THE September, 2023 30/30 PROJECT PAGE

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

The volunteer poets for August 2023 are Kristine Anderson, Mary Crow, Jaz, Lane Falcon, Caroline Fernandez, Salem Paige, Dallas Outlaw, Otis Rubottom, La-Gaye Sailsman, Jennifer Schomburg Kanke. 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 30 / Poem 30

This road heads West

Continues past small places with                 smaller
 no   morning can control

Here is a space full of                                    stillness

I’m never sure what
I’ll find                                                             under the surface.
So much happens                                         under the skin

The yawns that stretch my jaw to                                                let the ghosts out

reality faded into
gray areas  merged together

 I don’t know who I’d be without it,             that inner thunder, 
my constant companion,                              decibels mounting 

It dances gleefully before the lights
and casts                                                         a jester’s shadow.

they call it wailing because                          the ocean swallows it

Torn lace
tells intricate stories
of                                                                      threads like rivers
that have run their course

                                                                         It’s not the end of the world. Yet.

And if all summer this 
was the only thing we were patient for 
                                                                        it would be enough

our bodies tattooed
by the smooth stones underneath us

                                                                       and there is the sky
                                                                      singing its hymn to the world and us.

A Cento / With lines from and by Kristine Anderson, Mary Crow, Jaz, Lane Falcon, Caroline Fernandez, Salem Paige, Dallas Outlaw, Otis Rubottom, La-Gaye Sailsman, Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

Weather Report / Kristine Anderson

Of course it’s overcast today
for the final supermoon of the year
though I see some blue sky here and there
behind the pulled gauze of clouds

and today my sister and I played King’s Corners
using a chair seat for a board because
the only patio table was taken,
and we both enjoyed the mild
autumn day, she navigating
cards with much of her historical
proficiency and luck, winning the game,

and today at Dunkin’ Donuts
I got a free medium coffee
because it’s National Coffee Day,

and today my friend texted
that her dog behaved when left
alone in the car while she went into
the doctor’s office for an appointment
where she learned all is well,

and today my three-legged dog walked
all the way to the park (even if I had to
coax him at times), where he bounced
over the spongy grass, and once we returned,
he ran into the house to greet my husband
although he’d growled and barked at David
for the first two months in our home,

and tonight the clouds might bring
some badly needed rain, nurturing
the citrus and silver-carpet grass,
the thirsty sage in the yard

so that when I wake in the morning,
having missed the supermoon,
I’ll smell the crisp air of overnight showers,
the unmistakable scent of complexity.


Is history doomed to repeat itself?
Must each generation submit to
the mist of snow-white wings brought
by an east wind that heats the earth
while the lawmakers stumble, blind
men in the cave of their ignorance
holding up idols—where are the gods?

And the one man, hardly a hero,
who wears his arrogance to attract
us—he alone of all men can right
our wrongs: don’t we remember
his like from before? The broken
promises and the dying cottonwoods
and wheatfields outside our windows?

The old wind whips us into madness,
heat so unbearable orchards dropping
their leaves in the smoke of wildfires
driving across the plains like waves
of a sea, crest an orange blaze, and we
have made the decision to forget,
our souls muttering broken thoughts.

What will we do without the pines’
cool shadows, the crisp horizon line?

untitled  / Lane Falcon

How does it feel to sink
into inherent heaviness? In—

inherent, inward, intimate, involve, incest,
innate, integral, insidious, interlude,

incapacitate, in-kind—in my quickened
breath, shaking leg, restlessness,

in my exhalation— inhale—
in my retribution, inhibition, negation—

in my rejection, purge of incredulity,
outrage— instigate, ingenuine,

infrared, infant— to go, to be, to live
inside (to inhabit), to install—

to feel again the shame thumb me down,
press me into the pillows of the couch

where I brace for them to crush me—
instead I feel the outside again,

the cool floor, the lived-in breeze.  

A single mother  / Caroline Fernandez

Curly threads pour onto page after page, your cursive handwriting
meticulous on the light blue lines that once lifted each word into 
boardrooms and power plays. You were a machine, a human typewriter 
and walking thesaurus beyond a modern CPU, a multi-hyphenate 
mastermind wading through spices and broths, vocabulary and accounts, 
and day after day of children, cooking, and ambition. Your routine was 
your solace. You’d move from room to room, attacking a phone and wielding 
a pen and a pan with equal dexterity. It was rare those days to find a woman
who chose to stand on her own. There was no man to give you a boost so 
you shunned formal education, built your own pedestal, sourced the tools 
and scattered seeds by hand on untilled land and watched as they started to
sprout. You knew too well the time it took to build a home and a bank 
account, had scraped with your fingers from the bottom up to reach the top. 
Your desk is still frozen in time and left behind with plastic laminated photo 
albums, faded newspapers, thick black phone books, and diaries of birthdays, 
meetings, payment schedules, and coupon clippings. Every penny had a place
and every bill was kept safe. You were more than a baker of breads, you pulled
the wheat from its sheaf, ground it fine, sifted and kneaded it, and when it was
ready, you slathered butter and fed it morsel by morsel to everyone else till 
there was nothing left for yourself.

Pick a Car / Otis Rubottom

After seeing Richard Scarry on Instagram

It’s hard to know which one would stand out most
on the streets of Busytown, which driver and their
vehicle would turn heads as they cruised main street,
wind in their hair if, in fact, they had hair. 

Lowly Worm’s cap sports a jaunty feather
that flaps back in the breeze at the precise angle 
that his apple car’s stem also sits, both of them
sleekly parting the air, if an apple with wheels 
can be seen as sleek, really. The rainbow pencil

driven by the rabbit (or is it a mouse?) is the true 
speedster of the bunch, wrapped in bands of color 
brighter than any pinstripes, faster than anything 
it would meet on these gentle streets. 

I’m partial to the pickle but maybe just because 
it looks easy to park, easy to angle into any curbside 
spot I’d encounter, though I suppose in Busytown 
parking is always easy to come by, the spaces 
wide and inviting, the meters dutifully watched 
but always kindy and with care. 

I’d take the hot dog. The bananamobile is appealing
–sorry, sorry–but there’s something about a pig 
piloting a hot dog, mustard yellow paint like flames 
along the long body, that gets me right in the metaphysical
feels, makes me think not just of fairgrounds and ball parks

but of their whole anthropomorphic world, a place
perpetually in harmony, each day ticking over into
the next with an orderly, if unsettling, calm. A place
where you could drive a corncob, or an egg, where
your hot rod is a hot dog, where everyone waves
as you rev your engine, and you wave back. 

C’est l’exception qui confirme la régale / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

keep working (Márcia Cabrita, 53)                            take a rest (Laura Nyro, 49)
snuggle down with your one true love (Holly Dunn, 59)

make art from your pain (Lynda Gibson, 47)            
keep it private, let them call it secret (Linda Smith, 48)

be sweet (Cecilia Hart, 68)                             stay sassy (Kora, 67)

have faith in god (Loretta Young, 87 and Cassandra Harris, 43)
or goddess (Celeste Yarnall, 74)
or the bottom of a bottle (Dixie Lee, 42)
do exactly what they tell you (Elly Mayday, 30)
do whatever the hell you want (Cayle Chernin, 63)
or something in-between (Diem Brown, 34)

this list could go on and on,
down one side of the page and then the back,
searching for answers, some skeleton key.
look to the living, not the dead you say.

be yourself, love life, fight the judges over a slight turn of phrase for laughs (Carol Channing, 97)
be somewhat cruel and quite narcissistic, tell your daughter she needs to lose weight (Bess Myerson, 90)

there are no patterns but early detection,
a doctor who listened and ran the right tests,
a body that took the treatment and kept going.

Day 29 / Poem 29

What It’s About / Kristine Anderson

My mother insisted
on having a lemon tree.
At the small Craftsman house
of my early years, a monster
citrus tree grew in the corner
of the field-of-a-backyard—
a tree many feet taller than either
of my parents and at least as tall
as the ancient apricot tree
that my toddler sister saw
dancing during the Daly City
earthquake of 1957; and when
our family moved into a
new tract home in 1962,
my father planted a lemon tree,
cutting through the deck roof
to give the citrus access
to the sun so my mother could
open the sliding patio door
to pluck a fruit for cutting into
wedges to serve with fish sticks,
or she’d gather an armful for
lemonade in the summertime.
In the years after my mother died,
when I visited my father, I’d step
outside to pick a bright dimpled
lemon, carrying it into the kitchen
(where I’d spent so many hours watching
my mother season a pot roast or
make coffee in the Pyrex percolator),
and there I’d quarter the fruit
to suck the bitter juice, my face
collapsing into a pucker.
I know I should say something
about lemons’ tartness,
the contrasting beauty of the tree,
its waxy shamrock-shaded leaves
and dainty white five-petaled blossoms
whose perfume wafts through the yard.
All those things are true.
But this is really about my mother,
whose favorite color was green,
who spent so much of her adult
life in the kitchen, who played
Mantovani records and the opera
Carmen, who read Michener novels
and taught me to hem skirts
and pants because everything
we bought was too long for my
forever-short legs, and who, among
other things, left me with a need
for a lemon tree of my own
like the twenty-three-year-old
specimen in my backyard, laden
with ripening fruit, its limbs
blowing in the early autumn breeze
right now.

Valleys / Jaz

My only answer should be yes

I have to say yes when
Understanding hides her head
When riptides surprise
and waters surge
When I’m watching my ankles
splinter, crack and double down
When my breathing is scarce
When my poetry can’t be found
I have to say yes
When the choirs aren’t singing
I have to say yes
When I no longer recognize my name
When yes is all I have
In the silence
yes should be
the only

How to Cope  / Lane Falcon

Praise the 10,000 lux lamp I switch on every morning to wake me up
When all I want to do is return to the couch, my warm, dreaming dog,
And sink back to sleep, bless the stimulant I take to iron out my thoughts,
And bless the Prozac, bless the night drugs too that level my frayed
Neurons and blanket me in somnolence. Bless the podcasts that play
All day, the red bull and iced coffee the size of my head, the chocolate
I pop into my mouth first thing when I wake at 4 am, already craving,
Praise the smoke at night, the sunlight walks, the morning run
In the dark, the street still glistening with last night’s rain, praise
The yawns that stretch my jaw to let the ghosts out, the haunted dreams
That stream lightly forward, almost touching the forefront of my mind
Before receding into wordless colors, praise the bed that, for years, I blamed
For the column of tightness spanning from between my shoulders to my sacrum.

I told him last night I know how it feels to wake every morning and not understand
how others could move through the world so blithely, the thought that if everyone
feels as shitty as I do, the world is surely doomed. Praise my concern for humanity,
even when wretchedly depressed, those years that float above my hands, that globe
of noxious pain, a bird on a wire, the transference of electricity
it only avoids by flying.   

New immigrant  / Caroline Fernandez

A little superhero without a cape
she and I looked nothing alike
The schoolyard was an impenetrable forest 
a foreign place where I was seen 
as the new arrival, an unfamiliar species 
encroaching on another’s territory
my spots, a giveaway 
betraying the home I’d left behind 
the jungle in which I once roamed free

The way she sounded
the way she walked
shoulders squared, a mother bear 
protecting her baby cub from predators 
I was wide-eyed and unaware
amid the animal cries and calls
accented tongues I couldn’t translate
She saw beyond my differences
She was the one who rescued me

Grace Notes / Otis Rubottom

This morning I woke to the low note of cellos
carrying across the road from the Wilson’s,
the two daughters up before dawn
to run their bows along the long wood bodies.

What is it in summertime when the heat lightning
dodges the horizon so that past the slats
of the old barn and the bunchgrass fields
you think you see the shape of a horse
slipping by or maybe a woman on a bicycle?
You can’t be sure, dawn purpling the air,
and you walk to the end of the drive to watch
not caring anymore which.

I once thought August was the cusp of the year,
the place where something large and invisible
pivots beneath the sweat and chaff of the day.
I am less sure now. I’ve begun to give myself up
to the idea that nothing is turning beneath
my own feet and that such belief betrays oneself 
to tenderness, something I’m often accused of.

Soon the school band and football, the long light
of autumn. I remember marching with them,
playing the horn. All that stopped time and measured pace.
Once, with winter coming on, I realized all I knew
about faith was there in that pressing of lips
to the cold brass mouthpiece, ready
to exhale myself out into the frozen air.

I could almost see it in the damp cloud of no words
that hung there, could almost trust that I wasn’t
giving myself up to the air but asking it for help.
In return for that belief I got music, my fingers dumb
though my heart kept speaking through so much icy metal.

Intimacy was Ordinary / La-Gaye Sailsman

Honeyed brown eyes crinkled at the corners watching me. My nostrils flare, voice rises, wheezing at the top like the out of shape forty-something climbing a Peloton determined to get his six-pack abs. I threw my arguing points around the room the way I imagined a Real Housewife contestant would. Until my voice gives out tired from fighting with the shadows of boyfriends before him. He continues watching me. When he finally speaks, his voice still feels like my brown throw I cover with on rainy weeknights. “I want a sundae,” he says. Extends his hand. I take it. He pulls me off his bed and we walk into the night. Past the track field still lit for casual runners, shirts off, embracing the cool summer night. A left at the dining hall, past the football stadium, and right onto the main street. We pass women with their torsos out, black eyeliner streaked on their cheeks, while they cling to the arms of men who scream “whooo!” into the night at no one in particular. I hold his hand, now moist from summer humidity, a little tighter. Seven more minutes and we’re the only customers in Coldstone. He’s tapping on the same spot of glass to guide the server to his chocolate flavor. I wait. It’s almost midnight and I forgot my Lactaid pills. He sits across from me. His sundae piled with sprinkles and bananas. He starts to tell me about the classes he had that morning and the car he’s saving for.  I watch him. His voice rises when he argues the merits of getting ice cream at this time of night. My eyes crinkled at their corners as I smiled into the table, told him “thank you”, and my voice gave out again. 

For Elly Mayday / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            Canadian model, best known for Lane Bryant “I’m No Angel” ad campaign

This is your body, it’s wasting away and
no one believes nothing’s helping.
Ten pounds, twenty pounds, just a few pounds more.
Surely you feel better now,
surely your core is stronger now.
One time, two times, three times and four,
you go to the emergency room
sit in the over-chilled makeshift rooms
listening to doctors set broken legs,
stitch up cuts and dog bites.
Big girl living in this tiny world,
though it’s bigger than the one you grew up in,
shrink yourself down until all that remains
is a cyst that once was the size of a pea.

Day 28 / Poem 28

The Piano / Kristine Anderson

What were we thinking? A toddler, a new home,
exhausting every cent days before each payday,
& we bought a piano. To be fair, a used piano,
one picked up at the local college’s clear-out-old-
models sale. But neither my husband nor I played.

Not quite true. My husband could perform a few
songs by ear—& since childhood I’d wanted
to learn. We dreamed of filling the house
with the flowing notes from a piano, of our son
growing up in rooms resonating with music.

It was (still is) a polished rosewood upright, a piece
we’re proud to own—& own it we did, finally,
after years of installment payments. Over time,
my husband took lessons & our son learned
to play using teach-yourself books, YouTube,

& his father’s sitting next to him on the bench,
their hands side-by-side on the keyboard, their
harmony permeating the house. Now, our son away
to his own life, my husband & I retired, at last
I’ve kept a promise to myself. A student again,

marking finger positions in lesson books, trying
to remember treble from bass, coaxing my hands—
tired from a career of grading papers & typing
reports—to follow beats as I search for C or G,
anticipating when my notes will evolve into music.


It controls the light on your landscape,
its perspective aerial, and its job is
to render the waterscape reflective even
on a day that is as hazy as this one.

Doesn’t this put you in the mood?
Do you now radiate feelings? Discipline
yourself with idle chatter while your mind
registers the slightest of tremors.

This mood is the right one for you
with its smile’s unsayable flower,”
as Rilke wrote, “exposed on the cliffs
of the heart.” You will have to get used

to loneliness loosening daydreams. To
loneliness asking, Why am I I and not you?
Loneliness is slowly building an awful peace
out of God’s breathlessness. I must

learn to make do with the quiet moon
busy embossing the window sill with gold.


24: Unknown to Mama
Me a surprise
There was one more miracle
from God’s bosom that had to come through brokenness
to bring forth Poetry.
12: Me, a surprise
One more miracle
Through brokenness
To bring forth Poetry
6: One more miracle
To bring Poetry
3: Miracle to Poetry
1: Miracle

Another First Book Prize I Didn’t Win  / Lane Falcon

I read the winner’s bio, and the cesspool of jealousy
rises, inches from the lip, about to spill over, lifts until
I say out loud Be happy for them Goddammit,
then double it back with Well, they haven’t dealt
with what I have, even though they’re transgender with three pronouns.

I envy their beefier list of publications, their Poetry profile,
their words which flew off the page and buzzed around
in someone’s mind like fruit flies for days feeding off
the smell of an overripe banana, the discarded past,

forgetting to take out the trash until they noticed
the circling web of dots— and even after they lugged
the lumpy body to the dumpster, circling still
until cicadas succumb to crows and they expire,  
only to return again next summer. Another first book prize I didn’t win. 

Self Control / Dallas Outlaw

sick, twisted, sadistic
use of white lies
and dark humor
to paint the perfect
picture – distorted
proportionally disproportionate

reality faded into
gray areas  merged together
color blind colors fade and blend
tripping over lifes
living contractually

signing away your
own destiny irrationally
existing inside the bigger picture
framed to be more than just
a fixture or a permanent figure
a reminder to look in the mirror

Open Heart / Otis Rubottom

For my father

The year you had your heart taken out 
of your chest and put back in was also the year 
part of your heart never came back, the year 
part of you lifted skyward in a plume of ash.

A mitral valve replacement takes just a few hours. 
It’s almost impossible to comprehend how complex
the body’s systems are, let alone the process 
to bypass them, to stop the blood from coursing 
through that fist of a muscle while a machine 

breathes for you. Almost as impossible as how 
to understand that two weeks earlier your brother 
drove a car up the fire road to the top of the peak, 
never to return, erased what he wore as a body 
in this world and released it in flames, a smoke signal 
sent too late for anyone to reach him. 

I don’t remember what we did during the surgery. 
Is that bad? Should I know even now how we spent 
the time waiting for you to emerge? It doesn’t matter 
because you did, because you stepped back
into your body and brought us the story. 

That year you lost your mother and your brother
something shifted in the sky, the stars never
the same in their alignment. The same year 
the city cut down the yard’s lone palm tree, 
the sentinel where an owl called out and into
my window each of my childhood nights. 
That’s more than any calendar should carry. 

What I remember is the day before, how all four
of us all did yoga together and afterwards 
you lay on the mat and we put our hands on you
and prayed, though not a prayer the way you dip 
your head and beg for something, a prayer 
the way you put your hands against the flesh 
of your own flesh and say Don’t give up, say 
We are waiting for you.

For Veronica Castang / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            British-American Broadway actress

You were built to be an old woman
even your grammar school sounds
like the 1880s reaching out through the years
Haberdasher’s School for Girls.
Theater World kept printing your age,
which there just was no reason for.
You’re a woman who has reached
the age of discretion, what more
must they know? The stage lights
love you and you love them back.
Exactly the right degree of basic love,
laced with exasperation, common sense,
and a strong will of her own,
When the reviewer described your character,
he wrote a poem for you better than I ever could.

Day 27 / Poem 27

Boudica’s Golden Torc / Kristine Anderson

“around her [Boudica’s] neck was a large golden necklace”
—Cassius Dio, Roman History, LXII.2

Leading her thousands
of Iceni and neighboring
Trinovantes toward
doomed Roman towns,
Boudica’s neck glistened
from her torc, an ornament
of wealthy and noble
women and men and
their Celtic gods, symbol
of value, of status.
Perhaps hers displayed
layers of gold alloy
twisted in graceful spirals
of swirling motion,
metal ropes terminating
in finely crafted nobs
meeting at the front
of her throat.
Blinding as the sacred
sun. A circle
for completion.
Riding in a chariot,
daughters by her side,
Boudica’s necklace
radiated: a beacon
leading her people,
a warning to the
ill-fated settlements
of the fire to come.

FRACTURED  / Mary Crow

So many fragments, so many ruins,
we are always repairing and rebuilding
after tsunamis, after tornados and floods,
while nature keeps trying to tell us
to pay attention to this breaking down.

Sometimes we reach a moment of
exhaustion, broken, when our desire
is to raze everything to the ground.
How afterward can I get permission
to start again and make it beautiful?

For years everything lay spread out,
filled with a sense of beginning
as if gardens could rise like paper
cutouts followed by parks and hotel
in a city dreaming of itself.

Around me a kitchen has bloomed
with a window that looks out at
hydrangea in blossom, white balls
against dark green, and inside now
my body stands at the counter

cutting yellow wheels from lemons. 

We Don’t See It The Same / Jaz

Please, forget me not
How I was rusty and brilliant in the same moment
My decisions foolish but full of cheer
Please, forget me not
My awkwardness
teetering and falling off both sides of my mouth
with revelations of “I love you”
You were angry-
but I saw the blush
and the covetousness of a crowd
that panted for the heart you threw away
Forget me not,
My imprint
My handprint-
empathetic, across your existence
Please don’t forget…
you never deserved
the flowers of my soul.

Four Minute Mile / Otis Rubottom

for Roger Bannister

There is nothing in front of me 
but the track, no one’s flat back 
catching the sun, no one’s foot falls 
pacing out the steady strides. Always
there is the ticking of my own body.

I lean into the curves, my fingers loose 
against each other. After this another 
and then another–the laps fall away 
like finished pages. The packed black 
earth, its curves both blessing and curse. 

When the gun pops in the bright morning 
air, everything vanishes, rising as heat 
above the road. Then I’m running 
on the moon, on the bottom of the ocean. 

The breath of the men behind me, always
behind me, like hounds for the fox. 
It’s true: somewhere there’s a clock 
and a timer’s booth, a podium. 

I run for them all, for the roar 
rising up when I break the tape
and feel, in those few thin seconds 
the slow bellow from the crowd
lifting over us, something gone
quiet inside me, satisfied for now.

For Diem Brown / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~American reality television star

Pink and blue sky over the bronze of the statue,
everyone takes a turn posing with Jefferson’s grandson,
everyone takes turns splashing in the fountain.
These are your sisters, your BFFs,
your woo-girls for a Saturday night
walking into Pots like you own the damn place.
What will you do without them,
your ride-or-die anchors of hope?

Day 26 / Poem 26

The Time of Year / Kristine Anderson

The time of year when the sunlight softens &
evergreens cast farewell shadows in hours that,
regardless of the clock, seem too late for afternoon—

The time of year after summer’s beating smile of heat,
reminding me of July bicycle rides & childhood games
of Marco Polo splashing in the public swimming pool—

The time of year when, as a kid, new clothes were
still new, when I wore fresh Keds, when I’d meet
Darcy or Cindy along Quetta Road on the way to school—

The time of year when I carried a just-purchased binder
under my arm, like the one in third grade: tangerine &
lemon yellow & white, its sharp plastic scent resonating—

The time of year when, after school, I’d drop books &
papers on the kitchen table, grab a bag of Krispy saltines,
& sit in front of the TV to watch Wagon Train reruns—

This time when calendar pages left to turn grow thin,
most of the year used up, when every amber moment
proves impossible to hold onto, as daylight wanes—

END  / Mary Crow

It’s not the end of the world. Yet.
It rained all afternoon and rained again in the night.

