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 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 ten volunteers for May 2016 are Andrea England, Edward Cody Huddleston, Priya Keefe, Laura Lauth, Rebecca Raphael, Jennifer Singleton, Sarah Dickenson Snyder, Dee Stribling, Rebecca Valley, and Christine Aikens Wolfe.  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 and choose their name from the 30/30 dropdown menu.) Just imagine what a challenge it is to write 30 new poems in 30 days!

donate button

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

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Day 28 / Poems 28

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Day 28 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

spring cleaning
the spider tosses
its leftovers

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I Wish I Were an Etch A Sketch / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

When Lassie was heading
for a roaring waterfall,

I’d run down to the kitchen
breathless—carrying the image

of a dog caught in a current, her dark eyes
tremulous just above the river’s rim.

No one can save her! I said
to a mother who knew about the endings.

She’d try to shoo me up the stairs
to see the collie rescued (by Timmy or his father),

but I could not bear the imagined
plunge to a rocky death.

And now, an open window, flimsy screen,
the possibility

of a child climbing on a sill,
teetering beyond a reach

in some small projector
screen and wince, try to

shake away the picture,
clean the slate.

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The Short Take / by Dee Stribling

Some part of ninety-six years

she was at Julliard. She never married.

Her question always:

What did you create today?

Music? Art? A poem?

Did you create happiness?

A sense of wonder?

And when she could no longer do any

of these things, she created mystery.

And left us.

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May / by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Not totally lovely, all those who come with spring,
brown fertile soil out of plants that rot,
yet colors and green freshness make me sing.

Aphids shred the leaves to which they cling,
’til ladybugs annihilate most of their lot,
not even lovely, all those who come with spring.

Daffodils open, butterflies take wing;
violets, lilacs blush and lilies polka-dot.
Bright colors and green freshness make me sing.

Then caterwauling cats at night are king.
Toms fight for pussies. Yes, right here they fought,
not wholly lovely those who come with spring.

Robin, cardinal, sparrow all take wing,
then warbling complicated trills are wrought;
their music and green freshness make me sing.

Earth blooms forth each unique living thing.
May: decay/rebirth proceeding as it ought;
not lovely every creature come with spring,
yet color, birdsong, freshness make me sing.

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Please scroll past comments form to read previous days’ poems.

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Day 27 / Poems 27

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What the Marram Grass Said / by Andrea England

After blackflies black on backs of legs
After tiki torches over makeshift graves
After the memories of innocent places

Carlyle’s hoping and converting
Farm house and Phoenix and drowning
Of beach grass paper cutting children’s legs

She who sent the letter is kissing someone
Who is not you who is not who is
Prince when doves cry

Here is no classical but EDM
Flies and dead dogs and the makeshift bed
The bell dinging and donging the sounds

Of insomniacs of addicts of no longer
Sunscreen is dry and toes in the water
One cannot work with thumbs in the sky

And all toes in the water
The lakebeds are dry with slow confessions
Hope is the only thing Man possesses

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Day 27 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

old camera
an urge to show it
the world

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Plant, Plant, Plant / by Priya Keefe

Word spreads among the ladies at my mom’s senior housing
that my man is good looking. Sourpuss, back on her meds, sings out in the lobby:
we want to hear you play trumpet. I am called in
to the manager’s office to hear complaints
that my mother is out after dark
gathering leaves and sticks.
Someone could call, report her for self-harm.
No one is caring for her.
The bruise on her cheekbone
from the latest fall
is almost healed.
This is how you use a cane,
I improvise:
plant, plant, plant.
As soon as I let go
she goes back to swinging it
like a red and yellow basket.

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Eight Lines for Autumn / by Laura Lauth

Sometimes a lovesick woman slips away.

Tonight, the drugstore shimmers with

value candy and cheap sateen. Outer space

is almost real. Outside, nothing falls. Not

rain or larch or late blossom. But it will.

So, if it’s you there in the parking lot

with your oars up, just drifting on that small

pond of electric light, don’t wait too long.

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Poem 27 / by Rebecca Raphael

In dreams, the bay is a lake:
the crescent from Waveland
to Bay Saint Louis arcs
out and closes. I wade
around the rim because
I cannot go ashore until
I reach the far side. There,
sand in the shallows gives
way to masonry. An arc
of pillars, roughly hewn,
rises at the shore. The light,
here, comes from below,
shimmering up through the water,
and from within. There,
it shows.

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SDS27

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New Mexico / by Dee Stribling

In deep blue of your wandering sky
. . . . . I am home.

Red ochre of your fiery mountains
. . . . . body’s blood.

Clear, cold crystal of your streams
. . . . . life’s water.

In darkest shards of your badlands
. . . . . spirit’s pain.

In moment of hawks fall awareness
. . . . . of death.

In bluebonnets and cactus flowers
. . . . . soul’s resurrection.

With whistle and call of cold Puye wind
. . . . . childhood memories.

In winter’s frozen gaze and blurred snow
. . . . . ancestor dreams.

With tender touch of tiny young fingers
. . . . . hope of the world.

Along Plaza blankets full of turquoise
. . . . . exquisite path.

In thunder clouds and black volcanoes
. . . . . life’s birth.

In magic of one shadow on a dusty path
. . . . . blessing of solitude.

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Haibun with Two Swords / by Rebecca Valley

It is difficult to tell the season. Why the moon hangs in the sky like a curved sickle. Imagine a woman sitting on a concrete pedestal. She wears a white dress, on an island of asphalt. Behind her, islands bob in miles of vacant ocean. Her shoulders are the same color as the dirt. Her hair is cut ragged at the shoulder. She is tired. Her feet are pale as one white moon. There is a sword for each hand, heavy as her own body. Her arms are crossed over her chest. She is blind. She waits for something.

Long scar on the skin.
I am waiting for touch, your
hot & cold fingers

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Wisdom (♀) Speaks / by Christine Aikens Wolfe 

My role, when the world began:
I danced
danced on clouds
sifted down to earth
from first created depths
I sprang forth
before mountains settled
I scuttled up their slopes
danced them down steady
first clods plowed by first man
stirred the ground, brought me shouting
and singing up
out of earth
I delighted in woman and in man.

And when the vault of sky
was marked to stand over the deep:
I guided, I sang
I danced.

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Day 26 / Poems 26

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Fraternal / by Andrea England

This is nothing time can solve:
Nine months shared, a coffin of womb—
Thick, wet thumbprints on my body.

Forty-three years and ten days lost,
first brother then mother cut loose:
This is nothing time can solve.

Blue bottle, I never forgot
you, unimaginable, spooned—
Thick, wet thumbprints on my body.

One cord kicked, one watery cough,
one small oak box, one mourning tune:
This is nothing time can solve.

Each birthday, each, one thought has crossed
my mind. What if I had been you—
Thick, wet thumbprints on your body?

Maybe thin, blond but never gone
from my side, your face always new;
This is nothing time can solve.
Thick, wet thumbprints on my body.

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Day 26 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

flyleaf
an urge
to start the sequel

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Guilt / by Priya Keefe

We fry liver as did
. . . our mothers
Chopping onions gives us tears as did
. . . our fathers
Fortune absorbed
Liver, still bleeding

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Ode to the Everglades / by Laura Lauth

On a small island the shape of currents,
the anhinga spreads her wings: here’s

the world’s slowest river if you want it,

a shallow sheetflow and sawgrass prairie,
on each blade a tooth, for each tooth,

a river of rough fish and bluestem,

limestone and reptile. And I do. I want it,
witch duck, devil bird, I want your swamp

of spadderdock, spider lily. I want

the mangrove and panther, bitterest apple—
Pa-hay-Okee, a glade to loosen flesh or

sharpen love.

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Desired Photo / by Rebecca Raphael

Corner of Sherman and Clark: triangle
of green, a wide street lined
with shops. Not the same shops as back
in my day. I wish I had taken more pictures
then, to help me remember now.
But I didn’t have a camera. Even if
I had, would past have known
what future would want recall?

I conjure the non-existent photo.
It favors one side of the street and, even
on that side, distance diminuendos detail.
I can’t see everything. Yet one must stand
somewhere, must pick a focal length
and click a shutter. What if
past had walked the street, both
sides, and had taken a shot of every shop?
I look at this non-existent
set of photos. It’s just a stack
of storefronts. Who cares?
Supposing I had a collection
of photos, taken from various
shot lengths and angles,
of various facets of the street. Something
would always be around a corner
of out of frame, something implied
but not shown,
something one couldn’t remember right.

What do I want from these imaginary
photos? Not information,
but some optimal composition
that includes everything future
needs to recollect and feel
what it was like for past
to walk down Sherman Avenue,
sad in sunshine, fierce in the winter’s ice,
craving through the rain and not knowing what.
No one can take a picture of that.

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There Will Be Divergence / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

On any path toward the hierarchy
of necessary information. Maybe

spin like a weather vane
on a slate roof to find your way.

Don’t discount the unfamiliar
presence of a dark road to another story.

Or sit as if it’s a 1843 winter in Kansas
and you have an embroidery hoop

in your lap, needle and thread poised,
a brittle wind whipping against wooden

shutters. Lean toward a lamp,
its trembling, finite wick.

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Dump Truck Day / by Dee Stribling

Hot broke down, dollars gone till service comes.
Sliding backwards climbing muddy grades.
Fill dirt higher than cab means truck pulls hard.
Three-axle dump truck guarantees a rough day.

Sliding backwards climbing muddy grades.
Merging into open road cars pay no mind.
Three-axle dump truck guarantees a rough day.
Bologna and bread, nabs and fries, hungry still.

Merging into open road cars pay no mind.
Mack’s all beat up plowing through ruts and grind.
Bologna and bread, nabs and fries, hungry still.
Fuel and tires cost the most, full day’s pay goes to bills.

Mack’s all beat up plowing through ruts and grind.
Pulling into Chicken Shack, bringing dinner, family waits.
Fuel and tires cost the most, full day’s pay goes to bills.
Bad back ride but got no gripe, got this truck, got this job.

Pulling into Chicken Shack, bringing dinner, family waits.
Fill dirt higher than cab means truck pulls hard.
Bad back ride but got no gripe, got this truck, got this job.
Hot broke down, dollars gone till service comes.

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Definitions of the word “bloom” / by Rebecca Valley

/blo͞om/ noun

A flower, especially:
the state or period of flowering
period of greatest
acme peak height heyday

a delicate powdery surface deposit
a rapid growth of cyanobacteria in water,
often resulting in a colored scum

a full bright sound
(fire, color, light)

metal hammered into a thick bar

a collective noun for a large group of jellyfish

an atmospheric effect on high-energy laser beams

a creek in South Dakota
a town in western Oregon

You body close to my body,
your skin open as petals

especially as flower,
blooming

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Epic Fantasy / by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Ingrid brushed back her sheet of copper hair, settled herself and her child on the porch
swing. Cardinals trilled. She’d always loved spring, her heart perhaps re-awakening –

Maureen, 3-years-old, clutched the wooden swing handle with her chubby hand.
Giggled. Two years. Two years since her husband / sister, enroute from bus terminal…
an 18-wheeler, Val coming for her 28th birthday. She often felt she’d have jumped a bridge
if not – Maureen – small bright spirit with dark curls, quiet, loving.

Maureen, and that singular dream. Sailing on a cerulean sea… the man beside her,
Ulysses, she saw only as light when she turned her head. Thrill of vessel’s bounce,
sway, speed and spray of salt water. Melting when she turned to him, he to her.
A kiss full of heat and ephemera; the wind propelled their ship forward.

Then, in waking life, the U. key on her computer stuck. Always. Had to hit it twice.
She persevered. Went to work, dropped off her bright Maureen at the sitter, lived to
pick her up at 5:30. Her joy.

The bus, one house away at the corner, wheezed to a stop. Announced itself, “Corner of
Reynolds and South Lang.” The kneeling door opened. Light streamed out. She and Maureen
turned their heads. A tall blond man, leaning on an ornate cane, walked past their porch,
swiveled his head and looked. Stopped. His long hair, pulled back, caught morning sun.
The cardinals began a song of purdy-birdy, purdy-birdy. He nodded, “Morning.”

They nodded back. “We met,” he said, smile broadening on brown weathered face.
“Last year. Three Rivers Arts Festival. Bonnie Raitt or Josh Ritter, can’t recall.”
Another beatific smile. “Elaine,” he said, then shook his head.
“Not right, nor the child Morgan.” His laugh rumbled. “I need your help.
I’m Ulysses, but you can call me U.”

“I’m Maureen!” Her sweetie turned to her. “Can he come and sit with us? I think he’s our
friend.” Ingrid motioned; he strode up the driveway, mounted the steps.
The cane seemed only incidental at that point. He paused.

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Day 25 / Poems 25

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Ode to Fathers / by Andrea England 

Snowshoe or sunscreen they come,
father and son to the corner
of Campbell and Main, and their
little dog too. It’s traffic time,
the same time each day, the same
look on the little boy’s face . . .

Every day, new news on fathers,
billboards that read, Take Time to Be
a Dad Today, or Fatherhood Begins
in the Womb. Students plead against
media stacked with slipshod
stereotypes . . . And here’s this Dad

with his son who twists the leash,
with his son whose smile shows teeth,
with his son whose legs don’t breath
like yours and mine, watching
the lilacs, smelling the wheel-burn
of rush hour, each time, new and sweet.

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Day 25 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

changing
the font again
writer’s block

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Plane Talk / by Priya Keefe

Shine a light in a frog’s eyes to catch it. I can clean a frog in 30 seconds flat. I ate squirrel brain once, but I didn’t like it. I don’t know who is running for President. A stick of margarine in the boil will soften crawfish shells for easy peeling. You can always wear gloves. Some people do that. I pray every day but don’t set foot in a church. I use to
go to a Pentecostal church. No, not a snake handlin church. People got the Holy Ghost every Sunday. Convenient. My mamma is voting for Trump. Well, I don’t know about that, but I know Obama spent too much money on his daughter’s birthday party with Elton John. You know that didn’t come out of his pocket. No politician can be trusted. I met Bobby Jindal once. He had a handshake like a wet noodle. I figure that told me everything I needed to know.

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It Can’t Be All in One Language, a Cento* / by Laura Lauth

Red berries grow in the South. When spring arrives,
the tree branches off. Gather as many as you can.

All night long the birds have been singing their
colors to me.

Kabir will tell you the truth, this is what love is like:

suppose you had to cut off your head and give it
to someone else, what difference would that make?

*From the Latin word for “patchwork,” the cento (or collage poem) is a poetic form made up of lines from poems by other poets. Original authors in order of appearance: Ezra Pound (title), Wang Wei (from the Chinese), Juan Ramon Jiménez (from the Spanish), Kabir (from the Hindi).

