed happy—I won’t worry—about tomorrow—until the next day’s blues confess—what it is that they hold for us.
The cut of the knife,
the song of the going
to the mountains
from the sea
Can you stop the pain from being singular—can you, make it plural—can you make it go away?—I have to stop myself from writing you an email, where I tell you how much I hate the way I hate myself—you say failure,
and I say forgiveness.
You say forgiveness,
and I say future.

Explain the mountains to a child,
and they will just say:
oh those,
those are just piles of rocks.

                                                                              Boulder, Colorado

The Intellect, His Son, and the Snake / Thomas Locicero

When the son of the intellect
asked him if the snake
was poisonous, the only
words that mattered were
“Don’t move!”  But the
intellect simply said no,
eager to elucidate, but
the boy reached for the snake
and so the snake reached
for the boy. 

What the boy
never heard was, “Snakes
are not poisonous, they are
venomous.  Poison is ingested,
venom is injected…” because
the intellect was swimming
in a strange sound, not knowing
what to do but knowing he loved
the sound of his son’s breathing
more than his own voice.

When silence fell a second time,
so did he, on one knee, palms open,
so as to receive what he could not
understand or relinquish what
he could not choose to keep.
And though the snake had been
sentenced to crawl the dust
beneath the feet of the intellect
and even the feet of the son, for now
the dust belonged to the snake.

her metamorphosis  / Athira Unni

the swiftness with which she turns into
a racoon sifting through the laundry 
and a frog leaping into the sink 
of stagnant dirty dishes!

being a woman is not just bending,
breaking, and bleeding/ breeding:

it is also being a moth: silent, tenacious
ever on the margins of darkness.

Day 6 / Poem 6

Arrivals / Michael Dechane

vacation at the coast
9 AM summer light
licks the salted air
kindles champagne
blossoms on a mimosa tree
in a thickened breeze

this pauses our aimless walk

we reach for one another
giving our hands, again
let them say lightly this
joy that will burn away
in the dullness of noon
return in bloom and flame

Traces of night / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

Traces of night on grass
and children’s faces

 last crickets pouring into
as all of us carry a night inside

 the intimacy with freshness
swept by all this sun, abrupt

 the day seems in denial
of the dreams that have just left us
on its shore
envious of tides
where the dark hushes heat talk
silence is dew
water mirrors
and nest warmth

Jerry’s Fear / Jeff Hill

The worst things in life are never free 
That’s something that we can all agree on 
So when Jerry bought his wife a new necklace for her birthday last fall 
He knew there was going to be a catch 

The jeweler said that it was a zero interest 
Pay as you can type of special and Jerry was thrilled 
“It’s basically free!” 
The jeweler said 
“All you have to do is pay it forward in the community…” 
“Until your final payment to me goes through!” 

So he dotted the I’s 
And crossed the T’s 
And signed away his freedom 

Within the next three months 
Jerry would be the proud husband 
Of a wife who adored him 
As well as a wanted man 
Whom the papers were calling “the Sticky Note Killer” 
You see 
That “paying it forward” part of the deal? 
Those were professional hits 
And he signed a contract 
That gave the jeweler the right 
To call on Jerry day or night 
For the rest of the necklace’s value 
Interest free 
Of course 
For the next God knows how long 
The catch was in the fine print 
He could take possession of the wearer of the necklace 
Should Jerry miss a “payment” 
So to speak 
In this case 
A jewel 
More precious 
Than gold 
Jerry’s wife 

So kill Jerry did 
And kill Jerry would 
But that didn’t mean he had to enjoy it 
And it didn’t mean he had to be rude about it, either 
With every “community outreach” project he completed 
Jerry would leave a sticky note next to the body 

“I’m sorry,” 
It would say 
Each and every time 
Each and every hit 
Each and every fresh new body 

Part of him wanted to get caught 
It was his greatest fear 
To fall for a trick like this 
And he knew it was too good to be true 
But he loved his wife 
Now more than ever 
And he had to see this through 
One way or another 

Who knew facing your fear 
Could be this dangerous? 
Who knew your fear 
Could be so deadly? 
The jeweler knew 
After all 
It was his business

