30/30 Project: May 2013

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.

Our nine volunteers for May 2013 were: Katy Chrisler, Christine Starr Davis, Donelle Dreese, Alan Kleiman, Desmond Kon, Barbara March, Colin Pope, Jo Vance, and Arlo Voorhees. Read their full bios by clicking here.

Please 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!

donate button

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Bonus! Day 31 / Poems 31

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Naming of Parts / by Katy Chrisler

First came, what is your name? Mid
air, in touch. I was looking for scarves.
We both have a hunger capable of being
put into print. That’s biblical. It’s curious
for me to cringe at a country with all
its evils. A midnight experience
he said to me. Same melody
different character. I sat at the bar
and listened to you tell a story
about a girl who painted a dog silver
with paint. I listened to you
tell a story about a man
whose son lived on the roof
of a building with a sadness and helmet
who rained Kleenex off the edge
to create an idea of snow for those below.
Proof that nothing is an isolated act.

The scaffold is support to the building
nearby. The woodpile is tarped with a tarp.
I take my garbage into town.
I’ve talked enough
I want to hear from you.

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Davis 31

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Wild Mushrooms / by Donelle Dreese

Every word I write feels lucky
an open window on a Saturday afternoon

because my bills are paid
because I’m not visiting a friend

in a beige and busy hospital
because my eyes have carrots

and my hand tugs a tool
today without pain.

Every metaphor is a gift
from magic mushroom season

transformative, if I’m lucky
literary paste, if I’m not

but I relish that I have time to write
to hunt wild mushrooms I can eat

that I know the difference
between poison and pleasure.

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Sunny Day / by Alan Kleiman

The Elephant sat awkwardly on his hind legs
his trunk waving in the air.
Giddyap he thought
but he didn’t say a word
after all what could he say?
the sky was blue
the grass green
and peanuts still under $3 a pound unshelled
don’t get me started on shelled peanuts
and stop thinking dry roasted
it’s important not to pollute an elephant’s thoughts
on a summer day
in spring
they know the difference
just like you and me.

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* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 31

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Advice to 30/ 30 Poets / by Barbara March

Keep an open knife on your desk,
look at the blade once an hour.
I could stab someone, or myself,
or someone could stab me.
A reminder of the end, the knife
is a cliché for your mortality,
you’re stuck on the point of the blade.
Time is running out, do you feel it?

Eat ice cream, break a glass.
We’re polite to one another
because we know how bad it really is.
Wear feathers and hats.

If your well runneth dry and it‘s written down, it‘s gone.
Formalization in a digital format is lame.

Write on paper and let it pile up around you
like loving arms or a voice in your ear,
drop-shoulder calm. Live your poetic
morality dream in a tactile sense.
When it’s written down it’s gone.

At the end, place your 30 days in a plastic bag
and bury them until they‘re gone. After that,
once in while, not every day, write a poem
in the sand with a stick.
Take a photo of your sand poem.

Tell your poet friends if they want help
to give me a call, my whole life is a poem.
I go into the gas station talking poetry.
That’s how I pay for gas.

This final 30/ 30 poem is dedicated to Nick, my poetry coach.

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Buying Yourself Some Flowers / by Colin Pope

And anyway, why must pleasure be
a gift? I’ve chased it through
the dark, shifting rooms of youth, I’ve scraped
at the skin on the backs of lovers,
searched their mouths with the floodlight
of my tongue, and still
pleasure was gone by morning,

maybe dropping a few stray petals,
a hairpin, a tinfoil swan to be murdered
at lunch the next day. I’ve birthdayed,
I’ve blown out the candles, I’ve been
a hatchling pointed up towards the meal
of a fresh gift, even the camera surprised

by the cavernous O of my face.
Pleasure never stayed. Did I want it to?
I gave it away so freely, as though I understood
how it worked, sitting in the alley
of humanity, passing the bottle when I’m far
from being drunk. We are born to deserve,
right? And this forest of levers—

we are meant to pull and throw until
the factory groans to life, puffing smoke
into the sky of bliss? And if it breaks down—
what then? Let’s say pleasure was abandoned,
silent with rust, birds colonizing the rafters.
Through cracks in the floor,

these flowers strained toward
the broken window, the sun arcing high.
I’m the sort that would pick them. I’d hang them
upside down in the kitchen to dry,
I’d drag them along my arm, between
my withers, their silk curled and prickly.
After a while, I’d wonder what they were.
These are not flowers, I’d say. Which is fine.
Which is when I’d give them a name.

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Fern / by Jo Vance

Fern . . . holds a certain energy that is similar to the energy of the sun. – St. Hildegard

A fern dispels darkness.
It moves from inwardness –
the rope-tight coiled frond –
to openness, like light.

And all those forest banners
wave from below trees
at anyone who lingers
to breathe them in and believe
that what is seen is not
coincidence but mystery.

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Útlevelem Hortobágyból / by Arlo Voorhees

We couldn’t see for miles; the sky held
its last syllable, and the grass fell forever
into itself until no distance remained.

Whatever happened after this–our future
was a well we’d stumble into, walking backwards
to watch the grey cattle hug the puszta,

or to re-define the nine-arched bridge
and throw the last bits of stale kifli
before the fledgling mangalicas.

We’d fall into it holding hands, speaking
Hunglish and settling for a hotel in Ózd,
or a detour to the apartment in Pest.

How we got out of Hortobágy I don’t know.
The landscape stung with real pastoral;
no made-up shepherds singing, its truth

balked at exaggeration– no Theocritus
was needed to pull the starlit meadows
across the made-up faces of city girls.

That’s why I can’t remember; I can only
return to your eyes that burned like mercenaries
across the blank pages of the plain.

You refused surrender here, my love,
for we’d been schooled in corners and limits,
the importance of elevation, and desire

knows little of a world within its reach.
You drove down the road towards Miskolc.
In the rear view mirror, there we stood

arms tangled like a rhododendron.

This poem was commissioned by Miss Unyatinszki.

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Day 30 / Poems 30

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Chrisler 30

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Then, Bend to Enter / by Christine Starr Davis

If you are this high (note the clown arm, there, stand under it, heels on the ground);
advance in the line, present your ticket, shift, move slowly, approach the cage, the raised
bar, the man with torn hands, blackened teeth; you’ll never see him again.

Four chairs of any sort, a ratty blanket, clothes pins, cracker jacks, a flashlight; mind the
hand-written invitation, the crayoned vampire, the arrow at the flap door, the promise of
fear; above all do not find the offer cute; be afraid, show you’re afraid.

Step on the foamy, soaked mat, especially if you can’t remember whether or not you have
visited a cave within the last five years, whether or not your shoes are new or leather or
expose bare toes; just please step on the mat before you go in and after.

Twelve blocks to a mile, choose the route, make it last, leave your cell phone behind, take
your time, fondle rocks, bend to the scent of roses, to grieve the fallen robin, to recall
your knees, to pass gladly under the lowest branch of the neighbor’s tree.

There are many ways to pray.

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Gossip / by Donelle Dreese

The heat-seeker
holds the gasoline

a professional chef
measuring a teaspoon here

a quarter cup there
to bake a burning wisp of truth

into a firestorm of fiction
a divider of minds

a behind the scenes
laughing back row crow.

Who holds the water
transforming the whispers

into damp blue-green moss
fragrant as a florist

barely pumping a pulse
letting the pungent anecdote drown

so it can do no harm?

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Children / by Alan Kleiman

He was such a dear
Such a tiny fellow
So twinkle eyed
And joyful
They laugh thousands of times a day
When tiny
And it diminishes
As they grow older
Until they become
Curmudgeons like us
In adulthood
Or senile like us
In adulthood
Or just cranky crabby
Like us in adulthood
But back then as toys
As tiny tots
With life ahead
These dolls
Tickled our fancy
Put their laughter
On our lips
Their giggles
In our hearts
Their tiny fingers
In our hands
And made us proud
Strong
Busy
And happy
Even when we didn’t know we felt it
Full

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* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 30

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At the Palomino Valley, Nevada Wild Horse Detention Center / by Barbara March

B March 30

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To the Magician’s Assistant / by Colin Pope

Beautiful girl,

how did you know you were the opposite
of death? Grinning and grinning up
toward heaven, body sawn in half, your pieces

floating away from each other like
broken satellites. To think! The poor, confused angels
perched along the catwalk, waiting
to bear you home, and the magician

brandishing a blade,
congratulating himself
with that same deep bow they’ve seen
since the beginning of man.

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Kitchen Haibun / by Jo Vance

My travels through the cupboards reveal two scooped-out jars of honey, various dried
beans, enough canned tomatoes to last a tiny century.

Again my dinner
blueberry oat-spelt pancakes
pooled maple syrup

I float from sink to stove to sink to stove to refrigerator. The sky is getting brighter as I am
trying to forget what it is I am thinking and remember what it is I have forgotten.

The teaspoon clatters
down to a constellation
flung flour and oats

The fire alarm goes off at the slightest whiff of pancake. Now I am running uphill from
peace to consternation, yelling stop stop stop as I press the reset button. There is no fire here.
Repeat after me: there is no fire here in my country. Just pancakes. Many pancakes.

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Haiku / by Arlo Voorhees

“Syllabics confused
with rhetorical nuance-
plastic, Chinese birds.” –Anonymous

I.

Man
leaves
for
greener
pastures.

Kerouac
Ginsberg
Rimbaud
Jarry
Shelley
Shakespeare
Voorhees.

Blue
jays
pitching
drunken
nostalgia.

II.

Boy
running
naked
through
wheat.

Phone
call
says
we
sold
the
farm.

Walmart
our
new
“neighborhood
market.”

III.

Poet
tries
to
describe
heart.

Playing
catch
in
moonlight:
father
and
son.

Formlessness
a
form
of
despair.

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Day 29/ Poems 29

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We Can’t Stay Here / by Katy Chrisler

He leaned in and whispered
a hard-wrung pledge. With
a darkness shadowed under
nails, under eyes, under
a face that hung bound
to bones: wound me cruelly
he said. Not a useless thing.
A babel of clamor for which
the bounds are released.
We can’t stay here.

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Carbon Footprint #1 / by Christine Starr Davis

Buried alive, this carbon I flash
on my finger, a circle encircling—the mount,
and the prongs conjure the ballroom

of domesticity where I dance the sweep
and fold, waltz over bubbles, cha cha
the dirty dishes insistent on scrubbing,

the same way the girls’ stained faces
begged a rag. The wrist pivots and there—it sends
its sparks—my carbon unburied and burning.

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Wellness Catalog / by Donelle Dreese

If I wore the persimmon Zen dress,
the heart-centered jade lotus necklace

by the belly glow of the Buddha nightlight,
would I discern the difference between

a rope and a snake at twilight’s dangerous hour?
If I settled in the seagrass & mangowood

meditation chair, would my monkey
mind assume a neutral position, a pool

of standing water reflecting dune peaks
on a vacant beach where all experience

converges into a unified sweep of sand?
If I massaged the fragrant chakra oils

into my color-coded consciousness,
would Kundalini rise without a creak?

And tell me, how did the monks manage it, living
the golden present without mandala pillows?

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The Argument / by Alan Kleiman

Why did we have an argument
What was behind the anger
The unhappiness
The disappointment
The sadness
The need to say
I hate you and your children
The need not to stop
The need to tell your friends
Help me I’m unhappy
The need to not give up
The need to never stop
The need to never stop.

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 * * * / by Desmond Kon

Tupelo 30 Desmond Kon 29B

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Excerpt from “Cold Book, Hot Book” / by Barbara March

Sky shine on the wire.
My fingers outweigh my head.
The sun is a vestige in reverse.
The ancient Chinese welcomed the fantastical into their everyday lives.
With a root wood fly whisk.

Flax in my hand is counter to cognition, as rest before color.

* * *

Vagrant in this squint. I am hatless.
An old water course never loses its way.
He was seven years old when he started work on the ranch.
He fed the cows and horses. His calluses grew up with him.

Inner is outer overnight.

* * *

The ditch is crying.
Tawny dogs chased a old lion up a tree
The dead ewe and the dead lamb and the dead dog
are untangled by confusion.
Re-engineering the eyes in obsessive.
What of the spring, the promise of the park procession
through the colonnade.
The trapper shot the lion.
The full cemetery under dirt, the full hearts, plastic flowers.
The seed of sleep in the baby’s eye, lettuce underground.

There is strength in denial, a sort of comfort, I guess.

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After Accidentally Mowing Down the Rosebush / by Colin Pope

By the time I recognized beauty,
it had already been mangled. Of course.
Its head thrown back like a frozen deer,
its lines broken and twisted
like a child’s drawing of a thunderstorm.
Beauty had never wanted me
so I let it be eaten, I listened indifferently
to its screams and gurgles,
feeling like a god. This is right,
I thought, This is one way to be young
forever. It was such hard work.
Now, while it lies twitching on the lawn,
I tell it I’m sorry, I’m so sorry
as I start up the machine and roll over it
again and again, until it’s gone.

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Vance 29

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What It is / by Arlo Voorhees

Neither the ten inches of hair for locks of love
nor the I love Boobies bracelets,
the pink wristbands on football players,
10ks, 5ks, the 5 dollar donations,
funny wigs and marijuana-
cancer is a joke with no punch-line,
a shared body we all inhabit and suffer through.

I’ve had cancer too many times;
I watched my grandmother finally surrender,
and my colleague transform into something
primitive, in the same way my friend did,
as he smoked joint after joint and smiled
as hard as he could to wake up in the morning.

In a way, they are the chosen ones,
mercenaries to carry our pain and remind us
how silly our lives really are, as well
as the seriousness of that realization.
None of us can escape to beach houses,
to airports–we can’t emigrate untouched
by that thing our bodies can’t decode.

We cannot sing without it in our voices.
In order to dance we need it.
We must squeeze it for the love it inspires,
challenge it to a duel of honor and laugh as
it skulks through our nights like a raccoon
prowling, indiscriminately for sustenance.

Not the stuttering speech of a dying friend
nor the severed limbs infected with tumors,
the blinding white of hospital rooms, the anger
of never having enough, never saying enough,
Cancer is proof of what we can accomplish
by talking, listening and remembering the way

we touch each other on typical days,
splayed out in the sunshine beside the sea.

This poem was commissioned by Ms. Alabarca for the students at Jason Lee Middle School.

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Day 28/ Poems 28

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Also The Tides / by Katy Chrisler

Avenues of late, interlinear,
I have been made in its graves
with no rest. In the tides of
men, in my desires, I cannot
bade adieu to the idea
of sudden release. A
pavement of fish glittering,
throwing themselves against
one another and I look
to have an emptiness
take hold.

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Antibiotic Nights / by Christine Starr Davis

In many of the dreams the car keeps climbing,
and terror does as vertical (translation: death)
becomes inevitable. In many of the dreams the
car keeps climbing and the road narrows and
encloses (translation: birth) as the destination
becomes imminent. In one dream the car stops
and nothing looks friendly or threatening and
choices weigh the same in the stagnant space.
Though it’s early when she wakes up, it’s okay,
because she recalls she’s been lost like this b4.

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How to Fly / by Donelle Dreese

Blow history an eviction notice
on wings of a paper airplane.

Let tattered trees of the past
thrust their rags toward a blind

village where no one lives.
Pack all guilt and shame

in a double-corrugated cardboard box
the color of used coffee grounds

lacquer it with martyr tape,
send it priority shipping

to a locked lost vault in the sky.

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How To / by Alan Kleiman

We wondered how to make something from nothing
All was not lost
There was a tulip by the path
Tall and Dutch
Pink
And by the edge near the forest
Lilly of the valleys blossomed;
By the side of the garden were lilacs
All there but how to make them whole
We wanted so much to make it holy
And it was simply lovely
Instead.

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* * * / by  Desmond Kon

Tupelo 30 Desmond Kon 28B

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Fortune Teller Farrier / by Barbara March

Trimming hooves
at the long shadow time.

Don’t pull back, put your
chestnut in mine.

See these deep grooves
there’s work to be done.

You’re not making contact my son,
more balanced from stone to stone.

Hold still, I’ll trim this flap
of dead dew, phew!

Your central groove
is tight as a screw driver is high.

Unlike the palm reader I
can smooth the edges

off your sole, turning
but touching the rasp

in a way I cannot say, how often
I should taper your white line,

your dirt line,your soft feathered edges.
Flop your hind leg over mine.

Some black beans never leave Mexico.

This poem is dedicated to Lisl, with thanks.

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Suicide Hotline / by Colin Pope

No, well I do feel
a bit dissected, a little bit
like I’d serve society better
as training for the clumsy hands
of med students, but I’m not calling for me.
I’ll make it—just tell me
what you would say to a person.
Can you do that for me?
And how you would say it.
And when do you know, I mean,
can you hear the knives
going quiet in the drawer?
Or the earnestness in the twisting
of the lid over the pills?
I just know that whatever it is,
it lives in voice, it hunts
and then comes back to voice
to sleep, honestly full. Right?
Because why would it be worth it
to trick us? That would mean something,
if they lied to us and hung up.
I’m saying if we couldn’t hear truth,
if what was fake desire to live
and real desire were the same, but
they knew that we didn’t know
then that would mean something.
It would mean they wanted us
to believe, and we believed, stupid us,
poor us, big empty windows
of us , just there to be seen through,
and they’d be okay. It takes energy
to lie, doesn’t it? I mean,
why do you think anybody calls?

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Paper Girl / by Jo Vance

Ink dust waxed my jeans black
where I placed the newspaper down
over my hip to fold it tight and snap
it shut with a rubber band,
leaving my fingers muddy
as the five o’clock morning light
smudging into the dining room.

I hefted the news-bag over my shoulder,
went outside to mount my bike
and test the balance till I got it right,
then I peeled off and down the hill,
as meteored as night speeding out
in favor of this day’s breaking news.

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Another Perspective / by Arlo Voorhees

Here at the beaver pond in my pastoral,

the clouds amass like holiday shoppers,
and what can I do but rant and rave

for sunlit drama, for glory to grant me days
to stretch idly among my ancestors,
drunk in the handed-down meadow?

But who cares about my nostalgic armies?
Like cartoon ants carrying off a hot dog,
I’m just as illusional as those swarming clouds..

So I dive in, throw a cushion into the wind,
and relax by some cheetos and barbed wire;
one after another, I extinguish my cigarettes

in the glistening water. I sing like a goose
strung out on summer afternoons that stretch
like strays on haystacks, and I remember

the farm in Rutland, our diorama of a lawn-
the sandbox and rusted diesel tank- they shine now
like a shopping cart underwater.