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Archive / by Rebecca Raphael

A comma changed
to period, a line blacked out.
A draft.
Typescript:
the author’s hand had struck
keys, which struck
paper. The body’s gesture
leaves an imprint
marker can over-write
but not undo.
Through
black ink on black, the first
intention pressed itself
out. The sentence was of the form,
“This, not that,”
where this spoke the soul’s I am,
and that, the social mold.
The author
had altered a contrast
to a simple affirmative;
he removed the resistance
first expressed, and yet
the materiality of type
embodied the sense
editorial judgment concealed,
for no later mark could unridge
the lines of self’s candid force.

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Tulip Migration and Gestation / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

If allowed they would fill
. . . . . . the earth, bob and wobble
across the sea and find

a foundation in each bed—
. . . . . . tulip world, tulip life,
each fall content, wedged

in a dark space as we have—
. . . . . . and our swimming out
of darkness toward a small

aperture through a narrow
. . . . . . canal we cannot recall—
born in mystery,

the bulb waits, lies quietly, shifts
. . . . . . a bit in buckled dirt, but rises
toward a sun—a miracle.

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Night Train to Paris / by Dee Stribling

You aren’t on it. But somewhere in time crashing
on this rocky shore I wish you could’ve been.
No, this train carries a man with silver hair curling
about his face framed with white whiskers and deep tan.

I feel my way through depths of blackness as this train
shoots away into darkness, rocking on the salty sea of
a night well spent. He sits in front and I behind, watching
fields dance with orbs of light as our stars fall to earth.

But you’re not here. Rocking train shifts my gaze from side
to side, blurred by little drops of tears, wiped from my face
by the man with silver hair, white whiskers, and deep tan
riding with me into the dark on the night train to Paris.

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RV25

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Rainy Day Woman / by Christine Aikens Wolfe

in honor of Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday, May 24, 2016

I want you, babe,
to write that tribute song
to our soothsayer minstrel.

You can call him Bobby,
or you can call him Zimmy,
but he’s forever young,

and makes us seem so.
We know the hard rain’s
gonna fall along the watchtower

and in the North country,
and – it ain’t me, babe –
who’s gonna sing it.

You’ll be one more person crying,
it’s all right, babe,
you’re only sighing;

we shall be released some any day
to go knockin’ on heaven’s door,
well then, don’t think twice –

take up your pennywhistle,
your harp, tune up your lovely voice,
my tambourine man, sing.

Our own thin ballad,
We’ve been tangled up in blue sky,
singing with our babies blue,

I’ll sing my lady’s lay
just like a woman
and we’ll climb that hill

no matter how steep,
cause we ain’t going’ nowhere.
Tonight, you’ll be staying

here with me; be with me
when the deal goes down.
Sing for me of things that change

of what’s keening in the wind.
I can’t help
falling in love with you.

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Day 24 / Poems 24

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Welcome to OMG / by Andrea England

AE24

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Day 24 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

a feather falling
from a birdless sky
windy day

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Found / by Priya Keefe

Able to bear the weather
no more
an island
of bark succumbs
to lichen
to falling.
A passer-by
admirer of the moon
seduced by lace
picks it up
touches its ragged shoreline
map of rain.
Its cinnamon center
stains his fingers
and he drops it
near the foot of the host
but not reunited.

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Variation on an Ode, for Prince (1958-2016) / by Laura Lauth

Come, happy songs, I wish to write you!
Gather yourselves beside me, grab those
lobster bibs—tonight we feast and drink
Japanese whisky, a cup for every mouth,
spicy tuna all around! Set down your
skull and doomed Ophelias, the water’s
fine. Above the house, saw palms brush
a sideways moon, make Mona Lisas like
you’ve never seen. Look how the heat
links arms around us and Elvis brought
his Ukulele, the Sapphics all resewn. I’ll
use my teeth, untie you, so we can kiss
and party like it’s 1999.

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Full Circle / by Rebecca Raphael

A Waveland summer day.
I sat on Grandma’s porch and read,
my right bionic ear
just a week old, drunk with acoustic
soup and mystical hum.
My niece played near,
drawing faces with chalk
on the sidewalk to the street.

“I can’t make good circles.” Blicket auf!
I heard, without looking, amazed
that I heard the unexpected verdict
and that a three-year-old would self-critique.
And I could reassure her, unaccustomed
to the role: “Circles are hard to draw.”
She dove back in and later
announced that she was pleased.
A symmetrical face with squiggly hair
smiled from the sidewalk.

Fifteen years ago. And now,
the porch stands solitary
while everything around it goes to woods.
A straight path of sparser foliage
hints the overgrown sidewalk. And I,
a week into doublenees
with a left bionic ear, hear
only birdsong and the wind,
unless time past is a sound.
If we let them, circles make us good.

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Needing Similes, Analogies, & Metaphors / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

for Jen Hamilton

How you can attend a spill
on the counter with an instinctive

brush of a hand, removing some
but leaving the spread of something—

beaded remains. Or you can find
a cloth or paper towel, press

into the liquid, pull it all into fibers,
absorbing it—this choice mirroring

moments, sweeping them away
with the swish of your swirling

world or draw them to you unasked
taking in each second, each one.

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Sound Rising / by Dee Stribling

Cat and Dog islands
have slipped beneath Bogue Sound.
No trace remains.
Gone is the fishing shack where men
drank whiskey
with a girlfriend or two on bright yellow
summer days.
Gone, gigging flounder in island shallows.
No plastic jugs
bob on surface, lines reaching to crab pots below.
One small colorful
piece of Bogue Banks jigsaw puzzle just gone.
Empty spot
filled in with sea, lost to all with the rising tide.

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I see myself encased in one drop of water / by Rebecca Valley

eyes too large,
pale-looking.

Behind me
the trees knot
their own trunks and
gaze upward.

They are silent.
They won’t remember anything.

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Shopping Dilemmas / by Christine Aikens Wolfe

I pedal off on my bicycle,
grocery-shopping,
my husband doesn’t drive;
I think I’ll try it his way.

He often brings home a full pack
of produce. Today: cool, sunny,
and – luckily – I stuff my backpack
with an old sweater, even fish it out,
wear it part-way.

At the checkout, I eye, dismayed:
bag of avocadoes (4)
89 fluid oz. of o.j.
2 boxes of Kleenex
a 3-pound cauliflower
Occuvite (box 2½ by 4½)
4 pounds of sugar
a roll of paper towels
wristlet: green cotton purse
and cell phone.

At the bicycle, I stuff o.j.
to the green backpack’s bottom,
then sugar. As paper towels + one Kleenex
get crammed in and peep out, I zip it. Mostly.
Occuvite fits a side pocket with 2 avocadoes,
my purse the other side pocket, another avocado.
Front pouch – cell and chubby cauliflower.
Final avocado in my back pocket.

The other box of Kleenex, in plastic bag,
gets tied to backpack’s top strap,
it’ll hang down between pack and my back…
I tie the sweater around the whole caboodle,
slip its arms through backpack straps
knit the sleeves in a loop in back.
I put on the unwieldy pack, click the front safety straps
and bicycle home, hands free.

As for 2 other items on my list:
large-size bleach
white vinegar for laundry….
Tomorrow – new day, new challenges.

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Day 23 / Poems 23

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Promise / by Andrea England

I promise you will get one.
You will wait for it, lost
in a town neither nightmare
nor dream, but the kind that wets
sheets midday, its rain driving
and constant. The voice will say,
I’m sorry or as soon as you can or
can I speak to your mother. You will
try to find something from the body
to take with you. You will imagine
the mortician with his steady hand
cutting the finger for a ring.
When the ladies from church arrive
they are pissed about the booze.
Everyone and no one is there
eating Jimmy Johns. Somehow,
this is supposed to make you feel
better. You will remember the night
your mother accused you of sex
when you couldn’t hide the truth,
when you said, no mom, I’m the only
one not having. You will cut
the grass because it needs mowing,
forsake the dandelions for wish-weeds.

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Day 23 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

new puddle
a tadpole swims in
the silence of water

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Day 23 / by Priya Keefe

PK23

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Dia de los Muertos, Austin / by Laura Lauth

Imagine you’re standing on Rainey street
where the heat keeps a house of its own
and the Colorado river traces a long finger
across your palm. Always the buffalo roam
or stop to graze above you, always some
Honky Tonk drifting along the barreled
backs of rickshaw drivers, the banks of
Lady Bird Lake. Here and there, bare bulbs
hang from light poles and post oak, each
one the usual galaxy swinging lightly above
a dooryard. Always the sugar skulls and
angelitos, the wild marigold or bright red
cockscomb, and what if just once you hear
the whole dangerous note, the one you’ve
known all along, that every universe is
right here, stacked and humming against
your throat, and what do they sing? They
sing: my friend, what happiness! Tonight
we die again!

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Bacon’s Art of Interpretation: Found Word Poem #4 / by Rebecca Raphael

When scene distills locus,
the interpreter drops
the silent pen. Practice:
attention never stops.
Drink the lyrical flow,
and let the pauses grow.

*
*

Snapchat /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

He was
. . . . . unrecognizable

in the photograph
. . . . . he sent today—the beard,

the grin on top of another world.
. . . . . Even in the layered coats, it was evident

how thin he was—that boy was now a bearded man
. . . . . who climbed three passes to get to the Everest base-camp,

a skirt beneath the highest peak. And he was there—thin air,
. . . . . thin man, wrapped in mountains—so tall, so close to the sun.

*
*

Nightfall /by Dee Stribling

As evening falls bones become hollow

waiting to be played once dusk touches earth

one last time before darkness descends

with milky blackness silhouetting stars and moon.

Bone notes rise in air to perfect symphony

all things sounding their unique tone

In harmony singing pathways to blazing

points of starlight anointing all with eternity’s fire.

*
*

There Was a River We Couldn’t Cross /by Rebecca Valley

For a while, it was
very dark. I tied a ribbon
to your wrist and we wandered together
through the blackness

until you turned your belly into a lantern
and we glowed from the inside out.

At moments, we were underwater.
Otherwise, I was driving the both of us
down a winding road at midnight
while a white doe trailed the car.

There was a river we couldn’t cross
where an old man lowered constellations with a net
into the water. He wouldn’t look at us.
He knew that we were stumbling,
half-blind, trying to make meaning

of something we would forget before morning.
At dawn when I told you where we were —
covered in ash, wading through

a river thick with the shadows of fish
moving too fast but all vaguely familiar,
you touched my hand and laughed.

I was damp from the waist down.
You had hardly slept.

*
*

Juicy / by Christine Aikens Wolfe 

after Grace Paley

Dear Editors, I am sending you my cherry pie,
though you called for poetry –

I made a butter crust. It’s crucial to wrap it snugly,
as snugly as I make my bed each day,

sometimes in the way that characters do in Edna O’Brien’s
Country Girls right before I hop in at night.

My cherry pie bubbles with juice,
the flaky crust – memorable.

You’ll talk about it to each other
for days, savor the taste in your mouth,

recommend it to friends.

But words can delicious too,
and mine juicy, flaky and fine,

I send along a poem
that I’d love to see in print.

*
*

 

Day 22 / Poems 22

*

Unfortunately the Human Remains Have Been Lost /by Andrea England

Lost is to admit beginning. Tomorrow, I will
escort my ten-year-old to her plane. The papers say

Amelia Earhart is found, island photos might confirm it,
or what does it mean to be cast-a-way. I too have passed

over the Pacific, head-phones buzzing, surrounded
by men. When it is time for her to eat, a woman in front

demands a real fork. We aren’t even allowed
steak knives in first class. They said you couldn’t cross

the Atlantic, your orientation a matter of dispute.
As to contests, my mentor says, if it wins I’ll be the first

to eat crow. Here’s a list of what they might find: four-
wheeler tracks in the sand, crow-bones, shredded leather

in a nest. The truth is, that once you are airborne
there is nothing to do. LA to Taipei, Hong Kong to

Bali, I’m one of those parents who lets her child fly, takes
the allowance to notary. I had a lover once who still dreams

of space. She’s been stranded in Nashville, Amsterdam, and
Kalamazoo. I tell my daughter it’s all about assemblage. Truth

is, fantasy’s the difference between untruth and mistrust,
but then you’re above me: crop circle, accomplice, wind and burn.

*
*

Day 22 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

little brother starts
where big brother stopped
old coloring book

*
*

under big sky /by Priya Keefe

ants live in their world
one carries a cricket
a voice might carry
years but only months
geologic time
future home
sky is
2000 miles away
internet worship
bringing us together
vistas are vistas
we behold
over beef chow fun, a face
the road winds
ahead and behind
and we are on
a message you never returned
there is no alternate
to meant-to-be
alternately
married Saturday mornings
whether or not we see
sky the same size
land changes
sometimes abruptly

*
*

The Truth is Out There /by Laura Lauth

At some point, the mass killer sees things only
a psychic could, and Agent Scully finally
believes. Fox Moulder broods beside her, sly
and very beautiful. When the show’s over we
make love, and a crown-of-thorns starfish
tiptoes along the stony atoll of my mind, less
than sexy. So I decide to tell you later what
I learned from the Book of Barely Imagined
Things, that, at some point this unlikely fish
acquired a taste for living flesh and rose up
from the abyssal depths, pentaradial and
poisonous, so like us in its power to consume
and destroy, that herds have ravished whole
reefs, thousands of tiny tube-feet now evolved
to crawl among the delicate coral buds, to
take them one by one in its radiant arms,
and I want to believe there’s more, that God
so loved the world, he suffered his only son
to wear a crown of thorns, that the serial killer
was sorry and used his second sight to save
a life, that we might make things right after all,
but I never get a chance to tell you because, at
some point, the wind unlatched its staggering
private gospel and we lit cigarettes.

*
*

Dream-Wave /by Rebecca Raphael

The dream seems coterminous with me.
If there was a time before it, I don’t
recall. Swimming on the Waveland beach,
I try to return to shore and can’t.

Every ventured foothold slips; I sink
The breaking waves rise up, the tide
strengthens and pulls me back.
As if the water knows

I mean to leave it.
This is not drowning. It doesn’t pull
me under our out too deep.
Just keeps

me in that swimmable, touch-
the-bottom zone,
neither land nor proper sea.
For all my life till now, and so I

no longer expect the dreams to end
before I do. Perhaps the dream
is older and longer-lived. Who knows?
I am conterminous with the dream.

