30/30 Project

Welcome to the 30/30 Project, an extraordinary challenge and fundraiser for Tupelo Press, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) literary press. Each month, volunteer poets will 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.

To read more about the Tupelo Press 30/30 project, including a complete list of our wonderful volunteer poets and to read their poems, please click here.

The eight volunteers for April 2014 are Jordi Alonso, Marck L. Beggs, Christine E. Black, Victoria McArtor, Michelle Peñaloza, William David Ross, Judith Terzi, and Michael Wasson. Read their full bios by clicking here.

Please follow their work (by clicking “Follow” on the bottom of the page), and feel free to acknowledge their generosity and creativity with a show of your admiration and support by donating on their behalf to Tupelo Press. (Click here to donate, scroll down to the form at the bottom, and put a contributor’s name in the “honor” field.) Just imagine what a challenge it is to write 30 new poems in 30 days!

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If you’d like to volunteer for a 30/30 Project month, please contact kmiles@tupelopress.org with your offer, a brief bio, and three sample poems and warm up your pen!


Day 18 / Poems 18


Fragment 160 / by Jordi Alonso

Press your palm
to mine and let me
linger on your tongue––
I will sing beautifully––

when I kiss
the red poppy
whose petals flutter
on my lips––

take my hand––
if you ask
me to have you
I will––

sing beautifully
of me if you find
beauty enough
to keep for yourself.


Frīġedæġ / by Marck L. Beggs

Frigga knows your future,
but she’s not telling. Perhaps
it is a good day to plant potatoes,
or a bad day to set sail. Either way,
you’ll have to get through this by yourself.

Frigga will spend the day spinning clouds
or assisting midwives. You will take
a nap and miss the entire weekend.
Frigga knew this and fed you dreams
of your husband departing to far lands
while his brothers divided your time.

But even Frigga mistook Loki
for a woman and fed him
the wrong secret. Loki handed a shaft
of mistletoe to a blind man
who flung it like a butterfly into Baldr’s heart.


Meditations at the Foot of the Cross / by Christine E. Black

Last night the priest stripped the alter;
the cross is black today.

Blood-colored buds
on the trees outside.

My friend, Lori, could not weep
when she told me of what her father
had done to her with an icepick.

Her selves had shredded.
The scars she bore as an adult
were a map when
she was unable to remember.
I wept for her when she couldn’t.

When I hear the word “pierce,”
as a solder did to Christ’s side,
I think of Lori. “Inasmuch
as ye have done it
unto one of the least
of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me.”
I think of a girl of five or six,
alone with her father,
who is mad, and she is his favorite.
No one is coming to help;

or a boy of 11 or 12, taken in
and tricked by a man,
coach or priest,
who acts like he loves him,
wants to protect him.
No one was coming to help.

The least of these,

their faces wide and open
as a cross, draped in softness.


Landscape / Heartbreak #7 / by Michelle Peñaloza

We segment this city
trailing lines; perforate

a fragile map,
held together by our paths.


A tent like a castle,
apples picked and stored in a barn.

She tells me the story of a farm
and a man and a wild mouse

as we walk along railroad tracks
past houseboats, imagining the lives

housed within. Our lives intersect—
I also carry a story of a man and a mouse,

monsters and their terrifying mouths,
a jar that simply keeps emptying;

I have also lain
wounded and exposed.

I’m speaking in abstractions.
Let me be clear: everyone is right.

Everyone is wrong. He lied when he said
he loved you. He also told the truth.


Along the precipice, then.
Selfie along the edge:

jump. Until we know better,
we’d rather be certain and unhappy

than unknown and alone.


IV. / by Judith Terzi


I hadn’t expected this. Wasn’t prepared.
But then, was I prepared for anything?

The moment I met Zohra it seemed as if
she were going to touch my face; instead,

she palpated my right breast. It didn’t matter
that we were not alone. Four sets of male

and female eyes showed no surprise.
My fully-clothed breast held still as she

pronounced: ilha, ilha, ilha. Four heads
nodded in rhythmic accord. They knew

the prophecy of ilha, ilha, ilha. I intuited
the meaning, the gesture. And the sea knelt

on white sand, heaved a deep sigh of relief:
un profond soupir de soulagement. Relief

for what, you ask? Enough leche, lait, latte
would flow after childbirth. No eyelash

flickering that afternoon as Zohra touched
my other twenty-six-year-old breast with

such sweet aplomb. And the sun splintered
its similes over the sea of Camus, over the hills,

the citadel, the harbor, the mosques. I held
my body as stiff as naïveté would permit. As

still as Saharan rock art on Tassili-n’Ajjer––
“plateau of rivers.” Zohra’s touch engendered

anticipation. But my breasts felt no obligation.
And so we waited through four rotations of

Algerian spring. My breasts fasted, and they
waited. Heads rocking to the drift of the wind,

the ebb of the sea, flow of versets. Zohra
squeezed again and again. But vision and

rhythm don’t always jibe. The sea turned
gray. And my breasts and I returned to L.A.


Aftermath / by Michael Wasson

The worst part about it
wasn’t how wrecked open
everything seemed
it wasn’t how gentle
my hands felt with such blood
pulsing its song through my body
it wasn’t even that the hands
and the head were so far apart.
It was how quiet we all were
I could hear shadows
dripping ripples in my belly.



Day 17 / Poems 17


Fragment 117 / by Jordi Alonso

for Lauren Kessler

When the time
comes for us
and our words
to mingle in the ocean,

when we want
to linger on the sand
tasting strawberries––
lulled into beauty
by the soft-beating sea

we will rule
our fantasies of fame
not with rough untuned fists,
but with smooth singers’ hands.


Þunresdæg / by Marck L. Beggs

for Farley (2000-2014)

Forget the myths for a day, even
if they belong to Thor. Today
belongs to Farley, named
after the great Canadian defender of wolves,
not the comedian. Today, Farley is going to die
and I will bury him in a watery hole.

I was born on a Thursday, so I figure
that I own it as much as anyone.
When I first brought him home,
the lake was solid ice. Farley slid
all over the surface, but on land
he ran circles around everything:
tractors, four-wheelers, even deer.

Then his legs broke. Surgeries,
tumors, deafness, confusion.
Farley limped through his final years
like any athlete too great to retire.
He was the Mohammad Ali of mutts.
He stamped this world with his face,
and limped off among the greats.


Day 17 / by Christine E. Black

ghost trails rising,

prayers ascending:
hear them,

moon flower,
pierce the dark


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

A brain’s single proton
& a single photon of light
is puzzling pieces of before
across the floor. Not
Christmas but a tangled
sense of light. It’s
December every time
he sings tilling the garden
and buys strawberries
year round, drops the step
with paring knife precision,
head bound back for ground.


En Route / by Michelle Peñaloza

for A

The air like a sieve
only sleep gets through

we rise together, metal tube
corralling us across the sky

to fly is a blessing
I cross time to meet you

from a city of mist
to a city of fog


Breathe in the trees
when I see you

redwoods and manzanitas
the difference in foliage

marks our distance
open like the sky

uncertain and possible:
a bird a plane

a blood moon
a mountain moving

a storm of petals, pink
falling like rain


Not This Sunday / by William David Ross

I said I would try to write a poem everyday,
But by Sunday my hands were family farms disappearing
In Vermont.

I said I would try to write a poem everyday,
And quickly Sunday’s dirty diapers became wordless ideas
To unpack.

I said I would try to write a poem everyday;
And six days later that isn’t this Easter or any Sunday—
I’m tuckered.


Dementia Etheree / by Judith Terzi

I want every synapse to rebecome
her legs to be as robust as oak
or even as a Monarch wing
I want to swallow the sun
to warm her pulp again
soften the cadence
of grief to come
cold promise


Aperture. Dream After the Funeral / by Michael Wasson

Your disappearance
grows inside my dream
of a tire swing:

The rope hanging
a greying black feel
of the cracked rubber
that oily water
swashing up.

It splashes hard
forcing my eyes open
my brother sobbing
in the kitchen
rubs his eyes of images.

Mom’s not coming
from her room this time.

My brother’s filled
with the dark water
after it’s settled
and, dreaming, we watch it both

steady and shadowed
cool and raw.

My brother stares at me
to push him almost high enough
to fall into my arms.


The sound of a shutter comes down
the clack of my brother’s mouth

shifting from the side wall.
Then up.

I reimagine the development of film
of a polaroid.

My mom’s hand waving and drying it.

Our ceiling forms.
A tiny hole. A thin break there.


Day 16 / Poems 16


Fragment 156 / by Jordi Alonso

What do I care
if you’ve tanned in Sardis,
or by the beach?

I can’t deny my wants,
or blame the color
of your skin––I want.

If your thighs
are whiter than milk
What will I do?
I will lap at them
in the morning
like a hungry cat.


Wōnesdæg Sonnet / by Marck L. Beggs

Today, the sun shines gray. The woeful child
fashions ash to her forehead to begin
another month of penance. Another
week of gloom. Another day to rescind.

Odin knows who will be born tomorrow
and if fills his brain with a leaking dread,
to know a son beyond his own powers,
to understand his own fate, his own death.

To be devoured by Fenrir, to die
in the belly of a wolf is to pass
from this world in a flash of shit, only
to hope a son will bring an end to this.

The woeful lives of gods are fraught with pain.
We humans sacrifice, but to what gain?


Holy Week / by Christine E. Black

Crosses keep
Finding me
This holy week:
Circles’ scaffolding,
Star’s center,
Right angles,
North, south,
East, west.
Perfect symmetry,
Interlocking curves
Nesting this cross
On the Celtic medallion
I held between
Thumb and forefinger
On Palm Sunday.
Square’s supporting beams,
The human form
In da Vinci’s drawings;
Red and purple God’s eye
Weaving my son made
In second grade.
I have it leaning
On the kitchen sill.
Line of the eyes
And nose:  Configuration
Of His face
And the faces
Of every animal
I have loved.
The shape
Of the body
Heart open
And broken
At its center.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

a cardinal has tried
to break in through the window
for weeks

it’s heavy
to believe there’s a story every-
where while all my time is wasted
thinking I can think


First Days of Spring / by Michelle Peñaloza

The order of a garden
and the naming of its parts:
my father’s oasis
from the robotic limbs and exhaust
of the auto plant.
Our family’s weekend excursions:
the pond shop for more koi and
more efficient water filtration;
the home improvement outlet
for more flowers, more foliage:
cosmos, freesia, columbine.
My father chose the plants for their price,
for their beauty relative to his budget,
though I always begged for him
to choose plants for their names: elephant’s ear
and alligator bonnet, sneezewort, foxglove,
goat’s rue, scaly-spleen, treasure flower.
I’d point to their names and pictures in books,
these plants that would never grow in my father’s garden.
Laid off again, he would return home,
unemployed. He’d replant the world, working
through the midday sun to make his garden hum
with carpenter bees and sparrows, the pond’s quiet trickle.
My father, now dead almost as many years
as I knew him alive, is a ghost in every garden.
I would name the world beginning with him,
etch his name along the air, heavy and sweet as lilacs.


Lot’s Wife / by William David Ross

Under squally snowless freezing dark skies,
Her dilated heart beckoned to harden

For survival. Lot too doubtful, stony-eyed
Too much for belief tried to hold her back,

Showed no prayer remorse from how the story
In its will be told. Desperate, she turned

For her daughters— tiny flower barges
Floating in a boiling fountain. She only

Faced blooms— a city hatefully burning.
She’d turned to placenta painted rich air

To see the red blood he… forward looking
Only in every instant… Lot forgot.

Her food he spoiled hoping for eternal life;
Labored fruit dropped from her body’s swelled-heat.

Beyond a swallow’s flight she saw yellow
& Red flames emerging oak-leaves rapid

On the horizon. Fleshy merging shadow
Grounded her in her fatigue of loving

Without caution. She turning for them,
Those girls, their pulse rising in her throat,

Wondered what would inspire His pity.
Her intentions unheard under her skin—

A gossamer thickness that was silence.