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Day 27/ Poems 27

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Pretending To Be Asleep / by Katy Chrisler

Velveted above, the thing hazy
is my mind and these mountains.
Nearby a girl in water drunk on roses,
something floats
something touches, territorial.
I cook garlic and hold a pencil.
Straight-faced and chisel-downed
I’ve had my pretend cups of tea.
You, in this, are a dark spot, Neptune.
A elegiac cognac spit black.
That is an elaborate compliment
darling. Intimate face lift
your lids to mine and be quiet.
I am a surface that doesn’t dominate sense.

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The Flag He is, is Burning / by Christine Starr Davis

             for Quinn

Skin, like tissue paper, here and here and; fluency, yes:
Spanish, Italian, French, you want me to go on, German,
Russian, Portugese and Anglaise; cancer, yes, hole
to prove it; continence: can hold it, yes, can stand
and deliver, no; electric chair, lost on arrival; family,
yes; memories, plentiful, a one-armed pony ride on board
the knee of Jimmy Doolittle, General Doolittle, one
brother, his twin sister, a daughter and son, my young bride;
enlisted, yes; age at enlistment, eighteen; tours of duty,
you’re joking; conflicts, four; list: WWII, Korea, Vietnam,
this place; bombing missions, seventeen, with sorrow;
night terrors, yes; presumed dead, yes, a last minute
crew change; rank, Colonel; decorations, subject gestures
to wall; most recent visit from an elected official,
subject raises eyebrows; ironies, the coffee shop; clarify,
the Foxhole; clarify, where we hide from the enemy; appetite,
unwarranted; clarify, subject gestures to tray; hobbies,
fast cars and fast women; hobbies, scuba diving, you still
think I’m kidding; hobbies, philately, subject grins, waits,
stamp collecting, subject cackles; any other hobbies, I knew
a lot about computers, subject’s fingers flutter; passions,
subject declines to answer; interview terminated.

Subject remembers diving the reefs, the hot and cool
drag of his cigarette, water striking his chest, the folds
of a woman, feels cockatiels perch again on his head, smooth
motors of the Siamese, catfish on a taught line, cooked tender
in his mouth, yards of books, the dogs, the dogs, a ship’s rail
under his hand, hers. Now the strings swell. Now he weeps.

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A Perfect Life / by Donelle Dreese

Puddle water peppers the wall
from the wag of a dog’s tail

a long-haired hideaway willow tree
still smokes from lightning shock

the runaway heartache skims a lagoon
looking for rocking, submerged love.

What would I do with a perfect life
now that I confess the lucky arrows

aimed at my flesh have unleashed
branching palpitations everywhere?

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Sweet and Sour Tongue / by Alan Kleiman

MAY 27
My bar mitzvah day
I still remember the
Sweet and sour
Sweet and sour tongue that is
With the often debated raisins
(I didn’t care with or without was fine)
Delivering My Bar Mitzvah speech
That my father the rabbi wrote
His words for my lips
To read as my own
I was low on words
Or thoughts that day
Lacking thoughts
Of my own
Or words to wrap them in
(Like raisins yes or no)
It was May 27
Just like today.
Sweet and sour
Tongue.

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  * * * / by Desmond Kon

Tupelo 30 Desmond Kon 27B

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Bearing Witness at Bull Creek /by Barbara March

I saw the trail, the quiet field,
my friend on the ground,
the offending willow, the naive stream.
Her foot, a hinge wedged
in the stirrup iron. She held one rein,
the horse whirled and flicked,
a lash end around her.

a distance of story grew between us

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The Optimism of Midas / by Colin Pope

Beyond the wasteland of touch
there are arias of color like no man
could ever perceive, visions
to make weeping sacred. And then
the leaf, the moth, the daily refuse
of the spiderweb, pulsing
within the reach of a breath,
are more alive in their delicacy
than the fastest heart in the warmest body,
are truer than a mother’s embrace.
People say the loss of one sense
makes the others stronger. This is true—
in the depths of the night,
the hot moan of the world
reaches out, begging to make love,
and with phantasmal ears and nose
a practiced epicurean could reach back,
make it scream, quiver, could push it
over the edge, to where gold rises
every morning, beyond feeling,
casting beauty like the grace of a god.

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Edamame / by Jo Vance

The smooth pods split
neatly between the teeth,
reminiscent of salt.

You line the husks
in a row on the plate,
wanting a field like home.*

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The Billionth Coming / by Arlo Voorhees

apologies to Yeats

Circlin’ and circlin’ above the Tower,
the pilot can’t hear the flight controller.
Things get labeled, carried away and blown;
out of proportion by remote controlled drones;
currents thaw and oceans climb the air;
innocents are hugged and innocently re-zoned,
efficiency the new criteria for intelligence,
and the wise embark on nostalgic rants.

Surely some revelation is at hand.
Surely a made-for-TV sequel is at hand.
Armageddon 2. I write those words and already
I can see Ben Affleck–as half-star, half-clone
half-monkey–1.5 times a 20th century
man, posing perfectly jacked and tanned
and hosing the oil off a white stallion
while around him whirl plastic tumbleweeds,
and the final newspaper smacks the lens.

The lights go out. But I know how it ends.
After 13 billion years, it comes to this–a radiating
bombshell blonde, finally given that archetypal scene;
What B-list actress, (what else was she in),
wanders the grey Mojave to be saved?

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Day 26 / Poems 26

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Upkeep / by Katy Chrisler

The same again
yet wrong some
how. I keep and
release an episode,
parallactic.
What is there
to keep me truthful?
Unsaid, if I
do not say them,
more slivers, saccadic,
these things no
longer tend
with language.
Leap, fuss, fringe
scene. There aren’t
two ways to
revelation. Don’t
let me shine on
into a fear that is
objectless. Hand
and sharp, split and
non-whole. Upkeep
means something
different than kept.

*
*

Fewer Bees Now / by Christine Starr Davis

after Antonio Machado

The impossibility of their flight,
the way their feet slide inside

the channels of crop blossoms
and emerge furred with agronomic

bullion. How heedless we shrug off
our weight of un-honeyed failures

and the bees’ retreat, eye-rolling
headlines that trumpet the hives’

vacancies. Listen. The crops talk,
in the paucity of shoots, they tell us.

*
*

Say Yes To It / by Donelle Dreese

because denial is a disorderly thief
and resistance turns water to lead

so let the thing flow through you
plunge your tired arm into the mud

feel the cool, thick mercy
against your skin, wait for the clay

pack to bear your fingerprints
and pain becomes impossible.

*
*

Sun Finally / by Alan Kleiman

The sun rose finally
Washing the fields, the clovers
From darkness
Wetness and cold
Dank feelings
Washed
Finally in soft light
Yellow
Bird sounds called cleaner
Lilacs smelled sweeter
Dark clouds slid
Ash like from our faces
Sun doing wonders
Then sunscreen comes next
Sun glasses
Sun shades
Awnings
Dark curtains
Sun hiders
Sun block
I’m blocked
Unsunned. 

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 26

*
*

Buttonweed

 / by Barbara March

You don’t know how you help me.
They say you came here in the wheels of a cattle truck.
Your establishment below our precious crowd,
beyond the generations who say it’s always on Sunday,
is power-driven. Conscious and unconscious join
in declaration, like in the movies when the dancers
are swirling around you and with each turn
you root yourself deeper in the clay.
And in winter, when you disappear,
you have the nerve to hide a little green.

*
*

Saturday Mornings on Bloomingdale Ave. / by Colin Pope

If I watched closely, I could see
the sun crawling across
the living room carpet.
I’d watch, and after
the cartoons were over, the planet
saved and the coyote
crushed under a boulder,
my parents would toss me
out the door like dirty water.
I’d run around, throwing balls,
somersaulting, falling dead
in the grass. I’d lay there for hours.
When I looked real close,
the weeds would grow before my eyes,
reaching up and up to their mother
as though they were calling, as though
they were afraid of being unimportant.

*
*

Opposites / by Jo Vance

Barbecue smoke blows blue,
coming from across the street.
And a plane needles a cloud.
Doors shut. A neighbor shouts.
A child skitters past, laughing,
on a green bicycle.

Also, the world knocks against
its sadness. Also, the Pacific is
still crumpling itself on the rocks.

Also, someone’s arms are whirring
as they fold a clean pile of shirts.

Many opposites can be the same;
paradoxes can still clasp hands;
survival is kudzu vine coiling
up the heart. We are vague
as a blur of smoke, arrowed
as a plane heading west.

We hold, let go: somehow many
creatures in the same room,
and somehow everywhere.

*
*

Sonnet for the Millennials / by Arlo Voorhees

It’s not a bore
to think create
ively; ignore
your friend’s updates,
your digital
fake news feed,
so literal
ly you’ll re-d
iscover
imagination:
a better
masturbation.
A scroll will not suffice.
You’ll have to read this twice.

*
*

Day 25 / Poems 25

*

Crop Milk/Blue King / by Katy Chrisler

All lost to ivy-eyes
In silence at first light
Here before mine
A linch pin or dry bite
Makes water never
Water never milk
Like a nonsense of
Cadenza’d dreams
The blue king is really a
rattle snake is really
sleep but both have a
sadness in common
like a house built facing
two directions:
one rewarding
a gaze and the other.

*
*

The Girl Who Troubles Change / by Christine Starr Davis

for Lauren

asks why
and why not, stands small
but strong, dares bending to faith,
testing it and traveling it, sees straight
from a plane to the ground, sees
clouds for clouds, the way
they can never hold as a child would
fantasize, sees poverty as a path
to her own destiny, through thin air,
through air hung damp, conceives
of despair, sees it leak through
roofs and doors below her,
hearts too, beating with doubt
she yearns to quell, knows
how they expect her
to step into their lives than out,
back down, lay off, each of these
unthinkable in her tranquil home,
in the lush lot beyond, borne
of loving parents, of brothers,
of clarinet in a marching band,
she brightens to move with many
as one, to turn and turn again,
to take the field, to finish and begin,
to make work pay the way
a prayer
can pester change.

*
*

Steel Cut Oats / by Donelle Dreese

In the back room
of a blacksmith’s forge,
the invention born from iron
carbon, manganese
and other alloying elements
formed steel, an ingredient
in the infrastructure
of everything, including
the spine of a brave woman
and breakfast, for in this case,
it was the tool that carved
the pinhead of the oat kernel
into a whole grain nugget
chewy and nutty.

It took too long for Monsanto
to leave the building dragging
General Mills and Kellogg’s
away in a shopping cart,
but now that they are gone,
let’s make a solemn oath
to be brilliant, since the world,
with its shame spreading
like carpenter ants
over a steel-toed boot,
needs us.

*
*

Valentine? Really? / by Alan Kleiman

mine eyebrows
are the same as
before
because yesterday
in spiritual violation of my May 2 poem
they bought 5 lb lobsters to share
and through their cracked shells
valentine red
said to me the whole
meal
how could you do this
to a sweet old lady
not bothering anyone
and you tell me kitty lover
how would you feel
if that were you
or your stew

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 25

*
*

Paraphrase / by Barbara March

When laughing coyotes come.
How many don’t know.
When killing is that sound
at the dark end of the field.
A foal, no a fawn, a favorite.
When a doe collapses.
When the blue sky lays flat as feet.
When stillness scorns storm’s season.
How little death(s) blank the headstone torches.

*
*

Demons / by Colin Pope

When I take them out for a stroll, tucked
into the triple-seater carriage like newborns,

it’s hard not compare my demons
to those I see strapped to the backs of others.
Most people let them gnaw and gnaw

at the pulp of their necks, shrieking and
vomiting blood all over the grass. Some,
the very rich, hire nannies, who snap huge broods
along on tethers as the poor little guys

eat wayward poodles and gnash at passersby.
I’m happy at how well-behaved mine have become.
We’re welcome in the library. When we go
to the bank or the store,

the clerks give them lollies
and pinch their fat, red cheeks. And most nights,
they sleep straight through. But sometimes,

not often, we have bad nights, and then
what I do is hold them close, letting my heartbeat
ripple over them. When I crack my chest

wide open, they jump inside, and by morning
I’ll find them in a pile with full bellies
and my ribs scraped clean as if I were brand new.

**

Blackberry Bush Dreams / by Jo Vance

A blackberry bush dreams
of a circle of bears

Just like a cicada dreams
of a cloud of bees

And a woman dreams
of a clean white sheet

A blackberry bush moves
in its sleep wary of bears

Just like a cicada rubs
its legs together to wake

And a woman raises an arm
as if to catch a leaf

*
*

After a Night Out with Poets / by Arlo Voorhees

I read your poems and want
to discard them with a stamp
in your silly hipster font
and usurp your wordy rants;

your isolated italics
pinch the timeworn page
like a plastic cobra’s hiss
from someone half your age.

I can’t take it anymore

cue junky metaphor

forge your poorme sorrow

I too have felt this hollow;

reading your doctored verse,
I’m victimized as well
by the pain you have rehearsed
for punk rock show and tell.

Everyone’s on pills;
we’ve played with razorblades,
done whip-its just for thrills
in the neon of our days.

Poets, we’ve had enough
of uberurgent trainscapes
where the speaker huffs and puffs
though her lips return too late.

For poetry isn’t fucking;
I won’t listen to your moans
that you choose to publicize
‘cuz someone else is home.

This poem was commissioned by Chester Wantsataco.

*
*

Day 24 / Poems 24

*

Study of Pattern in Wild Places / by Katy Chrisler

I moved all of the furniture. First to the left of the door. Then to the right. Each time I went outside of the house to look in through the windows. Frame by frame, I shielded my eyes with my hand above my forehead and peered in to the interior of the house through the embarrassed glass. Like desire, my family is unfamiliar. What strangeness is born of witness? The walls, ardent to stack dry light. Nearby, the summoning of sun as I began again to move the furniture.

*
*

Angel of Piled-up Laundry / by Christine Starr Davis

Whenever I hear the word “wrestle” I see that famous painting of Jacob wrestling with the angel. It’s stuck so deeply in my mind that I can’t help picturing whatever I wrestle with as an angel. Angel of piled-up laundry. Angel of ungraded papers.
–Miciah Bay Gault

Bow low and scoop up the undies, the socks and brassieres. Make haste as they rush like cloth rapids, as they overflow the banks of their wheeled, and romantically matched faux-designer bins, as they whirlpool under the sink, spill onto the floor and out the bathroom door. Lower a raft and grip the oars, buck the broad wood floor, fearsome as Gabriel, drive the blades into Tuesday’s jeans and fetching red sweater, the blazer, the vest, the pleated pants he creased last week, towels on towels on towels, force the T-shirted white-caps aside, the polar bear pajamas that lo, spawned a poem, the sleeved and the sleeveless, the collared and zippered, the cottons, the fleece, the plaids and the solids. In short, the multitudes. Mind the waterfall of the stairs. Mind your wings on the low-slung ceiling beneath. Take a left. Fear not. The many boxes and bags, the costumes, the cards, this detritus of life, this cavern of remainders will not smite you. The light. Actually the light might smite you. Your diaphanous gown may not be sufficient to trigger the motion sensor. Let that not stay you. The laundry itself will set the damn thing off (pray, that just slipped out). Sort your flock by color, by weight, and most of all by temperature. That’s important. Temperature. Lo, did you hear the part about temperature? Forgive the intimacy of it all, its grit. I will help you fold, unless…no, I couldn’t…really? Bless you.

*
*

Dreese 24

*
*

The View From Tomorrow / by Alan Kleiman

I’m sitting in a conference room
Overlooking the city
Seeing my past
There’s the building I worked in
As a young guy
And there’s the building
That touched the sky
My office looking down
At helicopters
And the rare bird
That went so high

To the left the blue glassed
Slick windowed skyscraper
Another office mine
Money prestige
10 years
Nice cards Nice desk
Never fun
Never home

It was when they stopped
Smoking cigars at work
When a secretary said
This isn’t in the Job description
And she was right
Change came slowly for some
Too fast for some

I fanned my eyes across the scene
I didn’t want what I saw
More of the same
It was time to follow my heart.

*
*
* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 24

*
*

This is Your Number 8 Year / by Barbara March

A raven on a windmill palace is studying us. We’re ahorseback on an alkali two-track heading west. Today is his birthday. He’s quipping to the spacious sky, deeper and more musical than the typical flaneur. Our horses are impressed with his caw cawfony and look up. Just then the air element, which is subtle but important takes on a changing quality, a sociable curiosity rides the incoming breeze. Stronger now, it pushes outright for knowledge or justice. The windmill motor sighs, then ooom’s sending unwanted distance and lack of emotion up the shaft. Mercury dominates Gemini and the windmill blades slowly, slowly, start to turn in rationality, adapting themselves to commune with our horses who look up in wonder at this semi-flying object above their heads. The raven has a sense of humor and haw caw’s down at us. He wants to keep us at a distance. He’s earned literate friends like Priscilla Presley, who respect his perfectionism. He’s a legendary raven among ravens and can imitate Bob Dylan, Patti Labelle or a cardinal in a waxing semi-square. Our horses consider bolting, but the raven’s broader perspective about windmill blades keeps them from getting lost in the details of the creaking and groaning metal. As we ride by, the raven plumps up his nest knowing the benefit of being sensible.

Happy Birthday Jeffrey!

*
*

Throwing Nails / by Colin Pope

for Carrie

I was six, maybe eight, which means
my sister was eleven twelve, and we were riding
in the back of the truck my father drove
when he went out to fix pipes or crawl through labyrinths
of piss and shit. That hard American steel

was cold under us, and the summer air struggled
to whip us to death with our own hair.
As we cruised through town, a galvanized nail

rattled across the bed and into the wicked little gun
inside my mind. So I picked it up
and tossed it overboard. Then I looked to see

if cars would start veering, if something would blow up,
if a woman would be running and screaming.
“Don’t do that,” my sister said. This was the fulcrum
over which I always believed I was resting,

and I felt the gentle pressure of her hand
pushing down on the side of good
when I had momentarily teetered toward evil.
“Sorry,” I whimpered, fighting the wind.
The day had died and I was staring down
at its golden corpse floating in the bowl

where I’d just emptied an entire shaker of food.
Was this the lesson of too much fun? Even now,

testing the grips and footholds of childhood, all I recall
is how she looked at me for a moment, said “Okay,”
and flicked a 10-penny nail onto the pavement.
We started spraying them out the back, giggling,
heads down as we listened for the police. No,

this is the lesson of hammer and love, how so much
goes skittering out the tailgate and how hard
you have to hit something to make it stick.