*
*

Improvisation #13 for Our Pond /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

An emblem I see from the stone patio,
from the window above the sink
when I’m rinsing, polishing off
the velvety end of a glass of red wine,

through the curtains in our bedroom
if I rise to a full moon sky
and loosen the impression,
the excavation aching to

free the rising from underground
springs, seek a root system
of veins to tap in, filling, filling
our infinite digging.

Or maybe a smaller, shallower
space, a damp clay basin
to harness what we receive
from above and below.

*
*

Dust in the Lights /by Dee Stribling

My favorite black and white photo is

of you leaning on the piano, head in hands,

after directing hours of endless rehearsals.

Your accompanist waits, his hands resting

on the keyboard. Silence draws the darkness in.

Old theater waits, she has seen this before.

She knows that your show will go on,

that your cast will have standing ovations.

The music, choreography, and blocking will succeed

because you will insist that it does—you will pull

the best performance out of every single person

on and behind the stage. There will always be dust

in the lights for you through countless shows,

because it is simply and completely, your destiny.

*
*

Mouth /by Rebecca Valley

The kitten and I
spend the afternoon watching
glaciers the size of lower Manhattan
calve into the sea.

The ice can be up to 600 feet thick.
When it rolls in the churning arctic
it looks like the thick black neck
of a sea monster rising from the deep,

its open mouth a cascade of snow drifts
studded with blue-grey debris.

I tell Boots, Soon we’ll live underwater.
There will be one long, hot season.
She opens her mouth to yawn
and I put my finger on her pink tongue,

the most durable and delicate muscle,
specially grooved to lap. Our bodies
are not made for this, I tell her.
She stretches her back and naps.

*
*

Red /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

shows up erratically
Nature has her reasons
burgundy day lily, yellow-throated
red pistil and stamen stand within –
or
splash of red
on a woodpecker’s head
against reticulated bark.

*
*

 

Day 21 / Poems 21

*

The Problem Is Not the Night* /by Andrea England

Everybody’s got to eat
like every dog needs a home,

even the thief who knows
I forget to lock my car door

and leaves it gently propped
as to not disturb my sleep.

History repeats itself. Before
the robins open their eyes

they are plucked by a crow.
I see this drinking coffee

on the porch. If I lock
the door, the window breaks.

I don’t wake for this either.
The robin circles the crow,

dives as much as a robin can
to no avail. In downtown

Phoenix, the thief flips through
pictures of my father’s last

Christmas at home.
O, the guilt of mothers.

Now the nest is empty
from abandonment or

predator. I water the grass
to make it easier for the worms.

*The title is a found line from Tyler Mill’s poem, “Tongue”.

*
*

EDH21

*
*

Polaroid /by Priya Keefe

Earth caved and gave way
Tree roots jutted from dirt
commas, question marks

Their eyes reflect light
his left eye droops
Dirt gives texture to skin

The hike started flat
10 miles
became rugged
became 12 miles

Words came out
breath pebbles

Sweat on her neck
a signal

Noon glared on crow feathers
Cars swam on pavement
Something gleams
on backyard pool bottom

Leaves on sweatshirt
bark in her hair
Heads close
Lapping at other shores
Hand raised to brush away
An itch between shoulder blades
Burlap

Someone suggested
See what develops
Observer in her own life

*
*

Tall Pines /by Laura Lauth

Words or spell—I forget.

Comb and rattle,
how to open.

But not the crow or raven,

not the jackdaw.
They watch at angles,

learn our faces. What spoil:

periwinkle, coin.
From high holds of

yellow pine,

they’ll count and caw
till we come back,

remember what we are.

*
*

Summer Storm, 2001 /by Rebecca Raphael

A storm in June. The two eighty-somethings who live
near a possibly flooding canal
decamp to their sister’s house, where it’s safe.
Sometimes the power fails.

This time, I go to Grandma’s too, to look
after them all — me, a week post-op
and still with twenty-nine staples down my right ear.
We sit the dim and humid evening
at the kitchen table. Have coffee and rolls.
The old ones gab about past storms and ears.
Uncle Bubby admires my stapled head and tells
the story of his stapedectomy. Aunt
Ursula remarks that he didn’t have all
those staples then. Grandma exclaims
that I’m hearing better already, it worked.
The equipment isn’t turned on
yet, so I’m hearing a bit worse
for the moment, with just the one aid
on what I then began to call
my unimplanted side. But she’s having none
of what she takes for my mordency.
It’s better! That’s that. I object no more.
Grandma fusses more than she should to set
me up in the sofa bed, with the many pillows I need
to prop up my stapled, pressurized head.
She hopes the storm won’t keep us all awake.
But I won’t hear thunder, unless is shakes the frame
and I feel that; or if the lightening strobes
too close, the light will slap
my eyelids and wake me up.
Probably not. Perhaps I should have stayed home,
not intruded in their storm routine.

Storm, then morning. Everything’s still there,
old ones fine, me still stapled up and waiting
for something, but what?
They do this every time, and it never floods.
It will, one day, and when that flood comes,
we all had best be somewhere else.
But not today.

*
*

Instructions to My Muse /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Undo the four screws
on the plastic back

of the transistor radio.
Lift off the square with care.

Let the tiny people blossom
in the cup of your palm.

Hold the music, its weight—
paint what you see,

It isn’t about painting—
it’s about seeing.

*
*

DS21.png

*
*

Gard Speaks /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Indolent, he’d have called
the other man – Trevor –
half-smile lighting his face,
as he lounged outside
the Hazelwood firehouse,
puffing on his everlasting
cigarette.

His dark eyes met all comers,
many ladies responded,
teased with him and he back.
Gard watched him at it
since they were both fourteen.
God help him! He, Gard,
off to Afghanistan,

just as Trevor came back.
And while Gard guided drones
each day, tedious work,
his smooth-talking
high school classmate,
found himself a lover,
Gard’s own sweet Ann.

She wore Gard’s high school ring
when he left;
two years later,
when he returned,
she wore a diamond
and a wedding band,
lived with Trevor in a tiny house.

How the man ran up debts!
No big drinker, but nights, he treated
all at Stargell’s to a beer. Man or woman.
That’s what war heroes do.
Ann worked at Target,
Gard saw her many an evening,
pale behind a cash register;

he wasn’t even sure
that her veteran held a job.
Oh, his dreams at night,
like a movie: He and Trevor,
knightly armor, swords,
he slaying that lady’s man.
Guilt came with the mornings.

Ann’s dear parents, Jack & Betty,
invited Gard to their home
weekends, dinner. Jack said
he was still paying the kids’ bills,
“Get them on their feet.”
Jack had served in Vietnam.
Then – somehow –

Ann’s baby sister Trudy,
in his lap, smiling,
begging him to help
with homework.
“I’m no good at math.”
She giggled, “I like to look
at your round face, your beard.”

Somehow, jealous
& crazy – still longing
for Ann – married to Trudy.
His dreams grew worse.
Star Wars scene:
Trudy hopping
a different starship than his,
tired of waiting for all of his love –

the inevitable duel,
light sabers now,
he kills his nemesis.
The dream always ends
as he marries the widow, Ann,
as he slips off her nightgown,
and looks at what he’s won.

*
*

 

Day 20 / Poems 20

*

Rally / by Andrea England

My daughter M makes a sign. “Mustangs are free and we can be.” If Bernie Sanders is President! She asks me about rallies. I bite my tongue over the sentence fragment and need for a comma; why a comma after free? My friend R has always wanted to rally-race: an unknown route at consistent speed between checkpoints over cliffs and quicksand. I tell M a rally is conversation, thinking tennis: twenty minutes of cross-courts followed by down-the-lines, the longer the better. I think of the days before death, my mother asking for a mirror, for her hot pink lipstick. The sign says, Follow your heart.

*
*

Day 20 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

after the storm
clouds thick
with silence

*
*

Sojournalism /by Priya Keefe

Mama was hairpin turns and the falling/rising road.
. . . . . We left behind fire by becoming smoke.
. . . . . I was a child-kite with no string, born by the sky.
Others were leaving were others and us leaving.
Their arms drifted away from their torsos: less to keep warm.
. . . . . We walked beneath that imperial silence, never looking up.

*
*

The Old Woman of Beare, an Erasure Poem* /by Laura Lauth

LL20

*Source text: “The Old Woman of Beare,” Anonymous (c. 800), translated from the Irish Gaelic by Brendan Kenneally.

*
*

Glosa on Acoustic Grief /by Rebecca Raphael

“Yet in these ears, till hearing dies
. . . . One set slow bell will seem to toll
. . . . The passing of the sweetest soul
That ever look’d with human eyes.”
— Alfred Lord Tennyson, “In Memoriam LVII”

One might hear, or not, or hear again,
but the sense itself cannot restore
what time has severed from the sense-surround.
New hearing sharpens
acoustic grief — I crave to listen
where the voice is gone. Death amplifies
imago-sound, when it’s the only way;
and the long, deaf practice of inner audition
on the real present intensifies
yet in the ears. Till hearing dies

again, before (as it has before)
or along with me, I will summon
these voices in memory and mingle
with the vivid timbre of the past
the wonder of grace-precipitated sound.
Even so, I cannot console
myself that this weaving is the same
from one echo to the next. To maintain
identity, we pretend it whole:
one set slow bell will seem to toll.

Grief is more of friendship.
It seems both to be its same-self
and to change, as conversations
do. Speech and presence pass;
they cannot both be and stay.
This is how we roll
round on Earth’s long arc through space.
In modulated presence, we live
by passing: so will I extol
the passing of the sweetest soul.

And even yet, I dare not rely
too much on discursive
meditations. I wish that time
were otherwise, that stay
could be distilled from pass,
that you were with me, that poetry defies
death. Yet even as this hearing
is distinctly mine, I mourn the seeing
that was only yours, that sanctifes,
that ever look’d with human eyes.

*
*

Since My Dad Died /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

I have heard the gospel sung
once at a student performance,
once on the radio,

and many times since
I downloaded it, burned a CD.
I’m tunneled to his room, his last heartbeat

a knot in my palm, my sister and I
singing badly, but singing—the only
vibrations in air after his breath left.

A thick wooden slab unwraps, hanging
from a strong branch, the swing low
enough for a child

to jump on. It’s summer, a tree ringed
in green, and I’m soaring, holding
tight to the braided rope.

Just blurred sky, pumping legs,
a push from behind, and being
carried home.

*
*

Awakening /by Dee Stribling

Her hand caresses the canyon wall,

smoothness touching spirit deep inside,

stirring and awakening from millennia’s sleep.

Gently and unhurried she’ll open her eyes,

pulling you into her red rock embrace

until you too become one with the singing.

Your song joining a cacophony of sound

sending offerings upward on rafts of time.

*
*

We Ate the Birds /by Rebecca Valley

after Margaret Atwood

This morning
the cat left a body on the porch.
It was a yellow songbird,
the size and shape of my fist.

The cat wasn’t hungry.
I understand. This morning
I dipped my pinky finger into a cup of hot tea
just past the fingernail so
I could feel the heat from all angles

while she stalked a warbler
and sunk her teeth into his throat.
A friend of mine admitted that after the initial allure
of romance, women begin to lose their color.
I imagine a film of myself in the kitchen,
greyscale, looking sallow and too thin.

Lately, the cat and I share black matte pupils.
We hunch together over the body
of the bird, plucking feathers to reveal
a sheet of transparent skin and

delicate, hollow bones.
Though neither of us have an appetite,
the cat and I make a meal of his body.
We leave behind only keratin:

the beak, two feet,
a bundle of saffron feathers.

*
*

A Note to Katheryn /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

I remember
when you were ten
and I was sixty
how you begged
to go to Westinghouse Park.

We swung on the swings
chased each other up,
over and down on the playground
equipment. Then you hung
up-side down on a bar,
invited me to do so. I did.
“Now flip off!”
you cried,
and I could.

But when you demonstrated
on a balustrade,
“Both hands in front,
jump, balance on your belly,
as if you were about to fly.”
I said, “Katheryn,
I don’t have the arm strength.”

You laughed,
“Of course you do!”
Your face full of sunshine.

My dear young friend,
when life finds you
at any point without strength,
come and see me.
I know what to do.
I treasure
all your responses.

*
*

 

Day 19 / Poems 19

*

Baby Grand /by Andrea England

Because I never heard music there

Because Granddad’s hearing aids
were as dun as his work-shirt

Bison calves are cold and lifted
into cars

Because it makes a hiding place

A stone in a child’s palm isn’t deaf

They ruled the heart-fire arson
because it burned to the ground

*
*

Day 19 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

after the rain
a sunset
in every puddle

*
*

Receiving Us /by Priya Keefe

Nearly every
living conscience
won’t kill
. . . .  . . . another human and families burn, villages
Names we hear on the radio
in the hallway, one standing guard
Tone replaced the woman’s voice
not made by man, but by machine
The telephone clicks like a clock in response
We run outside where we know no one is listening
Mom drives her American-made car
looking for uniforms or signs of any sort
Her eldest son, first out of the womb,
she might see him once a year, if it’s safe
Blood in your veins despite
numbers we never learned in class
. . . . . Or is my brother only an integer when he enters the news
go on it would go on long as my brother’s years
Man speaks in rooms with roofs and doors
and forgets words spoken when he was young
Wires and handfuls of solace
I listen – not in or out –
and receive them as a still lake
. . . . . to this floating dock in the middle

*
*

After Reading a Qasida by the Poet-Prince, Imru’ al-Qais (c. 530) /by Laura Lauth

I want a Great God. I want
you. Where the yards and
cisterns stood, Arabia. A
lover at every gate. Half
woman, half girl, I’ll go
and gather olives, loosen
my braid. I will wait in this
grove, let the reigns hang.
One century to the next,
there’s no diverting love.

*
*

What Does a Door Say? /by Rebecca Raphael

Skreeeiem b-skreeeiem.
Bedroom door.

Mwraaap mwraap.
Kitchen cabinet.

C-lip c-lup clup. smack.
Grooming cat.

Boom bum hum boom.
The bass. Through floor.-

Grn grn grn grn.
Fridge? Fan? Just air?

Roundy bong-bong ding.
Don’t know. Don’t care.

*
*

Lunar Eclipse /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Only a moon being miraculous
. . . . . and two Japanese friends
on cold Adirondack chairs
. . . . . beside me

in the dark. We were
. . . . . across the earth in their home
six months ago—
. . . . . same moon

in an Asian sky—miso tucked
. . . . . in a plastic tub behind clothes,
sliding doors, and silent
. . . . . mercy.

Here’s what they gave me—
. . . . . a paper lantern, a lesson
on simmering mushrooms,
. . . . . a pleated fan.

*
*

Whittier Friend /by Dee Stribling

I became lost in your deep brown eyes,
as I watched you try to cut into your food.
But you could not using only one half of your body.
You asked the aide to cut your tomato slice in half and she did.

