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 nine volunteers for July 2014 are Shaindel Beers, Nancy Bevilaqua, Silvia Bonilla, Deborah Brandon, D. Gilson, Will Johnston, Amy Miller, Will Stockton, and Amy Schreibman Walter. 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 ksweet@tupelopress.org with your offer, a brief bio, and three sample poems and warm up your pen!

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Day 29 / Poems 29

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Overheard/Overnight, 26-28 July 2014 / by Nancy Bevilaqua

(Nishin. Olla. Something about wages,
lack. No need to look up siphr;
I know that one already; it means, nothing,
zero, naught. Words that translate,
heal, incision, bring about,
You wish. Perhaps, You’re a shooter,
spoken to a woman. The rest, all night,
in pieces, almost all in perfect
whispered English:)

Author of sand.
I still hear them screaming.
I still hear them
screaming. You are on the stand.
Safe to receive
when nothing matters any more.
End my identity. They hear
it is me. Believe you.
If you show it you will cease.

Five years made us pals. She likes
shooting guns. I am a man.

HE WAKES UP. (I ask:
“What is it like?” but it’s possible
that I don’t understand.)
Water. Watch for a long time.
(Boy in a hospital bed. A woman
strokes his head with her hand.)
He’s gonna turn into a Muslim.
But thank you. This is good advice.
Damn loyal group—kebis (pressure,
squeeze, constrict).

Bird and man survive.
I’m just a mother with your eyes.

*
*

When Will is Iago & I Desdemona / by D. Gilson

The stack of cereal bowls leaning south.
I tease, bite thumb at he & rinse bowl
by bowl, feed the dishwasher’s hungry
mouth. But should you not be folding
laundry? Iago tasks. I mask surprise,
And what wouldst thou write of me,
if thou shouldst praise me? and wipe
clean a skillet, polytetrafluoroethylene
coated, non-stick, by hand. The man
does prick, O, gentle lady, do not put me to’t,
For I am nothing if not critical. Tat for tat,
Howard bears witness as we call each other
fat, says, Don’t let honest Iago treat you
like that. I drop a dishtowel to the floor,
walk to the laundry room as Iago frames me
a whore, a dishtowel stuffed in his pocket.

*
*

Nicolae Labiș / by Will Johnston

1935-1956

A hand clamped over his mouth
and he choked
on his own words. They slid down
too smoothly
where they were never meant to go,
and he burned up from the inside
like the ruby-billed bird
that swallowed the sun.

*
*

*

Day 28 / Poems 28

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Constant / by Shaindel Beers

For his birthday trip to the zoo, Liam chose two elephants
from the gift shop and named them Mommy and Baby Ella.
Today he chose two identical Spinosauri as his reward
for getting a big boy haircut. He sat in a purple Jeep
and sang along to Frozen while the hairdresser and I
calmed him as the clippers buzzed around his neck, his ears.
When I said, These two are the same. Don’t you want two
different ones? he said, No. Mommy and Daddy, and made
them talk to each other the whole drive home until he fell asleep.
Always there are two of everything, and always one is Mommy.
He seems so sure of this, so confident of the comfort
of family, the way other mothers seem so constant,
the ones who say, Being a Mommy is the most important
job in the world. I wonder if they would say this to a brain
surgeon, a cancer researcher, someone who saves lives
every single day. It seems so arbitrary, yet they sound so
convinced. I try to imagine what family feels like to other
people, what it would be like to commit without stumbling
under the weight, the heaviness of elephant, of dinosaur.

*
*

* * * / by Nancy Bevilaqua

In the ceiling of your room
I heard an eternal star. Planetary
symphony. I am singular,
at the corner of the world,
solitude perfect as when ferns unfurl
and no one sees. Magnificent, the ruin.
I can’t come in right now:
it’s much too rich out here. Time
to overcome the universe, one hand
on the song and one ear at the earth.
I have no mastery. I own nothing.
I have never really wanted anything.

*
*

Grandma Lily’s Teachings / by Silvia Bonilla

Madonna followed her around
the house, into the little rooms
suffocated with perfume. Wanting
her watch and her cigarettes.

Lily understood something of life,
gave happiness with proportion and
punished with lengthy silence

procuring a kind of pain easily mistaken
for hunger. Long nights and some taboo
swelling the walls.

*
*

* * * / by Deborah Brandon

i did not warn

who would not walk

i did not let

*
.

*

while i lit the wing
you bared your breasts
to the road
demolished the bridge of my hair
‘too bad you’re not a boy,’
you spat in my face

*
.

*

i did not say

who could not form in the ferns

i did not eat

i did not ask for your fossil

*
.

*

agony is the perfect weight
of an orange
never held in the hand

*
.

*
angels suffocating in the coils
of your bed as you left

a pile of ash
tortured into the ground

*

.

*

but i went on to live

and i went on to live
and i went on to live
and i went on to live
and i went on to live
and i went on to live
and i went on to live

but i went on to live.

*

.

*

the great waves crashing
the great shifting crests
of ice, crashing
the shore disintegrating
and you there taming them,
vapor for hair

*
*

DG28

*
*

Lullaby for a Child Born in Space / by Will Johnston

Sleep, my child, the night goes on
forever, and the starlight creeps
along beside us as we run,
…..now sleep.

Sleep, my child, the night is deep
and the engine rocks us; everyone
is nodding on this quiet ship.

Sleep, my child, the night is long,
but when the day comes round to keep
you can have your pick of suns.
…..Now sleep.

*
*

Neurosis My Neurosis / by Amy Miller

thought you were just a thought
a part / a passing low / a pain
a narrow pill’s target
but you set up shop
ground level / turns out
you have a history
of earthquakes / let me
introduce / let us
try large coffees
and politics like old
forgetful foes / some
period sitcom about
to sputter forth
in laughs / for mistaken
identity is such
a good old joke / but now
that I’ve named you
will you stubbornly stay
with your new mailbox
and savage little shingle?

*
*

What Whitman Wrote / by Amy Schreibman Walter

is engraved into expensive silver plates, bolted to the fence,
facing the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (the building, once
a home for fireboats). His words face Shake Shack; but
he would have known the building when it was Franklin
House Hotel. Seamen, merchants, whores haunt the inside;
now young professionals order peanut butter shakes
on their way home to high rise lofts, Manhattan skyline views.
Tourists disembark from the ferry, stopping just long enough
to read Whitman’s words before getting a chocolate chunk
ice cream cone, before lying down in the newly planted grass.

*
*

Day 27 / Poems 27

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The Drunk Cowboy Believes in Good / by Shaindel Beers

The drunk cowboy has two women cornered at the parking lot party.
The drunk cowboy is solving all of the Mid-East’s problems
even though he is drunk and a cowboy and 7,000 miles away

from Israel. He stands tall in his pearl-snap plaid shirt and says,
There’s good and evil. And I always side with good. It’s like Jesus 
and the devil. The women laugh. They offer cogent arguments,

death tolls, ask why it is okay for Israel to fire rockets at schools full
of civilians. But women and children!, the women say. It’s like this,
says the drunk cowboy, The Israelis told them they could leave.
 
It’s their own fault for stayin’ put. I wonder about the drunk cowboy’s
world. He’s just a guy at a bar, someone who could have given
George W. Bush acting lessons on how to be the drunk cowboy

President he pretended to be. I want to make it easy for the drunk
cowboy. I want to wear an Evildoer shirt to the band’s next gig.
I want to buy Evildoer shirts for the two women debating him.

I want to confuse the drunk cowboy by saying, See, it’s like this.
There’s good and evil. It’s like Ahura Mazdā and Angra Mainyu.
Teharonghyawago and Tawiskaron, Harry and Voldemort.

A story as old as time. I’m sure you think I’m stupid, says the drunk
cowboy. No, no, say the women. They are polite. Also, they are women
in the parking lot of a bar at one in the morning. They know

the drunk cowboy is expecting them to soothe his ego, to say
he brought up good points, he’s pretty sure in an argument the man
is supposed to win. The women exit, not quite sure what they’re escaping.

*
*

Dusk Anticipating Night / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Look at this light. Small boy, hair done purple,
lawn Fuji green. Pelicans bob on settled sea,
clouds all wrangled to a different ledge.
Some days I think I might be almost fledged,
so much everywhere,  dark irregular and movement
on the stairs. All the days I wake to streams
of magic mercy. You speak so quietly:
squeeze the tips of flowers open, suck the honey
of my dreams, let it splay across your moving tongue.
How far down it needs to go to make the sugar
come. By day I lay across your silent smile.

Tonight exists another language I can see
ruling how the pagan stars relate to me.

*
*

Some Days / by Silvia Bonilla

It’s about the love pseudocyesis
that elevates her heart,
the wanting-room where
she learns to savor:
dinners of cold rice,
bad coffee and the years
shining like coins on a
plate.

*
*

* * * / by Deborah Brandon

DB27

*
*

The Battle of Britain / by Will Johnston

They knew enough of beauty
to spare the tulips.

Instead the engines screamed
like demons, dragging

the planes up, up,
tearing at the sky

from an airstrip
mown into the poppies.

And then they learned
more terrible beauty:

they cut loose
their hellish seeds,

and the bombs
blossomed in the cities below.

*
*

Shirring / by Amy Miller

like
whipped cream, it takes
the cake’s
hard edge (that dive
from high-baked rise
to splat) and covers
what the eye
(or finger
pushing deep)
might decide
is danger, is darkness
of spirit or will
(but the butterfold’s
a sweet
delection of another
hour, a past
devoured, pleats
parting with some
barely tasted
desire)

*
*

Esther’s Hair Appointment / by Amy Schreibman Walter

Something in her shifts a little when the young Italian man massages
shampoo into her scalp, water a little too hot. Holding on to the arms
of the leather massage chair real tight, she closes her eyes, remembers
how her husband used to wash her hair. She can almost see his fingers
in hers; on the plane to Sicily, to their honeymoon, her hands gripping
the arms of the airplane seat when it made its sharp descent, her first
flight. Her honeymoon outfit – her finest white linen suit, her brand new
haircut. How blonde she used to be. The Italian asks her if she’s sure
it isn’t too hot, ma’am. It’s fine; it’s perfect. Electronic pulses feel
their way into her lower back; suddenly its Sinatra on the radio.
“Let’s Fly Away…” This young man wraps plastic around her neck
just the way she used to place a bib on her babies. He carefully ties a towel
up around her hair, makes her a turban, asks if she’d like a glass of wine
while she waits for her stylist. He hands her a copy of Vogue; a young actress
on the cover is apparently afraid of turning forty. Esther takes the wine,
sips it slowly, glances up sometimes at herself in the mirror, face weathered,
full of lines, hairline covered up by white flannel, no trace of it visible.

*
*

Day 26 / Poems 26

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“This is not normal behavior for right-minded humans to engage in.” Steve Martin, who participated in several executions in Texas in the 1980s. / by Shaindel Beers

When your job is to man the phones at an execution,
to be the one there in case of a reprieve,
which almost never comes, you plan each execution
day to be the same. A cup of coffee for breakfast,
maybe toast. Something light that will settle
your stomach. Something that you might not
mind seeing again if it comes up. No bacon,
no eggs, no sausage. You try to speak kindly
to your wife; she tries to understand.
She’s a good woman, the kind who won’t let you
carry the weight on your own, but why
does there have to be this burden in the first place?
You work not to snap at the kids, though
it’s so surreal the worlds you live in.
At breakfast they fight over the funny pages,
who gets the bathroom first, and you know
you are heading to work to help put a man
in his grave. Nearly everyone you started out
at the prison with is gone. But what happens if you
are not there? Someday a call might come.
Your being there could save a man’s life.
It would be Romeo and Juliet all over again,
but this time the messenger would make it in time.

*
*

Maryam, Ephesus / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Pictures in my head, a little song that goes like drops
on someone’s doorstep (when I was silver braceleted and ringed,
hair grown in and barefoot every day until the stride was broken).
Pictures of the holy damned. Hair I twist out by the ends
and I will never come to where he said we’d meet.
(I’d have to turn away again
and I could never turn away from him.
Love more, he used to say. Trust less.
He saw our course bent by this open innocence.)

No food, no words, no more, no more.
I strike up with the final devil (he had been your friend).
I’ve seen it now; it’s on the roofs
and flying by the teeth. Pretend it doesn’t matter
how the hawk will devil pigeons we set free.

*
*

Coming of Age / by Silvia Bonilla

She’d learnt the practice–of
undressing for him, was

born with regrets.
One July night

the moon an orange scarf
around her earthy wishes,

on a floor cleaned bared
with turpentine

holding pouty lips
and saliva.

*
*

* * * / by Deborah Brandon

all of heaven is through with swans
and practiced in hating milk

the men being men are obvious as jasmine
seeping through clothes, the men

.

mahler falls the cadence
of diamonds: a valence
hangs the forest

. and chokes to magma

.

when i find sparrow
his etiolated body
tangled in a shell
nettles ringing my ears
clover flowers
forcing away air

.

the men who are men, obvious
,,,riding horses
,,,the dry humps of the road,,,

i will move him
anything to all
butterflies! conniving to the trap!
i will move him
his long body so in need
never the likenesses of swans
never the village

.

the village settles back into its mother’s
footprint for the night

*
the illusionist orchestrates horns for the angels

sparrow fattens on mahler
his thin throat and his limbs
sparrow becomes the thousand
my sleepboy; his fire-thorn

*
*

College Bar Prayer / by D. Gilson

At Nick’s Bar, Josh points
to me & slurs: I told you,
he’s not my type, Will,

I like skinny guys.
What do I like? One syllable
guys in college towns

with mouths that fount dumb
shit. I lie, sober, Boys, one
of you has to drive

home, remember? (Lord,
I can’t drive a stick shift) The boy
tending bar is cute,

Lord, in his tank top
bicep’d with one strong syllable.
(was his name John, Rick?)

The Lord, my shepherd,
all I do is want.

*
*

The Rain God / by Will Johnston

He filled the air with drops
to sense her presence

in the spaces the water voided
as it fell; his thousand fingers

read her like braille.
He came in human form

and paused beneath her window.
One arm upon the sill,

she saw him in the downpour,
took pity, and, smiling,

called to him. Come in
out of the rain, she said.

*
*

Bow Season / by Amy Miller

The sky’s burnt blue and the car jerks like a popcorn popper on boulder on blitzen on woods rut crag hole. Somebody said there’s a mansion out here but watch for hunters in their orange best, the deer in their stand silent, turkeys all American or sudden explosion of geese. And this road of improbables, bend and lurch and skitter, bare trees reaching all over each other and December cold—gloves don’t know the name of this degree. But we’re driving, a map in somebody’s head, it was here, I know it was up here somewhere and over this rise and out to this field and open and suddenly the view—Berkshire Berkshire Berkshire and that aching arching blue, not a wire not a smoke not even those everywhere mending walls. And then. The house. What godawful tank dragged the stones for that tumbled chimney, what hermits in grand alleys, who said goodbye to everything then knocked a window out of a wall to see so much. But little. But ruins. Tall escarpment of a second story, impudent trees in the kitchen, ground glass ground. Or was that the solarium, north light and a paintbrush touched to the tongue, or was that where the harp. Surely a harp. We wander and dust the filings of ancient weeds off corners of rock that mark the edges of this alone. Only steps to the woods, but we stay close. Do arrows whistle, we wonder, do you ever hear a thing like that coming. Or just fall slow like this, stone sockets with a few ragged larkspurs holding on.

*
*

Freedom for the Woman Who Owns the Ford, 1927 / by Amy Schreibman Walter

She has the same bored look on her face that Kate Moss had in her Calvin Klein Jeans
naked from the waist up. She wears a long gown, shows no skin except a small patch
of neck. Draping fabric sashays over her curves, hides breasts, childbearing hips. An unlit
cigarette sits between her lips, between her lace-gloved fingers. A pilot style hat
covers her ears, covers cropped hair. And the shiny black T- model Ford juts up
against her. She perches on the hood, stares the camera down – disinterested, restless
for adventure.

*
*

Day 25 / Poems 25

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Tiny Girl Violence Plans Her Becoming / by Shaindel Beers

First, a costume. Plum with chartreuse
accents. A lot of people think that black
is the hardest color to see at night.
It’s really crimson, but purple and chartreuse
are across from each other on the color wheel
and go nicely with your skin tone.
TGV in Garamond across the chest.
Of course, during the day, she could be anyone
under 5’2”, 115 lbs. Tiny Girl Violence
doesn’t have a backstory other than
that she was tired of taking shit from men
and also tired of being laughed at by said
men. You can only take so much of, Oh,
you’re SO CUTE when you’re mad,
before you finally snap. Tiny Girl Violence
will seem sweet until you deserve her not to,
and then she will fuck you up. Tiny Girl
Violence carries a handy purse-sized brand
(also in Garamond) (also marked TGV).
In addition to marking domestic abusers,
animal abusers, and menacing asshats,
she will correct grammar and spelling
when possible. Remove apostrophes
in cases when someone is using them
to form a plural. And change fonts
from Comic Sans and Calibri to something
respectable. It’s a tough job,
but someone’s got to do it.

*
*

Caravan / by Nancy Bevilaqua

…I am afraid of Peter, for he threatens me and hates our race. –Pistis Sopia, Chapter 72

Where we stopped for water came a caravan;
let us ride toward the open north where we might rest
again. Camel stride, distance to the ground.
Kefa said there was no folly in a little
push but something now has come
undone (there, inside,
where Esa blended with me for a second time).
(What is divine does not
make love, and has no use for woman.)
Kefa knew, and it was what he meant
to do: I caught the smile, pupils that went small

and fierce. They stopped my screams
with something hollow, hard, a fist. My belly barely
moving now. The women dip me in the river
but nothing washes clean. They don’t know how to save
my little dove.
I tell them, Take me west to where we washed our hair
in waves before the ancient longing reappeared.
Drown me there if I must lose another love.

*
*

Lost Years / by Silvia Bonilla

She likes to go by the reptile section
at the pet shop and look into the turtle’s gazed down eyes.
Following his pausing movements, his sun-speckled feet,
his systematic life maneuvering some imaginary tide.

Convinced his eyes are a vigil, a sort of Revelation,
When he flips his coarse eyelids like an emergency signal
she finds herself whispering, I am listening,
you gated warrior, arms stretched out wide.

They touch through glass. She waits for the immutable
in the creasing of green icebergs.

Hard not to cry!

*
*

tanks of the land / by Deborah Brandon

a harp can pull down the atmosphere
a harp can wrench the corset tighter
a harp can scan the sea for survivors
and finding any, kill them
a harp is adjoining rooms; one key

*
a harp can infuriates the judges
a harp can bend the canyon
a canyon is a harp, pulling

*
a harp is infatuated
a harp has done wrong
a harp is through with missing
a harp is gone to death
a harp is covered in mica
a harp pulls the curtain down hard

*
what will you derive from the fallen horse
what will you name me when i am gone
what is currently flowing with none of us suspecting its future as the land
which holes on the body will be punctured, whole now
which limbs must be broken in the appropriate key

*
i have wrestled the stampede in the heavy rains
i have bled all but the music in my ears
i am not solid
i am not a swollen work of the heavens

every hair on my head has its own home
this is a fraction of the meat that has grown here
seeds still having use and all

*
when it’s is quiet i caption the mountain
when it is quiet i exceed my throat
when i am loam and unseeing …………………….when i am half prone

*
the wrinkled doors rise

*
*

Johnny Cash Phone Sex / D. Gilson

Before he covered U2.
Before Trent Reznor & Radiohead.

