30/30 Project

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

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

The volunteers for March 2015 are Kate Asche, Carol Willette Bachofner, Sarah A. Chavez, Patty Joslyn, and Carlene Kucharczyk. Read their full bios by clicking here.

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

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


Day 2 / Poems 2




Dear Carole, you would like this room / by Sarah A. Chavez

Behind the computer is a wall of windows.
It is on the second story and rarely does anyone look in,
though I am always looking out.

The view is so different than any view
we ever had in the mobile home
or apartment. There are many trees,
and not new ones. These are old
as the country and taller than a six story
mall. Not that you gave a shit about nature,
but the long barren arms of the trees in winter
reach menacingly toward the blank
grey sky and when the rain falls (which it does
so often), the drops perch like clear
berries off the dead textured ends.

A thousand murders could happen here.

That’s how dark the darkness is,
how closely the bodies of the trees
huddle. Maybe even they are scared
of what is possible here.

You could write hundreds of mystery novels
from this room. You wouldn’t be limited
through an imagination that only saw
the graffitied, concrete corners of walled-in
parking lots, or abandoned houses. You wouldn’t
have to rely on smashed-out street lights
for the lack of visibility your characters
need to entrap a victim.
How you’d get the victims to this remote
forest, I don’t know, but that’s your job.
I never was good at fiction.
I’m the one who penned our filthy limericks
in the spiral-bound red-covered notebook.
I read them out loud to you and we laughed
and choked on cigarette smoke and laughed more.
And you’d read me the story of your Ravens,
the dark-clothed succubae, their breasts always
white and spilling uncontrollably from bustiers,
their legs long, their waists no wider than the circle
a man can make with both hands. Always
they were the opposite of us, but doing
what I think you wanted to – punishing
those men who catcalled, who harassed, who
embarrassed by never catcalling.
I remember the day you phoned just to tell me
someone shouted at you while walking to the liquor store.
Me! you said, Not you. I was the only one there.
It’d happened before of course, but you
always assumed they were yelling for me.
I knew better.
I saw what you couldn’t.

From this room, so far from Fresno, thousands
of miles above sea level, your Ravens
could be real ravens. They could change into bats.
they could be tree nymphs (sure, like nympho
maniacs). You’d have more
to look at than cement, than asphalt,
than metal roofing, more to recognize
than assholes on corners
gauging our worth in two-fingered whistles.


I Knew it Would Be Back / by Patty Joslyn

the feather I found
while walking
alongside the crashing ocean
was as black as my mood

I held it close to my face to remind me
of things familiar and lost

my own darkness complete
as was the feather

I slipped the silken barb into my trouser pocket
then turned to scare off the lone vulture
who turned its beaked face sideways to stare at me
I knew it would be back
for the eyes of the gray-white-gray gull

who can resist this shine

the caaaawww
woke me to the sound coming from my own throat
the ragged grief that had escaped

I knew the feather wasn’t mine to keep

my empty pocket
was what I’d be carrying home


Poem without Light / by Carlene Kucharczyk

I want to talk to you in dark,
like the Koyukon people before light came to them.
They told stories to navigate night,
to chisel minutes off an already dripping winter.
After they told a story, they would say,
I thought the winter had just begun,
but now I have chewed off part of it.

Some make their homes in shine;
I’d rather live in dark, and let words glow.
I am not good at convincing, but I have been convinced:
I want to talk to you in dark.



Day 1 / Poems 1






Dear Carole, I’ve begun sucking my fingers / by Sarah A. Chavez

While thinking of you.
Neither of these actions
is conscious.
I’ll be checking emails
and next thing I know
I’m chewing a pinkie,
staring out the window.
At first, I’d yank the fingers out,
the sharp edge of an incisor
scraping the fatty pads.
It was like I thought you’d catch me,
or someone would;
like what I was doing was wrong.
I don’t know if it’s wrong
but after a while,
it occurred to me
you will never know
and maybe you wouldn’t care.
You will never catch me at the café
three fingers cupped comfortably
around my jaw, pinkie
slobbery from gnawing.
No matter what town I’m in,
summoning the image of your face
will never summon
the material of your body.
Straining in the bustle of subway noise
I will never
hear your voice
and by now, all this time passed
I can’t remember
if it was high or low.
Rich or thin.
I only remember the quiver
of what still feels like love
chilling through
the marrow of my bones.


Miss Durst / by Patty Joslyn

Ethel Durst was a keeper of silkworms

she their sole/soul source

of warmth, food, and love

coddling nursemaid she was named

sheer kindness some said


Miss Durst was the worm guardian

for several hundred silk spinners

until the earthquake of 1908

rattled their tall tippy glass home

and tossed it and them to the cold floor


March can be a wild month

in with a roar and so on

skies so one color it’s hard to call them anything else

all this while in my back yard

calla lilies stand and unfurl


To the east thunderheads are gathering

when the earth next turns upside down

who will remember the silkworms

slithering across the hard cracked earth

as Ethel whispered goodbye


I Could Go On Singing / by Carlene Kucharczyk

The dogs with wavering eyes
walk through the mud and past
the tamaracks. What song will be sung
tonight by all of us here on earth
in one surprising chorus—soft
or biting—voices all in lift?

The sound. It is enough to ruin.
Earth with only its songs. Tough.
Important. Sharp and cool. Left
with only night and wanting
to stay open. It is late, there is
no time for talking. Nothing to hear

but cruel music. We have known:
nothing stays open. The frogs
go on chirping. The swings go creaking.
The clouds swim past and give a hiss.
A wolf howls and you think:
I could go on, I could go on singing.




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