Press Secretary Forgets His Bottle of Water / by Judith Terzi

Yes, Michelle and B went out for pizza. Yes,
…..macaroni. They’re in Baltimore. That’s

where my mother was born. Well, really,
…..she was born in Annapolis; her father

worried sick she’d marry a sailor. We’re
…..fundamentally all from Baltimore,

aren’t we? We are all on the same page. Even
…..Vlad. He flew in last night. Staying

in the spare closet. I mean closest bedroom
…..to the rest of the O’s. Yes, he can.

He can recite couplets from the Rubaiyat. He’s
…..a real gadabout from Siberia to the gulf

stream waters, from D.C. to Donetsk. Yes,
…..I believe he believes that this land

is his land, folks. Yes, two-thirds of Americans
…..fundamentally believe in didactic melting.

Yes, I believe that at the end of the day, we’re all
…..on the same page at the end of the day.

No, man, I don’t believe we’ve ever met
…..a Talisman close up in Baltimore. No,

no, I don’t believe in direct talk with anyone.
…..I’ve lost my water bottle. Does anyone

happen to have a jug of bread, a loaf of wine?
…..A bow-wow? My water bottle walked off

with Joe. Slipped down the neck of a crane.
…..My keychain has disappeared, too. If you

see one with rhinestones and an owl and a million
…..keys, bend down and pick it up. No, no,

no, no pussycat. Yes, I believe there’s a recent
…..recall on carbon emissions. Yes, over

a million first-time visitors to the website over
…..the weekend. Now that’s a real rhinestone.




Day 15 / Poems 15


Fragment 51 / by Jordi Alonso

Should I get the girl I want
to taste the daughter of the vine

so that I might take
her home?

I don’t
know what to do

two words
spring up

yes; no.


Tiwesdæg Pantoum / by Marck L. Beggs

For the honor of the day
I allowed the wolf to bite off my hand
One day, he will swallow the All-father
and I will die in the teeth of dogs.

I allowed the wolf to bite off my hand,
but it was never offered. The creature was bound.
I will die in the teeth of dogs,
but without the weapon of my hand.

It was never offered. The creature was bound
in miraculous ribbons forged with six elements.
Without the weapon of my hand,
how could I wield a sword?

The miraculous elements were forged with six elements
of a metaphorical nature, now gone from this world.
How shall I wield a sword
for the honor of this day?


Day 15 / by Christine E. Black

Grass blades spike through dead leaves, overnight,
and green clouds pile among this gray shining.

Wet earth and ground speckle, words,
perfect for their places between rocks, among wild grasses.

Coral and white dogwood blooms lead away from the coffin.
A woman names spring ephemerals on the path.

Daffodills blanket the highway’s median;
a girl lies among them. No, it’s memory’s mournful animal.

Shiny toys we should have dusted long before now
but instead I watch an albino deer pause in our rainy forest.

Bloodroot, trillium, mayapple, forsythia’s burgeoning yellow lace,
the air’s ripe and unspeakable sweetness.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

Blake says peace is the human
dress reminding me to slip out of
my own head and into something
a little more tranquil.
……………………………..A half bloom
sinks sideways and will drop
before it opens, like anticipation
is hard to disconnect from.


First Meditation On Kintsukuroi / by Michelle Peñaloza

The points of breakage, then,
the most desirable parts.

To repair a broken bowl with gold lacquer
is to make the piece more beautiful, more

precious for having been broken.
Was this what you believed as your work,

your obsession with the patterns of repair?
Violence gilded. This, your method,

your way of loving me, so that I might
be remade: more valuable, more

beautiful, in your image.


Returns / by William David Ross

In April, windows
One wants to open
To remove the plastic,
Warped, thin, grayed sheets
Of insulation
Between the layers
Of glass design, yearn,
Lumber unerring
Cycles prior springs
From the winter sun
That was only light.

The valley turned space
Recedes tracks— branches
& Ominously
Frozen rabbit prints
Still hover the cold.

Wool scarf cinched one day,
I held a compass
Toward a field sloping
With young Douglas firs.

Against the muted
Touch of mittens crusted
With snow-drying bits
In the wind, I scraped
A pine tree’s bark-scales.

North and south spun
One-eighty, the compass
Magnet jumped, whirled,
Pulled by Aurora
Borealis— green
& Red unraveled
Over heartless stones,
Yellow strips of light
Frayed & emerged as
The hem of her dress.


Houdini’s Sonnet / by Judith Terzi

for Lois P. Jones

Two heads of glass define my paperweight.
A captive one in green inside its plain.
It’s like the Handcuff King in jail, or in
his Chinese Torture Cell, or in wet sheets,
or can of milk. No Bess atop my desk
to slip a furtive key to free the orb.

My paperweight’s no fool, does not ignore
that violets the artist cut to press
beneath the outer head are not as cool
as Tour Eiffels in flakes of silver snow.
Or skylines of New York or Taj Mahals.

And yet I sense a presence, subtle glow,
something stirring in these moons of glass.
I think that this escape was Harry’s last.


Dawn Note / by Michael Wasson

I woke up this morning to the sound of my alarm
I reset over and over. And here’s me hitting the snooze
waiting for the dawn
to stop being what it is.

Birds cheeping. It doesn’t sound like you. Yet does. It does.


Day 14 / Poems 14


Fragment 20 / by Jordi Alonso

To want a body
next to mine in bed
is to reason with the sea.

We sailors cannot say
where this wind will move us,
we can only hope for land.


Mōndæg Sestina Variation / by Marck L. Beggs

With the day of the moon
comes the usual lunacy:
a child fair of face,
another stag slain by a goddess,
the masses plodding back to work,
the yellow aura of cancer and suicide.
It is a day to avoid.

There is much in life to avoid.
One should never punk a goddess,
or prepare voodoo dolls at work.
One should never commit suicide
without a well-designed death face.
One should never confuse the moon
with cheese unless one has slipped into lunacy.

There are specific signs to support lunacy.
For instance, you wake up at work
and suddenly your inner goddess
is sad and plans her suicide.
This can easily be avoided.
Just stare into a mirror until your face
swells up like the moon.

When you begin to resemble the moon,
you will remember that suicide
is illegal, and you never break the law. A goddess
doesn’t have to cheat. She can drive a man to lunacy
through the sheer will of her face.
Which is another thing to avoid:
the Medusa in the cubicle at work.

Trust me. I know how this all works.
After all, I am a failure at suicide,
yet I have driven many a woman to lunacy,
something I probably should have avoided.
But now I have a woman who stares at the moon
and it stares back into her face.
She is a moonful goddess.

And she has the moods of a goddess.
So I have to look her in the face
and explain that in the Netherlands, the moon
is a peculiar shade of lunacy.
That’s just how the world works.
Otherwise, it could all be avoided,
and no one would sink into suicide.

Besides, isn’t it a bit cliché to wind up a suicide?
How many bridges can you leap from in the light of the moon?
Will your death note blame it on lunacy?
Will you curse the lunar goddess
behind the yellow cubicle at work?
Is it her fault that you have a face
that, to be polite, you might want to avoid?

Look. It’s just Monday. Avoid going to work,
don’t think about the goddess or suicide.
Stay up late and face the lunacy of the moon.


Computer Virus, Night of the Blood Moon / by Christine E. Black

Red cast around the moon as the
earth shadows it completely, said the on-line news.

Hacked. Even the word is vicious.
This word brought in from carnal
warfare, from killing fields, jungle fights,
here to my desk where I hung above me
my sons’ paper and glittery stars they made
for the Christmas pageant.

I look at an e-mail and tell little Julian
(I was showing him blood moon pictures),
Georgia’s computer was hacked.
You know, Georgia, our friend from Quaker Meeting?
He doesn’t remember her at first.
White hair, I say, she and Alice shared a cabin with us
at the retreat, those awful wire springs on the bed
and Joshua slept with his sleeping bag on a board,
remember? I was not prepared.

What does that mean, hacked? Julian asks.
How can you tell? a sad disbelief
overtaking his tender face. I describe the subject line
that looks off, then those blue, lit-up letters
that we click on, I tell him. The e-mail had
just those blue letters, nothing else from Georgia.
I could tell that was not from her. It was not like her.
He is still confused.
You know, how when someone talks to you,
and it seems off, something is not right.
It may be a lie, someone just not themselves,
and you can tell? I can tell that e-mail was not Georgia.
I could feel it.

What would happen if you clicked on the blue letters?
he asks. I don’t know, I say. It may put something bad
on my computer, wreck something, take
or ruin my files.

Can I see the blue letters? he asks.
I already deleted the e-mail, I say.
What did they say, the letters? he asks.
I can’t remember, could be anything,
maybe buycheapaspirin.com
or quicktripoutoftownforyou.com, or numbers,
I don’t know. It was a trick, I say. To hurt my computer
or to take something, maybe sell something.
This saddens him more.
People will do anything for money or to sell something,
he says the line like he has swallowed it whole from someone else.
I don’t know, maybe they weren’t trying to sell something, I say.
Why would someone do that? hack? he asks gravely.
Weird when they get nothing out of it, he says.

I am not sure what to tell him.
It’s hard for me to think of it also,
that person, maybe countries away,
taking over Georgia’s name to use
to ruin or wreck or steal.
Now, Julian’s quiet puzzling,

How do we fight them? he asks.
What do you think? I ask.
Like evil villains?
Yes, maybe like cartoon villains
you’ve known.

I look over beside our door, where I hung
the amulet from Turkey my sister gave me.

It is a blue glass eye, an evil eye,
called a nazar, and a silver hand, a hamsa.
I just now realize the charm’s full powers
and hope that what I read is true:
the blue of heaven surrounding the dark pupil
of the evil eye, which meets the evil eye,
will bend the malicious gaze back to its origin,
and the hamsa attached above it,
hand of god’s mother, hand of Mohammed’s sister,
hand of Moses’s sister, woman’s holy hand,
will shield us from all
that aims to hack through.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

Black has the advantage
of two rooks and a bishop.

White has a wall
of impregnable pawns.

There’s always analytics
getting in the way of my

sensationalism for spring.
And a breeze pulls itself

out the window. And the light
pours in suddenly and hides

us completely; you could
call this erasure, all these

storms coming in, all this
color letting go.



Redacted Headline: Patti Labelle Arrested After Fist Fight with Aretha Franklin / by Michelle Peñaloza

For W. Chan

Atlanta — Legendary
We are all charged batteries attacking.
Backstage a belle singer is arrested,
still fuming from the lack:
no greet and no respect.
“Respect” marched backstage
at the White House for the souls of women.
Extended hands fanned out to create
epic shade.

We all make an effort to avoid
obscenities and parted ways.
We pretend, anyway.
Still, outstanding issues
and turned up noses onlook
and say belle, quick- wigged and earringed,
sing a tell-tale, sing a fight about to ensue.

Confrontation, then Mayweather style:
we right and left stumble.
We backward land awkward.
Subdued belle,
suffer only the minor.



Making Love, Finally / by William David Ross

Each angle of your body
Reads like a line of poetry.

The shine of your breasts’ softest
Skin resounds in the tender

Cheer of your eyes & the subtle
Turnout of your thighs— a ballet

Dancer preparing to go on stage,
A bloom like a morning corolla

Slick with the musk of an earthy dew,
Pulls & pushes at all aspects of my being.

The joy from mutual penetration
& Mutual openings descending gently

In & up & down & back through me
To return to the utter depths of you

As we caress each angle of our beings.


Angel’s Trumpet / by Judith Terzi


Co-axial poem: read each column vertically then put them together horizontally.