After he toured with Jerry Lee.
After Elvis, but before Grateful Dead.

Johnny covered the phone’s receiver
with June in the adjoining room.

Johnny toured Jan Howard’s body,
“That’s it, honey,” in a gravely moan.

*
*

Dream / by Will Johnston

Ah, to have life and love!
To have a quiet life
and a surfeit of love!

To have the skill and admiration
of an artist—oh, your life
will outlast the admiration

of many sweethearts, in memory
of art if not in truth.
And to abide in the memory

of your love! To see
your life prefigured, see the truth
that ill luck cannot last, and see

unfolding everything you dreamed.
To hear your future self saying
of all I ever dreamed

there is nothing left
to want, and then to hear the genie saying
you have one wish left.

*
*

Doing Your Laundry / by Amy Miller

I confess I looked away
while folding your underwear
fresh with static. I saw
you were my size but pastel
in your choices. No mistaking
your towels for mine. Mingled,
our shirts rubbed arms,
ran buttons over
the stitched scars
of seams. Later, I didn’t
tell you we’d shared a washer,
saved water like two lovers
in the shower long past
the point of touching,
embarrassed in the light.

*
*

When Liz Met Dick / by Amy Schreibman Walter
January, 1962

Dick was Anthony to her
Cleopatra, theatrically
gripping his coffee cup,
playing at shaky hands –
she thought he was all theater,
he thought she was all
Hollywood. He made her
laugh, made her eyes roll,
lids heavy with Cleopatra’s
black eyeliner. It was every
kind of flirting, every kind
of foreplay.

“Has anyone ever told you
that you’re a very pretty girl?”
Liz asked herself how
an Oxford educated man,
37, could come up with
such an unoriginal
line. Oy Gevult, she told
the extras. “I always
told myself I wasn’t
gonna be a notch on that
man’s belt.” Dick had
a wife back home, even
a Copacabana dancer
waiting back at his hotel.
She had a husband, and
little Liza, right there,
sitting on Dick’s lap.

Liz was cleavage in white
draping silk. He, a hero
in a leopard print dress.
“Only the most real, true men
can get away with wearing skirts”,
she told him, toying
playfully with a lock of her
jet black hair. One
on screen kiss silenced
all their back and forth
banter. 44 million dollars
of investment. Rome,
so far from Eddie Fisher.

Dick revealed: “Of course
I had affairs. But how was I
supposed to know
that Elizabeth Taylor
was so goddamned famous?”
The Pope called it erotic
vagrancy. Still, fanfare,
charioteers, dwarfs
throwing candies,
painted donkeys, butch
warriors, pyramids
with doors that opened,
letting free a thousand
white doves. Liz and Dick atop
Arabian horses, both of them
in gold robes, brooding
over a fake desert. Later,
in a pink Cadillac out back
between takes: the deal, sealed.

*
*

Day 24 / Poems 24

*

SB24

*
*

Maryam, Galilee, Late Spring / by Nancy Bevilaqua

(And they) have planted trees without fruit, in my name, in a shameful manner.
–Gospel of Judas

Horror of this angel land:
so sudden how the year goes back
and back to then. I am alone again
I have been used and shunned.
(Dust and the sideways
ways the palm-fronds move.
Lips on prayer
that’s the fullness being savored
somewhere.)
I am transient a nurtured
slip reduced to raving
at the feet of bitter men,
residing at the side

I am speaking language they’ve
forgotten so soon after so
soon, through recoiling streets
old rude tongues drain.
By fires they speak
in paraphrase reduce him
to monologue of sin. Reduce him
to king. (I felt so sure
he’d told them what to say.)
Call me whore, my daughter
little better.
Open burns too fresh the scars
the way he wrapped me, naked,
wife, more pure
than I’d ever been, up in
muslin just before they came
for him. Beside the story
is another one to tell
and it is fading, ours

*
*

Living Involves a Gesture / by Silvia Bonilla

doll anecdotes 

During her ten minutes,
she faithfully closed her eyes
and took hold of the face
with surprise asceticism. She laid
her down then pressed her stomach
to bring out the feathery joy
of her laugh, pitched high,
only to die seconds later
in a quieter gargle. When she couldn’t
make her cry, she went on
to cut her hair short.

*
*

* * * / by Deborah Brandon

DB24

*
*

Being Called a Faggot While Walking the Road to Clemson, South Carolina / by D. Gilson

The honeysuckle dew slick
& sweet this morning

& only an empty Wendy’s cup
thrown to ditch &

the truck passing
(& it is almost always

a truck) slows just
to roll down

the window & o
I wish they could smell

this & o I wish
I could quit

them driving
so fast & missing

this honeysuckle, so sweet
with dew this morning.

*
*

Saisen / by Will Johnston

The backs of my hands are still damp
from ablution, like that old trick
to determine the direction of the wind

with a wetted finger. I drop a coin.
It slips between the grate, slides
down the sloping inside of the box

and disappears with the click
of plastic money.
I bow twice, clap twice, bow once.

A breeze stirs the leaves
and paper fortunes. Which way
is it coming from?

I leave possessing nothing I lacked,
less only a coin
so insignificant it floats on water,

a trifle for Kannon.
It won’t buy her anything,
won’t do me any good to keep it.

*
*

They Say Those Woods Are Haunted Now / by Amy Miller

because some stonehead kid tripped
or dreamed of a whitehood ninja
who moved so fast
nobody saw him break
those bottles of Moosehead
but there they were, broken

or maybe I left
a little blondhead spirit
behind on the rough bark
of some September night
the dope the love
mosquitos partaking
the smoking softhead
conversation. I remember

your shoulder, my hand
stealing under and then
that ghost, its lighthead
swoonback flight, I saw it
slip, my mouth to yours
then back. We left
in the raindark woods
a small luminescence. For years
it lingered on everything
I touched.

*
*

Asheville, 1936 / by Amy Schreibman Walter

She awoke one morning to find she had become Zelda
Fitzgerald. A beaded headpiece, little silver jewels
falling into her eyes, over her tangled blond hair.
On her feet, yellow leather shoes, straps tied
tightly around her petite ankles. And her dress! A gold
that shimmered when she walked- a shining flapper dress
revealing knees bruised red like fresh cherries, a large
birthmark on her right calf shaped like Manhattan. Her shoes
were wet. There had been a fountain last night – always,
there were fountains. She walked from the bed to the mirror.
She noticed black on her cheeks, some kind of mascara, eyeliner,
or maybe just dirt. She wondered if she’d been crying, wondered
where Scott was. There were locks on the windows.
Was this a hospital? She breathed onto the window glass, watched
it heat, wrote her name in lower case letters, traced around it,
erased it.The lawn outside had no snow; seemed like it could stretch
all the way back home to Alabama. There was music suddenly,
a waltz. She began to dance around the room, smiling, catching
glimpses of herself in the mirror, hands clasped in the hands of a man
who wasn’t there, her feet side stepping, front, back, front, back
and a twirl. In a moment a key in the door, a nurse in a white starched
cotton dress, carrying sheets.

*
*

Day 23 / Poems 23

*

Carousel Horse, Athena, Oregon / by Shaindel Beers

I used to go around and around in a park.
Mirrors reflected flashing lights, fists
sticky with cotton candy held my reins.
Small thighs gripped my brown saddle
while squeals of joy pierced my plastic ears.
Sometimes a toddler who fell in love with me
clung to my mane and had to be ripped away
whimpering to the sound of tinny calliope
music. Each time I stopped spinning, my
last rider gone away, I waited to hear, I want 
the white one! My heart burst with joy,
pretend plastic thing though it was. Once
a girl named me; she leaned forward
over my neck and whispered, Your name 
is Angel; I am making you real. Then,
she went away forever. After years
of being packed from carnival to carnival,
I was sold at an auction of sad unwanted things—
barber chairs and cast iron planters, shoe shine
stands, large items of a life past that
no one knows what to do with. Bought
on a whim, delicious reminder of childhood
memories, almost a secret, I sit on the roof
of Bill Ezell Construction on Main Street,
watching over the sleepy town nestled
in wheat fields. No longer moving, no longer
squealed over or loved in any tangible
way, I am stationary. Bolted to the top
of the building, visible only at an odd angle
to those leaving the library. No longer a creator
of joy, just of wonder, curiosity, impractical
weathervane always facing North. Sometimes
I pretend the breeze is the girl’s breath.

*
*

Communion / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Cavernous and bruised and all arranged, crackling whites
and patent leather of the day, stinging smoke like opium,

wafer, sickly savor of the wine, pale cadaver, mystery of innocence
betrayed, kings and lepers, the giving of a name.  Arbiters

of sin: I saw the pictures at my skull, dove into what they said was hell,
feathers of the damned around my face.  Rhythms of the placid hymns.

*
*

* * * / by Deborah Brandon

 DB23

*
*

She Remembers No Name / by Silvia Bonilla

The doll was expensive! They were allowed
ten minutes with her in the moss-scented
family room. She grew on a plastic bottle.
What they did with her
was their own little secret. Blond hair cascading
beyond her waist, perpetual like charity.
In a house given-up on itself. Windows, a lit up spirit.
Her sister had a name for them.

*
*

What I Did Instead of Going to My Brother’s Funeral / by D. Gilson

Watched a marathon of Green Acres.
Conducted an extensive Internet search

yielding some boy’s 4H project,
“Your Life With a Pet Pig.”

Cleaned out the kitchen junk drawer.
Doodled on expired Chinese take-out

menus. Checked the deadbolt lock.
Checked the deadbolt lock again.

Flipped through my mother’s Redbooks.
Passed quickly over May, June, July.

Passed slowly over August & September.
Bent time. Failed to bend him back

to life. Boiled macaroni on the stove.
Mixed milk & cheese powder in a bowl.

*
*

Objectively / by Will Johnston

What is natural? We build cities
out of metal, synthesize from oil
everything that we could need,

short-circuit ecosystems, tinker in DNA,
but all of this was here when we arrived.
We never invented matter, never had anything
the Earth did not provide us.

And the Earth goes right on spinning,
regards each city as we might a callus,
will still be swallowed someday by the sun.

We, after millennia, are still dazed
to have been born so far from Africa,
but the Earth is never surprised by her children.

There are Jewish cemeteries in Yokohama
and the Earth does not think it odd.

*
*

Geode / by Amy Miller

sawn in half
like a plastic heart
purple chamber
bed of nails
or the inside
of a cat’s ear
convoluted lyre
satin rocks air rushes
over
clean
but this was sealed
the old egg
barnacled by time
the empty vault
grown in
light smashed
on its open edge
what
a city
a field of still
stone flowers

*
*

Mamah Borthwick Cheney, 1909 / by Amy Schreibman Walter

In Berlin you write your children letters

you see them in the faces of German children

they play on suburban lawns across the Atlantic
several thousand suburbs away.

In Berlin you write your children letters
in cafes, in guesthouses in winter

in your new fur coat.

Your lover holds your hand when you
walk along Kurferstendamm
when you enter the little guesthouse

He conceived of your great
American house -
whispers in your ear
in the parlor
in the hallway

And your husband

he waits for your return
inside such tall walls

you are a mother a wife a mother a wife –
a lover –

And your husband

he paces the rooms while your
little children dance across
great open floors, look from
simple windows to the lawn

You are an outcast to them -
you are not his – not really. His wife
writes you letters, she tells the neighbors.

In Berlin you write your children letters.

*
*

Upstream, Late July  /  by 30/30 July 2014 writers

Leaves fall to river,
small yellow boats floating west
seeking the ocean.

Osprey follows, holding fish.
Flights toward night on water, wind.

What moves and what will
not move press each other, soon
knowing each marvel

fights against river against boat against
fish, too, sloping wild upstream
to spawn. What west

resists, what water forges
under muscle? Far
lightning walks and clouds rebuild

gently under oath.
Night skies know of everything.
Leaves rest on water.

Stanza 1 by Shaindel Beers
Stanza 2 by Nancy Bevilaqua
Stanza 3 by Deborah Brandon
Stanza 4 by D. Gilson
Stanza 5 by Amy Miller
Stanza 6 by Amy Schreibman Walter

*
*

Day 22 / Poems 22

*

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 / by Shaindel Beers

Mothers nursed infants on the ascent to protect
their tiny ears from the changing air pressure.

Children scribbled bright pictures in crayon.
Some kicked the seats in front of them.

Parents shrugged and smiled, embarrassed
by the annoyances of traveling with children.

A girl clutched her Dora the Explorer, whined
Why is it so cold? When will we be there?

Her mother soothed, Soon, tucked the blanket
around her, put in her earphones, leaned back

to try to get some sleep. Fathers played games
on tablets, helped time pass with trains, shapes,

and colors, then opened their magazines.
Grandparents shushed, Go to sleep. When 

you wake up, we’ll be there. Eighty children
on board, the spots where their bodies fell

marked with white flags, adults’ remains
marked with red. The irony of the sunflowers

bowing above them. The old story of Icarus
falling from sky.

*
*

Jose, Outside the Lunch Program / by Nancy Bevilaqua

First in his eyes and later something shone
a moment in the shadow of St. Matthews.
(Reticence habitual, clouds inside his mouth,
small horizon shrinking back
beside the alcove with a cigarette.
Too tired to play the badass now.)
His eyes gone dark. (Come outside with me.
Please.) Church hovers like a photograph of God
and something says he’s too far off.

I have the AIDS. Not the first time I’ve heard it
phrased like that (he almost looks like him).
How he shifts the weight
to me; he knows that he will not get free
and that it won’t be long. I’ve seen him dive
the cross-streets, he and Bobby
gathering the weekly cans. (Streets to swallow
all the lonely days you spent along the waterfront—
your loneliness, how did it seem?)

Hot nights up on Washington and one more gone.
I heard they took his jacket; someone pulled a knife
(your life spliced up and furtive) but Bobby says
they lie, it’s just the AIDS that got him.

But see, Bobby still has to get those cans
into the city every Tuesday. Sympathy
will buy you nothing in this tunnel world
and wagers made come up too fast. He’s dropped out
and scanned the sky and got his ride and nights
of simple peace. (I loved you as I’ve loved them all:
some of us remember how it was.)

*
*

DB22

*
*

She Plays / by Silvia Bonilla

While Nina Simone goes on…
I’m going to put a spell on you!
The room is dark and Madonna is
breeding a music of her own. She is thinking
of the butcher and his blood-stroked apron. The rib-
bones in paper laid on the scale, weighed a pound
and a half. O to have gone with him to the apartment
that moping night. To watch him suck the tiny bones.

*
*

After Swearing I Would Never, Sonnet With Dog / by D. Gilson

In the hours before dawn, heaven hides
nothing from our view: lightning strikes an oak
across the street, crashes limbs to a neighbor’s
Toyota as Milton rushes bedside from crate.

John says, Hail holy light, offspring of heaven.
Milton says, Fuck that, and shakes so hard
I build us a pallet on the floor, hold him until
shake turns to sleep: plaintive basset snore.

Was Mark drunk when he wrote sonnets
in the voice of a dog? Were we all drunk
when we thought him so clever, all bow-
-wow, bow-wow & woof? Onomatopoeia

for a Pulitzer? No more talk of God, please,
no more lightning. Quiet, Milton & I sleep.

*
*

1862 / by Will Johnston

This is the secret history,
gagged with grass.

You don’t want to know
and they won’t teach, but come,

I will make you a Cassandra—
for who among the living

will believe you?—an Orpheus,
cooing to the dead.

Come, the children in their unmarked graves
want to tell you another story.

The blood jelled in your spongy flesh
belonged to them.

*
*

OR-7 Crosses the State Line, Becoming 
the First Wolf in California Since 1924  /  by Amy Miller

This was all timber.
That mountain’s changed.
People tied their horses
in front of that market.
They’d whoop and howl
and hunt and fish out
bottles of beer cold
from the river. Plucked buckshot
from their dinner. Hammered
and felled, rutted deep
the new log skids
from all the dragging.
Sometimes you’d see a man
stop on a slope, look down
at the big clawed tracks
in the mud. Sometimes
he’d walk away bristled
like an animal in the sights—
look right, look left,
belly pulled in hard
as a nut, leaf snap, breath
of something watching.

*
*

Dear Handsome Poet, / by Amy Schreibman Walter

I’ve heard it said that your poetry
persuades women – apparently
they hear you read your work and
they want to take their clothes off.
Apparently, you have some talent.
But if I picked up an audio book of you
reading your poems, I doubt I would
feel the way they do. I have better things
to do. I should be reading important poets,
people I could really learn from,
people I could really admire.

Some say you are a powerhouse
between the sheets. People talk about
your eyes, how they take liberties.
I’ve heard that a look from you can make
a woman weak in the knees. Supposedly,
you can take my breath away. I want to
let you know that I’m so bored
by the stories I hear about you. I’m
especially bored by your curly hair,
and by the idea of running my fingers
through it.

I’ve never read any of your work,
I’ve never kept it by my bed, I’ve
never let it cheer me when I’m low
or console me when I’m sad. I’ve never
watched you in any videos online
and I’m doing an absolutely fine job
of forgetting about the times when
I met you. I’ve almost forgotten
about that last time running into you
at the reading when you asked for my
number; told me if I wouldn’t give
it to you that you would get it
from my friend, told me you have ways.
I’ve almost forgotten all about that.

Really, I’m tired of hearing about your
poetry. I have no interest in your poetry.
I don’t want to read your poetry, and
I certainly don’t want to hear you
read your poetry. So that we’re
on the same page, I think you should
know that I hate the idea of running
my fingers through your hair. I don’t
want you to ever look in my eyes again
and, most importantly, I don’t want you
between my sheets.

Yours,
Amy

*
*

Day 21 / Poems 21

*

Wonder Woman’s Lament / by Shaindel Beers

I wonder if Superman realizes
how hard it is to run in a bustier,
especially a metal one. When I’m chasing
after The Cheetah, my hands slicing through
air in a sprint, the gold chafes my biceps.
If I don’t catch her fast enough,
I eventually have lacerations
on the undersides of both arms.
I know this is just part of being stacked,
but who designed this damned costume?

And let’s not talk about my thighs. Sure,
they’re powerful. It’s not like I want to change
the way I’ve been drawn, but why can’t I
have some goddamned Lycra tights like everyone
else? Sometimes I wonder if I run fast enough,
and forget to BodyGlide® my thighs, if I might
just burst into flame. I’m not even going
to get into what that smartass Aquaman said
about that.

And the multiple back storylines?
Whether I was born on Paradise Island
and switched identities with Army nurse
Diana Prince or if my powers came from
the gods’ blessings, beautiful as Aphrodite,
wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules,
and swifter than Mercury, or whether I was formed
from clay then raised as an orphan in NYC,
it seems that a woman can never reinvent herself
too many times. As for whether or not
I ever married Captain Steve Trevor, I have
this to say, Dear Reader: I rescued him.

*
*

On the Balcony, Looking East / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Fervid light: far off, the storm is led away.
In the pool tourists frame conditions
for a riot, or squat on lawns directing
how the turtles walk, let their children love
the sea-things caught too close to shore
to death. Snakes behind the dunes
do what they will. Moths bat themselves against
the sliding door all night, profoundly tuned
to something in the atmosphere.

Better if I said, I have no stake in anything.
Better if I go back in, stand back
and let the bodies pass. Better that I write
about the tricky play of light behind the storm.
I want to be a harbor. I want to let the bodies
speak. I am not your real American.
I am useless with a map.
I am sleeping with the dead.
At night I hear their songs
transcribed in waves along the ground.