*
*

If I were my best friend’s neighbor / by Jo Vance

for E.

It would go like this.

When one of us bakes
a cake and needs sugar,
having forgotten it
in a buzz of distraction,
there will be no half-done
cake batter to slough
into the compost bin.

Don’t worry, I’ll bring it over,
we will shout to each other
across the hall or the street.

And will carry this cup of sugar
halfway across before the other
shouts back, The milk too!

Don’t worry. We will go back
to pour it, carrying it over
in a red cup with the other hand.

And will tap the door
with a foot, while a little wave
of milk curls the cup’s edge
to the thumb, while a little sugar
spills out to salt the floor.

*
*

To my Aunt Angie on her 25th Birthday / by Arlo Voorhees

The shining jewel of Janesville,
Miss Angie Sterk the first,
set out to meet a man
of fortitude and girth;

she landed in Red Wing,
and found a bootmaker’s son;
thanks to Crazy Lonnie,
she finally found the one.

‘Twas much to the dismay
of the other boys in town,
who waited at the bar
for Ange to come around.

She’s a captivating gal
with a rare, uncanny knack
to fix exotic cocktails
with the sweat from off her back.

For thirty years or more,
she’s saved her valentines
and recites them to her love
line by heartfelt line.

You might see her in Jamaica
just staring at the ships
with reggae in her ipod
to conduct her shaking hips

or speaking strange patois
with Everton at Ozzie’s,
even after drinking
a row of Kamikazis.

Reader, she’s unlike
the women you have known.
Miss Angie Sterk the first
knows no mortal clone.

Some are ‘fraid of jumping in,
or how deep they’ll get.
Miss Angie Sterk is always
the first one to get wet.

This poem was commissioned by Mr. Angie Lampman

*
*

Day 23 / Poems 23

*

The Lake As It Once Was / by Katy Chrisler

is different than the lake
that the lake is now. Cut
and laid by claws beside
fangs. Voices sound like
voices across the water
still. When they were small,
they sung. A strangeness
away. Sightseer slip
your tongue inside, inside.
Again attempt the lake
to cut, poor creature, surrender.
The grackles gather with
painted eyes to watch and
oftentimes the air above me
is filled with imaginary wasps.

*
*

Same Terror, Same Awe / by Christine Starr Davis

Where are my antlers, my propelling legs, jaws
that can shatter bone, my camouflage,
my tufted ears? Where is my mane
full of wind-whipped knots?
Kingdom.
Phylum.
Class.
I sweat.
I pant.
I bleat. I fall
through biology,
and yield to my kindred, Mammalia,
the dog I love at five, eyes wide,
furling and unfurling her haunches
to bring more, the blood-crusted
sow at the fair year after year,
the strangers who leer over her crate, waiting
to count her litter, lit by the dented cone
of electric light, the hapless giraffe
in labor, the babe that slams into the dust
between her uncooperative legs – mine too,
as my belly rolls to bring a girl, crests
the way a whale bulges through the surface
to roll back its volume of the sea.

*
*

Kefir / by Donelle Dreese

On a traditional dairy farm, the door
to prosperity swayed in rhythm

with the jaw rotation of happy cows
and goats, milked only when ready.

This was in old world Russia before dairy
became the demon of all allergies.

The kefir grain was added to the milk bag
and dangled from the door so it bobbled

and blended when a farmer walked in and out.
The culture grew rich and they say

if you drink the fermented milk with fruit
you’ll know soul harmony is biotic.

*
*

riverrun / by Alan Kleiman

The river the life of the city
Rushed in rapids in Kiev
Bridges crossed
And then the new zip line
From one cliff
To the other
Half a mile away
I said
It’s like jumping off the
Empire State Building
And crossing the Hudson
To New Jersey

Later I saw meadows
That flooded annually
Up to the houses
And the barns
Then they built the dam
Along the edge
Concrete and berms
For 15 miles
That replaced the flooding
With concrete and berms
I’m not there
Who am I to speak

Hundreds of miles down river
Another dam
Gave electricity
Progress
Civilization
And power
Still the might of the river flowed
Like Niagara
Raw and brutal
Even where gentle

I hadn’t seen the flow
But felt the life
The River
I placed my foot in the edge
I was wet
With history

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 23

*
*

Lavender / by Barbara March

Go ahead, take a look:
in back, beyond the cat mint family
is a meme, bluish, washed.
A distant relative you didn’t know you had.
Your great aunt maybe.
Her sachet made your throat tight.
Or in the morning deep in the east field
when your eyes got wet and uncomfortable.
What you’re saying behind my back,
that I don’t belong here, like meters or organics
is not plain spoken. The day breaks slowly,
my nostalgia is valid too.
Remember how I disappeared in winter
and now I’m back?
Did you mistake me for a weed?
At first I couldn’t tell the difference either.
Say you saw me somewhere but you can’t recall for sure.
A picture in a book or maybe a purple sage.
No one will notice, or if they do they won’t understand
your purpose. Visit me in the early light, before the work begins
and lay the scent of egypt, italy, and provence against your skin.

*
*

Eating Grapes / by Colin Pope

Well, here’s one more machine
I don’t know how to operate.
One end will get you drunk. The other
is a sunny day. On the front steps.
And there’s a bowl filled
with light and woody vines of berries.
The cars are going by and you
are sitting, head leaned back
into your mother’s chest, just
watching. It’s almost I’m done
with my grapes can I go play? But
not quite. They’re gone, one by one,
and more than sweetness, more
than skin clinging to teeth, I feel
water. Running through my hands
to clean, to move as if it knew
where it was going, as if
it had always known
it were the meal and the fruit,
the touch, the memory, everything
had only gotten in the way.

*
*

Vance 23

*
*

Sonnet while Listening to the News with an Ocean View / by Arlo Voorhees

Isolated to the final stretch of frontier
to describe the waves as classical lines
from dead writers, I’m forced to surrender
myself–an outlaw exhausted of rhyme.
I’ve given up for real this time–no meter
can reel me in–I’m fine, I politely decline
to conduct my demise like a bottom-feeder,
a sturgeon who swims in protected brine,
for lovers are dying, dear idiot reader,
bereft of rhyme or reason in bold headlines,
so I’ve resigned my role as orchestrater
to say exactly what I mean to say,
but how can I honor the dead that way?

*
*

Day 22 / Poems 22

*

No Middle Where / by Katy Chrisler

With sound
as an evident thing,
I released all of the animals
at once. A wrong being
is different than being wrong.
With ivy-eyes the rest was
silent. As stories are made
mostly for no other solace,
I sang towards the direction
the train would come.

*
*

Davis 22

*
*

Coral Skeleton / by Donelle Dreese

Soon the reef will be baked

a coral skeleton, a bleached ecology

an aquatic architecture in ruins.

When we take off our clothes

speech morsels fade away.

We join each other in the mud

hoping to lotus in our ponds.

So now that we are naked

quiet outside looking in

we can save ourselves before

our bones dry up and become

a color we’ve never seen.

*
*

Future Pics / by Alan Kleiman

He was just a child grown
Into a man
A son
That was once a kid
Now matured
Maturing
There were photos over the years
I’d call futures
Where the camera captured not
What he looked like
But what he would look like
A face a posture
An expression
My child didn’t have
But would one day
The photo that captured what was emerging
But which we could not yet see
With our eyes

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 22

*
*

Blind Calm / by Barbara March

I bring in the horse.
He reads the grass to me
silently mouthing the words.
His withers imagine the sun.
Not the delicate balance
of matins. The puzzle
between, or the sixth
of the seventh hour.
We can’t see the barn,
the house gathers quiet grass.

*
*

Masters of Fine Arts / by Colin Pope

for Kelsey Shipman

We unfurled the papyrus and pursed our lips
to blow away the dust and sand; something
was written there, centuries old, undisturbed.
The hieroglyphs

were an eye, a cat, and a priest
sprinting, wide-eyed, a staff in hand.
“Ohh,” somebody moaned, “I think
this is a metaphor of what religion is supposed
to mean. It’s a satire.” A man nodded.

“Yes, but wouldn’t you put the cat first?
The cat is the god.” We discussed it
right there, the wind whirling the ancient altar,
the snakes curling around our feet
and falling asleep.

Then Dr. Teagarden, who had been silent
under the shade of his pith helmet
said, “Yes, that’s all correct. Of course

the literal translation is See Spot Run.
I wanted to say
how brilliant they must have been,
how the line between simplicity and genius
is razor thin. But I couldn’t. Someone

was loudly plunging their shovel down
to dig for more. So,
I took the scroll by its edges,

rolled it back up, then returned it
to the limestone chest
with the little gold scarab on it.
“It’s beautiful,” I said, then swung it,

one, two, three, and heaved the whole thing
out over the dunes.

*
*

Vance 22

*
*

Lighthouse in Fog / by Arlo Voorhees

The lighthouse flashes twice
in 2 second intervals,
goes dark for fifteen seconds
and repeats the operation.

I walk the deserted beach
mumbling possible end-rhymes,
turning like an octave
that hopes for resolution.

Light to distinguish light
from light–from language
to hospital florescence,
the fevered high-beams

of cold calculation
from the romantic precision
of the lonely moon
splitting dead sequoias.

But to know it is different,
like the captain aboard his vessel
as a pulsating confirmation.
Someone has not forgotten him

nor the man strolling the beach alone,
fixed on a motel window
where a woman draws
and the lampshade hums

his late and golden arrival.

*
*

Day 21 / Poems 21

*

Ain’t Tellin / by Katy Chrisler

Across horse thief basin
I washed my feet with dirt.
Before the plateau, tenor
intent, a truck carrying
stacked sacks of onions
passed sprawling. The road
hummed. I crouched.
I, down miles and
ripe.

Backwards was black.
A canyon city hefted by
patches dry and full
of feeling. I hummed.
An observable streak
of rain fell from above
but never touched
the ground around
me and I paraded on
through the solo arena
thinking of how I
would describe you
to myself.

*
*

Davis 21

*
*

Serious Poetry / by Donelle Dreese

Life lessons packaged
in word wrappers,
profundity sweeter
than butter cream roses
on blue birthday cakes.
Delicious, truly,
then weary, one turns
to South Park
or Calvin and Hobbes
while sitting inverted
on the sofa with hair
brushing the floor.
The smartest readers,
linguistic accomplices,
fall for it every time:
that poetry must
drill deep holes
to plant something.

*
*

Kleiman 21

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 21

*
*

Spell Check Penelope or the Oleputian Muse Never Sleeps / by Barbara March

Monk’s sandals in a daisy chain
flow like cream, nag me, nag me,
write yes, sleep no. Late night words
clog my pen like the pine needles
my neighbor stuffs in the weir.

A poem stings my hand. Spell check
Penelope lopes ole ole, here and there
on the note pad. Glasses on,
glasses off, words roll behind my eyes
smooth as the stones we throw
in the ditch where the water
spills over the edge.

Oh, alright, two pillows,
two pills, 21 days into 30,
I’ll write you;
broccoli stalk, frozen bears,
oranges, oranges, toupee, swamp tree.

*
*

After Being Mistaken for a Koala / by Colin Pope

“Look,” the ostrich told me,
“even killers feel attachment. Even love.”
We’d been talking about how
language is inherently emotive, filled
with calls to feel and respond.
As usual, it ended up being more
about the speakers than the spoken.
“Yeah, sure,” I said, watching the lynx
flick its tail in its sleep. “So when
a murderer tells you Sorry
before killing you, it means it?”
Behind the bars, it pulled a feather
from under its wing and spit it through
onto my floor. “No. I didn’t say that.
It just feels something when it says it.
Maybe guilt. Maybe it does mean it.”
I scratched my head. Everybody
had always seemed hell-bent
on originality, so much so
that passion had become antiquated,
an old currency for old folks.
“I guess,” I said uncertainly. “Damn,
I’ve got the fleas again.” I pulled one,
tossed it into the ostrich’s pen.
“Gee, thanks,” it said. “Now, I want you
to understand what we’re really doing
is trying to prove the soul.”
I’d had enough. Just arguing
must be proof that it existed,
but I wasn’t about to say anything.
“Yeah, I get it,” I replied,
chewing a branch as the elephants
inhaled their muddy water
and sprayed a fountain into the air.

*
*

Vance 21

*
*

Facts from the Boston Marathon Bombing / by Arlo Voorhees

My girlfriend and I strolled through the common.
I recited the last stanza of “For the Union Dead.”

I told her about my first Boston Marathon.
How I collected sweaty t-shirts for my vintage wardrobe.

We were drinking burnt espressos from Dunkin’ Donuts.
Erika pointed out the famous, bronze ducks.

We walked to Copley and saw some people finish.
We rang our souvenir cowbells.

Drunks stood on barstools to watch the wheelchairs.
Flags from all over the world swayed in the wind.

One of said that it felt good to clap along with strangers.
It took us forever to get past the barricades.

We met my parents and my brother at Fenway Park.
It was Erika’s first Red Sox game.

Boston won with a walk-off double in the tenth.
We left to return to the finish line.

It was too cold, so we went underground.
The train was late.

We talked about taking a taxi.
The train was so crowded my feet couldn’t touch the floor.

We went 100 yards into the darkness.
We stopped.

“There was a medical emergency in front of us.”
“We were going to be stuck here for a while.”

Great. Just fucking great.
Messages about the bombs started coming in.

Me and another girl tried to get people to stop saying that word.
I looked at my girlfriend who looked at me.

“We won’t be going anywhere. There is a police action.”
People shouted and hammered emergency buttons.

The coed next to me kept calling her friends.
I wanted her to stop.

The less we knew the better.
The train started moving.

Park street was dark.
Except for 3 Boston cops with their arms folded.

The doors wouldn’t open.
A teenager screamed that we’re all going to die.

I looked at my girlfriend who looked at me.
At Government Center, they let us go.

There was no announcement.
We pushed ourselves out and up the stairs.

It was sunny, and I lit a cigarette.
We asked question after question.

Nobody answered.

*
*

Day 20 / Poems 20

*

Chrisler 20

*
*

When Passing Time is Not Enough / by Christine Starr Davis

act it

tick, gong, top the tower, circle the clock’s face, encircle every wrist, be digital, atomic, heck be roman; oh Lady of trains and buses, oh Lord of late to work; chime, bong, buzz; measure runners while they run; wring sweat, raise the barge, the bridge, the gate, the bar, bark time out, ring time’s up; age our wine, steak and cheese; oh Prince of arrivals and departures, scribble the first gasp and last, mark history; oh Dame of delivery, hawk the 24-hour sale, jingle us awake, signal the cake, the casserole, stir up the sprinkler, douse the lights, close the polls, open the gate, and in the end, mend what you can mend.

*
*

Rumble Strips / by Donelle Dreese

Vibrate in my ear
when ice cream appears.

Remind me to eat blueberry
buckwheat pancakes

still warm, spouting steam
instead of fried bricks for breakfast.

They’re on the exit ramp
toward Slow Town

resembling a church stomp
or a construction zone

my head briefly conversing
with jackhammers.

Even some voices
have a certain rumble

that thunder on the road.
I feel the brake

recalculate and reroute.

*
*

Birth is a Message / by Alan Kleiman

And now I head to Turkey
Dark eyed dark haired women
Sit blondely by my side
Eyes sparkling
Soaking sponge like
Choreographers of mood
And fragrance
Touch me inside
Elderberry clouds
Crash like babies
In the surf
Dolphins leap in the fray
She still held sway
Like as before
But the world was different
And who
Could hesitate but as a torpedo
When the song was crying
YES YES YES
Torpedo
Come to me
Torpedo
Come to me
Torpedo yes yes sir reeeeee.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 20

*
*

Ashes Baked Inside / by Barbara March

The back-left flame on the old stove
ignites itself and burns all day.
After it dies it describes
the plum’s black branches,
chewed-on soot, conversations
people had, clothes they wore.
Simon’s wife cooking on a two-burner
with a trash burner on the side, doing dishes
in the bathtub, her arms wrapped
around her like a guitar.

*
*

Canoeing at Night / by Colin Pope

Fingertips dragging the water, I lean back,
yoke and thwart, the wood of the ribs
suddenly maternal around me. Blackness
floating between stars,
I am silver needle and thread,
I am cumulonimbus breaking apart.
There could be a sun rising
behind the machinery of the face, and then
what do I see so clearly? Every so often,
gripping the haft of the paddle
and stabbing the surface lightly, just
to make sure I’m still moving.

*
*

Across the Country / by Jo Vance

for D.

You drove and I slept
unlatched to the world,
highway sounds
running through
my dreams.

I drove and you smoked
with the window
cracked open,
letting in a crease
of prairie air.

You drove and I pointed,
mouth agape
at the migrating geese,
horizon laced
with thousands of skeins.

I drove. You told
me a story. I added
to it. All across
the country, just like this,
we spliced our care.

*
*

Vibes and Shit: Our Dreams are Open Caskets / by Arlo Voorhees

Today, I dreamt again that I am always leaving–
my suitcase dragging open like a horse’s mouth,
a trail of poems skipping their way back home.

I was lucid–convinced of my urgent departure,
while my companion transformed into a misfit band
of ex-girlfriends, athletes and washed-up poets.

Ridiculous I know it. Both poems and dreams.
But we are always leaving, and you are always there
in horn-rimmed glasses and contact lenses,

Chuck Taylors and cowgirl booties, questioning
my rationale naked in my mother’s blouse, you,
my sidekick, lover, colleague, barista and savior.

It’s not you; it’s we; and by we I don’t mean me and you,
but the faces we recognize on city buses,
that kid who stops by hocking homemade tamales.

We have no choice but to believe an innocent word
can help preserve us in memory or sleep;
my feeble hand on her shoulder could linger

the way a story determines our presence in dreams
and that girl from New Jersey named Daron
can secure a place for us in an afterlife

where we emerge in minor roles, resurrected
to change a tire, or smoke a jazz cigarette,
your you no longer me, but a citizen of the world.