We stared at each other with hatred,
standing and waiting as if at a train station on a winter night.

No one said anything: we were afraid
of speaking a language no one else could understand.

Our eyes followed a shooting star
across the sky above the platform till it fell

into invisibility as if it were one of us,
another invisibility, another link in a chain of bodies

that little by little became a trail of smoke
which resembled a dark poppy opening, silky, sinuous.

The storm’s insistence with its bitter
green aroma wrote on the wall, FOUND WANTING,

and the flood rose high over coasts
and islands inundating the invisible country.

Gratitude / Jaz


Sit with
You pontificate 
You disassociate…deny 
You tussle with my words
You juggle
With connotations 
content and context
You query
You bargain
Swell and release
I mean you no harm
If you didn’t know-
I disrobe
and poet myself first
I stand in it up to my neck
So you won’t have to
At 30 days
I’ll close my pen
I’ll be

Domestic  / Lane Falcon

The things I do, I always do,
stack up behind me, a tower
of mildewy books, the pages glommed
together, the spines damp:

I can’t apologize without 
doubling back to count
the offenses that led up
to me saying what I did,

I pretend not to know it’s there– 
the impulse,cackling little ghost–
who tells me to test the words,
to sniff the fruit,

knowing already its fragrance 
will open my mouth, feeling already
its velvet skin on my tongue.

The Therapist / Caroline Fernandez

How quick they are to cry in front of a stranger. I listen,
a mirror wall transmitting visible truths yet careful not to 
show too much, my expressions become a filter to ease
the blow of distorted lies they tell themselves, the way 
beauty pervades and ugly remains, history is masked by
the teller and the future is a mere whim. What does the 
mirror look like beyond its silvery surface? I am not made 
only of glass and aluminum, I too have my roots in stone 
and sand. I too am of the earth’s making and know how to
shatter. Though for them, I’m a high-priced crutch to their 
most grisly scars, here to soothe and assuage, sugarcoat 
the recurring errors, lend a salve to help the healing along. 
Each time we speak, we know that It is a trick of the mind 
to look directly at oneself but not deign to look left or right.

Driving to a Funeral / Otis Rubottom

Across the river leaves are burning
with color, the long light of afternoon
bending itself into small pools of shadow. 
Roadside fruit sellers bag yellow apples,
turn pumpkins towards the day’s end,
their brushed ridges now gone to glowing.
Evening coming and the hills pull up their fog, 
stars snap on and deer, past the lake, 
caution their way west. Can you hear it? 
Home in every direction and closer, 
the sound of your life calling you in.

For Lovette George / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~American Broadway actress best known for The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)

 You can do anything
from Sondheim to Herman,
optimistic soprano changing
to fit whatever the joke needs.
You’re good, why don’t they want you
for anything other than this?
Why do you take a back seat
to Kristin and Audra?
You sparkle, you shine,
stop asking yourself
why it’s not bright enough,
why you are a parody
of what you long to become.

Day 25 / Poem 25

The Hawk / Kristine Anderson

All week I’ve heard its piercing cry:
a red-tailed hawk overhead, out of sight,
distinctive screech ripping the silence.

Kree—kree—kree during a morning stroll. Today,
window open to the autumn cool, kree—kree—
kree interrupts my coffee and the Sunday paper.

It must be in flight; hawks only call
from the sky. Speaking to a mate, perhaps,
or to another raptor intruding near its home.

Out walking, I turn a corner to look. Now I step
from kitchen into the yard to catch a glance.
My eyes scanning, I still have not seen it.

Pepper trees or pines block the view, or
the sound’s rising from the canyon beyond
my sight, bouncing off the earthen walls.

Silly, but like a schoolkid not chosen for
the softball team (not even outfield),
I feel neglected, cheated of at least a glimpse.

Long ago I outgrew dreams of flying—
but not the thrill of watching a soaring hawk,
open wings gliding on waves of air high above.


Try not to be too boring,
difficult command from a difficult poet.

Well, let’s pretend: You’re my double,
my mirror twin:

to be alone out of spite
is your profession, to suffer wind’s

answer as it flows from your breast
and sweeps me

into its current
of instincts where animals don your face,

wolves whose eyes flare up
in a headlight’s flash,

and there is the sky
singing its hymn to the world and us

of endless distance which wounds me
into desire.

It’s Not So Hard To Swallow Glass / Jaz

She waited 90 minutes to make the call

They skidded around her needs
Until she found her voice…shivering and bent low in their memories
At times she felt like a daughter
At times he sounded like a dad

The conversation lasted longer than their fears
At the end of that dial tone was
session notes for therapy.

Chapter 3: Little Sister  / Lane Falcon

I remember running down an alley with a plastic tablecloth clothes-pinned over my shoulders, grey flowers blasting from my tight, polyester dress. It felt symbolic, everything rearranging, the boy who threw rocks at my window at night, all the boys at our house at night, smoking blunts, playing spades, we called ourselves the Great Gatsbys of Rodgers Park.

The Great Gatsbys of Rodgers Park, we were always open, when Tiffany and her silent friend came by to use our phone and shared a rock or two at the kitchen table. I remember always being last in line, for the line, for the pipe, the one with the least experience, let’s say, the youngest everywhere at that time, tagging along with my big sister, sampling all the drugs along the way.

I remember the days after though, but even they weren’t all bad, some comfort waited at the end of everything. Some mercy to wrap me in its arms, to fortify me with its golden syrup love and send me back out into the world to thrive in reverse, to thrive like bacteria thrives, my wild constitution still marbled with health, propelling me, propelling me forward.    

Serial mind fuck / Caroline Fernandez

We talk about strangers
beware of those bad boys
how danger lurks 
in alleyways and dark corners
The man on the street
with hollow eyes and shadows 
hovering over his face
leather jackets and chains
baggy jeans and rap refrains
broken English and foreign accents 
where scars become weapons 
eyes are deep set with
a story that can’t be told 
I trust him more
Than the suits and the charm
than the perfectly polished English
Shakespeare quotes 
and the pretty coat
the names we can pronounce 
spitting the Economist 
and Harvard Business Review
paying the bills 
with nothing to lose
it’s more like the murky recesses 
of the minds we hold dear
harbour the most muddled habits 
we most need to fear 
Beware of the man
in a Volkswagen Beetle
with good looks and a glint 
of mischief in his gaze
We can’t handle his
waterfall of curls
We can’t give a helping hand
to the body in the trunk 
if it’s already dead

Big, Comfy Couch / Dallas Outlaw

I engulf you with a hug
the kind you need after 
a long day, snug 

enough to encourage
complete a relaxation
is that a nap I feel coming

onto a dreamy world
my post is not just
for comfort, I’m content 

with being moved on a whim
just because change can
bring about internal happiness

instead of replacing my presence
remember all the good by times
I’ve held you

arguments, tough love, even sex
a couch for your troubles, and happiness
a couch nonetheless.

The Explorer’s Wife / Otis Rubottom

1. Departure

The weeks before you leave are frenzy.
A chaos of preparation breaks
over the house like a wave. It’s spring,
mad winds and a storm of blooms
raining from the cherry trees. 

Where ceased to matter long ago, destinations
so steadily changing as to become a constant,
maps useless now, guides only to the abstract

regions of your heart. I can say Fez and point
to the wall and know a small comfort, 
the airstrip there baking in the midday heat.
But not you. Whatever want for constancy
you possess satisfied only by change.

2. Separation

There is no desert like the just-left home. 
Work stacked and silent on the desk, 
entire rooms vacant as the chill of fall slips
beneath the sill. The air clicks and whistles

around my ankles as I walk the long blocks, 
the broad avenues which know nothing 
of your absence, your journey
to your own distant outposts.

3. Letters Home

They arrive as ghosts, treasure dropped
through the mail slot. They fall unbidden 
from the box like ripe fruit, bounty delivered
to my door. They are exotic, bejeweled 

by the various hands that have touched them, 
the stamps and string, inky fingerprints of progress. 
I can imagine their passage, the dust and noise, 
the countless countings that moved them to me.
Somewhere, a quiet passage in the hull of a ship,
a plane’s belly droning above the continents.

I can hardly bear to open them. 

4. Waiting

It’s true: You could be in danger. Travel far
enough and the clichés become concern:
bandits and border crossings, policeman ready
with an easy handshake and a nod—punctuations 

of fear in a litany of boredom. Endless driving, 
the dull hotel processional, zinc bars and working girls, 
encampments empty save for a staggering view.

It would be torture for others, those young or dumb
enough to lack the patience of vision. You wear 
your bravado like a favorite shirt, your love 
of gamble a kind of armor against routine. 

5.  The Return

What to say, then, to the itinerary 
And its announcements of home? 
What is that anymore, but a quaint vocabulary?
Home is where…don’t even think it.   
Home is where your heart is broken.


Kindness is a Small Act / La-Gaye Sailsman

There’s a duck restaurant in a back alley the American expert found.This is our third time in months. My soul dances each time the owner puts oi kimchi¹ on the table with the banchan² must brand me in his mind. Today when I return, not with expats but a local outsider, the owner pops from his chair after a greeting and heads out the door. We order and chatter while we wait. When the duck joins the table, Dan says when the owner left he’d gone to the market to get a few cucumbers. She added that oi kimchi is best made fresh. It isn’t usually fermented like other versions of kimchi. My joyful ‘thanks’ mingle with soul-ful pirouettes. Gratitude and graciousness tucked themselves in a back alley, on a no-name street in Namhae-eup³.  



² The many types of banchan. Many small restaurants rotate the daily set of banchan.


For Cayle Chernin / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~Canadian actress, director, and documentarian best known for Goin’ Down the Road and I Am Home.

There is a better metaphor, and you deserve that one.
But I do not know it yet, so I give you this
rock being thrown into still waters,
the ripple spreading wider and wider
to the shore of the lake long after
that first stone has sunk down to the bottom.
That disappointed little stone who always wanted
to be where the streets thronged with people,
who never knew what kind of stone she was
but knew what kind of stone she wanted to become.
That stone who chose going down with glamour
to a prolonged and painful life.
If you’ve already been cast to the wind,
why prolong the inevitable? No,
not inevitable, so many things are inevitable.
Imminent, that’s the word, imminent.

Day 24 / Poem 24

Find It / Kristine Anderson

A game my dog plays:
looking for bits of kibble
hidden in folds of his blanket
before curling up in his crate
for the night.

Come to think of it,
a game I play, too.

Checking WhatsApp for
new photos of an Australian
parrot or lorikeet or honeyeater,
maybe grad school news or
a joke, from my son overseas—

Listening for the ding
of a text from a friend four
hundred miles away
wishing me happy autumn
equinox, a simple day
marking time’s passing—

Walking through the backyard
to count end-of-summer
orb weavers, to admire their
russet swollen abdomina or
vibrant striped thoraxes as they
keep watch from their webs—

Opening up a computer page
to answer a question (what’s
the plural of abdomen?),
to read some new poems, happen
upon a story that reminds me
how much more there still is
to be found.

ALL OF IT  / Mary Crow

Listen to how the wind whispers
good to us and then rearranges words
into you taste good, perhaps the sound
of the house creaking around us in a gust.
Did you test negative?

Are you comforted by the results?
Does nature belong to us
or we to nature?
The poems arriving bear memories
on a rising tide of fear.

Stricken? A world outside my window
cradles cottonwood and crabapple
whose yellow leaves have started
to fall over the grass—too soon.
Too soon, too soon.

But you don’t ask and I never
try to puzzle out the answer;
I think about you thinking
about us, about me.
The place names are strange.

Cesky Krumlov, for example,
Jaffa and Haifa, Bilin where we marched,
Providencia, San Cristobal
of the Shining Path.
We were hungry for light, both of us, all of it.   

Marigolds On Fire / Jaz

Circles and circles and circles and

One heart going down in a
blaze of heartbreak

The Sedona tells its
only to the shadows
that will preserve our history

Your imprint
doesn’t fit anymore

I’m aerial
in thought
and belief.

Only one day in Roma  / Caroline Fernandez

Sitting with a glass of vino rosso
watching the piazza dip and swell  
as the fountain gurgles, gushes, and sprays
It’s mid-afternoon 
and one of those days where 
the sky breaks into a five-minute spring rain 
washing the Roman sampietrini sidewalks
sending umbrella-sellers out to the streets
We trace a trail of tiramisu streaks 
what’s left behind on our dessert plate 
and swirl the last of a thin coffee foam 
on the bottom of an emptying cup 
as we raise our faces to the passing mist

Design Systems / Otis Rubottom

for Joanna Vargas

This morning doing laundry I was thinking 
about the importance of systems, of how 
ordering the steps creates an environment
for the design to thrive. Take this load
of whites for example. The hot water
must come before the detergent and
the baking soda, so the particles can fully
dissolve, fully sacrifice themselves in service
of the goal. Is that too strong a word, sacrifice?

I’m doing it again, assigning meaning 
where it’s not needed. What’s important
are the sheets, the collared shirts and the 
towels—hand, bath, washcloths. All of them
assembled and bathed so they may 
hang on the line in the Sunday sun.

There are other ways of imposing order. 
Some prefer gardening, the neat rows
of tomatoes and beans, onions and herbs, 
the promise of harvest a kind of prayer
for future, a promised meal we hope
to prepare. All season we babied the kale

nursed it through late summer’s blast,
sprayed solution on its tiny leaves
to fight against mites. They made it
to fall, past the aphids and apocalyptic
heat, only to be plucked in the night 
by a stranger. 

Who steals from another’s garden? 

The laundry above the yard is geometric 
in its order, a procession of rectangles sifting
in the wind. Today the sun’s got them it its
grasp, but tomorrow the forecast turns,
summer’s end not just on the calendar but
the weather report, too. Temperatures dipping,
days pulling on their sleeves, some rain 
already falling, some still to fall.


Pimento Tree Bark / La-Gaye Sailsman

Scent after it rains always felt like safety
a promise that better will always come.

One morning after a night of heavy rains
we rallied like sentinels to the damage
clinging to my aunt’s waist, we surveyed
a yard once crisp from summer’s heat 
now flushed green from the kiss of rain
dressed in bloodied splinters
from the wound in the pimento tree.
Its wood perfumed the air as it would 
when we cook jerk in the outdoor kitchen.
Its smoke invited you to sit, for a moment.
Its seeds not dried to spread in foods
here, like a startled thief, spraying his 
jewels when he’s caught red handed
It’s spread curved white and gray bark 
insulated red in a well-known secret – the 
pimento tree loves to show us its scar
where lightning held it instead of our home.

For Cassandra Harris / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~Australian actress, For Your Eyes Only

 Under the tree in the garden
she sat with a book and a pen,
neither reading nor writing,
still and planless for once,
just thinking and taking in
sounds from the children at poolside.
Cannonballs, somersaults,
someone being thrown in.
All these pieces in motion,
all these lives playing out in the sun
setting there over the ocean
somewhere far out in the distance.
Just a day winding down,
just a long night begun.

Day 23 / Poem 23

Thirteen Oppositions Regarding Boudica / Kristine Anderson

noble        /  rebel       /  role model
barbarian  /  scourge  /  curse  

beautiful  /  charismatic    /  strong
wild         /  manipulative  /  unnatural

fearless  /  courageous   /  justified
violent   /  unhinged      /  reckless

patriot      /  warrior  /  hero
renegade  /  butcher  /  agitator 



The eggs that are getting cold,
are waiting for you, honey,
and the trip to the Farmers’ Market.

Why so slow, Sleepy Head? Are
you still half inside your dream?
Was life so much lighter there?

Take five? Take ten? Remember
the confluence of the Green and Colorado
and how our canoe tipped us out?

Not another human for entire days.
We sang our way down river,
and marveled at a baby owl.

Still, we made it to the other shore,
saved what we could and entered
that wilderness of tamarisk and beaver.

Who knew he’d hiss instead of
whoo and bare the softest breast feathers,
wings still unfledged so he couldn’t fly. 

He had to puff up and wait for us
to move on—back to our canoe,
back to the gurgling river.

A Love Letter To Artists / Jaz

Dear Artist: Don’t apologize for your art.
Dear beating heart: don’t apologize for your existence
Your gifts will find a way to operate
Trampled on roses are diamonds and will find a way to shine
No matter who or what beat you down
Believe the beautiful truth that’s inside of you!

Chapter 3: Little Sister  / Lane Falcon

I remember running down an alley with a plastic tablecloth clothes-pinned over my shoulders, grey flowers blasting from my tight, polyester dress. It felt symbolic, everything rearranging, the boy who threw rocks at my window at night, all the boys at our house at night, smoking blunts, playing spades, we called ourselves the Great Gatsbys of Rodgers Park.

The Great Gatsbys of Rodgers Park, we were always open, when Tiffany and her silent friend came by to use our phone and shared a rock or two at the kitchen table. I remember always being last in line, for the line, for the pipe, the one with the least experience, let’s say, the youngest everywhere at that time, tagging along with my big sister, sampling all the drugs along the way.

I remember the days after though, but even they weren’t all bad, some comfort waited at the end of everything. Some mercy to wrap me in its arms, to fortify me with its golden syrup love and send me back out into the world to thrive in reverse, to thrive like bacteria thrives, my wild constitution still marbled with health, propelling me, propelling me forward.     

Momentum  / Caroline Fernandez

My love affair begins with mornings. I put on my shoes. Mindlessly tuck the tied laces in. Sleepy streets. Cool air left behind by the dew’s departure. The wind bristling in my ears. I focus on the breath instead of the reasons I breathe. The capacity of my lungs to pull, hold, withhold and release. I gauge every turn. No one is awake to get in my way. It’s the silence I like most, broken by the breeze rushing through my thin jacket, inflating it like I’m a balloon, as if I can lift off at any point and take flight. I move so fast, so far, that I believe I can fly, much like the myna that pottered around on the road and the grass fully knowing it could go wherever it chose. Stoplights are a formality, passing cars a fleeting distraction, the pavement a launch pad, grass becomes a breeding ground, propelling, accelerating, there’s no such thing as stopping once I start going, the sprinklers beckon for a brief ballet with the water, the hard path punctuated by the rhythm of my feet, how I seek soft grounds after long stretches of unforgiving concrete, wet soil becomes a cushion, the earth helps me bounce back as sunlight ripples softly between leaves, branches creak and twigs bend underfoot. Sweat on my brow is a salty sweet reward to tell me I don’t need a map to make my way, through alleyways and canals, my breath fueling my feet in unison with my heartbeat. The journey is the fervor.

Given Away / Dallas Outlaw

thank you for
teaching me to go
                                out of my way
for other people,
                                in search of me
i no longer
hold myself:

The Picnic / Otis Rubottom

How was I to know, the night I drove
Peter Pettigraw’s truck to the abandoned quarry,
a six pack on the seat beside me and cold
welding the night shut, that two towns away
my sister had left the school picnic that afternoon
and walked into the woods never to be seen again?
And that the next morning would be the last time
I would hear my father speak within the walls
of our house—no words now, just gesture.

I can see the paper plates and the cold
egg salad, sticky napkins shifting
in the wind, the leaves on the tall
poplars worrying themselves towards
fall. And if they carried over the figure
of a small girl as she kicked her way
through the October colors, her bright
dress getting smaller and smaller
in the distance, would they follow her?

They’re just the early leaves of autumn,
after all. The woods know nothing of her
and to go into those trees and burn them
with gasoline and fireworks, as I did
the winter after she left, would do no good.

I wanted someone to find out, someone
to see the glow from the pines and the yew,
and walk across the rime of frost and watch
as a teenager with long arms carefully charred
a circle of trees, stood rapt in the growing light.

I wanted to someone to tell me to stop
so I could turn on my sneaker’s worn heel
and dare them to repeat it, hang in the air
an invitation to open that small door
where I kept all my rage.

Mirage  / La-Gaye Sailsman

Words      move out of people      the way sloths move on a sidewalk
broiled in the summer sun. Sliding slowly from mouths. Slow even in recoil. 
Sometimes they’re caramel dipped thorns aimed at a soft spot to melt 
in. It takes courage to look at the flesh and pull these out. There are 
words that patter and soothe like the scent in the air after it rains. Droplets,
encouraging you on your way. Some shimmer orange like the sun blinding 
you with their promise of hope      of warmth      of a soft place to finally land. 
So blind we miss what tinges of blue lines their edges until we murmur, again,
thoughts      prayers. Words. Moving, like the wind, they stay but for a whisper.

For Smita Talwalkar / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~Indian actress, director, and producer, known for Kalat Nakalat and Tu Tithe Mee

Tired of foods wrapped in plastic,
tepid basmati with overcooked cod,
catering cedes their right of way to you.
Your own children all off and grown,
the cast and crew are your family now,
keeping them healthy and well a joy
close to winning your first
National Film Award,
close to chairing the Marathi Cinema Festival,
close to the look young female directors
give you when you smile their way.
They think they’ve played it cool,
all professionalism and respect,
but you see their giddiness as you turn away
and you love them for it even more.

Day 22 / Poem 22

Imagining Boudica as a Young Woman / Kristine Anderson

                       Boudica (c. 30-61 CE), Iceni queen

Perhaps your people admired you even then,
a popular young noble bride at eighteen,
your husband the wealthy, newly powerful king
of the Iceni, with the Roman Empire’s blessing.

What was your wedding like in the 40s CE?
The ceremony planned for an auspicious   
calendar date, one favored by the deities,
venue facing northeast: inviting favor, prosperity;

your youthful neck wrapped in a golden torc,
symbol of your status already, decades before
(as Cassius Dio describes) the one you wore
to avenge your tribe, command your people to rebel.

Those early years of marriage, how did you fare?
Probably you took on the position with flair—
and pregnancy suited you, a role so familiar
to your sex, who were equally adept at home or at war.

Did you dote on your daughters? I imagine your
taking them on horseback as soon as they could ride,
teaching them the land as their mares trotted alongside
fields of grain, your naming for them each river and road.

I want to believe you enjoyed those years you shared
as mother and wife, consort to the king, watching and caring
as your daughters grew through childhood—those days
of peace that would emphasize all you had to lose.

KEEP OUT   / Mary Crow

Scenery condemned:
t was an adaptation of
an adaptation and it
required neither villa
nor beach cottage. Out
there what we want is
a desert shack from
a ghost town submerged
in silence like that of
the Titanic or soldiers’
noiseless steps as they
approach minefields
in the Ukraine.

What, then, is our
danger exactly? Exactly
the lies in air and water,
lies in the earth, erasing
our forests, huts and towns,
conspiracies of lies. You’ll
learn about them from
the wind, from artificial
intelligence, from liars
with open carry. What
would I find if I pulled
off your mask? What
landscape of bone? What
battlefield souvenirs?  


Every time he looks at a bird

                           on the ground 
He thinks,
        “Why crawl, when you can fly?”
At home 
     The mirror 
Asks him the same.