*
*

Dress / by Silvia Bonilla

Cellar black.
He scarcely lifts his head,
fucking gorgeous! Wed in the
silence of her new breasts.
Madonna listens to the buzzing
of her uneven thoughts, voices down
at the dive. Bottles and jugs
and a sun like a red hive. He holds
words in both hands, beginning
to send off his strained self.

*
*

DB21

*
*

Growing Pains / by D. Gilson

Clemson, South Carolina

The First Baptist Church sign flashes neon
to no one – Open 24/7 Online! – as I stalk up
Tiger Boulevard, deserted, to Starbucks. Cue
my childhood fear, reading Left Behind & the house
gone suddenly still, everyone raptured except for me.
In 2001, Kirk Cameron stared in the film adaptation
as Buck Williams, a journalist left behind at the rapture
& founding member of the Tribulation Force. Cue
my childhood queered, this Sunday fantasy of rapture
& Cameron finding me. Taking me behind the strip mall,
burnt out Schlotzsky’s Deli & Tiger Pride Tanning Salon.
Brandishing rope, tying me to the scorched blue dumpster,
repopulating an earth the others left behind with my womb.

*
*

Waiting for a Letter / by Will Johnston

The clock disappears so many things,
but doesn’t always do so evenly.
It leaves traces, vanishes half a love
but leaves one hand extended
into darkness, partnerless.
It seeds reminders in our waking
or fossilized within us, like the circuit in the brain
that lights up when I hear your name.

I’m walking on teacups, afraid
of everything I said,
waiting for my castles in the air
to come crashing back to ground.

*
*

Song at Ashland and Tolman Creek / by Amy Miller

He’s gonna lay his belly down
gonna set it on the ground
where this dirt
hot earth
fans its little manageable flame

He had a hurt that he forgot
drowned it in a forget-me-not
bent wing
old sting
soaked it in a sunburned day

The trees trade songs of limbs and saws
nod and rustle that all is lost
hold the jay
still say
birds love and leave us every hour

He’s gonna stay while the shadows walk
wait for the stars with their turn-on talk
midnight show
streetlight glow
while the suicide leaves fall quiet

*
*

Grammar and Affirmations / by Amy Schreibman Walter

In a nostalgic mood, I think of you in generous superlatives.
You were the loveliest, kindest and most thoughtful boyfriend.

In an unforgiving mood, I think of you in negative superlatives.
You broke my heart the most. You were the worst.

Adverbs serve verbs well when it comes to you. You used to
gently stroke my hair when I was waking up in the morning.

I shouldn’t start sentences with because or but. But because
I think I want to be with you again, I think of affirmations.

It’s like pulling at a rubber band on my wrist, a Pavlovian
kind of punishment. I repeat sentences to myself, over and over:

I am not your girlfriend.
You are not my boyfriend.
You are not my lover.
You are not EVEN my lover.
I am not your friend.
I cannot be your friend.
I am better off without you.
I am not going to call you.

We are past tense, non-perfect. Yet you sent me an email today:
full of questions, full of ellipses.

I hear from you again and it makes me want to mix the past,
present and future together. Does that break too many rules?

Love, love, lover, loving, loved. We were almost a list that kept
going; we were almost a paragraph. I loved you the best.

*
*

Day 20 / Poems 20

*

Cost-Benefit Analysis / by Shaindel Beers

How many Palestinian children does it take
to equal one Israeli husband?

How many black women will go missing
in the time we spend searching for one blonde
suburban housewife?

How many troops would you be comfortable deploying
for $3 per gallon gasoline? $2.50? How many caribou
should be harmed for us to drill in the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge? What about drilling
offshore? Would you like a side of petroleum
with your shrimp and grits? How about some
dead aquatic birds? Blown up oil workers?

Do you even understand the questions I am asking you?

I know that wor(l)d problems are hard. I’ve never
liked math myself. Math intermixed with language
seems especially problematic. Ha! Ha! See what
I did there?

Back before the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010
if Jamal was caught with 28 grams of crack,
how much cocaine would his attorney Chad
need to be caught with to be handed the same
sentence? Hint: The ratio is 100:1.
Hint: This is also assuming any attorney
named Chad would ever do time.

After the Fair Sentencing Act, the ratio
was reduced to 18:1. Does this sound fair
to you? I am not so good with numbers,
as I have said, but 1:1 sounds fair to me.
Who decides what is fair?

In this case, Congress. The average cost
of winning a House seat in 2010 was $1.4 million
dollars. The average cost of winning a Senate
seat, $8.9 million. I understand that you would
like “to make a difference.” You got your degrees
in “public policy.” Maybe someday you
will get to teach students about these injustices;
maybe some of them will care. Maybe some of them
might still be able to read after what
we’ve done to the education system
in this country. Maybe you should have
planned to be born into a rich family
if you wanted to be someone.

*
*

Mohammed, Mohammed, Ahed, Zakaria / by Nancy Bevilaqua

“all cousins…scrawny fishermen’s kids…”
–William Booth, Washington Post

1.
Sea haze fresh and fish drop in exploding tumbles
from the open sieve of sky. A kind of burning beauty
for birds who have a way to fly. Numberless assailants.
Umi, Abba. (We will find them for you. Insha’ Allah,
you will not die. Please, walid, you must not die.).

2.
Perhaps because we spoke too much
about the water siphoned off for someone’s lawn.
My little ones are wrapped up in the blankets
of a thirsty god, pale-eyed, breathless, gone.
Music starts to break through on the radio again.
The sun will spoil the fish
resting on the soiled beach. Dinner set out, rugs,
plates and glasses lined up on the floor.
We got the bread this morning but nothing’s
fit to eat. Their spirits are the speakers in the mind
that live forever. Their blankets are their uniforms.
Grieve for them. They have no feathers any more.

*
*

Morning to Midnight / by Silvia Bonilla

She buys her coffee
black from the truck
where women braid
each other’s hair quickly,
trapping some art in the
movement. A grace, contained
in the middle of a down-washed
morning and a construction site, shivers
beneath her skin. Coffee warm in her
her hand, a rattle meditation for its
dollar warmth.

*
*

DB20

*
*

Pantoum: Mother & Son / by D. Gilson

I.

Myth of 1967: my brother born
because a condom broke
in the back of late model Ford
on prom night. My lineage, cliché,

II.

because a condom broke
when I returned to my ex.
Now I retroviral for a fortnight
as my mother undergoes chemo,

III.

says, When I returned to my ex
it was for the sex, obviously,
over the phone from her hospital
bed. I’m crying, of course,

IV.

and it was for the sex, obviously,
though I knew better. I should always
listen to you, I whisper to her on
my cellphone, contraband in the clinic.

*
*

The Deal / by Will Johnston

Where thou shalt hear the desperate lamentations,
Shalt see the ancient spirits disconsolate,
Who cry out each one for the second death;

And thou shalt see those who contented are
Within the fire

The Inferno, Dante Alighieri, Canto I
trans. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Start with a quote from Dante:
“the shrieks, the plaints, and the laments”
that echo in the vaulted halls

and from every alcove, the howls
that realign your inner ear,
that grate the tiny chips of bone together,

that needle through to the brain
and only push deeper, and Satan
in his malefic glee presiding

like a ringleader over the whole scene.
And close around him are the souls
that he’s assembled, the dupes

and wheedlers, the barterers at crossroads,
the ones who swapped eternity
for fame and gifts, and thought it fair:

Paganini, enraptured by variations
over variations, weaving them endlessly
and endlessly mutable,

and Tommy Johnson has
all the suffering in the world
to weep through his guitar now,

and imagine the sound in the cavern
is not the shrieking but Tartini’s
Devil’s Trill, wavering

between a hellish revel and lament,
then bursting out in sunshine again
like witching weather passing over

in a green sky, and we can already see
that Dante got it wrong.
Hell’s gonna sound good.

*
*

Wolf OR-7 Passes the Site Where a Bounty Hunter
Killed Oregon’s Last Wolf in 1946 / by Amy Miller

Who’s to say a bell
ever stops ringing?
The air is moved and air
has memory. The things
it hears: a bullet
shattering sound, the bone’s bark
riven. Echo and wave,
a round bowl rung forever.
And scent—triggers
and flash, 280 million
receptors set mysteriously
waving. Buried
in the bog of an old
pine slough that feeds
the Umpqua, fine
scrapings, iron stain
a trunk still tries
to hide. A fleck.
An atom. A gash.

*
*

12320 NW 29th Place / by Amy Schreibman Walter

Lizards climb concrete
Sprinklers turn circles
Pipes trickle water
Water wastes on grass
Paint drips from houses
Crickets chirp, tone deaf
Concrete burns under feet
Butterflies drink in
Butterflies fly on
Mailboxes raise flags
Mosquitos bite legs
Mailman wears blue shorts
Mailbox doors slam shut
Banyan trees touch palms
Air-con hums, rattles
T.V warns of storms
Thunder cues countdown
Candles found, flashlights
Lightning crosses sky
Leaves jostle in air
Rain falls on metal
Dirty cars come clean
Patio mesh rips
Garage door rattles
Pool water gurgles
Red ants soldier on

*
*

Day 19 / Poems 19

*

Nature Meditation / by Shaindel Beers

The split lips
of the milkweed pod
blow kisses of silk,

filament of God
to the wind.
Spiky husk—

Tiny porcupine—
Mini gourd burst
with silken spiders

made of their own webs.
Little travelers—
Seed parachute—

Shrunken head with wild hair.
Tiny grandfather
journeying on air.

*
*

Port Authority (Back Entrance), c. 1971 / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Tell me if the girl who held the pigeons underfoot was talking to her God
or just felt left aside, the stairway hot with inner braking, huff of buses
underground, fumes that would not carry to the suburbs. Maybe I was ten.

Mostly I had been caressed by drifts of normalcy, raised in white-child
sacristy, and then she undisturbed my innocence (as if I knew
a tired girl from a junkie). I thought she might be sick (she was). I wondered

why we didn’t stop (no one does). 9th Avenue symphony. Her fingers wrecked
beneath the shirt. She might have talked to me but see how tired we get of this;
there’s nothing left to give. (She’s starving but she’ll probably live.)

*
*

Afterwards / by Silvia Bonilla

Nothing can be extracted from
the shadowy faces as they meet
clean air. 5:am at The Quail
girls write their plans for the future
on bar napkins.This light makes
everything.

*
*

* * * / by Deborah Brandon

true, the rampant atmosphere
nose down and minding
blooms & blisters children

the road interferes
a populace with cold sores, heaven
journeys to the middle of walmart

it seems so wrong how far the salt travels
and then one day, for years,
sun at high hell noon is the reason.
for a blip on the lake,
for moss-rinked stones

*
*

On the Day My Sister & I Fight Over our Parents’ Power of Attorney / by D. Gilson

The fence crawls with vine
creep, wisteria heavy & thick
with bees, some horseflies.

The dog pisses on the linoleum,
laps at my feet & looks,
I’m sorry I don’t not always know

what I am doing. The coffee
was especially bright
this morning, praise that,

& over lunch, the episode
of House Hunters
I haven’t seen. Praise

the buyers who choose
the right house. Praise
the rare & small thing.

We may grow annoyed
with our extreme reactions
to external events

as the spontaneous Aries
Moon connects with electric
Uranus this morning,

my horoscope reads &
though I do not believe it,
praise my sister,

cold moon to my fiery sun,
the dial tone beep &
learning to shut up.

[after Ed Madden]

*
*

Future Museum / by Will Johnston

This is not some expo
of whizzing electrodynamicals,
sustainables, robotics,
no “world of tomorrow”.
This is a somber stela, etched
in stone and metal:

We will destroy ourselves.
We know this already. We will want
to have remembered that.

*
*

Wolf OR-7 Shares a Carcass with Coyotes / by Amy Miller

Uneasy. Torn, contentious
brothers not brothers.
Who are we but stars
of our own wilderness?
There was baring and approach,
thrust, feign, a show
of who had the upper hand.
Then reversal. I forget
who won. That taste—
something so long dead
and needles of hunger so hot
that I have to say
it was paradise, that mouthful
ripped in the presence
of who cares who,
their eyes hard on me
and waiting their turn.

*
*

nw 23rd st / by Amy Schreibman Walter

noisy menagerie
brown pebbles
in the driveway
empty driveway
empty garage
there is no car

it’s not in the garage
don’t go in the garage
there’s a ghost
everything is still
everything is flat
everything is quiet

hear the screams
dive in the water
turquoise tankinis
submerge
touch the concrete

get the prizes
prizes on the floor
dive to the bottom
dive down
there are rings

behind the house
shadows fall
across hot cement
behind wet bathing suits
hung out to dry

sun is setting
across the lawn
across the driveway
over the house
over the streets
children ride bikes
home to their mothers
and fathers
sun is setting
noisy menagerie
brown pebbles
in the driveway

*
*

Day 18 / Poems 18

*

Weekend on the Deschutes / by Shaindel Beers

I pulled the salmon out of the river as the setting sun
played topaz and ultramarine on the waves.

I wasn’t brave enough to club her with nearby driftwood
or bash her into a rock.

I knew I couldn’t split open her mauve belly,
nor peel back the skin like peeling a pear for canning.

Instead, I stood back on the shoreline in the shade of a tree,
concentrated on the petals of a thistle,

while he let her eggs spill into a container to use as bait
the next day. I even ignored the russet stains on his shirt.

But I did eat her meat, smoked with honey and teriyaki,
served with cream cheese on wheat crackers.

Why does it bother me that I am so delicate?
Does it mean I will never feel the freedom of being alone?

*
*

Survive / by Nancy Bevilaqua

City was my movie, was my love and now
it’s just another line to wait in, studs of washed-up
music in the heart and that’s the way the concert
ends. At Bowery, St. Marks, shops now closed
to memory, but there is back when Corso showed
at open readings, loud and dark, swollen,
sitting on the floor, and I’m some snipe in tights,
a dabbler, starts on cocktails before noon, types
sonnets on onionskin, still picks
at her father’s bones. That was ‘87. Five years on

softly planted angels had been carried off
in daily scores, harvested in hundreds, sacred
after all. Curfew: feasted, fasted
then returned and it was just as wretched as it sounds.
Corso at the clinic on East Broadway; I leave work
as he goes in. Every sparrow junkie is a quiver
at my recent scar. I seem to have been lucky then,
or something cared to let me live.

*
*

Furniture Medic / by Silvia Bonilla

She watches him pull the arm
off the sofa, then on its legs,
the old trick of rubbing a walnut
over its scratches.

Music’s warning,
Henry Purcell’s Ditto,
above the scraps of
fantasia.

*
*

* * * / by Deborah Brandon

mother opens the crèche
outside the harbor
the hinge the tiny pieces of wood

hum a tide to the marsh
just in fact my hands.
the school bus.

washing the village
rode to the quarry
in the cardboard light

veered along the dirt
(i was) broken down
for recycling, a layer of gypsum

crushing (beneath) my feet.
a story not too long ago
and then

and maybe we will
and maybe we will tell this
story,,,, calyx in an ice cape.

*
*

Sears Portrait in the Age of Bankruptcy / by D. Gilson

In the yellow summer short set, Osh Kosh B’gosh,
I do not remember the fight my parents

are having, my father yelling at my mother
over the $19.50 portrait package but also,

Smile, son, smile! Did I think they were playing
some game? Am I reaching, limp-wristed,

for my mother, who is crying now? Who clinches
her teeth, No, my love, look at the camera.

*
*

Cigarette / by Will Johnston

His hands sat in his lap
like sleeping animals
disobedient to him,

fingers unmoving, swollen
with stagnant blood, skin wrapped
too tightly around swamps of flesh.

I could feel the skin
of my own hands tighten,
shiny and sanguine,

from his contagion
until they split like stretched fabric—
the horror!—as I eased

the pack from his shirt pocket,
finger bones sliding into place,
pinching precisely as chopsticks.

I fed him the cigarette.
I tipped the lighter
to his lips.

My hand
and the flame trembled.

*
*

Wolf OR-7 Fathers Two Pups / by Amy Miller

Used to be such a sheep killer.
Used to howl all hours and stalk
the flash-flood gullies. Drank
some crazy moonlight alone. Now
this invisible tether, small cries,
damp tang, defensible den. To say
they wear off your sharp edges
presumes they have powers
more than tumble and claw.
And maybe they do, their ears
knowing my chuff and step,
imprinted with a joy that only
the end of hunger makes.
To think I once called
and a hundred miles of no one
would answer.

*
*

Borough Market / by Amy Schreibman Walter

Brits drink at wooden tables, laughing
in button-down shirts, white and blue,
oblivious to the wide angle lens of a Japanese
tourist. She stands on tiptoes to get the best
shot, then slips her head into a Victorian flower
girl cut-out, unsmiling, while another takes
her photo. Mourners shuffle out of Southwark
Cathedral; red eyes. Bells toll with a surprising
boldness. Smell of Polish sausages, horse dung.
In a steakhouse called Black and Blue, queues shuffle
out the door; sunburned women wave fans made
of Metro newspapers. Cobwebs cross Victorian green
tiles. Wheelbarrows bear English apples from East
Sussex. Gingerbread men sit smiling, in a crate
labeled Hot Ginger Boys: Gluten, Wheat, Dairy Free.

*
*

Day 17 / Poems 17

*

The Scientist Explains Attraction / by Shaindel Beers

She runs her fingers over shelves of amber bottles –
Bergamot, Clary Sage, Eucalyptus, Frankincense,
talks of how we used to meet in the darkness
of woods. How the smells of forests and fern
surrounded our meeting, our mating, the mystery
of man and woman. Even today, Fougère, fern-like,
is the base of men’s colognes. Oak moss, lavender,
coumarin. Our bodies still speak the language
of plant odors in the limbic system.
The synthetics, we process as poison.
It takes three generations for a scent to become
part of the lexicon of the body, until then
it is an invader, allergen, hormone-disruptor.
She hypothesizes what scents will attract us
in the future – bubblegum, coffee?
Through tests she has discovered that some scents
that arouse us are a molecule away from
the artificial flavor used in banana slushees.
I think of men I’ve seen sniffing new tires
in the mechanic’s shop, my friend who breathed
in deep every time we drove through road
construction, sighing, “I love the smell of tar.”
I think of carcinogen as aphrodisiac, the way
sex and cigarette can become associated
and then just as easily, not. I wonder at this
evolution of the body, try to imagine years
from now, what we will become.

*
*

Transit (LES, 1989) / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Pigeons and the spikes to drive them off.
Sick men sleeping in the heart. (Tall one in a bag.
Bodega’s always open, lit, someone looking on.
The fucking cough. Three more cigarettes
to hold you until dawn and 60 milligrams
of methadone.) Summer: skull of subway art,
spread yourself against the wall it’s almost cool
beside the fan. Turnstiles heavy, unforgiving
(go under if you can I’ll watch for you).

Craters of some stranger’s eyes. Contagion
from the blood and lips of those you loved
(however long it breaks my skin I’ll let you in).

Winter: buses run in snow between meridians
and guess how slowly they can go with someone
underneath. Cremation at the steps outside the church:
there’s dust and hallelujah at the last door open
for the night. Purchase tickets at the gate
with whatever you’ve got left, if anything.

*
*

Their Beauty Will Go Forever / by Silvia Bonilla

Precious surge
of blood,

Madonna’s
pot of pink,

ample in
their fullness

lambent new breasts,
splitting at

their summit.