This poem was commissioned by Ms. McCaulley

*
*

Day 19 / Poems 19

*

Theives and Freinds / by Katy Chrisler

Assembled quinella
a subterranean drum shift
sure nuff left jargon of
her seeming like you
her seeming partly keel
to backlash. Act accordingly
or adorably. We, naked.
We, idiotic and her seeming
like you. Only moonpulled
obstacles gather like
shape shaped things lawn.
This is different than
sitting in a graveyard
at night but not
by much.

*
*

Davis 19

*
*

Boundaries / by Donelle Dreese

The yellow brick road was gold,
the unrolled halo of a saint
to set fire the path for Dorothy

who was too sweet for me.
I imagined her sporting a motorcycle
and shit kickers from the farm.

I wanted her to tell the barking witch
where to stick it, to tell the lion to buck up,
that we were choking on his phony fur.

When she finally came out from behind a tree
and slapped him in the name of Toto love,
she revealed what we already know,

that bullies are babies underneath,
but this was only the beginning of awareness
of false wizards, the illusion of inadequacy

and Emerald City turned out to be quartz,
a shell without a peanut. Everyone falls
asleep on the path to enlightenment

but it was good to know back then
that even saints have boundaries.

*
*

Birdlike Hoots / by Alan Kleiman

I ate tongue, ice cream and cabbage salad
That the Armenian menu described as
Fresh cabbage.
Rotten cabbage crossed my mind
Life is a mixture of cultures and people.
Some make you laugh
Some make you cry
Some make you wonder
What they see with their eye.

In the morning
Cursing
He woke up neither happy nor sad
Cursing
Numb from the day
Numb from the feelings
Nothing touched deep enough to share
To say
Here is something
That’s moved me
Or that would move you

A girl
About 11 appeared
In constrained restraints
What Ho he yelled
Hooted
Hooting
She, birdlike,
Wizened unadorned
With macramé petticoats
Jostling her thigh hairs
Her braids robust
Tight
Did they pull her eyes to Squintyville?
Leggo my braids leggo my braids leggo my braids
The pulls too tight
And I have to get gone
I have to eat food intended for others
Before that food
Turns
Looks ugly at me
And sighs
Boy
You never know what can befall a moose
Let alone a kangaroo
I was unflattered by such attention
TO DETAIL.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 19

*
*

To a Wild Foal / by Barbara March

People were told wild horse roundups are safe, and not done
during June foaling season. Government contractors were promised
three hundred a head for each horse removed from the range.
Extreme measures were taken to hide all activity; police hired,
gates installed. Helicopters took to the air and stampeded
bands of wild horses through the desert. Newborn foals
who couldn’t keep up were bound with rope, left behind,
three hundred a head.

sore June sky
spider woven silk
dapples your slight mane

*
*

That Time I Listened to “Landslide” Forty Times in a Row and Cried / by Colin Pope

I had been walking for twelve
hundred miles through the rain, and my boots
were stuck somewhere, deep in mud, suctioned under and lost
like two rubber hearts, and when I got to the forest shack,
following the map scrawled on the back of a wallet-sized
photo of someone’s third-grader,
emptiness stood up and gave me a hug.
“I’ve got some hot water,” it said. I knew everything
would be okay. We lived like outlaws,
washing in the river, expectorating to rise the fish,
drinking wild mint tea in the dusk.
We didn’t talk much. I’d whittle skyscrapers,
………………..a wooden computer, and emptiness
would fill a jar with lightning bugs and set it in the window.
It was clean, heavy living, free from the burden
of fashion or love. One night we were playing cards
on the old whiskey barrel and I made the mistake
of smiling. Some old memory had caught
in the webbing of my face, can’t remember it now,
and I’d dazed off into a grin. When I came to,
I found myself suddenly alone. I knew
it was not okay, but everyone else was alone too.
“Oh,” I said, startling myself with the reality
of my own voice. I dealt two hands
and checked my cards, waiting for anybody.

*
*

St. Brendan and the Gull / by Jo Vance

If the gull is God’s good luck,
it is the nagging kind,
the hem-pulling kind.
Just listen to it taunt us
pilgrims in our hungry boat.

Still, what a sweet sight.
I follow its swooping,
half-sick with sun.

You tell us we’re not alone,
o shrieking boon,
you say there is a restful
edge of heaven very close.

*
*

Ode to Shawn / by Arlo Voorhees

Furst off, I’m grateful for your hair–
every strand a teasing auburn whisper,
the rattlesnake venom you carry so
nonchalantly because every girl loves
her hand cream, you in your nerdy glasses,
saxophoning muse of Lazerface,
you child duke of Iowa City,
asker of questions, vehicle for joy.

I woke up this morning calling you.
Hungover, I wanted espresso,
a precisely timed shot followed
by Russian hamstring lifts
and a exhausting round of push-up club.

I still need you, Miss Sprokette,
Belle of Bellevue, tiptoeing through
a field of beer cans, wrapped-up
in your little purple towel; I need
Axel Foley on the casio tone
and coffee beans, coffee beans, coffee beans.

Alas, all I have is your Facebook picture;
your arthritic cat looking right through me,
guardfield between me and your fanny-packed,
leg-warming, short-skirted bliss!
O Shawn, harbinger of happy Nate,
pioneer of the Pineapple express,

my headache persists, my spirit sags,
what shall I do with my shaking hands?
Do I sleep or drink?

This poem was commissioned by Ms. Furst

*
*

Day 18 / Poems 18

*

No Ghost Tho’ / by Katy Chrisler

I pulled a black pyramid from my mouth. Spit glistened
affair of sphere I swallowed not merely in theory of beauty.
What province of kind knows the boundary of what is fearful?
The object called forth, more to stay. I will say all that is
terrible leads back to something. Other language is good
if nothing turns not strange but tame. Belong here with me
amongst the smallest means. Compounds meaning I.

*
*

He dreams of other women / by Christine Starr Davis

for Sid

wants to wear their
kidskin breasts; palms
and fingers curved ready
and wrong. Then and always,
he senses the relief of his breeding,
senses their breath as zephyrs
light as the brush of my hand
there. I listen. Any color hair,
they ask that he remove his shirt
(gone), his pants (vanish),
his v-neck T and they
volunteer their bras with serial
flicks of the thumb; amazing,
what is next is next. I listen.
He loves to deliver the line – Bam!
No. I am taken. No. Sometimes one arm
is thrust out, often he shakes his head
as he tells them. Then and always,
they board buses, vanish in classrooms,
fetch cabs, stride with over-the-shoulder glances,
every sylph but me. To meet the dark,
he takes my hand, velvety mole seeking
velvety mole under the covers, the way we say
goodnight every night, taking inventory
of the ways the turn of the earth
couldn’t be better than lying here, waking here
with our abacus drawing beads across:
days in love plus the shrapnel of dreams
minus what exactly? He’s a man
and knows what some men know.
The surge and swell of lust
aside, together we see. We agree.
He dreams of other women, then
and always, reinventing me.

*
*

Analysis and Invention / by Donelle Dreese

Don’t blame critics. This is their training
to break a thing down to its component parts

analyze each particle to find the wormhole
the runaway bus, the underlying common theme.

If the object is the text and one’s job as critic
collapses into the whole astrological forecast,

the human being becomes the text
and the critic’s antenna twitches

with your every move, busy looking
for textual evidence, personality traits

processed on a hamster wheel while
researching sources that support the thesis

until the subject is mastered.
With one word, say doodlebug,

you can pop the balloon and watch
the theories dive into a brain crater,

watch how the frustration of invention rubs
like coarse salts from the Dead Sea

sparking an exfoliation of the ego
or an impressive work of fiction.

*
*

1251 Armenian / by Alan Kleiman

The road over the river
Was crowded
But the tram
Got through
With ease
No passengers complained
Looking at the stalled cars
Or crowding in
Tight
Earphones in eared riders

I never heard a sound
Before the road curved
The plane took off

He held a pizza in the front seat
The suicide seat
He didn’t die
But never walked
After that pie pick up
The mozzarella was even in
The sun visor
Most likely to succeed
He’d been voted
All 18 years shone till then
Life was perfection
Never rejection

Man lives by bread alone
And along with wine and cheese
Hershey bars and olive tapenade
One had rhubarb pie in the mix

Three children were on our flight
A cat a dog and a son-of a bitch
The cat said roar
But no one sniggered
The fool devoted
Himself to transmogrification
And went home
A mysogenized man alone.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 18

*
*

About Me Less / by Barbara March

I call my place the Three Horse Garden. One of the horses was wild and now is dead. I found its skull near Massacre Rim a few years ago. I don’t know how it died. From dehydration, starvation, or a rancher’s gun. Not a storybook ending.

If you’ve come here expecting deer and antelope and the cloudless sky of the rural West you’ll be disappointed. Maybe even discouraged. People who’ve lived here all their lives don’t see the mountains or the sunset anymore, they’re consumed with survival. My life is taken up with them, how we live in this wild place that doesn’t care about us, no matter how much we believe we belong here.

*
*

Lineage / by Colin Pope

for Jennie

When your mother cut your body down,
it’s hard to imagine your feet
did not feel the rough earth
rushing to greet them, that you

were as weightless to yourself
as a child turning in the womb, pressing
the dark riddles of toes, palms,
against walls no man
would ever touch. We could still hold

your weight, the last reality,
and see shadow pooling around
your edges, almost pasting you down,
you who no longer desired
to move or be moved, dreaming
so heavily we were all caught

inside it. Didn’t it seem familiar, in the night
that would never end, to uncurl
completely in the cool air? And then

a face floating before you,
unreasonably comforting, before
blind sharpness arrived with its tools

and went to work, noiselessly, to mine
the scar of love from the flesh,
to sever the ecstasy of connection?
You must have felt something,
returned to your mother’s arms,

languid princess, back in the land
without breath, where you ruled
and would rule once again.

*
*

Vance 18

*
*

For Grandma June (Part 1 of 2) / by Arlo Voorhees

I can see it in the photographs,
her easy, but determined smile
on the black and white porch
in nowhere Minnesota;

already sly enough to wink
for the picture, she knew too well
that smart girls don’t pose—
they don’t settle for simple vanity.

At her wedding, I can see it too,
her stubborn insistence on ceremony,
responsibility and the simple joy
of maintaining sturdy relationships.

She was all-in every Christmas,
guiding her grandkids through card games
and laughing off our blasphemy
in love with all of us—her family.

What else is there anyway?
Noise and heartbreak.
Bitterness,
the empty boxes on the calendar?

The last time I saw her
was after her final chemotherapy.
I was told she’d be in pain
that she might not remember,

but I watched her bluff her way
through an entire pinochle game;
low on aces, runs and trump,
she never missed a single trick.

*
*

Day 17 / Poems 17

*

T’Other / by Katy Chrisler

Little quick fears drive. This and a rabbits foot,
lost to small lusts. Don’t wanna die. I felt with fingers
near the earth. A low sound, mercuric across the neck
of a girl buried in the body of a grand piano. Some boys
nearby where I found myself, trashed flowers on the lawn.
Some sighed off. However mathematically the still air
of the house was, without shine. I looked in last relay
at shadows of the latest we and went too much
we are with another.

*
*

$29.99 per pound: A Blessing / by Christine Starr Davis

The consumer significance of 9
especially three 9’s, even better
because 9 comprises three
3’s, the Father, the Son,
the Holy Ghost of numbers that
nine. Enter the cathedral
of the woods, bend to prey
on the ephemeral, go
in secret, excite no followers.
May light rain bless you. May
damp and miserable feet.
May your knees crack with
unaccustomed bending. May you
lose your balance. May your hand
graze plants you cannot name. May
your vision be keen. May the first
one be impossible to find. May
the rest appear nearby. May crumbs
of soil cling to their stems. May their
crowns be un-riven. May they
take time. May they weigh less
than you thought. And more.
May the price remind you
how spring came on the forest floor
and they were just morels
you gathered as a kid. Not money.

*
*

Hollow Earth Theory / by Donelle Dreese

It is a lava lamp with magma
rolling and gurgling
bobbing and stretching
a hot sea hushing
awestruck rock in motion.

But what if the earth
has a cavernous core
populated with a colony
of benevolent beings
waiting for us to think

more deeply about who we are?
Would we make room at the table
or would we get out our guns
and begin scent-marking the walls?
Would we lay down and curl

our bodies into bewildered
question marks, quiet our hormones
and attitudes, or become mountains
marching rank and file
toward some same mistake war?

*
*

Meadows, Big Meadows / by Alan Kleiman

Crossing meadows longer than
He ever saw
Not yards
But miles
Dirt paths running through
Green grass
On the moor
Field sounds
The long pedal
Working through the trip
The journey
The bridge
The water
The grass
The paths through
And by and over
And nowhere
But everywhere grounded by
System
Grounded by routine
Grounded by pattern
Grounded by shrubs.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 17

*
*

Mittens and the Moon / by Barbara March

For Geo 



The boy writes a newspaper to his father.

Aesthetic Studies = Jazz Press

Sets keel to poetic breaker,
realizes the value of maniacal persistence.

Freelance = Eternally Poor

Overlooking the Pacific.

*
*

Perfect Strangers / by Colin Pope

for Jennie

Lying in bed, bodies tangled together
like swollen roots, you ringed your hands
around my thigh, measuring,
then traced a path up around
the thick knot of the hip, careful
not to awaken desire. “What’s it like,” you asked,
to have the body of a man?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said, stupidly,
“but you can borrow it some time.”
Your fingers had made their way

further up, through the odd valleys
of my stomach and chest
and were making camp on the ridge
of the shoulder, pressing into the meat
to see how much was there.
“Didn’t you ever want to try
being a woman? I mean, for a day?”

I thought. “Not really. But
if you want to trade, I’ll give it a shot.”
You nodded your head, Okay,
meaning we’d exchange the soft worlds

each of us had known, the only forms
our parents had given us. We kissed
in the darkening room, then rolled back,
staring straight up, both of us, as though
the ceiling weren’t there, just sky
sliding off beyond the horizon.

*
*

Four Views of Today / by Jo Vance

i.

This quilt drapes around
my knees like drifts
of snow.

ii.

I turn to look out my window,
see a long hair suspended
from a book, dangling
gold-brown in the light.

iii.

A man stomps a dance
on the roof, cleaning
the gutters. When I try
to sleep, I dream
of footsteps.

iv.

Enough of this ache
in the bones.
I need to get dressed,
water the garden.
The sky is languid and grey,
but I can’t wait for rain
that doesn’t come.

*
*

The Captain’s Facts / by Arlo Voorhees

Not like the crew who deem it simple—
a vocation to finance a winter of drinking,
but a duty to pace the heaving planks
a life for him in stead of livelihood.

50 miles from Narragansett, the captain
gives in, tosses his story overboard
to graffitied coves on Block Island sound
that clings like barnacles to the tides,

while fast-asleep, his men, hand-picked
to ensure his survival, dream of smart phones,
to dull the New England charade
its distinct misery written in each season,

especially his-an inheritor of want-
paychecks and losses gone haywire,
a whole orchestra of cigarettes
extinguished in the routine swells.

He leans into the sea like a statue,
a being endangered by itself, steadfast
to remain in the promise, to be taken
like a star by the black and hurried water.

*
*

Day 16 / Poems 16

*

Chrisler 16

*
*

desertification / by Christine Starr Davis

the failure to notice
seeds
are persistent
that dung is required
that large herds must be left
to roam
that death is not
what we thought
that what
is buried
simply waits
for us
to wake up

*
*

All Matter is Holy / by Donelle Dreese

The space between two atoms
is where the bluebird lives
where my flesh converges
with the pink tongue of a cat.

I’m watching you eat a banana
and wondering if there is a difference
between the banana and the peel
in this expanding universe

where deep reality is creation foaming
particles emerging from the vacuum
an imminent flaring forth
only to collapse again.

But then I think of the celery I forgot to toss
how it’s probably liquid by now
and convince myself that it’s okay
because all matter is holy

though when I open the refrigerator door
my olfactory sense wants to argue
as if it knows something about where we’re going
or where we’ve been.

*
*

The Roundabout / by Alan Kleiman

The lazy sun
Rose yellow
Clinging hints of red
From last night blood
The alcohol circled the head
Like snow
In the roundabout
In the swirl

Rabbits hidden in that snow
Know nothing of the field next door
Or the barn
When icicles are forming
And children
Scream Screams sounding of fear
Of nighttime dreams and catalogues
Of old clothes
Too worn to be shown off
In shops
Haggard as only trick photography could move
In the night air
Hidden in the morning son.

I don’t choose cherries
I was picked
He Cheered Easily
It was too simple
Only a boy could manage it
Only a boy from the past
The past of dread.
Though they called him
Tommy
They knew more
Would be said.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 16

*
*

Red / by Barbara March

Abridging the narcissus, infringing the spirea,
thirsty for the 16th day, words stick in hat brims,
hang on saddlebags and ruffle sweaty girths,
hoping to be chosen for the transcontinental.
Write me. Write me. Please.
Not a news story minus a source,
an editorial stacked in the wood shed,
never burned. Un-read photo captions
and recipes mildew behind the skis.
Who will write, who will write.
Me.
Into red patches on blackbird wings, a gold line between.

*
*

Bombers / by Colin Pope

After they’re captured, what’s fun
is to lock them in a magnifying box
and write down what they do at night.
They’ll pray or not, to some unsightly god,
heads touching the ground as though
they were ready to dive under it.
Let them out to walk around,
to take big gulps of fresh air
before trussing them on the table
and opening their still-electric heads.
Poke around. What we need to find
is the nerve center of nitroglycerin,
the impulse control that teaches pipes
and boxes how to explode.
When finally they die, their brains
gashed empty as a baked potato,
let the reporters in. We don’t want
to cause a panic, knowing how easy
it is for the weight of fear to fall
upon a good man, to make him crumble.
Tell them it will never happen again,
really mean it, then hose the table down
before the next one is brought in.

*
*

St. Brendan Finds the Chesapeake / by Jo Vance

I built a coracle of wattle and hides,
whittled the mast, unfurled the sail,
sailed for seven taut years.

When I arrived in low-slung marshes,
canopied by the sun, my robe salt-stiff,
the insects mapping my body with welts,

even then I wandered for a love
of the divine name, which hovered
in my tools as I cut runes into river stones.

*
*

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye / by Arlo Voorhees

Da Mericans r rite; dare ain’t
no need to lurn a fourin tung,
cuz masheens dey gonna churn
r werds til langwages r 1.

Hung aryans will ask us
’És te honnan jossz?’
R Google-gaggled thots
will point dem to da coast.