You sat there with great dignity,
carrying on interesting conversation although
the words poured out only one side of your mouth.
I so felt for you, but your pride wouldn’t let me in.

You excused yourself from the table,
your feet making tiny steps to push your wheelchair away.
I watched you try to reach the therapy dog lying in the hall.
She moved to your right side and leaned in so you could pet her.

At the table still, the couple to your left,
husband carefully feeding every morsel to his wife.
Her expression remained unchanged as she waited
like a small hungry bird with unseeing eyes for the next spoonful.

The woman across the table sat staring.
She had no idea what was in front of her but it was not what she wanted.
The aide brought her an ice cream bar—she looked at it too,
not comprehending the task of reaching out to bring it to her mouth.

My friend watched all of this unfold while
her trembling hand sloshed tomato soup from her spoon onto her bib.
“Once a man twice a child” she said and then turned to me and asked,
“Can we eat out next time you’re here? Someplace with wine please?”

*
*

Desert Poem /by Rebecca Valley

In the desert, edges are essays.
They are always long
heavy, breathless

Where dust devils dance
into a wide pale sky.

Here you have
no rain.
Earth cries
for bursts of violence,

of love
yet visited.

The local name
accumulates in the hollows,
steep and quite bitter.

This is the nature of that
Between. If it were not so,
there would be little.

*
*

And Baby Makes Ten /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Ava would rest, this time.
this child her last,
Eight. . Enough.
As his pink mouth hovered
over her breast, latched on,
she sighed. A singularly
wonderful trip – eight nursing babes.

Now, tennis lessons, she’d teach them.
Swimming, all she managed
until this blooming boy,
Nicklaus.
He’d grow up fast,
join the others in violin/cello
lessons, begun at age 3.

Only her dear Katrina did not.
Brainy as Marie Curie,
she already read to
her younger (some older)
brothers at age 4.
But with cerebral palsy,
. . . . . balancing a cello and bowing it –
no.

Maybe she’d take up Balkan singing,
the others attend her concerts,
might be some would dance
if Katrina joined the Tamburitzans.
Already her brothers would do
. . . . . anything
. . . . . for their only sister,
middle of the pack.

Little Nicklaus popped off the breast,
milky face content. She put the nursing pillow
behind her own head, leaned back.
A lot of living ahead:
Cliffs, of course, and dead-ends,
But with all these lovies
. . . . . and a good man beside us,

. . . . . the babies and I (all 9 of us)
. . . . . might grow up happily together.

*
*

Day 18 / Poems 18

*

Variation on a Golf Cart / by Andrea England

July scrapes and squeals
along the laquered sidewalk
a broken suitcase

White-hot pleather seats
burn sun into my nethers
ignition sounds like—

Iced coffee before
the ice, the I’m ready ding
Don’t forget your coat

Reverse is all bray
bumps on the lawn are as bad
as quarry potholes

Mistaken for tow-
truck, the back cooler hauls ass
and our old blue couch—

Trumpets and cactus
introduce the slick hard top
scenic sunset crawl

America leafs
through obesity laughing
compost for the fox

Anthem, near Phoenix—
outlets make fine graveyards
callus-absent feet

monsoons smooth deserts
this rental party bus sings
like new hummingbirds

*
*

Day 18 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

depth of a night
an owl feather falls
from nothingness

*
*

Remedy /by Priya Keefe

milk the goat by full moonlight
graze garden parsley in the raw
plant papaya seeds with your girlhood diary
chew licorice root and swallow your words of anger
sleep with your head by your husband’s feet

*
*

Orion and Mint /by Laura Lauth

The slender leaves of the butternut tree fall first.

They are spine or skiff.

My son stands close and small. He’s Orion

and mint. Why do they fall? Because the wind,

because the earth’s uneven, and the sun’s a star

(not circle or asterisk), because

we’re spinning very fast, against the clock.

*
*

Found Word Poem #3 /by Rebecca Raphael

The coming epidemics
won’t be personal. Leisure murmured
against Fate before. Why should now
get a pass the past could not?
It is because global but how
much less could rotting taunts bully
away our undoing? Raised drinks
and fierce remorse
may be all that would suit
or that I can summon.

*
*

Stealing From the Rice Jar /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

It was a ceramic heft
on top of Dad’s dresser

instead of on a kitchen counter.
“RICE” it said in Pine Valley

green. He’d put his change
in there every evening—a mass

of pennies, nickels, dimes,
and quarters. And when everyone

was somewhere else in our house,
I’d move the stool from my mother’s mirrored

vanity, climb up, reach for the smooth
beveled cover, fling it on the nearby

bed where it bounced in satisfying
silence, reach in the jar as if I were

in a championship of pick-up-sticks,
pull out a quarter, then a dime,

maybe a nickel, one at a time,
leave worthless pennies in their place,

collect the stash in my pocket,
muffled by my hand and corduroy

cloth, fetch and return the top
as gently as I could, put the stool

in its place, and walk uptown
for a sleeve of Rolos, Necco Wafers,

maybe an ice cream cone
after all my hard work.

*
*

Zeke’s Geese /by Dee Stribling

Geese came gliding in today.
Settling on the pond with all manner
of greeting and commotion.

You, my furry friend, opened one
eye, pondering whether it was
worth the effort to give chase.

Deciding better of it, your gray
muzzle went back down between
your crossed paws with a sigh.

The geese, now creating gentle
lake ripples, have settled into their
housekeeping nest site chores.

Goslings will be paraded out in
a few weeks, bright yellow fluffs,
carefully guarded by both parents.

You’ll watch over all till they take
flight in the fall, sky filling with
noisy goodbyes to an old friend.

*
*

Twister /by Rebecca Valley

Not everything is his.
The smell especially
of Kansas

Dark dust spiral

Green sky inside
of a marble.

Listen,
my stories have wings
sometimes lose their houses,
stained glass,

Pears on the sidewalk
half-eaten by the wind.

When its kind
the billboards start shaking.
Catch your hair enough
to loose it from its bun.

One room will remain
standing, the one he

did not touch.
Basement child, lay against the dark.
Crack a can of peaches

and wait for the breeze to die.
The air is dry and warm.
It has the low voice of your mother.

*
*

A Fool’s License To Say Whatever One Wants /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

A bard might be he
who sings of rain
. . .for the rain it raineth
. . . every day,

or The Bard
who penned the line
for Feste, actor-bard
a jester . . fool.

To play the jester on stage
a fellow is wise enough
to play,
and to do that well
. . . craves a kind of wit.

May be a consummation
devoutly to be wished…
but I caution me

in the world of business and affairs
not to carelessly play the fool
such that
I am not taken seriously.

*
*

 

Day 17 / Poems 17

*

Grand Junction, Colorado, 1988 /by Andrea England

When you were a child there were few choices.
One of them shared with your brother was whether,
between the two of you, there was enough warmth to choose
a half hour of television over the electric blanket, which
your father controlled from the car battery, the only electricity.
A survivalist, fear was his love maker and as he beat
the two of you with whatever was close at hand, tree switch,
belt, or fist, I’m sure if you were to ask him now,
he would tell you he was exorcising the fear out of you,
the fear he could not leave behind himself. Being
is hard work, enough and not enough, a scheme to get
rich quick and decades of failure. All the while
you fetching water from the well that seemed to change
position every time you wrestled the trees to find it.

*
*

Day 17 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

two fireflies
I try to remember
Morse Code

*
*

Up and Down the Bayou /by Priya Keefe

There’s nowhere else they’d live.
Lavish oaks on lawns of plantation houses.
“Make America Great Again.”
Bright white cities of industry.

Lavish oaks on the lawns of plantation houses.
Hand-written signs by the road: “Liquor. Worms. Milk.”
Bright white cities of industry.
The sugar mill runs day and night. Hog shit. Bile.

Hand-written signs by the road: “Gun sale. Peaches.”
This town has three radio stations and 11 car washes.
The sugar mill runs night and day. Bile. Hog shit. Molasses.
Ramshackle porches, peeling roofs.

This town has four radio stations and three car washes.
An RV park named Cypress Lake Resort.
Ramshackle porches, peeling roofs.
Gas stations advertise ethanol-free gas.

An RV park named Whispering Oaks.
She studies to be a nurse, like her mother.
Gas stations advertise ethanol-free gas.
Measuring time in hurricanes.

She studies to be a nurse, like her mother.
“Jesus Christ Reigns Over Raceland.”
Measuring time in hurricanes.
Bridges lead to more bridges.

“Jesus Christ Reigns Over Lockport.”
Rust was once metal.
Bridges lead to more bridges.
He hardly knew his father, trawler at sea.

Rust was once metal.
In Golden Meadow, skeletons of trees.
He hardly knew his father, offshore on a rig.
Grit in their teeth.

South of Golden Meadow, the bones of trees.
Gulf ale is brown and frothy.
Grit in their teeth.
Pelicans fly out of the Cretaceous.

Gulf ale is brown and frothy.
Drive-thru daiquiri. Scotch tape on the lid.
Pelicans fly out of the Cretaceous.
Houses on stilts.

Drive-thru daiquiri. Scotch tape on the lid.
“Make America Great Again.”
Houses on stilts.
There’s nowhere else they’d live.

*
*

LL17

*
*

Beg to Differ /by Rebecca Raphael

To same the different doesn’t same,
for same-prime wasn’t made that way;
authentic difference will not betray
itself with silently accepting blame.

*
*

Nyamata Memorial, Rwanda /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

They lined the bloodied shirts, pants,
. . . . . and skirts on the pews, like a hideous
laundry piled and stained, blood
. . . . . rust tethering my breath—
their bodies vanished. But not
. . . . . their clothes. Or their bones—

those are stacked—all 10,000 skulls—
. . . . . and legs and arms, skeletal signs
of the murdered in an underground tomb
. . . . . where you can descend to see
the hollowed, hallowed remains.
. . . . . I couldn’t. I walked outside,

exhaled, listened for the longed
. . . . . familiar—wind, birds,
children running home from school
. . . . . along the red dusty road so close
to this church—once shelter, once
. . . . . death, now remembrance.

*
*

Jazz /by Dee Stribling

Jazz . . Don’t understand it but
can feel it going down the road
every morning tuned into the
one station that carries it and
maybe if I’m really lucky Eve
or Etta or Arturo and Latin Jazz
will be on while I tap my fingers
on the wheel and grin ‘cause I
see smoke swirl and the memory
of that club in Indy or yet another
blue note club at home it don’t
matter because the jazz is there
and it courses through my body
and my bones and I tap my
fingers on the wheel and I can
feel it pick me up and start to
move and that brings back the
City and Chicago and steak at
your family’s restaurant and your
mother who was so worried about
us being cold but the jazz beat
kept us warm and I can feel it
still coursing through my body
and I tap my fingers on the wheel
because there’s New Orleans
and those nights on Bourbon
Street and all those small places
with great big sounds and I can
see those Preservation Hall faces
with the sweat rolling down and
the joy of letting go and being
so free and I tap my fingers
on the wheel just to be so damn
glad I know you and you Mr.
Jazzman playing on the radio
somehow you too do know me.

*
*

Poppy /by Rebecca Valley

The car goes slowly down the freeway.
I think we are talking, some of us,
about who is still here and who is not.

I am thinking about the old man at the tire store.
How old are you? he said. You look maybe 16.
He asked me if I had been to the river.
He used to pan for gold.

The car misses its exit.
I am suddenly in the place we used to live.
You would bike home through the trees
even when it was raining.

I am home too late again.
You are already asleep
and I think probably angry.

I put a poppy in a jar.
I put the jar on the kitchen table.
I think, does Katie love poppies or peonies?
I think, what is the difference?

This flower is orange and limp. It does not smell like a flower.
It smells like a shovel blade in the too shallow earth.
It smells like licking dirt off of iron.

*
*

What Counts /by Christine Aikens Wolfe 

One writes, reads, wonders
two fumble toward ecstasy, touching, touching
three laugh in joy: dinner, theatre or movie
four munch breakfast, please pass the pancakes
five stringed instruments,
five players nod, a chord emerges
six: the lucky grandchild with 2 parents
4 grandparents, all still together
seven a magic number, days named after gods
eight, a square. Swing your partner, bow to your corner
nine on your baseball team, go find another
ten. One to begin again, add a dose of infinity.

*
*

 

Day 16 / Poems 16

*

My Daughter’s Last Line / by Andrea England

As the geese starved waiting for bread,
the parties raged on, undemocratic.

Shinyribs’ bellybutton poked out
of his shirt like a button.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A dying boy

picked up his younger, not dying brother
while the parents went on about dancing.

To market to market to buy a fat pig

The skin grew candle-sallow from lack of
sunlight.
. . . . . . Arizona voters stood in line for hours.

Home again home again jiggity jig

She wrote thirty poems, he washed three
pinstriped shirts, she mowed her lawn to stubble.

The donkey nuzzled me and said, I’m not a horse,
I’m not a horse, and I believed him.

*
*

Day 15 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

old notebook
so many drafts
of this poem
*

*
*

In Memory of Cypress Shade / by Priya Keefe

Come live with me and be my love
And we will sing like mourning doves
By ditches, swamp, and sugar cane
Here were we born and here remain

As we drive along the bayou
Old men fish supper, as they do
Every day so they may dine
Without that long welfare line

In every yard the mockingbird
Repeats the calls he has heard
In memory of cypress shade
Here were we born and here remain

*
*

For the Boy I Saw / by Laura Lauth

no older than six,
who watched me watch him

get his beating

in the empty parking lot
of the Beaufort ABC

under a buckshot moon

one night in July,
so hot and high and open,

it’d make you cry

if you were that kind,
but he didn’t, and I didn’t

do anything while

the fist fell fast and time
touched everyone twice.

*
*

Sampling Error / by Rebecca Raphael

First, subtract the fuzz
of unwitting disregard
for tiny bits of sound —
your idea of soda fizz,
which smothers a modest bubble’s pip.
Next, subtract the claim
that you know how things sound.
Chewing isn’t chewy, it’s squishy
sneakers in the rain,
and bananas don’t peel —
you tear, they rip.
Then subtract your confidence
that what you hear is all
the acoustic world.
Don’t make me dogwhistle
to you in sonar the note
the black hole sings.
Last, subtract subtraction,
for it presumes a common
framework that undergoes removal.
We don’t have that. Instead, extend
the exponential real
over what you thought of
as complete, and understand that the complete
can never be the real.

*
*

SDS16

*
*

Marker Tree / by Dee Stribling

Old water oak drips dark memories
as vines dangle from lowest craggy limb.
What else hung there? A swing for laughing
children or rope noose waiting for night?