*
*

Snare / by Deborah Brandon

ice clouds loaded with chains
ascend the mountain.
snow screaming into the scars of trees

how long
your choice
holds its delicate body against yours

coming to knots
i burn a yellow dress
to better see my hands
in the snow-lit house

. this, the currency of injuries
. this, the slow river churning ice to thaw

i got into the boat to be rowed across
to happily traipse into shadowhood,
my sister billowing behind me
over the alps

your choice
is happy to long for you

*
*

At The Cheesecake Factory, Britney Forgoes Cheesecake / by D. Gilson

& reads The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton
(Houghton Mifflin, 1981) broken by draws of cheap
iced tea, Sweet-N’-Low’ed and in need of refilling.

At The Cheesecake Factory, What do you think
of this? Britney asks her bodyguard, lines stolen
for a new song, “Her Kind.” She sings, I have ridden

in your cart, driver, waved my nude arms.
I am a survivor & now a woman, wiser, sipping
martinis in a Lamborghini. I am this kind.

The bodyguard grabs Anne & touches Britney’s
hand, I’ll go pay. Britney shrugs & her bodyguard
lugs Anne to the men’s room, trashcanned.

The headline will read: BRITNEY DOESN’T PAY:
Pop Princess Dashes & Dines $30 bill.
But she didn’t have cheesecake. Just iced tea,

artichoke dip & a salad. Nobody will remember
the poet, just the punch line to a joke beginning Britney
reads Anne Sexton at The Cheesecake Factory

& nobody pays for lunch.

(For Dustin)

*
*

Peach Garden Oath / by Will Johnston

A wind composed of a thousand plucking hands
gambols above the reedy river,
ordering and scattering again the leaves

close around us. We are a changeful chorus,
each with their appointed note.
The world could be eternal for us now,

but if we will not last the spring, we hereby vow
to die the selfsame day.

*
*

trilobite / by Amy Miller

what pressed its face
to rock
what walked
a slimebed
sunbent in acid
ocean
traced
in clay a child’s
hand
a tray
of paint
then moved
the undulant
fingers
schoolroom in a box
of time
strata
of rust
here, wash off
this red
in a square
steel sink
its welded edge
eaten fine
slowly
iron/oxygen
can you already
feel
little hands
the layers
of air
closing in?
what wonders
and monsters
when they
break
a rock
and find us

*
*

You Don’t Look Like a Florida Girl / by Amy Schreibman Walter

The guy at the party says I look more like maybe French
or Italian. He doesn’t know: I fill my home with lamps
because the light in England is not bright enough.
Florida Orange Juice sits in my fridge, pulpy. I can’t
get enough sunshine; I’m a junkie for the dopamine.
I’m reading a book called Swamplandia. I don’t know
how to drive a car anymore, which makes me feel
that I’m down a life skill. I know the difference between
Winn Dixie and Publix, between Dade and Broward.
I’ve seen a leathery man have a heart attack in a pool.
I know how to play shuffleboard. I’ve tasted alligator
more than once. I have an opinion about Hooters.
I own several pieces of jewelry made by Seminoles.
I remember Miami Airport before air conditioning.
I choose Sizzler over Ponderosa. I remember Adam Walsh.
I can name three South Florida retirement communities,
two assisted living facilities. I have a connection with turquoise
and hot pink. I’ve seen more accidents than I can even recall
on the I-95. I’ve almost died on the I-95. I’ve eaten more
Early Bird Special meals than I care to remember. I see
Tuna Fish Club Sandwich on a menu and I’m transported back
to a place where there are golf carts and little flags
in my food. I know what it looks like on the other side
of the tracks. Childhood vacations were Orlando. I remember
when they built Epcot. I have Minnie Mouse ears somewhere.
I’ve been stuck in quicksand in the Everglades and sat in ant farms on
hot cement. I’ve collected my mail from a little box with a flag
on its side at the end of a crescent driveway. I lived in Sunrise before
Sawgrass Mills was even an idea. I bought milk at Farm Shops. I once
ran into Sly Stallone at Joe’s Stone Crab. I know what chlorine
tastes like. I watched Space Shuttle launches with my class instead
of doing math. I’ve known how to do a hurricane drill since I was four.
I’ve experienced blackouts, hurricanes, tornadoes. I think some parts
of the road from Miami to Key West are exquisite. I’ve petted the cats
in Hemingway’s house. I know that Miami is sinking.
I like the A-1A. I like the beach. I knew how to spell Peninsula and Lake
Okeechobee when I was in third grade. I’ve taken more than one ride
on an airboat and I know not just how to say Loxahatchee
but exactly where it is, and what it feels like to walk the wooden boards
through the Everglades with my grandmother.

*
*

Day 16 / Poems 16

*

White Republican Jesus Speaks to His Followers / by Shaindel Beers

Blessed are those who own 3,000 square foot
McMansions. But more blessed are those
who own 10,000 square foot golf course estates.
Most blessed are the corporations,
for the job creators shall inherit the profits.

Blessed are the widows and orphans
as long as they are white and speak English.
Still blessed are the widows and orphans
who are brown and speak broken English
as long as they will work off the books
as your bus boys, nannies, and gardeners,
for their employers shall inherit their savings.

Blessed are the soldiers while they are fighting
your oil wars, but not when they come home
because then they are veterans and cost
the Federal government much too much money
what with their asking for handouts.
They shall inherit nothing.

Blessed are the hedge fund managers
and the bankers. Blest be the gods of Wall Street.
Blessed are the Fox News commentators,
and the AM radio talk show hosts. Blest
be the anti-gay protesters who stand
spewing my hate at those who would
sully the sanctity of marriage. Blest
be the tax-cutters who would keep us
from Evil, for they shall “decrease” the deficit.

This I pray in the name of Lee Greenwood,
Benghazi, AR-15s, Chick-fil-A, red meat,
Hobby Lobby, and Ford F250s. Forever
and ever. Amen.

*
*

7A / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Unrelenting hum in dead of summer night, makeup run,
dress undone. Taxi and attenuated lights. Or slipped
up First, dawn an aching finger, stiff with rigor and the wind
so ragged I exist to blister into bed. The evening starting
early. Mirrors and wine. We are impudent and restive,
glimmer concubines, each of us Modigliani bar child
undulating silent in the glass, behind a carnival of bottlenecks,
urchin looking for a fair to star in, feeling the effects.
Tarnished at street level, rosy with the stains of youth. (Geeta,
for no reason, staring straight ahead, runs her hand
just once down the limp and silken feathers of my neck.)

*
*

Before the Bottle Runs Out / by Silvia Bonilla

The woman provokes rage,
a charred and hard rage.

Her tight ass points to suitors,
anticipating her waxed

lip movement. Hands on! Butter-scotch
whisky, flesh finally unchambered.

She tugs her dress down, sends a hand
to someone’s face, fusses with his hair.

There is no bright sunshine coming from
the Antrum,

this isn’t middle school, no recess

and no janitors lingering with
obscene thoughts,

and dry salmon-colored
faces for girls to drool upon.

Anyway, the man says
with a fraudulent gesture–

His face comes down on hers,

she farms a fever, for
the man’s eyes.

Head coming up to meet his,
asking for music.

*
*

this time, the wind / by Deborah Brandon

this time, hold down .
the divine heart rate

in early madness
soft as soda . no wrinkle

festoons on the tidal flat
violetted to froth.

inside the winter .
book show me your teeth.

boulders swell this now
. their toward
way & the locusts .

your fast fast pupils;
limbs of olive.

*
*

Query / by D. Gilson

Sometimes, the world is six times more vibrant that I have the patience for, every outline electric and multiplicitous.
Franny Choi

On the subway between Christopher
Street and 42nd, I want to ask
the man, Do you think you’ll regret
the lizard tattoo crawling up
the veiny right side of your neck?
But I don’t, remembering what Will,
annoyed, said to me earlier this week:
You ask too many damn questions.
Like Carrie to Aiden in season five
of Sex and the City, when they’ve just
moved in together and all Carrie wants
is to come home and line saltines
on the counter knifed with grape jelly.
But Aiden asks, How was your day?
so Carrie shrieks, Shutupshutupshutup!
When my gay friends watch this episode,
pained every day in small ways or big
by their own husbands, they nod
their heads, a nod that says, Carrie,
I get it, babe. This one goes out to all
the Aidens becuase maybe some
of us are just hungry. Like Destiny’s
Child asking, Question: tell me what
you think about me, I buy my own
diamonds and I buy my own rings.
I’ve always wanted to ask Beyonce,
How heavy the burden of backup singers?
When Will tells me, I don’t want to talk
to you every day, it is because I ask
too many questions anyway, I guess,
or he’s an asshole (sometimes) or both
(yes). In Breakfast at Tiffany’s George
Peppard tells Audrey Hepurn, I love you.
Audrey: So What? George: So what? So
plenty! So much wisdom in the movies,
but if you ask me (you didn’t) nobody
wants to hear it, which is sad because,
The bad stuff is easier to believe, Julia
Roberts says in Pretty Woman, asking,
You ever notice that? I’d like to thank Julia
for asking because yes, I do, every day
I ask this, which is maybe why I’m single
and asking annoying questions: Bryan,
why did you try to set me up with Seth
if you wanted to marry him? (hindsight
is twenty-twenty) Will, why are you like
my brothers who would want want want
and then one day just decide I do not want
you (me) anymore? (That’s neither fair
nor true by half) Mason, why did you turn out
to be straight? (Jesus dies for our sins)
Whitney, how will I know if he really loves
me? (Say a prayer) After seeing a picture
of me online, my mother calls to ask, Why
did you dye your hair blonde? I had been
in New York reading Frank O’Hara who
I always thought (though he’s like sixty
years dead) would be the greatest boyfriend.
Anyways, Frank dated only blondes
or African American men, and no, I don’t
think blackface is appropriate so I decide
to dye my hair blonde because even if Frank
was dead, I’d like to date a man like him.
Or do I? I ask my therapist in our last session
(because my therapist is now dating
this bisexual whom cheated on his girlfriend
with me last year). On the subway back
downtown from 42nd, I want to ask the woman
reading Little House on the Prairie, Why
are you reading that (first, and second)
do you think god exists? And because I don’t
pray anymore, I text Joshua instead
and ask him, Will you pray for me, friend?
Which is maybe the strangest question
I’ve ever asked anyone, though
not the most annoying, thank god.

*
*

Human Wave Tactics / by Will Johnston

A cloud gathers. Rain falls.
Men move in,

until the plain is crowded with conversation
and epiphanies and births.

They have been told it is wheat country
and that is what they plant.

In prehistoric times we learned to hunt
by tracking deer or antelope

forever, never hurrying,
loping patiently along while the animal darted

back and forth ahead of us
like an excited electron

seeking rest, but no sooner would it pause
than the pack of humans would reappear

at a steady trot,
and chase again until the frothing breast

lay down to die.
History has taught us

the general with the most flesh
between him and the enemy spears

does not always win, but only a witless commander
denies himself that edge.

How many wars have been won by men filing
down into the gun barrel of a tank?

Such durable hunters, such expendable prey!

And now the cosmos are unfolded
above us, sketching their secret equations

on a slate, and we go on playing
the only game we’ve ever played,

certain we can solve the universe
if only we can fill it up with us.

*
*

Weathermen / by Amy Miller

cicada’s a weatherman
calling on his weatherphone
hot hot water water hot

big fat thunderheads
turning down the flower beds
dumping on the Cascades now

geese on a weatherwind
pulling up their rolling pins
Vancouver maps in hand

redneck builder guy
F-350 hi-fi
sweat trickles down his door

kid on a swingset
limp as a towelette
wading pool sloshed all out

sun going downside
neighbor sneaking outside
suck that Kool cigarette

cricket’s a troubadour
scratching to his paramour
hot nag love nag love

fan blows ghosts around
scatters them in goose down
still they walk through dreams

*
*

The Green Table / by Amy Schreibman Walter

You brought Malbec in a Tesco bag,
searched the cupboard for wine
glasses. Setting the table, you
remarked: careful placement of objects
is required here, to prevent the accidental
suicides of plates, glasses, forks.

It is a funny kind of table. Too small
to hold all the accoutrements required
when two people sit at it together. Still
you always made room for the candelabra.
The table is the color of dying mint; it is
re-constructed wood, loose left leg.

Often, I think that this would be a good
table for writing, for just one person,
but I can’t bring myself to repurpose.
Candle wax from years of dinners spent
with you patterns the surface, providing
a reminder.

*
*

Day 15 / Poems 15

*

Essay #1: The Event that had the Biggest Impact on My Life / by Shaindel Beers

As a Korean girl, I was taught never to say anything bad
about my parents. This is the story of how I testified
against my father.

My husband didn’t believe a word I said; he called me
a slut, said that’s why I wanted “a girls’ night out”
with my friends. No one figured out it was the bartender
drugging women until after the third one.

It was raining, so he offered me a ride home. When
he turned the wrong way, I asked, “Where are we
going?” My mother didn’t want to hear my “excuses.”
She kicked me out for being a bad daughter, for
coming home two hours after my curfew. My best friend
is still married to my rapist.

You might notice I’ve been acting different since spring break.

I didn’t use his name in this essay because he goes to school here.
*I would like to tell you his name during your office hours.
**I think the other one who (might) have raped me is one of your students,
too.
The therapist told me because I refused the rape kit
there’s no point in pressing charges, but I still want you
to know who he is.

After walking home from school that day, I was never the same
happy, little girl. Little Red Riding Hood is definitely a metaphor
for rape.

You are VERY brave for writing this. With some editing, I could
help you send it out to publishers. Your story could help a lot
of people.

You have a compelling story to tell. NOTHING that happened
was your fault. You still need to work on Comma Rule #1 and
Semicolon Rule #1. Please see the links I provided. There are
practice quizzes on these skills here: and here: .

Please remember that this is the grade on your writing;
the grade is NOT about what happened to you.
The strength it took to write this is commendable.
You just need to work on some basic skills.
Please find handouts here: and here: .

Here is a link to a form of therapy that is used
for PTSD. It really helped me. I hope it helps you, too.

*
*

Map of the East Village / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Praise the outcome of another night:
down the mercy of an avenue (B, C,
near 12th Street usually) connected
with the man with the beard, the lady
with the baby, or left to wait in clanging
greenish lobbies, fluorescent go-between,
or doorway by the Polish bar
where for a while we played some pool
(Kawadai beside the jukebox: I got coke
and sinsemilla), that neon late universe up
and down Avenue A by the ledge
of dragonfly Manhattan moon. October love,
the dive-bar summer. Taxis tumble full on
across Houston, up First, as all the stoplights turn
one mere suggestion to another.

*
*

Core of Words / by Silvia Bonilla

A train over
to the next borough
heat lacquers
in the mouths of men.
She wonders about the foulness
in what she can’t understand.
Hearing them, subterranean
dark, spared on a bed.
Words tilting toward an
exhausting gesture–
Puta . Putain . Sharmuta
Late at night, she wishes
to seize them in their
awesomeness.

*
*

DB15

*
*

DG15

*
*

Heat Death / by Will Johnston

The universe defeated us
fifteen billion years before the chessboard
was set with pieces on our side too.

From the very start we were trapped
like flies pinging against the inside of a bottle
by Maxwell’s iron law;

we are made of entropy.
And no salvation we could devise
would not play by those rules.

*

Some try to escape our fate,
to step outside, and maybe they succeed

like Buddha forgetting his bodhisattva vow
and leaving us behind,

or maybe all the matter in their cells collapsed,

sieved through the fabric of the universe
but could not exist without it.

*

Some tunnel through time,
launch new colonies at ten billion BC,
consigned to eons of nomadic roving
far beyond the scope of telescopes,

and become outsiders, alien to the eye
and by any measure of biology,
if ever in infinite space
they let themselves be found.

Some leap forward, in blind faith
that something’s waiting on the other side.

*

For all that, another go around
will not exceed or diminish
our greatest triumph.

Circling the last blue stars
we watch the constellations wink away,
one by one by one

the old gods go down.

*

For all we play the game
we cannot change the rules.

*

The universe ticked up
one percent

of one degree.
Still billowing out

through itself
forever

it expanded,
ticked back down,

cooled, stilled,
and emptied itself

even of emptiness.

*
*

AM15

*
*

The Cure/The Smiths Party / by Amy Schreibman Walter

I would go out tonight
but I haven’t got a stitch to wear.
This man said: “It’s gruesome
that someone so handsome should care.”
— “This Charming Man”, The Smiths

It was always going to be dangerous, going
to a Smiths, Cure party without you to dance with.
Sweetness, I was only joking…I miss your disdain
for Robert Smith. It’s a Perfect Day
for Making Out; I think it is. I’m here
debating with some English stranger
about which one sounds better – making out
or snogging – and I just don’t care. I’m looking
at all these men on the dance floor; they have
such interesting beards. We used to dance
right here before any of these people
were old enough to have facial hair. We should
have each other for tea, huh? We should have
each other with cream, then curl up by the fire.
And sleep for awhile. Would you have
said yes to an invitation to join me at this
party? Where there’s music
and there’s people and they’re young and alive.
Good times, for a change?

*
*

Day 14 / Poems 14

*

Death, Sleep, Beauty / by Shaindel Beers

After a photograph by Katie Pearce

The girl lies in her stark
white dress. The grass
the unreal green velvet
of spring. March buds
push from the trees.
Everything becoming—
everything alive
except the girl.
She is a pearl on display
in a jeweler’s window.
Clouds dapple the ground
around her. Years from now
she will be a story
that haunts this hill.

*
*

14th and First / by Nancy Bevilaqua

(For David P.)

Intersection where I learned my lines for death,
accommodated birth, where I am always trying
to get back to where you waited, still late,
always too late, bus to take me into you
and out again, empty as the room of night we lived in,
stolen from the prince and over-lit, spruced up
so death would not come in. Star we blew on
for a fragment of desire. I could not blame
the normal lovers
because so many fish would die that year
unmissed in tanks downtown. Stop where finally
the bus that took me back to get your things
showed up, in spring. Where my son was born
as summer ended. My own birth, on and on,
at the universe of gone Manhattan.

*
*

Madonna Prays / by Silvia Bonilla

All days die
of small
arrows,

a little
war with
god

and joy.

They dangle
over
the throat,

they cut off
some fetal
line

*
*

DB14

*
*

D. Gilson is Not Announcing His Engagement on Facebook / by D. Gilson

D. Gilson is in a relationship with lemon opal basil sorbet.
D. Gilson is making this fraternity party real gay, bro.
D. Gilson is LOVING Thomas Piketty’s *Capital in the Twenty-First Century!*
D. Gilson is truthfully only reading the introduction.
D. Gilson is officially overcommitted to this book and wonders, why does Harvard University Press like 47 page introductions?
D. Gilson is hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream in his cardigan.
D. Gilson is reading Emily Dickinson before bed.
D. Gilson is sleeping like an —
D. Gilson is feeling guilty about flirting with the cute cheesemonger at the farmers market. #veganproblems
D. Gilson is not a gluten allergy, because he is an actual thing. #realtalk
D. Gilson is shit white people like.
D. Gilson is calculating the number of average likes he gets on a status that mentions his mother versus a status which does not. #BEV
D. Gilson is t-h-i-r-t-y!
D. Gilson is never drinking again.
D. Gilson is writing poems about Britney Spears. #oopshediditagain
D. Gilson is changing his mind about John Ashbery! #bestpoetever
D. Gilson is apologizing for any weird messages you may have received from John Ashbery. #hackedinaconvexmirror
D. Gilson is cryptic.
D. Gilson is feeling blue.
D. Gilson is learning (psychoanalysis, conversational Farsi, kung fu).