Rez Jimi / by Michael Wasson

After dark, the brother in me wants to find the jazz
in how moonlight doesn’t make it through the clouds
how my only son could find a gun and play with it

and how the mother in me thinks nothing of it tonight
but is still afraid to hold it in my hand because back then
I was forced to play Russian roulette in the kitchen

or the sister in me will stand out here for hours so quiet
and wait for everything to pass until the moonlight will
flesh into something human for a glimpse and disappear.

And what I want is the blues of Hendrix’s strat during
Machine Gun in which my fingers sing electric, and that
disappearing leaves a head-wound of light, of such treble.

— for you


Day 13 / Poems 13


Fragment 103 / by Jordi Alonso

this basket of olives
down the steep terrace
like you would
your love
before it has ripened.


The New Communists / by Marck L. Beggs

are not under your bed, in your closet,
or dropped to your roof by silent drones.
They wave flags as they crawl over your fence,
treating your property as theirs to roam.

They cannot see purple, cannot read signs.
Here in the land of the free, anyone
is free to open up the boundaries
unless you were to enter their own homes.

They kill deer and call it a harvest,
mark their paths with trash and spent shotgun shells.
Their minds spin with excuses to enter
your land, to leave behind their bloody trail.

The new communists leave death in your woods,
then head off to church to learn what is good.


Poet Mother / by Christine E. Black

Fifteen minutes at one school,
help with the yarn blanket stitch on a paper stocking,
hug and kiss, then on to the other school for “Jingle Bells,”
“Jesus Loves Me” and the buffet parents have arrayed –
barbecue meatballs, baked dough balls with cheese,
jelly cookies. Last night, I wrapped peppermint candies
for the teachers, checked spelling on my third grader’s
homework, stayed up too late working on something new,
something about banishment then the words welcoming
us home. That was after being late for school pickup
then the dentist appointment because I was thinking
while driving that the word, shocked, may be right
for the way the winter trees look in their sharp nerve
clusters but also that their masses of spindles in the sky,
that was graying way too fast today, were almost soft,
and I missed the turn to the elementary school. Words falling
from the edges of my ideas, I jostle to contain them in a phrase
I will remember to write down later, as I make a U-turn,
notice the plastic flowers at the headstones in the graveyard,
negotiate the winding road in the rain, turn right, and swerve
into the pick-up lane where my son waits, the last one
on the curb with the principal. I apologize again, and
he says it’s ok, again, opens his homework in the car.
As I write this, my four-year calls for somebody
to come wipe his bottom and the somebody right now is me.
Last night at the market, I collected the word,
parsnip, with its luscious gift of sound, and tucked the words,
loose vegetables, away for later while noting, asterisk,
that exotic offering, in the check-out line.
I tell my son to go play with his toys, but he says
he wants to play with me, pressing his cool cheek to mine;
I remember his soap smell in the big bed where he asks to sleep
each night, and asks me to lie with him for a little while:
his breath deepens, his arm tosses then stills.
He squeezes me, nuzzles his head to my chest for warmth.


Meditation on Cristina Yang / by Michelle Peñaloza

for A. Gunn and L. Liguori

You’re a goddamned surgeon
who doesn’t spoon because
you’re a fucking knife.

When you were nine, you held
your father’s heart
in your hands as he died.

You’ve weathered
ectopic pregnancy and stood
alone without eyebrows at the altar.
You’ve survived impalement by icicle,
a hospital shooting, a hospital bombing
and a plane crash. Still, you love
impossible men; you can’t recover
from that damn ginger.

You, who have saved life after life, operating
on the various rooms of the heart—
in the middle of the woods,
in the middle of a storm,
in a crashed ambulance on the side of the road,
at gun point—
you would wear turtlenecks,
would conceal his hands
around your throat,
would bury the signs of his trauma
blooming on your skin.


Thunder / by William David Ross

A swallowing gust
Sound, beyond
An unnamable
Clump of birds,
Dropped. At the molting,
Worked & unfurled
Cloud-hollow pressure
Over strained
Winter maple branches—
Capos against dark sky,
Plucked trunks, tindering,
A keyless, whistling,
Speed, swelling upsurge,
Coyotes’ perked ears
With a clap
Bearing motion, thinner
Than dusty
Soil, intangible
Longer than vision,
Shaping space
Beyond horizons
& Seeing—
The necessary
& Graven
Air tailing all sanity.


IV. / by Judith Terzi


Two hundred fifty grams more of story.
I never remember which came first,

the chicken or the egg one. Always a shortage
of something. Like eau, agua. Like eggs

for this story. Remember, no Safeway, no
Whole Foods. My plastic container holding

six eggs. Cute little light green egg-purse
with a handle. A child’s purse. A child’s wish.

The red-haired butcher said, I have no eggs
today, Madame. The blue-eyed butcher across

the street said, Un moment, Madame, as he
vanished into the back of his butcher shop

with my little light green egg-purse. He foraged
for just a moment, glided back through his

black curtain: Especially pour vous, Madame.
Six oeufs de coq: six rooster eggs. Relief

zapped basic zoology. It was only when I
walked out that I felt the impact of the exotic.

Two hundred fifty grams of Pierre Larousse.
And the chicken? That was the red-haired

butcher’s chicken. I ripped open the crisp pink
paper to unveil my future roast. My first

foreign chicken. Grabbing onto its body, my
hands freezing in the motion, my eyes

traveling slowly, oh imagine how slowly,
toward the end of its skinny chicken neck.


Aperture / by Michael Wasson

Our silent house
cracking its yellow paint

you can’t hear me
or my brother’s teeth.

The aspen
quiet and bare

its leaves tremble
like two boys

waiting in the snow
between sweat sessions

where our steaming bodies
shiver, chatter

and uncle pours
melted ice over us.

Steam rises here

We look amazed
that ghosts

could unclasp
our naked shoulders.

As the grass bends
abandoned leaves start

to tumble
the sun slides

beneath a cloud.
A snapshot.

The body


Day 12 / Poems 12


Fragment 109 / by Jordi Alonso

We shall give
to our loves
all we have:

cakes baked in the morning,
strewn with violets,
scented with cardamom,

purple plums
picked from the slopes
of Parnassos,

and fresh figs
heavy and dripping,
split with our fingers.


Allergies / by Marck L. Beggs

Last night my wife stayed up late
wondering if she should jab me
with an EpiPen. My left ear is so clogged
that vertigo has set in and when
I take the dog out at 3 a.m. I stumble
like a one-legged zombie. Allergies
and their seasons have been the one constant
in my life. My first major breakout,
as an undergrad in Flagstaff, resulted
in a nurse ripping my clothes off and shoving me
into an ice bath. I could see hives
reflected in her cold eyes. The doctor
who tested me suggested that I quit eating
or breathing in general. Everything
is an enemy to my immune system.

The best compliment my allergies ever elicited
came in a restaurant in Little Rock. I felt
it coming on like a freight train, turned to Carly
and announced, “I’m going down.” Fortunately
the entire graduating class of the local
medical school was on hand, and rushed
the table while Carly calmly sipped
her wine. When I came to, a woman
asked my age. “Really? You don’t look fifty!”

I don’t believe in the afterlife, but
if I am wrong, the first person
I will hunt down on the streets of gold
is Dr. Spock, who advised my mom
to cut off breast-feeding as early as possible.
I plan to punch him in his fat face
and sneeze all over him. Then,
I will finish him off with an EpiPen
filled with the nectar of April.


Brutal Pull / by Christine E. Black

Crushed cherry blossoms
when you drove 100 miles
to see them at their peak,
the crowds, choked trains
only to have the sun hurt
you to remember that
they will rot and fall
in just days,

far too warm and lovely and
tenuous for what we call love,
knowing we only die
at the end of all this
finding the notes on the guitar,
arranging the flowers,
hanging the photos,
and all you want to do is grab
handfuls of his hair, smell
his scalp and sweat. And
sometimes it’s a cry so deep
it makes you sick
on your stomach, and
your hands go numb.

It’s not nice, this love
that is nothing like
cherry blossoms
but starts more like lava
building through your chest,
like an undertow in the ocean
in early fall, so strong
that when you are
out there paddling,
for a few moments,
you think you may not
be able to swim back.
Then your arms and legs
remember what a strong swimmer
you were as a child,
and you push more,
paddling to keep your head above
the swells, to keep breathing.
Your feet make it to the sand,
you struggle out, find your way
to the blanket. You think surely
you’ve had enough this time.

But then the sun glints
hard on the peaks,
on the foam, white-hot
blossoms, and all you want
is to go back in.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

it’s even spring
at night

when the road pulls you
from the highway

at the exit
the night

wants /

something or
someone wants

Even vagueness

is personal

& the night
returns to stay another night

Like –

only day can break

us / the night



After / by Michelle Peñaloza

Bruises bloom around the ankles and
the air smells of mushrooms and black tea.

Give the room back its blood and bones.
Find the flowers dried and buried

beneath the floorboards. Regret
the breath you lost here; regret the frantic

skin on carpet, the wet stains from
the night before. You splay open like this

often, trying to see inside yourself.
Like a mirror reflecting you in half.





This is a found poem from “Flight from Rage,” Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times, 3-30-14) and Batouala, a novel by René Maran (1921). Loose translations from the French are the poet’s.


Your Body Is a Page Carved in Snow Again / by Michael Wasson

I can feel my own heart break with yours. Michelle Peñaloza

I write your hands into the snow
and each of their letters
lie still.

At some point you thought
said maybe

I’ll only say this once. Well, one more time
I hope.

You have a body here
flat across the page

The letters want to lift back
into the sky
where your hands
stop mine

just before the sun
melts it all

around the off-white poems
you left.

My hands grow numb
still and cold
lined with letters

like bones
I find

little outlines
of once warm hands.

— for Alexis.


Day 11 / Poems 11


Fragment 153 / by Jordi Alonso

When I drink water
and my throat is washed,
I forget the mysteries of taste.

You are a sweet-voiced girl––
when you laugh,
when you sing,

when you talk,
I long to touch your lips
on mine, and remember spiced honey.


Pussy Riot Speaks to Amerika / by Marck L. Beggs

Mr. Putin will make you love your country
the same way you came to adore the man
who walked up from behind, choked a hood
over your head, and locked you in a dark
basement that smelled of fear and piss.
Every breath belonged to him, every
minute was his to interrupt or ignore,
every sip of water suckled from his teat of kindness.

Your own country is confused by all of this.
Your free press will publish photographs
of women being viciously whipped by a Cossack,
yet determine that our name is too obscene to print.
Are words truly less than a picture in America?
Does this onslaught of feline vaginas and art offend
your inky wretches so much that they would deny us
before the cock has begun to crow?

We are not invisible, Amerika, and
we are not unnamed. When words become
more delicate then crushed flesh, your own name
becomes the berserk boot heel of history.


For my sons / by Christine E. Black

If you were a swallow,
I would be your wild rose stem;

If you were a river,
I would be your sturdy bank;

If you were a party,
I would be your confetti;

If you were a kite,
I would be your purple streamer;

If you were a rainbow,
I would be your sky.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

Billy and I meet at the Stonewall and on TV,
men our age take up their weapons
and line Ukraine’s border. There’s still boyhood
in their eyes like we never know if we’re
on the wrong side of history until the history
is published. Billy seems to be in some kind
of war these days, as if his left hemisphere
wants to prepare for the front-line, wants to
gather fuel, food, logistics, intelligence,
armored vehicles, helicopters, while
the right hemisphere wants a lyric surrender.

We both go back to reading and he looks down
at the page but his mind takes up it’s weapon
while his mind negotiates amnesty.
He’s boyhood blonde in this sunlight and
all I can do is walk across the bar to turn
the volume down, so death, when it comes,
doesn’t bother us a bit.


landscape / heartbreak  / by Michelle Peñaloza

We are practitioners of this city.
This city our language,

our walking like speaking
so we can walk and say nothing.