Now she simply holds down her place
in the midst of endless old plantation field.
Where sweet potatoes and cotton still grow
planted in time for cleansing summer rains.

She spreads her boughs draped with ghosts
to mark those who passed working these fields.
For she guards not the graves of those who
once owned the land, she shelters their slaves.

*
*

The Poem Masquerades as a Western / by Rebecca Valley

for Peter

I don’t know if it’s the season
but I’ve been seeing cowboys by the dozens.
A cowboy stands at the pump across from mine, gassing his red pick-up.
Another crosses the street on a dusty brown stallion
while I’m staring out the living room window.
There is a cowboy serving me coffee,
walking his dog unleashed past the Asian market.
When I tell Andrew, he mimes the removal of a wide-brimmed
cowboy hat and says “At your service, ma’am.”

In the coffee shop window, Peter and I
are talking about westerns. The Sheriff who
arrives as the outlaw turns a corner. The Native shaman
looking burnt out and hungry. The femme fatale,
untouchable. The damsel on the train tracks,
screaming and screaming. The way the drifter becomes
valiant but never not lonely.

The wind kicks dust up onto the glass
and another cowboy is ordering a mocha frappucino at the counter.
I am thinking about the bartender, spit-shining
tumblers with a smeared grey rag, watching
the saloon doors blow open and shut again,
open and shut. There is, occasionally,
the distant sound of gunfire. A leak springs
in the keg. The same drunk saps,
extras, eventual casualties,
order rye and soda

and mumble their stories into the counter.
Wife passed from consumption. Fields with blight,
Another calf found whimpering, its leg broken by a coyote.
The bartender wipes the counter with the same grey rag.
He is nodding, he is listening. He opens another bottle.

*
*

Farmer’s Daughter Reflects / by Christine Aikens Wolfe 

near Willoughby, Ohio

soft breath of air from the south
drifted mists halfway up hillsides
tintinnabulating bells – sheep flocks let loose
whispering rivulets run toward Lake Erie
becks set free of ice
. . . . . brimming gray river
fields new-plowed and planted
weather her father had so loved
. . . . . end of winter
. . . . . end of cold for folk, sheep and cattle
beasts set free from dark barns, scanty forage
countryside brown under spring rain
air cobalt above, below life awakening,
tinge of green on woods and on meadows
winter rye, dark green tassels shining –
David burned undergrowth there last year
sowed rye in the burned plot
. . . . . smell of growth everywhere
. . . . . filling the nostrils
a marriage of rot and blossoming twigs
she nodded, could taste it all –
. . . . . fairest spring weather.

*
*

 

Day 15 / Poems 15

*

Dreamland Invasives / by Andrea England

I found myself by the pond, under the tennis courts.
My twelve-year-old self had called me there, the duck island
teeming with shelter, the sidewalk green with goose shit.
And then we’re all there: John and Mike, Sara and Lori,
standing on the 2×4 bridge with our hands full
of vending machine leftovers…So many bodies feeding
feeders, competing for a little corn-flesh or chip.
On Christmas Eve in Prague, fried carp and fairy tales…

Time change between two countries I guess, yours and mine.
So many bodies, we could catch them with slim wax cups.

*
*

Day 15 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

between sun
and sunflower
staring contest

*
*

First Meal in Rochester, NY / by Priya Keefe

My first night in Rochester, NY, you took me
to Walmart at midnight. You didn’t know
the city. I was still getting used to
your face. Three months apart
pixelated your image dreamily.
We hung our heads as we crossed the threshold
but you had no groceries. I didn’t know it then,
but you didn’t have curtains, either.
The cashier tapped the register with 9 inch corkscrew nails
while we cuddled under fluorescent lights
and a dozen cameras recorded our reunion.

*
*

Epithalamium / by Laura Lauth

Reckless, you right-hand the rain.

Who do you think the world is for?
Who, the Shakespeare and Rue Lepic,

our streamlined diners spun with light?

Go and take your fork. I’ll take mine.
It’s true, we can’t see quark or quanta,

an inflationary cosmos, can’t afford
the dragon koi or giant kites of

Kepong Park. In the end, we can’t
keep anything, not the fox dawn or

surfacing bliss, but no one ever could.

*
*

Found Word Poem #2 / by Rebecca Raphael

Our hold on silence is pure.
When we release its flaming soul,
we know it will return, as cure
for the luckless, quotidian parole
we pine to contradict: be whole.

*
*

It May Last Almost Indefinitely / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

An urban legend tells of Twinkies —
I can almost unwrap

the cellophaned snack,
taste its sponginess. I remember

finding one behind our couch —
it hadn’t been eons but months I bet.

I didn’t eat it, so covered in dust it was.
Dust, too, almost eternal—

and what someone says—how that stays,
tucked in a gray fold or along a wordless edge,

excavated with ease—
just a little brushing off.

*
*

Mak’i / by Dee Stribling

She has formed rock
around her long flowing silver hair.

Colored chips of coral
cascade down her sandstone cloak.

Her magnificence shines
in each sunrise and purple sunset.

Look at her from afar
standing in her mountain she will see you.

She gazes across rocks
rimmed in red blessed under coyote moon.

Count yourself fortunate as
she lets you travel along her blessing way.

Do not look back at her
for she has turned to another time and day.

*
*

I am in the garden, but / by Rebecca Valley

Emily is gone.
The tree shake their fruit down –
apples, pears, plums, cherries
for my body.

How to make a nasturtium
sound less like it’s name.
I hear a bell tolling
again and again:

the pears, their fat skins
copper in the dirt.
In the autumn they fall
beside the apples

and their peels rot
into vinegar, and I lay down in it
and imagine I am bathing in Emily’s breath –
under the dirt now,

one bird perched on a gravestone,
singing a tune without words.

*
*

A Vase and Refracted Love / by Christine Aikens Wolfe 

Petunia’s pantoum

To help Petunia’s shop, Mrs. R. gave her a Steuben vase
– caviat – sell if for $1069, no less,
sometimes monsters in your life look like duty
lurking, waiting to swallow you whole.

That caviat, to sell it so dear, Pet could do no less;
she gave it show-window space, rainbow light refracted
from peachy surfaces, but shadows lurked to swallow her.
She thought the gift jinxed, and wished it undone.

She gave the vase window space, rainbows abounded,
a pair of young lovers jingled in at her door.
Though she thought the vase jinxed, the lovers looked undone,
the lady shyly pointed, her beau breathed, “That beauty!”

The lovers jingled with joy as Pet handed them the peach vase;
they saw the price tag and both faces fell,
the young woman pointed, her beau sighed, “That beauty.”
The bell rang again and Mrs. R. waltzed inside.

Faces fallen, at the tag, the young pair were staring,
Mrs. R. saw them. Winked. Smiled at Petunia.
“I rang and waltzed in,” Mrs. R. said, “for a reason,
I gave Pet that vase, now hear out my tale.”

Mrs. R. smiled, winked at the lovers, at Petunia,
“I wanted my vase to find the right home;
my Walter gave it to me, I wanted to repeat the tale;
you love it! Please have it. This just must be done.”

“I wanted my vase to find the right home,
the monster of your spouse’s death makes you do your duty.
You love it, please accept it, this ought to be done,
but help out Petunia, gift some cash to her shop.”

*
*

 

Day 14 / Poems 14

*

Walker Beach / by Andrea England

There’s no need to ogle, cop a feel,
or ask, are they real. Silicone knits to
bone. For some, they’re all that’s left.

No need for lifeguards. The jellyfish
seem unaffected. In the sea, walkers
give a whole new meaning to the wave.

For five bucks you can try your luck
with buoys— at the food truck, a salt
water sluice or corn dogs made of tails.

Even the sharks know better. Tourists
on cruise-ships rub sunscreen on skin.
All of the mirrors are broken.

*
*

Day 14 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

the good old days
even Grandma
doesn’t remember

*
*

Saturday, 1991 /by Priya Keefe

we head out in afternoon
past stone people
waiting to cross
the street
we spoke along
wheels dull as cloud cover
but the canal is shiny
as a second chance
wind and sun
play the poplars
the drawbridge hums
the tune I sing
I duckling behind
rainbow leg warmers
I am 17 she is 47
we somersault down
the lane lined
with blackberries and dappled
shade just one more
curve until 2 miles
beyond when we should
have turned back
fatigue clings to our limbs
nearly home we stop
for fish-n-chips
and throw fries up for gulls
it hurts to get back on
but we know we will make it
to the house of mirrors
green fern curtains
billowing like sails
but I will stay

*
*

Found Ghazal: Testimony of a Survivor, Srebrenica Massacre* /by Laura Lauth

I was really sorry that I would die
of thirst, and I was trying to hide

among the people for as long as
I could, like everybody else. I

just wanted to live for another
second or two. And when it was my

turn, I jumped out with what I
believe were four other people. I

could feel the gravel beneath my feet.
It hurt. (…) I was walking with my

head bent down and I wasn’t feeling
anything. (…) And then I thought that I

would die very fast, that I would not
suffer. And I just thought that my

mother would never know where
I had ended up. This is what I

was thinking as I was getting out
of the truck. (…) I was still very

thirsty. But it was sort of between
life and death. I didn’t know whether I

wanted to live or to die anymore.
I decided not to call out for them

to shoot and kill me, but I was
sort of praying to God they would….

*The content of this “found poem” is excerpted and adapted from the testimony of a survivor, 14-15 July 1995: Petkovići; “Prosecutor vs Krstic, First Judgement”. United Nations. 2 August 2001.

*
*

Old Maps /by Rebecca Raphael

Listen to an old map
. . . . . on an old machine:
a voice, dull and dopey,
. . . . . swims beneath
loud dry clicking.
. . . . . What is it?
Some household noise
. . . . . the current algorithm
filters? Or the spectral sum
. . . . . of ambient sound?
Blah blah blah.
. . . . . Testing. The voice
is mine. A few notches
. . . . . more normal,
whatever normal means.
. . . . . If I keep
listening, the sound of the map
. . . . . will become
plain sound. (Let’s pretend
. . . . . there’s such a thing.)
Defamiliarizing
. . . . . time unglues
the map from the sense of real,
. . . . . and for a moment
I can hear the map
. . . . . itself. But not
for long.

*
*

Position Fixing /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Trees spoke out of the rounded earth,
. . . . . . . . white against a dark sky—

a whole pageantry of lines awakening,
. . . . . . . . nothing unnoticed in this feathered center.

If only changing a life was as wild
. . . . . . . . and bordered, if only

there was a lighthouse or instructions
. . . . . . . . according to a plan,

nothing left to wishing on stars
. . . . . . . . or spinning planets.

*
*

Osprey /by Dee Stribling

Osprey spreads her wings and soars until
landing silently on top of her cypress tree.
No one sees her do this but her flight lifts
souls of people stranded in the swamp, mired
in the dark mud, stained deeply by tannin.
All preserved at the bottom never to see
the light of day until she shifts the world
and the swamp drains and their bones
begin to bleach out in the sun. Only then
will osprey will fly upward into the light,
her feathers strong against the heat.
She’ll move swiftly through the clouds beyond
this sphere, beyond even the stars, until
a new land comes into view where she can
once again rule with fierce talon and silent flight.

*
*

Holiness /by Rebecca Valley

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

Snake handlers
do not worship snakes.

You hold out my tongue
and feed me strychnine from a dropper
in an attempt to remove

my muscles from my flesh.
Nothing shall by any means

hurt you. I try to latch onto scripture
with my two thick teeth,

inject it with a precious venom.
You try to teach me God’s language

with your tongue, but I am
more interested in what comes after
my body, the possibility

of life without blood,
inside the echoing toll of a bell.

For now, you reach inside
and fill your hands with sin,

quick devil curse of the Pentecost.
You have few words but prayer for the body.

We dance on our hems for hours
until holiness intervenes.

*
*

A Slow Burn /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Your gaze scorched me
clear across the room,
your long look
as if you were reeling me in,
laying me sweetly across your lap,
pulling down my jeans,
spanking me sweetly,
twice, once on each cheek,
or –
as if your arm elongated
across the space between us,
your hand brushed my cheek,
your touch so warm, stroking
my cheek, turning my lips
toward you.
I bounded across the room,
put a tentative hand on your shoulder –
forty years later,
I still, thank goodness, feel the burn.

*
*

Day 13 / Poems 13

*

From Childhood /by Andrea England

You are
pretty as a pipedream,
ethereal blur, painting
sky from nimbus,
the needle of my eye,
raspberry over forlorn thorn,
stopwatch verbatim, song
in my side. You are
my pea in the pod, thorax
and cry as I wait
for you, lip against
lip to mouth.

*
*

Day 13 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

cave mouth
even silence
has an echo

*
*

Sedimental /by Priya Keefe

I was seventeen all those many days
It was so many days of slinging caffeine
an hour with a boy (someone’s joy), his mouth, nicotine
Finally I was seventeen

Twenty-one was lousy with days
I walked in a haze and words were like darts
and I came apart sleep held no oblivion
At twenty-one

When I was thirty-five, it was just a phase
It was just a phase, of dancing downtown
with so many male friends, we’d misapprehend, I’d swing and they’d jive
When I was thirty-five

*
*

Clepsydra /by Laura Lauth

If everything happens at

once, a hole in the heart

of physics. Water thief

or circle?—you choose,

just don’t liken the moon,

and if we reach the end

of simile, let’s hold hands.

*
*

The Future of Civilization /by Rebecca Raphael

Nothing wrong
with fragments. That’s what
things are, that
and stitching.
Stitching
implies a stitcher,
one who selects the pieces,
intends to join,
finds a way to make
this out of that:
patterns
out of remnants,
connection
out of intention
stitching
out of time.
Remnants don’t
return,
patterns don’t
emerge,
but for the stitch and something
else
to make it out of.

*
*

God Might Need a Vacation /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

He might like a thatched roof villa
. . . . . . with all inclusive amenities,

some time to paint the sky
. . . . . . He made, lounge next to a pool,

sign up for the boat trip, climb
. . . . . . His limestone mountains,

visit the spa in a thick, white
. . . . . . robe, write about the death

He created—explain Himself
. . . . . . a little.