Summer, 1998  / Lane Falcon

 I remember Semi-charmed Life
blasting from open car windows
at stop lights, girls with their
swimmer’s shoulders
sloping out of halter tops—
that feeling of otherness.
In the passenger seat
of my mother’s Volvo station wagon,
twisting the radio knob
in search of something that spoke to me,
looked like me. I was 17,
overweight, my body bloated
with psychotropics, and desperate
to feel loved— so desperate
I hated those girls, their lithe bodies
and easy smiles, the alternating
red/blue of their fingernails in July.
A few nights a week, I worked 
at a pet shop scrubbing shit 
from the puppies’ crates, then 
closing the door on their wounded 
faces. I remember the looks people gave me,
as if I would explode into a gruesome
mess if they looked too long,
but something about my slow movements,
my dry eyes, drew their own.
I remember waiting for my mother
outside the shop when it closed,
smoking, my only comfort.
I told her everything back then,
the dark hole I crept around,
half wanting to jump and come out
on the other side, whatever
other side there might be.
Answering prank calls to my house
and crying as, one by one,
my former friends turned against
me— an easy target, large
and sloppy and always on the brink
of causing some spectacle they
could joke about for months after.
I remember intercepting a man 
outside Piggly Wiggly with a ten 
dollar bill and a story about losing 
my ID, then taking the eighth 
of vodka across the street 
to drink in the sun, no chaser.

Twin Towers / Otis Rubottom

Every time I run past them I remember the others,
the ones without boughs or needles, without 
roots branching below the sidewalk, the street
lifting and spreading from their torque. These two
cedars each a 100 years old if they are a day
that sit outside Heath and Heather’s house,
just another couple of trees on the daily run. 

But of course they’re not just trees, not just
a sentinel pair on a random Portland road. 
Because when I stride by they are always
something else, something I know no one sees. 

Shadows of the downtown canyon, echoes
of the view from Alicia’s loft, from Deanna’s
high windows. It’s been a long time now 
since I stood and looked up at the vacant air 
where you used to be, where there once was
something and now there’s something else. 

Lebanon. Atlas. Deodar. I’ve learned the names,
learned the telltale bark. I’ve even seen the damage
they can do, a giant cone falling on Jim’s head once,
grazing his brow. Dazed and bloody, I wonder what 
he thought it was, the blow that nearly killed him
but didn’t, spared by the smallest of strides, whisper
of a breeze. Imagine that. One minute you’re walking
in the woods, the next you’re fighting for your life.

Odd Universal Truths  / La-Gaye Sailsman

Old orange and blue bus 
slowly pulls its young passengers
creaking up a steep road toward home. 

Volume heavy linebacker
squeezes himself behind the bus driver
and beside the only girl. 

Camaraderie eases them
into easy chatter he appreciates
light pokes from behind his smile. 

A fan, just a few stops from home
interrupts without introduction
assumes his right to always speak. 

Linebacker’s smile dims
though glued in place
answers all the questions 

five stops before home. 

Neither linebacker nor fan
locked in their football dance
say the girl was interrupted too.  

She blends back into the calico seats
without either’s apology
casualty of who gets the right to speak. 

For Ella Grasso / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~American politician, first woman governor elected in her own right

Fit yourself in like a film on a reel
and let your life play out like popcorn.
Keep private what’s private, and share
what needs sharing, practicality’s
own shock of redundance.
Selling off the state limo and plane,
giving back your state-mandated raise,
all your best efforts and magical spreadsheets
couldn’t stop you from laying off workers.

Day 21 / Poem 21

What Will Change the World? / Kristine Anderson

“If I wanted to change the world, the last thing I would do is write a play.”
                           —Tom Stoppard

If not a play, will a speech at the United Nations, countries
around the globe watching & news media quoting, running
photos, issuing commentary on what everything means?

Did the first human on the moon make a change—
a giant leap for mankind?

Did an earthquake & subsequent tsunami, leaving communities
in rubble, hundreds dead & more homeless, infrastructure broken
down to danger-level, & all over the world, hands reaching to help?

Did an internationally popular movie about a cross-social-class
romance on a doomed ship?

Is a famous or extraordinary person required for this task?
Or an average voter, scientist working late in the lab, parent offering
others’ children a place to rest, one passerby with a cell phone?

What will change this tilted-off-balance, wild and colorful,
circus of a world?

Will a law?
A song?
A kiss?

INDICTMENT   / Mary Crow

“Isn’t it a lovely day?”, he sighed.
for landscape, maybe the slope
of the acropolis where we could
set up stelae, one for each ghost
of a departed law, if you’ll allow
me to remind you of the unwritten
where the gods push their boats
out into the current, farewell to
the might-have-been—testaments
that ferry sorrow across the ages—

on the islands where camps
have been set up for those who
pushed past restricted borders
to hostile shores, but one boy
said, “I cannot stay here. I
want to study chemistry in
whatever language is spoken
by ghosts.” In the city of
the future, lime green grass
pushes up footsteps; you can
hear them climbing the hill.


They own the sky
converging on call and response
A tongue only understood by God
Their conversations stand my heart at attention
How can this nature-girl resist the sleek 
black chatterboxes, noisier than my kindergartners?
The other day my gaze was hooked on 
their destruction of a tall wooden
telephone pole. I quietly wondered if it
would timber through my window!
They each vied for attention, status and
their acre of land
I saw their dance
Their code of ethics
Their community
The celebration
I imagined the loudest squawkers
saying “Hey wait your turn, you know
the deal! Respect the hierarchy”.
If only I could reach out and pull them in
We could both do karaoke and krimpets
Some days they don’t come and I
wonder where at in this great expanse
are they putting down new roots and
bantering back and forth about us ants
beneath them

The Art of Letting Go  / Lane Falcon

— After Richard Rohr

Fall into 
what feels like losing:

into the eye 
of the green,

the emerald oil,

the center of 
concentric rings, 

to the bottom of 

where the dropped 
stone still sings—

a blossoming   / Caroline Fernandez

Getting to know the switches along your bedroom wall
my hand feels about
reaching for a sound
a click that tells me 
I belong here
that everything is right
I can’t see in the dark, you know
whether or not you’re looking back
or if you’ve already closed your eyes 
So before I go to sleep tonight
I’ll listen for your breathing
its pace and pauses
I’ll memorize the corners and turns 
at the entrance to your room
how its lights may flicker 
try each one at a time
till I know exactly how 
to turn on your bedroom light 

Ghazal (for night) / Otis Rubottom

What is it when the first rain arrives before night?
Whole skies gone ashen, cloaked and ready for night. 

Summer’s leaving, lifting and away and into light,
roadside wildflowers all gone, all closed up for the night. 

I have forgotten as much as I have learned
when it comes to the way I watch for night.  

Moths, jasmine, the moon’s shadow on the plowed
field’s stubble. Some things wait just for night.

When I was a boy I’d listen for the owl’s call
for weeks, the tall palm its home, but only for night.

I forget facts about stars, remember the ones
about my name. Otis? It means born at night.

Spark / La-Gaye Sailsman

Like the last breath of air
before you free dive to your death

lay me down on a heavy blanket of
bramble and forgotten dreams

let me sing my song, hopeful
wrap your heavy hand around my waist

pull me through the will of the stars
let me land smooth as a trumpet’s call

beside you each time we revolve
hold me like all your promises made

to lovers long lost and rarely thought of
let the moment you murmur every stretch

of heart toward the spark, I lend you 

For Lynda Gibson / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~Australian actress and comedian
Your body’s a joke you love to tell,
it slips around dark corners
proclaiming loudly that it’s snuck
around for mischief’s making.

It dances gleefully before the lights
and casts a jester’s shadow.
There’s nothing ever it won’t be doing
to bring about a laugh.

So flail your arms and stomp your feet,
give a honk to your prosthetic nose.
Don’t mind the rattle of those chains
as the final curtain’s close.

Day 20 / Poem 20

Sanctuary / Kristine Anderson

“More than this, the temple raised to the deified Claudius continually met the [local people’s] view, like the citadel of an eternal tyranny . . . .”
—Tacitus, Annals, XIV.31

 If walls could talk, the saying goes,
the stone of vaults below the now-
Colchester castle would have much
to tell—ancient tragedies of
usurpation, of rebellion.

Two millennia ago, the
Romans of Camolodunum
who’d seized the fertile land
had those basement tunnels dug
with labor of locals-made-slaves

as foundation for Claudius’s
Temple—a focal point for the
colonia, where the empire’s
retired soldiers could settle.
A noble house to honor

Caesar, to worship him: columns
and façade of septaria
stone, brought from fourteen miles away—
and at heart, the sacred cella,
windowless inner sanctuary.

So when the rebels, Boudica
and her tribes, swooped into the town,
of course the Romans gathered in
the cella, expected refuge there.
But fury of those thousands who’d

watched their lands and neighbors taken,
their anger fanned by Roman gods,
would not let up. After two days’
siege, the temple fell. Survivors?
Just the walls below the blistered earth.

CASSANDRA   / Mary Crow

Do we have to fear the future?
That’s the other side asking.

Odysseus had his men tie him
to the mast and bind his ears,

and there are those who try to
stop the current sea of omens—

inflation rising in waves, no
room where we can lay our heads,

toxins in food and air and water.
Earthquakes. Floods. Perhaps

we can re-arrange the news so
that can make all the difference:

sounds penetrating our universe
from the farthest planets invite

us to colonize where water
and air are so pure we’ll start

all over, seas with no plastic,
pristine landscapes without cars

(and no roads), sky cloudless
when we look up, the current

Cassandra unable to depress
us with her prophecies or guide

us to enlightenment, unable to
bag up our dreams she posted

on her blowing oak leaves.

She didn’t need to make any of yall comfortable / Jaz

She was already in her beauty and glory with the multi-colored braids that accented her explosive and empowering victory.  She didn’t need permission to be her nor apology for being her. 

The HEADline read “Sha’Carri Richardson told Lewis Johnson, NBC on field announcer, that she told coach that she would wear her natural hair for the #NikePreClassic, and she did”.

I’ve never seen such ignorance-in stereo-over the hair that grows out of one’s head, than that against Black and African people. Why do yall care?? Why do you gawk? Touch? Culture vulture it? Why do you micro-aggression it? Why do you crave and condemn it? (and if this castigation don’t apply then let it fly but try checking and challenging your “friends” that do it)

Why does their have to be laws about it? To protect us. To permit us. To wear what’s natural. To illumine in our Birthright?

Don’t police it.

Police your privilege and your heart of rancor. 

Stew in your obtuseness and taste your own pusillanimity

Go sit yourself down somewhere




Golden Boy  / Lane Falcon

She didn’t know if it was an allegiance
to herself or anti-allegiance
to him. Part of her zipped up
like a magically healing wound
every time she saw him hurt.
Once, she would’ve jumped into
the deep end to save him, even though
she could barely swim and he seemed
born for it, his arms glistening
as they surged from the pool’s surface,
the metronome of his breast stroke.
Later, she made it normal,
dedicated love songs to him,
kissed him once with her mouth open
in front of the boy she liked.
Made it normal and hated him
at the same time. She hated his voice.
Hated the mole on his cheek, the food
trapped in the brackets of his braces.  
What she hated most of all though
was him coming and going from
the hospital where their parents
had committed her, with a smile
on his face and a craving for
cafeteria tater tots. 

Technicolor / Dallas Outlaw

watching a masterpiece fade 
into the blur of the background
lost in essence of the beauty that only your eye can behold

nonetheless transparent to the gazers who stare endlessly 
unaware of the facade implicated by art
whose life is inches away from reality

are you so watercolored
that you lack the ability to not blur lines
is your canvas so blank that your 
experiences negate color yet
suck in life’s rainbow

a color palette so dull
that you forget that you
are the center of attention
-the masterpiece

Table Talk / Otis Rubottom

Tonight at the table my son asks me how many stanzas
my poem needs to be. Did you know that the word
stanza means “room” in Italian
, I ask, thinking of how 
the lines get to live in order or chaos, whichever pleases 
the poet most. But he’s not interested in poetics,

though he knows the mechanics of an assignment 
when he sees one, knows I’m on the hook tonight
the same as him, glued as he is to his own laptop 
tapping away at his English homework. His is about

honesty, about himself. I consider telling him that all
of them are, but think better of it. He won’t read it 
to me and I won’t press him about it. It’s his after all, 
the work and the worry and who can blame him 

for wanting to keep it to himself? There’s so much 
he has to lay out for us anyway he must think, 
every day another inquest into the ordinariness 
of his routine. He’s still just enough on this side 

of teenagehood that he’ll keep the poem secret 
but ask me to print it out for him and I wonder
if that’s a play, a way for him to offer it or if
he really just didn’t think much about it either way.

Either way, it’s a lot more than I’d expected 
from a Tuesday full of usual chore, standard issue 
runaround, to be at the table together making poems,
each of us sifting the day for its ore, hoping to strike
on something gold, something we can trade for pay
or at least burn for kindling to light the way.

Beyond Glimmers / La-Gaye Sailsman

What makes your mother’s love?

Warm hands on your temples when
you’ve got mumps – again.
Lunchbox packed each day, sometimes
with cheese sandwiches –
even though you’re lactose intolerant.

Maybe it’s pillowy hands dragging
you to the seamstress. A uniform,
celebrates one more inch you’ve grown.
Or oven warm sweet potato pudding, it
never makes the plate or dinner table.

Sometimes too, that dinner table
is laid for Thanksgiving. Set by
a friend alone like you. Spread sweet
potato pie, crisp marshmallows, and
laugh – clumsy dog crashed the door

again. You share a fortune cookie at her
favorite Chinese buffet. A friend
makes you drive over an hour for the
promise of fruit. Or your colleague,
at a sleepover, teases ‘I miss when

you were shy’ –  unobstructed chattering
now peeks in the presence of warmth. It
sparks glimmers of your mother. Her love,
this community, it reaches for you well beyond
her womb.

For Márcia Cabrita / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~Brazilian comedic actress

You were left hollow and now you don’t care.
Riding on solid electrified tracks,
Vengeance was yours as you rushed through the air.

Turned down for a job. With no savoir-faire,
those stupid ridiculous hacks,
you were left hollow and now you don’t care.

Bags full of sprays and mousse for your hair,
some intern must have filled the dressing room giftpacks.
Vengeance was yours as you rushed through the air.

Some people said all you needed was prayer.
Previously, you’d have given them a few good smacks,
but you were left hollow and now you don’t care.

All that time you spent in your chair,
veins raging full of poison and wisecracks.
Vengeance was yours as you rushed through the air.

Feeling the heights that used to scare you,
as the wild ups and down soothe with clickety-clacks,
you were left hollow and now you don’t care,
vengeance was yours as you rushed through the air.

Day 19 / Poem 19

The September Calendar Page / Kristine Anderson

It’s well past sundown, mid-September, and
the sky resembles a child’s room with
a nightlight tucked in one far-away corner.

The desk where I sit grows cluttered with papers,
half-read books, months-old documents to file,
a jug of water, a mug of decaf.

Nearby hangs a wildlife calendar.
Only yesterday, I turned the page from
August. Honest, it’s true. I’d consulted
last month’s map weeks into September.
The photograph gracing this month’s pages
is a northern harrier swooping down
for a field mouse or mole. Beautiful,
this hawk in maneuver. Wingtip feathers
spread open like fingers. Body, stunning
white feathers dappled in gold. Yellow eyes
gleaming. The image backlit in harvest
amber—feathered gem fixed in the setting.

Oh, what if the harrier would slowly
lower its magnificent wings, then lift
off the paper into flight, just glancing
my way as I open the window and
it passes through to the darkening night
clutching in its talons the sibling
gravities of distance and time?


How’s your life? Do you sleep well?
Easier? Do you remember the words
of our favorite song? How’s your life?

Did you take your pills? How’ve you been?
Free of self-deception? Surviving?
Pull out that slip of paper on which

a hazy night is pressed, bridge in
the distance where I wait, and the river
flows on whispering our names.

Longing. Absence. Not more happiness.
What did we ever want from each
other on those long walks

beside the water. How’s your life?

Joying / Jaz

Like when the light bulbs dance
between their eyes
and we all 
ring-around-the-rosy to celebrate
Like when “ABC’s” and “123’s”
become second nature
and they wonder what they 
ever did without it
Like when those sundown frustrations
settle beneath the horizon for the last time
and they can laugh
at their former furies
Like when boo-boo’s and boo-hoo’s
no longer destroy their days
and they reclaim their power
Like when they hear their voice
for the first time
and understand its value
Like when the good-bye’s are shorter
and the clinging releases its grip
Like when we send
them off to their future
and they return one day
to rise and call us Blessed.*
*Proverbs 31:18 (KJV) “Her children arise up, and call her blessed…”

Remember The Days When Drugs Were Scarce?  / Lane Falcon

Sledgehammer silhouette in a crack house with a monster on the bed
Get the piece, all those hunts into the projects of west Chicago,
San Francisco, ready— anxious even— to hand over the last of my money
to whoever would take it, trusting he’d come back with what I wanted,
alleyways behind bars, strange men’s houses, exchanging the implicit
promise of my body for drugs.  I remember the night I fought with my roommate,
snapping at the ATM, as I grabbed my last $20 from the slot to spend on crack.  
I remember the man who drove me home later— when my roommate decided
she’d stay, sniff out the last whisper of something nearby. Wasn’t that always
the problem? That point of no return when I stepped over what had been
the horizon— what I’d overtaxed, exploited, laid bare on the table,
tortured even to give me one last plea, to apologize for ever wanting me. 

Everybody wants something from me, I screamed  / Caroline Fernandez

as I felt myself explode into a thousand pieces, some scattering into the air like wood ash blowing off a combusting house, the rest of me collecting in a pile of broken glass from the impact of the heat. Reflections of my face and hands are in the shards and slivers, from my soul dust and heart shadow, my slack and glow, fingerprints and skin brush, wrinkles, scars, and burns. The scavengers and hunters are there, so are the looters, the keepers, prowlers, bloodsuckers, buyers, sellers, leeches, and crows. They gather around and claw at my shriveled entrails, dead before arrival, sucking on them and chewing on me like jerky, their mouths hanging agape to catch more, they drool as rehydrated trails of brown blood drip down their chins. Their breath starts to smell like me and they start to smile with my remains stuck in their teeth, they high-five as my splinters cut into their cheeks and their blood mixes with what was left of mine and has become theirs. 

And I feel nothing. The parts of me that are no longer intact, now owned, are numb to being feasted on and accustomed to changing states for the purpose of feeding and being fed on, lived in and lived upon. A cloud hovers above the crowd and debris of what was left of me, and soon the sound of their laughter is so loud that they become a chorus, the melody and camaraderie brings them to their feet. Together they dance in the surrounding forest, pulling its leaves, cutting its branches, feasting on its berries, the ruby-black juices running down their mouths they are drunk on its sweet wine. They start burying me in the soil so they can dance on my grave and defecate near my headstone, and as they turn away to rest, they celebrate: little sprouts can be seen rising from the earth where I am laid to rest and now, I am enough.

Weekday Blues / Dallas Outlaw

Tiny white specs line
the morning sky
Peeking through a
curtain of dew

the secondhand
confusing onlookers
as the hours pass by
leaving just enough time

for thoughts to wander
about the happenings
of the day prior
worrying about the seconds

that seem to waltz by
without even knowing
it’s causing trembling that’s
resembling heartache

-i hate Mondays.

mountain trails / Salem Paige

crushing rocks for teeth
at the bottom of the incline

I’ve fallen down before. you
steepen the hill with your 
insistence and need to be
heard and heard first.

some hiking trails take you
right back to the beginning.

the vibrations of your anger
summon mountainous rage

– we are both buried
under a violent snow.

Inside Passage / Otis Rubottom

There are many names for places where water
comes together with other water. Confluence. Delta.
Estuary. The carving of the curves something Carver
long ago covered, but will never really be finished.

I woke up thinking about ferries, gull cries, 
of how a place can live in all the senses at once,
at once a physical thing and not a thing at all, 

an assemblage you carry with you no matter
where you are, no matter how far away 
from the source. Some people carry tide charts

as a talisman, a reminder of how to read the world
in six-hour cycles, the ebb and flow useful only 
as a measurement of something beyond our control.

When I say some people, I mean me. The other day
I met someone new to Oregon. He was moving 
though the checklist of wonder, seeing and doing 

for the first time the things I’ve now been doing 
for most of my life. What magic it must be to see 
it for the first  time, to turn a corner and be struck 

dumb with wonder, eyes wide with awe. He said
that when he arrived he’d never seen the ocean. 
It took me a moment to take that in, to realize

that what I felt after surprise was jealousy.
I can’t remember a time without the ocean. 
It was always there, like gravity or oxygen. 

What a feeling to step out of the car and into 
the salted air, to hear the low roar and watch 
as the dozen different blues all collide into one.

Peculiar Names and their Small Places / La-Gaye Sailsman

Road – deeply carved against the bodies of hills and mountains.
Slithers past sleepy settlements where children free dive into
shallow riverbeds. Past women singing seductively a shrill song:
 ‘shrimp! Come get your pepperpot shrimp!’

Buckets filled of shrimp eyes surprised at their circumstance. Dressed
and flushed red in scotch bonnet enough you mourn their death too.
Shrimp, fresh, from the same river where children free dive while it
meanders on its own road South toward the Sea.

This road heads West. Continues past small places with smaller,
peculiar names: Junction, Maggoty, Lacovia, and Balaclava. A choice
comes when you see a Texaco on the left and you can go straight or
turn on the right, at Gutters, where the earth starts to bleed red.

Here is where the road, that’s deeply clawed into the hills, loosens its
grip. This is one of my homes. I know where we are close – the air suddenly
punches with the scents of scallion, of thyme and of the sounds of old men
bleating like old billy goats who slam their dominoes into rickety tables.

They rub their shoes caked in red earth from their farms further uphill. Resting,
along my road, under the shade of a guinep tree, or a mango tree
with no mangoes, or a roadside shop where the boss blasts Beres. The men sway
with their Heineken or Red Stripe or D&G to the sounds that made them once rock away.

For Eileen Barton / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

           ~American pop singer famous for “If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d’ve Baked a Cake”

The man with the ice blue eyes
gives you a job without you auditioning.
You’re witty and pretty, not that that matters
on a radio show, but it helps for the ads.
Everyone knows you as Jolly Gillette,
nemesis of Milton Berle, precocious thing.
With Frank, you’re here out on your own
trading puns and patter, singing lovely songs.
Your hands are sweaty, your knees are weak.
Awful, awful, he thinks I’m just awful.
He sends you to his voice guy, a classically trained
virtuoso who makes you do slides and arpeggios.
You only go once, why take it all so seriously,
luck and good timing’s gotten you this far,
why mess with such a good thing?

Day 18 / Poem 18

Speaking of Smoking / Kristine Anderson


Where was I recently that someone
was smoking a cigarette? That recognizable
burning tobacco & nicotine smell.


My parents smoked until they died
young. My sister & brother & I
smoked for years.


A cigarette is a helpful way
to spend one’s hands.