The moving silence between us:
staccato-filled with siren,

hissing bus, ferry-whir, car-blare.
Between these measures I can feel

my own heart break with yours.
This breakage, these fissures

are the city: seismic
with invisible weight—

your son waiting from dawn to dark
for a trip to the zoo and a father;

the crux of your elbow, the twenty-year
darkening of your father’s world;

the baby you named but never held
alive; the faceless statue, the saint Ignatius;

the gun held to your head
held by the man you loved;

the symphony of an affair
that made your daughter hate you;

the father who is nightly
speakerphone calls three hours ahead.

Invisible weight rests esoteric,
beyond the spoken.

The city keeps record of itself
in tug boat in 7-11 in hospital

in garden in tower in park
in glass in vista in asphalt in hill

in lake in traffic in mountain
in cherry tree in split bridge in sound

in red light in pieris in construction
in marina in sidewalk in development

in needle in crosswalk
in ferry in exhaust.


Sweet Chemistry / by William David Ross

What write
Might noteworthy
This page?

Perhaps you
Who delicately

Who creature,
Who rain air
In my mouth,

Who thresh
Chaff Outside,
Who damp

Unguent peat
Inside quantum

Who range
My love

Who charge
Me with you.


Clicking Villanelle / by Judith Terzi

I study flights arranged by schedule, price.
I click to show details, then hide details,
then click again to view details for listed flights.

Close scrutiny shows layover times are tight.
I don’t choose to race to reach my grail.
I study flights arranged by time, by price.

Another stop too long, four-hour plight.
I click to see the vacant seats. The link has failed.
I click again to view details for another flight.

I check returns to LAX, no planes at night.
That means the 405 at five or six. No sale.
I study flights arranged by time, by price.

Two hours scrolling, nothing’s yet quite right.
My back, my neck, my eyes, my head assailed.
I click again to view details for listed flights.

The cheapest price has soared. I change the site.
Two hours ago, two thousand less. Not derailed,
I study flights arranged by schedule, price.
I click to view details again for listed flights.


Boyish / by Michael Wasson

When I was a boy
I listened to how
flowers would bend
how I could
blow apart the dandelion
puffs. And when I
was a boy
boyish quiet
I saw a tick
along my grandpa’s
waistline when
he was bending over
to fix up
the paint we’d use on
the wooden fence
for great grandma’s place.
We killed gophers
and picked apricots
ate plums and heard
river swells.


Day 10 / Poems 10


Fragment 99 / by Jordi Alonso

for Sarah Azzara

The singers,
draped in white,

sip wine
to clear their throats.


they wet their lips;
they strike the strings.


Carly Walking / by Marck L. Beggs

Our quarter-mile driveway serves
as her personal track, and she hikes it
for hours, Howard Stern perving her earbuds.
The path is full of adventure. For over a month,
she insists there is a monkey in a tree
near the main road. I walk down and,
indeed, hear a screeching up among
the treetops. But I cannot see anything,
and why would a monkey be on my tree farm
in Arkansas? Eventually, a neighbor
unravels the mystery: one tree has collapsed
against another, and they rub in the wind
like a violin out of tune. We are seriously disappointed.

Another time, she is nearly trampled by deer.
A dead snake won’t scoot off the road.
Rabbits spring from nowhere.
Hawks circle above, squirrels jabber
and flit among the pine branches.

Through it all, Carly walks and walks
like a woman on her way to the end of time.


Poem to a Survivor / by Christine E. Black

(for Paige for Take Back the Night)

Even if you cannot imagine it now,
Please know that

Your scattered mind
Will quiet over time, will again offer you goodness and clarity;

Those bruises on your arms and thighs
Will fade into the clear air of your continuing;

Your short tight breaths
Will lengthen, smooth, and deepen, giving you hope for days ahead;

Sleep, that may elude you now — your body knows it by heart.
It will return, your oasis of calm and rest.

Your wild attention, alert for the the next danger
Will settle again on the regular business of the day;

That arguing in your head — if only I had, maybe I could have,
How can this be?. . .will quiet as sense rebuilds itself slowly;

Those two rooms, live or die, fight or flee, are expanding
like a slow exhalation, more rooms opening — playful plans, ordinary objects.

Muscles that locked with terror will ease again,
As your body remembers how to soften with joy once more;

Broken into like a room, a house, a garden plundered,
You will see: we can repair the hinges, test the bolts, restore the needed gates;

All the ways you switched yourself off to endure
Will no longer be needed as you are awakening whole;

Words you struggle to find, to name what has happened to you,
Time’s faithful stream will call them forth;

And you will find courage to tell the story.
Faces you see will welcome it, and you, while we wish you safe and free.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

As I think things are one way
they become another. As if by magic

the twigs stay stagnant yet
all this change comes to their stems.

white blossoms from a folded wrist
and sweet gum leaves from a wasp

waist. A neotenous afternoon while
I just flip through radio presets and

doing abdominal flexes in the car,
crossing that bridge where the tress

on 412 reintroduce themselves
to the land. Tress too skinny.

I’m driving back to business
bringing this new city to me, magic.


Abracadabra / by Michelle Peñaloza

Find the black box, then.
Figure out how all this went down.

A spindle of wires and padded footsteps
piercing through the years, like the singing

blades a magician slices through a woman;
we can’t see the damage. No wounds, no

blood. We create the world as we speak
in triangles—this blade touches

touches this blade, touches this blade.
Like this plane, miracle of steel

piercing the sky, one day lost forever.
Let destruction happen before our eyes.

Let incantation be our amulet.


Outskirts of Paterson / by William David Ross

We think we may have been to Paterson?
We’d travel a river, we’d tingle

Our legs’ soft winter-white calves walking.
We’d cross high, cut-rosin sharp hay fields.

Yet, did that axiomatic tall grass
Lay across any particular

Border? We’d, prostrate, stare into
Vista danced rural-mill, corroded,

Rusted foreground heavily shadowed
Under immaculate, sky-blinding

Office building pristine aerial
Drawn pure, solid, complete outlines.

We’d body the pain to make love there:
Our immersed hands fully wrangle in

Each grass blade wedged between our
Fingers. We’d leave the course of the path,

Come upon a riverbank. We’d lift
Away our clothes, shorts & skirt, matt

Our pubic hair into cattail, push
Back brittle touch & hold, lose the soil

Smudged grasses; our bodies fully live
The pure idea-placed moment from our minds.


Mountain Landscape / by Judith Terzi

for Lucia Galloway

Six thousand feet high
………………….Ripple of saris in breeze.
Pine green, baby blue
………………….Waterfall of flowing silk
Turns drought to flower.


First Time I Played Basketball Was in Grad School / by Michael Wasson

— after Natalie Diaz

I didn’t play basketball . until I started grad school
thought to myself . well I’m Indigenous to these Americas
ethnically I can drop some shots . do a little Pippen drive
hold my tongue out like Mike . posterize a few undergrads
be Clyde the Glide  . and really bring the funk
raindance and shower threes . I’m sure Bird raindanced
before every game in the playoffs . I’ve got some legs
my grandma’s pretty legs . (did you know that
in the old stories .  a good pair of calves was a sign
of intense sexiness? Think about it) . long and lean
I hit the treadmill every now and then . I’m vegetarian
much to the shame of my people . I could attempt and maybe
land a sky hook . windmill or 360 a dunk . serve ‘em up
I’ve even seen a linguist .. with some nimíipuutímt inspired moves
call out in my language . confusing all of his teammates
I know my uncle could’ve played . on a state college team
I’m sure it runs in the blood .  heck I could’ve played
varsity as a senior . but I didn’t want to cut my hair
just keep it long and free . wrap it up for a one-on-one game
where I could spin . and knock my opponent out
with a killer Indian braid.  . But the first game I played
I chucked the ball . then thought I could Space Jam it
ride the air with my nonJordans . I got swatted
by my friend who’s totally from Wyoming
decided . well every game needs a trickster
I could call the spirits . roll out some thunder . conjure
my inner Rearden Alexie . better yet my Mojave Natalie Diaz
enter beast mode with Howitzers . Walt Whitman
and the scent of frybread and huckleberry jam slicking my body
maybe even break some ankles . you know . medicine man style
like Iverson . real shaman he was . if we had braided him up all tradish
with two long braids . slithering down past his chest . his waist
then I twisted my ankle under the hoop . had to sit on the sidelines
give me some time though . sun was in my eyes
plus . the cowboys always win . they always do.


Day 9 / Poems 9


Fragment 38 / by Jordi Alonso

Our wax melts
when you look at us,

when your sunlike eyes,
ripe with heat,

see the etchings
in our wings.

When we feel
the pull of a kiss

denied, you burn us;
we fall into the sea.


Snapshot: Weed / by Marck L. Beggs

Before Nancy and Ronald appeared
on our television screens like mutant Howdy Doodies,
we just said, “Sure. Okay. I’ll try some of that.”
We didn’t know better; we had no
presidential supervision regarding pleasure.
We thought it felt good, but Nancy
informed us that such pleasure would destroy everything.
I imagine her sipping her third glass of Merlot
as the mantra fermented within her brain: “Just say ‘no’.”

In a hotel room in New York City, in 1964,
four moptops met their lyrical hero,
a waif-like Jew who insisted that
“Everybody must get stoned.” Giddy as schoolgirls,
they stuffed wet towels into the bottom
edges of the doors. John made Ringo
try it first, and after a few moments
he announced, “The ceiling’s coming down
on me!” The others giggled, inhaled, and drifted
into strawberry fields forever.

In 1948, Al Capp introduced
a mythical creature, known as the Shmoo,
into his Li’l Abner comic strip.
Aside from alcohol, Shmoos
fulfilled all nutritional needs.
They gave milk, laid eggs,
and depending upon how you cooked them,
tasted like pork, chicken, or steak.
They multiplied spontaneously and
exponentially, and consumed nothing.
Soon they filled the surrounding fields and woods
of Dogpatch like rabbits, and everyone
ate for free. Needless to say,
this posed a dangerous threat
to Capitalism and Democracy in general.
After all, you can’t have people
eating for free. That’s just un-American.

And so it went for marijuana a decade earlier.
In 1937, the weed was declared illegal
by a congress whose collective pockets
were packed with pharmaceutical cash.
Throughout all of human history, cannabis
was known for its non-addictive little miracles.
Aside from the enjoyable buzz, it provided
relief from a wide variety of pains and conditions:
arthritis, glaucoma, nausea. Plus,
it’s organic and anyone could grow it for free.
But that’s just un-American.


The ancient Muslims had a patron saint
of cannabis: Khizr. He can come to you
as a white light or as the gleam of a blade of grass.
Khizr breaks the trance of the ordinary.


Prayer / by Christine E. Black

Banjo songs and cedar dust,
burning in an abalone shell,
calm the long night
here without you, a hard freeze
against the doors.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

……….On a patio yesterday afternoon Shelby told me about her wedding dress and the hand sewn Swarovski crystals up the bodice. Thin rain clouds are sometimes eye lashes streaking a marble sink, is all I can think, as she’s comparing her fiancé to her ex in California. They fixed her nose up after her ex worked her nose down. Sometimes the post storm sky is a string of Swarovski crystals up the bodice of a dress, but I suppose we could lay in commercial sod and make clouds into all kinds of scenarios. She’s lost 7 pounds already. Sometimes the post storm sky is unburdened with any kind of genius, a twilight that can barely fill the empty air, and the last illusion of this day might be love. This time. Even the ice is glowing. Yes, one more Mojito. No simple syrup, Shelby says.


Tasseography / by Michelle Peñaloza

This morning I woke bleeding
like a snail crushed beneath a leaf.

The scattered artifacts of dreaming:
the overturned cabinet, broken open, blooming

hyacinth and rhododendron from its ribs;
a row of drying pantyhose, a small tub of butter;

a blood-soaked, dried-stiff oxford
and pair of jeans, stuffed inside a plastic bag;

photographs of the beloved dead, set aflame,
crying out, crumbling into ash.