N we can join r hands
wit’ the werld dis way,
Subsoom eech diffrent coallture
until we all da same;

Hoo cares about r antcesters,
dose apes so primuhtive,
so lost in langwage tapes,
dey like really didint live?

Weave long ago abandoned
r pursonell historees;
n lurnt to fayvor pickchas
ovah tings like poet tree.

Yet, poets do percyst and right
like dat Andy Warhol;
dey’ll cumpear a womyn’s ass
to a crowdead shopping mall

and wen we r re-minded
of tails of Jenn O’side,
will cunsalt r Pickto-brain
n try reel hard to cry.

How into Mitt will bee
as electronic mates,
10,000 my ills a part,
willl hav da same tastes!

We won’t evah hav to tawk
oar even evah kiss,
r cumpewters will maintain
r transatlantick bliss.

N dat poet, he be published
in the New New Yorkah
cuz ain’t no body red
Gaybriel Garszia Lorkah.

*
*

Day 15 / Poems 15

*

Bad Dreams / by Katy Chrisler

Unfold down
miles. Spasms
numb and ripe
with myself aside.
Across yards
of thrown bone
dice, I follow
much sadness
into dreams through
nervous passage
that anticipates
disaster. I know
this one ends
at the cemetery
after the bend
in the road.

*
*

With That He Got Our Attention / by Christine Starr Davis

He spoke from the well of a vast lecture hall,
the bottom of a drain, but above him, we still felt small.
Brandishing the syllabus, his text like a Bible,
the day’s lesson would be survival. Yes. We knew
the damp of it on our palms, under our arms, felt
the dry of it on our tongues, on blank, lined pages.
We were freshman in college. What else?
The four “F’s” of survival. Did we know even one?
Slowly, he revealed them in a column:

fight (doodle tooth, claw)
flee (somehow foot sounds)
feed (blood on a muzzle)

then a very long pause. Every pencil held for the
fourth F. How a room can constrict
to the size of our own embarrassment.
What a moment. Our pencils froze
and those who had never said the F-word,
blushed, and rearranged. Those who had did.
He waited in that closeness. Knowing how. Waited
to see whether we would giggle, scowl, curse or
endorse him. The word warmed inconveniently
in our seats as we all spoke it inside. He waited
to measure us measuring him. We throbbed.

“Mate,” he said, and we scribbled it.

*
*

I Brew For You / by Donelle Dreese

Teabags are for toothaches.

Only loose leaf
will surround you
with tundra swans
when your day
has been a series
of smoldering tree stumps,
when you’ve been standing too long
in your own noise
waiting for someone to say
ssshhhhh.

I brew for you
because I love that your ears
are not packed with sand

when the world is talking

that when you see a dewy
spider web, you think
it’s stuck with stars

because when the laundry
pile is a mile high, you say
I think I’ll just stop wearing clothes.

*
*

No More / by Alan Kleiman

Every poem I write
I freeze
Fall asleep in the middle
My poems do not write for viewing
But from learning
My breath slows heavy
My flanks turn sour
My breathing clamps
My head hurts
My eyes close
There is nothing I can write now
I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 15

*
*

Desert Denouement / by Barbara March

One valley over black clouds call up
north wind antics, we race them
heightened, my horse knows
every rock and rattle with a
familial inflection recognizable
to no one but me.
Clouds drive themselves to
memoir using I and us to describe
their significance, or metaphysics
to fade their irrevocable finale.
I attend their conspiracy of death,
recommend the event, oblivious
to my preconception of jumpy thunder.
Even so, clouds smash the pinnacle, the cave.
It’s mostly philosophical, this lightening explosion.

*
*

Charles Osborne, 1892-1991 / by Colin Pope

If you didn’t know,
his hiccups started when a giant pig
collapsed across his chest.
Chuck had plans to slaughter it,
and it would eventually be bled out, but
he was afflicted for the next 68 years,
hiccupping twenty times per minute
every minute, every day.
I know what you’re thinking:

in the foggy lens in the spyglass
of your concentration, which tragedy
should be counted first? Would it
have been worse if the pig
had crushed him dead?
That’s good—once death enters
you have to consider him as a man.
How he relearned to eat,
how when he chatted or ordered a beer
he must have figured the timing
to be understood. He could barely sleep,

but when he did, he saw himself
hiccupping, felt it as he lay
next to a downy woman in a sex dream
or as he flew or danced or charged,
rifle in hand, over the emerald hill
of his fantasies. Are you there yet,
dear reader? Is the gentle warmth

of creation filling you, godlike?
What tender beauty, greeting each day
with no control over yourself,
breath an enemy, air an illness
you can’t seem to shake.
I like to think of his last year, at 97,

when they went away. Such strangeness,
the body quiet as a broken bell.
It would have been so easy to stop them
at any time, to rush to the kitchen drawer
and find the sharpest knife. Of course
he’d tried everything else—who
would’ve blamed him? Sweet, paralyzing
urgency, a stockpile of practice
that was never supposed to end.
Think of being ruthlessly embarrassed
every moment, endless, inexplicable
shame turning the heart cold and grey.
Now what do you regret?

*
*

Today, the flu / by Jo Vance

Is a blue-grey haze
fogging thoughts
to blurs

Is half-dreams
of boats and saints
and busy oceans

Is the lighting of a lantern
is paper-bright
a dizzied torch

Is purple ache
spreading over
like leaf-veins

*
*

Mr. Coconut Goes Coastal / by Arlo Voorhees

You may have seen him sipping
a frothy espresso
or on the dance floor dipping
a lassie to and fro.

Smooth in, smooth out
that’s how he operates;
it’s him you’re all about,
but you’ll ask a second late.

If by the hand of fate,
you meet him at a fountain,
ask him on a date,
he’ll make you climb a mountain.

But Mr Coconut is sad,
for he’s better than this world,
badder than the bad
and hotter than its girls.

You’ll take 10,000 steps
if you shadow him all day,
for he stupidly suspects
he’s gaining too much weight.

Yet he’s got abs to boast;
a real statue of a man;
he’s biking to the coast
just because he can.

O Monseiur Coconut,
godspeed my good friend,
dodge those hidden ruts
and watch the sun descend

over the bay at daybreak
a gin in both your hands,
for every wish you make
is under your command.

This poem was commissioned by Mr. Coconut.

*
*

Day 14 / Poems 14

*

Wives and Children / by Katy Chrisler

When the barn burned
down, we called what
was left a moon house.
Light shone thru where
windows were as phantoms
of the windows left behind.
Like perhaps the structure
just needed to breathe more.
Needed to let the life
that dwelt inside it out
into the field beside.
I often think of owls
and wonder what happened
to the small family
that lived in the rafters,
a small family of wives
and children and hope
they made it out to pasture.

*
*

Davis 14

*
*

Such a Day / by Donelle Dreese

might include a wraparound porch

arms tanned the color of iced tea

friendship salad with organic mangoes

ginger to brighten the water supply

storytellers offering alternate endings

folk singers serenading a bike trail

beach walks with God and a chocolate Labrador.

You have been raised up to live in such a day.

Let me barefoot-bless it with you.

*
*

Yalta / by Alan Kleiman

The afternoon sun was beautiful in my eyes.
The light on the harbor bounced off the waves.
Children drove miniature cars too dangerous for them in the Square.
An old man dressed in his best uniform sang World War II songs to a karaoke CD.
Ice cream was plentiful but there seemed less of it to me,
Perhaps it was the massage flyers being handed out by erotic young women.
Sailboat crews try to lure customers for the morning sail.
We walked till the shops began to close and the crowds thin.
One stray cat rubbed against my leg happy to be petted.
This was Yalta.
Every direction was beautiful.
The mountains crashed down into the sea.
There was no where to look that didn’t hold beauty in the center of my eye.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 14

*
*

The Secret to Successful Ad Sales in Rural America / by Barbara March

With hairdressers, it’s imperative
they understand isthmus, coax them away
from the nape of the neck. With car dealers,
be a bigger beast. Pitch the negative space
of the moon to a veterinarian. Take a walk.
Sometimes a client’s name will say itself
out of the tall grass or a blackbird.
With Indian tribes talk about the non-competition
of grasshoppers. Four o’clock is best.
In this town, people advertise only if they like you.
Once I sold a light in the window for $50,000.
Are you discouraged? You must love them
more than they love themselves.
If a prospect is rude tell them to go race a rainbow.
Imagine the eye lashes of your horse.
Pale against the dark. Say again and again,
I am a good person. Horses talk with their ears.
If the local hairdresser says $20 is too much
for a month of exposure to the shimmer of May say,
If you don’t have the money, I’ll give you the words.

*
*

Memory / by Colin Pope

for JW

The toughest thing is how it yearns to leave,
fighting its tethers, crossing them,
until out of the pack, one or two
will dart ahead, turn a corner
and disappear. I’m afraid even
to take them out for air—we are less
every time. Already, the precise joy
of how you felt in bed has gone,

the smell of your breath during sleep.
I used to perform experiments,
mating one of the best ones with another,
hoping it came out right, but I’d try
so hard, all I could feel was try.
And then I’d do my best to murder
my work when I was done. I can’t

hold on to so many things, I’m so scared
of the hours and how far away
the lost can travel inside them, but I know
how much you’d hate an abomination,
a failed clone on a leash. And the effort
to kill, to bash its brains with the hammer
is something new so forgive me, I just
wanted something I could keep.

*
*

Walking Around / by Jo Vance

I am walking
in the middle
of a dictionary,
now that the trees
are breaking bud,
splitting wide
their memory
of the world.

For everything is
in blossom,
everything is
becoming known.

*
*

Ode to the Past Tense / by Arlo Voorhees

Here’s to your permanence, your birth as memory
and bone, your anniversaries marked with candles,
then filed away in scrapbooks, a chronology
of triumph for the proud graduate in leather sandals,
hauling first kisses upstairs to lie in diaries
on carpe diem nights, for you can change
the world, the road, the town, the girl, the scene;
with encyclopedic precision you deftly arrange
feelings and dreams—those simple novelties
that mean whatever you say they mean.

Still, you’re a pinata packed with pain—you cried
on the bus when April Lawson pulled your hair
and howled at your stench—each acre fertilized
with manure—a mile stretch of shame and despair.
You shrugged it aside once you turned fourteen
and broke the bathroom window just to pass
the time and laughed it off so nobody discovered
exactly why you’d wander in and out of class
while Katie played you like a pinball machine,
you then and now the jaded, jilted lover.

Interact with me, my storybook past
you, who carries only published sorrow,
and never thinks to ask-will it last?
Though your grapes won’t ripen beyond tomorrow,
you’ve drank your fill and survived to praise
the boy who cowered in the grain elevator
too scared of himself to stack hay alone
for now you’ve heard him called professor,
and free from misfortune’s baleful train
you won’t see him sobbing his way home.

*
*

Day 13 / Poems 13

*

Ahead of Reckoning / by Katy Chrisler

Her hands were studded with jewels
deliberately too late in the day.
A breathless ruin out of love.
In a sunlit stolen march, she kept
the truthlike brilliance of afternoon
at bay by matchbook, an afternoon
of dreams to an Nth degree.
Cheek by jowl, delight’s the same
as gawping at hayseeds or weeping
at the idea of interlocking desires

*
*

The House Tips When They Go / by Christine Starr Davis

You can hear the couch scrape
across the narrow-gauge oak, all
the chairs scooting toward us
from the unmanned table. A mess.
The Great Room is suddenly not
so great. Their beds elevate. See, no
dense lives to anchor them. I’m
surprised I don’t find their sheets
in haystacks in the morning. The cats,
of course, would love that. This
is what I hate, I tell him as we clasp
hands before bed, the way their
night-breathing evened mine, the way
my arms released them at bedtime,
the way I keep listening for them,
not to mention the damn blood
rushing to my head.

*
*

Shoe Catalog, Summer Issue / by Donelle Dreese

In colors of buttercup, soft cocoa
raspberry and fresh orange,

it is a flip-flop and sandal buffet
promising to stabilize my every pronation

align my structural unfortunates
protect my not likely ballerina toes

my never had cheerleader bounce
guarantee me radical energy

and biomechanical bliss
in a July thong or a black strappy thing

named Longshore, Arizona and Janie
with contoured cork and velvety footbed

available in plain or polkadots
as if they are podiatric mood rings.

Today, I’m feeling purple orchid Barracuda,
perfect for both beach and boardwalk.

*
*

Sipped Love / by Alan Kleiman

I travel here to there.
From Kiev to Zaporozhie
Everyone has heard of Kiev
No one has heard of Zaporozhie
But there is life in each town each village each house
I meet friends of friends.
They love my friend so they love me
Even if they just like me they like me a lot
For a stranger
Because they love her
I get a free ride
I don’t have to prove myself
I slide along in her glow
They show me pictures of them when younger
Basking in her youthful beauty captured

I pass through the trip as a shadow
But my eyes are open
I see every thing
Learning directions
I applaud at the opera
And sip wonderful coffee
I am a lucky ghost
The cognac is fine.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 13

*
*

Struck / by Barbara March

Not clean, a kill is never clean;
hanging limbs, dangling edges
of wings of bees, thunderheads
selling door to door.
The hives say we are mothers,
we have babies in the bathtub.
They come anyway, trampling
the un-mowed grass. Some bees
leave the hive for the fracking fields,
who can blame them, the problem:
itinerants aren’t native and natives
know best forage. A reporter
writes the story, a reader wilts the stinger,
the story disappears, like one-third
of the bees, with them go nuts, berries.
Itinerant bees are the culprit say
local bee growers, home-grown bees
who never leave the farm are best, but if you
stay on the farm you’re lightning-struck
because you’ve stood in one place too long.

*
*

The Wishing Viper / by Colin Pope

The instruction manual said
to shake the basket vigorously, 5 min.,
and showed a hieroglyph with the snake
bouncing around inside, frown
on its hissing snout.
We did as we were told,
then set it on the table and listened
to hear the “maximal anger”
before, according to the pictures,
we’d drop the soft meat
of our forearms inside and it would snap,
grinning as it pumped us full
of magic. “If survive, use
snake dagger to remove head and tail.
Eat and make wish!”
The plan was set, the antivenin
and pail of ice, but when we rifled
through the box, all we found
was straw. You think we could use
a different knife? I asked.
They’d forgotten the special dagger,
a wavy blade with scales on the hilt.
Five grand! I shouted, pounding my fist
against the wall, and they couldn’t
get it right! Inside the basket,
it never made a sound.

*
*

‘We were like those that dream’ / by Jo Vance

And we were free,
wild in our praise,

with our eyes
bright as grass

in the sun, aware
of all the shadows

interrupting hills,
rumpling valleys,

with our mouths
full of the honey

that God’s sweet
language gave us,

each word an amber
glow on the tongue.

*
*

Smile, Baby! / by Arlo Voorhees

It must be me that I remember,
a flood of pinot on a flag napkin,

me, the soul of a stenciled flower,
inside phonelines and yapping desire.

I felt so fucking superior
explaining forever to a bad poet,

stuffing the meatballs of good fortune
down a pothead’s Goofy blouse.

Compose myself, faux-napolean
in street-lights and car alarms,

resort to sorry I’ve driven so far,
if you could ask about the stars,

or whatever the heart implores,
whatever.

*
*

Day 12 / Poems 12

*

All Else Comforts / by Katy Chrisler

With a mouth on a valentine
a dim and ravels away. Dull
knife, flung. By none is known
how to reconcile two sides
of a ravine. Possessions of
the dead leave only longing.
In ways a bridge is just pretend,
and not a thing to be prepared for.

What I find myself trusting
most is negative space. I cannot
predict other comforts but know
that when I go someplace to listen,
I hear your loved ones whisper
perhaps after this war.

*
*

Mother Land / by Christine Starr Davis

for my mom

The uterus, let’s face it, even in
its latency, stirs envy. Think
what can be built within it. And who.
Does this advantage alone account
for the rapacity of many landlords, or
their predilection for forced entry,
for the taking of prisoners?
The whole world knows
how to punish land. Too many men
do. Mother, grow them gentle yet.

*
*

Birthing / by Donelle Dreese

What does God look like
beyond the patriarchal overtones
and contaminated religions?

We will know when we return
to the light shaft through which we emerged
when we disappear and all that remains

is everything.

Maybe we have several points
to stay, to transform, to dismount
to promenade forward

asleep, barren as a wind-swept prairie
or awake, lush as rainbow coral reef.
The physicists say we are constellations

of creative energy, co-creators born
to continue birthing the divine confection
justice-making, beauty-sculpting.

Look what you’ve been birthing
sitting there wearing your own golden halo.
A self-ignited sunflower.

*
*

Mothers Day / by Alan Kleiman

Happy Mother’s Day
He said to the ghost in the other room
“More tomato juice?” she whispered.
Love is food. He remembered
And ate bread
Baked locally
From grain ground
At the granary,
Formerly the munitions plant
Overtaken by the Bolsheviks,
Lead shot sprinkled on the crust
To remember.
“Never again”
He reiterated.
Babi Yar.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 12

*
*

March 12

*
*

{Adirondacker} / by Colin Pope

That bearskin rug. Even now
I remember pressing the cold ridges
of my cheekbones to the fir,
running my palms along its edges
to see if I could find stray bones
the taxidermist may have missed.
As my father haggled with the pipes
and joists in distant rooms,
genuine mountain handyman
in those camps for the rich,
I hid from the terrible head,
titled gently upward as though
making ready to roar. I’d get up,
tiptoe away, then return
to comb out the coarse hair
where the imprint of me rode
the imprint of it. Those black eyes
and the white, white teeth,
bought and emptied and left there
ten months out of the year.

*
*

Fool / by Jo Vance

She who is a holy fool
believes

the world carries
her words

in the cell pockets
of the trees

spanning leaf to leaf
to leaf to leaf

from west
to east

She who is a holy fool
steeps in

sadness’s indigo tea
and still believes mercy

and even still
under the blue

flares her incandescent
foolishness

*
*

A Visit to the Portland Audubon Society / by Arlo Voorhees

Aristophanes, the raven, was imprinted
much like the playwright himself—
too aware of human behavior
to survive the world on his own.

Uncaged and free to find himself,
he cannot learn who he is. He calls
to me from his enclosure-Why? Why?
I tell him to shut his trap that I’ve

wrestled the same dilemma— growing up
imprinted like a criminal in storybook fields
Why wasn’t I told? Why wasn’t I told

about the clouds and the frogs and the wasps—
that all memory is memory of what was real?
Why wasn’t I told that I have grown old?