*
*

After the Bullet / by Will Johnston

The muzzle flash comes first, then the bullet
emerges from its chrysalis, lofted
through a haze of fire and pressure waves
and smoke, a single metal wing,
or else a shark fin protruding into existence,
betraying something malevolent and unseen.

The explosion heats the slug, and the friction
against air that can’t part fast enough
and is shunted molecule by molecule,
the waves of bullet-force rippling out
so nothing within range of eye or ear
is totally spared the impact, the wound of witnessing;

the friction and the blast have melted it.
A pliant drop of leaden putty soars
across the gap, the bullet questioning
what it might yet become, what hand might sculpt it,
still awaiting its answer as it tucks itself
into flesh that parts too easily,

barely deforming it. It cries out,
tunnels into muscle, feels itself
nestle up against a bone and breaks it,
and then, realizing at the last
that from the beginning it lacked the force
for any more than this, it stops.

The body gives in to gravity. The bullet
feels the impact dimly, cushioned
by webs of muscle and cages made of bone,
trapped within them, its cone blown back,
its arc over as soon as it began,
a foregone conclusion, it thinks. Predestination.

Then, the unimaginable. The hot lead,
still not quite at rest, trickles down
through the bore, the entry wound,
into open heads of arteries
and capillaries, forking with them
and branching through the whole body,

replacing blood with semi-solid metal,
recreating a Diana’s Tree,
true evidence of life in the mineral kingdom,
propagating, turning the whole body to bullet,
slicking over the brain like mercury
where it will never, never wash out.

And then a tremor gripped the bullet, swollen
to a thousand times its size,
its slender fingers tracing every nerve and fiber.
It slithered into the eyes and saw its gun
so far away, so unimaginative,
thinking of nothing more than lobbing death,

not conceiving that even bullets have
a sort of life, or what sort of life
they breed in those who hear the shots, or feel
the reverberations of children’s or strangers’ deaths,
or those who feel death pass too closely, like this body
jerking upright, puppeted by the bullet.

*
*

“You Are Love and Light” / by Amy Miller

handwritten sign on a laundromat wall

You are also that crazy jitterbrained fuck
they called the cops on, loud and scared
and pulling your love on its tangled cord
right up out of your throat and hurling it straight
at that small woman when you hissed
You stole my sweatshirt, the good one.

The sign on the other wall,
Be kind and forgiving,
this is for me. It is not
for the tall man
who did his Jesus best
to talk you off that roof
your brain was walking. Also not
for the cop whose radio
pinned to his shoulder said
these visions were old
and he had only to see them
to quell them down to quiet talk
that would not make the news
tonight.

It’s for me, forgiving, as I stood against
the washer and tried not to think how drunks
come out at four, something about Oprah
or the end of Magnum, P. I. or some other
comforting greenbacked bull choking
every satellite dish in the trailer park. It is not
for the mother with three kids or the college
couple mingling their underwear.

No, kind, this was for me
as I skirted the wild-eyed
mess of you ragglebrained
and dreaming of another
planet, even your eyes
at odds, blinking and unblinking
and not quite taking in
the cop, his shuttered gun,
the manager (who knows
the cant and whine of every
machine in the place)
and me, sidling my basket
out the door and trying not
to look, trying not to break
your privacy or spell or
maybe mine.

*
*

The Woes of Peaches ‘N’ Cream Barbie, 2014 / by Amy Schreibman Walter

1.

She wonders every day what happened to her
contemporaries. Rocker Barbie: punk
hairdo, legwarmers; introduced her
to the Ramones and the Stooges, for which
Peaches ‘N’ Cream remains grateful. Iggy
remains her favorite to this day. Since
Rocker Barbie ran off with the Ken in the leather
jacket, she’s always worried about what became
of her. That Ken wasn’t like the others; he wanted
to get tattooed, he rode a motorcycle. Sometimes
she wakes up at night in her single bed, worrying
that Rocker Barbie is walking streets in Vegas, stuck
in a Betty Ford clinic, years of rehab, or worse.
With any luck, she’s aged as gracefully, successfully
as Chrissy Hynde, maybe Patti Smith; she likes to
think about Rocker Barbie this way; it’s just strange
that she doesn’t keep in touch, and she’s nowhere
to be found on Facebook.

In fact, none of her friends are on Facebook. She
remembers the days before home computers got big.
In 1985, her friends were as diverse as her resume:
Astronaut Barbie reminded Peaches ‘N’ Cream
to keep things in perspective – just because she’s lost
her diamond ring – it’s really no cause
for commotion: sometimes, you know, there’s
not even any gravity. Astronaut Barbie was always
the most high achieving Barbie around – carrying
a pink Barbie flag in one hand, glow in the dark moon rocks
in the other. Who could compete with that? Another
member of the gang was Ambassador Barbie, who showed her
there’s a big world out there beyond Southern
debutante balls, and that a pant suit is perfect day wear.
Peaches ‘N’ Cream wants to shed a tear every time she thinks
of her dear friends and what might have
become of them: ebay, boxes, cupboards, trunks,
trapped behind plastic. She wants desperately
to cry, but tears never come.

2.

Her ring finger has a hole in it – a perfectly round
portal, a cut away part. She can’t find the cheap
plastic ring she’s supposed to fill the hole with.
Probably, it was pawned by Malibu Barbie after
hosting too many parties, after buying a Dream House
that she couldn’t afford. She finds those tanned,
swimsuit wearing Barbies a smidgen too tacky
for her tastes. Peaches ‘N’ Cream’s best friend,
Southern Belle Barbie, shares a shelf with her
in a bedroom somewhere in Florida, talks to her
about the exploits of those Malibu Barbies. She just
wants to find her ring, even though she knows
Astronaut Barbie would tell her there are more
important things to think about. It’s odd to live
with a hole in your finger; sometimes there’s a breeze
through the gap; in winter sometimes it stings.

3.

She misses the days when girls would
pop a plastic ring into the hole in her finger, wait
for the click, watch the hole disappear, their
faces lit up. Plastic diamond shot through
empty hole, suddenly filling it, like a first earring
stud slices through a fleshy earlobe, making it bleed.
She remembers the delight on small faces
from just whizzing her around an empty floor, from
making up scenarios, zipping up her dress, bringing
her lips to Ken’s. These days she’s considered too
fragile to be played with like that. Barbies with
electronic accessories have replaced her, they smile
warmly to her, but she knows they think
she’s over the hill; they see her more as a maternal
figure than a confidante. Peaches ‘N’ Cream doesn’t
even have more than one pair of shoes.

4.

Self conscious these days, Peaches ‘N’ Cream
knows that taffeta skirts and beaded bodices
are just not everyday wear in 2014.
She came of age in an era where it was de rigeur
for women to wear ribbons in their hair.
She remembers driving her Dream Car
in little silver plastic heels, a tuxedoed Ken
by her side. He was always so dapper, she should
have recognized that as a sign. Rocker Barbie
was always telling her that Ken was gay.
He likes musical theater! she would repeat,
exasperated, pulling her legwarmers up. Since
Ken and Ken got together and moved
to Vermont, nobody compliments her on her
dress anymore. In a recession, a ruched stole
is really not the right attire for any occasion,
except maybe an 80’s night. She wants
to wear something else, maybe some chinos
and a shirt, but she doesn’t have the words
to ask. She is mute, with eyes that still glitter
and small, perfect earlobes. She is Peaches ‘N’ Cream
Barbie, and she makes not a sound.

*
*

Day 13 / Poems 13

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

13.

Ecologists in Australia look to the pelican for clues
on water conservation. After all, the pelican

has survived on the driest continent for 30 million years.
They are trying to determine if pelicans know

when rains are coming or if they watch the formation
of rivers through flash flooding, following water

to the newly formed basin lake, flying 400 miles per day.
Perhaps they have a sense we don’t, a sort of flood memory,

because the Lake Eyre pelicans breed only when it rains,
sometimes waiting a decade or more between seasons.

Here, on the Columbia, on the Umatilla, we are just starting
to watch the pelican. There have been 17,000 brown pelicans

on East Sand Island, an increase in the numbers of white pelicans
on the Umatilla. Will they keep traveling north as our planet warms?

What will become of all of us, if we don’t listen?

*
*

Instructions / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Find your peace and surrender.
Find the place where it comes apart.

Don’t wear shoes.

You just have to draw everything.
Everything has meaning.

Live in the heart of the argument.
Breath right into the paradox.

Give up something
you don’t want to give up.

Charge yourself to stillness.

Stand up.
I will be your legs.

Don’t stop singing,
even if it tears you apart.

Just stay wild.

World within a world.
Choose the full world, secret world.

Poets are supposed to be monks.
Your home is a mess.

Live both sides of the coin.

To know without knowing—
with every year, it grows.
Don’t discount it.

Get the hell out of the way.

Be love better.

Let nature take its course.
Let the waters take their forms.

Don’t fight it.
Become perfect in it.

If you want to read the law,
don’t read the gospels.

Look toward another sun.

*
*

SB13

*
*

DB13

*
*

Pitcher / by D. Gilson

for Colby Keller

Like every good boy
poet, Colby begins,
To my mother.

This juvenilia
titled My Poetry,
by X, a name

Colby no longer
goes by,
with laminated

cover blue-comb
bound and markered
with rose bushes.

Inside, a raccoon
described as a good
pet; Americans

as independent;
a yellow cat
personified

chases the young poet
with a baseball bat.
But really,

we’re always thanking
our mothers,
as he writes, for

How much she cares
for me
and everyone

she knows. Our mothers
who know the world,
who save

our second-grade
poetry books
boxed in attics.

But sometimes
poetry is prophesy:
the baseball bat

back, but
in the hands of Colby,
bare-assed

in baseball jersey.
Our mothers
raised us right:

strong boys
and that damn cat
not in sight.

Our mothers
raised us right:
to say thank you

when we’re given
what we’ve always
begged for.

*
*

God in the Kitchen / by Will Johnston

Maybe God wasn’t the chef
who lifted the perfectly-seasoned,
steaming Earth from the oven
to the table in one practiced motion.

Maybe he was the novice, the home-cook
wiping three hours over the stove from his brow
with his apron, grateful at least
that the smoke detector hadn’t gone off,
yet to taste it.

*
*

Answers at a Press Conference / by Amy Miller

“We were able to express ourselves.”
—Ronaldinho, after Brazil’s 4–1 win
over Japan in the 2006 World Cup

We boiled ambition day after day
in the oldest pot in the house.
Prayers were cheap, and children
by the millions. We were lost
but hungry, so we kept on cooking.

I am saying our bodies were born
and timed for this hour.
The grass could tell
we were coming. We didn’t know
anyone in the crowd
and it didn’t matter.

Gravity lost its sway.
Our arms floated up,
our clothes no longer
an encumbrance. We were clouds,
we were gods, we were angry enough
to rain and sun enough
to warm your face for hours.
After that, the rest was easy.

*
*

Red Shoes by the Drugstore, 2 / by Amy Schreibman Walter

She wore red shoes by the newsstand. As the rain splashed, the nickel
spilled like chablis along the midway. There’s a little blue jay
in a red dress, on a sad night.
Tom Waits

By the time you were taking photos of me again,
there was so much sun in New York City. Remember
my red canvas shoes, reflected back at me? Mirrors,
summer puddles. I was always wearing a dress, and you
with your wide angle lens, you were always adjusting.

By the time you were taking photos of me again, Tom
Waits was singing the blues out of your tape deck.
His voice, resonant, felt like scarlet wine spilling -
a sudden bleed, splashes dripping onto my toes. I was
always wearing white then; I didn’t expect to bleed.

*
*

Day 12 / Poems 12

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

12.

Booth points out his favorite graffiti
in my town, and I’m amazed I’ve never
noticed after living here eight years,
under the Main Street Bridge, someone
has spray-painted, Angela, I love you.
Fix me. It’s always these moments
of public brokenness that undo me.
Like that pelican with the shattered ulna
floating alone on the river, until his rescue
which ended in being put to sleep.
The way the stages of his extrication
played out in pictures, but until the end
of the article you didn’t realize by the time
you’d read it, he was already dead.
Yesterday, there were four pelicans;
today, three. I wonder when one leaves
the flock how they feel, if they tell
themselves they’ll soon be flying after—

*
*

Skating Alone in the Woods at Age Sixteen / by Nancy Bevilaqua

How I find the opening in conifers, lost pond,
cuneiform in snow, farmhouses blind,
park closed, purest garden of winter woods.

I drive alone, radio on and no one knows: I’m not
on any map. Blades could reach the mirror, prism light
and I’ve come under winter’s edge to flower

on my own, see if I would ever be the holy one
I want to see, skate and shake the laden branches, tree
of God forsaking all religion. Let it freeze me,

take me down, spirit in the wings, stage of ice and glass.
Trust the wind with this young face. Now the dusk
and now the seeds I have; I drive them home with me,

salmon sky fresh balm and salve. I’m spirit too with frosted lids
and Christmas songs inside my head, free and almost certain
that the ice will always hold me.

*
*

Spa Castle / by Silvia Bonilla

In the stone room
they are naked before her
submerging slowly.
Bodies expanding in bloom
under water, filtering skin
cells. Breasts like a garland
of turnips, she looks down
but not from shyness.
It takes time to borrow,
from God, his sturdy fingers.

*
*

DB12

*
*

Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show / by D. Gilson

So you think that you’ve got troubles?
Men. Can’t live with them. Period.
That joke’s not be written yet? Shit.

So we’re about to film this real big scene
the other day and Dick’s sitting on the divan
shooting the shit with the cameramen.

So Dick’s making fun of me, the little
piece of shit. You know, showing off
for the guys like he’s some tough cookie.

So smile, and that frown will defrost, honey,
he tells me, in the same smug voice
he says, It’s called a divan, Mary, not a sofa.

So I knock the Playboy from his hands—
For the articles, am I right guys?
and a Playgirl falls out. So there’s that.

*
*

Asked of a Lover / by Will Johnston

Some people are ill-equipped
to see themselves as others do
(or, as they would see another).

When you examine me in your jeweler’s glass,
what is it that you see? What bevel glimmers
under your lapidary eye?

*
*

Mark-Down Cart / by Amy Miller

I love the lone penitent cart
and the dented cans in their
permanent-marker shame,
25¢. To think
they fell off shelves,
rolled in front of a forklift,
only to have me
raise them out.
Discounted. Canned figs
I’d pass by on the shelf
show me a bare tin shoulder,
torn label. It’s their station
in the church of Sunday morning,
electric doors greeting
the tired, the poor,
the sins of pastry arrayed
to the right, the bloody battled
meat in back, asparagus
yearning up to the false
and severed sky while outside
the Girl Scouts man
their table of tithing
in the whipping wind.

*
*

The Disenchantment of Eliza, Age 11 / by Amy Schreibman Walter

You say you’re too old -
she’s bringing you down.

She’s babyish, woefully
out of fashion.

Nobody else thinks its cool
to play with Barbies.

You start with drowning,
but she won’t sink.

Her blue painted eyes
smile knowingly at you.

She defies submersion. Her
thin frame resists your hands.

Your nail polish glitters,
your palm covered in marker.

You push her into the water,
the words on your palm fade away:

Remember homework –
English quiz tomorrow.

Barbie drifts in the ocean
of your childhood blue bathtub.

She floats back up to you -
bobbing, overly optimistic.

She refuses to die, even when
you microwave her, 2 minutes.

The timer rings, you scrape
her out – body fully in tact.

There’s no explosion, no
combustible parts, like you hoped for.

Eventually, you take her head off -
girls always do.

She is headless. Later, legless.
You throw her into the pond.

Barbie rests, blond hair splayed over
moss, a kind of decapitated Ophelia.

*
*

Day 11 / Poems 11

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

11.

For centuries it was believed that the pelican
was an allegory for Christ. That the young
would begin with their new, sharp beaks,

to wound their parents, drawing their blood,
and the parents, in their anger, would smite them.
After three days of mourning the mother (some

accounts say the father) would open its breast,
and the hot drops of blood would bring the young
back to life. This allegory was to teach of Christ’s

love. His sacrifice on the cross. Bartholomaeus
Anglicus wrote in the 13th Century, The pelican
loveth too much her children. The same way

I was taught that Adam’s sin was uxoriousness.
But I was taught that we could never love Christ
too much, that we were to devote our lives to Him.

Instead, I choose the mountains, the rivers.
They open their hearts to us every day
no matter how we wound them.

*
*

Sickbed / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Some ditch, some U in the road and I was not
to be alone but there I was, traveling with the enemy,
going unconcerned along. Migration of some kind,
Yehoweh, futile bushes burned along the way,
fuel to carry pilgrims. A meeting-up inside the gates
with him and I was almost there but it was time to sleep
(again out in the open, in my sorry skirts) (her insolence:
they’d have tied her to a tree and left her there
but for their fear of him), or something else
that I forget but I was lying in that ditch.

Meanwhile in my other mind the angel says, “We are
all here,” meaning that I’m not alone (I know because
I never am) and I’ve been writhing hours in my bed,
keeping nothing down. All night as if the souls were sent
to congregate around, tell me all the stories
they remembered: nestlings hatching one by one,
a man’s wife, caught in traffic, watching someone
get arrested, how he—the one I’d gone to meet
inside the city gates–would need to come repair a bridge
so that the simple pilgrims wouldn’t drown, keep the waters
flat, and I was shown the bridge itself, its narrowness.
Chronic, half-heard mumble of a stream all night:
I heard some of it and lost the meaning of the rest,
a foreign audience, stricken with some plague and feverish.

(Chalice and the broken boat to take you
from Jerusalem.) Someone throws his coins at me
while I’m still on the ground, spits and walks away. Still I hold
my hope, my love. At dawn I wake to song: All my instincts,
they return./And the grand facade/ so soon will burn. No one
differentiates between the daily dreams. Some good
still comes from this ill night, another layer of majesty.

*
*

Growing Some Wisdom / by Silvia Bonilla

thin man solitary king
high amid her body,

talks big
ruby eyes

forfeited

they’re buried
in a cavity-ridden bed

stay open, stay open!
legs, mangled rope

and countless worlds
among them

*
*

i am going to write about the rain again because / by Deborah Brandon

i am going to write about the rain again because
i teetered along the sidewalk until the rain came, throwing
itself from cornices far above my head. the great half-lit

pit of a sky was full of skulls and soft as cake. all indications said,
you’ll catch a light pneumonia; you’ll drink the poison
that twists tiny girls until they are pickled into women. but

i didn’t, i was a barge and i moved through a sea of acid,
which referred to itself as ‘forensic lust’ and refused
a ph test. my girlfriend, sporting a thousand new freckles,

tried to deny me she’d spent any time outside. i arrived
at the reef without her and unpacked my limbs. the hotel
extended its warm welcome, then left me in cold quarters.

stay behind the cordoning! my girlfriend said in a dream, and i
jiggled a handful of coins in my hand, all the ones i had,
of which there were five. i had to sleep just a few feet

from a shop that sold signed first editions of virginia woolf
and ts eliot and however right-there i was was never
right-there enough. it was all such a production of shakespeare

without any shakespeare. when the butter cookies came they shone
blue with mold along a broken edge and i took it for a farce, ate up
to the line as i did with every line i did not smoke,

with my shoes forcing nebraska onto the pavement & my hair begging
for ivy. i heard the great call of folly!
and i answered.