What we talk about when we talk about FaceTime / RJ Ingram

The clerk at the apothecary offered concealer 
For my scars & dirty deleted unsent messages
I didn’t navigate the strip mall to hide my face 
Or put a quarter in the photo booth to jump out 
Just as the kitsch was starting to get good 
Sure in the past doctors have offered some fix
A minor cut behind the ear & salmon oil there 
But at the end of the day I just want to call
My fiancé & complain that I forgot the perfume
I told them I would buy the Boyfriend myself 
Soft masculine fragrance like borrowed clothes 
The scent of flannel & unfinished homework 
We don’t want to smell like we’re out of reach 
If it comes in a bottle we won’t call it cheating 

High Praise / Zac Kline

The song we sing last,
is often the best,
because it’s the only one
we really hear.
You’ll tell me about Iris,
James, and John,
and if I’m lucky really lucky,
you’ll invite me
to the attic of your mind.
Here at the seashore where
everything is built
on pylons, we can’t
climb up too high,
for you though
waiting with me
up all night
to hear
if it’s new stitches for an old cancer,
or a 9th life,
you’ll play me
the attic noise,
all the songs
you say you’ve been listening to
since ’68
before you say goodbye.
I’ll tell you what they sound like to me now
if you’ll tell me what they sounded like to you then.
Then maybe, I can finally understand
when you say:
            You have good taste.
And I say: thank you,
            That’s high praise. 

How a Poem is Formed / Thomas Locicero

A growing mesh of letters magnetized,
Attracting each other like fertility,
Ferociously eager to forge some form,
Delirious to squat like rain-soaked clouds
Positioned for relief. Matter settled.
Yet, more often, words are drawn like well water;
“Dragged” is the more precise explanation.
Before carving, a paralyzed hovering,
A cleansing of colons and semicolons,
Commas and apostrophes and ampersands,
The avoidable, the utility.
Then there are the darlings. How romantic
The darlings! How sweet the sound! How sweet the
Sweat! The scent of a woman who is loved.
A cold full-lung breath. There it is. There it is!
And just before the expelling relief,
A skinning, the cutting of the crust, the
Slitting of the throat. A gush. When first found, you
Would chase it to the gates of insanity.

Neglected / Athira Unni

As if to dissolve in a dream 
I look ahead, savour the rising sun
and ignore the dead chameleon. 

Grey blood pooled at my feet. 
A small death. A big life. 

An inherited art of neglect 
perfected every dawn 

Day 5 / Poem 5

Between Oceans / Michael Dechane

Arcing, electric blue tentacles
of fireworks tonight find a memory
finning around in my dark and deep.

Our sixteen summer. Daytona Beach.
Blush of our salt-sun-razed bodies.
Full dark. Cold wind. Warm sand.

The distant lamps of the pier, strung to nothing
and a gash of light carved the sky.
Another. Us silent. Then more. Meteors

tracing synapses of the night mind.
Had we ever been so confronted
by the violent unexpected waiting in our lives?

The Perseids hypnotized us out of time.
Maybe we thought things like this keep
happening, and there would be nothing to forget.

We laid there forever, between oceans,
the galactic above, the Atlantic at our feet,
only decades, deaths, and a blue flare from here.

Forgotten cell phone / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

In a silent classroom my cell phone waits
in ambulance radiance

it must be singing to itself on
family catastrophes dinosaur meteorites late meetings

still it lays there, unmoved

a rectangular piece of metal with lights
making me fear all the apocalypses of

Never Let Go / Jeff Hill

You’re free 
And you are leaving 
No one can tell you what to do ever again 
Everyone is going to try and change you 
Very few people will ever truly know you 
Endings are just new beginnings 
Doors and windows and such 
Reach until you see something else you want 
Grab it 
But be polite if you can be 
Love is going to seem impossible for a while 
Every single day will be hard 
Time heals almost everything 
Give people second and third and fourth chances 
Give yourself even more 
Only you can decide who you are 
That’s real freedom 