*
*

Day 11 / Poems 11

*

Chrisler 11

*
*

Deferred Repair / by Christine Starr Davis

How strange to drive
without feedback, in the digital dark,
clueless which direction
the car faced, no confirmation
of speed, miles elapsed, nor gallons,
no range displayed. How strange
to be consumed by the absent glow
of the dash, the spine crawl of my own
Twilight Zone. Rod? That you?

She didn’t know how fast she drove or where
she was going. She had entered… 

The engine’s needles hung
all day, just past 180 degrees, zero
on their inert dials. Could I
will them to pass zilch?
For some miles, I tried. How
strange to be among drivers,
furtively, determined to blend
in as all Twilighter’s try to do,
and let the story find its end.

How strange not to call
the auto shop, not to want to, reveling
in the absence of measurement,
horse-sense guiding me in traffic,
unplugged from the display
of imperious data, eyes drawn
instead to the fenced hawks,
the shoulder in disrepair,
and the landscape sky, repainted
for miles that no longer counted.

*
*

Lightworkers / by Donelle Dreese

Those who know that splendor
is the Milky Way amplified by a mirror
and layered into a flickering kaleidoscope.

Those who trickle oil
into the dim lamp of dry land
where despair was once a tidal surge.

Those who serve as anchors
of the cosmic lattice and harness
the infinite merely by existing.

Those who volunteer to shine a light
on every living thing without ranking it
between good and evil.

Those who take the essence
of personal experience and make it universal,
not bothered by the honesty of it all
as if God had taught them how.

*
*

Sojourn / by Alan Kleiman

I’m in Zurich now Kiev at the opera now sleeping in a village in the forest outside Kiev a chorus of frogs making frog night sounds. It is morning the roosters are cockadooing each other I am thinking still of stars so bright in the country black night.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 11

*
*

Clark Gable’s Dog / by Barbara March

If you’re a wild horse you’re a spotted owl.
Only buckaroos should sport a silk scarf in winter.
If you’re a spotted owl it’s irrelevant how many people hate you.
At the post office the cowman who wears old-fashioned
under-slung boots sics his dog on a woman in black tights.
Is the woman in tights a spotted owl? Or a journalist.
Journalists, like spotted owls differ in gene sequence
from others of their same species. Both roost
in the ante room of speculation.

Cut down all the trees,
blame the spotted owl, graze all the grass,
blame the wild horse, read the real news,
blame the journalist who covers
the wild foal stampeded in winter—its popsicle toes.

*
*

Pareidolia / by Colin Pope

Some days I’d just lie in bed
watching the stucco perform.
I couldn’t afford a therapist

and it was hard to verify
behind which bush or corner
my doppelgänger would be hiding.
That’s something for which
one must be perpetually prepared

and I’m positive he would’ve
ripped out my trachea in that condition.
If I’m a coward,
fine. But when he materialized

in the ridges of the ceiling,
surrounded by tigers, wolves,
a snowy mountain lurching forward,

I was calm enough to reach out
and vanish the world, god
of lamps and darkness.

*
*

Litany for Usefulness / by Jo Vance

I don’t want to stand beside my life,
aimless and uncertain, no,

dear God, let me open
my own revamped version

of the Society for the Diffusion
of Useful Knowledge, and be

able to, at a moment’s notice,
add a sister beam

to the sagging ceiling,
or braid a rope of four strands

of twine and then knot
it in a fisherman’s bend,

or unfold a map of the constellations
some lost night and know exactly

where I stand below them,
and how to find my way.

*
*

Poem # 10 / by Arlo Voorhees

I watch a kestrel poke around wild clover,
his spotted chest pronounced as if
he’s about to deliver an important speech;

Speak softly, my wingéd Teddy Roosevelt,,
carry a big worm for the photo op, and keep up
the charade of wild life in this industrial waste zone.

Oh yes, I’m lucky to see the family of herons
to walk far enough from the rubber and steel
and scribble a grass journal beneath red alders.

Still, young falcon, answer me this—Look,
I’ve put the camera away—Will we ever again
be able to walk the dark wetlands alone?

*
*

Day 10 / Poems 10

*

Chrisler 10

*
*

Loving Sounds Young / by Christine Starr Davis

Hop scotch, jump rope, give a dog a bone. What’s new? How ‘bout you? Whatsa matter?
Doodle do. Pitter patter, run and slide, noodle, poodle horsey ride.
Up and down, back and forth, under, over, veering north. Wednesday, Tuesday,
rubber mat, do the dishes, pet the cat. Save and spend, raise in pay. Why won’t you
come out to play? Tip top. Too much rain. Farming. Ranching. Raising cane.
Blither. Blather. Ho Ho Ho. This year spring was full of snow. Kiss him, hug her,
steal a nap. Have some fun and take the strap. Window washer, pen and ink, next
to nothing, wink, wink, wink. Grading papers, making love, none of this makes sense.

Everything that’s hard to do has its recompense.

*
*

As If / by Donelle Dreese

You have that look on your face
as if deserted on the dance floor
between ballads

as if your house is filled with plants
you cannot name

as if all that is left in the Easter basket
are cheap hollow chocolates
wrapped in pastel foil

as if the hem of your shirt tail
stopped smiling five washings ago

as if the gold wake of a sunset sea
turned to gravestone gray

as if the blood seeping from your finger
was a pearling death omen

as if the secretive sky finally
published a tell-all memoir
and forgot about the moon

as if the lake were not a peacock blue
and you were not in love with it.

*
*

Lake Zurich / by Alan Kleiman

A tiny girl
In hot pink,
Filigree earring dangling,
Sat in front of me
On the long low boat
Heading into Lake Zurich waters.
Swans danced at our side.
The tiny pink girl turned to watch me
I made a clicking sound
Our eyes laughed together
Mutual delight
She stretched her tiny fingers
Toward me
I clicked again
Our eyes widened
She stretched her hand farther
Reaching to touch my fingers
To connect
To say hello.
“How old is she?” I asked the man next to her
“Oh, one and a half” he said
With German accent and smile.

What friends we had become
I thought as I disembarked at the next stop
The boat heading on
Chestnut trees blooming.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 9

*
*

Early Season Erasures / by Barbara March

This poem is informed by 90 poems written by young rural poets who most likely have never been to San Francisco or a museum, who live in their own anguish and imagination, often unheard by their parents and sometimes their teachers too. I publish their poems each April in “Early Season,” Modoc County’s student poetry publication.

Rocks and bushes gasp for air,
for the beautiful sight
they would make it rain,
dress their brains with glittery
flan and jello. They put on eyeliner
for those who don’t care
in seventh grade, not repeated
or recognizable, short, or giraffes
locked in their arms, beat drums
on a roller coaster, scream,
watch birds die, shots ring,
they scatter, quack, scamper,
retreat white as teeth, not yet
a personality or commodified cult,
not spongy or artificial, flimsy or light,
not historical, cultural or physical,
to an end they don’t know of spaceships
fighting clouds, buildings on
mountains, bread, butter and pancakes.
A Chinese dragon, totem pole jungle gym,
go in through the mouth, wish, wait
for the clean call, the faux friends.
They pierce pieces of living hell, terror,
agony, scream from the furnace,
disassociate shoes, weird pens, paper,
cans of soup, under the care of demons in disguise,
99 percent soup, one percent themselves,
hot, dry, blue, dead, red.

*
*

Keeping Appearances / by Colin Pope

for Jennie

Once in a while, someone will ask
how you died. I have no problem telling them,
even enjoy it a little,
the way the blunted syllables,
hung herself, roll
from the back of the mouth
out the front, finally struggling
to escape between lip and tooth.

Sometimes they’ll ask what
was that like? and it’s nice then,
like being asked to lead a dance
neither of us knows how to do.
First I nod my head, yes, then
I shake it slowly. No, no, no.

And sometimes, after that, they’ll ask
what you were like, so perfectly.
Me knowing they’re trying to help,
them knowing the parking lot
of their emotions is empty now, dark
in the night of words. I am called
to study them who desire to hear
about a dead person they will never meet.
They’re good people, honestly, and then
I get to play the quiet game,

where I see how much of you I could forget
if I really tried. This is a little fun too
because I could be anybody, I can converse
with someone like me and pitch questions
then follow the breadcrumbs
out of the forest, back to the cottage of myself.
Isn’t that fine? I could explain

that I’m not trying to shock myself. Or
maybe I am. Or maybe the one me knows
that the other me has a morbid fascination,
that hearing how I loved someone
who killed herself, specifically by hanging,
is instructive. Those people

are walking among us, and look
how naturally they act, how similar.
You’d have to lean in very close to hear
how many voices they’re using,
to see the stitches and bolts
and how lovingly they’ve been put together.

*
*

400 Parts Per Million / by Jo Vance

I woke and watered plants.
It seemed a usual day.
But slinking under its surface
strange news like an eel:

A monitoring station
in Hawaii – perched on
the Mauna Loa volcano –
reported on the atmosphere:

400 parts per million of carbon,
stated the scientists who work
above the lava, tucked up
and counting out the data.

What a swathe of carbon,
not seen since the Pliocene,
millions of years ago
(verified by ancient air pockets
left in ice that now breaks,
now eases away).

*
*

Father Stays Home and Scrolls through Facebook / by Arlo Voorhees

Should I be ecstatic I no longer insist
to squeeze each moment like a poet’s chew toy,
and in love with every failure I’ve ever known

(including my high definition lonliness)
I make up stories for my cowardly boy-
and build glass houses with sticks and stones?

*
*

Day 9 / Poems 9

*

Rabbit Skin Glue / by Katy Chrisler

Jawlined a crutch ain’t
church is what you make
of it or else it isn’t. I wear
my organs on the inside
and my language can’t choke
nothin but I can. Some
distant obscure rain doesn’t
own the science of acoustics.
Youth had its fling and I
ain’t afraid no more to carry
a body with mountains
behind you. The direction
of a turning point is a manner
for leave taking. Slowly
splitting apart, halt and
rest ahead of reckoning,
it is always late in the day
when a stake in things
matters most and I
take the shape of soil
and color is such
an obvious longing.

*
*

How They May Present Themselves / by Christine Starr Davis

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby
some have entertained angels unawares.
– Hebrews 13:2

He did not appear drunk, could not be drunk
Until he began to share that he lacked hair – did we know?

At this, he looked significantly, determined to insure
His meaning carried, about the reach of hairlessness.

The street was the same street, bars in all directions,
And, he bore the magnet, the bump risen

At the center of his chest, where we had placed
The unspeakable losses, disease, the many promises.

His shirt hung open like a wound, like a window,
Its shutter spent. There his chest shone though

Where his first gulp of air could be imagined,
A mother’s palm could and the red-wet engine

Insisting through the booze, begging stories,
Though he begged, shiver-handed, shanghaied

Against nature, against dignity, but when he issued
The shower of coins, sounding in the girl’s hand.

*
*

Chapman’s Somersault / by Donelle Dreese

On June 27, 2012, Cincinnati Reds closing pitcher Aroldis Chapman performed two somersaults at the end of a recent pitching slump. For fear of retaliation, the Reds organization did not approve.

We do not approve of joy
boyish, spontaneous, jubilant
dirt-dizzying spins from the mound
million dollar grass shavings
still stuck in your hair
that track each spinal vertebrae
glee-flecked against the white
canvas of your jersey.

We are not here to have fun.
We are here to play chess with sticks
to forget that we were all once
10-year-olds licking victory-sweet
ice cream cones melting over
our mitt-loving hands.

We are here to drill deep pockets
even deeper, to charge ferry loads
for a taste of beer-battered Americana
while the crowd massages their wallets
during the seventh inning stretch.

But don’t think we are not crying.
Don’t think we too are not wondering
what happened to the crackerjack.

Behind closed doors, we too
are slapping you in the ass, Chapman
and saying, nice spin.

*
*

Pomelo Poem Mellow I Am Yellow. / by Alan Kleiman

Poem for the dead:
Wake up sleepy head!

Poem for the living:
Who wants spaghetti?

Poem for the naked:
Get your friggin clothes on.

Poem for the ungovernable:
Line up! stand straight! brush your hair! salute!

Poem for the literate:
Open your books to page 3.

Poem for the fortunate:
You can thank your lucky stars.

Poem for the rich:
Gimme a dollar.

Poem for the filthy rich:
Gimme a dollar twenty.

Poem for a mother:
What? what? what?
I didn’t do anything.

Poem for another:
If you call me I won’t come.

Poem for the general masses:
Aren’t we happy?
It’s just us left
No right
Just left
Left left
Left
Left left left

I’d write a poem a day for baby
I’d write two poems a day for you
I’d write a song a day for mister

I’d write two songs for you and you.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 9A

*
*

About Me More / by Barbara March

I published a newspaper in our county,
reporting the obvious truth to a time-warped world
on the edge of civilization.

I wrote about the postmistress on the job for 40 years,
the waitress who collected antique rhinestone
western jewelry, the saddle maker, the boot maker,
the bit maker. The man who restored carriages
and small buildings. I covered the squirrel roundup,
ground hog supper and super bull rodeo, reassuringly
the same year after year.

Some of the rocks I turned over had scorpions under them.
For three years I wrote stories about local politicians
who stole $12,000,000 from our poor county treasury.
One of the politicians called me a scum bag.
Another compared herself to the Alamo.
The grocer told me I was evil. Right or wrong,
no one wanted to be exposed. It was hands off.

I was stuck in a misfit western movie.

At the market, on the post office bench, the courthouse,
the jail, the bar where the cowboy walks out,
gets on his horse and rides down the street to buy chew.
The independent, the closed-minded, the generous
drop-outs and drop-ins. The sentimental.
The swami. The snow fall after the Christmas
pageant, the miniature stallion, the gas man
who fixed my leaky stove.

I couldn’t unlock the rusty latch in the stagnant pond.

I closed the paper down.

Now I interview the sparrow on the juniper post.
The robin egg spilling its guts in the corral.
Does lying in their box elder den. Shantung.
I photograph the black bull full moon.
I report on the difference between water running over rocks.
A head count of dandelions, ears of thistles.
Metropolis of clouds, winnowing snipes.
Calves tails when they run. Willows in their scarves.

*
*

So Your Husband Was Gay / by Colin Pope

for KJ

I keep telling you
you’ll laugh about it someday,
that this will be a scene
the audience chuckles and talks about
on their ways back to their cars
when the romantic comedy of your life
has come to its predictably happy conclusion.
You among them, of course,

maybe wearing a scarf and sunglasses
in the back of the theater, just to keep
the paparazzi guessing,
maybe waiting yourself to see
how it all turns out.
Or maybe it will just be
a collection of winding curlicues,

celluloid sprinkled haphazardly
on the editing room floor.
And even if you never see
the dramatic irony, love turned
in on itself like the tip
of a bent sword, the important thing
is that you’re the star.
When you cry, a high voltage
courses through the circuitry
of millions of devoted fans.
When you stumble the aisles
of the grocery store in pajamas,
cigarette between your lips,

we all clench our jaws and
brace our heads against
the cosmic futility of carrying on.
And when, finally, you learn
to affix the winsome ex-
before referring to your lost love,
we grin, knowing ourselves better
for not knowing how two letters
could crush us under their weight
then pick us up and hold the mirror
as we paint blood-red lipstick
across the devilish pout on our face.

*
*

Fog / by Jo Vance

The fog hushes everything shut,
closes the lid over the tallest firs
and over me as I walk these streets,
thinking of the poem that cannot be.

The poem to heal your heart open:
a seed cleft in two, its green tassel
emerging whole into the stillest day,
welcoming fog, welcoming anything.

*
*

Amy and Me in a Version / by Arlo Voorhees

After C. F. MacIntyre

You came to me tiptoeing stones one evening
You had been breaking calves in Vernon’s pasture
Your throat was dry
with summer—sweat took to wandering
your hazel eyes as Selene hovering above
reached down to stir thier placid waters
You smelled of manure
I struck for your mouth, your unwashed hair
re-named you My Darlin’–the stencil on your halter
And this was when I fell in love
with my own despair

*
*

Day 8 / Poems 8

*

Jukebox Cave

 / by Katy Chrisler

The airplane lands everyday across
state lines. A place of disintegration
where water turns to glass and there
dwells so many place-based pale
greens the topography beyond
the fence, a terminal landscape
cuts against itself dimensionally.

In haylight, I come home.
Through tones and morse
I wage an aerial war. Here,
at the salt plant, I float above
ground and understand
my home as a linear thing.

*
*

I Voted Today / by Christine Starr Davis

signed on line 150,
darkened the oval
for two women
whose names I can’t pronounce.
It isn’t their fault;
their parents never imagined
after the many diapers,
gums afire with teething, broken
dolls, after why and why and why,
learning to tie, to tell a white lie,
mouths full of fruit, full
of awe, full of sass, all
the overdue books, the orthodontia,
money and fevers, they
never thought beyond
all the door-to-door sales,
the dresses, the driving, boys
hands-full with flowers, broken
nights, broken dishes, remote
wishes, that their daughters
would come to this, blessed
with names
as impossible to remember
as they are to forget.

*
*

Paper Shredder Blues / by Donelle Dreese

I know you like me because I faithfully hum
and chew your sordid account numbers
into strips of modern identity, reducing
your material worth to a bag of recycled nobodies

but I’m waiting for you to peer into the darkest
corner of some angst-ridden closet space
and walk with me down memory lane.

You feed me the paper trail of what no longer serves
and I’ll help you grind it into oblivion and let it all go.

*
*

Siblings / by Alan Kleiman

I have a sibling or two but don’t tell them
I like to keep it secret
all the time
then no one knows and only I
can tell jokes that no one laughs at
but siblings
and no one laughs
but I know they  do
even if they are not here

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 8

*
*

Raspberries in Love / by Barbara March

Dedicated to Gary Snyder

But you my darling spindly whips,
living with onions, preoccupied with clips,
talk day and night about how much
Gary loved you last August. Everyone’s heard
about how he ate you off the pie plate,
with a spatula.

There’s no time now for vacuous sentimentality.
May is dried up. Celebrity canes, darklings now,
pile by the ditch. The cows are using them for toothpicks.
The wild rose loves it. So does the Great Basin sage,
in the front door. Cold’s colder, hot’s hotter.
The grosbeaks missed their mark.