These mornings form patterns I have learned
to read like tea leaves: today, avoid rush hour;

follow the sick bird, the still beak,
down the hallway of your broken heart.

Forgiveness is not an option.
This morning I pray to the wrecking ball.

I pray to the asphalt,
newly paved, cooling down.




Epiphyllum / by Judith Terzi



How to write a poem / by Michael Wasson

Shapeshift. Lots of shapeshifting. and I don’t mean the unspeakable
or those we do not speak of. Just shapeshift after you do the following—
Pull all the spiraled fragments from your garden in the backyard.
Half-wash your hands and lay them all out to dry in bundles.
Hands or the spiraled fragments? Your call. Both could work quite well.
Wrap thread snugly around the bundles. Allow the sun (or moon) to do its thing.
You know. After some time, the little bits should’ve been nice and aromatic.
And finally burned the tip. Let the smoke fill your house.
Rose-watered walls should protect the place. Then shapeshift. Donezo.
Plus, you’ll look pretty cool doing all this out in the sun (or moon).
Photographs are highly discouraged, though. Sorry!


Day 8 / Poems 8


Fragment 98 / by Jordi Alonso

In exile
nothing remains of the taste
of Lesbos––sweet wine,
coarse salt, and fragrant rosewater
no longer coat my tongue,
my lips, my fingers.
I have no silver to buy Sicilian dresses;
my crimson chithon tattered last week
and I had hope. I gave it to Cytherean Aphrodite.
I’m dressed in white. My hair held back
by a bronze lyre––I can’t let go.

They call Apollo Mousagetes here
as well, and I had faith he’d lead me to my sisters.
Bring me back to you.

Atthis, if I could, I’d send you a harp
and a plectrum carved from the rock of the Cyprian,
so you’d forever be beautiful and clear-voiced.

Dika, there is a chestnut tree
on the slope of Mount Etna
with white flowers.
If you’re tired of the anise
you twine in your hair,
I’ll pluck them for you.

Andromeda, I would not think of sending you an olive branch,
instead, a kylix made from the clay
I gathered by Arethusa’s cave, so you too, can drink song.

Lovely golden flower, you are last––
come join me soon––I feel alone without you.
I can’t make the world die for your absence
but I’ll ask Gelos, after some wine,
to keep you laughing.

For you, Kleïs,
I have no embroidered headband
no gift at all but a kiss, from singer to singer.
Pray to your father, the leader of the Muses, to bring you here,
and I will unwind gold thread to guide you home.


Blind Verse 2 / by Marck L. Beggs

I need to read you in braille, in cool wind
on the shore of the lake. I want to smell
you with my tongue like a serpent winding
through the garden. When evening droops over
your shoulders like a shawl of negative
light, the horizon will glow lavender
and lift the shoreline to its lips. And then
we will hear the dark moaning through our skin.

The county dogs howl like snapping timbers
in the fire of another decade.
Wind-chimes play colorless chords for the deaf.
The tree line is silent, remembering
through the darkness the outline of your face—
which can rarely see itself—forged in grace.


Calling / by Christine E. Black

Outlining obsessive cells, repeating;
Cool wind, unravel me home.

Fingers locked on outdated numbers:
Love the numberless sky, rolling us home.

Mind rubbed raw with worry;
Open to the salt and hush, drawing us home.

Ideas clench, knotted behind her eyes:
See the rose-gray sunset soften her home.

Battered old wish staggers me awake;
Let me kiss you for a thousand years on the way home.

She is splayed, frightened, pinned in a back room:
Wrest her free, wrap her in safety, hum solace, of home.

Trapped and circling, the hurt animal cannot settle;
Send strong others to call it home.

The throat reddens and closes:
Darling song, sing me home.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor


traffic : where I miss you.

Mostly the coming /
leaving of it all

lines falling in all
the right places

coming / leaving
et al.


Ode to the Horseshoe Crab / by Michelle Peñaloza

You are no cuddly rabbit.
Limulus polyphemus
named as the ancient progeny of an angled
giant, single-eyed and savage.
Yet, you are jawless, nine-eyed,
and the consumer of nobody; more a carrier,
you bear flatworms, algae, and barnacles
upon your carapace.
Horsefoot, saucepan, swordtail.
Like a giant tick,
you wash, tumble, twitch
onto shallow shores
in search of posterity and love.
And don’t you love us,
in your sacrifice,
in your allowance of our harvest of you,
your talent to isolate bacteria,
trap infection, rescue us from the dangers
hiding, waiting within us?

The harvest, then, will be of blood,
as it was before, when we
would high-pile you along Atlantic shores,
your shells like soldiers’ helmets—
and that makes sense, doesn’t it?
We demand they bleed as well.
The difference, the minerals of sacrifice:
iron soldiers bleed red,
and you, sweet horseshoe,
sweet copper, bleed blue.

Ancient bluebood,
your life drips from you
and, though you could never hurt me,
your wriggling underbelly
recoils my hand.
Your movements must mean
you will bite. Maybe this is a wish,
my own, that you will fight back, make us
earn what we extract from you without harm.
That you will continue to evolve,
to survive us as well.
Your not-mouth become mouth,
grinning red and wide.



Occasionally Ars Poetica / by William David Ross

Do we need to learn again how to stalk life
In the language we each possess weakly
And want to deny captures a pixel or iota?

The principle of non-contradiction wages
Against our lust for a synthetic-analytic truth
To come over and raise our serotonin levels

Diluted in the proximal, virtual, distilled
And hopped up pittance of stuff that sounds
Like communication really just biding

The gap and the time. Is this this all we can
Come up with? Can details, transitions,
Topic sentences, conclusions, and analysis

Situate the moment recognized but …
We need to listen as much as we want
A plot, which exactly is what cannot be.




Little Brave. / by Michael Wasson

the poem
doesn’t care

about you
or me
or itself.

And I love
watching it
dance &

sing its
little lungs
out and

now it’s
shy &
in agony.

We play

Aw. Poor

I forget
where I
put my pen.


Day 7 / Poems 7


Fragment 102 / by Jordi Alonso

How can I work
when a lovely girl
dips cherries in honey
and lays her finger
on my lips?


Sex Ed / by Marck L. Beggs

Why let a teacher talk to your kids about sex
when you can just take them out to the farm
to observe, first hand, how Nature
tackles this delicate subject?
Watch carefully as Herman the Muscovy
rapes each and every other waterfowl
on the surface of the lake,
male or female. Bring the binoculars
so you can truly appreciate his technique
as he mounts his intended, gently grasping
the back of the lover’s neck with his beak,
and shoves his or her face under water
until the consummation is complete.

Now you can begin to explain to your offspring
how homosexuality is not natural, how Herman
is a special kind of drake, a Caligula,
if you will. Then you can explain Caligula
and spend the afternoon reciting the poem of Catullus.
Don’t get too technical or hand the kids
any pamphlets written by a psychologist
of German descent. Keep it metaphorical
and awkward, as is the family tradition.
Eventually, the Internet will explain
it all to them in high definition.


Conjuring / by Christine E. Black

This is a poem to ward off evil spirits.
This is the safest poem you will ever hear.

Imagine flat land by a stream,
In the deep forest.
The ground is soft.
With a strong stick,
We draw a circle around us.

I’ll give you the circle

For whenever you need it.

With each breath, the circle clears of each person,
Real or imagined, clears of every snarled argument,

Every sickening dread, every fear, even those
Without body or voice or memory. With each breath,

they dissipate. They let loose your chest
and arms. Your hands and feet are warming.
The circle empties.

Now, you invite in only what you welcome.
Perhaps the song you are learning,
soup you stir, a love, a leaf from last autumn
you press beneath a book.

This is a safe poem. A protected circle.
The stream beside you keeps moving,
its gentle rush speaks to your breathing
like magic. Whenever you wish.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

t-shirt & panties on

from high school
from kiki de montparnasse

few colors // gray, no,

grayer than champagne
a colder rain

a slimy nose
and a lover

when I’m sick & I
have blank blue eyes

like a baby
like yours

feed me


This Is Not A Gentle Poem / by Michelle Peñaloza

The pancreas a purple feather.
A circle of mushrooms, the liver.
The larynx a pair of pinched pliers.
You now catalog this world this way;
that is to say, the man you learned
to unlove taught you
yourself, a new blazon:
ankles as handlebars, the face
a plate to lick clean. Breasts
uncompromising as bruises.
You ran away on two tendrils
as the sidewalk cried out beneath you.


Blue & White Collar Blues / by William Davis Ross

“I’m not worried. You’ll be fine,”
Your dry & denture-less jaw

Lap-dummy-clacked, stiffly
Ventriloquized dad-stuff,

Spoke the bootstrap meritocracy
You’d suckered you & me into;

But you were sadly wrong
& Too soon dead to know

I would be polar-attentioned
& Unjustly hyphenated

From my curriculum vitae.
Sitting in Memere’s cherry-wood,

Crocheted, dinky rocking chair—
Frabriqué par elle walk-in,

Seamstress closet—, I cradled
My coveted; I smugged widely.

In her Victorian-house-upstairs-
Fifty-years-widow’s bedroom,

Nickered vinyl floored filled
With stickpins that pierced

Her fingers umpteen bloody times,
She pushed heavy drapery for curtains,

& Foot-tapped the sewing machine,
Pedaled to fashion the back & the seat

Of that chair where I pressed lightly
Before I came of rough-drudgery,

Labor demeaned of craft,
Thinly-lined work erased

By errata & head-bent
Servitude deemed too fine.


III. / by Judith Terzi

Sweet Butter

It was the unknown unknowns of word lore.
I finally got the guts to enter the corner
grocery store––l’épicerie. No, don’t think
Safeway or Whole Foods. No full-blown

supermarket then. All I wanted was butter
for croissants. The market had no packaged
butter. I would have to ask for an amount.
Ok, so I had a degree in French, had taught

French, spoke French, dreamed in French,
poured French wine and eau de toilette,
carried a French purse from the Boulevard
Saint-Germain, and French-kissed. I asked

for a kilo of butter. Ninety degrees outside,
we had no fridge. The known unknowns.
The storekeeper didn’t know I had no fridge.
But he knew. Une livre, Madame? he gently

asked. Une livre. A book of butter? It finally
clicked that pound was feminine. He showed
me a pound. Too much. Way too much butter
for a heatwave. Too much for a polar vortex.

So he cut the blob in half. I loved the guy,
it was le coup de foudre, love at first sight.
Two hundred fifty grams became my idée fixe,
my broken record, my metric mantra. Oui,

Monsieur, deux cent cinquante grammes de
beurre, s’il vous plaît. Yes, Monsieur, two
hundred fifty grams of ham, pâté, fromage.
Amour. Two hundred fifty grams of words.


On a Forest Walk / by Michael Wasson

“Scraping for joy” & “Left alone, for once”

Yesterday we all went on a walk for poetry
yes for poetry. You know, poetry month, yo.
Nothing overly extravagant. We brought our poems.
Drank our tea. Ate our food. Simple.
But on that walk some of us didn’t bring our Thoreau shoes.
How unfortunate some’d say.

Another friend
because of our shared truths
in the Dickman twins
reminded me of a few lines I then recited.
More than putting another man on the moon
more than a New Year’s resolution of yogurt and yoga
we need the opportunity to dance with really exquisite strangers.
Them lines resonate. Rad poems stick with you, ennit?
The slow dance of forest walking.
The slow dance among the left-behind-friends.
The slow dance of moss and branches.
I remember another line: I know that one of us will die first
and the other will suffer.