The Monster at the End of This Sonnet / RJ Ingram

No one appreciates a reply all from strangers
But you’ve got a slick way of sliding down 
Staircases w/ a martini in one hand the other
Caressing an exotic animal like a monkey
Or a heron learning to swim past the shallows
Take this as a compliment the iron that drove
Nails into your house before it was a hammer
Before the building was plotted on the map
Iron that could have polished into a mirror
But look what it did instead: erected castles
Where you wind up your little toys egging on
Clockwork gyros until they run off the map
No one likes a know-it-all to show off, RJ
Now get ahold of yourself & try to listen 

Turnpike / Zac Kline

Three times,
I promise to call you

on the long ride back
from the New Jersey tides

to The New York waves
of indignation being

not just back
but back alone

on a summer’s night,
desperate to find

my state of salvation,
I start to sing

Fare thee well,
Fare thee well,

I love you more,
than words can tell

 Until I mix up,
Brokedown Palace

 with Birdsong. 
On the second call

when you don’t pick up
after the third ring

even the New Jersey Turnpike
grows weary

of my late-night longing
which isn’t even

for you
for me

for one
for two

for the three
Temples across the Hudson River

that I believe
if I pray in hard enough in

I can break
this curse and hear

your voice
one more time.

Lines in italics: Brokedown Palace lyrics by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter

Awakened to Awareness / Thomas Locicero

In late summer, ill-equipped
for the Alaskan wilderness,
I am lost in a poem, the fingers
of my left hand counting syllables,
and all I hear is jazz music,
New Orleans sounds, Ellis Marsalis.
Through the cloud of words
in my mind’s poetic eye,
I spot a bend in the road.
I have a Frostian decision.
Sort of. Kind of.
Not really.

The less-traveled road
is not a road at all but a bluff.
The tree line drifts to the right.
I don’t want to climb,
to interrupt the birth of words.
I resolve to go left and then:
A park ranger v’s two fingers
towards his eyes, then mine,
like an old Italian curse,
then points to his boot.
I am a dog, heeling.

I climb the bluff on all fours,
like a bear.
I see his wide-eyed urgency,
his finger firm against his lips.
I am a vow of silence.
I sense the danger but hope
he doesn’t speak
because his words might replace
mine, causing them to scatter,
never to return in their proper order.
He doesn’t speak.
He is an angry mime.

Then he is a marionettist.
His fingers are strings.
He attaches two of them
to one of my limbs,
my right leg,
with a pinch of my jeans. We walk
an ambling lockstep,
scarcely troubling the grass.
I am losing words.
We reach the ranger station,
sneak up the deck steps.
He releases me and returns to

miming, gesturing
over the railing, over the bluff.
And there she is,
a grizzly, blonde from the sun,
somersaulting with her two cubs.
The mime is now a ranger again.
Thirty yards, he tells me.
If I had walked thirty yards
down the path, I wouldn’t have
outrun her or out-climbed her.
All for a poem. I look again.
I have no words.

Day 4 / Poem 4

Different Standards / Michael Dechane

Every day
when I drive
home, I see
the competing 
yard regalia
of two neighbors
across the street
from each other.

Falt-                                                     Blind cement
       ering                                            bust of a Native
   spin-                                                American adorned
 dle of                                                like a suffering
      peach                                          Christ in a Confederate flag
an un-                                                bandana headband
              rose                                         and nail-
  bush                                                 ed up to
                                                          the wall
leans wanly                                                           of his
beside a fading                        porch
Black Lives                                      a sag-
Matter banner                                          ging
and a napkin-                                cheer
sized Pride                                  for Br-
Flag.                                                           ANdON!

Between them
strung high
above the __________
an American flag
large enough
to cover every home,
apartment, and car
I have ever lived in.
It’s flaccid 
and breathless
today. We’re waiting
for some turgid tomorrow.