*
*

Alexander Pushkin Dreams of Canadian Hockey at the 2014 Sochi Olympics / by D. Gilson

I loved you once: little city on the Black Sea
and yet, I love the past. Oh, Wayne Gretzky;
rhyme the past: Gretzky, Black Sea, Sochi;
pave the past and build an ice hockey dome.
Maybe Gretzky moans Canadian flapjacks,
but Gretzky bleeds pure purple borscht, ice cold;
there, where that Starbucks is, yes, there was once
a monument of a man I loved. I don’t remember who.

*
*

The Satanic Verses / by Will Johnston

The poet came down from the mountain
howling fire and brimstone.

He thrust his book at you.
Those verses are Satanic!

he cried, they were not touched
by anything divine!

An evil love entered me,
enfettered me,

wormed my sacred speech
with self-indulgences,

moved my hand like a glove,
now tear them out!

Tear them out? you asked,
opening the heavy book,

which verses? All of them.

*
*

This Old Town / by Amy Miller

Window’s open but I can’t hear a sound
It’s a cold one
early snow
and the engines are still sleeping now

The shirt you left makes a man out of a chair
He won’t tell me
why the hell
the angels can’t find their way there

Who, who
says the owl to the moon
and the birches are whispering, whispering
I
will
be
there
soon

Don’t let me wake up in this old town
with its history aching
this tinderbox place
will be smoldering, smoldering
every minute
you’re away

Swimming, we’re swimming
the reservoir’s black
in the night’s hollow head
we can never turn back
there’s something you want
but you can’t hear the call
it’s sinking, it’s sinking
as fast as you fall

Wheels rumble, the radio sings me a song
almost light now
left the night
and the sleepwalkers making their rounds

Cry, cry
says the lark to the sky
and I’m trying, I’m wandering, wandering
I
want
some
thing
too

Don’t let me wake up in this old town
where the rivers are drowning
they’re dragging us down
and we’ll never be, never be
anywhere ready for
love’s fallen field, we will
never be, never be
who we were
again.

*
*

Adventures in a Clawfoot Bathtub / by Amy Schreibman Walter

Barbie’s arms reach up
towards brass faucets;
she floats serenely in sweet
smelling bubbles.

Scarlet bikini bottoms hug
her concave stomach, a white
halter tied tight around
her long neck.

Her hair, colored black
from a Crayola marker,
sticks to her head, jagged.
She waits for the hands.

When the sun darkens through
the skylight there are padding
footsteps in the hallway, shrieks,
of childish delight.

This time of evening, she is always
picked up; small grubby fingers.
Soon she rides a speedboat. Dramatic
sound effects accompany her whizzing.

Ken smiles; he waits on dry land -
in a plastic basket, face to face
with rubber sea creatures, sharing space
with yellow tuxedoed ducks.

The hands bring him to her – he stands
on the edge of the tub, swivels his head
to see her -180 degrees. His swimming
trunks – orange like fresh nectarines.

Splashing, he jumps with her
into the speedboat. They ride, they dive -
looking for hoops, looking for an island,
maybe some secret treasure.

Treading water soon, Barbie and Ken
have a complete conversation about what
they might do, what they might discover,
on the island. Will there be pirates?

Adventures go on until the sun
finally stops streaming through
the skylight, until the sky
turns the color of Barbie’s hair.

The girl with the hands
has to go to bed before
her fingers start to wrinkle.
She pulls the plug.

Water trickles away. Barbie and Ken
are air-lifted out, suspended
in space, their hands close but not
quite touching.

Thrown together into the basket,
a view of claw feet resting on wooden
flooring. Rubber ducks in suits
stare at them blankly.

*
*

Day 10 / Poems 10

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

10.

The hamerkop and shoebill bridge pelican and stork,
sometimes listed in one order, sometimes shifted
to the other.

Hamerkop = Ciconiiformes or Pelecaniformes?
Shoebill = Ciconiiformes or Pelecaniformes?

In Ancient Greek Pelekan < Pelekys = axe,
that great bill its distinguishing feature,
but confusingly, woodpecker was Pelekys as well.

In proto-German the stork is sturkaz = stark,
but we do not know if this describes his whiteness
or his stiff manner.

ōdaboro = bringer of wealth or bringer of life as in the myth that storks deliver babies

Or in Estonian toonekurg = crane of the underworld, in the case
of the black stork, because the black stork is the bringer of death.

Uda-faro = walker of swamps can be either.

With their wide, white wingspans, fringe of coal black flight feathers;
other than outstretch of legs and neck, they are identical from below.

In Egypt, ba, the soul of a person was symbolized as pelican
A stork at one’s death meant maybe the beloved could be brought back to life.

Henet, pelican goddess, mother of the king, perhaps mother
of all of Egypt, afforded safe passage to the afterlife.

This was a different type of hope. The open mouth of the pelican symbolized the opening
of tomb to the next world where the beloved would wait for you.

Stork : pelican : : rebirth : afterlife.

*
*

Litchfield Pastoral (1970) / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Some distant neighbor’s pool, green
with moss but clean. Land all pasture
just beyond patrician lawns,
lucid with the light of storm. Thunder
at our shoulders, lightning in the grass.
Horses, fox-hunters, jumpers,
twitch at fences, against pewter mirrors
of the fields, shaking heads,
coats wet, darkening.

The parents having cocktails and expensive
hash, dreamy, waving, trusting,
while in the water we are testing God’s
forbearance. Sacred in our mouths
honeysuckle, popsicles, tepid grapes of rain.

This is how we were back then, swimmers
lingering in lightning storms,
plunderers of depths. I got along
by guessing at the secret rules;
the storms were mine,
but I would always be the guest.

*
*

Party, Party! / by Silvia Bonilla

Her friend curls in upon the big chair
looks good she says,
Madonna gets dressed, pulling down
both sides of a rudely
worn out top.
It’s distorted she reports.
The inconvenience of all those
unvarnished edges.
In front of a mirror, her body
an unbreakable contract.
When she’s dressed, she hears
beautiful, a word with
no spine.
She takes a sip from
her friend’s drink
lifting the green sweaty bottle
with wet hands.
You get stuck in your shit
too often, says the friend
flipping gray ash to the floor.
Madonna’s stare is a dart toward
her mouth.

*
*

DB10

*
*

Notes on Hell / by D. Gilson

for John Lindell

In a deleted scene from Waiting For Guffman,
Parker Posey says, I’ll see you in hell, Billy,
but at least I’m gonna have some fun before
I get there. But Charlotte Brontë wants to know
what I wanna know, And what is hell? Can you
tell me that? As a child, I went to weekly matinees
of the Hell show at the local Assembly of God.
Now I’m writing an instruction manual, Making
Atheists: A How-To Guide for Pastors in Four
Easy Steps. One, pray with the boy whose uncle
has just died of AIDS. Lord, help the eternally
damned soul of Dennis. Two, pray for the boy
whose brother has just committed suicide. Lord,
help young Duane cope with his brother burning
in the eternal lake of sulfur and suffering. Three,
prey on the boy. Four, never let him read poetry.
Because in the book of Matthew Dickman it says,
There is no one to save us / because there is no
need to be saved. And in the book of John Milton,
the boy will learn to pray, To which the hell I suffer
seems a heaven. Five, tell him hell is real as long
as you can. The building built, the boat paid off.

*
*

We Never Needed to Explode a Planet to Destroy It / by Will Johnston

She coalesces, collects again her ductile flesh,
her ore flung into space by chemical rockets
also hers, balling up the spiny sputniks
sprinkled over low Earth orbit in the hope
that someone will return if only there’s a road.
As she catches them they flash and evanesce.

The archaea begin their long creep to sentience,
finally at liberty to pursue
biological extravagances,
her favorite children now.
She wonders why the others have not called.
It must be lonely there between the stars.

She catches a comet—a new moon!—
and no one sees. She lets it go again.

*
*

Spam from the Dead / by Amy Miller

for Linda

In a movie, I’d open it
and find you’d lived a secret life,
the raw-burned skin and walker and wigs
a front, an act you put on
with your spy kit every morning.
Now you’re living in Rio
and you want me to come.
Everyone’s somebody else, you say,
in your new neighborhood’s
tight warren of souls.

I started to suspect
when you got your lips tattooed (it took
a tiny razor, hatchmarks
like an artist’s painful pencil sketch,
then the pale pink dye). And your
superhuman hangovers
and county job—I see now
it was perfect. I knew

you’d send for me. How else
to spend the years than ragging
on relatives and watching
our team lose (heroically,
broken beads of heat, lost dreams
of arched perfection) while we
browse through olives, gin, and a stack
of second-hand books? Don’t move—
you’re alone in a strange city
where nobody knows you but me. Hold on.
I’m decoding your message now.

*
*

As You Like It / by Will Stockton

If he were my lover,
I would have left him by now.

Now he is boy who knows no love
lasts longer than months –

that after months he returns
to Ohio,

to the mean staff
& menu dinners.

Discharged friends.
I cuddle him fast

in his Batman blanket,
making the usual promises,

staying in touch.
He asks only for his DS,

his Nerf gun.
These things

I will return,
reading the only script I know.

*
*

TV Land / by Amy Schreibman Walter

I think of it
while watching
I Dream of Jeannie
in a beige hotel room,
somewhere in America.
I think of you
striding towards me
across shag carpet.

Imagine me as a blonde
with bangs
in a far-fetched sit-com,
running around suburbia
wearing mini-dresses
the color of pineapples.

I’d still be with you
in that life: boing
if I were to blink
one time, eyelids
heavy with eyeliner,
mascara, making a wish.

If I could, I would
conjure you up,
your dark hair messy
from space travel,
your tan a reminder
of a sunnier time.

In a sit-com
our relationship would
work, despite
my dizziness,
despite your practical
nature. Did you
know it is you
I see in the dark, after
the episode is over,
when the screen turns
a kind of midnight
blue?

If you were
to walk through
the door, breakable
vases would fall
to the floor when we
kissed, cueing
canned laughter.

It would be us but
younger, clumsier,
limbs entwined
on a stripy 60’s sofa -
like a game of Twister,
our very own
25 minute episode.

*
*

Day 9 / Poems 9

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

9.

I want to give Liam a love
of language, of nature. He is just beginning
to differentiate birds. So far, there is generic
boo-id. And owww-ell. Anything the size
of a duck is a dutch. A peacock is an up-cock.
We try not to laugh, don’t want to make
him self-conscious even though shirt
and shorts and socks all sound obscene.
When we walk along the levee
the pelicans are dutch. I try to correct
him until I realize their shape classification
is listed as “ducklike”; sometimes, already,
he is more observant than I am. Like the day
we were walking and I heard him say,
Sssssss, and thought he was playing,
then, thought he had found a toy snake,
until I reached down to touch it,
saw the warm flick of the tongue.
Little striped whipsnake, trying
to make his way to the river.
I attempted to lift him with a stick
while Liam hissed excitedly, Sssss!
Ssssss! and then, along came a boy
on a skateboard, who stopped,
lifted him over the side of the levee
bare-handed, dropped him into
the rocks to slither to water.
I want my son to be like that brave boy
so gentle and unafraid all at once.

*
*

A Blessing on Alessandro’s New Guitar / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Color dark cigar, hollow-bodied, meant
for jazz. His fifth guitar. Muse fit for one a.m.
when maybe he’s convinced he’s fucked things up
again and maybe it will help the feeling pass.
Let it. Let it be a sluice
to level out the loneliness that comes
from other currents latent in his blood, not
the music but the alcoholic drift, dark chords
in his grandfather’s eyes, chips along the edges
of his old piano’s tuneless keys and lost-soul
musicians opening their lungs to tell him,
It’s too late; you’re wrong and done. No point
in keeping on, dreamers who’ve been made
to cast their best away, betray the thing
that made them whole.
Let this curvaceous, burnished instrument
always draw him back to love and play.

*
*

28 / by Silvia Bonilla

She spends her birthday budget on
a pencil skirt and wine,

opens the windows with
a marionette’s gesture,

all biographical clues thrown from
the apartment. For

a minute or two she sends her upper
body to fresh air as if in route

to heaven. A bride promised to God.

The unknown voices on the street,
are bitter, disruptive

and incapable of seduction.

When she imagines the night
something lodges like a pit in her stomach

and her ideas, made of little clemencies,
bring the memory of him.

*
*

Kindertotenlieder / by Deborah Brandon

a great jeweled insect scratches the sea-

plate. the sky descends to mouth a lake

and the cane amplifies,

pummels the abscessed waves and bruised shore.

:
.

safely hidden in his little woods-house

whose stones pitch shine like devil teeth,

tinnitus erupts in the sky. he frowns,

shifts day’s heft on his lap:

blotchy, dog-eared score of scores.

.
.

in the meadow his daughter’s flowers

are beaten to gold sheets.

without her the air becomes less

.
.
.
precious and suffocates itself.

what, then, do you think can burn?

*
*

Inheritance / by D. Gilson

Like my mother
to me, I make him rice,
cooked hot with milk
& cinnamon sugar.

Like my mother
to my brothers,
I feed him lies—

This will be okay—
as I wipe his nose,
blood drip & cocaine.

*
*

City Above, City Below / by Will Johnston

I.

The old furnace shudders on—
I can hear or feel it
through the asphalt from a block away—

an instant later the pigeons scatter
at the gush of steam, circling,
spooked but afraid to stray,

these pigeons who ride the winter through
on lips of chimneys for warmth.
They wheel and return, easing into the steam

like a sauna, their feathers frosted.

II.

The smokestacks spill: a monster roused after ages
billows to its feet, swells its steamy hide,
licks the icy air;

arms raised, a goddess
sculpts herself from cloud
like the lady of Collier’s Venusberg.

Small chimneys outgas. Trapped by pressure
the steam beads on the etched panes
of city blocks. And in the gloaming

the city below wakes, poppied with light.

*
*

AM9

*
*

Breakfast for the Last Supper / by Will Stockton

My Hulk is an egg I broke,
crumbled his green yoke,

then cried into his hair & jersey
while I held him to the grass.

He asks what’s for breakfast –
likely rehydrated eggs & toast.

I want to see my room, he says.
I’m going to make a friend.

The staff counselor wonders
whether my son is sensitive to food coloring.

I nod as if it could be anything –
not what I know, which is all I have told her.

The Hulk is neither homicidal nor suicidal.
His rage began in utero – see he colored green

this picture of a baby in the womb of the cosmos,
a child swirling in the tides, waiting creation.

*
*

Answers for an Ex-Boyfriend / by Amy Schreibman Walter

You want to know why. I think
you know: when the chrysalis begins
metamorphosis, some kind of
butterfly waits inside her waist.
As in: the normalcy of waiting
(what she can’t see yet).

You want to know why. I think
you know: when a butterfly
dances in air, it is quite effortful
for you to catch her
in your cupped hands (she tends
towards high places).

You want to know why. I think
you know: ask me why.

*
*

Day 8 / Poems 8

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

8.

We must remind ourselves
the pelican is an opportunist.
Do not be surprised when
it snatches a duckling,
flings it up so it
drops in headfirst,
takes water into its bill,
so the duckling
will drown
in its gullet.
We have trouble accepting
when nature goes against
what we see as order.
Cannibalism, for instance,
or an insect eating
a mouse. We act horrified
because we like to forget
that we are exactly
the same.

*
*

Jesus, Hoboken / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Of course we called him Jesus 27 years or more
what else? that stare he’d loot with eyes they blame the skies
for everything the leather coat all year the bits of beard
lanky as a summer on the pier, walking,

always walking, looking at the ground…

He’s grown out dark a figure slow to enter what we think
is ours isn’t he content to sleep inside the alcove
of the building where you live? it’s cold he has no more
defense than birds out there and drinks what he can get, lets me

look him in the eyes one day open sky direct and blue

and feverish he had something to remember fed him when I could
brought him in to where he wasn’t welcome to get warm, have something
that would do him good doesn’t speak except to mutter so I
say nothing wait with him until he’s done he thanks me then he’s

gone, looser than a man caved in that tide that fire where his wife

and daughter died when thieves were burning down the brownstones
in the holy name of real estate (this town back then a burglar’s mark
for arson executions in the dark) his one piece
of solid ground the jacket old as the Jesus name we gave him

in our ironic way I hear he rails sometimes goes crooked

at the seams but mostly he is silent one time he says
his name to me and it isn’t
Jesus, it is Rob, Robert on his birth
day and it is 27 years too late to speak as if we knew our neighbors

much too well he holds his hand out when I ask…

A paper bag his skin I don’t know how he holds it in
I wish I had some tarnished scroll to let him see that they
might just be free that somewhere he has family… Let him
lie against the sun forever warm and fed and something
for his head I love him as I love a man

who can’t see what the purpose of the morning is

*
*

Menial / by Silvia Bonilla

Madonna takes herself off as if
she were a projection

while the tea bag turns
the water a burnt orange.

A thousand deaths
wash up on tv

binding to air she can’t
smell.

The accurate map of the world
does not rush her

or agitate her.

She sleeps with no skin tonight
all beautiful –all herself.

*
*

Mahler and the Sphinx / by Deborah Brandon

the storm flew
from the womb
and in the way
so mahler demanded

birds. glass
would break at least five;
shatter a register
of bodies.

three times homeless,
a thousand golden eyes.

cosseted even to the veins
that swam in a tangle

beneath his skin:
……….,,the mountain
……….,,a wellspring

he starkly,
he dimly exploded

*
*

Sexual History / by D. Gilson

At seventeen, I let a man blow me
in the steam room at the Pat Jones
YMCA. For a year after this, I buy
an OraQuick! (home HIV test, $49.99)
with every pay check from The Gap.
At nineteen, I quit The Gap. Buy
blow for the skinny boy I’m fucking
and keep my mother’s wedding ring
next to the bible in my nightstand.
At twenty my boyfriend calls me
Doubting Thomas. Traces my skin
with a red Bic pen and highlights
passages from Acts of the Apostles.
At thirteen, my father plays Johnny
Cash’s “Boy Named Sue” in his blue
Dodge Dakota pickup. At twenty-nine
a condom breaks. On the retrovirals
every nightmare’s the same: me dead
and lain out on a sawdusty bar, “Ring
of Fire” on the jukebox and my dad
eating unsalted peanuts. At twenty-five
I headache from poppers. At thirty
I am celibate. At twenty-four, -six,
and -two, I masturbate. I am fifteen
again: retrograde in Ralph Lauren
Sport, never getting laid. At thirty-two,
I smell it on a boy riding the subway.
At twenty-seven piss play is child’s play
and at sixteen I pray: Lord, let me have
some fun. At twenty-nine my doctor asks
for a narrative, so I write her a poem
ending: The Lord answers prayer.

*
*

The End of Foretelling / by Will Johnston

The omens had gone sour. No matter
how auspicious the convergences,
something had poisoned fortune. Something black
and blowing in the wind like soot.
Something steel.

The daykeepers leaned over the edge of the world
and called down to the maize god:
bite a piece out of the moon,
shake yourself and rumble the mountains!
His throat was slit. He swarmed all over

with foreigners with gleaming chests and blades,
who picked at him like ants
and pieces of the kingdom fell away.
And the mountain builders drew the omens:
bad, and bad, and bad, and bad.

*
*

bottle / by Amy Miller

what did you put in there
I drink and drink

and the next day it fills
again and your lips

no, mine
find that tongue-tasting

liquid lightning
god what did you do

I can’t see
down in there anymore

my eye right up
to the mouth

& tunnel closing down
but somewhere there’s

a cavern bigger
than the past

I hear it when I whisper
hello in there

and the echoes come back
in your voice

*
*

Empty Mezuzah / by Will Stockton

Will reminds me you don’t have to believe
to be Jewish as he hangs a mezuzah on the door
for his boyfriend. That the mezuzah believes for you,

even this empty one, silver case without a scroll.
Hear, O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Will says to stop calling it a mezuzah.