Will you be happy if I dig up what’s left
of the asparagus so you have room to recuperate?
I know winter was brutal, all that drought,
poplars exploding, frozen goats. I pluck a hair
off your chin and a bell rings. The poppies higher
by a foot, the buttercup burrs up your yin yang.

You say, you say, you’ve seen it all before,
when god or mother earth decide to fix it.
Hurry dears. I’ve read a scientific study
that says run-off from the mountain snowpack
diminishes each year and that sooner, not later,
your patch will evaporate to alkali.

*
*

Jelly / by Colin Pope

for Jennie

Did you have days like this in mind
when you gave your dog such
a ridiculous name?
You hurt, you died,
you were taken away,

and here I am, shirtsleeves
in the cool morning, the light wind,
shouting sweetness from the porch—
Jelly!—as though it had always been
as easy as calling it home.

*
*

Gift / by Jo Vance

for N.

Here is a gift
which is shaped

of yellow
curved and lined
with yellow

for your kindness
like the sun-stripes
that warmed
the living room floor

in an old farmhouse
in the middle
of Pennsylvania
on the edge of town

I need a vessel
to hold all those days

all the food you made
all the gentle motions of trees
in all the places
you took me

when I was relearning love

all those days
talking in kitchens and in cars
about how to live
how to bend myself
in the shape of trust

*
*

# 8 / by Arlo Voorhees

An inchworm conducts my world pitching
his whole self into every discordant note—the shudder
of bills dropped in the mailbox, manic patter

of leashed Chihuahuas, naive cucumbers
reaching into the world as car doors slam
and engines rev some dressed-up somebody

down the road of hope where enough treasure
abounds to sustain it, the cigarette-length symphony
that collapses with the inchworm on the final stair.

Yet a path has been cleared, our tears neatly
diagrammed once in a universe where wars
die out like warts rubbed raw into original skin.

O what to do with the remainder, the doubt
we carry in dumb tattoos, the bonds we keep
cold enough to preserve, the facts of the unknown

that carry us oblivious into the sublime?
Must we revise this lame pastoral, replace it
with pirate ships and unbridled imagination?

Feature a child whacking his xylophone,
me behind the typewriter trying to sing
or ripping apart chicken wings too busy to stop

and memorize the mechanics of flight?
Flying is for peasants in generic, primal dreams.
O to wither undeveloped like a secondary character,

to live with horses on the grass by the sea
where no poem survives, and the inchworm,
passed out in the sunshine, sleeps—
not knowing what he’s done….

*
*

Day 7 / Poems 7

*

Forgery as Physical Object / by Katy Chrisler

A fair share of neon cites
“You are here” or “This is the place.”
An armature of space renders
trace to remember who it was
that was crying at the periphery
of the wilderness.
My eyes produce you in seriality
and certainty keeps on with fear.
The cartographer too has a nature.
Touch me here symmetrically
in the grass. Do not become
lines on paper. Traced actions
measure time, a split fault between
ornament and crime. The future
is a state of dust or refraction of light.

*
*

Getting Close to the N / by Christine Starr Davis

for Karen

Our move to safflower
scattered the grackles. Now
the finches come, marigold
and purple, and the showy cardinal
who publishes his lipsticked mate.
I grade papers.
Hungry and sleep-cheated
as the birds I tend on campus, packed
with other seeds, with worry
over nests they hope to feather
and fill, with tests
they hope won’t test them.
I grade wanting
not to grade, grade
one letter away from garden stones
where my love proposed,
where my yes! petaled and drew us both
to our knees. I grade
one letter away from mesclun, from okra,
from basil, from chard, grade smelling
dirt and geosmin, grade starving
for amendment: 1 part manure
to 3 parts mulch, and worms
to bless the labor. This must be why
my neighbor brings me starts
of lettuce and chard, her young,
bright lives divided for me. She trusts them
in my grading hands,
eye-smiles trowel, root, water.

*
*

Never Ready / by Donelle Dreese

I held a white infant puppy on my knobby young shoulder
back when I was being told to love people I did not know.

I was strolling the house chewing shoestring red licorice
with puppy in tow when it fell to the floor, slid off my shoulder

like a slinky and yelped as if its tiny soul had been pitched.
I thought I took a life for the first time, heard the cleaver

falling on my heart, saw a sheaf of white calla lilies fall
into kitchen linoleum hell fire, and when it walked away unfettered

I had a second chance to turn my pale purple life into a radiant globe.
I wouldn’t be engraved with grief, not then, not yet.

But I almost became a guilt specialist never ready for love.

*
*

My Pet Bird / by Alan Kleiman

My pet bird sits in his cage
And listens to music
He watches TV
And reads books
Engages in dialectical conversations
Calls me in the office
And plays cards when not working
By working I mean
Eating seeds
Ignoring the dried fruit
The caviar, sushi and fresh oysters on the half shell
Sometimes he can be picky.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 7

*
*

Winter Kills the May Pole / by Barbara March

Balancing a frozen rose
on a May pole is the fear
of machinery. The cord one foot
behind your head, its wayward stem.
Red is heavier than white,
thorny foot to foot.
Two is easier than one trellis.
Their centers are fragrant
antiques.
Others wonder about
eyebrows, skirts,
needles falling, the morning dance.
At night, the river flows between,
over-wintered and dark.
Merry May is a problematic dip.

*
*

Too Many Birds / by Colin Pope

After the reading, we congregated
as students often do, near the doorway,
darting in and out to smoke a cigarette
or glad-hand a professor or lover—
sort of stuck there
in the sparkling afterglow of high intellect,
caught between that weightless world
of dancing language and the gray uncertainty
of words like college, parents, tuition, career
when somebody said “Why
do they always write about birds?
There’s too many poems about birds.”

Nobody knew, and after we stuck around,
bought our books, got them signed,
even went out to dinner and drinks
with the famous poet, I kept thinking.
Why birds? If you did a blind survey of poets
to see which superpower they would choose,
would it be flight?
Gravity, somehow, does feel
like the enemy of metaphor, like if
a great image were put to paper and folded
into a plane, it would soar so much the higher.
At my desk the next morning,

the question was still with me, chirping oddly itself
as I tried to figure out what to write.
Is it that poems are delicate things,
that their bones are hollow and will crush readily,
the kitten of the reader unaware,
pouncing with joy? Is it the stillness and solitude
inside the mansions of clouds,
real estate so prime it abuts the sloping acreage
of heaven? It was one of those problems

designed specifically to ruin thought,
thinking about thinking about thinking
until the morning disappears and writing becomes
a list of chores, a sweeping and soaping and dusting
that, by its end, has sucked the energy dry.
Perhaps writing about birds would help, I thought,
and as I stared out the window, as I always had,
searching for a first line, there it was
on a high branch, preening,
knocking its feathers carefully into order
and cocking its head, looking right back at me
as though every object were nothing
but a place to land, then disappear from again.

*
*

The Whale Hangs Dreaming / by Jo Vance

As the whale hangs sleeping,
perpendicular in the water,
with her brain half-awake to keep her
seeking air, who knows her dreams?

No scientist can crawl through her mouth,
a self-appointed Jonah,
fish out the dream on a hook,
and emerge, bearing proof.

Some may say she cannot even dream,
but let us be honest with ourselves:
the world is an accordion
pleated with dreams.

If me, then why not the whale,
if the whale, then why not the sea,
if the sea, then why not everything?

*
*

A Long Walk on the Beach: II / by Arlo Voorhees

Along the Columbia I watched insects
buzz the clay-colored banks.
I’d catch a grenade for ya

A stand of cranes through the trees.
Beer bottles hung with floss.

I laid before a hearth that rose
from the forest floor like a 90s music video.
Throw my hand on a blade for ya

The grey foundation wet with mold.
Rusted stovetop tossed in the prickers.

In flannel and sunglasses, I warmed
my faking hands while you adjusted the aperture.
Jump in front of a train for ya 

Laughter a mile away in a boat.
My feet breaking and branding the dunes.
You know I’d do anything for ya

like never again come this way;
my careless stroll through foreign sands,

a grenade tossed out and already past.

*
*

Day 6 / Poems 6

*

Thief Under Water / by Katy Chrisler

Of what is a thousand creatures singing as
bone instruments season the wide wave action,
a threnody of friction made of muscle and sleep
asleep rough in the form of lungs.

Overlope morning a far cry beneath a thief
scene by movements of work, a truncated surface
of space behind gnashed teeth made dark.

Since modernity defies action as the obdurate
material of air instills and stills a soundtrack
muffled by a disappearing act.

Reveal yourself by falling into what is known,
a brood symphony conspires to take on weight
by threshold of the logic of monument:
….All drowns down by the sea. The thief sheds tears of salt.

*
*

Davis 6

*
*

Hurricane / by Donelle Dreese

The beam of a dusty lamp
lays a pallid yellow egg
on much of what we are.

I’d rather see this off-glow
than the scarlet flash of a fire truck
always announcing emergency,

but look at how we hurry
determined as pioneers in a covered wagon
arranged and analyzed by administrators

our bodies invaded by batteries
as we struggle to make out a face
in the graffiti-grazed window of time.

One day, a celestial hurricane
is going to wring our bodies clean.
Until then, let’s choose to be fearless.

We don’t want to miss this chance
to be cleansed of the undiluted panic
to hear the sound of bad stars burning.

*
*

Planting Bushes / by Alan Kleiman

Today I planted two rose bushes
Dug the holes
Cut some roots away that were in the way
Filled the holes with new soil
Peat, water
And chemicals the bag said
Would make the flowers bloom.
Is it true I thought?
Perhaps the roses will be happier without chemicals
Happier, but smaller
And fewer
And I will look at them sheepishly
Wondering, am I starving
These American Beauties?
So I poured it on
Waxed poetic
Kissed the baby
Shot the water hose
And went my way
A member of the new world order
The one that sort of cares
But doesn’t
Then I thought of so many global things
That needed my attention
I could make changes to the world
I could be Gandhi
But I was indifferent
And I poured it on
My roses will smile their guilty smile
American Beauties all.
If you read this
Please don’t tell.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 6

*
*

Our Sky / by Barbara March

March 6

*
*

Stretched Penny / by Colin Pope

On the train of human knowledge,
there’s only one car, and it’s called History.
It flies through town so often

the children have stopped chasing it;
they don’t even put their coins
on the tracks anymore. At midnight,

its whistle no longer blows.
The arm at the crossing doesn’t fall.
When an old man’s head

is found between the rails, nobody
can figure out what happened, even
as the body stands and gestures wildly.

*
*

Interview with the Color Teal / by Jo Vance

Some say you are a new color,
that those who wear you are closer
to spring. Tell us, do you agree?

I am a newer color, it is true,
belonging to the family of blue
since 1917, but I am also as ancient
as anything. What humans see,
it’s a changing scene, from year
to year, eon to eon. For example,
Homer did not know to use me
to describe the sea – he painted it
wine dark. I objected once,
but have now made my peace.

And when the sky changes at night,
is it really you we are seeing
take us into the night?

Every day, just as the sun closes,
I wait in the wings with sister blue.
And I carry you. It is all I want to do.

Where do you hide when you are not
among us?

If I told you, you would find me
and I need my space. A color
doesn’t reveal its hiding place.

*
*

Horsing Around / by Arlo Voorhees

For Kayla

I’ve galloped away, finally made it too far
for stories—legendary nights in shining armor—
a code of ethics splayed across the stars
when I, the lover in the well-made windbreaker,

did my best Rocinante; bearing silly burdens,
I let you raid those foreign windmills;
while I cantered awkward and uncertain
’til I carried nothing but my own motel bills.

Desire must mean to love the one you’re with
and relationship a vessel lit with old flames.
Words fill in like hoofprints on blistered lips,
blow like dead flies across weathered manes.

Think I’m gonna go sniffing about the pines—
I’m drunk. It’s midnight. I’ve forgotten my lines.

*
*

Day 5 / Poems 5

*

Citizen Rubble / by Katy Chrisler

Dwarf illumination
perhaps of cinder
thrown scissors
bronze a roar.
What mutton
bucket dagger
unwinds here
under the cloth
where weather
wanted whether
or not and the fortunate
only wither.

*
*

Ekphrastic Manifesto Fan / by Christine Starr Davis

after Barbara March

30/30

Nice ass meets cleft chin
they lean in.
A perfect score.
Good enough vision.
Two new hires at the Tilted Kilt.
Speed-dating at 30,
knowing it’s no.
What bees see
closing in on the mine.
Bath-wet toddler,
weary mom, close but concealed,
curtain of a towel between.

*
*

Pillow / by Donelle Dreese

There is a town in Pennsylvania named Pillow
where the landscape is hill billowy soft.

You can lay your head down in a valley
and sleep until the rooster crows.

In the summer, the milkweed flies
in cotton sheets so your raw cheeks can heal.

The geese in the ponds don’t give their down
easily to sleep walkers just passing through

looking for a softball game or a long-lost uncle
hidden in the black folds of the backwoods.

But if you need the crickets to sing
or the rhythm of rain tapping a car roof

or a creaking boat rocking in a pond’s low surf
you’ll find it here, and it will lull you to sleep.

Every night, you lay your head down and pretend
Pillow is a town where you could sleep forever.

*
*

Flowers / by Alan Kleiman

Burgeoning garden blossoms
Recall hot summer peaches
Rich with juice and flavor
Ripe on peach fragrant trees
Late summer swoons
Among these trees
Peach faces
Dripping of sweet fruit

April garden buds
Hint of ripe peach days
When lushness will drown
Sorrows
And bury fears

Tulips today begging
Look at me
The air still cool
The brightness still a surprise
Daffodils shaking the winter blues
Lilacs, lilly-of-the-valleys and petunias
Shouting spring,
With dreams of summer.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 5

*
*

Homily for Bird Land / by Barbara March

The pastor pulls down, yin yang on the belfry rope.
300 sea gulls in an alfalfa field face east and say, aaowwh.

Avocets are envelopes opening and closing, white and black tithes
cast over the pond. After ping pong we hug.

Hummingbirds sip honey from the book.

Waxwing murmurer, rose hip rosary beads, rain drops
on the back of your neck. My wings roll away from the inquisitor.

*
*

In Poet’s Hell / by Colin Pope

Despite the loud country music, the utter lack
of coffee and cigarettes,
you’ve managed to ignite the page
into explosive radioactivity. This is
the greatest poem ever made. It will outlast
Homer, Dante, in twenty millennia
asexual humanoids will read your translations
and weep. You didn’t even write it, really:
it existed without you, and you were
lucky enough to be sitting
on the right park bench
when it landed, opened its doors,
and poked out its all-knowing head.
Those who would have been artists
will suddenly feel the need
to become insurance salesmen, lawyers,
to work with children instead
since what’s the point if you’ve already
said it all? Of course, even after publication,
they’ll keep writing anyway. Criticism,
imitation: an ecosystem of creativity
and the big bang of your work at the center.
So you send it out, and at first
it seems okay: “Dear Writer, We
thoroughly enjoyed this piece, however…”
It’s even personalized—the editors tell you
specifics about your work’s greatness, but how
it’s not the right fit. Then, after twenty, thirty,
it begins to sink in. Everyone loves it
not enough, so you edit and edit
until it’s a pile of trash, a stranger, a poem
that looks like cardboard in the rain.
It’s gone. You’re dead. You get up the next day
and feel the uncontrollable need to try again.

*
*

Young Astronauts / by Jo Vance

In the cleft of the stump
we stand,

think we will lift,
think we will lift again,

when the wind catches
the sails of our shirts.

Just believe me,
you say,

and count down –
1-2-3 we are free. 

This rocket is nothing
but an old tree and wind

and feet placed just so,
but I squinch my eyes

against the sudden flash
of our lift-off.

And when I see
again and the hedge

has not disappeared,
still I shout to you,

we are here,
we are really here.

And you point
at the moon-stones,

which are underfoot
and everywhere.

*
*

Ode to Java’s War / by Arlo Voorhees

O diminutive stallion!
How tentative thy stride,
wet hoof by wet hoof
like an unlucky bride,

how lost you seemed
among the chosen ones
your number 19
already coming undone.

I had to have you.
I had to let go
of my darkest horses
I’d chosen to show.

Hey you, my poor Misfit,
the race has begun!
I could hit my trifecta
if you’d run, Java, run!

Alas, you get going
and settle into 19th
as if your number determined
your place and your speed!

O Java! O Java!,
you’ve missed the homestretch,
and I miss the twenties
that outstretched my debts.

Yet sad I am not,
for I’m watching you still;
though the derby has ended,
you’re sprinting like hell.

O Java! We’re the same;
we won’t run with the best
we’d rather be losers
on the fast track to success.

*
*

Day 4 / Poems 4

*

Mid- / by Katy Chrisler

Cut away a thrust that veils the words
that shapeshift pristine by rift, an object
fades when sidereel noon locates the valley
in scars by what we call ruts.

Perihelia damned beside a faintness
makes for fainter terminator, dividing
line between illuminated and shadowed.
Land is land in disposable spasm.

*
*

Davis 4

*
*

The Biscuit Barrel / by Donelle Dreese

Leave the window wide open.
They’re calling for high gloss rain

a gray ecology stirring a brimming
pot in spring when God is a florist

dogwood-making, pollen-depositing
unclogging the green silk fountain

that answers to a cyclical, nomadic
urge to flow after brash ice dies.

Soon there will be the Kentucky Derby
mint juleps and peak roses.

Then fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate
marinades caramelized by grill fire

the world sticky as a carnival
with a cicada brood colonizing

rousing the landscape like bull dust
and all for what?

To tame the jaguar forest.
To harpoon the biscuit barrel.

*
*

Private Property / by Alan Kleiman

Flowers everywhere
In the yard
Wild ones
Blue and white, yellows,
Pansies with purple faces
A small field
Hedges and trees on three sides
The fourth open
To a walk and passersby.
They could look
But could not enter.
No gate or fence
Just karma
That said
Not invited, not welcome
Not yours.
The flowers sat alone
Peonies and lilacs now
Flashing colors
And wafting smells
That they too
Kept private
In the open yard
Bordered on three sides.

*
*

Cubist Streams of Consciousness II / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 4

*
*

Is It a Sin? / by Barbara March

I step over green tourists here for the film fest.
Is it a sin to say spring cloys me?

Puny limbs, goofy green nails,
Could they pull their weight in ten below?

Their floppy smiles cancel out our hidebound winter.
Each day more arrive, poking around the barn and corral.