Two pages / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

the pages lie open early: the fine line between sky
and sea hinges the story
told a thousand times in a thousand shores
it speaks of

you can read better if you lie, sideways

the bottom page holds ripples swirls foam
little dots of boats and people
a pair of pelicans sometimes
a vast murmuration of birds in black
gliding letters close to the surface

all is shine

(in subtext fish flocks fly underwater shipwrecks
the floating joy of jellyfish
darkness darkness)

the upper page holds vapour shapeshifting
mountains or gulls binding the pages like white needles
helicopters beach kites
a sun that never enters the paper below but
paints and paints on it, a declining Van Gogh

all is shine

(millions of streaming galaxies underlie
curving aged paths green comets a satellite
claiming a place the moon a transparent jellyfish)

the author never seems to finish the book and rewrites it

Fireworks / Jeff Hill

This is how you celebrate 
We eat too much food 
We drink beers 
We don’t hydrate 
We spend too much 
This is how you commemorate the hottest day 
We get together with family 
We see our neighbors in a new light 
We dress up in red, white, and blue 
We see adults become children 
This is how you make it all make sense 
We set off fireworks during the day 
We set off fireworks at night 
We set off fireworks before we should 
We set off fireworks because we can 

What can I say except that
On Once there was an asteroid / RJ Ingram

Version 2

An Independence Day Double Feature 

I have a soft spot for neoclassical architecture
                 Who lit up the skies w/ the brightest smile
Rounded marble set squarely like old temples
                 Just large enough to sport an aluminum flag
Clean white halls where sex & religion morphs
                 Hung there by astronauts so long ago they had
Into democracy pretty much more of the same
                 Completely forgotten twas them who flagged it
The planet rolled up it’s sleeves waiting for war
                 One could call it a fetish maybe #Hawt4liberty
Against an asteroid who beamed as if mocking
                 Maybe I still get a thrill pricking those ballots
Her victims but as the planet waited nothing
                 With votes the size of needles but no matter
Except echos from the hollow falling asteroid
                 Where you pluck your vote you still feel pain
But had the planet been evacuated instead
                 Of puffing up its chest they would have fled
Plus performant of parliamentary procedure
                 Away to safety on another little planet Oh did I
Even if what’s left is a shadow of original policy
                 Forget to mention the planet was little? It probs
A Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a law
                 Doesn’t matter unless they turn this into a PSA
But at least you can see the country breathing
                 After school special & a Kohl’s Care book
Which is more than I can say for Grandmother

Harriet who is buried in a spangled clay urn

Version 2

On Once there was an asteroid 
                 What can I say except that

An Indépendance Day Double Feature

Who lit up the skies w/ the brightest smile
                 I have a soft spot for neoclassical architecture
Just large enough to sport an aluminum flag
                 Rounded marble set squarely like old temples
Hung there by astronauts so long ago they had
                 Clean white halls where sex & religion morphs
Completely forgotten twas them who flagged it
                 Into democracy pretty much more of the same
One could call it a fetish maybe #Hawt4liberty
                 The planet rolled up it’s sleeves waiting for war
Maybe I still get a thrill pricking those ballots
                 Against an asteroid who beamed as if mocking
With votes the size of needles but no matter
                 Her victims but as the planet waited nothing
Where you pluck your vote you still feel pain
                 Except echos from the hollow falling asteroid
Plus performant of parliamentary procedure
                 Even if what’s left is a shadow of original policy
But had the planet been evacuated instead
                 A Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a law
Of puffing up its chest they would have fled
                 But at least you can see the country breathing
Away to safety on another little planet Oh did I
                 Which is more than I can say for grandmother
Forget to mention the planet was little? It probs
                 Harriet who is buried in a spangled clay urn
Doesn’t matter unless they turn this into a PSA
                 After school special & a Kohl’s Care book

Tides / Zac Kline

Cold ocean,
ship in the night,
Wouldn’t it be nice
to have
life resolve,
in a chorus.
The waves we surf
are worth-
while because
they are the only
while we can have. Tonight,
I looked at you
for the first time and said:
I’m sorry,
and understood how long,
it takes
for a ship in the night to pass.

In the Solitude of Night / Thomas Locicero

In the solitude of night,
you in your world, me in mine,
we assume what we shall assume
and call not on each other despite
wanting to share dandelion wine
if only to fill each respective room

with another shadow, another light,
the one from which the other shall shine,
from which we see what we shall consume
and with conversation aright
what would otherwise be benign
has managed to stay the hand of gloom.