*
*

This Drive /by Dee Stribling

This is the last time I will make this drive to
. .hospice, they say you quietly crumpled to the floor, a peaceful way to go
. .family homestead—two houses and all the cedars bull-dozed under today
. .visit and pretend you are my true love, I know you have chosen someone else
. .work stuck in four lanes of traffic behind two tractor trailers hauling mobile homes
. .your barn before storm strikes leaving landscape gashed, torn, unrecognizable
. .the high desert with cactus in full bloom under deep turquoise sky
. .your wedding, dirt road with yellow flowers opening up to white tents and guests
. .hear the Pacific crashing into rocks while snow swirls around juniper and pine
. .see an eclipse of the sun as a sandy back road opens onto a stretch of beach
. .our home and see you at the kitchen window waiting for me and your dinner
. .the vets carrying you in your favorite blue plaid blanket for your final sleep
Companions on my journey – all so close until they disappear so fast so far.

*
*

Rain / by Rebecca Valley

You appear in the doorway. I am convincing my body that it is dying. I won’t last long. You say: I feel absolutely nothing. I am staring at you but my mouth won’t move. Your feet are covered in a nest of delicate hairs. My eyes are blood-red and sore.

For a while, we look at each other. Your lips are one line pointed in another direction. My hair is falling out all over the bed. Neither of us look particularly human. I say: I would like to keep going. You cover your eyes with your hand.

I stare at my toenails for a while. They are too long. They are starting to resemble talons. You say: At least tonight it will rain. I open my mouth and let one long breath escape. It is the only breath I have ever taken. The exhale is a rattle like something dying. Yes I say it should. At least. The rain.

*
*

Hat Trick with the Weather /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Had lunch with a friend
yesterday . . needed her advice,

parked my car three blocks from her condo
arrived in a tiger sun-dress, black slip under it,

tiger dress – if a green & black tiger
had mated with an orange one….

a straw hat atop me, with a leopard sash.
When we carried lunch out onto her deck

she laughed, said I’d dressed to beat the heat
and humidity –

Everything arrived alliteratively,
shrimp with stir-fried rice,

cherries with chocolate cake,
and tea, true tea – black. Milk or lemon.

I divulged my dilemma,
she sympathized and suggested…

the sun shone through my clouds
on that muggy day.

We hugged; I departed,
but three steps from her building

I missed my sun-shield, my hat,
and then she texted, “Your hat!”

“Back after errands –” (me)
“Text when close, I’ll be in the lobby

with your hat.” Then the wind wound up
and a brisk breeze cooled me.

Into Fed Ex and out, now the sky
covered with gray grumbling clouds.

I dashed through drops, then downpour,
sheltered under an awning,

texted, “Almost there, rain abating.”
Realized my bedroom windows (back at home) were open,

must drive back quickly. Ran to her lobby; we hugged,
I donned my hat and scooted off.

Rain slackened as I ran, but I was sopping,
so – when I reached my car –

I decided my black slip might be a dress
to a woman with another style of wardrobe,

shucked off my tiger-skin in rainy broad daylight,
slipped into the driver’s seat and drove like hell.

Almost beat the stormy back home,
dashed up to my bedroom, Books on the windowsill

barely damp. Slammed the windows,
wiped down the books, caught my profile

in the dresser mirror. Black mini-dress, leopard hat.
I tricked the weather three times.

Kicked off my saturated sandals
sat on my bed and laughed. Still in my straw hat.

*
*

Day 12 / Poems 12

*

Meditation On Daughters After Dreaming of Vermeer’s /by Andrea England

The kitchen ceiling is full of cracks.

When I was in school, I mixed flour
into concealer to make my skin.

Maria. Miriam. Mary.
How does one choose een naam?

What karma designates which
child comes first?

Stillborn. Eldest. Only. Name
from the bible…Name holy.

To expose the whole ear, salty.

A daughter’s ears belong to her father.

Vermeer’s paint-rag, his daughter’s
do-rag, now my daughter’s tie-dye…

High ponytails are a recipe
High ponytails are an art.

My mother’s doctor pierced
my mother’s ears with a needle.

Every woman used to cover.

Sound the alarm—
more bell than pearl.

Orpheus looked back with regret.

Hip-hop, high-tops, headband over
earbuds, my daughter catches the bus.

*
*

Comparing Weather /by Edward Cody Huddleston

There’s a giant planet
where molten glass
rains sideways
at over 4,000 MPH.

Outside my window,
it looks like rain.
I close the blinds
and feel safe again.

*
*

Vision /by Priya Keefe

1.
I curl cucumber tendril
around stake.
It clings, mammalian.

2.
For nine months
I labored
over comments on drafts
of essays that would
not be revised.

3.
First day of summer break.
We hope the dog park is not
empty, as it often is
in a town of 14,000.

We meet two young women,
students, though not ours.
The sun sets while we chat about
plantation ghosts, teaching in South Korea,
and how to make curry last a week.
Small white dog at their feet,
our big white dog panting in the grass.

In that hour, I knew her
more than her sister
who had been my student all semester.

In fall, I’ll come see you in your office.

I don’t know how to say
$4500 a semester won’t pay
our credit cards down.

4.
How I imagined teaching:
fostering a young person
eager to know the world.

*
*

LL12

*
*

Antiphon to Keats /by Rebecca Raphael

When I have fears that all may cease to be —
that abstract thought conjoined with short-term brains
will wreck the atmospheric chemistry
required for mammals, birds, for ripening grains —
when I regard, upon Earth’s azure face,
the oceans rise, the forests fall, the trance
of profit let the warming spike outpace
the feedback loops of life; then the expanse
of sixth extinction, wrought by human power
and greed, severs me from all time before
and hence. Then poetry can’t last an hour
without biota’s whole archival store.
There will be no shore, no standing, no one
to think or read or even be alone.

*
*

Pedaling Away /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

I.
Unsteady wheels rounding
the church parking lot —
Dad growing smaller.

II.
Feet clipped into a turn-style,
moving me through air
as if I will lift
with Bernoulli’s Principle –
how fast I sing in morning mist
along the White River, a company
of cars washing past. I follow
the white line — a guide
on curves of hard tar,
entering a painting unfolding.

III.
And lines for words
to spill — raw and real,
unreel a life, unwind,
transcribe a thread.
The brocade of skin
now woven—touchable.

*
*

Unspeakable /by Dee Stribling

What are the words left unspoken?
The measure of tenderness not given?

Intentions that die as life’s red stain pools.

The unseen flock to this shore, crawling over
concrete, dirt, earth, trying to turn the tide.

Mixing tears with rain, passion undeterred
by those who may not weep and mourn.

What should’ve been a new day with precious
life is now taken away with violent scorn.

Women wash away the stain, cleanse the body,
and wrap in a shroud of memories.

Men carry on high, place gently on a raft, then
push it into a river that flows into eternity’s sea.

Walk no more, breathe no more, love, forever.

*
*

The Mathematician, the Open Field / by Rebecca Valley

Human bodies and faces look almost the same as their reflections.
Geometry of the rainbow. Symmetries of an ellipse.
Waves rolling up the beach are not precisely identical:
for example, gentle ripples on a very calm sea.

What about the humble tetrahedron? We examine each of its lattices,
the arrangement of many separate faces. It is all fairly straightforward:
the black squares of a chessboard. The conditions of the puzzle.
The total number of rearrangements, the take apart

and reassembling. All the same, it became clear:
fields pervade the whole of space. Particles are tiny clumps
of field. Fields are seething masses of particles.

The field is like an ocean. The particle
a solitary wave.

Lines taken from Ian Stewart’s Symmetry (Oxford University Press, 2013).

*
*

World Forgotten, Self Alone /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

a green sonnet

I’m in bumblebee land, our deck, roof-high:
glass table, green chairs. A wild cherry tree,
40 feet tall below cobalt sky
it towers above my tablet and me.
Writing a sonnet in May’s about green,
about rain and tulips, robins and bees,
white blossoms in April, white sky between
stems. In May, leaf & green cherry one sees.
Green is the pulse up here, green is breathing,
flutter – the motion of bee, leaf and bird.
No thought of below, up here life is seething,
news? About clouds or which chirping is heard.
This – a space where a person may ponder
sit in a bit of May’s bliss and wonder.

*
*

Day 11 / Poems 11

*

A Healed Bone Hurts Most in the Winter* /by Andrea England

Blame it on Icarus. What rises fast and hot
is sure to plummet faster. Blame it on
the crockpot, too-hot coffee, and the good silver
we dug out of the yard and placed in the drawer.
Who knows who ate with those thin spoons,
why they buried them, or by whom they were
engraved. Blame it on thirst. Blame it on the lover
who cried out the wrong name and bought you
the same present twice… Still you married.
Blame it on the floor, the bedframe, the space
that denied holding you on highest limb. Scream
Bad floor! Bad Frame! Slap it with your hand.
Blame it on Phoenix, where it never gets cold.

A healed bone hurts most in the winter…
Sometimes the new bone is stronger.

*The title is a found line from Gary McDowell’s, “Grab Ahold of That Fistful of Rain.”

*
*

Day 11 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

spring cleaning
even the vacuum
is dusty

*
*

Decipher /by Priya Keefe

Weekends, I decipher papers
in a peculiar language
Try to crack the code that will deliver
the power of words to my students
Still, it comes down to this:
conversation in an empty classroom
a young man puts his head in his hands
but leaves saying, “this is bullshit!”
I feel the same, but for different reasons
I have gathered evidence, a detective
who takes the cases no one else wants

*
*

From Love to Junior, a Sestina /by Laura Lauth

All my life I was pushed around, beat up–
treated like shit. But then I get these girls
who let me run their lives, make me money.
I have all the cards. Every man wishes
they could be a king and no one tells me
what I can and can’t do—that’s how it is.

That’s what my pimp, Love, says, and it’s
true. The year I turned 14, he decides to trade up
because I’m too lazy. He’s gonna sell me
to Junior for 600 bucks, get another girl
who’s prettier and that’s when I wished
he’d just kill me. It’s always about money

but they make you think it’s not the money—
they say hey baby, stay close to me, it’s
all good, I’ll take care of you, make your wishes
come true, and everything starts looking up,
he starts buying me stuff like I’m his girl,
the only girl, treating me nice, not like I’m

a slut but special and smart, giving me
rides and fancy food, my own money,
saying baby, you’re the prettiest girl
I’ve ever seen and I love you—and I was
already so fucked by then, so beat up
I just fell for that shit. You know I just wish

somebody good had noticed. I wish
one person had looked closer, really seen me
and asked why’s that little girl all made up,
but you know he had a good smile and money
and no one cared much anyway, whether I was
too scared or young to be his girlfriend,

but we were never anyone’s girlfriend,
we were dogs, dollars, a hook—make you wish
you died, but lots of girls had it worse, isn’t
that crazy, how freaks and foster kids like me
run away and end up making money
for somebody else who fucks them up

even more. I don’t understand what’s up—
maybe it’s just wishful thinking, wanting money
and love when you’re bought and busted like us.

*
*

The Road to Parnassus /by Rebecca Raphael
Long Saturdays I wandered without plan
not shopping, not exactly walking, yet
drifting for Foster Street. West of the gray
el pillars lay Great Expectations: shelves,
high, close-packed, a biblio-labyrinth
holding infinite lives beneath its veil.
I’d never seen its like before, a vale
of books one couldn’t find for any plan,
except here. To build one’s own labyrinth,
one must find a thread through another; yet
that trackless summation of all track shelves
time by space. I had to tread, retread gray
afternoons, as if doing nothing. Gray
absorption reconfigured my travail
of selves: I would, could not read all the shelves
before me, even with a careful plan.
The grief: I wished it then and wish it yet,
an impossible wish. A labyrinth
is thread but never mastered; labyrinths
disclose but do not yield. They show our gray
secrets, not themselves. What we are not yet
aware of flashes from truth north: the veil
of allegory, its implicit plan
glimpsed from high on the literature shelves.
I always almost bough it. Other shelves
spilled classics, mystics, psych; the labyrinth
of known intentions is not the real plan
but bears its shape, discernable as gray
on grayer, benthic structures that prevail
when space unravels into what we yet
call time, for lack of words. Again and yet
again, I traced my way there, along shelves
that grew as I saw farther through the veil.
Now I go in dreams to the labyrinth
where chambers open ever inward, gray
vaults of books arrayed on a cryptic plan.
I dare not look back yet to see the plan,
for psyche’s shelves may still obscure it, gray
on frost, the labyrinth’s translucent veil.

*
*

Emblems on the Earth /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Swifts are speedy flyers and fond of company —
what a perfect name for a bird zooming in endless
blue, a blur across a luminous lawn.
I love the shadows from the sky —

a plane, a bird, a cloud intercepting the sun,
just enough to darken the earth
with a fleeing image of its presence.
And at night on the sheen of water,

the moon strikes light, spreads the sun
again. So many signs of things, the thing
itself forgotten — just the shine, a shadow seen.
I must remember to look up.

*
*

Coyote’s Words /by Dee Stribling

She wrote the words in her head just before
crawling under coyote’s skin.
Her heart beat next to his and by their beating
together they breathed life into spirit wind.
Looking out through golden eyes they began
their journey, floating up the black lava mountainside,
passing over a single blue cornflower caught
in her crevice home, flying higher and higher until
they disappeared in a brilliant burst of light;
a single flash in the darkness between
two stars.

*
*

Dear Virgo /by Rebecca Valley

This week the cosmos will
open you like a new moon
in a big empty bed.

Mercury is in retrograde, which means
you will not understand your grandmother’s
language, even when she repeats herself
over and over, her mouth right next to your ear.

You will lose money. You will
find money in a sock on the sidewalk
and depending on whether or not
you’ve been touched,

you will hand it over. You will offer your hand
to whoever promises to love it. Use
the stars to determine the direction
of your one foot in relation to the foot
of your father on this day in this month

decades ago. You might
wash your body compulsively, praying
that the bathroom fog will transform you
into a brand new animal. You might

feel a churning in your belly
from too little or too much peace.

You will have questions. You will look
for answers in the mouths of people
who do not know you. That is magic.
Do not Do not Do not

believe that any of this is magic.
You will have a dream that
a rabbit is falling out of your body,
begging you to be its mother.
Be it’s mother. Be your own mother.

This week, the stars will
align in the shape of your shoulder blades.
They will flex into a pair of wings.
They will hover over your waiting body
until you agree to give up the ground.

*
*

Reaction /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

When I came to him
clad in my radiance
flowing like moonlight –

and he lifted his face
from his endless love affair
with gadgets operating like robotic servants –

he smiled.
I glittered
he beamed,
said, “Hey.”