“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”
“Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray.”
Smoking songs & breakup songs.


My mother’s cousin, who’d been a nurse in Korea,
blew the most amazingly perfect smoke rings.


As a college teacher in my mid-twenties, I’d join
students, fellow smokers, outside during class breaks.
The easy camaraderie of smoke. Like laughter.


After quitting, I had so much energy
I had trouble sleeping for weeks.


One of the times my mother tried to quit,
she acquired the nervous gesture of rubbing
her thumb and forefinger together.

She returned to cigarettes but kept
the nervous gesture.


My aunt never picked up the habit, she said,
because every time she tried, she burned
a hole in her clothes.

My aunt just turned ninety-three.

ASK ME, MAKE ME   / Mary Crow

The problem is I can’t tell one chapter from another. They all seem to be shedding pear blossoms, the white ones behind which a wife hid while she made love on a branch with her lover who climbed up to her above her sleeping husband whose arms locked around the tree trunk as Chaucer taught him to do. The same in the next chapter, but eventually the lover will get tired and fall, waking the husband who will cry out. “Now,” he’ll  say, “my wife and I can star in a new chapter, change roles, get divorced perhaps.” “No, no,” the lover calls out, “Keep driving. It’s my turn to hug the tree.”    

The Lie of Sin / Jaz

Every time I did it my way…
   ended up bent over
        the mouth of hell
        and pimped for darkness

Nothing ever came out of it
        Except rug burns
and blanched bones

from the nectar of deceit

Blown open wide
and closed for business

A trail of
entrail and crumbs
at the
bottom of

Chapter 2: Once Upon a Time, I Owned Cats  / Lane Falcon

A Tonkinese named Simkin, who I bought with money from my high school graduation and named after a wizard in my boyfriend’s favorite book. A Calico girl named Mathilda from the shelter, who jumped out the window of the apartment building where my boyfriend and I lived after he accidentally left the window open. She’d been missing for days and I knew somewhere in my chest when I looked up to the corner of the closet where she would sit on the shelf and she wasn’t there, when she didn’t appear in some threshold, licking one paw or mewling for me to pick her up. When I went to the group home, Simkin went to my mother’s friend then came back to me when I moved into a studio in Roger’s Park. I was not a good cat owner: I left him for days with food in his bowl and a litterbox that stank like a dead mouse. There was another cat too— with Joe, another boyfriend— a Maine Coon we inherited from his boss at the pizza joint when the boss’s wife got pregnant. Vuk, his name was, which means wolf in Serbian, and he would body slam the bedroom door when I closed it on him, desperate to get away from Joe, who tortured him by holding him down and grabbing at his paws. After I left, the building manager told me the cats were mewling for days— a neighbor had complained. I explained why I had to leave, my abusive boyfriend, and he answered me saying I don’t need to know all your dirty laundry. Yes you do, I wanted to say, because everyone needs to see my heart exploding with unwashed shirts, crinkled sleeves, salty smelling underwear entangled with bras. I wanted to spit myself out like defunct washing machine from Little Shop of Horrors— my giant, gaping heart ejecting all the garbage I’d swallowed while looking for sustenance. 

parasite lust  / Caroline Fernandez

my pulse is thirsting
            for your arrival
for the beat of your drum
            to make me tick

that heat, the friction
            of our flesh
will breed life in me
            and feed me

I want to eat you
            alive my love
so your blood can run
            through my veins
so that your plasma

all that life
            breeding in me
will breathe in me
           breathe into me

the day after the city implements new technology to keep the pond clean / Salem Paige

eco-birds whir their
machinery wings and not
for the first time I question
the city’s use of resources as
they give the pond-cleaners 
fiber feathers to dive for
our mess – mimicking the
natural to clean our unnatural 
yet just as unnatural itself

No Meaning / Dallas Outlaw

where are the poems
that are simply just
about the sunflowers
dancing in the light
reaching for the stars
not metaphorical for
anything but reality
they are just flowers
basking in the glory
its perception that
influences poetry to have
double entendres
perpetuated by lived
experiences that only
words could give

Ghazal / Otis Rubottom

A man pulls to the roadside at dusk, clouds collecting light.
He lifts his daughter skyward, both quiet in the last light.

What’s the difference in the end, when you hold up
one thing the color or air and another the color of light?

In Tuscany stone doors are fitted with thick red brick.
Sometimes, dripping through the corners you still see light.

Sunflowers, snakeskin, tin gutters. Laundry sifting 
the morning breeze. How is it that it all swallows light? 

What do you know about buildings, about windows 
set so they always lean towards the day’s first light?

You know your name your whole life, don’t you?
Then she says Otis and there’s cool air, a wash of light. 

The Gift from My Grandfather  / La-Gaye Sailsman

My brand-new shoes walked through the gate at the sea-green
house past the open back door, the condescendingly whitewashed
coconut trees, and my grandmother’s ghost who likes the
almond tree’s shade.

I climb the stairs to the veranda that used to host citronella smoke
and cool evenings listening to the 6pm news and rowdy games
of ludi and the charcoal-powered iron that made perfectly straight
the starched white crocheted flowers and my father who’d
twang his longing for a return to hot running water.

I leave my shoes for safe keeping with the pile just outside. Into the
balmy, too-small-for-me-now living room or time capsule or portal
that closed too soon for me to keep it wedged open with a shoe
from the pile just outside.

I sit with my mother’s father – who’d rarely said three words
unless it was about cricket. Who’d once chastised me for running
crisscrossed in an empty road. Who’d always eaten first and alone
and before all the women in the sea-green house.

His rubbered, sand-colored face turns to me first and his time-clouded
eyes recognize me. His calloused hands warmly cover mine with the
heaviest gift I could hold – ‘I knew you would be the one to make us proud’.  

  He couldn’t know that new gift would be left as a new wedge in
this new portal. As I put on my new shoes, a reminder as quiet
as my grandfather – though heavy, here, I can always stand again. 

Joan Hackett / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~actress known for The Group and Only When I Laugh

Success makes it hard to ride the number 10 bus
with your hair all in curlers, your dress in a bag.
Failure’s a far more comfortable pain.
Remember how all you’d need was a smile
with some deep and insightful questions that saw
quite far into the hearts of nuns and of men?
remember how quiet you’d sit in your chair
not worth it to even speak up for the salt?
Possum so silent and little, come out
from within your own pouch. Let your voice be heard
from the rafters and belfry, the stage and the screen.
Let them think what they want of the things you have said.
Let them think diet and die are the same damn things.
This applause is for you, yes dear, only for you.

Day 17 / Poem 17

Three Tanka for a Squirrel / Kristine Anderson

Squirrel holes again
disturbing potted rose &
newly rescued grass—
strange flurry to dig up walnuts
though summer lingers for weeks

At 8 a.m. I’m
watering plants, spot onyx
eyes peering from a tree branch.
I ponder, & redirect
the spray upward: a notice

Later the squirrel
scurries down another tree
to a corner of the yard;
it digs, but far away from
fragile rose & grass (for now)


Who among us has not imagined a perfect theory of sleep, the ideal eight hours of sweet dreams and the yawn on waking in someone’s arms, a kiss or two, but then the doctor comes in to ask how you’re doing and to fasten on the sleep mask. “I’m afraid it’s chronic,” he murmurs, “you’ll never be cured, but you can learn to live with it,” and meanwhile I’m thinking I don’t want to, perhaps I should try sprung poetry and invent a cure, call it Night, a dark Ocean where a crashing wave lifts words to fall over my body. “Please hand me my surf board.”

TrAuMa (inspired by Angie G.)/ Jaz

for attention-

                                                       positive or negative

they hate
the skin
they’re in
so callous
because of
their situations
easier for them to
push me away
because of home
easier for them to
than to compliment
easier for them to
slice the knife both ways
so they won’t be the only one wounded

easier to rage-

it’s better than being background noise
easier to act like drywall
To expose the heart is certain death

trynna build
on the bricks thrown at them
“It ain’t personal”
Angie says
She’s a Salve
to where their
Word-daggers dig into me
Why do teachers do it?


They Are Worth The Investment

Agape love
Safe spaces

Worth the breaking of strongholds
And the healing of generations

They are worth the one that God sees…and…saves.

Chapter 2: My Body is Built on Tectonic Plates  / Lane Falcon

The truth is, when I first got to the group home, I still thought of myself as beautiful, despite shaking so hard I couldn’t read and fell one time while smoking a cigarette. One morning, smearing red wax across my lip, I lost control of my arm and hit my own cheek— one, two, three times— as if my arm was a mechanism designed to slap me. Later that day, I fell down a flight of stairs and seized on the basement floor and, afterwards, when I woke in a dark room, I felt the doom dispersed in my brain. They say in the wild, the impala the leopard pins with his teeth then suddenly releases, or the sheep who hears the bleats of her eaten lamb, shakes to release the misfire from her body. While the plates that held me together shifted, while the pieces reconfigured, I shook until I could walk again.

Pandora’s closet   / Caroline Fernandez

An old t-shirt strikes 
like a memory relived
a heady musk
increasing with each wear 

Torn lace 
tells intricate stories
of threads like rivers 
that have run their course 

Frayed jeans
shapeless and stretched
loosely hang
till they begin to unravel

Pages of the calendar 
turn one by one 
as each day comes
then fades away 

Photos hold on 
to each chosen moment 
but are careful not to speak of 
the in-between quiets

In the closets and drawers where
we keep our things
whispers are exchanged 
which we cannot hear 

I Lack Thereof  / Dallas Outlaw

i almost spit my juice
out: said the person
not laughing 
or the one who
simply chuckled
enamored with embedded
laughter at relatable memes
socially distracted
unable to process or
even perform as a
regular human 

The Sunday Ride / Otis Rubottom

Around this time of day around this time of year 
the afternoon heat and the early evening wind 
start to have a lovely conversation, which 
you could call a flirtation if you wanted, though 
as I thought about it coming down the hill 
it seemed more of a regular meeting 
between old friends, a standing date 
in which a long-running exchange picks up 
wherever it was left off and so becomes 
not a series of chats, interrupted by the time 
between, but an exploration punctuated 
by life’s inherent agenda—sometimes a comma, 
sometimes a parenthetical, often an ellipsis… 

It seemed to me so utterly Sunday-like, this slowly
rolling breeze that increased in its urgency as the road
began to give back all the heat it had been hoarding 
since dawn and so I stopped to look around and think 
about it, because I was alone and no one was going to ask 
why I was pulled over at the overlook looking over 
the city below. And it was true: everyone was Sunday-ing: 
the woman on the grass with her book, the couple 
with the photographer, the boy with his toy plane. 
And me, trying to remember what I’d wanted not to forget
so I could get it all down when I got home.

Americans, Lines, and Waiting  / La-Gaye Sailsman

The line at the post office moved a hair slower than chilled molasses. Strangers
crammed in with two feet of distance for respect. Their feet tapping, low humming,
and scribbling addresses to make time fly faster. Some tried reaching to their
neighbor for distraction. Though masked and oddly turned, the man behind me
peppered questions about my left hand’s still fresh scar. His cheerful insistence
reminded me of bike riding in Paynes Prairie on a sunny day. It’s a pleasant bike trail
many skate or run – solo and in clusters – moving to the left when a bike rings its
bell. Along the trailhead, in the hammocks of live southern oak trees, birds argue
the merits of each other’s sonnets. Butterflies float along sampling the buffet of
wildflowers. I pause, raise my head, let the weight of the sun sit on my face for a moment.
A rustle on the left breaks the sun salutation and out of the bushes strolls yet another
stranger. This one insists on making his presence known: black slacks ignore
the Florida summer, tattered white tank, strategically torn holes, and white goaltender mask
flecked in spots of bright red. The sunlight caught on the blade of the knife in his left hand.
Dipped in (fake) blood which thankfully was not dripping. I hurried to the left side and
we each continued. Before he went his way, he left me with this tip – it’s amazing
what things you’ll find when you’re out in the world.

For Tomoko Kawakami / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

                 ~Japanese voice actress

Balancing sweetness and shit kicking verve,
never fight a friend, you are that friend.
Motorcycle on the freeway
helmet hiding who you really are
no one knows you, no one cares
you’re not a doctor. Here
your voice is your gift
and you give of it freely.

Day 16 / Poem 16

What to Bring / Kristine Anderson

I was pleased with my packing job for
a weeks-long vacation: Everything
in one carry-on bag. Including shoes.

What a delight to plan—to make lists, choose
lightweight clothes, count how many easy-
to-wash undergarments to stow. Lucky me.

If only the young mother in the early stages
of labor had that chance before a 6.8 earthquake
struck her hometown in the Atlas Mountains.[1]

If only the sisters, parents, cousins scaling
a ladder barefoot toward the safety of a roof
in Derna had the opportunity to bring anything.[2]

If only the woman driving home from work had
a moment to snatch even a few things from her car
before scrambling over the seawall in Lahaina.[3]

These survivors—the young mother, the relatives
together, the woman driving home—and others,
carried with them only their fiercely beating hearts.

Perhaps I should keep an empty suitcase close
by, open in the corner of the room. Not
that there’d be time to fill it. Just for humility.

[1] Porter, Catherine. “Walking out of Morocco’s Rubble, Pregnant, Scared and Homeless.” New York Times, Sept. 14, 2023.

[2] Boxerman, Aaron, and Raja Abdulrahim. “Cries of ‘Save Us, Save Us’ as Homes Fill with Water.” New York Times, Sept. 13, 2023.

[3] Mayorquin, Orlando. “A Survivor Made a Desperate Dash into the Sea to Escape an Inferno.” New York Times, Aug. 12, 2023.


Your portrait doesn’t look like you,
it reveals the you you would become,
a masterpiece of new realism,
anaesthesia, eyes focused on surface.
You spin that view, broken into
facets that repeat and repeat,
turning from and to, retreating.
Where are you in that Hall of Mirrors?
Picasso’s apple? Or is it Cezanne’s?
I wonder if you experienced that face
as a geometric proof for middle class
decorum? O love, are you there?
A fairy tale should have a moral, not
a stutter, not a stumble, not a seizure.

Zephaniah’s Song / Jaz

*Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)
“ For the LORD your God is living among you.

He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

*Zephaniah’s Song
Miles away
from sunbursts of yesterday
the dark clouds skidded in
Poured tar on my
Only Holy Spirit symphonies
kept me from
cracking and
spilling myself
all over the earth
In the
Skin of morning
I welcome
The hope and promise

*Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “They are plans for good
and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Chapter 1: The Truth is Much Worse  / Lane Falcon

Here’s the truth, up until a few years ago, I lied and told people I was 17 when they put me in the group home. I told them that because I didn’t want them to think I had a choice. I didn’t think I had a choice— I don’t remember signing the papers. I only remember standing outside the glass doors of the “community center” and smoking with with the other rejects: foster kids, hermaphrodites, and psychopaths like the one who invited me to her room the first night there to show me her dildo and tell me about the cat she’d tortured. Here’s the truth, the only people I ever even told were lovers. And I hate that word: lovers. But what else can I call the people I loved and love no longer, the unrelated, those bodies I let myself sink into unafraid, from time to time, that they would leave me. And I don’t even know why I told them, except to suck them into my past. The door creaked open, nodded to by innuendo enough times already— they needed to see the open trunk and all its moth-bitten tulle. I wanted to hold the bridal dress up to my shoulders and make them watch as it disintegrated on the plate of my chest. Here’s the truth: I had a boyfriend before the group home, and the night before the afternoon I swallowed fistfuls of lithium, Wellbutrin and whatever antipsychotic I was prescribed, I lay there, half dead, while he screwed his skinny body into mine. Two hundred pounds by then, loaded with drugs: I was damn near catatonic, a lemon of a human, intellectually disabled, a whimper at the bottom of a pile of screams. But here’s the truth: when I locked myself in the bathroom, sat on the floor and crammed those pills into my mouth like I was greedy for breath itself– I knew I wouldn’t die. Yes, the threshold was slim but it was there: that moment between before and after.

Who’s crazy now  / Caroline Fernandez

Britney Spears lost her hair⁠1 and they said she lost her mind. What a pretty girl she used to be, they said, like when she was 17. Long, schoolgirl pigtails, midriff bared, asking to be hit just one more time⁠2. That’s how young girls look these days, they said. Look at her in those bikini tops. Low-rise jeans and hi-rise thong straps. There she goes again in those short shorts, crop tops, and washboard abs⁠3, they said, looking like a walking magazine. Look at her dancing on Instagram⁠4 like it’s the stage she grew up on, like it’s what girls were born to do. Look at her after having kids in those short shorts, crop tops, and that muffin top⁠5. Look at her falling in love. Look at her breaking hearts, she’s growing up. Look at how she lost her waistline and then how she lost her game. There must’ve been something seriously wrong with her to shave her head that time.

In response to shaving her head in 2007, she told The Mirror: “I just don’t want anybody, anybody touching my head. I don’t want anyone touching my hair. I’m sick of people touching my hair.”
Refers to Spears’ 1999 debut hit “Baby One More Time”
Abdominal muscles that resemble the defined bumps and lines of a washboard, an old-fashioned tool used for cleaning laundry by hand
Popular social media platform from the early 2000 favored by millennials
Folds of flesh along the waistline which resemble the way the upper area of a muffin hangs over the cup section once baked.

Start to Finish  / Dallas Outlaw

mental health 
starts with

that’s it.

there’s a beginning
to every end and
every problem
that occurs
starts in the thoughts
of a overwhelmed brain
space, which one can
conclude that it
must climax there, too
elude to the fact
that mental health
ends with
that in mind.

on the grass next to the willow trees / Salem Paige

how unfair that I
can sit in the sun
and still be sad

the wind pushes the water 
to the edge of the pond

and then what? 
and then where?

how eerie, the midday sun
with its eye set on the back
of my neck 

and the ducks grazing in
true shade 
for a watery lunch


Pray for Surf / Otis Rubottom

I would probably be a better poet if I grew up 
going to church. All those homilies and hymns,
the singing and the shouting. Instead I went surfing,
went to the water every Sunday as my Sabbath. 

Without doubt it was a congregation, a collection
come together to bow our heads to the holy
ocean, to pray for the storms to gather thousands
of miles away, send proof of their existence pulsing

out across the continental shelf, down the coast,
gathering energy and building momentum as the 
swell surged southward. It’s easy to laugh at the idea, 
at the notion that anything so selfish and salt-rimmed 

could be a kind of holy. But only by those who’ve 
never tried it, never sat in the pre-dawn glow 
and watched the sky go from purple to rose 
to gold and then to blue, while a dozen bodies

bobbed in shared silence. I was often alone, even
when out with friends, the nature of the lineup
a solitary thing, eyes scanning the horizon, waiting. 
No one talks about how much patience it takes,

how, statistically, most of your time is spent 
watching for the rise of the next set, running 
the complex equation in your head, 
the geometry and timing of how many others 

are in or out of position, who’s had waves 
and who hasn’t, where to sit so that when 
the clean up comes, you aren’t caught out. 

Sometimes it felt like worship, others penance, 
as when the swells dried up and the sea 
was glass. Weeks on end without so much 
as a ripple, your passion reduced to yearning. 

It wasn’t just us. There was something in the air
everywhere when the surf was gone, a collective 
boil building, a valve in need of release. And then
they’d arrive, messengers on the horizon, telltale
plumes lifting in the offshore wind, lit from behind
with a cinematic halo. Imagine it, waves like so many
chariots, like a kind of salvation. If that all seems

like an exaggeration, maybe you’ve never felt 
one rise against your body, lift you up
and into yourself, at once wholly apart 
from the world and wholly a part of it. 

It’s just a wave after all, the way a sermon 
is just a speech, the way a prayer is just a question.

Guangzhou  / La-Gaye Sailsman

subway car gently lurched forward
bodies flowing together with the current

crowded by humidity and musk
a tall, dark stranger stands

passengers tightened hold on neighbors|maintain a hole
touch everything not the strange

fears slide from one whisper to another
coating each moment in a palpable spurn

indifference and terror
flit ‘round shrouded faces

yet intrigue wrapped itself in courage
within reach of the stranger

a slow stream of curious questions
gently pulled him forward

eyes smiled
traveler, you are not alone

For Connie Needham / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

               ~born 1959, diagnosed 2009 and cancer-free since her treatment ended
                ~Dancer, dance instructor, actress (Elizabeth on Eight is Enough), and champion for early cancer detection.

There are pills for the bloating,
pills for the pain,
pills for the sudden constipation.

Weight loss and feeling too full
when you’ve barely just started to eat?
A problem we should all be so lucky to have.

Getting up to pee when it seems
like you’ve just now sat yourself down?
Perhaps you’ve been drinking more water.

Napping the evenings and weekends away
like a teen on summer vacation?
It’s the 21st century, everyone’s whooped.

Symptoms so common, we’re taught to blame Eve
dismiss them as life in our forties.
13,000 a year sure wish someone had listened.

Day 15 / Poem 15

What I’ve Learned from Cooking / Kristine Anderson

Let’s say it’s spaghetti night. First, to figure
            time for each step: I’ll put on
the pasta water (knowing this stove heats
            up slowly). Next, to set a pan of sauce
to warm so it’s ready once I’ve chopped
            garlic then onion then peppers.
One thing at a time, and it’ll all get done.

Speaking of those quarts of pasta water
            on the stove—no telling how long
the pan’ll take to come to a rolling boil, but
            it’s generally true that watching
will prevent it from doing so.
            (Yes, that old wives’ tale.)
Some things can’t be forced. Practice trust.

Meanwhile, I keep an eye on the sauce
            which expects me to stir every so often
to prevent sticking, and to adjust the heat
            accordingly. I must turn vegetables
to brown without burning, and stand by
            to drain the pasta once it’s done.
Change is constant. Pay attention.

When the meal’s prepared, it’s time
            to serve without apology. No one
will likely notice extra basil I absent-
            mindedly added nor how much extra
pasta I’ve made (again). Time to be with
            people around the dining table.
Know when to stop working. Sit down. Savor.


The poet Coleridge has a charming poem
about frost at midnight as he watches
over his infant son and the poet Ashbery
has a poem about a friend at midnight.
Maybe those poems are about insomnia.
Poets like to stay up late composing.
Pontificating. They take themselves
seriously, and like their midnight views.
Poets say things like “waves of passion
drown us” or maybe “human voices wake
us, and we drown,” not to be confused
with being “woke” like most lefties.
No, I am not Ophelia, ready to drown
myself, nor Cassandra no one believes
and who receives threatening emails
with snapshots of male genitals.
Well, like Prufrock, I grow old, but
my questions aren’t about eating
peaches and walking on the beach,
eavesdropping on singing mermaids.
What is so unsettling is how unoriginal
my thoughts are (some expert remarked
that women can’t have original ideas).
The dictator we kick out one year returns.
America, America, why don’t you
settle down with a white page and a baby,
or stay up late with a lonely friend.

Don’t go near the water if you can’t swim.   