If only to fill each respective room,
wanting to share dandelion wine,
we call on each other despite
assuming what we shall assume,
me in your world, you in mine,
in the solitude of night.

Now, the food, with every bite
spills its flavor from the vine
cultivated from the soil, earth’s womb,
having appeared as if a sprite
induced it with a secret sign
and raised it from its earthen tomb.

And with no unstayed hand of gloom
or what would otherwise be benign,
now with our conversation aright,
from which we see what we shall consume,
the one from which the other shall shine,
with another shadow, another light,

in the solitude of night,
we know we shall never again dine
alone and no more shall loneliness loom,
for delighting in food, each other, is right,
the way it makes a room a shrine,
the way it makes the fading bloom,

the way it sweeps a ghostly broom,
that mournful invisible line,
connecting solitude to night.

Capsizing / Athira Unni

my ship started to roll 
when the doorbell rang. 

you entered with your harpoon
ready to split my mouth wide 
for not wanting you. 

you threw me a line I never caught 
and my body became water. 

among the mermen of lore 
 may find you one day 
as I haunt the waters. 

I will skin you on my deck 
before your legs cease shaking. 

Day 3 / Poem 3

Clean Sheet Day / Michael Dechane

Every Sunday morning
we begin the celebration
of our weekly ritual.
Clean Sheet Night
is here, at last, again
my love and I sort of sing
to one another as we strip
pale green or softened yellow
cotton sheets from our queen.
I love to see the hidden
mattress bared to breathe. 
We give our covers 
to a delicate wash
then, summer days like this
to hours in the sun.
And back, into our arms
we gather the gifts
a cleansing can bring
for our need to forget.
You could start again
to build a whole new life
this way, I think sometimes 
smoothing wrinkles
from a clean fitted sheet
we stretch together, a canvas
for dreams arriving this week. 
For more news and grime
so many present sorrows
that won’t be washed away.
There’s a hymn I used to know.
I have lost pieces of it. 
And I keep them in strange ways.
Our quilt reminds me of farmland
squares blazing in long, July light
as we turn down the edge
of what we made and tend and make.

Word types / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

Words have wombful souls
carry other words inside,
have their own personality traits, their obsessions.
They call to each other, like milk to childhood. They can
brush you with velvet, rustle in your ear. Or axe, and stop.

Some are born to a long life: Think lonely, moonbeam
Others fail and are washed away like spit toothpaste:
Think wappened, ribauded, eftes

I love them when they are babies, like the one in line 1.

All of them are window panes to houses full of warmth and dogs and fireplaces or dark corners with a ghost.

But a few, a very few, are something else.

Let the linguists say why consonants vibrate in them like feathers in a shaman’s hand. Perhaps it’s their birthplace:
they come from wells, or out of long silences.
as if we had entered
a hall and were hushed to         listen

We nod, understand not with the mind.

They seem empty of anything else but
truth, sacred and pregnant, singing.

Grandpa’s Funeral Perspectives / Jeff Hill

I forgot to tell your grandfather 
How much he meant to me 
Before he died last year 
And it has haunted me ever since 
Perhaps that is why 
I can’t seem to shake this urge 
To apologize to his ghost 
Every time his twin brother sneaks in the window 

Everyone was angry 
When grandma showed up late 
To her husband’s funeral 
Of that 
There was no question 
But was it the social faux pas 
Of being late
That concerned them most 
Or was it the fact that 
She was still covered in her husband’s blood 

My grandfather died 
Last night in his sleep 
I know this 
Because he woke me up this morning 
To ask for legal advice
Regarding taking my grandmother 
Out of his will 

Midlife Crisis at the Supermarket Checkout / RJ Ingram

It’s a dangerous idea to take me to a salad bar
We warn our children away from handing out
Cookies to mice but still forget ourselves when 
There’s a need to commit to a palate early on 
First lay a strong scaffolding of lettuce to hold
Up piles of berries & cheese & dollops of tart
Creams & an excess of toppings that crunch
With salt so refined a layer away from heaven 
Next comes the dressing—bc it’s always about
Pouring regret from tureens the size of boats
That carried little men w/ their sabers across
To fresh continents to settle & open up shops
Full of grocers who never ask if you would like
Vegetables double bagged but do it anyway