*
*

Day 10 / Poems 10

*

AE10

*
*

Day 10 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

Yankees cap
putting on
my old accent

*
*

Wilt /by Priya Keefe

Flowers brown and wilt before bearing
I squat in on-again off-again rain
still in my work clothes
and turn over every leaf
The tomatoes are sickly
I don’t know if they will recover
but I squat until my ankles ache
and squash munching hornworms
and two mating spotted cucumber beetles
Dirt moon fingernails

*
*

I Try to Practice Yes /by Laura Lauth

Yes to sudden rain, even monsoons.
Yes to sequel and gash, Li Bai’s

last breath. Yes to prickly-pear and
shadows on a road, quantum time,

solar flare. Yes to dolor, dollar,
outbreak—the Cascadia fault, but

not the shame of children, I cannot.
Yes to Hayflick’s Limit, Lingchi,

no one you can name. Yes to bone
and nightshade, bodies born apart.

*
*

Tinnitus /by Rebecca Raphael

white noise a low bass
different notes each side
major third minor second
frothy high-pitched buzz

demons throb awake
midnight fortissimo
day-noise decrescendo
inner sounds draw back

attention dances between
conferring amplitude
or taking commands
it cannot refuse

*
*

Celestial Language /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

The story of the earth is folded
in the map of the galaxy —

how the stars collided and realigned,
nothing neatly tied

but specks abide and ride
along comet wings,

how we fling ourselves
into darkness, drink in

the brink of nothing we know
and find our place within

or wrapped around the skin
of gravity — oceans

and oceans of time spinning,
open to dark matter, the rippling

fabric of touch quivering,
dark and deep.

*
*

Cooper Cooped / by Dee Stribling

You sit at the screen door peering outside,
planning your attack strategy against every
bird in the garden. Plan away Oh Powerful
One for there are no feather piles in your
future. The menu from the Authorities
tonight includes a small packet of tuna with
shrimp and an entrée of beef n’ gravy garnished
with catnip. You live the good life; you don’t
think so I’m sure, but your care team certainly
tries. So dream on Oh Fluffy Tough Guy. For
there are no limits to what you can conquer
in your thousands of predator years imagination.

*
*

According to the moon /by Rebecca Valley

When we set out, the moon
met us.

She was angry.
She had suffered dreadful things:

A boy
A torch.

The moonlight is beautiful.
She says do not confuse
up and down

She says home
tortures,

while pouring libations
and laughing.

This year,
to know better.

To spend days
according to the moon.

*
*

The Tenth of May /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

(an anagram model after Terrance Hayes – last word in each line from
the exact combination of letters in “the tenth of may”)

Abraham Timmons, farmer, aye,
to his bones. Each dawn, on his plot by Dartmoor heath,
bedding vegetables. Every weed pulled up, to the enth.
Sometimes he’d glance toward the gorse, his yen
to tramp into the heath. Many a myth
told to him as a child: hoof beats, a shaggy mane,
trotting below bogs or rivers on sturdy hooves. Not
that his farmer-parents preached anything but his fate.
“Thy job is the good loam of ours, and whatever is neath;
plant it, plow it, nurture the land ’til it’s tame.”
He spat. Gazed again. Set out a bucket of sweet grass & oat?

*
*

Day 9 / Poems 9

*

Halfeti’s Roses /by Andrea England

Black-velvet curls, blooms…
Hookah smoke billows birdsong,
thorn-song, sun-salt, suit.

*
*

Day 9 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

a hard look
at myself
baby pictures

*
*

Day 10 /by Priya Keefe

I want to lie down
with you at 2 am
when starlight
is a drip
I can’t shut off
but yet
my arms still reach
when my legs are
pockets filled with stones.
Sidewalk, hold me.

*
*

Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios, 1970 /by Laura Lauth

Something about the floor where it slopes,

music gets bigger, separates. Memphis horns,

Memphis heat—Charles Hodges high tone

on the Hammond B3, playing just before or

after the beat (lathe and groove we can’t see),

and someone’s whispering like it’s just for

you, someone whispering it ends too soon

a slow circling soul, how Al Green gets

next to you.

*
*

RR9

*
*

Public Uncertainty /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Nobody knows why Matt lies in the ground
in a coffin my son carried, a coffin whose cables slipped
and Matt almost went head first
or feet first into the fresh hole

in the earth instead of the steady lowering,
the gentle disappearing of a polished coffin —
how Matt flew out of a window of a car
careening around a curve and I sit here

breathing at sixty-one. And he is gone at twenty-two,
how my in-laws are ninety-one and ninety-five, spilling
soup, not knowing their son — how they live and breathe,
how some survive and others leave.

*
*

Iris in Spring /by Dee Stribling

Purple iris fantasy, a burst of life

stretching quickly toward the sun.

Lay open your green; stand strong

against spring storms in defiance of

all that is here now, weeds that grow

without regard to what was before.

Raise your bearded bloom, proud

against all odds—homestead gone,

cabin collapsing into single logs.

Yet you return here every spring,

tended by unseen hands, nurtured

by beating fistful of earth’s heart.

*
*

haiku for your body, which is far away /by Rebecca Valley

sitting in the blooms,
the birds open. What woman,
without any flesh?

*
*

Woe, An Ode to Isabella /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

I took my cat to the vet today,
her final trip.
Both moaning on the way.

Coming home, I cried;
she’s on her way to that other shore,
wherever cats go when fire & frost are over.

I wrote a sonnet to her once,
Night Prowler, but this is not that.
This – a song of another sort – Woe is me.

A furry friend who padded downstairs
each time I came home, often meowed,
went out for awhile: rain, shine or snow.

Isabella, small back queen with white ruff,
white lightning, Harry Potter style
on your forehead. Your memory will linger,
you will be missed.

Now, when I read in bed, play solitaire
on the floor, no one will come padding up
to purr me company. I buried your body
. . . . . in backyard garden by green-striped hosta,
. . . . . in cherry tree’s shade by the slatted fence.

*
*

 

Day 8 / Poems 8

*

My Mother /by Andrea England

asked for a window to look
out of while doing the dishes,

danced to Achy Breaky Heart
on top of a picnic table,

lost my twin, my brother
before he birthed his first

breath, loved Spearmint
Leaves, anything in the Brach’s

bins at Kroger, burned her hair
lighting a kerosene heater on

Valentine’s Day, 1991,
laughed and regretted,

wrote her own obituary,
rescued dogs for a living

drank Frosty Slip-ups while
dad grilled the meat,

made the best Old Fashioned’s
on Riverview Street,

told me she was Santa’s
helper, baked Swedish

Peppernuts at Christmas,
cakes for every birthday,

whistled Schumann’s Scenes
and It’s a Hard Knock Life.

*
*

Day 8 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

photo album
new wrinkles
on every page

*
*

Day 8 /by Priya Keefe

We cannot raw
or find a non that is actually a way.
Both ends wet and sputtered out.
We sample rhythms and atmospheres,
identify with experience.

*
*

Broken Haiku, for My Son at Midsummer /by Laura Lauth

A wax moth catches
the flame it mistakes for moon–
I can’t tell you
. . . . . . . . . . . .don’t look.

*
*

Bilateral /by Rebecca Raphael

I miss the beeping, bubbling acoustic fluence,
topped with a sequential-strategy sheen.
But brain’s gestalt subsumes the constant machine;
Again and then can never reach congruence.

*
*

Mount Gay /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

She left instructions, always instruction
about paring, dicing, how much time

in the oven, how little time.
She ordered slabs of meat

from the butcher, spending more
on a hefty piece of beef

than on the dress she wore.
The roasted meat rested patiently

along with the potatoes au gratin
she had puzzled together with deft fingers

and extra butter, the Pyrex casserole bubbling
on the counter. Now imagine

her laughter, a glass of rum
cupped in her hand.

*
*

This Mother’s Day /by Dee Stribling

My wish that you were still here
is surpassed by the blessing of having
you with me for so much of my life.

We walked the path of mother and child
for thirteen years until unexpected passing
meant we both had to step into territory
that neither of us knew and no parent and
child should ever have to cope with, but so
many do.

Yet I cannot count the days and years until
you also passed with anything but joy.
I watched you step far beyond your grief and
continue to care for so many others – me,
family, friends, their families, and people
who you didn’t even know, but cared about.

I have your watercolors and your letters.
But mostly I have cherished memories of
your gentleness, strength and love.

*
*

Radishes /by Rebecca Valley

In the dark,
a ghost who claims to be my mother
is pulling up radishes.

She is in a dress, though
I have not seen my mother wear a dress in years.
I heard her panting from my bedroom, big erratic breaths.

It’s too early to be harvesting roots.
This morning, in the kitchen,
my real mother sliced tomatoes into
two karat rubies, their juices running off her wrists.

I told her that
in Mexico they carve portraits
from taproots to celebrate Christmas,

animals, dancers,
ladies in elegant dresses.

My ghost mother is taking everything.
From across the yard, I can see
the roots tangled around her ankles, threatening to pull her under.

I ask her why she has come back now,
why so early but

my lips aren’t moving.
Instead, I hear her murmuring species
as she plucks each from the dirt,

her voice so similar to mine
that on the phone we are indistinguishable.

April cross. French breakfast.
Plum purple. Cherry-belle.

*
*

A Fall to Death /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Josh’s death made the news,
the robin’s did not.
I saw the tiny splayed body
. . . . . . under the cherry tree,
feathers every which way,
neck at odd angle,
. . . . . . the sun beaming down –

Josh and his girlfriend trudged
up McArdle Roadway,
sat on the observation deck.
Mt. Washington – high atop the city,
Pittsburgh’s skyscrapers stunning.
They were experimenting with ecstasy,
. . . . . . always quixotic. She felt nothing.

The robin parents fluttered down,
tweeted loudly, keening 2 long minutes,
then flew.
Josh stood on the metal rail,
announced, “I can fly!” leaped
out toward the city scrapers,
spiraled down, down.

The newspapers showed Mom’s teary face,
not the crumpled body on the woodsy hillside,
she clutched the observation rail
. . . . . . (guess the reporters needed her
. . . . . . at the scene of the tragedy,)
she whispered to the cameras,
“He was an imaginative boy.”

*
*

Day 7 / Poems 7

*

The Collector’s Daughter /by Andrea England

It takes more than glue to mend
the broken, more than receipts
to validate this love.

Ceramic collies, coffee mugs,
pouting dolls from every country—
Even now I dislike them. Boxed in,

I continue collecting Playboys
from the used bookstore,
shirts she might have worn,

a picture, napkin and party
favor from every birthday
I have yet to mourn.

*
*

Day 7 /by Edward Cody Huddleston

a highlight reel
of last night’s dreams
afternoon nap

*
*

Day 7 /by Priya Keefe

We used to belt out
“whatever will be, will be”
as we waited
for the city bus
in a night like lapsang souchong.
Now we sip ginger ale and say
“carbidopa levodopa” with a shrug.

*
*

Answer for My Six-Year-Old Son /by Laura Lauth

The Sombrero measures 50,000 light years across,

brim to brim. In one constellation, 10,000 galaxies.

Space, it turns out, isn’t empty. Tadpole, Cat’s Eye—

dust lanes and nebula radiate with light we can’t

see, the bow shock of stellar wind. Meanwhile, in

a far corner of the field, a black hole hums the lowest

known note, fifty octaves below middle C, so maybe

it’s not a lie when I say yes and you finally close

your eyes—maybe I can come back to hold your hand

when it’s time for you to die.

*
*

Sundae’s Sonnet for the Dryer /by Rebecca Raphael

The inner sanctum is barred to me. Two doors
protect it. I strains my arm beneath the gap —
too far. Sometimes I glimpses, through a flap,
the blessed ones. It rolls them warm. It purrs,
like me. It must like me. I am not coarse
like the primate who offers it our wraps.
When they emerge, Gâteau burrows in and naps.
He takes the lesser boon. I wants the source

to embrace me in sheltered warmth and love.
It’s open! I sits within. I waits. I wonders.
Looks the same, but now that I am here,
the sanctum does not talk to me, or move.
Quiet as a cat, it rests and squanders
its warmth on the uncomprehending air.

*
*

Evidence /by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

A mother and father
in their deadness, have left

rice grains in the pocket
of my pants hanging in the closet

on a hook upstairs —
that they are lingering,

yielding to unseen gestures
in air when I’m not there,

slipping rice into my soft pocket,
finite, hard specks — a code

of dashes I count and glide
against fingertips, settling

on interdependence as I move
from one oasis to the next.

*
*

Sun Rain /by Dee Stribling

Torn by rain branch falls.

Roses dripping sun burn clouds,

With warmth life renews.

*
*

Bull Dancer /by Rebecca Valley

Before Thera erupted and
sterilized us

I painted my skin blue.
I curled my hair.

Because the world was younger
we had only invented a few colors.
I wore the ones you liked,

grew wings because
everything was fluid and

you had asked me to.
Everything was much simpler.
We used our feet like hands

and I loved you because
you were a bull-dancer,

would dye your body red
and suspend yourself
over the raging body of the beast

stare upside-down
and backwards into the belly
of death.

At night, I watched you
stroke the bull’s horns, braid the copper wire
of his hair into the patterns your father showed you.

I called you Akrotiri.
The bull was Santorin.
While you slept I would look straight
into your open mouth, down your throat

where magma bubbled,
and wonder at the warmth
before unbearable heat.

Thera was angry.
I pressed my chest into the dirt

to gauge the certainty of her trembling.
You stayed out late,
coaxing the bull’s hair into
more and more complicated knots.

I would have told you then,
but we hadn’t invented language yet.
That I wanted your hands to
plait me like a bull

that I knew to call you by
your real name but I did not know the letters
or how to mouth them

that the paint from our separate skins
would blend into a color that had not yet
been invented.

You could dance
your lost art over my body.
The ash would come
from your throat.

*
*

No One Else Left /by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Thank you for coming today,
poets & writers.
I address you from the stage
but feel free, step up, take the microphone
if your poetic soul prompts you.

You’re the only clarion call left.
Politicians long since crazy,
most more than crazy,
most slippery of slopes…
Narcissus befriending many a one…

Ministers and muftis, priests and pastors
lost their mission, their mittens
their minds. More predictable
than a nursery rhyme,
theirs no longer a corner where you pull out a plum.

Musicians sing let’s do some living, after we die…
face it, friends, they’re poets standin’ at the crossroad,
tryin’ to flag a ride; don’t nobody seem to know ’em,
everybody pass ’em by. They ride with us,
understand the sounds of silence.

Writers, poets, pour your burning
into the media, let it shine out of
you. Be the new colossus,
sing of our huddled masses – tempest tossed –
Murmur about what poets pen and mean it;
only you – left with the key to the golden door.

*
*

 

Day 6 / Poems 6

*

Foot / by Andrea England

Anything below the ankle,
petal hitting stamen, axis—
You’re lucky on a chain
and I can measure you
by your boogie, but sometimes

I wish I could untangle you—
First fetish to hit the floor,
forced to share my changing
weight… Remember the dub
step of ecstasy, how it made

you glitter in the desert night?
More often in my mouth
than not—pickled in the South
gossamer in the East.
My father named you

turpitude, shameful without
cover, lover of opposites—
On the court you’re all
follow-through, crosscourt,
all net, momentum.