And for us three left behind
when the others walked ahead
and after piggyback rides, the slipshod steps in mud
the unstoppable laughter
we almost lose ourselves. But that is ourselves. To lose.
And on the way back to the apartment, we followed
footsteps, trails of slick mud, wearing our loafers
our nice shoes, half dressed to kill, even some Chucks
a little off the beaten path.

There’s no need to rush, is there?
To clean ourselves, wash our hands, our feet,
even tuck the hair behind our ears?
To kill the slow dance of flies
and to think about the lives of my friends
these strangers who I could never truly know—
because I thought of another few lines
and I am glad
I am glad
I am
so glad.
I said that. And I am
glad to have not rushed to say it.


Day 6 / Poems 6


Fragment 141 / by Jordi Alonso

Dip into me
and ladle me
onto you

when the moon
reflects the sea.


Words With Friends (found poem) / by Marck L. Beggs

for Sleener, Nyquil98, & Tatbaar

Your jihad is a corny hoax,
a slew of puttee apart from a few
oaks and “ahs.” You are a hilus
in my spleen, as cute as a shined fiver.
Get it? In the past, your have towered
over this game like dormers in a luv slit.

Still, the mirror of the lake
is hoed like foil, a duet oared
between zeal and loons. Like dates
cured within vents and cutty.
To fix Dixie would be good, and require
the aim of a swat team. So sip away your spry
stash. Abide the fee, and go “ha!”

Oh, how I delight in the limit
of your puny cheetahs. They whelp
as I axe their gruff areas. Crazy, eh?
But you’ll wait by the shores of the heeders
in a tub of soviet figs. Bye.


Ten-dollar-rabies-shot day / by Christine E. Black

Bedraggled mutts
His pal
Her baby
Old Toyotas and pick-ups, Hondas,
An eager fur face hanging out the side window
Of the car piled with relatives.

“’You only love me when you’re drunk’
–Duffy, the singing cobbler,” reads a bumper sticker
On a beat-up truck. A man sits on the flat bed,
His arm around his dog, waiting with dozens of us
For our number to be called for a shot of medicine
From the volunteer vet.

A huge docile bull-dog mix lolls on the pavement.
A little girl rubs his belly.
Two sisters and her mother sit nearby.
They tell me the story of their shy adopted dog.
An unleashed dog attacked her last week, the little girl says.
Cindy, the dog, averts her tired red eyes.

“You feed ‘em; we’ll fix ‘em” reads a man’s T-shirt
over his big belly. The shirt is for the feral cat rescue group.
“Trap – spay/neuter – release” the shirt also says.
He is helping out today. A man and woman keep company
Two massive long-haired cats in a wire carrier.
People wait and read their phones.

A woman totes two box carriers with cats in them;
Another leads twins Corgi mixes,
And one holds a small white dog close,
her palm supporting its chest.

Mumbling comfort to her two dogs, loose in the car,
An old woman tries to find a parking space.

Luminous day in early spring.
Happy hounds, pointy dogs, fat ones,
Long and shaggy ones, matted ones,
Dogs and cats, all over this back lot.

As the crowd thins, a man brings two black dogs,
Tied with plastic twine, one’s tail buried deep
Between its legs, the other with dirt-caked ears.
I see his hands trembling when I help him attach
the shelter’s leash for the wait.

A volunteer picks up bits of trash from the lot
While others take down tables
I have Little Joe here, adopted years back
From a litter of shelter kittens.

Ten dollars this Sunday
To protect them from the wild for one more year.


Letter is April / by Victoria McArtor

hot tequila kissed thin
& when it spreads

you realize you’ve
always been a waterfall.


Perpetuity / by Michelle Peñaloza

Larry deserves better
a son says at his father’s grave.
Someone should sing about
the chain of spirits he came from:
Pagasinan to Stockton, a legacy of reaping
abundance—bagoong and oysters, salmon,
sugar cane, lettuce and grapes.
A son remembers—by golly!
him singing with Joan Baez at a farm workers’ rally,
the three fingers he lost to an Alaskan cannery,
his cigared stories about the asparagus strike of ’48.
A son celebrates October 25th with Los Angeles County,
Larry Itliong Day, a small triumph in the lonely
charge to secure his father’s legacy.
No schools, no roads, no parks,
no gardens, no full-length feature films.
Instead, a son’s homemade displays and the idea
of a bench beside his father’s grave.
The work of legacy is something so many of us know
so little about, like the abundance arrived at our tables—
the hands that plucked its ripeness,
always unseen.


À La Folie / by William David Ross

He leans back,
She reaches for
What he imagines
Are bath salts

In quilted light
As Shadows tip
Kimono behind
Which her body

Sculpts shoulders,
Breasts arching
Tiny bridges
Heavy & buoyant
Outline against
Her window curtains;
But when he turns
Back to writing,

Another ephemeral
Screen separates
Her nudity
From his.


II. / by Judith Terzi


So my mother came to visit me.
Unbelievable. A Jewish girl goes off
for continuing education to Algeria,
and her mother comes to visit. Not only

that, but in the middle of the visit,
Passover hit. We had to order matzoh
from Oran, 200+ miles away. Couldn’t
just pop into Safeway for a box. It

came from France, and we picked
it up at a building that used to be
a synagogue. That’s what I remember.
(Jews left Algeria en masse during

the Revolution. That was the 50s and
60s. I was having my own revolution
in the 70s.) My mother loved the matzoh,
said it looked like a doily, a lace

sculpture, an objet d’art. She brought
pieces back to L.A.––they grew mold
in her closet. She also loved the sole
meunière and soupe à l’oignon at

the Hôtel Saint George. Of course, she
noticed the cucaracha making its way
up the wall. That’s Mediterranean clime
for you. Old buildings, dampness,

humidity. Fortunately, it was a small
one; some look like brown jumbo shrimp.
And what about the Casbah? Mother making
her way up the stairs of the citadel, that

famous take me to…gawking at boys
washing up in oblong sinks along the sides
of low, labyrinthine passageways? Always
a water shortage in Algiers. Even now.

The city not built for over three million
people. And then we entered a house,
central courtyard, typical Moorish style,
climbed up to the terrace. Geraniums

redder than the blood dripping from
sheep heads hanging in butcher shops,
Mother said. Breathtaking views of the sea,
looking northwest toward the harbor

where ships unloaded Europe. White walls
stark against the turquoise of sea. Like
mother’s hair and her Santa Fe Market
earrings. Now that has got to be art, too.


What the leaf said / by Michael Wasson

I’d forgotten
the high definition

in the air

the Technicolor
of my darkly

lit petals.

I have a mouthful
of wind

you call life

I call no longer
will be

dancing to
this below

that heaven.


Day 5 / Poems 5


Fragment 42 / by Jordi Alonso

Why should I wait
for a word from a love
if her head
no longer rests
on my shoulder
and her heart has grown cold?


Wraith / by Marck L. Beggs

When I dream of my parents,
they appear in the future,
as if memory had slipped
beneath the glacier of time.

Audrey peers out over the bay
toward Alameda and asks if I can see
the ghosts on the bridge. I can’t, but
they make her smile. “You should look harder,”
she tells me. “One day you’ll need them.”
Her eyes are hazel again and clear.
The cataracts and foaminess evanesced.

Conrad is hanging feeders brimming
with black-oil sunflower seeds
for birds which have not yet arrived.
“When you no longer have birds to feed,”
he tells me, “your land is dead. And son,
I hope you never see that day.”
But I already know it is coming.

Dad is tall and thin like in the photograph
where he is pulling a jack-o-lantern on a sled
in Alaska, waving. It was mom’s favorite
and she insisted on it for his funeral
because he looked happy and he was waving
goodbye. Dashing in his uniform, he disappeared
in and out of our lives on Air Force missions.

I want this future: my mother the beautiful
officer’s wife, my father the mysterious pilot.
I wish I had recognized it then, and that
it was all ahead of me. The clear horizon of my past.


Pearl / by Christine E. Black

A nap with a lab is one of god’s mercies.
Fading light outside the window shade;
palpable quiet cossets the rumple of your favorite
blankets. Pearl, sleek muscle girl, deer loper,
squirrel chaser, happy destroyer of gardens, will let you
wrap your arm around her stout torso,
breathe her smell of leaves and creek water,
faint smoke of adrenaline from earlier that day
when she, poised with the largest most animal grace,
crashed into the river to retrieve the stick
you threw from the sandy bank, her mouth a wide arc,
water streaming through as she stopped its floating
and pounced for another. She will grab at least three,
rush to the muddy shore before leaping in one burst
up the steep slope to wait for more.
Brown seal coat, velvet ear flap,
soft slit eyes as she lies beside you now.




My Mother Offers Poems / by Michelle Peñaloza

mallard ducks in the pond with white ring neck, emerald green head

observer, you crane over the kitchen sink
recording the small goodness in things


no more snow, spring is here, time to rake the lawn

I carry a stone
in my stomach: you alone
in a house that was never his

no more snow but this just
terrible winter over the phone
every winter I worry

which uncle will plow the driveway
don’t drive to the store
or to Tita Toy’s for dinner

your siblings are proxies
the answers to the blanks
I leave

I’m grown so I should leave
should behind but he
should be there

to care for the lawn should
be at your side or else
in the blue recliner

his own ideas for the poems
I should compose

spring is here which means
you will plant roses and hyacinth
jasmine and garlic and chives

and when it grows
you will mow the lawn yourself


tulips are peeping from the ground
robins make their nest on my lilac bush

you delight in the rediscovery
of resurrection


Lent is here, pretty soon it will be Easter

you are a miracle-
believer and we both
wish I could be too

more than anything
I believe in you
an answer
unsatisfactory I know

but resurrection is unsatisfactory
where you carry a savior
I carry a stone


Time to Take Back the Donut Hole / by William David Ross

One must have a mind the hole
Is not emptiness or apart from the whole
Cosmic dough waddling

& Vibrating all directions a swung
Pastry between two hands is placed
On the cast iron pan end to end,

Hotly forged into a circle—a pinch-pucker
Pair of lips breathing the hole
Into whole; yet even this solidarity

With the hole one may miss label.
The way the donut hole air is ‘more than’
That elongated gluey flesh & body

Of the once merely linear, not even parallel
To anything, ‘meat’ of the matter,
The donut, which really owes the O’s

Presence in absence for being;
While the many will readily sit, cram,
& Eat the calories & the glazing

& Disregard the end-tips’ divide healed,
That which is made whole with the hole
& Many, unable to mind the lacuna,

Will more readily insist the hole
A ball extracted from the whole—
A munchkin imitating origins

In egg-like clumps to stuff lips, mouths,
The wholeness of the hole, with fillings:
Jelly, spermaceti-like creams proselytized

For those phallic many spite’s headlong
Fury to grease, to lay their claim into the slip
Of the Never-hollow or nothing hole that is an is.


I. / by Judith Terzi


I was shocked when I got there.
Women wearing veils. White
cloth covering their bodies. White
dainty hanky-like embroidered
triangles tied tight across their

faces, hiding noses and mouths.
You could see eyes above
the aadjar, luminous dark eyes
outlined with khol. Some women
lifted their haik way high climbing

onto buses. You could detect their
mini-skirts their platform shoes.
I could shoot myself for not
trying the haik, for not daring
to go out in public wearing one.

Too uptight, too judgmental. Too
young to glean nuance in the word
Culture. I was stuck on Liberation.
What a trip that would have been
had I worn the haik Saturdays,

for example, taking the bus with my
two large straw baskets that gave me
blisters, heading for the outdoor market,
marchée quelque chose off the Rue
Didouche Mourad. So long ago.

So long ago. I’d buy jumbo shrimp,
their plump, reddish pink bodies
squeezed like sardines into the daily
newspaper, El Moudjahid. Who
knows how polluted the sea is now?

And fennnel and tomatoes and fresh
olives and mandarines. Viande hâchée,
I’d buy simple hamburger meat––never
pre-ground. And baguettes from Régina––
you had to taste that bread, best anywhere.