And now I’m spending $36 on water (yikes!)
                                                Geyser, that is
(A gallon a day, which tells on the weight of my temple-
I’m so glad the strong delivery dude didn’t leave ’em downstairs in the vestibule!)
Gotta list of approvables from my naturopathic guru
such as Fiji and 
Mountain Valley and
Icelandic and
Aqua Panna and
Avion and
Found out the Hydrogen
is what’s missing in
Store-Bought Brands and
Fancy Smancies
such as
Reverse Osmosis and
Purified, Filtered and Distilled
(oh, and Essentia has white salt in it; who would’ve thunk it?!)
I know, I know…
This is bordering
to the Water Sergeants
But my kidneys-
My body

Unearthing  / Lane Falcon

I lifted the brick
from the soil, and found
life writhing in earth.   

I picked stones
from their beds and unpuzzled
the cracked cement.

I peered into the pit
each piece surrendered.
I dug a pencil tip

into the hollow heel
of my jelly shoe
to free the playground’s pebbles.

I dreamt that tiny
pebbles crowded the crevices
of my labia, on my back in a

pilotless plane, my arms,
a desperate lightness
at my sides.

If you’re wondering what else,
I can’t really tell you,
this is a list of my dankest

fragments, all brick
no soil. 

building a new home  / Caroline Fernandez

I don’t have patience left inside
to make it through all the bits of debris
the buildings we’ve broken
the floors that keep crumbling
if we keep on walking
I know that we’ll fall
into the hole we built our house on
We dug too deep and we hit too low
That foundation’s been sinking
Its earth is now quaking
and we keep on thinking
we’ll find our way back
But maybe this isn’t 
the place we’re meant to be
Maybe the steel
we used went too deep
It’s time to bury our tools
and put away the blueprints
We’ll start from the beginning
and make something new.

Quilted  / Dallas Outlaw

is a long word
short stopped by
just a little fabric

your teeth removed
everything but skin
crawling from
bed corner to corner

exciting my
every daydream
with realities
only you could fulfill

please advise when
it’s time to scream
i promise not to whisper
sweet nothings

they don’t compare

Drive / Otis Rubottom

The note I found said: this time we’ll get it all right
and we won’t run out of gas or cigarettes.

I know it’s meant for me, this twist of paper plucked
from the gravel driveway. The stars above the porch 

shift and shoulder themselves to the right, the smell
of my struck match carrying over the yard, the last train 

for Fresno quiet on the tracks. That girl from town is drunk again, 
her sideways gait carrying her past the fence towards home 

and I think it must be her thin hands that wrote this 
to her boyfriend who works at the garage perhaps, or

just to herself one day, sitting under my tree, the only shade
on this swollen tar road. The ocean’s salt cloud hardly rises

over the hills anymore, though sometimes I’ll catch a glance
of cormorants drifting westward. Look, I’m tired now. I promise 

to remember the cigarettes if you just ask me to get in the car, 
ask me the way, and when I say “I don’t know,” drive.

For Dinah Shore / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~singer, actress, talk show host, and golfer
            ~italicized line is from her weekly introduction on a radio show in the 40s

They cancel you after your Emmy
for breaking up a game show block,
sure you would never leave them,
sure you’d stay wherever you were put,
take whatever the new offer was.
Your voice is sweet, your smile good-natured,
but you can still light a fire
just by rubbing two notes together.
So, tell that Pecock to put its tail down,
this chick is leaving the roost,
taking her “to-do” show shenanigans
off to syndication or maybe just talking
one on one with celebrities like it was nothing.
You don’t know what you’ve lost boys, you don’t know what you’ve lost.

Day 14 / Poem 14

Analogies / Kristine Anderson

Forgiveness is to mercy as
mercy is to empathy as
empathy is to a twenty-two-
year-old who, on the other
end of a phone line, nods
and says, “Uh huh” & “I’m
here, I’m listening,” as
a friend rambles on about
the last argument she’d had
with her mother, having just
gotten home from the funeral.

Empathy is to openness as
openness is to growth as
growth is to a traditionalist
father who one day tells
his adult daughter, who has
baffled him by leaving
what everyone else thought
was a perfectly good marriage
and opting for college &
career: “I’m proud of you.”

Growth is to thriving as
thriving is to perception
as perception is to a teenaged
son who, when his mother
apologizes for all the times
she had too much to do &
didn’t pay enough attention,
for the times she didn’t
care or understand enough,
for the multitude of parenting
mistakes she was guilty of, says,
“It’s all right, Mom. Everything
has made me who I am.”

These gifts of forgiveness
& growth & empathy are
to me as I am to underserving,
as I am to grateful.

THE BIG BIG  / Mary Crow

too much sky for such reduced land
my steps dragging along dirty streets, leggy
geraniums: day without shadows, only heat
otherwise, dusty streets, sandhills, sagebrush,
stunted poplar and locust trees, huts with
corrugated metal roofs, yellow doors
barbed wire fences and unpainted pickets,
dirty water in a dusty. Ditch beside the street,
litter and dead leaves, a row of ceramic shops
mote after mote, grain after grain, little
by little–can we grow used to it? 

A Breakfast of Blocks  / Jaz

In the whipping
winds of wait
   on the written word
     its song

Helix  / Lane Falcon

I felt the world shift
the moment after I put him inside me
that first time— seconds before the axis tilted  
as part of me faced part of him

the moment after I put him inside me
the storm’s helix turning in on itself
as part of me faced part of him
fusion in my firstborn child  

the storm’s helix turning in on itself
the arc of creation, obliged to completion
fusion in my firstborn child
a tempest blossomed at my center

the arc of creation, obliged to completion
dove into its own inversion
a tempest blossomed at my center
sweeping me of detritus    

dove into its own inversion
and flipped upside down
sweeping me of detritus
I felt the world shift  

Crowd Pleasing / Dallas Outlaw

support is a spectator sport
choosing an exciting moment
in someone else’s journey
to make your presence known
enjoying the harvest after 
hard work has seeped from
their pores
to pour into those who
support a craft unknown
to anyone but then
standing single-handedly
alone, performing in
intuitively capturing all gazes
clapping fills the empty spaces
roaring voices rolling over
row by row 
commending such a talent
while supporting
such a friend

same as I was / Salem Paige

after All My Love by Noah Kahan

                                                  ALL MY LOVE
even when time takes

all it can, a list of how
                                                                     we used to be is not a

              comprehensive manual

                       the frame of our hearts          as they
                                                         used to be, yours
still filled with                          ALL MY LOVE

same as I was                                      as you were

                    the same, even when                      time takes
as it does

         remember when we                              pretended to be confident

retrograde doesn’t            mean permanent and

                   I know you but                                    I don’t
                                             know your love

I still give you                                              all of  mine

          (not a drop of                         bad blood 

                             , no matter                   the time I

have given

                                                              ALL MY LOVE

                                                   I ask that 

                 you take it

Dandelions / Otis Rubottom

My friend Matthew was telling me a story
about how, for a while, he taught writing
to elementary school kids in Telluride. At the time
he also worked at the town paper and each week
he would run their work in its own section.
They loved it, he told me, meaning the kids,
because it was different, to write and then
to see the words in the world after.

The story he’s is telling me is happens on Instagram,
in response to another Instagram story. Not mine,
though–one that I shared, that caught his eye,
jolted the memory, which he maybe typed out
with his thumbs, perhaps while drinking coffee
in a quiet house before his own son, not yet
the age where he’d write anything yet, awoke.

I like to think he was looking out the window at the sky,
that he forgot about the phone, as he played the scene in his head.

He tells me one of the kids decided to be a writer, that
he still remembers her essay about seasons.

I was born in the season of the dandelions.

Fourth grade. A child holds the galactic bloom
up to her mouth and blows, an infinity of seeds
exploding into the wind, some clinging
to her bangs and eyebrows, some escaping.

He remembers the story of her birth flower, carries
the scrap of her words, spurred by the daily scroll.
She’s still a writer, he says. I looked her up.

Wailing in Silence  / La-Gaye Sailsman

Rowdy classroom
Teacher – distant, like sirens underwater
drowned out by roars of rough & tumble twelve-year-olds.
In a mind that’s shuffled along everywhere else
class 22 was a line in the performance: hide well
that digits do a tap dance on the board & the page
that mind, despite common entrance scores1, needed more
that fear of being wrong kept mum the understanding that
hiding kept desperation quiet.
The loudest in the room often called scanning eyes back to the front
scapegoat – he holds attention so silent ones can copy what they can’t
            stand, tucked away the difficult so in sight it’s easy – looking
            developed hurts saw quiet struggles & knew getting help required
wailing in an already silent room.


1 An exit exam given to Jamaican students up until the ‘90s. It was the determining factor in the high school, and consequently opportunities, a student would get into.

For Bess Myerson / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

         ~ former NYC Commissioner of Consumer Affairs and first NYC NYC Commission of Cultural Affairs, as well as the first, and so far only, Jewish Miss America

Wanting to use the scholarship money
for a black, highly-polish Steinway grand,
going to Columbia and Julliard instead.

Here are the rules, please follow the rules.

Struggling to make a living as a professional pianist,
all they wanted was a smile in a bathing suit,
not a nocturne by Chopin or Brahms,
game shows filled the abyss.

Here are the rules, please follow the rules.

Fighting big business, protecting the little guy
seeing his paycheck slip out through the holes
in his ratted and tattered old jacket.

Here are the rules, please follow the rules.

Falling in love with a half-shady guy,
mail fraud and bribery, obstruction of justice,
nothing fully proven, still a lifetime gone.

Here are the rules, please follow the rules.

Quiet life away from it, with sunny sun
days of making your own music again
forty years after diagnosis, you didn’t survive,
oh no, my dear, you prevailed.

Day 13 / Poem 13

Rain in Bath / Kristine Anderson

Sitting under an umbrella outside the café
where Susan and I bought handpies for lunch
and coffee, too, to warm our hands and throats
in the cold, damp July weather that we were ill

equipped to deal with, traveling lightly, as we were.
We pull out journals to write. That morning we toured
the first-century Roman Baths and have carried history
back out into the overcast day with us. Across the square,

medieval Bath Abbey rises, but even its 161-foot Gothic
tower cannot cast a shadow in this gloom. Seagulls circle
overhead, crying, as they are wont to. Would I ever write
wont to, were I not writing here, in the hometown

of Jane Austen, in a landscape so ancient? It’s windy, too.
We struggle to keep journal pages and half-empty coffee
cups from blowing away. The umbrella is barely able
to shield us from drizzle, and when the rain comes down,

we will have to move on, as we are wont to do, anyway.

FACE TO FACE  / Mary Crow

Now the lost heart stiffens
while the weak spirit despises
itself inside its prison—

Beautiful prison? Here
the clouds keep following
each other, plum branches

fill up with white flowers
like memories of snow:
such pangs of conscience!

Who can sit down again
inside four walls to face
her own tribunal?

She sits watching the moon
dying, her dear man in the moon
with his splotchy old face.


God comes down to bathe me in creation
Acrostics and; Odes
Sonnets and; Songs
Plays and; Monologues
I send syllables heaven bound

The Escape Artist  / Lane Falcon

It’s after— then the gallop
starts, a canter I can still
steady— one-one-thousand
two-one-thousand. My mind
exhales, stops at the center

of my lungs. A nucleus
blooms, the blue deepens
to night’s eye, a pupil
reflects my life:

my children
who will carry the memory
of my body like a phantom limb.

           My heart quickens, my fingers
spider over the knot, 
the double loop I told them to tie, 
I nodded to before they slid 
the floor from beneath me. My mother,

her face beloved, the lines
around her mouth and still
the beauty of the first welcoming, 
the urging me forward 
into life.

And you, my love—
I think of you last,
the face reaching after
a string of loves– all that brought me to life,
until I was plastered against its windshield, 
my eyes pleading let me in.   

The kind of woman  / Caroline Fernandez

Some days I wonder if you wish you married
the kind of woman who packs your suitcase 
before a work trip. I’d hold each shirt
up in front of me and know which one
would look just right with matching 
pants, shoes, and belts before neatly folding
and stacking your travel wardrobe, the collars
and corners evenly cut, wrinkles smoothed, and
shoes bagged, placed without gaps and overlaps across 
the breadth of its box, no bulges or wayward clothing 
leaking between openings, just puzzle pieces 
slotting into place and fitting into a picture frame.
After you return from your trip, though, I know 
we will not spend our evening together arranging 
puzzle pieces because there’s always a fair bit 
of crumpled laundry and unpacking to do.

Bearing Fruit / Dallas Outlaw

Eyes darting
body shaking
feeling blood
crossing paths
turning blue veins
green, unbearably
pulsating from one
painful place to next
begging for the world
to end, as if its
the only disaster
that needs doctors orders
bed rest
ice pack
heating pad
ice cream
screaming, questioning
every month?

A Dozen Dozen / Otis Rubottom

                 For Nikki McClure

Just after Thatcher turned 12 we turned the page
on the calendar to the new year and it made me think
of how this 12-chaptered book had now been flipped
12 times itself, each year getting a new set of images.

The number of gates to heaven, of angels on the walled
city, the number of jurors who weigh your fate. It’s a lot
to take in before coffee. That year’s month it was an owl
set against a star flecked sky, the word TIME perched

in the corner like an incantation, a reminder that the clock’s
face has 12 hours of its own, and so too, the toaster, 
with its many settings for burning your bagel. There are
far more than 12 stars on that owl’s page, and innumerable 

ones beyond that, just out the kitchen window. I wonder
how the Mesopotamians landed on 12 constellations 
to frame their Zodiac? What symmetry was shimmering 
in their eyes as they looked up and made sense of the night? 

There wasn’t any coffee yet, that much I’m sure of, 
no court of one’s peers to worry about, let alone a clock 
counting down the hours before you must stop all this 
and start seizing the daylight–12 hours of it, if you’re lucky. 

For Carol Channing / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

            ~American actress and comedian

Grammys and Tonys, Golden Globes and more,
but your grandest achievement of all
was making it onto Nixon’s list.
Your cheerful smile and Kewpie doll eyes
were unnerving and frightful to such a paranoid man.
Some say it was when you campaigned for LBJ,
others because you were friends with the Kennedys.
A few say it was because your gran was Black,
but only family knew that then.
You know and I know it’s because of Sardi’s
how you’d whip out your Tupperware full of
cut celery and carrots, drinking water with ice
while everyone else had steak and wine.
A woman who does what she wants is always dangerous as hell.

Day 12 / Poem 12

Dilemma / Kristine Anderson

if I could have just one
color—make it green

rich, deep, for leaves
of toyon & crepe myrtle

seafoam for dramatic dancer’s
arms of California sagebrush

kelly for fresh growth on
the soaring cypress

gray-verdant tongues
of soft silver wormwood

but—the reds!

new stems of the lemonade
berry: hints of merlot

the classic rose, full waves
of lipstick in bloom

pomegranate flowers, candy-
red finger-petals, open hands

still! yet!

these yellow & white daisies
no bigger than a fingernail

those pink-tipped wildflower
rays like tiny eyelashes

purple spiky bull thistles
rising among sunflowers

& palettes of butterflies!
bumble bees! orb weavers!

if I could have just one color—
oh, I’d have to ask for more

WAIT A MINUTE (or two)  / Mary Crow

My mind is occupied by something—
how to describe the invading forces
that seem to have settled in.

Anyway, landmines are being planted,
so watch out for an interruption.
Why not wait for another advance?

I believe in a counter offensive
even if it intercepts an outdated
dispatch begging for backup.

Fastening boughs on our heads
and shoulders probably won’t do—
will it really create a diversion?

Spying a forest that advances in
our direction? Retreat? Try something
new, another name for maneuver.

What was it I’d rather be fighting?
Raking up shadows from the battlefield?
Let’s cross the border. Hold it still!

Half a document, please, better
than nothing, so sign at the bottom.
Mirage control has sealed the edges

and our insane clocks can’t keep
track: a quiet rubble carpets
the Great Inauguration.   

Return To Surrender  / Jaz

When you can’t win the day
bow low in the breath of
and          breathe
Leave behind the
        wreckage of ego…
The rancid debris
        of the will
What it should be
             doesn’t matter
I AM is here.

Requiem for Breath  / Lane Falcon

Who thought it would evolve into
this? The siren I heard as a youth
spirals inside me— who thought 
it would continue into motherhood, 
with my own son in the back 
of an ambulance, the EMT shining 
her pen light on the retractions 
in his chest, his unfocused eyes.
The pain rising from the hub of my being, 
the empty organ filling again, 
flooding up the memory after 
months of long absence, the fear 
I want to leave behind, and try, 
with every step, not to detonate. 

The empty organ filling again,
flooding up the memory after absence, 
when I was swimming, 
the soothing circles of space, 
when I could lift my head 
above water to breathe. I remember 
my former boss told me “it seems like 
you’re drowning” the day he fired me. 
I was pregnant and alone, but that’s not 
what this story is about, it’s about 
the suffocation I’ve spent life escaping.
For the past year now, it’s gone away.
I walk through the world again 
and name the things I love, pick 
them apart and study them one 
by one, their roots, their soiled 
hearts, dangling from my hands. 

The soothing circles of space
before the dream enfolds me, 
and I can’t control how fast the giant 
tank fills with water, when I crane my neck, 
press my cheek to the ceiling to gulp 
the tinny air. As the sound grows louder
doubled by its echo, the proportion 
of my fear times the knowledge 
that soon I’ll be fully underwater, 
and that nothing— not a hurricane, 
not a goddamn tsunami—wall of water 
pushing down the street— 
could jar me free. 

the keys to success  / Caroline Fernandez

I went to university to start my life. I went to university because a counsellor told me I would get in. I went to university because I graduated high school. I went to university because I applied myself. I went to university because I did my homework. I went to university because that’s what the smart kids did. I went to university because I’d be good at it. I went to university so I’d have an answer to the question “where did you go to college?” I went to university because I would make a good lawyer, doctor or engineer. I went to university to get a good job. I went to university so I could pay off four years of debt afterwards. I went to university to make more money to pay my parents back. I went to university so I would never have to marry someone for money. I went to university because I’d be looked down on if I didn’t. I went to university because a hiring officer would one day ask me what degree I have. I went to university to get a “higher education.” I went to university because that’s the rule and I’m not the exception. I went to university because my parents immigrated for our education. I went to university even though because my parents never did. I went to university because where I came from, girls didn’t have the same opportunities.  I went to university because I wasn’t allowed to date anyone till the end of high school. I went to university to hook up with the boy who holidayed in The Hamptons. I went to university with the kids who stuck around because the party scene was wild. I went to university to eat sugar-free peanut butter, protest in Ottawa on long weekends, and fight the Freshman Fifteen. I went to university instead of attending the final casting for a role in Mean Girls. I went to university instead of waitressing to pay my bills. I went to university because no one would help me pay my rent if I didn’t. I went to university so my Plan B would one day win. I went to university because I could. I’d be stupid if I didn’t.

Stranger Danger / Dallas Outlaw

grabbing at the air
hoping you’d see me
standing upright
sucking in the tears
happiness knows no
unmatched anxieties
stained glass memories
creatively shaping windows
of opportunities
for your heart to 
meet mine
halfway between
deciding that today
is the day
I at least say
or crawl back into
a shell that I once called

flies drowning in milk / Salem Paige

churn me out like
butter expel me like
a spirit even though
we both know I’m worse
but you eat ice cream despite
your lactose intolerance and 
I drink alcohol on my meds so
who are we to avoid the things
we are told we should

like open highways and
hitchhikers and salting
open wounds

even fruitflies drown in
the sweetness that kills them
in the end but I suppose
our brains are bigger than
theories yet we run into
shut windows just the same

there’s something to be
said for our freedom to
make mistakes and how
desperately we ache 
to make them

and if my kitchen trap
was dairy and not wine
I bet you’d be caught in it
trying to save the flies
drowning in milk

while I suck them
out through a straw

Front of the House / Otis Rubottom

The year I worked for Pascal in the hotel restaurant
I wore the waiter uniform: black pants, white shirt, tie.
Everything about the routine was routine, except us.
Before the summer was out we’d all fight or fuck 
or get fired. Fireworks outside on Fourth of July,
and inside every weekend. Hard ass cooks and
smartass waiters, everyone a little bit beautiful

and a little bit broken. We’d make up stories
about our past to sell the steak or tell the truth
to sell the Sancerre. We were always complaining
about someone or something though never
the uniform, which was so innocuous as to be invisible.

Dave looked like he was born to wear a tie; Gabe
like it was a noose. Krista never liked dressing
like a boy, which might explain how quick she was
to take her clothes off. We learned a new glossary

of desire, a vocabulary of uncharted worlds. Seven
sorts of olives, obscure cuts of meat, how to swear
in French and Spanish. Everywhere it was language
and lust and loss. Hours devoted to a job we pretended
to hate because to admit we loved it was too much.

And always there were the guests with their seeking.
And did we give them what they came for, after all?
Did we guide them to their own hidden desires?
Sometimes. Sometimes we unlocked a door
they never knew existed, lead them to a taste
they’d been waiting a life to discover.

But often they just wanted the one thing
we could never deliver: familiarity. A set of flavors
that wouldn’t challenge or confront. A landscape
just a degree away from the well-worn. That was something
we couldn’t do. Or wouldn’t, anyway. Uniform or no,

our lot and our language was exploration, however
bracketed by menu or season, table turns or tip outs.
We were there for escape, at the end of it all. The menu
was a door, language a window. It didn’t matter
where the night took us, just so long as it took us.

The Influence We Forget  / La-Gaye Sailsman

– in memory of Jonathan Riley

a Kondo clean of closet
clears a chest of trinkets
of moments not held long enough
–The Picture
Jon-Jon danced solo
cluttered dorm room at his back
soft smile assures
you are what he tried to be
–The Change
in a Ziploc coins clink
can’t be exchanged
can’t be taken home to their places, 
stuck a long way from the Kyoto onsen,
the Namhae bbq, Huadu street food
and Mont Saint-Michel crepe
passport stamped but can’t return
–The Postcard
of Bamboo Avenue
look long enough you hear the
creaks and subtle sways
a friend’s hand scribbled
don’t forget that this is
a Kondo clean of closet
cleared dust
off the trinkets
off the memories
from the moments not held long enough

For Laura Nyro / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke


Tune soft and gentle, floating away
demure in its beauty and movement.
This is what he hears, this is what
he wants for you, so names you Laura
after the character, after the movie,
after the song. But instead,
he gets you. Lost in your own world
full of music and better things.
Why can’t you be happy
with Catskills summers and jazz standards?
Why can’t you be happy like your brother?
He thinks all his friends would laugh
if he helped you get a foot in the door,
so instead you kicked it in.

Day 11 / Poem 11

Why I Like Dinosaur Movies / Kristine Anderson

On Saturdays I’d sit cross-legged alone in front of the 1950s Zenith
box TV to watch black-and-white Saturday afternoon matinees—
my favorite: dinosaur movies. The Lost WorldUnknown IslandGodzilla.

The model animation was best, beasts right out the Giant Golden Book
of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Reptiles: the fancy-plated stegosaurs,
the scary horned triceratops, the gentle lumbering brontosaurus,

and the nearly omnipotent tyrannosaurus rex. They once ruled the earth,
I’d read. They’d left bones behind for us to find, and fossilized footprints.
National Geographic artists imagined them in colorful illustrations.