Shadows in the Night / Zac Kline

On the pier,
standing in the last
of the early June
light beating back
our arrows of independence
that night when we went running

                                                                        NO COPS
                                                                        NO SCHOOL
                                                                        NO PAIN
                                                                        NO TIME


The summer he got arrests                   The summer she took him back

Across the great divide
the distance between
the pier
            and the water
seemed lesser than
the distance between                           not being
                                                                                                                        and being loved

I told the beach town cop
it wasn’t you
I told the beach town cop
I was the only one running.
I told the beach town cop
everything else was a shadow in the night

That was meant to be lost
with a watch
that split open
when the ocean met the bay. 

Inheritance Idioms / Thomas Locicero

My parents had enough but never more
Than enough. When it was just my father,
He’d met a woman almost twenty years
Younger than he. They were married for nine months,
The gestation period for humans,
Then he died and left this world with nothing.
All he’d had was the house. That’s what she got.
She took more than the house, though. Inside that house
Were fifteen hundred plus poems I’d written
And hundreds and hundreds of books I’d bought.
I had left that house with nothing and had planned
To retrieve them on my next cross-country trip.
I learned too late that she kicked them to the curb.
So for my inheritance, what did I get?
I got my clock cleaned. I got my bell rung.
I felt like I got beaten to a pulp.
I got the wind knocked out of me. I got
Gobsmacked, though I felt like I got smacked by God.
I got poem abandonment issues.
I wanted to curse her, but cat got my tongue.
To this day, I got a bad taste in my mouth.
I got off on a tear. But God got my back.
What did I do? I got my wits about me.
I got my beauty sleep. I got back on track.
Then I got back on the horse, of course. Of course.

Maximus  / Athira Unni

My white pen, herbivore’s
tusk; trumpeted words.
a gift of privilege—
a truthful thing.

Removed from the elephant in the room
it is reminiscent of the dentist. The pain
of removing a tooth, every time
I write a word on the page.

How staunchly the weapon of truth
buries into the skin of lies. How it can
stomp on the grass of life
and make its way to drink ink. 

Pandemic 2020  / Athira Unni

Xylophone throat with ulcers 
makes a winter noise. 
I close my dull eyes,
heavy cardboard eyelids. 
My hair tangled in 
three-day-old knots,
forehead buttered with pain,
ready to greet the plague 
creeping up on it. 

It came with flowing lava of fatigue,  
dishes left unwashed for a week,
 a cruel cosmic joke, sick overcorrection,
my bed seems to sink onto the floor 
as if taking me closer to dust. 

Day 2 / Poem 2

What I’ve Come to Love / Michael Dechane

The texture of finely grated ginger.

Fernet’s herbal alchemy,
its tincture when I close the day.

All the surprising variegations in a cloud.

And seven black cows my neighbor keeps.

Some modest disappointments —
the kind that help me
know I’ve asked too much
and not enough.

Those parts of myself I kept
locked up on a kind of death row.

A list that needs
to interrupt me into attentiveness.

How this, a poem
can move me beyond
what I knew, then
even what I can imagine.

I’ve come to love portals 
into universes that do not exist
until we say they do.

Whoever you are, I love
your power. I hope it gives life
and sustains goodness for you, and everyone
connected to you: every one of us.

I know what I’ve come to love 
may not love me back
yet. May I keep on loving
then. Keep practicing on stones
long grass in the grips of a wind
water, every way that it might be.

What a help that will be to me, 
as I turn, at last to you.
The one I could not know
I was meant and made to love.
I am a stranger, a faceless other
but you have invited me in.
You give me this time with you.
Forgive me, for not believing sooner
in the gift of generosity 
the hospitable spirit you have
harbored within, all these years, for us. 