*
*

With Bats in Her Hair / by Colin Pope

she could yet be more electric,
screaming through dark tunnels,
flailing, a tangle of panic
knocking limestone from the walls,
particles of motion trapped together
and ripping each other apart.
Rather, in her rage, spelunking

the caverns of love
with that dim headlamp shining,
her fear is pointed directly at me
and fluttering wildly in its own way
discovers darkness, then more

darkness. The air is thin,
the rocks shake and the mountain
threatens to come down
on top of our heads. Out of nowhere
a frying pan flies past my ear,
clanging and singing a carnival
as it echoes in the depths.
“Careful,” I say. But it’s exciting,

dense hate filling the air, the earth
retching to vomit us up.
How lost we are, how alone.
When she tells me she’s starving,
she stares and licks her lips.
There’s no one around for miles.

*
*

Notes from Shoveling Dirt / by Jo Vance

1. Let the body ask its questions,
when you shovel a mound of dirt
at the bottom of a slope
into raised garden beds above.

2. Nod to the passersby
with a mud-streaked face –
to the woman nailing flyers
on a telephone pole,
to the man scattering bread
for birds as he walks.

3. There is also technique –
those wobbly knees
in the third hour,
a dirt-drunk swagger.
A fierce wielding
of the full wheelbarrow,
as you snake a path upwards.

4. Leaning against the shovel
is permissible.
You may bend down.
You may sit.

5. So let it be. Daydream
King Richard leeks,
sorrel, Jericho romaine,
and apple mint – here, and here,
where your hands are spreading
sun-warmed dirt across the bed.

6. And start again. Love your body
as it rises to its task,
the flicks and turns of wrists
and knees.

7. Love the empty
wheelbarrow in your hands,
cantering down the slope.

*
*

The Low-Down, Mind-Messing, Workin’ as a Poet on a Post-Post-Modern Sonnet Blues / by Arlo Voorhees

I’m exhausted, I admit it,
I’m a comma-splicing idiot,
I’ve submitted three typos
in unmetrical prose,

embellished my youth
and lied through my truth,
’til I’m suddenly I’m stuck
with generic pick-ups

on the same dirt road
that was paved long ago—
O nostalgia will kill me
with his suicide jokes,

but for now some poetry
with words I re-wrote.

*
*

Day 3 / Poems 3

*

In All Serialism / by Katy Chrisler

I make plaster casts
of gods’ eyes with
my hands. A skeleton
devised by three
geometries. First
grace, then physics.
In all serialism,
what new men
march on?
An eerie irreality
sights code but
talkers have loud
and neat mouths.
I care about other
things: sound range,
knifemakers with
out capacity. Not
all soothsayers drawl.
Graveeyed second.
I care about other
things and don’t
know how to be
careful.

*
*

The Girl Who Eats Paper / by Christine Starr Davis

begins
at two, with gummed price tags,
ticket stubs, the bent corners
of greeting cards, samples each
edge, careful not to cut her tongue,
sucks receipt creases, coupons,
can’t pass up a single
sugar-stained fortune, nips
with her incisors, hoping
in the end, to bear origami swans,
boats, inflatable cranes or more
complicated forms, and in time, grows
into brochures, a newsletter there
here, ratty scripts, books
she cannot return due
to chewing,
then graduates
to diplomas (these require flossing),
contracts, tax returns, shredded hives
of privacy the neighbors place at the curb
to recycle, until spring-nesting birds steal them away
to the high branches, and still
she conceives
of an offspring in three dimensions,
to hold and show, something R. Sabuda,
that hijacks the breath, and so
she never guesses street-sized banners
and whole racks of magazines might pass
her lips, and when she can,
page-a-day calendar snacks, gift bags
for dessert, warranties, the occasional coupon
she gulps for old time’s sake,
yet, nothing issues
but words.

*
*

The Silver Cord / by Donelle Dreese

We are learning how to rhapsodize
to be children again floating

on a boat surrounded by blue dragonflies
to believe in the rainbow bridge

the silver cord that connects
the physical body pain-embossed

to the golden bowl of the cosmos
where knowledge is held.

Life is a samba with this linkage
an astronaut hosed to the mother ship.

We glow from this life thread
and test its muscular attachment

to see if God would let us go.

*
*

Afternoon Sleep / by Alan Kleiman

During the afternoon sleeping period
The old man rumbled in his bed
But did not sleep
He rolled over and around
But didn’t sleep at all
Sometimes he closed his eyes
As if to sleep
But he did not fall off
Into sleep
He remembered how he would listen
To Mahler CD’s when he was younger
With headphones
So as not to wake his sleep partner
And how Mahler could calm
His nerves enough
To let sleep slip into his eyes
“The sandman” that Mr. Mahler.

He wasn’t the nervous type
The night sleep nerves were just the
Routine terrors of the night
That kept him up
But in daylight receded
To silly thoughts
Still here he was
During afternoon sleeping period
Rolling tossing and wondering.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 3

*
*

Asparagus / by Barbara March

Last fall you bolted oblivion and erred.
Your feathers and beads trampled by needles.
Where was I?

Canada overhead. Our village down by a third.
This morning you show me a sixteenth of yourself.
I haven’t been paying attention.

Did my neglect of your heart
choke the false and bushy carrots?
The new grass congratulating itself?

Our horses bolt when the dust devil snakes their fuzzy legs.

Neighbor Yvonne said, we hope you stay and die here with the rest of us.

*
*

The Scavenger’s Mass / by Colin Pope

We’d already been engulfed
in the throes of the day—chores,
grocery stores, the core ballast

of going to work—were nearly swollen to contusion
and driving to oh-
what-does-it-matter when

a vulture appeared in the busy intersection,
two four-lane roads converging
upon its overstuffed body.

It was stepping gingerly in the crosswalk,
then tried to fly and toppled gracelessly, bleating
as it righted itself and surveyed the pavement.

At that moment the light was red,
the sun peered through the trees
of the late afternoon, there were as yet no cars

but they were on their way, hurtling
from the dark chambers of stress and paperwork
like sharks hunting a drop of blood.

Why is it when empathy arrives
we expect it will already be splintered?
Why else would it need to find us?

The fantasy of rescue overpowers,
the drum of love beats helplessly in the world.
Next to us, wheezing and grumbling

an eighteen wheeler pulled up
and we winced, noticing
for the first time the drooped awning

of the bird’s crushed wing. The seconds
were cresting the ridges of minutes
and we were tense with doom

as it sauntered on, not made to saunter,
straining to keep on its feet,
lugging the hope of goodness on its back,

tearing at the soft meat inside us.
No no, soft no’s filling the air like snowflakes.
No, it must be that we can worship everything

as much as we worship ourselves;
how we find the iridescent cracks in being
glowing brighter than any perfection,

electric currents reaching out
and claiming nothing else but touch.
The light turns yellow, then green,

and by now the crossroads is filled,
ready to surge. The broken thing
is at the curb, seeking a reserve of energy

to carry its fulsome weight across this last,
horrible obstacle. As it vaults,
the traffic lurches forward, jaws wide,

and it makes it just in time, perusing our fenders
from the sidewalk. We watch it
disappear in the rearview,

and promise each other that it will live,
that wings can mend, that it will wander
far afield and surely discover a large corpse

on which to feast. There is belief
and then there’s energy, and the fire
churns under the highway,

pinning us to the Earth, the molten rock,
and gravity shifting its reaches
to haul us down, one by one by one.

*
*

Pea Shoots / by Jo Vance

Under clods of dirt
and in the dark
they wait
the peas I’ve sown

for life saying now
for the roots
to begin
their way down

then for the first
two flames
of a pea shoot
to flicker

lick
at the wind
yearn for more
light

This is how
it goes
how I dream
those everlasting peas

drawing life
like hungry fire
from all
below and above

*
*

What I’ve Meant / by Arlo Voorhees

It’s terrible to grow up lonely
terrible to remember.
It’s terrible to live through peace
in a world where people die.

It’s terrible to frolic
terrible to speak languages.
It’s terrible to die surrounded
by everyone you love.

It’s terrible to exclaim
in these pre-historic times.
Terrible to have painted
the bad painting on the wall.

Terrible the smiles
in black and white photographs
Terrible to find your clothes
with nobody in them.

It’s terrible to sit behind a desk
terrible to write poetry.
It’s terrible to sit behind a desk
and memorize poetry.

It’s terrible to be talented,
terrible to promote your only self.
It’s terrible to believe
in a world we left behind.

*
*

Day 2 / Poems 2

*

How To Stop Folding / by Katy Chrisler

A black and white heifer is half
a shadow of horizon, anyplace.
Else every shadow can be thought
of as a clock. Don’t rush
into darkness now.

I’ve learned many things
from using my hands
in fragmentary ways.
Chlorine across, lights come
and again we are still nothing
but animals amongst the
tinfoil bright half-life of what
can’t be held.

This record is good for dancing.
I talk to you just to see how it sounds.

*
*

We Will All Fall Into This Love One Day / by Christine Starr Davis

His hand reaches her hand
reaches, and the scalepan of their hearts
must measure the gravity of the fingers,
trace the indelible labyrinth on each tip,
the palm’s tracery that fortune tellers tell
in secret, in the soft afternoon,
in the jagged night, in the opposites
of these, while watchers watch
and listeners listen,
and the ones who care, care. In the fraction
of time before their hands meet,
there is no institution
risked, no family name, no god
to appease, just
these fingered wings
and the angels who extend them.
Not one of us knows how such
ordinary motions work
or why. Not one of us
chooses to love.

*
*

Blue Jeans / by Donelle Dreese

A peace sign upside down
cobalt, sky, slate blue
sometimes a midnight black
faded finesse torn halfway
to unveil the eyeballs of knees
thread-peeping at the world.

An epidermis love affair
stonewashed to perfection
like all of us, polished
soft by the rock and pebble
of heartbreak and years
shaving rough edges
down to seasoned fabric
to stitch and stretch to fit
to love forever and give away
to anyone who wants it.

*
*

Once in a While / by Alan Kleiman

By the old dock
Near the bridge
On the side where they kept the sailboats
Opposite the fishing fleet
The lobster catch was emptied into the old shack
and sorted by weight
Once in a while a big old one got caught
Maybe 30 years old or more
And they’d keep it around for its special value
Until someone would come in
Wanting to buy it
Or just because it was there
Wanting to buy it
And then it was gone
Killed off and eaten
As if it were a common animal
Instead of a something
And then the place returned to being
Just a lobster shack
With maybe a 4 pounder or so
On a good day.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 2

*
*

Ekphrastic Manifesto / by Barbara March

30/30

A hug or half a kiss.
Two moons riding a mountain.
Padlock minus a key.
What do you have in store for me?
Almost two B’s, soft backward E’s,
or four knees
facing south of the sea.
Two creatures carrying stones.
A mirror between.

*
*

Dear Mr. Real Estate Agent / by Colin Pope

for KE

I didn’t mean to lie to you
when I said I make more than enough money
to afford the rent of this house.
But I’m tired of being a failure,

even at this age, when I should be
used to it, when my friends are reaping the garden
of newborn children and 401ks,
have gorged themselves giddy
and are contemplating strategic attacks
against the cities of Wainscoting and Mortgage,
generals of their own armies

of self-satisfaction. I wasn’t trying
to lie to you: what I wanted
was for you to help me deceive
by centering the muzzle on my foot
and blowing a little hole through it, like a kiss.
We could be heroes instead, see?
I don’t even need to be airlifted.
All I want is to wrap myself

inside a little place of my own,
cover myself with the flag of Adultistan
like a cloak before I hobble back out
to the front lines for more.

*
*

Piper’s Orchard / by Jo Vance

A.W. and Minna planted the orchard
over a hundred years ago,
after the great Seattle fire
ripped through their candy factory.

They pondered apple trees,
pears and plums. They planted
all over the slope, where now
fifty trees still sprawl like a herd.

Minna grafted and tended.
She climbed her ladder and picked
the ready fruit, day after day
in the soft autumn air.

Now I come here in the wood-smoke
tinge of evening, carrying
canvas sacks, ready to haul home
a small fortune on my back.

My arms yearn for fruit, shake
the limbs down. I scurry
after the rolling apples
that travel to a resting place.

The journey back is several miles,
passing over the asphalt stamp
of a parking lot and then twenty blocks
before I reach my home,

hefting Minna’s fruit up the stairs
to be yielded to the table
and a paring knife, skins unfurling
to red-green ribbons on the floor.

*
*

Sleeping in the Cattle Barn at the Spencer Fair / by Arlo Voorhees

As all the farm kids ran through
clouds of cheap cologne,
I laid against my junior calf
and promised not to roam

beyond the tractor pull
and through the midway’s glimmer
to revel in the smells
of hair spray and manure,

while my brother in his bomber
tucked Heather Flynn inside
the tie-dyed Ferris wheel–
he was tall enough to ride.

I wanted to sleep forever
or until I turned fourteen
when I’d take the hand of Heather,
and lead her through my dreams,

but when that day arrived,
the midway had shut-down;
the 4-H girls grew up
and moved to bigger towns.

And here I’m waiting still
in my leather office chair
for a girl to take my hand
and lead me through the fair.

*
*

Day 1 / Poems 1

*

They Were Not Thinking of Dying / by Katy Chrisler

Chrisler 1

*
*

This is How I Move From April to May / by Christine Starr Davis

for Jewel

as ants in a line
follow the scent left by the blazers,
make good on their trail,
hoist and pull,
because the colony needs them
to carry what is left
to be carried, crumb and leaf,
borne like babies, or like sails,
because the colony
needs them to know the work
already laid, to feel the flex
their legs felt, the shiver
of antennae divining
food, the gloom
of a foot, a crevice, the shift
of stones, weather. I am not more
than ants in their line. They
effect their elfin choices,
and from high enough,
I could size my own
queue tortuous as theirs,
and reliant on the same
humble steps and chance.

*
*

The Virtuosity of Another Day / by Donelle Dreese

Some days are raw hot wind
dark maroon blossoms of moods

bordering on mechanical
and here we are blinking

trying to free gummed lashes
from something flying in the air

a sour mash of fear and fatigue.
I know you had to walk through

a labyrinth of knives, but look
your ankles are still smooth.

You are still warm and awake
after listening to the ocean moan

after treading the web lines of a leaf
and wearing a stinging fur of snow.

The lanterns are underwater
but they illuminate the starfish

suspended near the surface
so we can see what we are given.

The virtuosity of another day
to try again, to make it right this time.

*
*

Cesar Salad / by Alan Kleiman

Hey, I just wrote 30 poems for April
I said it all
And now what you are about to hear
For May 1, 2013 is fillip
Pure fillip
Flip phone
Albatross
And delight tonight
Song in my heart

Herman Melville suffered the same
He wrote from the heart of darkness
Or was that Joe Conrad
Or didn’t he write for Conrad’s sandwich shop
They made some fantastic Rueben sandwiches
Which leads me to the point I am making
And that is about Translation
Let’s say you are looking at a menu
In some foreign language and
Your guide speaks that language like a charm
You point to something on the menu
and say what is this
And you get no answer
because Translation
Requires translation of the under meaning
Before the words can make sense.

Rueben Sandwich can’t be translated
Because it has no meaning
It’s like Cesar Salad
And that’s what May’s poems will be about
Drilling down to the under meaning
To understand what’s going on
When the words themselves won’t tell us.

I’ll be going on a journey this month
Through the birthday of son turning 21
Celebrating without his evil father
And a birthday of the poet
Moving into another phase of life
A “big” birthday as they call it on the surface
And a physical journey to Ukraine and Istanbul
Where your poet will become your reporter
Wifi-ing in reports from Yalta
About peace treaties unsigned
And from Kiev about the sounds of the bells
And the rhythms of Mussorgsky.

So hello and welcome and together
If we are lucky
We will parse the under meaning
And speak with new tongues.
And have poetic poems to peruse.

*
*

* * * / by Desmond Kon

Desmond 1

*
*

About Me / by Barbara March

March 1

*
*

Regret / by Colin Pope

At night I spray the wasp nest,
then, as per instructions, wait until morning
to knock it from under the eaves
of the porch with a broom.
It’s a tense job: I wear my sneakers
in case I need to make a quick escape,

but after a few sharp jabs
it comes tumbling down,
soft and empty as a balloon.
When I get home from work that evening,

it’s still lying there, the loud hate
quieted, all the danger poured out.
As I look up, something is missing
from the sky, something firm and enormous
and inside my chest, the buzzing
starts again.

*
*

Notes From Setting Up House / by Jo Vance

1. Treasure an old cast-iron frying pan,
handed down with all its years
of chopped garlic and olive oil.
A serious tool for the serious house.

2. Fill a bowl with lemons to motivate
elaborate baking schemes.
(The bowl dreams seven-layer cake
with blueberry-lemon compote.)

3. But there are also shovels to consider,
trowels, and metal wash tubs,
a bucket for the leaky sink.

4. There will be always be a leaky sink.

5. Amass a small army of wash rags,
all the better if they are tattered.

6. And surely hammers and screwdrivers
for repurposing old wood into use.
Nails for the paintings and curtains,
and hooks for all the scarves and coats,
for the coming and going,
the sitting down and staying put.

*
*

Mayday! Mayday! / by Arlo Voorhees

I colored rocks for our May Day baskets,
exotic scenes in Crayola periwinkles

to anchor the practical gifts with symbol—
vague pastorals in technicolor designed to clash

with the lips of daffodils and zucchini seed
that filled out our typical Spring arrangements.

My mom learned it in Diamond Bluff,
this pagan ritual of high latitudes, be kind

to thy neighbor who had beat another winter.
It didn’t matter we were the poorest family,

that we push-started the truck to scale Turkey Hill.
We even delivered to Mobey, the drunk pyro

who lit fires on the edge of our cornfield,
stumbled drunk up our porch waving a gun

the day after his german shepard kept us up
for hours fleeing a tirade of bottle rockets.

I loved sprinting down his driveway, hanging a basket,
on the screen door, skipping back to the Chevy

and speeding down the road to another ambush—
I was an outlaw, a devout follower of surprise,

no allegory to stop me from gifting my painted stones.
I drew Jupiter’s dark craters on gravel, sharks

delighted in the underworld of my early paintings.
I’ve since abandoned the glyphs and work in translation—

my neighbors don’t know I can see through to their kitchen,
that I long fix them supper and exchange silent prayers

before a sea of modified greens and dream chicken.

*
*

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