And now, women are demonstrating.
They want to return to wearing the haik.
They want to get rid of their hijabs
and niqabs, non-native Algerian garb.
How dramatic the world has become.

How different this poem would be if
only I would have had the guts to try.




Day 4 / Poems 4


Fragment 168 / by Jordi Alonso

and I lie down alone
as time spins and I
do too: too much wine
brings hateful kindness to me,
enough can loosen my lips,
another cup undoes my belt,
one more has the heat
of lust––wine and shame
are a triangle of emotion.
But I loved this vintage
too much, and the friend
in whose bed I hoped
to wake up tomorrow morning
has left after a kiss
fell on someone else’s lips
and left mine tasting grapes.


Living Room Ghazal / by Marck L. Beggs

The guitar in its stand is lovely but mute.
The guitar in my hand is a sorrowful lute.

Dogs sleep by the fire dreaming deeply as stones,
but soon they’ll awaken to snorting and bruit.

A clock on my wall has ticked down to silence,
as if time has become increasingly moot.

The light through the window sways in a mad dance
to music from the lake, refrains of wild coots.

In tonight’s sky, I will mark the red planet,
but for now I’ll sit with this sorrowful lute.


Letter / by Christine E. Black

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,–
–Emily Dickinson 

But, O World, you did write to me
I could not always
read the letters as they arrived,
but you have written faithfully,
with such abundance,

in my sweet son Julian’s story
of a storm of butterflies,
on the hiking path, and even
when he told of the bright pain
of the hornets.

You write to me in the sunset,
sillouetting the pines,
in those tricklings of the stream,
I hear down the slope, in the flickerings
at the edge if my sight,
the albino deer appearing
in our woods at dusk.

You wrote to me
when my newborn baby
found and held the edge of my shirt
as he fastened his eyes to mine,

and in my son’s playing
an Irish lament on his violin;
You write to me during this day,
on the edge of spring,

trees shocked, still bare,
the air around them
softening, warming,
with all this gray waiting.

And in those harrowing
blood-red seasons,
of my past that, once survived,
only deepened this longing
for your every syllable and petal
and note, dear World.

You wrote to me with Bergamot candles
and cinnamon tea, purple nail polish,
and Susan’s artichoke soup.

I read your letters in the high ceilings
and old ornate moldings
with decades of paint layers,
in the children’s section
of the downtown library,
and all the bears, turtles, foxes
my sons and I pointed to, named,
made sounds for,
as they learned their own languages.

Mystic letters too, World,
from my friend, Mirela,
who loves barefoot hiking;
she buried tenderly the dead squirrel
on the forest path,
arranged stones for it,
and now still sees it
alive in her dreams.

O World, I praise and thank you
for all those letters that keep coming,
for when you need to cry,
there is usually someone
to cry to, and sometimes
its the warm fur
of a chocolate Labrador.

World, praise and thank you,
with this, one of my many
ecstatic answers.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

We invent our own want.

The gym membership.
Dinner out though the fridge, full of groceries.
The trip to Ikea.

And nothing for the bath salts to do
but effervesce away. And chip polish off

the nail to replace with a lighter color
as if a true April might arrive.

Ghostly hands springing forth
from earth. Painted moneygreen.

A liliac tree grown so big
it’s not called a bush.

And maybe you invented it.
But even that’s not big enough.







Loose Translation of Baudelaire’s “Correspondances” / by Judith Terzi

Oh man, you’re just a bunch of tall trees
blowing wind in the woods, trying to get
all spiritual. What’s with this jive when all
we crave is a simple walk in the park,
a flight from the dark (tenebrous) world
of work where inner voices repeat and echo,
echo and repeat and echo all over the place.
Humongous voices like police sirens
ordering us to quit procrastinating. But how,
how can we not stop to smell the roses, or
Daisy’s Eau So Fresh or A Scent Florale?
Oui, oui, dude, how can we not when our
computers ooze deep purple, forest green,
pink, like the flesh of babies at the sitter.
How can we not think of broken oboes
leaning in musty closets, overgrown lawns,
and other stuff just as distracting, man? Like
burning musky incense and smoking a good
weed to get that high of the senses and mind.



Owl Dance / by Michael Wasson

— for Pan

Like savages we dance holding each other’s hands
rocking back and forth, our legs lifting
like the hinds of evening deer leaping into the woods.
Your hands pretty darling smooth I’d say
slow and a little sweaty
just enough to notice how close we really are.
This circle of lovers. Each as if loneliness had
a lover too. A mother and her baby daughter
she held for the first time since the court order
an old couple still owl dancing at every powwow
ever since he lost his index finger in Vietnam
and she knows it’s still there. She massages it
every night before they go to bed after a long night.
Two cousins, the older girl just showing the young boy
how to dance and take care of the movement
alongside the sound. The drum group traveled here
all the way from Montana, from South Dakota,
from a couple houses down the street. The poles
the jars of smoked salmon and Ziploc bags of crackers
their tipi canvas, the huge Ford van parked outside
where they stash their extra buckskin and sticks.
You smile, learning to step with me
to look as smooth as possible while knowing
I’ll be here on this floor to teach you. And I’ll press
your waist as if thinking you’ll lose balance
lose yourself somehow like a savage. Like a me.
The agony of understanding I’ll lose this. You’ll lose this too
and I told you that the stats don’t lie, I’m to die first
drunk and diabetic, breathing hoarse and legless
jobless and sitting out on the porch hoping for it
in a shack of old blankets and of stale smells of sage
of grieving trauma that has rippled
from boarding schools, small pox, trails not of tears
but of surrender, of bodies frostbitten in the snow.
We need this. Selfish I need this. This rhythm of people
holding close, as loves who’ll never know when someone
or even my own heart will yell Injun and that soft bullet
will tear through me and scatter my bones across
your front lawn. It’s that scrap of dance we hold tight onto
even while the drum stops, the other dancers
young and shy couples, children, them newly traditionally wed
(like you know) will leave. But the song will hold
me and you. A song to hold us quiet in place like meeting
for the very first time
and I was afraid to lose you and you taught me how
to write my name in your language. Like me thinking
what to write to fool myself I won’t suffer.
When the emcee says dee there they are ennit look at em
couple a young bucks still out there on the floor and
the host drum will hoot and holler like a war party
where we pray for our human lives to return home.
I hold your hand in mine until I realize
this dance, these songs, are just you
like when I first saw you naked and brilliant before
we made love the first time in an imagined quiet dark
but the light shone bright only on the curtains. And you
are doing just the same too. Right now holding on
to save us. To dig down into our sadness and into joy
the rhythm spilling out, we’ll be here even when
the new dancers take the floor for the next song
and the drummers sing that fancy special
knowing that our dance will remember us before we pack up
for wherever our savage homes happen to be.


Day 3 / Poems 3


Fragment 60 / by Jordi Alonso

for Melanie Dearman

I would follow you
to the house of Hades
like Orpheus,
and I would tear down
the walls of Thebes
with a furious strumming
of my lyre
if I could keep you by me,
and keep wet, warm sand
glinting between our toes.


Bully Poem / by Marck L. Beggs

Today’s poem is going to kick
your proverbial ass and show
no mercy. It’s going to ram
a size-13 wingtip so far
up your sphincter that your breath
will smell like shoe polish.

This poem is going to steal
your lunch money, then hack
into your Facebook account
to replace your profile picture
with a pornographic image
involving unicorns and your sister.

This poem is going to collect
all your letters to the editor,
along with your teenage poems,
and self-publish them in a book
entitled, An Idiot’s Guide to the Universe.
And then this poem is going to post
crass and disturbing reviews of the book
on Amazon.com. A dozen per day
for a year. Eventually, you will
receive a long missive from the entire
publishing industry insisting
that you emigrate both from the country
and from the English language. They will offer
a one-way, first class ticket to Tierra del Fuego.

Take the money and run. It’s your only chance.
Otherwise, this poem is headed directly
to your home, where it will proceed
to break all your dishes and clog up your plumbing.
This poem will smoke camels in your bed
and forget to feed your cat. It will leave
behind a trail of mold that will require
a government agency to remove. This poem
takes no prisoners, and you are no exception.


Window / by Christine E. Black

Open the window before bed,
and in the morning, you may smell

the pink gauze cotton blouse I wore
with my flowered skirt
at sixteen,
longing for the boy next door,

his broad back, sandy hair,
sweetness of lost time

we didn’t know would not last forever.

You may smell daffodils, rock music,
my buffalo sandals on the dashboard
and a book of ee cummings poems
beside me on the seat;

hikes in the Blue Ridge,
hauling a big pitcher
of sun tea,

making love in the woods
when we stopped on the path,

taking off our clothes to swim
in an icy stream.

You may smell Sara’s room,
Sara and me,
sitting cross-legged on her bed,
blowing smoke out the window
listening to a CSNY album,
so much talking,
our hearts open, aching
for all that was to come.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

The reader of the letter
is it’s second author.

The reader of the letter
is tired of all this acting
and enacting and wants
an asyntactic fragmentation.

The letter comes from
the show-me-state but
comes redacted.

A barbed wire fence chokes
the tumbleweeds and the
occasional dandelion seed.

Read me a postlapsarian haze.

Show me again.


The First Boy To Kiss Me Confesses / by Michelle Peñaloza

for S.C.

You were the first brown one.
I told you I really didn’t find
girls like you attractive. Not
like I had a problem, it’s just
you’re attracted to what you’re
attracted to, right? I think
my kissing you happened
because I knew I could
make it happen. I’d kissed
lots of other girls before.
Not much technique to it.
I just had to use the right words
whether or not I meant them:
Pretty. Beautiful. Girls are all
the same this way. But,
I wondered if the rest of you
was as pink as the inside
of your mouth. I wanted
to know if you were as tight
and could be made to open as wide
as your eyes when I shoved
your hand down my pants.


Chopiniana / by William David Ross

Begin the dance with air-glanced gestures lost:
Arm grace tempos defusing memories;
Fingertips hard bitten plucking of kindness;
Feet finely beat-stomp embalming intent.
Then repeat a dominant ad libitum:
Cocked elbows waltzing three quarters time
Clefs & bars to smash a nose bloody;
Hands (a single couple separated)
Triangulating each against each
Against bald heads stunned by Mazurka
Tuned fermata expressing leaving
Impressionistic disappearances.
End definite ending, finally
Accent impressionistic disappearance.


Descanso Gardens / by Judith Terzi

La Cañada Flintridge, CA

If I were to write a poem about
these gardens, I would write about
the cherry trees, the plums, white
and pink blossoms breezing into
Japanese maples, deep burgundy
leaves shimmering, and how the orange
arched bridge crosses a koi-filled
stream near the Full Moon Tea House,
and how the tulips––deep purple my
favorite––look like talking candles,
and the lilacs, two hundred and fifty
types, over four hundred plants, all
started from a single hybrid, Lavender
Lady. And how could I omit the oak
forest, nineteen species of Quercus,
California’s native tree, whose acorns
nourished the Tongva before Father
Junípero Serra and the Spanish conquest,
and the three thousand modern and old
garden rose bushes, and the California
poppy. If were to write a poem about
these gardens, I would write about
the camellias, thirty-four hundred
individual plants, and how the shade
of native oaks protects their leaves
from sun. Perfect rose pink, red, white
petals like tissue paper flowers
of a child’s creation. If I were to write
a poem about the largest camellia garden
in North America, I would write about
Francis Uyematsu and how he sold
imported Japanese plants from horse-drawn
wagons in Beverly Hills. How in 1915,
his Star Nursery became famous for
camellias: perfect rose pink, red, white
petals like the ones on kimonos and obis
and silk screens of his ancestors. I would
have to say that the nurseryman had
to move to an assembly center in 1942,
that he had to sell the camellias from his
Star Nursery to a hakujin, the once owner
of Rancho del Descanso, once publisher
of an L.A. newspaper, and how Francis
Uyematsu donated all of his cherry trees,
one thousand of them arriving in Manzanar,
where he would arrive as well. If I were
to write a poem about Descanso, I would
name every camellia after the nurseryman.