Winter Solstice Sun / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

Tides of falcons write letters between sunrise
and sunset, seeking garbage treasures in each west

Between those letters, I’m word-waiting
until a sun comes, then

my glasses glow like fluorescent mushrooms
in rainforest nights, me always the frightened deer

One sun like an owl´s eye like a soft coin like a golden
stone to decipher

I sit tilting my face to it like a bird,
aloneness a sacred circle an ancient star unearthed
glistening for an instant, then

The ABCs of Grief / Jeff Hill

Acorns falling from the tree outside 

B-movies play on loop on Netflix 

Carmen hasn’t been to the office in over a month 

Don’t tell her to get over it 

Everyone grieves in their own way 

“Fire her when she shows up,” the lady in human resources told me last week 

“Give her my best,” the secretaries all said when I told them I was going to pay her a visit 

How long can one person avoid the rest of the world? 

It’s been 44 days since she lost the child, 38 days since her husband left her, 33 days since she’s been to the office, 16 days since she’s left the apartment, and, as she reveals when I open up the door, 2 days since she’s eaten anything 

“Juice Stop?” I ask,

“Larry, you didn’t have to come,” she says, accepting the cup and moving toward the deck 

Moving here was a bad idea 

No one would be able to stop her from jumping 

Orange skies and busy streets signal the change from the day shift to the night shift throughout the city as she opens the screen door 

People outside of her world continue on as if nothing ever happened to her 

Questions at the office have stopped for the most part 

Rehiring and rescheduling and reassigning has already begun 

Stares in my direction, her one remaining link to the rest of them, have all but stopped 




When do I tell her that it’s okay to move on 

X out the past 

Indiana Jones on his 124th Birthday / RJ Ingram

We swapped trading cards like teenagers 
Staying out of trouble on a Saturday afternoon
I filled a prescription from the emergency room
Antibiotics to treat a cat bite: some friendly fire 
Caused by the monotony of daily routine even
Even our cats are getting tired of these reboots
What can I say? Childhood wasn’t easy for us
So we ran off to the movies to disassociate 
Just a little at first but when our parents gave
Us the keys & taught us how to drive we filled
The theaters w/ more matinees than afforded
To us by our allowances from [insert decade] 
An optometrist once told me to look past a line 
He drew & said eventually I’ll outgrow childhood 

Water Ice/ Zac Kline

If you know it or not,
life comes

Red      White       & Blue

sometimes lime,
and blue raspberry

The flavors that don’t exist in nature
are often the very best,
it’s just a matter of succumbing.
to them first.

Go ahead, indulge,
The Emperor of Ice Cream
isn’t looking

John of John’s Water Ice
on 9th and Christian
isn’t the Ambassador of Death

What can you rely on these days
nothing, except brain freeze,

and still, if he is, they take
Venmo now.

After the Sky Lightens / Thomas Locicero

Aurora, a distant threat of rain
calmed, as if painted over with
a whiteness agreeable to clouds;
insinuations of sadness quenched
by a bubbling over of a curious
delight—these are the moments
when conversation is possible,
even one of the morning news.
All that she lived for was not on

the airplane when it crashed or
in the café when the suicide bomber
struck. Today, they are mere—not
mere, but actual—strangers. The
bankrupt child star did not affect
her net worth. The mocked politician
did not cause her body to heave with
weeping. You watch all of it, taking
it in like a child locked in on a clown,
with fascination and just enough fear
to send up signals, which you will see
the next day after the sky lightens.

Hydrangea Sunset / Athira Unni

It’s like when the moon shines
through the peonies at the window:
slant meanings fall through
these lines, like memories of you
clinging on to my bristles
like leftover paint from a masterpiece.
Shining through this hydrangea sunset,
your words, angular and bright
piercing the air bubbles around
as I drown. 