I sometimes dream I wear my teenaged cross. The chain
that smells like saliva from a nervous habit. My father gave me
this cross. When it splits, I bleed silver on my fingers.

*
*

Overheard at the Tourist Information Booth / by Amy Schreibman Walter

1.

Lunch is served
around the corner, fish and chips
freshly caught -
waitresses dress like ‘medieval wenches’
for tips.

2.

Dinner is best eaten
somewhere historic, no chains.
Do you want charm;
sweet, tradition -
or just something quick?

*
*

Day 7 / Poems 7

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

7.

But what is the river without the pelicans?
It is still the herons stalking minnows in the reeds
and the two trees where their twelve nests rest
beyond the picnic pavilion.

It is the osprey hovering above the river
and the Pacific Power linemen who built
the new nesting platform while the osprey
wintered in South America.

It is the wood ducks and mallards, the flit
and seeeee-yeeee song of red-winged blackbird.
The slate arrows of doves that throw themselves
down to river’s edge after seeds.

It is otter and mink, the deer that come down
from the ridge, the cattle from open range
who amble down mountain on hot days.
It is Coho and Chinook, steelhead
and salmon. The train tracks which follow

the river from Gibbon to river mouth. Where
one night, a boy lay his head, and later
in the high school gym, I hugged his mother,
and said, I’m so sorry about your son.

The river is every single body
that has been pulled out of it, the ghosts
that walk the levee. But today, there were
pelicans, two breeding pairs, so we move on.

*
*

Listening to Jeff Buckley / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Small space, amplifier low and no one
really listening, he leads softly up to Grace
and then breaks through, lifted,
bareback as if there’s nothing else,
this his only moment to belong.
Resolve runs through the song like simple
algebra; he knows that he is alien and strangely
at the tip of time, voice a floodlight
coming on and when it opens all the winters
stop and look to him, no one thinking
who his father is, smoke and wine so strong,
a miracle of dereliction.

Swallow up the water like the last
Chinese brother. I walk stunned
along another ocean floor, caught up
in your planet ring of ecstasy. Onshore
sundry things, pair of boots and radio.
Someone opening her hands for you, pure
disembodied voice, that slow vocal waterfall
on “love” in Whole Lotta Love, same
as when you sing the word in Grace.
They can hear you on the other bank.
You make it seem so easy.

*
*

Despite All Controversy / by Silvia Bonilla

Her God is human.
A kleptomaniac of
good days.
Aging and forgetful.
See there he says,
pointing
at the same ugly
hours.

*
*

Bells / by Deborah Brandon

an earthquake
settles the dead
one brick at a time.
at the edge of the stage

the people reach
for the oracle;
force the animal
full of lungs

tremolo,
a hand through the fallen
bridge………..disguising the damp
new slit.

how come the moon grows
into a trap above the grave
grass curls to frame the stone.
so a tree snaps in half like a child

being born: song stunned
out of sap.
racket at the gate
and a pair of such eyes!

*
*

Failed Report on Famous Missourians, Fifth Grade / by D. Gilson

Before her mother sucked cocks in hell,
Linda Blair, arched back, in St. Louis.
And Yogi Berra, too, but he never had lunch
with William Burroughs, naked in Forest Park.
Brad Pitt grew up in Springfield but was born
in Oklahoma, does that count? Walt Disney
and Mark Twain, asshole buds on the Mississippi.
Why does T.S. Eliot say April is the cruelest month
for breeding? Don Johnson, born in Hopewell,
moved to Miami. Scott Joplin, but not born in Joplin,
uncanny. My mother, seventeen and pregnant,
stripped of her Aurora Miss Hound Dawg crown.
Joan Crawford, Mommie Dearest. John Goodman,
Raising Arizona in Affton with his friend Kathleen
Turner. Jason Bourne your name is David Webb
and you were born in Nixa, Missouri, on September
13, 1970. The year my father was in Vietnam
and his first wife was sleeping with my grandfather.
Budweiser Beer, George Washington Carver peanuts,
first gas station and first American Olympics.
Nelly, Porter Wagner, Eminem, and Sheryl Crow.
We are proud of her, mostly, minus “Soak Up the Sun”
and her relationship with Lance Armstrong, a Texan.
Harry S. Truman, and thus, birth of the atomic bomb.
Bob Baker, Walter Cronkite. Show Me Eden comes.

*
*

The Book House / by Will Johnston

Up the narrow stairs, wend
between the overhanging shelves
like age-old canyon walls
guiding you to the river’s head,

to the back room on the second floor
of a tired, downtrodden bookstore
that will persist for all time
despite its lack of custom,

where books of poetry are housed,
whole lives distilled to slim tomes
penned by unfamiliar names,
once-read, half-read, sold as used,

the corners of their pages splayed
from twenty, thirty, forty years
of idle leafing-through; no one leaves
more laden down then when they came.

Will I too be consigned to this?
An aimless voice among the droves
of poets driven down the cliffs
into the hard, unflinching waves.

*
*

For the Ladies / by Amy Miller

“For sale: sanders, lathes, jointers, electric motors.
And for the ladies: household items, quilts, and furniture.”
—garage sale ad, Craigslist

Free weights, dumbbells.
Small bottles of solvent.
A 12-gauge and 200 clays.
A pickaxe with a shaky head.
A trench, a row, a rivulet.
A block and tackle.
Your very own barn!
A cliff, a rope, a fallen bird.
Ten thousand pounds of pressure.
A long, feathered night at the Lay-Z Inn.
A baby, no accessories.
Eleven years in Lompoc.
A personalized semi-personal love song.
A trip you were asked not to take.
A treeline and a trail.
Warm stones in your sleeping bag.
All of Alaska.
The cliff you were told not to climb.
The climbing.

*
*

Act Two, Scene Three / by Will Stockton

Caden on the diving board –
Hamlet playing Pyrrhus,
water-soaked with blood
and sunburnt with gore.
Forward, he stalks & swings
for the king of Troy, leaps
into the grave. Father, help!
he cries as chlorine stings
his eyes. Help! His hands scratch
for the Ohio of his disinheritance
while I recline in a vinyl lounger,
reading & sipping of vine
from a Gatorade bottle. Here
I lie: no more this boy’s father
than he to Hercules.

*
*

Octastich / by Amy Schreibman Walter

Whiteness over the beach,
thin as your ghost.
Crests dissipate, as they do.
I saw you, once or twice -
somewhat difficult,
fragmented. The delivery
of a tide, how it spits
after it rises.

*
*

Day 6 / Poems 6

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

6.

With the camera strapped to his bill,
we peer into his blinking eyes;

he looks like any awkward son
unsure of what he is doing.

Lake Tanganyika, the Mahale Mountains
spread in the distance.

Baobab’s “Music for a Movie” crescendos
as the bird glides over water.

His first flight recorded,
become a GoPro commercial

with over 3,000,000 YouTube views,
he is a media sensation.

Since being blown in on the storm,
Big Bird lives a charmed life,

at the $1,000 per person, per night resort.
But what does the orphaned

pelican make of the humans
who taught him to fly by running the beach,

flapping their arms? Does he wonder why
they never leave the ground? Does he know

he is a metaphor for loneliness?

* The video referenced can be found at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YEyzvtMx3s

*
*

Like I Loved You a Poem / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Move over let me mingle with you.
Like so many things these blessed years
slow to start but unequivocal, morning storm,
body of bliss, mind all stellar, trailing sparks.
How strong it slows into the cellar of my skin,
coming on like morphine, my belly
folding in from such a touch, dervish
in the waters of my spine, morning sweat,
purple roses split behind my eyes and opened
into full-blown breathing scenes, bits of song
in foreign tongues between the dreams that I
will translate later but I am no
gullible child; this is what it seems.

I can harness it but where do I begin?
Drive me to the open sea again.

*
*

The Job Requires / by Silvia Bonilla

A pleasant disposition. She
swipes the card twice, when at last
it works, she removes it quickly,
like a trickster. Sign here!
she commands, flipping the white
strip of paper then snaps
the pen on top.
The coarse wire of her voice. She likes
to unroll on customers, eyes placed further,
than the rack of energy bars,
straight into the store’s hours
sign.
Her tag jerks when she lifts
the bagged goods. When the belly of a
phone lights up, she glances at her
watch. Late nights, when not at her
station, she walks among the aisles,
rearranging things as if it were
the universe, fists gripped around the
sales bins.

*
*

Blumine / by Deborah Brandon

the city now fatted,
the shorn field rests

for many measures
in the orchestra’s gold

underlight —
as we have seen

in day; the thinnest-
throated flowers

spool the sun to
opera, failing bloom.

the contaminating
dead silence of snow

between movements.
the angel presses ahead,

here to eat fossils
from the bright

final scene,
not yet succumbed.

*
*

DG6

*
*

Things That Are, That Were, That Have Not Yet Come to Pass / by Will Johnston

The calendar says May
(it’s July now) as though
it still savored the anticipation
(sweeter than the experience)
of a future now past, holding
supposition and foreknowledge both,
for each page in the past another
in a future that will never happen
(though we try) precisely as we plan.

*
*

Fireworks / by Amy Miller

It’s a weird party where we all
stand facing the same direction on the bluff
to look out over the dark horse field
and dry creek and then across it the boom

and giant spark chrysanthemums
and flak and fire like Disney at war
and even a big blue Saturn like
here are the heavens, folks, we even

blow them up and I wonder
if the cracks and bangs still scare
the ghosts out of the fields,
out of our heads, if the popping lights

can make you drop like a witch
who failed the water test, if we explode
these tiny shells of trauma
only to have them bite us back

next week when we’re stopped in traffic
or fighting over who took what
or sitting across from the boss
while she says it’s out of my hands

but there’s something clean
about a hole blown through, that whole
other side you see, the sooty half moon
hanging like a watermelon slice

and your own blood beating clear
while the crazy flowers of bright
and the crackle and bang bang bang
tell you the show is up and up and almost done

and then it’s done, the smoke
drifting brown, distant claps and whoops
and your own little group in the dark
saying great and good and America

and heading back to your houses
on the long street while all around,
dogs bark and bark and bark
like they’re chasing a night full of demons.

*
*

Crèche / by Will Stockton
Or, Senator Lindsey Graham Leads the Pendleton, South Carolina, Christmas Parade

Lindsey Graham is a graham cracker I would eat
in bed. Or, I would follow his car to the rest-stop
bathroom & listen to Lindsey cruise & brag:

how far he’s gone on college C’s. The US Senate
& Benghazi. Lindsey Graham is a lawn sign
I lube. He can split me likes his position on Iran

& then I will cruise East Queen Street beside
him, Jackie to his John in a tacky orange
Mustang. I will give the stink eye to the only boy

in a troop of baton twirlers, all smiles & sequins,
this boy my Lindsey eyes. We will be followed
by a church’s truck bed cavalry: two x four

cross & papier-mâché Christ. I will point
& whisper into Lindsey’s ear, I like a man
who’s hung, & he will spit, Show some respect.

*
*

Woman in Ball-Dress at the Entrance to a Box at the Theatre / by Amy Schreibman Walter
(Toulouse Lautrec, 1889)

Ballerina, erased –
yellow shoes conceal pink
slippers, tulle bell tutu.
Soft creases, kitten heels
circumvent centuries.

Ball-dress; she might have been
Marie, Therese, Claudette. White
transparent cloak stops below
breastbone, above a third rendering
of an elbow, childbearing hips.

She shows slim ankles, she shows
her ankles. Ballerina replaced
by an early kind of beehive: red hair
piled high above the neckline in
the direction of ceilings.

Ball-dress; what might have been.
Yellow shoes point the way
towards him and away from him
at the same time. Heels rest
on red carpet, imprinting.

*
*

Day 5 / Poems 5

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

5.

We come home with the groceries, and I see
the slow V of pelicans floating over the neighborhood
try to tell if they are tracing the river.

I’ve heard they are one of the few bird species
that fly “for fun.” I wonder what that means,
try to imagine what it must feel like

to soar on thermals for up to fifteen miles
without flapping a wing, to climb the pillows
of hot air, drop down into coolness

to gain speed. This is called dynamic soaring.
I didn’t used to be so fascinated by anything
but now, I pull out my phone, try to record them.

They are immortalized as radar blips over
my neighbors’ chimney; in the background
my dog barks, my son is excited to be allowed

to run to the porch by himself. How could anything
be so effortless? I wonder what I might miss
if I were afforded their abilities, their innate sense

of measuring air temperature through their nostrils,
of spotting a single fish from sixty feet above water—
All I can imagine missing is the grey house

with its hot pink door which I drive by every day.

*
*

Double Rainbow Over Airport Road / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Motel strip ozone-doused, awash.
Smoldering length of interstate, dirty streets
briefly cleansed, reflective. One comes, and then
another, symmetry profound, curved around
its lover’s spine, tingling, chromatic.
Old men stare from parking-lots.
For a long time we remember
mystery, caterpillars, secret colors
in our blood, renewed, emerging.

Drive toward the hidden ground
where they are rooted, fertile as a riddle.
Flights delayed, money short,
but these unasked-for gifts are unicorns
above the tawdry beds we’ll lie in, stranded
for the foreseeable future.

*
*

By Night / by Silvia Bonilla

Madonna looks among the reds
for a Homeric epic. Hers will feature
spears of neon and a bar fight. Death and
the strong force of fate are waiting–
Her small ambitions set on a stoop,
aloft.

*
*

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen / by Deborah Brandon

here is the fevering
ledge. the soft floors
sick with rain
and concentrated—

this suiting
for the turn; buttons
released in a rush;
threads steam-
taut.

he pushes past
another thicket
of reeds,
straight-up trees
silk skirts
in accordance with the damned

*

the voice, an aureole,
scales the balconic
register.

*

and here, in this marrow,
long after he is passed

i rise; always rising, all
ways towards her i am
rising.

*
*

Preteen / by D. Gilson

That was the year my brother lived with us,
fresh out of rehab & clean & in the back

bedroom. Why does he have to live here?
I whined to our mother. So obscene

when I was a preteen. Yes, you can go out
with your friends, she told me, the first time

I went out alone with the neighborhood boys,
Nick and his older brother Jason, whom

we worshipped because he had a skateboard
and this glow-in-the-dark poster for Green

Day’s Dokie in his room. At Pizza Hut
we dared the suicide soda, big red cups

of cokedietcokedrpepperspriteandorangefanta
all in thirsty, preteen gulps. We were obscene,

thirteen and smarter than anyone. Until Nick’s
soda spilled and the manager sent out

my brother to clean it up. Marty smiled,
Hey Dee, and I sank deeper into the vinyl

booth. How did I not know he was working
that night? Jason asked me, You know

that fucking meth head? Which wasn’t obscene.
I was so preteen, ignoring my brother

the year he lived with us in the back bedroom,
Hell no, man, and spilling my soda on purpose.

*
*

At the Bus Stop / by Will Johnston

Cars skate across the intersection,
turn pirouettes and glide away.
The curbs are clear
of litter, of dropped seeds; instead
wind shifts the asphalt shadows of leaves
like rain, like living cells, like
human shadows. The brilliant sky
is shot through with cloud like wraiths
of pale minerals in a polished turquoise.
Downstage the trees are swollen in the heat.
Nothing more green. Nothing more blue.
The leaves and shadows and clouds and shadows
and cars and pavement kaleidoscope together.
The bus comes. The bus leaves. And we
are still here.

*
*

That Bright Glory / by Amy Miller

not glory
but mystery

she knows she’ll leave
the body behind
(this one thin
as a cigarette)
and wonders
what it looks like.
will I still dream?

she thinks
about it hours
on the couch,
the feeding tube’s
itch
a weary
joke

outside (window)
it’s bright enough
to show her nails
have grown,
pushed
the polish out
to small red acres
of what
was beautiful
once

beauty, she wants
to know, is that
what it’s like?
a view of the higher,
brighter? surely
better than this piece
of wall. but better
than that piece
of sky? better
than birds and
blue and bright
(impossible, snow-headed)
clouds growing,
thinning,
ungrowing
in their always
glorious
remaking?

*
*

Caden Prays the Lord’s Prayer / by Will Stockton

Please click here to read the poem.

*
*

Rome Haiku / by Amy Schreibman Walter
(flashbacks)

Coliseum walk -
A blind man in front of me
said it was beauty.

Women ride Vespas
(mood like a Fellini film).
Coffee – black, no tea.

Palazzo Altemps:
palm trees touch shivering ferns
(sweet texts from London).

Piazza Spagna
(penne tastes just like fresh plums).
I enjoy your texts.

Rome is masculine:
even little cloisters fight
(texts are like vignettes).

Trevi Fountain blues -
(Americans throw pennies):
do not drink water.

Hotel: which Via?
Texting isn’t quite enough
(postcards on my bed).

Audrey Hepburn smiles
from her Roman Holiday
(watching from the wall).

What’s the dial code?
(no internet connection) -
I want to hear you.

*
*

Day 4 / Poems 4

*

SB4

*
*

Lazaros / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Cacaphony of mourning under such a sun. Over our hill
nails are ripped from someone’s broken hands, lengths
of scarlet rope and snakes around his legs. But for you
I would not come. Your brother, he seems still and gone

beneath bleached pieces of your subtle cloth. Daughter,
I have told you: there is nothing lost, death a turn of mind.
He was a sleeping guest, and he has just awakened
to travel in the open, free of time. I thought you knew,

and yet I see you waver at that place where nothing
brings you back. He was the one
who coaxed out flowers in your lonely eyes
when you were young, bedeviled child, or I

would not have come. For you, if there were some freakish
rite, a way to ruin nature’s argument, wild wind
that moves the rock… But we’d be fools to barter. Look:
they wait for me to reckon what is owed and shell it out

in drips of life, but I am not some rainmaker magician.
Your brother knows it now, unlike them, no longer
blind. I am a man. I loved him too, but if I weep, I weep
for you. I say again: it’s just a turn of mind.

*
*

The Game / by Silvia Bonilla

She sees a house
pink

or white.

In the yard
clothes swing

toward a pretend
edge.

Her vision sorts
for the ones

that perform
under such circumstances,

creating beautiful symmetry.

Here and there,
the eye of the needle.

*
*

DB4

*
*

American Boy, Fourth of July, Early Morning / by D. Gilson

In the bathroom mirror of his family’s lake
house, Kenny poses in a pair
of American Apparel briefs, barely there
& extra small, before his parents are awake,

before his mother sews pancakes
to his flank & Dad calls Kenny downstairs
to the weight bench & with surprising care,
shows Kenny how to tweak

his workout from cardio twink
to hardcore, Physique model, muscle bear.
Before all this Kenny poses upstairs,
his America’s Next Top Model poses. Snaps

selfies & listens to Dancing Queen, club remix.
Kenny dreams of Paris & piss play & cocaine,
……………………..yes, even though it’s barely six.

—For RJ

*
*

Independence Day / by Will Johnston

Think of me in the pillar
that does not collapse. We are together

in time if not in space,
and in some other dimension

we are side by side,
like two colored threads without thickness

but extending infinitely,
forever twined around each other

through the forest of lifelines
in the conduits of the universe.

Think of me
in the palm of your hand.

We have the same lives, watch
the same glimmers in the sky,

turn the same pages.
We will intersect many times.

Think of me in the afterimage
and the smoke fading into the night.