Such awe even Sunday School couldn’t evoke—a sense of wonder
and amazement at something that once existed, but safely in the past.
A time of lush vegetation and quicksand and erupting volcanoes when

the planet was just a kid (like me!). About these marvelous creatures,
even grown-ups were still learning (as kids always are!). And I wanted
to believe the movies: that humans could outwit even these monsters,

that people stood a chance if only we’d use our evolved brains, if only
we’d work together. I loved the dinosaurs! But after the films’ credits
rolled by, it was the stories’ optimistic endings I’ve held onto for years.


Sometimes all you need is one color:
blue, blue for the low foothills, for
waves, for a still day in the islands,
for boats heading out of a harbor.

I needed to travel through so many cities
till my memories could return to me transformed.

Were the white seashore pebbles the weathered bones of children?

Flecks of constellations, stars on
the surface of a river Heraclitus stepped into,
a dance of survival,
with flakes of ash, tiny shells deposited
millions of years ago before the seas receded.

What is your particular Rubicon? Did you cross over?

This must be Old Age,
a twilight through which
a river glides mirroring
the gray sky upside down
as it holds past winters
and a white moon.

You have used up the years,
and they have used up you,
and still, as Borges said,
you have not written the Poem.

Galloping Through The Eye of A Needle  / Jaz

how all these years later
You still wanna be one of the beautiful ones??
Clinking noonday mimosas
Conceited salads
crashing into Mexican avocados
Astonishing waistlines
Impossible cardigans
Crispy tight cornflower blue jeans
that kiss the tops of shiny Blahniks
These only show up in your figurative language
and blanched imaginations
Watercoloring paintings
France hillsides
Twilight jet setting…
Even the blanket of stars against indigo are envious
Free spirits never seem 
to lose their nine lives
Their    skin    goes     on    f    o    r   e    v   e    r
Your bloated
and a little wiser
Why then
are you 
Why then are you STILL discarded.

Thunder Bitch  / Lane Falcon

My dog no longer lets me snuggle him because
I jump too much in my sleep— out of my body
which falls backwards off a cliff or speeds head on
toward the rear-end of a stopped car. He’s discovered
the other side of the couch, where the pillows envelope 
him in squirrels he can catch, absorb his whimpers 
and mute the thunder that terrifies him rather than 
thrust him down its rumbling throat. Sometimes, 
I want to jolt him back into my orbit, so he can be 
the dog I bought him to be, absorb my disaster
and sleep it off: breathing in, letting out the way 
I can’t. Instead, I detonate nightly. My amygdala, 
on its hook, knows rancor will yank it awake. 
If we’re being honest, I hang onto it, because 
I don’t know who I’d be without it, that inner thunder, 
my constant companion, decibels mounting 
until my body becomes noise. 

The sun continues to rise  / Caroline Fernandez

The sun is finally falling
on this distorted house of mirrors
For too long, we’ve been stalling 
waiting for demons to become clearer
By giving shadows vitality
we’ve made them far dearer
than the flesh and bones that in reality
are where the body holds its force
For reflections to reach totality
time must run its course
in cycles first timid, then sprawling  
like a continuous life-giving source
Now mirrors, once enthralling 
finally release the body to its calling

Social Awareness / Dallas Outlaw

content with making content
creatively leading followers astray
astronomically disproportionate
learning tactics that don’t require
degree or debt

just another tick that don’t tock
and shame for people who punch
a clock
there’s no outrage
toward the penniless with a

business plan that encourage
low attention spans
no demand on the mind
to resist the decline
in inadequacies during this time

pray for the younger generations
as they lose ability to function
rather recline in reclusion
negating that seclusion
breeds social anxiety,

depression and suicide
that hotline is a hot line
fine and super thin
literally lying between
justifying hate and fate

is this what they’re destined for?
a world where we continue to
suck the life out of
everything walking
went from strolling through
parks, remembering to stop

and smell the flowers
alternatively now scrolling
forgetting to exist
mindlessly wandering
right into the abyss

lazy as in tired as in sick / Salem Paige

there is no “waking up”
when you’re always half asleep.

for so long I thought my
fatigue was a choice – call it

laziness, call it a lack of
desire to contribute despite

the urge to show worth through
provision. the only way I was

taught to be useful was with both
feet off the ground, pumping my

legs to go faster. I was taught
to find forward motion even

when my body begged to sit
still (or lie, paralyzed, on the carpeted

bedroom floor) so that I could be
of value. motion as having more

weight than the act of existence.
motion as the reason for life, they

would tell me. I find my own reason
in sitting still.

Dear Nancy, / Otis Rubottom

I’m doing this project where I write a poem every day for 30 days. Sometimes it’s easy and when I sit down the poem just assembles itself, like I dumped a pile of magnets on the table and they all just knew how to attach themselves to each other. It’s a kind of magic, really, when that happens. Like riding again after having been off the bike and feeling your legs and the pedals all move as one and thinking how much you love it and how wild it is that your body and this machine can do this thing together, and fast. It’s not always like that, of course. That would be impossible. More importantly it would be boring. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to point the pen. But not today. Today was easy. Here. You. What I sit down to write every year on this day. It’s not always a poem, exactly. But then again, it’s not *not* a poem. The other day, taking out the recycling, I saw what I thought was a jar in the bin, mistakenly placed among the cardboard, and as I reached for its edge another edge, ragged and hidden, sliced through my finger. I was so angry. I wanted it to be someone else’s fault, wanted to blame Naomi or Thatcher for putting broken glass in at all. But of course they didn’t. Of course it just broke and I didn’t see it. There’s a poem in there, somewhere. Or maybe there’s not. Maybe that’s the point: Sometimes, you reach for something without thinking and it leaves you bloody. Sometimes you can only be angry at yourself. Later that day I got on a plane, and today I’ll get on another. I have a window seat. I’m flying at sunset. Look for me will you? I’ll be the one with the neon band-aid, hand pressed to the glass. We are living. We remember you. 

The Changed Season / La-Gaye Sailsman

tomato blossom
peaceful in sunbathed gardens
stunted in excess heat

For Cecilia Hart (also known as Ceci Jones) / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke


When autumn darkness comes to the Commons
and the house matron is locking the dorm,
it’s okay, stay for a bit on the bench,
she’ll let you in when you knock,
everyone always lets you in when you knock.
Ollie is struggling —some boy, some class,
some same old same old—and your smile,
that level-headed smile, is all that she needs.

Day 10 / Poem 10

At Verulamium Park, Great Britain, 2023 / Kristine Anderson

“In AD 60 or 61, the rapidly-developing town received a catastrophic blow. Not all tribes were treated as well as the Catuvellauni and following harsh treatment, the Iceni . . . rose up against the Romans.”
—Guidebook to the Verulamium Museum

My friend and I, two travelers in time and geography,
on a partly sunny day in July, walking this hundred-acre
park near St. Albans with its rolling expanse of green,
until we come to a ridge, then follow an overgrown path,

the canopy of trees rising above, our feet stumbling over
roots and rocks, when the trail pours us out again onto
the open meadow, remnants of the Roman wall before us.
A young boy (eight years old? ten?) runs across the grass

toward the stretch of stubborn wall that’s centuries older
than he, a ruin sprouting violet thistles and emerald weeds.
The boy calls to his mother and father, strolling behind.
They wave, quicken pace, close the distance between them.

Two millennia ago, the Romans and local Catuvellauni built
a town here, shops and homes of wattle and daub and timber.
People who forged metal, fired pottery, their shoes coated with
the soil of their cultivation, who—like my friend and me—

watched sons and daughters grow into their separate futures,
who observed their own parents turn gray and frail. Townsfolk
whose children shouted and chattered and giggled exactly
like those on the playground across the field from us now.  

Even so, how can we fathom what that first-century community
learned was heading their way? They heard about other towns:
Camulodunum, Londinium. The heard of the butchery, of the fire
the rebel horde was carrying to them, in Verulamium, next.


The flattened grass rises with the mule deer,
her white tail flicking, and she bounds up
with a quick leap.

Nearby, trays of skewered meats,
piles of tiny cheese cubes,
carrots with celery with radishes
(flag colors),
the brash sound of the waiters’ shoes
as they click across the shining
and the hidden fawns rise to frolic.

It’s as if tables covered with white cloths
knelt down to deliver
delicious cakes and pies, all sugary,
and beside them the foaming glasses
of champagne

while guests step out on the grass
to dance and a music spirals out of the forest
rising from the bakers white as angels
with their pans of brioche and croissants—
let’s treat ourselves!

Our steps sound in a rush
as we crowd toward the feast—
how good, for a moment, to be alive—
and to think we feel what the fawn feels
as it bounces after its mother:
elastic, a body unaware of being a body.   

Wellness is Self-Participatory  / Jaz

Be a part of your own healing 
Gift yourself as a present of wholeness
Let light shutdown darkness
Clear the tangle 
clean house

The Purge  / Lane Falcon

I remember that Christmas, my daughter sick with strep even after one round of antibiotics. The three of us— me, her, her baby brother— waking in my parent’s house to  morning gloom, wads of wrapping paper scattered on the floor. I remember cradling my son to my chest, his tracheostomy rattling, my father scowling Christmas used to be about music,
now we have to worry about suctioning babies      how his words sliced me diagonally and rage spiked through the fog in my head, a ribbon of black paint I wanted to throw in his face, desperate for reckoning,unable to control it any longer, the hydrant blasting rage onto the street. I said I want to kill myself, in front of my daughter, because life stripped the joy from me, etched valleys of dust in my eyes. I remember later that day how I drove my daughter to CVS to get the prescription, and how I pinned her to my knee there– the christmas music blaring, the white florescent light– and she battled me with all her two year old might as I tried and tried again to push the pink liquid in.How crazy I must have looked, desperate for this one win on this desolate day: to get the medicine into her, to stop the sickness festering in her throat. 

sweet child  / Caroline Fernandez

I want to preserve your happiness
its stickiness, its juicy sweetness
the many flavours and shades
that come with your smile 
how your laughter spills and cascades
I want to scoop you into a thousand jars
and bottle each, drop a bit
have a taste in between
and lick you off my fingers
you’re that delicious
then I’ll sit the jars in a row somewhere safe
so I can remember how you gushed
I’ll fill my shelves with your rainbow 

American Refugee. / Dallas Outlaw

from corner to corner
beneath these walls
lies a concrete city
of indescribable halls
an unfathomable lifestyle

created in contrast
living in the dark amongst 
our trash
discarded city folk
watch us

crossing tees 
dotting eyes
before every car ride
praying not to succumb
to the streets we

cross or be washed away
with the monsoon tide
becoming apart of
the  pavements 
c r a c k e d

as spines croaked over
left unaligned
in the depths – descended
truly suspended 
hung over hell

where homeless is synonymous
with broken
yet still you are the token
taken for a joke and
hoping that if they knew

how you were taken from that to this
they’d be more prepared
to avoid this from happening
to that – a copycat
Las Vegas like Los angeles

has a row of hopeless people
who never knew a place
riddled with lights
could hold so much 
darkness in its heart

thoughts while trying to induce tears on a saturday night / Salem Paige

I am not screaming into my 
iphone voice notes and 
I am not drunk for the first time in months.

they call it wailing because the ocean swallows it
like everything else that goes deep enough.
I don’t know how to cry. yesterday

the mailman caught my eye through my
front window and didn’t break contact
until my package was on the stoop.

tequila can be buried in the front yard
to remove its sting. dig it up

in the morning, water and
air, LED lights to
photosynthesize even
without the sun.

I cry at the edge of the sea.

Canto for Edward Hopper / Otis Rubottom

It is early Sunday morning 
The shadows cast are long
The street is empty 
Dark is the issue
Of our temporal arrangements 

Everything in the house says, Go 
Everything outside says, Where?
Simultaneously urging us forward, 
While insisting that we stay 

She seems sculpted by the light 
Her past, like the back of her body, 
Is left in shadow
Nothing but a black square,
An irreducible conclusion, a place 
For a vanishing point 

All we can do from where we stand Is meditate
On the unspoken barriers between us

The city is asleep
Its hiddenness is illuminated, 
But not revealed 

There is no urgency
There is only geometric calm 
We are its privileged witness 

It is a vast theater
In which the moment
Of creation is enacted
Again and again
As if some transforming evidence 
Were encoded in the light 

Everything suggests an equilibrium 
Has been reached
That what we experience
Will be entirely ours 

The air is stricken with purity
It is chapel like
Our distance from everything grows 

Lines taken from Mark Strand’s “Hopper” (1994, Ecco), one sentence from each chapter.

Soul Cento / La-Gaye Sailsman

I plucked my soul out
of its secret place far from white pages
I want a peek at the back that
forbid words to breathe.
Because I see a part and not the whole
to call that which is yes no
I’m comforted by
this awful key
this narcotic thought
to truths that attend my infinity:
I’d like to be
a bad woman, too.
Rough and untended
the advance toward
spark of passion, I explored
to call that which is yes–
Held it to the mirror, and, I’m comforted
between dreaming and waking
like a star against the sky
hearing light
I know my soul.

Cento with lines from  Daniel Maximin, Claude McKay, Gwendolyn Brooks

Celeste Yarnall / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke


Cottonwood, aspen, and willows,
leaves of wild cherry and ash —
Swallowtail, eat of their leaves.
Soon transformation is spiraling
out from the safety of well-hidden
homes, with the beauty of yellow and
black, stark contrasting joys of
fame and contentment. The flashing of
sun through the trees as everyone
waits with sweet light purple flowers,
yerba santa stems,
held for your first sip of nectar,
sweet celebrity of a
butterfly playing with flight.

Day 9 / Poem 9

Friday / Kristine Anderson

After over an hour of glare, driving the 5 north toward home,
reflection bouncing off shiny white Nissans, tinted Tesla
windshields, and mirrored high-rise facades along the freeway,

After idling for half an hour, 80-degree heat pressing in, as
I hold for mounting traffic to find its way around the closed
“fast” lanes where two dark SUVs and a white truck piled up,

After, back in town, navigating school zones, avoiding Hondas’
and Hyundais’ swerves into the pick-up lane, tapping brakes
for grade-schoolers skipping by, pink and navy backpacks bouncing,

After six more stop-lighted intersections, after finally turning
into this familiar cul-de-sac, pulling the Prius into our too-short
driveway, pressing the engine off, zipping the parking brake on,
the A/C suddenly quiet, I sit and let the world wait for just a moment.

FRAGMENT  / Mary Crow

That little mare
squealed when she bucked—
outraged at all the teasing,
a spur jabbed in her ribs,
sudden jerk of the bit—
she was one hard pony to ride
but I wanted to

Dapple gray dream of Arabia
with that dished in face
and gentle eyes dark smoky pools
that denied her fury
she was almost all
I ever wanted
but never got
and anyway never
later wanted.
I took her on.

The boys thought it was funny.

The Lies About Men  / Jaz

She leaned on him
Mountains are made to stand
But who will hold him up?

Nature’s Mercy  / Lane Falcon

The opioids
the body releases

when the tiger eats us alive,
that lift us

layers above our own
demise, parallel

to our pain.
I want to think it’s enough,  

the path to
the immense pleasure

of relief,
if not relief itself.

I want to think God is 
nature, or mercy,

calming riotous
nerves– or the visitor 
slipping through the door
before it closes,
to cool our burning
body with his words. 

Arriving  / Caroline Fernandez

From the train carriage we’re in
there’s room only for two
We check that the door’s clicked shut
We don’t say too much
We turn the pages of our books
We cut through countrysides and cities
We pass through tunnels with leafy overhangs
We cross rivers and canals
We watch the hours pass as the sky changes
and listen to the rumbling of the tracks
We close the curtains
The engines keep going

dedication : / Dallas Outlaw

To all of the children
inside of all of the
adults who sat in silence
while enduring life’s mishaps,
not knowing to ask
for help because
they didn’t know how,
had no one willing,
or were so lost that
help sounded like an
extension of failure-
you are seen
and understood
you are worthy
and tough
beyond the years
of being lost in translation
between adult nonfiction
and the children’s edition

Fire Season / Otis Rubottom

From 10,000 feet I can see the fire burning in Bull Run, 
the plume lifting and breaking up, ghosting away 
in the east wind that plucks the Gorge clean this time of year.
Was there always a fire season? Probably. Probably there
was and I was just too young or too dumb to know, to know
what it meant to love a place so hard you’d worry over it
each fall like a mother bird afraid to leave the nest unguarded
even for a moment, for fear something would drop from the sky,
pluck the eggs like ripe fruit. Something would. That’s the point. 

It would and it does, flames like a tongue, like a…No. Stop. 
I won’t give it a body. It doesn’t have fingers, it can’t see. 
Whatever it is, it is not making any decisions. Down below
the wing I can trace the line of our river canyon. Yes, ours. 
I claim it as much as any place I’ve ever loved. More. 

River where I held your feet in the shallows before you
could walk. River where we prayed, where we dozed
and forgot and remembered. River where we learned 
the sky, on our backs with the cloud book, the bird book,
the backs of our eyes etched with blue, our bodies tattooed
by the smooth stones underneath us. 

I can look down through the smoky haze and trace the meanders,
say the names that mark the curves: Sunstrip, Fish Creek, Big Eddy.
From this high up can’t see the scars i know are there, can’t see
the bare walls where once there was forest. It looks fine, looks
like it’s how it should be. That’s some trick isn’t it? How 
if you stand far enough away you can gaze at something broken 
and beloved and think everything is ok, is just like you remember it. 

The Problem with a Limited Mindset / La-Gaye Sailsman

Because the right tools weren’t on hand,
but for immediate lack of funds,
Thinking all it’ll cost is time

The mindset was,
‘I’ll make do with what I have’

It took five hours to do a task
when it should have taken one.

In that five, projects fell out the mind’s eye
Fingers instructed Google to search for any bypass
Pen idled waiting to scribe wistful profundities
Fingers searched for a hack so no need to trial-
with funds you did not have- and will inevitably forget-
and have to buy anyway- in seven days.

Meanwhile this poem is left
half scratched
Half stuck in a mind 

having to create inventive solutions
to a problem fingers couldn’t search and easily find.

Efforts to make do were fruitless
like cutting down trees with a sharpened plastic spoon
One day it might leave a dent
but here, it’s cut up minutes and hours
of thought, of effort, of time with self.

It isn’t skill but assets you lack, 

for access to the right tools
To do with ease in one hour what could have taken you five.

For Linda Smith / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

Here is a space full of stillness,
waiting for you, and only you.

Here there are no doctors
wearing psychopathic bowties
coming to deliver terribly annoying news.

Here there are no posh people
laughing politely at fat men
hiding behind tiny trees.

Here there are no adults
waiting in line for Harry Potter
or other ways of softening the truth.

Here there are no friends
making you vie for space
amidst the loud wit of their patter.

Here there is nothing bothersome.
There is stillness, there is darkness,
and there is you.

Day 8 / Poem 8

Two Haiku and Three Senryu / Kristine Anderson

lush grass after rain
burrow door in the garden
gopher’s been busy

mounds of pebbly dirt
chamise uprooted, wilting
gopher settles in

humans mobilized:
plugging holes with soil & rocks
dripping castor oil

new tunnel doorways
healthy grainy heaps of earth
humans scratching heads

desperate shovels raised
digging tunnels, setting traps
wrecking the backyard


We staked out our claim to immortality.
Our acts were wacky or breathless.
We forgot to pick up our clothes.

By the time we arrived everything was over.

We could save up the tides
but sooner or later they ellipse.

I want a lawyer, you said,
and really their coats are so lovely
with that nap and the colorful cinch belts.

You widened your horizons
to include the Persian wars, a radical
shift in horizon.

You hoped to become part of the written record,
along with the ravaging of cities.

Too much make do!

You used to play old jazz records
as we read poems we didn’t understand.

We chose to write a history,
collecting evidence, sifting, checking, double-checking,
of an event which lies in the future.

Should we be found innocent
after all we did?

Even so, the resulting story was wacky and breathless.

Please Don’t Drop The Children  / Jaz

     once more
and again
       will I try
They deserve
someone not giving up on them
                      Scratching the face of help
       the spirit of rejection
       against wounds
where familial word-swords landed…
                                             and bruised
They bite one another…
their light bends behind the Cumulus
We’re all                                                          
                                             for the next generation.    
               pushing boulders

Mercury  / Lane Falcon

The awning that shadowed the front door
turned the color of sea moss.

Those nickel-sized disks I’d collect
at the construction site.

The taste of her tongue an invasion,
starved raven of her lust.

The smell of must inside a can, 
the water tower where I imagined myself 

The plate on my chest I woke under, 
her weight sank into mine. 

Who I became after: 
I couldn’t contain

the snake and all its swerving. 

wind chimes on a noose  / Caroline Fernandez

I was made to make music
on brisk summer days
come to life only when 
little breezes come about 

The seasons are like bell tolls
with each, the gusts only get stronger 
my melody has turned to noise
and still my show must go on

I’ve been hanging by a thick thread
for all of my life
I’ve let the air have its way with me
and I’ve taken it in stride

But lately I’ve been clanging about
my metal pipes are in a huff
there’s been a storm slowly brewing 
for days in these parts 

Not Enough of Me / Dallas Outlaw

existing between the cracks
living in the grey areas
being a site unseen
a natural wanderer
guessing what each role 
is supposed to represent
often leaving the question
“who am i?”
lingering in descent
several instances of
misinterpretations led on
by misinformation
perpetuated by a
self identity crisis
trying to exist in
too many places
at once
believing that having
multiple personalities to fit
multiple definitions of who
you think i’m supposed to be
just drives me


                  ON MY CHEST
                  OVERHANGING CLIFFS OF
                  SCAR TISSUE LEAVE

                  THE FLESH REMAINS


Killdeer / Otis Rubottom

To protect its young the killdeer
will walk out in plain sight
pretending to be injured, dragging a wing
in exaggerated fashion across the ground,
across the path, across the way.

 In this way it is unlike any other mother bird,
laying itself out in the open, breast exposed
so close to harm she can feel its hot breath.

 In this way she is just like every mother
everywhere, her life no longer entirely
her own once another rises to pluck food
from her throat so it may live, so that it may fly.

 Every other mother knows the same dark love
pressed close, cuddled in peace and terror,
eyes blind to the world and all its joy and horror.

 I’ve never seen a killdeer. Once, on the path
to the river, my brother-in-law stumbled
across one, knew her from her neck ringed
with stripes, her telltale feint, knew that nearby
lay a nest bristling and unguarded and so

 he let the bird lead him away, all the while
thinking about the small bundle of feathers
just out of sight, silently awaiting her return.

Stillness / La-Gaye Sailsman

Lone gangster pushes furry feet through
moistened green blades and softened soil
searching, perhaps, for the snack to hold it
over. For the curly tail sneaking between rocks
discolored red by sprinkler water. For the long-
tailed skipper perched lightly on the edge of
a sweet almond cluster – the gangster leaps
hoping to nip the skipper’s wings and misses.
As the skipper flies to suckle its next
flower, the little gangster continues its unlucky quest.