Poem Fragment. Ant / by Michael Wasson

Keep me long enough
to say that you had a long enough life
so that we could stay
just a little bit
precious and full.
And then of course crackle.


Day 2 / Poems 2


Fragment 192 / by Jordi Alonso

I had to eat
with my eyes
as you took
a ripe peach
from the bowl
and its skin
scented yours

and I thought
we should kiss
when you bit into it,
when you licked
at the cleft
and its juice
wet your chin.

Don’t clean
off your fingers
on the linen,
there is silk
in my room
and rosewater in
gold-knobbed goblets.


Tucson / by Marck L. Beggs

From atop Mount Lemon, the city lights
boil the desert to a sludge of dark.
The higher air hums in static windstops,
fluttering like manes around blackened rocks.

The peyote settled, I would begin
my descent, stepping off a large boulder
which sprouted wings and flew to the ravens.
The dark bird within me sighed and whispered.

I ached for my mattress, cool on the roof,
the heat swelling up in the morning sun.
Tonight my bed would be leathery tough
and my dreams a practice for creation.

The rooftops of Tucson are littered with boys
alert under stars, mad ravens deployed.


Hana in spring / by Christine E. Black

Spring reminds her of her garden in Iraq
Where she grilled chicken for her family, she says,
Her voice sonorous, deep-throated.
Here, in Virginia, rain darkens mulch,
Musk smell rising from the softening earth.
Hana’s charcoal hair, deep eyes.
She rides in my car; I am taking her to lunch.
She is widowed from the war.
Militias, she says, the syllables, petals weighted with rain,
Shooting .. bombs .. keeled
The street becomes slick; clouds gather
In the distance. She remembers her car in Iraq
Before leaving everything when they fled.
Yes, traffic, she says. On the way to work.
This apartment not good, she says of the one found
By the refugee agency for her and her two daughters.
Her husband was killed for working with the Americans.

New green shoots through dead leaves,
Bark thickens with dew.
Mesopotamia – that word’s ancient breath,
Its vowels’ caress.
I ache to find words for her destruction.
Hana wrote in laced letters directions
To her apartment, then the English beside them.
She gives me the paper. I see the dolorous lines
Around her mouth and eyes,
Spring’s impossible forgiveness.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

What then
if not compulsion,

get clean of it.

My hands did numb to beauty
as they reached into dead

red clay and buried this bulb
and I’m supposed to believe

the body tightens while
the tulip will explode.

What then.


You Can’t Have Paella For One / by Michelle Peñaloza

and so often the need
for plurality goes unacknowledged
and sometimes I need you
to just this once
eat meat, eat wheat,
drink beer,
buy lotto tickets,
share a cigarette,
enjoy butt play,
so that I don’t have to feel
so alone in my desire.

Desire is funny—it seems
something that comes from the stars.
Like the falling bits of molten glass
that pinpricked the atmosphere
and made the globe swelter.
The blood of dinosaurs boiled;
all their lives ending at once.

Desire then
is something in line with desperation,
in that we hope for something
larger than ourselves.
We hope to share paella,
a midnight drink, a million
dollars with someone who might
want something to do
with us in the morning;
we crave the validation of another’s
gaze, scanning us naked and new
and unknowing of all the reasons
we’ve left and been left alone before.
The rough equations of loneliness
are inexact and costly.
The amount of chicken, bomba rice,
sausage, saffron, shrimp, garlic,
mussels, paprika—the socarrat, toasted
at the bottom of the pan—are all too much
for one to make, to process, to consume alone.
So, sit with me, then.
Forget your vegetarianism
and be a human being with me.
Remember the dinosaurs.
Take note of the way desire
enters, like the falling scree of the stars.




Preoccupation / by Judith Terzi

I always scream during quakes .. even
five-point-onesies like Friday night’s
thirty-second rock ‘n’ roller .. Picture

frames could spin around on insecure
hooks .. the chimney crash down onto
the front lawn .. or through the roof
along with red Spanish tiles .. Or living

room beams could end up in the basement
gashing .. smashing hardwood floors It
could be .. too .. that plaster would crumble
shatter like crystal .. like fishing boats
in a tsunami .. plaster ripped off pre-drywall

leaving lath without a mask .. stark naked
wood baring the electrical shenanigans
of our new log cabin.. Or .. the driveway
could spread apart like the Red Sea
Holy Moses .. and the magenta bougainvillea

and the orange and pink ones .. lose their
composure .. snap from their trellises
dragging with them an entire slatted universe

So please don’t make any abrupt moves
in bed .. Don’t turn .. Stop shaking your leg
Silence the snore .. Don’t hit the bedside table
in one of your wild monster dreams .. Keep

your undies on .. just in case we have
to make a run for somewhere else besides
the doorjamb .. Are your slippers near?
And hold onto my heart .. Stay close to its
beat .. And don’t jump to any conclusions
before we read Lucy Jones’s tweets.

(Lucy Jones is the earthquake maven from Cal Tech and the USGS.)


Remember how your voice broke and scattered like blossoms late last summer? / by Michael Wasson

Then again
the sound
of your
voice yes
your voice
rattles and
lifts up
like pollen
I dusted
from around

the plum
tree we
passed by
and you
said soft
let’s count
the times
left to
see us
in bloom.


Day 1 / Poems 1


Fragment 145 / by Jordi Alonso

Do not move stones
when they are whole;
hearts are easily moved
once they have broken.


The Cynic’s Calendar / by Marck L. Beggs

The April fool may be cruel,
but the August Nazi drops
us to our knees, sweltering,
mosquito-bitten, begging for water.

July is an idiot blowing up the landscape,
celebrating war. December and January
meet in a violent kiss of anarchy,
each dismissing the other at midnight.

The November fascist pretends
to belong to two seasons, then
opens the door to carnage, saturating
the forests with the blood of turkeys and deer.

February settles for anything thrown
in its short path: a celebration of women,
African Americans, presidents, and Civil War traitors.
As if history itself passed in a fragment.

May brings daffodils smothered by October,
so much yellow drained to burnt orange.
June and September swing in the wind
like a broken screen on a rusty door-hinge.

And here is how it appears through the eyes
of March: Earth’s slow-bus passage of time,
the retarded progress of humankind
slobbering its mortal way to the sublime.


A Lenten Poem / by Christine E. Black

How to bring god closer
after the frenzy, the snarling riots,
this god hanging on a tree?

Do I stand here, as the story goes,
looking, do nothing, imagine
pouring myself towards him,
a flame across a field?

Or would I go there,
climb up, pry the first nails out
with the claw of a hammer,
wrap my arm tightly around his waist,
like my son I rescue from a branch too high?
I struggle to keep his weight on my hip,
his arm over my shoulder
while I wrest the other nails loose.

Smelling his sweat and tears,
I hoist him, lower him to the ground,

and then, with a wet cloth,
wash the blood and dirt from his face,
tell him it will be all right now.

He is not forsaken, I say.
I’m here and can help.

I’m strong and fierce, have survived childbirths
and madness, sickness and suicides.

Here, I will carry you down.
I will go get more help.

And I know others who will come,
with bandages, bread,
broth and soft songs, blankets.
We will not leave you there.


Letter in April / by Victoria McArtor

Pink blossoms in a swimming pool
of deceptive depth,

but the secret to falling is to
fall from no height.

Hard sun on this wrought iron –
it’s 82 in Oklahoma and

three dumb feet of snow as we speak
somewhere back east.

It’s hard to tell
snowflake from petal,

workless like light falls.

How the restless
want their rest. Or to jump

without consequence, with
no good reason but to fall.


This Same Old Song / by Michelle Peñaloza

I don’t miss the house full of tulips nor
the sweet-faced monster dog nor the jars

that I kept filled with lentils and grits.
I miss the ache of not knowing where

best to rest—beneath the dappled shade
of cherry trees? Or among the porch’s roses

and hyacinth? I miss the idea of you,
standing in twilight among the collards.

My stomach grumbles and I wonder if
I should walk all the way back to you or

burrow myself  beneath the down of this bed
where you have never slept.

It’s all a lie. My stomach is silent.
I don’t miss one part of you.

I’m glad for the absence of hand signals
and complaints of bad customer service.

I’m glad to meet a man and take him home.
Glad I no longer wait for you. Be honest.

You never meant sorry and there’s nothing
more to be sorry about. And yet, there is a space

that rings hollow in the early morning,
a melancholy that might have nothing to do

with you. Still, here:
unwanted ghost, floating in the lines.


April Fools’ / by William David Ross

March rain sputtered & gathered in ringlets
On frosted soil beds.
………………………………….What ever falls straightly?
I’m told, nothing.
………………………..Snow hung in the swirling river air.
Hyacinth & heather incensed the light.
Snapdragon, pine-gum, fiddlehead minted
Bursts of pond-split-ice warm air belches.
Then a March-bile stench dug melanized, gritty
Molecular bits of her exquisite muslin-gauze
Uterine cradle made a domestic foreigner,
But, “April is the cruelest month, breeding,”
A riled T.S. Eliot peeved. Lilacs
He decried? He Job-branded spring succor
With such nonvascular fear. Such utter shit—
He wilt love’s corpus callosum, the fucker…
Came & went groveling syphilitic,
………………………………………………………..objective correlative palaver.


Portmanteau / by Judith Terzi

Mistaken friend of portemanteau: a hook
in French, a hanger. English says a blend
of words. Or suitcase schlepped to ballet class,
faux leather then, new hybrid shine. Its lock
still vigorous, secure. The looking glass
inside the case reveals the leap of years
like wallaroos’ galumph across the plains,
gal wish of Amrak trains. Like portmanteau,
my roots remain though evidence has changed
from tights and leotards to parents’ gear
of gravesite maps and birth and death reports
and cards with sentiment in ballpoint pens.
No hazmat in the mix, no malware bash
to root out pleasure of a paper past.


Post-Rez (You know, just bein’ Indigenous) / by Michael Wasson

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
— The Wasteland, The Burial of the Dead, T. S. Eliot

I ate coconut flesh on the rez    saw how much
the streets crumbled like abandoned
pre-dough frybread    the damp lumps crusting
unbroken by some papery elderly fingers

I listened to weet’uníx    what it means to
not contribute to the community    I read
some poems    even went upriver past
the place of the eels    hesúutiinpe (where
of course no eels are anymore)  and looked

at the first texts of my people  nimíipuu
them petroglyphs    thought about the ones
scraped off   spray painted like horses running
into a glass window    my uncle and I talked about

aliens  ghosts  medicine men  cúukwe  loneliness
about the emptiness in my hands    the dawn rain
and unk’s faulty car battery he just got in town
he told me  thought I was lookin’ at a dead man
in one of his stories    about his kind neighbor

I said there’s literature in our land    núunim
tíim’enin’ wetéesne ‘eekíce    I see our written land
our bodies almost breathing    our hands at work

and memory is that rez dog    on the corner of
Main or even on Joseph    tick-bodied and moving
in gangs through the howling clanging night
devouring the smaller barn bb-filled cats and dogs
ripping off their ears    where they hear songs

bite off their lips and paw pads    take an eye
or two   never really know    and leave ‘em open there
by the open shed     later bagged up and raw
over at the rez dump      I want so bad

to delice    pluck them ticks from behind their jawlines
their ear sockets    the creases of muscles and bones
where the body curves and outlines its rez dog life

hush now    hush now   I would sing  while de-ticking
wrap warm rags ‘round them slit  bony  legs
and listen to how our April rainfall slips on through
the moving sun     how the glass bottle breaks   how to see
the dog’s bright saliva    woven slick from the tongue.



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