*
*

Cabbage / by Amy Miller

whatever I did I wrapped
leaves over and over
grew them
from a solid core
now butterflies don’t dare

sure you’ll want
to lace me with those others
slit carrots bleeding beets
but alone
you cut me and I bend

boil me
go ahead
that slight sweet but let me
sit too long
and you’re sorry

brain-tense
and convoluted
that’s what they say
they never
held a thing so tight

*
*

Crush Erratum / by Will Stockton

My drunk tongue knows
no games. Zach says the triangle
tattoo above your celiac hip
is a triforce. My drunk tongue
apologizes. My drunk tongue
knows no games.

*
*

Inbox: July 4th / by Amy Schreibman Walter

Come join fellow Americans-
Springsteen videos, beer.
Are you an ex-pat? Do you miss
good BBQ? Want to meet
ex-New Yorkers? Stop by
Smollensky’s – buy one get one
free cocktails. Show your passport -
first drink is free. Woody Allen
retrospective this week. Left wing
American writers reading
Ginsberg’s America, Sontag: 7.30 pm.
Springsteen sing-along at 8.30,
bandanas strictly optional.
Want to go home for the fourth?
Cheapest USA fares! Do you need
a good tax lawyer? No fireworks;
we have New York cheesecake.

*
*

Day 3 / Poems 3

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

3.

The pelicans sit on the rocks preening,
a section of concert violinists bowing

apricot bills against snow velvet down
of breast. I wonder if they can hear

the friction of their surfaces one against
the other. If there is a making of music

out of their bodies. I remember them
later when the photographer says,

When you touch yourself,
when your fingers skim

the hollow between throat and clavicle
you are telling the viewer, Oh, my skin

is so soft, don’t you wish you could
touch it?

*
*

A Brief Reign at the Shore at the Edge of the World / by Nancy Bevilaqua

“Dreams offer the only glimpse of reality.”

Kingdom of carp and other
slowing fish, special for me, newly,
strangely queen but battered
from some prior scene, dressed up
in my normal rags. Servants
everywhere, creating bells
of sacred dreamscape,
disorienting song. Rain and receding
sea, amphibians exposed
and fossil wings in sand.
My hair is washed as ritual,
distraction from escape.

Placid richness of that fatted land
and still I was a castaway, insolent
and foreign, as ever with no sense
of home, sleeping soiled
and in the open in silks
proffered from other dreamers’
soft, well-meaning hands.

*
*

Christi’s at Ocean Drive / by Silvia Bonilla

Madonna needs
her color
in shades
of clover honey
ceaselessly
riding away
the dark–
the first time
without a nurse-maid
of doubt

ancestors send
an eye
to the mirror
watching her
ripen
into nothingness

*
*

Planets and Suns That Are Circling / by Deborah Brandon

i’m a skinned deer
downtown.
blaring my ears
with the Thousand
my legs buckling
cement. a new century
carries the bus in the rain

caught this close, the river
is an aorta to cover branches

mahler’s footsteps
into the score
wreath the room (i can’t see)
screwed to his arm

fresh fermatas slip
gleaming sediment
into the chicago
river. an apple
drowns in a metal bin.

the exalted ones
recall petals of snow
the dead girl
each night skins further
my body to grist
then bolts.
a hide.

say he opened
straight to the hole.
part of the symphony
lit, i imagine, like the drake
hotel. but consensus
is a way for the text,
remembered only partially; and,
fitting the music,
another kind of light.

*
*

Mug Shots / by D. Gilson

Pee Wee Herman, greasy, Sarasota hair.
Al Pacino, the sexy, get-back stare.

Lindsay Lohan, numbers four, five, and six.
OJ Simpson, the glove’s too-snug fit.

Michael Jackson, it doesn’t matter.
Mel Gibson, Heather Locklear, William Shatner.

Shia LeBeouf, in a blue hoodie.
My brother Marty, a fifteenth no guilty plea.

Paris Hilton, with a side pony.
George Michael, rides the white pony.

My mother, hit back on her deadbeat husband.
Hugh Grant, cock-eyed, blowjob hunting.

John Edwards, Crest Whitestripped, Rob Lowe.
Marilyn Monroe, Norma Jeane Dimaggio.

My brother Randy, petty-theft, tired eyes.
My brother Mike, meth again, looks surprised.

Justin Bieber, in need of acne cream.
Cher, stunning beauty, here at thirteen.

*
*

Spring Fugue / by Will Johnston

Wind draws aside the grass like a child
trailing their fingers along a wrought iron fence.
The grass did not expect

to live again, but it is always returning,
always busy with the joy of returning.
From wind, from death.

And we are back, who stepped
out of the world for a time,
who broke all bonds, bricked off our empathy.

After a winter that lasts our whole life long
we forget our names
and invent them again, just the same.

The whole world died
with us still in it. What comes now?

*
*

Monte Sereno / by Amy Miller

When I had two spoons,
the kitchen was a bathroom,
the closet was a cupboard.
The fridge tuned its fork,
lonesome in the shed. In rain,
the roses splayed and bricks
forgot their mortar. I had

one knife, a saw,
and somebody’s old hammer. Rats
made feast of the rafters,
frost brought the moon
and the brown moving
shapes of coyotes. I had
two bowls and a steel
teapot ticking,
ticking on the warm
burner in the dark.

*
*

The Same but More Different / by Will Stockton

To compare everything: a thesis
I exorcise from the mouth

of my students returns
when my son compares

everything.
The movies we let him watch

with those his mother played
so she could sleep on winter days

in Ohio when the snow rose
high enough to block their attic door.

Today and yesterday:
their difference one

measured in degrees of pain
to our skin.

Today Caden falls off his bike
and skins his knee.

1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you,
he sings, and Howard suggests

Caden might like the 1931 Frankenstein.
But no black and white movie

will satisfy his want for red.
The book, I say, we should start there.

It’s about a monster who wants
to be human, I think,

though the truth is I don’t remember
this most familiar of plots.

And I can’t say, It’s like your life
the same but more different.

I can’t explain how there’s fire
And a flight to the ice of Antarctica.

*
*

Four Paris Haiku / by Amy Schreibman Walter

He says accents lie.
It’s not that, just tiredness
(I want to lie down).

.
Metro map:
Roosevelt before Concorde,
switch for Picasso.

.
Women at Versailles:
Pale skin burns, waiting outside.
Skin creamy, sweating.

.
We share some vowels.
He offers almond croissant.
Marais is lit up.

*
*

Day 2 / Poems 2

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

2.

When I told you about the pelican—
that I thought I should have called someone.

You said, That’s your problem. You always
doubt your instincts.

As a woman, I’ve been taught to ignore
connections. The ones between myself

and the moon, the tides
internal and external.

The way the pelican and I
for an instant

were one.

*
*

The Owl in the Lanai (Summer, 2007) / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Tidal, sudden opening of wings
from some shadowed place beside
the pool. Almost any other night
and I’d have been inside. No breach
through which he could have gotten
in but he was in and I
was used by then to the sudden
flushing out of wonders,
year-long excavation
of all my hidden things, spaces
between tines of the mind’s fork
widening. I understood, at least,
that he was not a simple thing.

Lunar face. Thick legs at the screen
scraping for an open place.
Cinderella creature, meant to dive
the midnight roads to hunt for what
sustained him. Eyes that widened
into yellow craters when I
came near. Frightened, heavy bird, yet still
contained and drawing from a source
I am here to learn about.

He needed me to let him out.
I needed him to carry me when he
was free again, compassion never kinder
than the opening of doors.

I showed him how to go.
He left a feather on the floor.
Our strange compulsions
at edges of what little we might know.

*
*

Madonna at the Window Front / by Silvia Bonilla

Hikes her head up
then relapses
in quivering shyness.

Look at yourself
nailed to the black glass
in a watercolor dress!

*
*

Spring and No End / by Deborah Brandon

i with the finite fields,
all the butter-flower
nymphs folding around blades
of grass. curled under!
fraught to lace!

saddle-sharded but singing,
stinging; bald glory of bruises
crowning the inner thigh.

i with the carrion stars–
little meatlets!–
the earth’s sling loosens

a flag humiliated to shreds.

water wants to let an outlet trickle in
mahler went sweating off demons
but i with mine wore no necklace

there were months afterwards
and at the end of these
i clung to the evidence
. what kind of swan?
i with the i with the i

*
*

Harold & the Purple Crayon / by D. Gilson

The student health psychologists
at Berkeley told Harold his anger
was not surprising. The parents
who let him go for a midnight walk
with no moon. I couldn’t have
been more than four, Harold told
the doctor in her crisply beige
office with big, soft, khaki sofas
and a framed medical degree
from Princeton, gold-trimmed but
also beige. Doctor, is it ever okay
for a four year old to eat nine
different types of pie? Harold
asked her. Call me Lisa, the doctor
replied. Everyone knew Harold
could draw. The registrar dropped
his intro level life drawing requirement
and by sophomore year, Harold
was critiquing graduate students.
By junior year, Harold knew exactly
when to quote Susan Sontag.
Standing in front of a professor’s
latest pastel of Mojave succulents:
This just makes me think how
in place of a hermeneutics, we need
an erotics of art. Harold’s professors
would hum & nod their frightening
dragon heads, but none of them
knew exactly what Harold meant.
By senior year, Harold became
distant, his work increasingly
angry: sad apple trees, their fruit
rotting, monochrome purple,
under the quiet lack of a moon.

*
*

A Hundred Years of Life / by Will Johnston

We open up oceans. Our continents part
and pry open underwater magma vents.
Sea rushes in, the salt boil

hissing steam from raw red crevices
and drowning it, brought into the world
then snuffed before it’s seen

under the crush of water that piles on,
implacable as stone, for miles on miles above

all the way to the placid surface.
Wave-action traces cryptic patterns
within patterns, and we are ensnared,
Narcissus-like, attempting to divine

from this self-perpetuating oracle
the means to siphon out the black water
from the chambers of our hearts.

We see much
that we already know,
learn nothing,

and the raw places endure, factories
for things we cannot use.

Oceans of our sadness smooth their tailings
into stately mountains
no one will see.

*
*

other not other / by Amy Miller

belly my baby
(not a baby)
my roustabout roundabout
basketball inside out
slather your charm on the muffin’s
heady top or do you
like it the other
way? the muffin in you
all mellow and tough

you grew
like a holy cloud
of gobbled-up food
that was too too
easy

belly my poking-
inward porcupine
stay grudging mine a little
longer before
I give you the knife
the vacuum the bonfire
fashion model paper cut

or will it be
us chickens baby
(not a baby)
together on this bus
forever through
the bursting towns the rolling
boulders bulging volcanoes
down the fat fish roads
to Valhalla
or Klamath
(where finally it’s
everybody off)

*
*

And Jesus Said, ‘If a Man Love Me’ / by Will Stockton

When Elton John arrives in heaven,
he complains about the lack of faggots.

Jesus breaks off a finger –
Here, take of my body.

They sit together on the yellow brick road
& Jesus writes the evening setlist.

How long do I have to play? Elton asks.
Unclear, Jesus replies.

Elton complains about the lack of Diet Coke,
& Jesus opens an artery –

Here, take of my blood.
It’s non-alcoholic.

Elton plays “Love Lies Bleeding” forever
hereafter as the shoulders of Jesus

& John bounce & graze in the front row.

*
*

Mermaids on Parade / by Amy Schreibman Walter

(after a New York Times photo gallery depicting
The Coney Island Mermaid Parade)

They found their way
into the New York Times.
Scales, tails, wet. Curvaceous
women, muscled men, turquoise
ribbons dragging along behind
floats, far from rocks.

They found their way
into bikinis made of coconut
shells, into silver princess heels.
Blisters, sequins, long
blond wigs. Legacies of glitter
along Coney Island Avenue.

*
*

Day 1 / Poems 1

*

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pelican / by Shaindel Beers

I.

The lone pelican in the reeds
of river’s edge seemed odd.
I stopped—watched—
did nothing.

Later in the paper the story
of its broken wing,
likely caused
by flying into a wire.

That it would probably be
euthanized. When you see
a pelican alone, it usually
means something is wrong,
said the wildlife expert.

My self-doubt that kept me
from calling. Did I cause that pelican
more hours of suffering
or gift it a few more hours
of floating in the reeds,
a little while longer to bob
in the gentle current,
the coolness of water over webbed feet?

Forgive me, pelican. I also, am always alone,
also fly too recklessly for my own good.

*
*

Dominion / by Nancy Bevilaqua

Three days. Acre of eternity undone.
Anole to whom in May I’d given
human name, the place still virgin then,
from his nearly solitary standing palm looked
to me, dispirited, then back to that new earth,
blank-faced and stripped behind his tree.

Requisitioned, plundered, razed for something
spacious, insular, commodity,

our inviolable jungle, primal, vibrant,
all palms and fronds, Spanish moss, tree-frogs, snakes
and nests of tawny doves, vines and lake-edge
rookery, where young of June had safely slept, sprays
of snowy egret, heron, loon. Place where deer,
diminishing, would rest, cathedral of cicada song.
All free things
betrayed, plowed under, left exposed
in litter, on boot-stamped, barren mud.

That’s progress, someone said,
but day is gone and here life ends and lord
I fear for all of them, my fragile friends.

*
*

Insecure Madonna / by Silvia Bonilla

In the examining room he maneuvers
placing his fingers underneath
her breasts, I can add to this
tossing them as if releasing a bird.
Correct God’s errors! She sits at the edge
of the chair, blue robe opened to
a pulpy opal chest,
the temporary tenants of a cup
bulging and inquisitive like ill eyes,
they stare right back.

*
*

…the curse of earthly weight was resting / by Deborah Brandon

from a sigh, the tornado
gathers its skin.

a quiet cell
swelling flute to leaf,
cello to sun.

at the centre
of shaded shade,
mahler’s hands
are angels carving
out their own
wings. fists
in the dusk-
blood, dictating
the largest,
smoothest stones

his mouth thinning
air ………….. feathers
even above the mountains,
the throats of reeds

the sky-net sighs,
bending

*
*

Sex Education / by D. Gilson

but what about the soul
that grows in darkness, embossed by silvery images
—Frank O’Hara

I carried a watermelon,
Baby says in Dirty Dancing;
and Here’s looking at you, kid,
Rick says in Casablanca;
[I beg my mother, Let me eat cake];
so Blanche says, I have always
depended on the kindness
of strangers; and Harry laughs,
I’ll have what she’s having; and
that witch doesn’t like any of it,
so she cackles, I’ll get you,
my pretty, and your little dog,
too; but Cher, moonstruck,
tells everyone, Snap out of it;
and, in praise of her, Georgie
says, My mother thanks you,
my father thanks you, my sister
thanks you, and I thank you;
[in the kitchen, my mother mixes
a Betty Crocker German Chocolate
two-layer] so I scream out to her,
Made it, Ma, top of the world;
Norman reminds us, A boy’s
best friend is his mother;
and Jack tap tap taps, All work
and no play makes Jack a dull
boy; but, There’s no crying
in baseball; but, Well, nobody’s
perfect; but, I want be alone;
but, There’s no place like home;
and, E.T. phone home; maybe,
You can’t handle the truth;
so, You talkin’ to me; because,
I am big, it’s the pictures
that got small; [my mother
silences the television], moans,
You’re gonna need a bigger
boat; and I sigh, At least
we’ll always have Paris.

*
*

The River in Revolt / by Will Johnston

Above the dam, the river
reversed its course, rippling uphill
carrying bright shards of sun upon its back,
turning fields to choppy seas, casting hillsides down
upon itself, rewriting the landscape
in washed out banks and rills of clay,
sleeplessly seeking a virgin path
to the ocean.

Below it’s shed its banks,
crawling newborn out of itself,
its soft serpent belly rubbed raw
on concrete, gouged with rusted rebar.
Ducks fish the new river,
resurfacing among the quarry slag
with fish who’ve swum through grass
and over pavements in their bills.
And sometimes, when snaggled wire
or rebar spears their ruddy throats,
the river is fishing for them.

And sometimes children disappear
in the early morning, beds still warm but emptied
into the dream of an ocean come to town,
and when the flood recedes we find them
swaying like bloated fruit,
their ankles caught by a single loop of fishing wire,
their fingertips brushing against the glassy surface.

*
*

meditation is like my friend marlene / by Amy Miller

i.e., all over the place
and wearing a randy black bubble
of a bra but mean
to the waiter at first and talking
about all this kooky crap
she says is real

she can’t
shut up for something that feels
like an hour
and I have
to sit
and listen and not
listen and not
think of my foot
on fire with a cramp
and only then maybe

can I start to see
the vortex in the cone
of the iris of one
of her water-
blues
the pinpoint of who
she is
which turns out
to be weirdly
like me turned inside out
sort of a place
and not
so much
this thing this still
not
quite
sitting still

*
*

The Day My Son Is Born / by Will Stockton

he tries to kick out the window,
to jump from the car
as we drive Charlotte to Clemson,
but he can’t open the child-locked door.

I turn him into my arms
outside of Greenville
as he kicks kicks kicks the window,
knocks four Beyblades to the floor;

their silver, yellow, & green tips,
blue metal circles, red & grey rippers
roll under the seat.

These Beyblades, I will learn,
spin around stadiums now packed
in the trunk as we slow to twenty
& my husband rolls past the green exit.

Shout it out, I whisper
as we drive through Easely
& he twists from my arms
feet first.

I know all healthy newborns cry,
even nine-year-old wards of Ohio
who hit themselves quiet,
then ask to stop for a donut.

*
*

The Last Time I Went to the Movies with Ida / by Amy Schreibman Walter

She lived equidistant between two art-house
movie theaters; insisted on walking to them
until she couldn’t – I wheeled her an Avenue
and a block: At least the seat is leather; it’s a decent ride.
At The Quad that afternoon, she befriended the usher.
He was like a young James Dean, popcorn crumbs
scattered on his black button down shirt; a whizz
with the brakes on the wheelchair. She
winked at him: This is Manhattan, of course
they have a section for wheelchairs.

She did the same things, that year
before she died, but they mattered more.
Presentation remained important
to the very end. A new hairstyle, wisps of her
dyed blonde hair falling onto her thin eyebrows.
The hours before she could get out
of her housedress and into something beautiful
tended to pass slowly. Ida exhaled
at the sound of the key in the door – signaling
the arrival of the Ghanaian carer; it was time
to get dressed. If we were going to the movies,
there would be beads or a scarf, even a hat.
Always in black except for red nails, French tips.

She waited to be dressed in those morning hours,
reading the Times, squinting into the print,
Mozart’s symphonies – crescendos, blocking
out street sounds, sirens from Fifth Avenue.
The Movies section drew her in,
a circle in red around her choices. Matinees,
senior specials, cheap ticket Tuesdays.
She liked to call me her date for the pictures.

That afternoon, she chose a Parker Posey movie –
some low budget New York independent thing.
I thought it would be less interesting to her than
a grand biopic; she thought otherwise – it takes me away
from thinking about my own problems, are you kidding?
As long as there’s no gratuitous sex –
the sex should be beautiful, otherwise what’s the point?

She fell asleep in the middle of the movie.
I debated whether I should wake her; watched
40 – something actors, self indulgent
dinner party dialogues -
but there was no gratuitous sex
so I decided to rouse her. Thank you for waking me!
What did I miss? Ida took my hand, quickly kissed my palm.
Thank you for taking me to the movies.
On screen they were drinking
vintage port with desert; I thought they were a little pretentious.
I wondered whether Ida thought the same thing.

*
*

 

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