Furry feet, again, slide through crisp brown leaves
littering the ground under the avocado trees.
Its paws gently break each leaf with a crunch. Coat
of mostly white and splotchy patches of grey
should not blend in and yet it does,
until its tail flicks the air in sudden bursts of whimsy.
Tucks in its feet, nestles into the shade that rocks offer,
closes eyes against the warmth of midday sun.
While the day continues, the lone gangster
seems, now, more concerned with
sunspots’ shimmer on plants swaying to the breeze.

For Dixie Lee / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke


You, dearest child, have nothing for which to apologize.
What a sentence that was, it’s trying so hard to be what it should.
Can you imagine if it let its preposition sit wherever it wanted?
For you, for dearest child, for nothing.
What would have happened if you’d have left him,
right where he was, just a Rhythm Boy in the pack?
Or took your light and brightness down to Agua Caliente
and had yourself one hell of a weekend without him?
For you, for dearest child, for nothing.
Never reconciled, never heard it was all your fault,
stopped cramming yourself into the middle of his world,
that had been yours to begin with before marriage,
before babies, before pills and everything on the rocks.
For you, for dearest child, for nothing.

Day 7 / Poem 7

Yard Work / Kristine Anderson

Raking leaves, I’m never sure what
I’ll find under the surface. Sometimes

an orange tennis ball the neighbor threw
(a little too high) to her golden retriever

that cleared the top of the fence & rolled
underneath our monkey flower. I toss it back.

Often, holes the squirrels have dug, empty
walnut shells nearby. I fill the craters in, tamp

down the dirt. Roly-poly bugs, disturbed
by my activity, curl into balls, roll away.

Ants, dozens of them, antennae twitching, dodge
helter-skelter like concert-goers in a sudden rain.

Then, under early autumn’s crackly, paper-crisp
layer, I find rich black loam the earth has made,

its work perfected through millions of years
of plants & seasons, without any human help.

SHELTER / Mary Crow

He’ll forget me, I thought,
as I watched him on Google,
oblivious as usual.

Google knows everything,
as we all know,
agog on the periphery.

But can it remember me?
Can it teach him
to remember me?

When he wakes
in a future bed, will he
call her by my name?

All women are different,
he sighed, hoping
to appease me. Not possible.

I don’t want to die.
Not now. Not ever.
That song.

It keeps me up at night:
Why me?
Well, I know I know.

I do and you do too.

I’m Calling Out For Poetry  / Jaz

This got me

Pulling out all the stops for Poetry
Roping the moon
and staring down the sun for Poetry
Poems be my pillow
Dreaming in Tanka
Syllables tripping over each other to chase me down and finesse me with their syntax
This got me
Courtin’ white space
Conversating with lineation
Red carpet treatment only
For poetry is a Commander
Commandeering the rhythm of my writes
Squeezing the last drops of day into the night, night into the day
I’ve swapped sleep for Poetry
Washrag, Workplace
will have 

Sirens / Lane Falcon

Who thought it would evolve into
this, the siren I heard as a youth
spirals inside me, a sound I went 
crazy to mimic— who thought 
it would continue into motherhood, 
with my own son in the back 
of an ambulance, the EMT shining 
her pen light on the retractions 
in his chest, his unfocused eyes, 
reliving with every breath his 
choking on the liquid Ibuprofen 
I shot down his throat, afraid 
of another fever or sleepless night, 
and watched him vomit on his 
pajama top. The pain rising 
from the hub of my being, 
the empty organ filling again, 
flooding up the memory after 
months of long absence, the fear 
I want to leave behind, and try, 
with every step, not to detonate. 
Nowadays, I don’t choose it for anything,  
too much having rained on me when 
I didn’t have an awning or umbrella 
to use as shelter, when no one 
was around and the last bus 
home was creeping down the street.

A mermaid’s song  / Caroline Fernandez

The day Ariel gave her voice away 
she had wandered too far into the deepest crevasses of the ocean
There lurked the shadows of a plotting arch nemesis
Ariel’s song became an anthem for a generation 
girls turned into women believing voices were a commodity 
to be bought and sold, traded, and repurposed 
like grains, tea and spices, or oil and gold
like weapons exchanged as a deal between governments

In return for her sea ballads
she got a new set of legs
a whole wardrobe of dresses and high-heeled shoes
silent time staring into the eyes of a prince
as if his company were the same value
as the ocean’s coral and splendor
as the sisters and father she left behind    
as if life on land with a strange new man
was equal to a swim among shipwrecks with friends

It’s not that the ocean wasn’t deep enough for her
She was a girl, a child
A daughter in a dated story
from the hands of her father to the hands of a prince
It wasn’t a witch who decided her worth
Her price was decided the day she was born

So Ariel may have found her feet on earth
but she had never really learned to walk or swim
Ariel got her voice back by the end of the story
but the little mermaid’s song would always remain the same

Facts of Life / Dallas Outlaw

not hopeless
i just hope less
conforming to a
modernity that

bees and birds as
living hopelessly

traversing mountaintops
smashing glass ceilings
only to watch
men attempt to put the pieces

back together again
lowering the bar
as interest decreases
at rates faster than

anxiety hearts beating
drumming – indescribly
smitten by the world’s attempts
to weaken

the floor and the ceiling 

foresight / Salem Paige

I wish
to know how I turn out
l wind up

these accolades l dream of
do I fall short of finding 
them or find new ones
and never charge the old at all
do my cats make it
through every move

and where to? inter-continental
or close
to home

is home, then?
has home changed
and how many 
times? not that
I’m not used to it,
but the cats –

Say More / Otis Rubottom

Prometheus: I have said it. What you have heard is sufficient.
Io: No, no, say more.

The first one doesn’t count. I was too young
to know the impact, to feel how the phone
must be at once weightless in your hand,
and leaden as the body returns it to its cradle,
as the brain begins to rearrange the world
around the news of sudden absence.

My grandfather was mostly an idea, a feeling
in my chest. It would be years before I’d learn
what my father’s hand knew that day
as it lowered the phone to its rotary base.

Our base was a hill in the canyon, a knob
amongst the scrub, arroyos on either side
where we four, none of us yet 10, careened
down trails only we could see, knees raw,
waded the shallows for crayfish. It took 10

years for the phone to find me, though it wasn’t
a call at all, just the soft voice of my father
in the hall, hand on my arm in the late-night dark.
I didn’t know what it was like to step into
an empty boxcar, to ride into something
so foreign and fraught. I didn’t know then

it would be only the first time, that losing
was something you would practice for as long
as you draw breath. The train is always full and
always pulling away, someone on the platform
waving, someone behind the glass lifting their hand.

For Long Ago Summers / La-Gaye Sailsman

Mustard yellow foam
worn from years of use
dragged outside on the hottest days of summer.
leathery brown hands sank in
left marks for tiny fingers to follow
warmly encased while napping under the almond tree.
Stories of long ago mixed 
with unknowable tomorrows
held in space by that used old foam.
weathered hands felt like feathers
drifted off into the distance
far far away from the old tree that kept it safe.

For Loretta Young  / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke


When you walked in through the doorway
turning around to twirl your skirt,
all the families watching knew
to expect drama, love, and tough decisions,
but bright goodness in the end.
Morals summarized succinctly
with your reassuring smile.
When you wrote into your contract
stipulations for the reruns,
did you know that only stories
stand the test of time,
that what we try to make of them
goes out of fashion faster
than an evening gown
made of black and green chiffon?

Day 6 / Poem 6

It’s Called Boudican Destruction Horizon1  / Kristine Anderson

Carnegie libraries &
Wharton College honor
their mogul-donors.
Petco Park & Kia Forum
advertise for corporations.
The humble sandwich &
versatile saxophone carry
the ID of their creators. 
Most of us are lucky
for a tombstone with a name
spelled correctly, silt and
crabgrass kept away.

The ancient Queen Boudica claims 
a strata of time, an archaeological 
layer: burnt red clay beneath
Colchester, inches of ash
under London. A rage that burned
palisades & timber homes, melted
bricks, ignored screams, spared
no unprepared soldier, no
pregnant mother huddled
in a corner, no child running
barefoot through dust and smoke.

What to be remembered for?
Sometimes history is written
by the victors—and sometimes
the earth itself bears witness.

¹Boudica: Iceni queen who led a violent revolt against the occupying Romans in Britain, 60-61 CE



Evening stained with time’s ink—
so earnest, so vaulty, so dappled—

our day is over, flung out of countenance.
And now who deals the cards out

for earth or for me, for unwinding life?
Who serves what’s left of mortal beauty?

Look up at the stars, the owl cries,
and dim sounds search at the edge of town.

Heraclitus and his river: O swift current,
let me step into you, then out a better self.

Let me have pity on myself, be kind,
stand the stress of boisterous winds, of

the world’s wildfires which leave only ash. 

What Matters Most  / Jaz

In shedding the day

I dropped the refuse
that someone dumped on me
Shrunk by their microaggressions
The dart of invisibility went deeper
I regurgitate this poison onto the page
rehash and rehearse
a thousand different replies in my mind…
monologue style
How do I pry better from bitter?
I’m burnt
but will the flame of forgiveness
be forged within me?

A Narrative / Lane Falcon

So you let go,
let the world swing behind you,
a metronome.

Let the gallop of time
whisk you forward, the things
you wanted stick behind you,

stagnant and prescribed
let the pieces lay where
they fall, let the fall then winter

arrive and ride them to Spring,
let the grass spring from the ground
and thrill the soles of your feet—

let the seeping begin.
The seeping into or onto
the dew on the cuffs of your jeans,

the bands of your socks.  
I remember looking down
at you, outside the World War II memorial,

monuments to each state
circling the reflection pool.
It was hot that day, the beginning

of June and my palm sweat
inside your palm.
You took off your shoes

then socks because I wanted to cool
my feet in the water
and stepped in beside me.

We talked about the states where
we’ve been, and you told me you went
every year to myrtle beach.

Alone? I asked, the veins of my feet
bulging underwater and you
studied my ankle,

read the tattoo, “As small as
the world and as big as alone,”
my impatience manifest

in a misquoted line of poetry,
E.E. Cummings I said but you didn’t
know. You didn’t know me

at all back then. Just the
omnivore I projected, loving
anything and everything,

proverbial flowers in my hair.
And I didn’t know you,
only the steadiness and depth

I sensed behind your eyes—
sadness drew me closer.
But watching

you afterwards, pull your socks
over damp feet,
I almost leaned

down to kiss you,
or tie your shoes like the heroine
in “Tangled up in Blue”

because what other man
would do that for me?  

wild flowers  / Caroline Fernandez

I didn’t tell anyone where I was going and no one ever came to find me. My brothers never asked where I was going and my parents would not have known where to look. Across the street and through a chicken wire-fenced alley, abutting one of the only busy roads in my suburban Toronto neighborhood, I found a patch of forgotten grass, a place the real estate developers hadn’t sunk their teeth into. A quiet place, where only the din of passing cars could be heard. A meadow but not a moorland, as far as I knew, from my unremarkable knowledge of nature. Smaller than a school yard. The size of a little league baseball diamond, and larger than my parents’ backyard. It was more like a patch of ground that had gone unnoticed, its grass greenish-yellow and wispy, growing wild at different heights and interspersed with sprouts of pampas, white asters, and lavender harebell. It was a land that was ripe with possibility. A patch large enough for only one big tree in the middle, with space beneath it to lay my thin blanket, space to spread a crown of books, notepads, and pens around my head while I looked up at the sky between pages. I watched Jo March slip away to a shed on her own to escape into her stories. I saw Jane Eyre spending her days plodding through pastures on foot, breaking free from a tightly pulled corset. I thought of Anne Shirley meeting her bosom buddy for long walks that stretched endlessly into wide fields, small forests, and the journeys she would have. This was a place where the sun refused to let, instead remaining frozen in daylight. A place where I remember it raining only once, though I’m sure it rained more often than that. It was a slow drizzle that started with a droplet on the page of a book I was reading. It could’ve been one of my teardrops. But then there was another one. And another. I remember how I jumped up and slammed my notebooks closed, a few streaks of blue ink already running down the pages. How I threw my books in my bag and ran home. I sat near my window to watch from inside the house, as trails of water slid down the window and onto the ground. How lush the meadow must look in this rain, I thought to myself.

Sensory Break / Dallas Outlaw

i know i got three eyes
cus i’m looking past you
seeing shit that only god knows
about you
your aura speaks

in shades of yellow
my favorite color
draping freely over the horizon,
it’s the sun on the petals 
of your bike as you

ride through my mind so sultry
to the vibes of lo fi
play ing in my memories
of our
best moments in history

lie low, waves coming high
hands gloves around me
just below
the thighs
i feel the crash of the water

no rush it’s a slow
and deliberate touch,
but blood won’t ease up
you’re tense in my hand
yet, i feel you falling apart

breathe deeply
day dreaming still
fluttering with the
butterflies in my
tummy – like

fitting perfectly 
you’re a puzzled piece 
brought back to reality
only by the fact
that our climax was taken

away with the moons
midnight glow
your my gravity
pulling me into you
lying in the sand, being anew


this heatwave is all-encompassing
and heavy. if everything has

an equivalent literal weight, most things
tend towards the heavy. if the outdoors

is a communal possession it surely is
wrong to clutter it. and time has

extended clutter to hoarding. 
I can feel the pulse of the debris 

as it radiates against my skin 
cells which cry and tug

themselves apart, weeping
sweat down my back

and into my tank top.

Death of a Star / Otis Rubottom

You disappeared. No goodbye. No warning.

I looked for you in the all the familiar places,
turned rocks upside down, swam under piers.

Nothing but empty ebb. What is it when a color
is erased from the spectrum? When a living thing
vanishes from the imagination?

We never stopped looking. Years of beach combing,
ferry rides, scanning the tide charts.

You were a cipher, a mystery we could not unravel.
Thatcher learned you before he could remember you,
and so he lost you for years, as we all did.

And then…
                        and then.

We saw you, spied your blaze orange bodies, reached to touch
your ridged, purple arms in a San Juan shallow, and whopped aloud!


A star in daylight, lit by the sea. A multi-prism of magic,
able to unlock the blazing smile of a son.

The Ritual / La-Gaye Sailsman

Her skin is
pulled off.
An exhale
forgives her day’s choices.
Her eyes lament
it’s here pursed lips unfurl.

For Alma Cogan  / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke


They called you Pop Granny, a square, out of date,
those fools with big egos not yet making it big,
just dangling half-smoked cigarettes
from their so-cool art school lips
mimicking “the girl with the giggle in her voice.”
But you weren’t a square,
you were a self-designed, swinging skirt
with crinoline pouffed out and taking up space.
The stage was yours and no one could own it
quite the way you did. Smile to camera one,
wink to camera two. Fuck you boys, fuck you.

Day 5 / Poem 5

Can’t Sit Still  / Kristine Anderson

Sit still!
            my mother
                         complained when
                                       I, five
                         years old,
            squirmed in
                         the vinyl
                                       booth at the
                         Pancake House
            where Dad
                         treated us—
                                       mom and
                         older sister
            and me—
                         to breakfast-

Six decades
            later, still
                        I’ll take
            the stairs
                        (creaky knees
                                    be damned)
rather than
            wait on
                        an elevator,
                                    will drive
                        to brick-
                        Target to
                                    buy socks.

You’ve seen
            how fast
                        digital clock
                                    minutes turn
                        forward, right?
            Just yesterday,
                        my son—
                        years old—
            a WhatsApp
                        call, laughing
                                    at his father’s
                        jokes from
            eight thousand
                        miles away.
                                    Where he’s
                        at, it’s


words can rattle like chains
words can crack like whips
words can ignite like us
and set our wordends on fire

we dress in words as if in
intimate under garments
which someone will undo in the night

when we step out of the mist
caused by the unfurling of wings
before silent thresholds
we belch words, loosing them
into a wind, one word chasing another

packed armloads of words
circle in the November sky
according to the old laws
under the yellowing ginkgoes:
ghosts of words lie down in wait
or fly into the morning haze
like floating mirrors that spill
sunlight into our rooms

No Ticket Required  / Jaz

no morning can control
Twilight’s first customers
Cracking the daybreak
with squeals, squawks, wails and whispers
Willing or unwilling
At least this is free
No perversion of air
Nor pollution of soul.

Apocalypse / Lane Falcon

I open the little Monday cap 
of the daily pill organizer and spill 
them into my palm— then again 

at night: different colors, sizes, 
milligrams. I remember, at 18, 
shaping them into a smiley face 

on the group home table before 
gulping them down in one swallow.
I remember when I first learned 

to swallow an aspirin. An aspirin.
Who thought it would evolve into 
this? Sometimes, I want to black out 

my brain, snuff the streetlamps 
and listen to the fuses cool. Sometimes, 
I want to tempt Armageddon  

just to see what ambles from 
behind the dumpster, bares 
its bloody teeth. 

Reality check / Caroline Fernandez

Each time I feel like walking 
                                                 into the water 
and drifting 
                                                 away like a wanton raft
or getting                               pulled by a current 
to somewhere far 
a place unknown 
              where I can blend in with other 
                 three-eyed fish, warts and all
                 fellow nuclear anomalies
                 where I can hide from 
creatures of the land 
I wonder if the water wants me 
to keep walking

I think of if the water wants me
to go along with my day 
                   so I may come upon 
a dolphin leaping                in the distance
I may notice the way its tail flaps 
and not let myself believe it is smiling 
because it is pleased          to see me

It is as if the water 
                                            thinks I should listen 
to the sound of conch shells  
their vibrating, acoustic chambers 
of conversations                  between waves 
                     the flapping wings of 
                     seagulls dipping low
and other things                   
                     not said out loud 

  I know the water hears me calling 
                     while my toes dig into sand in hints of gold
                     my soles finding solace in roughness
     the prolonged cleanse

Till now 
                     I’ve assumed
that it’s my right  
                                                to know the sea 
as if its only purpose were 
                     to tell me where to go next
Yet I’ve assumed 
that it’s my right
                                                 to know that it will 
                     arrive                   and retreat
                     so I may chase its 
                                                 strings of crackling diamonds 
                    like clockwork each day

I look to the sea  
to forget the land                  
                     but the water reminds me
of why I walk

trust issues. / Dallas Outlaw

trust feels like
into the deepest pool
of your own blood
that poured from
your own heart

stained into the hands
of someone
who only plans
to love you
half as much
as you can

love, Yourself.

fieldwork: Proxima d2175 / Salem Paige

compound lights
low-hanging, those
I can’t harvest.

squinting into the
sun-equivalent, heat from the
molten ground under
these metal floorboards

engulfs my bounty: flesh-
fruit, swollen with a coat
of the red outdoors. each

fruit plump and 
desperate to be eaten,
a pleasure to fold away
until I pass them

to the prep-team, tossed
among the communal hold
deep in the cold bowels
of our supergiant home.

through the shaded-veil
window, the surface
outside bubbles:

heavy red steam
         dances with the dust
         kicked up by the 
         mandated house-fans,

keeping the air cool. the
bottoms of my feet 
are printed saffron,

water runs orange and
blood-like into 
the shower drain

after I come 
home from the 
each evening.

Making Butter / Otis Rubottom

Naomi is pouring cream into her coffee
when a smile catches her face in light, lifts
her mouth and I see her gaze ghost away
to another place. I almost ask where
it is she’s gone, and then don’t.

“Nothing” she says, “tastes like that did,”
and though I don’t know what it is she is
remembering, I’m somehow now thinking
about whatever it is that makes a thing itself,

as when making love becomes the phrase,
becomes the form of that most abstract
of things—a slurred or silent collusion of bodies
and belief, or belief in everything that lacks a body,
that lives beyond any form we know.

What she was thinking about was butter,
how she helped milk her grandparents’ cows
early in the cold air, skimmed the cream
from the tin pail, holding some back for coffee

then shaking the rest until it gathered itself
into butter, the making of the thing
giving it the sweetness of itself.

It’s an old story, the one where the man
looks up and is struck by his love for a woman
across the room, struck by his own luck
and the unworthiness of such grace.

I’m not sure it matters if it’s true, or if
it even happened at all. But I’m telling you:
It did, and just like this.

Too Much On My Mind / La-Gaye Sailsman

Yesterday was just one day

Rain rolled in on her Harley Davidson
I heard her first

coming ‘round the corner
the pops and booms as engine cracked

Rain’s fluff of curls disheveled
tangled wild in the winds, obstructed my view

what may have been her tenebrous smile
flash forced me inside as her deep gray hog rumbled by

so, I’m grateful that yesterday was just one day

For Shizuko Kasagi  / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke



Your dancing was so dirty,
they banned your live shows during the war.
Those long false eyelashes tempt
too many, and as we know
luxury is the enemy. Stay
within three shaku of the mic
or the authorities will ban the film,
you wild, wild, boogie woogie woman.


After the war, you are a queen
dancing so fierce you break
your shoes in two.
So popular even your imitators
become famous. Replacement
the sincerest form of flattery.


What a joke on all these men
as you shill for kitchen cleanser,
the giggling grandma,
icon of domesticity,
leaving a clean legacy
through all those greasy stains.

Day 4 / Poem 4

Yes / Kristine Anderson

            what I’m telling you is
            Yes Yes Yes           
            —Kaylin Haught, “God Says Yes to Me”

 Tak—like a tap—
a word I learn as
“yes” in Polish,
“thank you” in Danish.

 , sibilant rush of surf,
the sea or see to my
native tongue:
a head-nod in Spanish.

Hai (my son explains),
to me a greeting note,
a smiley wave,
means “yes” in Japanese.

Oui, the French
affirmative, sounds
to me like a familiar
pronoun, we
another type of yes.

 So why’s no so
easy to say? Isn’t
it yes draws us
closer to god?


We’ve passed the Age of Anxiety
to arrive on the doorstep of Confusion—
Happy Goldilocks! All Aboard for Hurry Up!

What you sent never arrived but you kept
trying; your thoughts, like “the vasty fields
of France,” couldn’t be crammed into

the tiny object in your hand. Were the long
chains you pounded out poetry? They held
something of its gabble, Baby, half—at least—

witted. And that’s a fact. The play may be
the thing. But what thing can that be? Are
you ready now to join the Elders’ Chorus,

the very one that claimed to speak to those
who’ll understand, which won’t be you who
have forgotten almost everything, apparently,

and pace now forth and back, a veritable
Rhapsode, before a ruined citadel whose
half-buried walls once formed a fortress

that now holds within a grave waiting
for your burial, and so you repeat yourself,
a greeting gift: and then a goodbye gift

in the very same idiom: Time for
Alzheimer’s Village, Jill-in-the-Corner!

Don’t Be In Such A Hurry To Shut Silence Up  / Jaz

Let the hush
Be a holder
For the emotions that
Are still traveling along
Your words

Let gasps find their way around the room
As alliterations cave in the chest

Let their thoughts billow and bellow

Allow the soul to confront itself

See where darkness escapes entry points

Behold all the strongholds that are waiting on the Son/sun

Comanche Moon / Lane Falcon

You didn’t think I’d do it:
muscle threading teeth— ride
the blood-stained withers 
despite the moon’s permission.

Muscle threading teeth— ride
the thunder-painted hide
despite the moon’s permission,
abort my name, my pride.