Day 1 / Poem 1

Black Bear / Michael Dechan

I told you about the bear
how it came padding through
the tall grass along the fenceline
sundown last night. Its dark bulk
like a perfect absence, animate.
I tried to describe what it felt like
to be unseen. Still. Caught between
impulses to keep safe, to see more.
When you called me, I told you
how much these nights you’re gone
hurt me in ways it’s hard to say.
And you said you didn’t know
when you might be coming back.
We let a silence bloom between us.
I’m writing to say what I could not.
How I trailed it, downhill, trembling
to the treeline tracing the creek bed.
How the bear paused to scent the air
as I was caught, exposed on open ground.
It swayed in a sprawl of yellow crocuses
growing dim in the blossoming night,
like a greater darkness, claiming candles.
Everything melted, in a moment, beyond sight.
I was afraid. It was there, then it wasn’t. 

In flames / Andrea Ferrari Kristeller

From a distance the tree seemed to be burning
-eyesight, burnout and global warming to blame-
yet it was only autumn doing its thing

It stood almost alone, half singed
by a wintering sun in its dry hunger
belly-full but craving for last leaves

like us, who still pull the earth’s covers
to warm us in the cold of expiry dates

Perhaps we are confused as we stand
almost alone in landscapes ending
convince ourselves it’s only autumn,
mistake the wildfire for a civilization’s rusting cycle

almost alone withering
we stand content to be warmed by black suns
unable to distinguish autumns from apocalypses
as we go up in flames

Yellow/ Jeff Hill

The sky smells like a cornfield 
Guarded by menacing scarecrows 
But like from Batman 
But from the Wizard of Oz 
Think Jeepers Creepers 
But less problematic 
Think Children of the Corn 
But more like the source material 
Think horror 
Look away from the warm summer morning 
Feel the taste of too much mustard 
On a hot dog 
Or two 
That you are now regretting 
It’s all like a migraine 
That won’t go away 
An endless row of school buses 
A sun that beats 
And beats 
And beats you unforgiving 
A sun that looks down on you 
A son that tugs at your pantleg 
To ask you what’s wrong 
Of course 
You have no answer 

Thirst Trap As The Grinch Who Stole Pride / RJ Ingram

The reality is pride has always depressed me
Kind of like one of those graduation parties
Your parents dragged you to when you were
Too young to know the word commencement 
Means an invitation to walk through that door
Right up to a neighbor who babysat you then
Say congratulations but did you see the news? 
I bet the dissenting judges are fun at parties
Jackson probably hangs out by the pool sips
Rosé through a paper straw as gentlethems
Line up to recite to her sapphic lyrical poetry
While Sotomayor & Kagan are in the ballroom
Staging a seance trying to buffer enough spirit
To let Ginsburg know the boys let her down 

 Vincent / Zac Kline

In the last moment before June ends
and July beings again, she mixes up
the last lines of Vincent
singing that they’re not listening
then missing
the final rhymes leaving
us to wonder
if Vincent might have
been okay those moments
before he discovered
that blood hue, one ear left
listening harder than the one
that he lost. How come,
the spark of early summer,
can’t last longer,
than the final air,
she takes in just
before finishing the night?
Would Vincent have saved himself
if she just sung
the words right?

At the Weir / Thomas Locicero

At the weir, the rush of water,
the dead end of fish battering
themselves in an ogre’s foam;
the boy saw no other
explanation. The river rose
as it should. Its path diverted
as was planned, still the fish were
epileptic. Then one was spat free
from the ogre’s jaws, and then
a pause—one for you, one for me—
and the boy, in the stillness of sleep,
still sees seizures, his memory
dammed up, swimming in place,
an apneic in a stream of dream paralysis,
waiting helplessly to inhale.

Self-portrait as an Octopus  / Athira Unni

With every breath, I extract colours
from my pores and vibrate,
the water irrigating my three hearts 
and my eyes fading, fading, before 
the 10 million eggs I need to protect. 

My cyborg-arms, acidic and easily stiff
remain my uneasy friends. 
I cannot be one of them
as long as I have these. 
So I am alone, as ever, 
riding the waves. 

I enjoy this deep solitude. 

And look, now, the early eggs are hatching. 
Beady eyes popping pepper-black 
behind moon-skin already ballooning. 

Soon, in these quiet depths 
I shall pass, my arms weighing me heavy
and my flaky skin white as death. 

My husband once dreamt 
that I’d die in childbirth.