The thunder painted hide,
the mare I drive into dust,
abort my name, my pride
for the god of vengeance. 
The mare I drive into dust?  
my bloodline sacrifice
for the god of vengeance?
She loved, she thrived,

my bloodline sacrifice 
was not for naught. 
She loved, she thrived–
you didn’t think I’d do it. 

Birthday girl / Caroline Fernandez

After The Edible Woman, by Margaret Atwood

You want a birthday cake
You want it sugary sweet and well-dressed 
with curly icing frills and dazzling fondant
deceivingly fluffy clouds 
you can float away on
You want a cake that looks soft 
It doesn’t matter if it’s 
hard on your health
teeth, or wellbeing
You want a well-dressed cake
for all your friends to see when they 
sing a song to you, something to
ooh and ahh at 
when the photos come out 
You want a cake that has
so many tiers that people have to 
raise their heads from up to down 
to see it fully
The kind of cake that’s 
so tall, they’re still looking up when
you blow out your birthday candles
and the lights go out
when it’s too dark to make a wish
when you draw a long sword to cut from the top
and miss.

16 Forever / Dallas Outlaw

trauma triggered troubling
trials while i was trying to
change the perspective

go figure
lost in translation
it’s just the imagination

creating stigmas
eating fantasies 
of luxuries off

paper plates 
regurgitating poor
living habits

gagging on reality
shit’s sick
in relation to

existing in this life,
nothings clicking
inking names on buildings

to cement the idea
that legends live

objects of value / Salem Paige

a fistful of plums
for breakfast, eaten
hastily before greeting
the day’s air

memory is cupped in
my other hand, small
and stone-like, every
thing known

weighs less than
a fistful of plums

the air remains
present and crisp

Poem With a Dulcimer in It / Otis Rubottom

It’s odd isn’t it, the way absence
has a presence all its own?

You can’t truly feel the lack
of something without its ghost

like a guest in the room.
And always the leaving is too soon,

as at the airport or the hospital;
so many familiar landscapes and

attendant gestures—a certain wave,
the kiss you never want to give, never

want to receive. Memory’s like that
too, no? The way you remember

an uncle’s large hands and his height,
the haunting sound of a dulcimer

traveling through night, a window
open in summer. What I recall 

is always August’s smell, hayseed
and honeysuckle caught

in your collar. It’s not much.
But it is, often enough, enough.

The Responsibility of Self / La-Gaye Sailsman

Every two ticks I’d wonder what it meant

Do I bend into the spaces you’d long created and held as you and
further melt away what concerns I had that two in a bed for one


Did being with you mean ‘the you’ in public who laughed at jokes or ‘the you’
who in private gleefully regurgitated rumors
and the ever spiteful ‘mi spirit just nuh tek ‘im’

Being with you was supposed to be easy – that’s what’s said
but maybe I’m doing it wrong. Moving on the one instead of the two when
we slow danced to the memories we’re hanging on

to love, I wondered what it meant too
‘til I saw it really meant I hadn’t

out in public I’d say we just ‘grew apart’ no longer easing along
In private, face contorted cried not for you but what was spirited

Walking again

without a you on the two was now a new condition for
loving – moving memories, moving ‘hoped for’, moving what will never be’s
into a moving van to a new home on the other side of town

Where I’ll dance ever so slowly humming ‘so this is love’

For Julie Parrish / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke


Protection comes in many forms:
A wall of bricks and crumbling mortar,
a hedge of silent well-trimmed privet,
a woman looking toward the sun,
horizon peach and blue with dusk.
Some would say she used to be,
and list her most recent bit parts:
the girlfriend of the owner
of the place the kids hang out,
the teacher of the teenage girl
whose mother drinks a lot,
an audience member all in beige
trying hard not to steal the scene.
But other people, starting over
in small apartments or the women’s shelter
out in the canyon —no, the other one—
will always remember her differently,
keeping her in their hearts as a feeling:
That first night’s rest in a safe place
when you still jump at every sound
but a kind hand reaches out to tell you
it’ll all be okay, it’ll all be okay.

Day 3 / Poem 3

At the Site of Ancient Iceni Land, in Britain; Later the Roman Town of Venta Icenorum / Kristine Anderson

If you stand with your back to Stoke Road,
a two-lane country route south of Norwich,
with the medieval St. Edmunds Church to your right
and turn to face west, you’ll view the stretch of rolling
grassy fields spread out half a mile to the River Tas.

If you observe the landscape, here and there you’ll spot
remnants of the Roman wall, leftover stretches
of rocky barrier, purple thistles and persistent green
sprouting from weathered bricks this summer day.

If you listen, you’ll hear bleating nearby.
Pay closer attention and you may hear vestiges
of voices, merchants and travelers from Roman roads
now buried under this soil, shouts and laughter
lifted away by the wind that rustles grasses
where sheep now graze under the open sky.

If you let it, this scene will seep into your skin,
join the flow of your blood, share the hunger of other
ages, of people unlike and so like yourself, parents
and children, those bent over in ache and others
skipping through youth, all of us kin with the past.


We are all fictions, the woman says,
as if she could read my mind. Which
today?, I ask myself, perhaps someone
put together like my country’s dream,
someone actually far off in another country
concocting scams that begin, “Dear Mary,
I am contacting you about a trust fund
with no heirs in the hope you can help
get me that money which I’ll share.”

If only one of us could tell the truth,
me maybe, instead of that mis-translation
in Latin class, or that repetitious, “Let
me not,” that opens a sonnet, “Oh, let
me not admit” the squalid scene where
I (don’t tell) did what I swore never to—
did I love you? him? Who made me?       forced?
In what country? And when? If things
happen only in the present, perhaps

certain other things never happened,
or never to me. Time is like the rice
terraces I climbed in China. A small
woman in minority dress followed me,
insisting on holding my hand, perhaps
because she feared I would escape,
and when we arrived at the very top,
she pulled out of her hand-woven
bag some trinkets to sell, “for very

little;” below us spread the expanding
half circle of descending terraces
while above us the invisible stars
hid behind an expansive blue curtain.
If this was a parable for a truth,
what could it teach me, miserable
woman that I am? One self scoffed
inwardly, nothing is forever, not
even this laboring woman or her tribe,
not even the green shoots in the paddies,
not even this riddle.

How many centuries, how many human
collapses accumulated in these low
earthworks, the low stone walls to hold
the water in—to whom do our fictions
matter, our several selves that look over
the shining water and a moon shining from it?
Who stands there now? A ghost? A
mistake? Which me longs for another
life she can never claim? Is the future
already chewing up the slope behind
me? Is it true that we hold multiple
selves, can we ever encounter the one
true being inside us or the one truth
who made us?


Art stands with mouth agape
She knows he will cut her
But who can
resist pastels
and poetry and
paintbrushes and
paper mâché
that will
Morning pastry and Pinot Grigio?
She wants to be
dazzling and reckless
She wants to be the Ekphrasis
is in the

Give Me More / Lane Falcon

less deflection, less twisted wires,

disembodied strands,     more love syrup—          
drip into my vein             

so it coats the blood       
and blooms into amber,                drug

to thwart the pain,           bridge the fissure,           
less hunger,

                 stammer of my heart
static electrifies. 

The act of containing oneself / Caroline Fernandez

News reports in Bali have been going on for months
about a volcano that could erupt
and the ash cloud that would follow
It’s been sending warning signals
in the form of tremors and earthquakes 
while scientists 
are calling for an evacuation 

Everything hot lives somewhere centimetres deep
beneath sand layered thick over
a campfire that spent the night awake
stomped out by morning
Beneath a fresh pile of snow atop
a mound of burning embers 
that sizzling sound of ice on fire
can put out a budding flame in seconds

It’s hard on vacation goers
to visit a place like Bali
amid the threat of an active volcano
Planning a beach sojourn 
should be a breeze, after all
A campfire cannot go on
all day and night
God forbid it spreads
And an ember should know 
its copper glow, so precious 
is only briefly meant to stay lit

Lend a Hand / Dallas Outlaw

getting help and getting
judged look alike
a sort of bad apple 
in the sunlight

deceiving the naked eye
clothed only in disbelief
a hot commodity, yet readily
accepting things

as they may come
being on the lookout
guarding your sanity

looks like crazy
to everyone
but you – you
ask for help

only to be judged
then they’re used,

neighbors / Salem Paige

I can hear them under the floorboards. sticky wallpaper lifts 
itself in the bottom corner of the doorframe, cracking the 

painted-over white facade. they’re whispering about the way 
the upstairs neighbor moves his furniture – too loudly,

they whisper, too often. the scraping is unbearable
from the bedroom, I could only imagine the sound

from under the hardwood. shaking nightly. do their
paintings fall onto their floors, their tablecloths

slipping even while strewn with dishes – dinner
for three, for five, a family? how many

bedrooms do you get, under there? I only have 
the one, and I can’t hear them there – less a room,

more an extension. an old home, a balcony above, no 

air flow. paintings that fall. cracking white walls.

Crying / Otis Rubottom

cry at beginnings. I cry
on airplanes at the movies I only watch
on airplanes. I cry at the part in the book
where you’re supposed to cry but also
countless others, places where language
is like a shaft of light across a room,
an angular reminder of what separates us
from darkness, which isn’t much.

I cry at the way the trees move in spring,
violent spasms sending blossoms everywhere
for as long as they can until exhausted
they give up and just get on with the leaves.
I cry at the leaves, at the bravery of crocuses,
at the sound of your breath.

I don’t cry about death, at least not the dying
part. I cry for the living, for the work
of those who remember and who carry the stories.
I cry for the stories. The ones I’ve loved
and the ones I’ve lost  and the ones I lay
at your feet now, as you lay looking into forever.

Heal / La-Gaye Sailsman

the sabre
formed and prospered. whipped you until
your own fingers seized ‘round its oxidized hilt
carpal tunnel vision locks you in
even if out is what your thoughts advocate
you’re all in, you keep hold and flagellate
when it’s just you with yourself
your skin, too papery thin to begin with,
now looks like confetti after parades frequented
in solitary confinement with self and with ego
someone else has willed you
too emotional, a dog in heat, or lazy
you take it in and let it sit with you
hands on the hilt like you’re in control
only you can’t force it into meaningless(ness)
relinquish the sense you’d long wrapped yourself in
give agency so its blade aerifies without you

For Holly Dunn / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke


Shiny tomatoes still on the vine
crowding around bell peppers of yellow,
orange and deep red. They are only pieces
not yet together as a whole, not yet
what they will someday be.
Dream of what will come next,
the garlic and the lime,
a small earthenware bowl.
Dream of that moment
when the day has been long
and it’s hard not to remember
all you have left and all that’s left you,
how she will offer up the world on a spoon,
just for a taste, just a small sample, just just enough.

Vibrant and colorful painting of ceramic bowl filled with tomatoes and red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, with back backgroound.

Day 2 / Poem 2

Air Poem / Kristine Anderson

Late summer in southern California:
            a dry heat, people say.
Not this September day, humidity
            a balmy sixty-five percent,

the afternoon overcast, gray,
            a chance of precipitation.
Unheard of for this time of year.  
            The air heavy, expectant.

Earlier today, when I visited
            the long-term care unit,
waiting for an aide to help
            my sister dress, I strolled

the hallway, vinyl tiles squeaking
            under my plastic soles.
Even through my requisite N95,
            I detected the alcohol scent

of Purell, dispensers beside every room.
            Soapy moist air wafting
from showers. From one open door,
            the ammonia-musk scent of urine.

I turned, made my way back, through
            emanating sounds of TV voices,
oxygen tanks, beds raised or lowered,
            all the silences of breaths.

IT HAPPENS / Mary Crow

It happens
                that the sign near our house pronounced
                “The Switzerland of Ohio”, a Switzerland,

which happens
                to be green, flattened though rolling a bit, 
                white houses lining our neat streets, tucked,

it happens,
                into pruned yards and hedges; it happens
                that I lived there, never thinking about,

so it happens,
                Switzerland, snow caps or politics or even
                about Loudonville’s landscape, but mostly,

it happens,
                about horses, the one my father promised
                to buy me one day.

It happens
                that I never considered any argument with
                myself because instead my thoughts filled up,

it happens,
                with “Silver” from the westerns, memories
                of the huge black Percherons I learned,

it happens
                to ride; I didn’t believe in the Midwest but
                in the Far West, not in farms but in ranches.

It happens
                I never thought about what things meant,
                not the possum on its hind legs hissing, not,

it happens,
                the little girl who drowned in a neighbor’s
                goldfish pool, not the farmer’s wife who,

it happens,
                papered a bathroom with her drawings.
                Think small, someone offered. It happens,
I guess I did. I thought about the hallway gossip,
a girl who went with a half dozen boys at once…
It happens I was a girl not thinking about girls. 

Soul Dive/Soul Ascend / Jaz

Her look said
“what’d you do to the hair on your head?!”

My look saw
that her beauty had been predicated by the external
Her mind said
“but you’re not pretty anymore”
My mind saw
the indoctrination
Her mouth dishonored her
My mouth healed her
As fast as she spilled her emptiness
As quick as I called forth her sun
My eyes said
“I can’t go on this ride with you…
but i’ll stand
in the gap
pray for
your safe

The Empty Tin / Lane Falcon

Nothing to give you 
but the rooms where I’ve walked

framed by dusty trim, 

the places I’ve slept in— vacuous 
tin can winners— 

the places I’ve packed and left,

floorboards flexing under 
my feet. The places

where we’d meet and I’d 

wrap my arms around your neck 
and you’d stand there— 

a garden post plugged into root soil. 

I know I hurt you and still 
my thoughts back-wheel 

to the hub of my hurt,

disordered, the room on fire 
and me unable to save it.

What we leave behind / Caroline Fernandez

The place I do not live in
is an abscess 
it runs as deep as the cool lakes 
I grew up swimming in
between strands of peat moss
a slow 
predictable tempo
that spurred a nest for dreams 
where floating required
only that one could breathe

The place I do not live in
is an open wound
an evaporating recollection of my feet 
digging into familiar clay
Just when I think it’s healing
it cracks 
when exposed to elements
left partly scabbing
like winter’s exhale
on a lake half-frozen over

The place I live in
is a winding map
of thin lines and jagged zig-zags
leading me along mountain curves
hugging the water’s edge
through shaded forests
with rivers cutting through them
and beaches where salty ocean waves
invite me in 
like long-lost friends

Wherever I go
I find places 
reminding me that I’m safe

No Relation / Dallas Outlaw

Bridges between art,
business, and life;
showcasing the evolution of
social equity among

black communities
throughout our cultural history
via photographic mediums – memories. 
Each picture representing 

how the social classes
kept up with the times
in the most normal, culturally,
colorfully-rich depictions.

our culture is as fluid as
flowing colloquialisms
ripples of a silent language
from the lips

of people who’ve only
crossed paths in
daydreams –
head nods, quick glares

snickering laughs,
confident gestures
all around
can’t help but wonder:
were we Kinfolk?

are we Kinfolk?

It Was Never A Shoe / Otis Rubottom

after nursery rhymes 

For so long we didn’t even know our own names. 
So many of us, and each always under the other. 
I can’t understand it, even now. Even if odd
we were at ease, forever pushed up against the other,
hands in hair, limbs entwined, fingers clutching. 

You could barely breathe sometimes it seemed. It seemed 
like there was never enough of something. Shoelaces. Milk. 
My name on her lips. We were either aware of each other
or oblivious, lost in our own thoughts. You had to be. 
To be unable to slip behind your own eyelids? Unbearable. 

There were only a few doors to close and never for long. 
I don’t know how many of us there were, honestly. 
I should feel bad about that, I know. I save that 
for the ones she lost, the small bundles mourned 
in stiff silence. We wondered how we’d have made room 
for more. But you learn. To harvest welcome
you must plant more than you imagine you’ll ever need. 

Jujubes for Loneliness / La-Gaye Sailsman

Loneliness came down the lane today
He was wrapped in the flesh of the madman
from Bellview, who also smells like the thought
you should have kept to yourself, or the beat between
what’s done and the motion sickness of regret
he came looking for someone to offer the jujubes he’d
picked from the tree standing guard at the mouth of
the pebbled white marl lane

He tried walking from the tree to the first house
gleaming white in the midday sun, stumbled over
a pothole grabbed the white iron gate to steady himself
then in his anger at his clumsiness he threw the brown pitted fruit
at the chipped brown front door though no one answered
No one ever answers

He tried to open the gate, reached for the unlocked latch
as his dirt crusted fingers got close a mawga yard dog started snarling
Loneliness gave up and kept ambling along
he kept tripping on tiny pebbles and all the potholes in the lane
left his fingerprints each time he slipped, so
all along the way you’ll still see smudges and his handprints
on the small moments and the heart tinges where
he tried to bring someone jujubes but they wouldn’t let him in

For Kora, also known as Olga Sipowicz / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke


Short hair, long hair, blunt cut bangs,
who will you be today?
Playing hide and seek from yourself
or just fucking bored with a world
that would let these things happen
to a child, to anyone, to the sun and wind,
the flowers blooming in the garden.
Keep moving and the smell of lilacs
will never catch up with you again.
The taste of grapes and the sound
of the Angelus knelling in the courtyard
can’t find you. Your voice rings out
and we all hear you now, we all see you now.

Day 1 / Poem 1

Once in a Blue Moon / Kristine Anderson

I watch a full moon rise over the Santa Ana Mountains—
bright coral orb two months early to be a jack-o-lantern
easing upward into the August night with ancient confidence—

I want to turn off the road, to abandon my shopping errand
for orange juice and bread and cans of vegetable soup.
I want to swerve across the three lanes of Pacific Park Blvd.,

to stop the car and climb out, hold up my iPhone, capture
an image of this moon rising above stop lights, embarrassing
the street lamps, silhouetting Santiago Peak in the distance.

But practical human that I am, I drive on, think there’ll be time
once I’ve pulled into the market’s parking lot, clicked
off headlamps, turned off the engine, engaged the safety brake.

At each red-lighted intersection, I crane my neck but forget
this route takes me downhill, views obscured by tract homes,
four-story apartment buildings, pines and sycamores rooted

and towering and happy there. Not me. Not now. Anxious
behind a poky driver (has she not seen this moon?), I finally
arrive. On a Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., the lot’s mostly empty.

Where’s the moon gone? Then I see: No longer the glowing
circus I’d spotted before, it’s risen above the jagged hills, shrank
to a porcelain disc. I tuck awe in my pocket and head into the store.

Voice Inside / Mary Crow

The voice inside her is the voice of a turtle,
Reptilian, isolated in its jacket of armor,
frozen in a catatonic stare.

What role in what parable is she enacting?
She perceives only an imagined moment, un-
responsive to how leaves shrivel,

or how they bud, achieve color and form, how
they lattice light over a fence. Did her five
fingers really evolve from paws?

She grew out of so many centuries and plans to
study tragedy’s origins. Her hero will ask, To be
or not to be? Will she think of                  

the two surviving members of an Amazon tribe?
Found, they lived in a shelter of palm leaves
slanted over a fire, some pots. Then

disappeared under dripping leaves, dropping
borrowed clothes as they fled, stepping not
so lightly into green dark, unafraid 

of snakes or panthers, of tarantulas or even
poisonous mushrooms, undeterred by illness,
only afraid of her kind of life.

Holy Fire / Jaz

no fire
            It’s a
             s      l      o      w

i want The Father to tell me
             If i’m going up in

i want illumination

i want purification

i want a Holy fire

The empty process / Lane Falcon

– After “The Break Away” by Ann Sexton

Churning in its ghostliness,
the wheel I can’t see or touch
and even if I could
my fingers would comb through it,
transparent, the process
of letting go, when the answer
has arrived again
and again. When the answer is
the line of dust, the cliff-edge
the broom sweeps the floor
clean of, an ashcan,
cigarette stars crushed
into my face into my eyes
which feel nothing.
So much happens under the skin,
in the miniscule fibers
of the body, the chia seed cells
glom together or separate
and become their own windows,
the empty process of it
seeps into every dim-lit home
of every cell in my body,
the resignation when time won’t
loose the foreign object
of pain my hand has swallowed
like a stone, and now
the scar builds around it,
and I can’t dislodge it,
the wisdom to know the difference,
excise it from my tissues.
I feel the seed my body
swells around, can’t let go.

A synchronized dance / Caroline Fernandez

The sunflower is a dancer 
swaying in front of a DJ booth
fire bursting and rays extended
body all aflame
head lifted, its petals 
reach for light
pulse with the bass
as the wind whispers softly
upon the sunflower’s leaves
pressing against its stem
Move, the air gently urges
We’ve got you, its roots confirm
and once the beat drops
The sunflower blazes from its core
Pure rhythm makes it radiate 

Epiphany  / Dallas Outlaw

sunshine rises on the
eastern horizon of your
gripping tones of browns
illuminating essence of purples
gazing through windows
begging you to wake
grace the world
with your energy
upon the day
break from the bounds
that keep you engulfed
in the pillows of
deep meditation
your dreams reality
eyes wide
shuttered souls
guiding your third
into open air frequencies
channeling spirits in steps
you’ve yet to take
returning plights to their owners
while transcending –

this house is not yours  / Salem Paige

tired of
running and
just a breath and
stretch of cloth between

us did the air get colder,
then? you surely 

never felt it, warm-
blooded and regular

how much gin
before the garden 
dies? how many 

breaths of this cold 

air is there nowhere sacred –

rails of light on 
the iron fence

geometric; square

the glow from 
my indoors, 
not your haven

Summer’s End / Otis Rubottom

The blackberries know it, have waited for it
all season, growing fat with anticipation,
heavy beneath a scrim of dust and bursting
at the slightest touch, the slightest lift
to your waiting lips. And if all summer this
was the only thing we were patient for
it would be enough, even if the thirst
is unquenchable, the bounty bottomless.
Who could forage this fence line, fingers bruised
with juice and claim satisfaction? Not me.
Look for me out along the bramble line
as dusk purples the sky, fingers flayed for sugar.
I’ll be the one reaching for one more.

Only You / La-Gaye Sailsman

I wish I could write in such a way
You’d forget to inhale
Grapple with my pen to draft an exhale

That our thoughts became the colors on the tail of a  rainbow fused into a fever dream let my words read in such a way that now becomes a long ago and far away

Sit in. Feel. Long for

Let it be that I am no one to you
and everyone

Let’s hold your heart turn it on its face and declare it so

My words – I hope – are written in such a way
You’ve forgotten the you who started before I end

 For Kate O’Mara / Jennifer Schomburg Kanke


“I’m not frightened of dying, but I love the countryside so much and I’m going to miss it.”

Walk where the railway once made its journey,
left now to blackberries, buddleia, and broom.
Crunching of boots on the pale scattered gravel,
prayer-like in its calming consistencies.
Wool wrapped around your neck for October
and its delightfully chilly west wind.
Popping of seed pods in the meadow
have all gone to quiet
now that the summer has gone.
Reach out your hand for the key from the ash
carried along by the wind to a new home,
maybe a spot by the river flowing
sweetly to some soft fertile spot
just perfect for this tenacious tough tree.