Weapon in shit-kickers,
you’ve covered long distances,
paid my bills with blisters
and shards—Dear Love,
I will never be your first.

*
*

Day 6 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

edge of the world
in my back yard
heavy fog
*

*

Apology / by Priya Keefe

We met in a ladybug storm
on a September patio.
Behind me, the corporate hive.
Ahead, a turning wood.
I apologize that I looked lonely
to you, sitting alone with my poem.

Then it was winter
and all the falling leaves
that made you think of me
had fallen.

I apologize for sending you
a softback Bridge Across Forever
with your letters
cut into snake-shapes.
I thought you would get
my sense of humor.

*
*

Bathing Jack / by Laura Lauth

–For Kate and Rocco

At bath time, when the moon
is just a moon and barely visible
above the early summer hedge,
my four year old son asks me
with great sincerity, do you think
if my penis were so shiny that
it looked like crystal, I could
wear no underwear to school?
And while I’m thinking how to
answer (because this is a tough
one, a moment where you might
laugh but also something might
shatter, might break and not go
back together), he asks for more
soap–certain that we’ve been
missing something all along, his
revelation clear as the waxing
gibbous now swollen above our
yard–declaring with such wild,
wet abandon, it will be beautiful,
sparkling, that when he lifts the
soft circle of his face again, naked
as the universe, I’m not sure
he’s wrong.

*
*

Sophomoric Apostrophe to Lake Michigan / by Rebecca Raphael 

Does the wind want to be loved?
Here I am,
walking the lake. Your coldness
discouraged me,
but I came. Lonely.

Nights like these, you seem
warmer than humans.
Don’t be mad that coldness
couldn’t stop me.
It hasn’t failed:

I wouldn’t say I love you.
No, I’ll say
something more than that.
Here I am.
(Not love.)

And you, wordless water,
can’t speak, can’t lie.
You are here. The exchange
is true. I know.
My face is freezing.

*
*

Morning in the Rwandan Hostel / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

The way behind me changes as I open my eyes
in this room, these streets, these hills, as I witness
the hibiscus tree burst with blooms,
banana tree fronds full and fringed,

and what the woman carries —
an empty yellow jug to the silver spigot
to fill and heavy a load. The gentle slap
of her flip flops slows and a humming

hushes. At my door I offer to carry
it in, but she enters the dark space,
places the full, hard pressed
jug on the cement floor

in the bathroom with pipes
like hollowed bones.
She speaks a language
of hand-delivered burdens,

gestures, scars dark and cracked,
maps of what remains — opens
the door to transport more,
a rectangle of light slipping in.

*
*

Old Window / by Dee Stribling

Little girl laughter fills the air as she
runs through fields of yellow flowers
and tall meadow grasses under bluest
sky full of softly floating white clouds.
Old home awaits – planks and porch
failing, wooden shingles cracked and falling.
She runs up on the porch and gently
touches a window to catch prism light
from a single sunbeam. She looks inside,
watching as a faint sunlit swirl of dust
rises in the air from an old rocker moving
as if someone unseen has just arisen
and walked slowly away. She wants so
much to be inside, to open the window
just enough to climb into the old house.
But her desire to go, even gently, into the
room she can see so clearly does nothing.
She is destined to remain on the outside.
She can feel a gentle touch on her
shoulder while she longs to smell and taste
and feel the webs of memories within
but she knows they are spun of silk
too fragile to withstand even one small
wisp of breath. So she stands and looks
through the window until the spell is broken
by wind stirring in the old oak and she
runs away. Small handprints on an old
window are the only testament to her stay.

*
*

Scenery in a dream / by Rebecca Valley

Life is not merely the struggling at present, there is also the poetry and distant fields
– Zhongwen Yu

I cracked youth open. It was an accident.
It came rushing out, all over our bodies
sticky and wet and breathing our own words back at us

ones we thought had come while dreaming.

I had been dancing. You were sleeping with your head
pressed against the cold, white wall

mouthing sleep words into the sheet rock,
the same words

long and slow so the plaster could hear you.

*

I smelled something burning.
It was the house we lived in, but nobody had hands
to douse the fire or lips to spit it out.

It was evening, and all the boys and girls had gathered in our kitchen.
I watched their hips and hands swaying to a distant music,
their arms wrapped around each others’ waists.

A little girl emerged from the rubble
of our bedroom. She was thin but
not burnt. Her skin had the matte black sheen

of wrought-iron. The smoke
had made her heavy.

*

Why we drift into
a certain scent.

We are wandering now in a garden
where you lift your dress so I can touch the tops
of your thighs.

I remember only your legs and
your hands, possibly

the aftertaste of
one guess

on your mouth, just
what could have been there
not even your long hair

which I loved
to run through, that distant
field

a long, thin
winding

curtain.

Credit to the art and words of Zhongwen Yu, who inspired this poem. His work can be found at Saatchi Art: http://www.saatchiart.com/account/artworks/86299.

*
*

21st Century E. D. / by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Once I wrote a poem as she,
Tuned my ear to hear the hymn –
I eulogized the rose, the bee,
Praised perfection found in them.

I leapt from small to infinite –
Tore the veil, my God to see
In gentian lakes I saw the Son’s light
Saw beside Him . .. . . Emily.

*
*

 

Day 5 / Poems 5

*

Tucson, Arizona, 1998 / by Andrea England

After the sparse plain, there’s a breast,
full-nippled and slanted—
There beyond the pines, a curve
of hip traces sidewinders.

A woman has many dictions:
mother that lost her finger preparing
cabbage soup, wife who wakes only
to touch the madness of letterheads.

Flesh itself asks for little perfection.
As I cross the last embankment,
the river dimples likes thighs, pressing
even the hardest of stones upward.

*
*

Day 5 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

tall grass
a rabbit leaps
into memory

*
*

American As / by Priya Keefe

We can’t speak
of mashed potatoes
without talking about fat
America’s weight problem
our imperialist burden of bones

Creamy and smooth,
power corrupts.
There are many ways to serve
it, skins on or whipped
with the fist. Potatoes have sway

at family meals, Thanksgiving
for the bland.

We choke down torpor.

If he doesn’t make her cry
Everything else is gravy

*
*

I’m sorry, Nixzmary Brown / by Laura Lauth

I’m sorry about adults and doors
and the old wooden school chair

with a rope attached. I’m sorry
for the mattress and broken

radiator, the duct tape and
litter box. Nixzmary Brown,

I’m sorry for belts and bathtubs,
the tiny cup of yogurt that

spilled. I know it’s not enough
but I’m here now and holding

you very gently, the shallow
bowl of your child’s body and

your name that is a body too
in this room where the light’s

good, where lemons grow just
below the window sill and I

won’t leave. I will stay here
in the warm curve of afternoon

until you fall asleep. Nixzmary,
I will stay here as long as it

takes and I’m sorry we always
arrive too late.

*
*

Music Lesson / by Rebecca Raphael

The inner ear transduces
mechanics into semantics.

The inner ear must hear
music before it is played.

The inner ear balances
our rotations and translations.

The inner ear remembers
voices lost to death.

The bony labyrinth makes us
a soundboard of imaginal time.

*
*

Five in Mind / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Five makes my brain alive.
I can remember five things
the whole way to Stop and Shop —
cilantro, lemons, avocado, arugula, & olives
(a salad tonight). I can remember

my father saving me on the day before
Christmas from slipping into the escalator
at Lord & Taylor when the silver steps snagged
my dress into the slivered opening at the top,
the red velvet hem my mother finished

that morning, pins poking from her lips,
more gesture than words. Being so scared
of the caterwauling behind my closed
closet door and finding five kittens
in a box stuck to Emily’s belly.

Loving George of The Beatles —
my small unlit alter of poster
and forty-fives, his handsome,
quiet height and maybe my first
wilderness. The sudden death

of my grandfather from an unseen hole
in his heart — the sheer flurry of running
along train tracks home to see my parents leave.
Kissing Jimmy in a leaf pile and still feeling
bits of leaves on my lips.

*
*

Sunrise / by Dee Stribling

The grasses rustle with bird sounds and
the realization you are being watched.

Pink-tinged gold phoenix raises her wings
behind the Sangre de Christos, hovering
in the sky just above snow-capped peaks.

Look at her too long and she will burn your eyes.

*
*

For the birds / by Rebecca Valley

after William Carlos Williams

I’m sorry
for the birds.

You are brand new so
you don’t know yet that they are living
in the window casing

chickadees and
once I asked the cat to eat them
earnestly at 5:45 a.m.

but I’ve apologized since then.
Now I am looking at you
looking at them

upside down, eyes
out the window.

I’m sorry I might
use this as a reason to love
or not to love you.

The chickadees are about to open
their big mouths. I’m sorry.
You are so brand new
you haven’t even
spoken yet.

*
*

Ode to Grapefruit / by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Doctor, please, no more of these.
No Lipitor or Zocor
to reduce my cholesterol.
They’re artificial. Besides,
I must have my grapefruit.

My friends say I’ll die
if I eat grapefruit,
but what do they know?
Everybody dies.

Grapefruit is so right
for breakfast, Doc,
warm, brown toast on the side,
a little butter
(I mean margarine) and tea.

You’re a smart person.
1, 1, 2, 3, 5…
Bet you note a Fibonacci sequence
in nature: branching in trees,
arrangement of pine cones on bracts.

Grapefruit sections
often appear Fibonacci-ally,
13 sections / segments inside.
Bisect the fruit,
precarve the sections,

cut and count.
Eat with a ruscible spoon.
Someone once sang me a ruscible song –
squeeze & squeeze the sunshine rind
to drip juice into your bowl.

Spoon up fruit
munch toast, slurp tea.
Suck up juice (no spoon needed),
take vitamins with the juice,
a swig of tea with lemon,

but no artificial Zocor.
Grapefruit. November to May,
synonymous with breakfast.

*
*

Day 4 / Poems 4

*

Whenever the Dogs are Barking Wildly / by Andrea England

I think of Grandma Lucy from Little Rock,
Arkansas, how she wasn’t my real grandma
but one of my dad’s war buddy’s wives and how
my real grandma and grandpa were already dead
but I called her grandma anyway just like I called
my friends’ parents by their first names, preceded
by Aunt or Uncle, but what somehow made it ok
for them to judge my dancing, those little skits
kids are made to put on for the company, how
my hips gyrated too much to Madonna’s, “Get into
the Groove,” me thinking maybe it was a compliment
before I queried the old medical dictionary
in the room where we weren’t allowed to play
because of all the living going on in there.

*
*

Day 4 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

before this road
was paved
memory lane

*
*

Last Meal in Rochester, NY / by Priya Keefe

Subway sandwiches
Sitting in the front lawn
on the loveseat we couldn’t sell
Dwarfed by the moving truck.
Upstairs, three cats hiding in empty cupboards

*
*

Self Portrait / by Laura Lauth

The pictures hang in an Edinburgh gallery on Dundas street. Many people don’t believe elephants can paint. Day after day, the mahout train them in the bright Thai heat. When tourists arrive, each animal is led to a heavy wooden easel set in the dirt, the brush pressed into her trunk. Then, with great gusto the elephants begin to paint. Canvases sell quickly and this is understandable. It’s almost miraculous and hard to turn your eyes away from the coarse brushes, the animal’s soft, slow stroke; hard to notice when the trainer pulls the tusk or wide wing of ear towards the paper, pushing up and down for vertical lines, forward for dots or circles; hard to see the marks of the phajaan (or crush) because it must be done when the calves are young and still nursing, small enough to break with bull hooks and beating. Only half survive but then they can be trained: Mook always makes a bouquet, Christmas paints a yang na tree, and Pimtong, a climbing plant. Paya, they announce, is the only one to have mastered his own likeness. When the pictures are complete, the elephants turn toward the audience, bow deeply and are rewarded with bananas. At this, the crowd cheers, one man even cries, astonished by so much beauty, how much we are alike.

*
*

Zeitgeist / by Rebecca Raphael

A Mephistophelian bubble
inflates its ochreous tirade,
whose vain division burlesques
its wake of desperate rubble.

*
*

World Book Encyclopedia / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

I remember the princess phone
in the upstairs hallway, its long chord,
and taking the handset into my room, curling up

on the floor or on the twin bed, settling in somewhere.
When the chord tangled with knots, I’d lean against
the bookshelf of encyclopedias — cream and green

spines lined and shiny, drop the tan handset over the railing,
letting it dangle and spin to right itself. It took awhile to undo
what I had done, time to think about pages I loved

next to me, hidden in the thick books, the transparencies
of the human body systems. Clear pages I’d lift,
a skeletal frame and underneath — a sheet with organs —

intestines like the chord before unraveling, and the heart, nothing like
the ones in the margins of my notebook, Sally and Paul inside,
nothing like the throbbing that felt transparent and wild.

*
*

She Walks / by Dee Stribling

She walks now from room to room,

deciding on the crystal vase. Cutting

fresh blue and yellow flowers to fill,

she places her bouquet on an old

side table that sits just underneath

the antique glass mirror. She adjusts

stem and blossom, perfect now, she

steps away to admire her handiwork.

Perhaps she’ll wipe her hands on

her apron or adjust long silver hair.

But she knows it will do no good

to look beyond the flowers to the

mirror, as her image will not be there.

*
*

Creatures / by Rebecca Valley

What is rare about us,
the arc, the cure

your body an acre of land
which rears pecans, black figs
ears of sweet corn.

I am the cart before
your horses. You tear into me
until I have traced the lines of an ancient atlas
on the walls with my fingers

and the oils leave a stain.
I do not care about your mouth
or what comes out of it.

Instead we feed each other:
pull back our lips until the teeth show

use our thick tongues
for what they are good for.

*
*

Can You Claim Unicorn? / by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Suddenly surrounded, the unicorn kicked…
and gored a greyhound with his horn… –Chapter V The Hunt of the Unicorn

The poet-king of Navarre sees himself as unicorn,
in virgin conquest calls himself slain
by the magic in her gaze. His heart is captured.

Artists render Chastity enthroned,
Diana at her side for succor,
a unicorn, goat-furry, come to serve.

In Mesopotamia, Adam stares in wonder,
so many creatures to name. He reaches out,
pronounces unicorn. God’s hand responds
to touch the tip of its single horn. An elevated beast.

In China, the universe egg cracks:
P’an Ku, a human, tumbles out – chisels light,
helped by dragon, tortoise, phoenix and unicorn.
The last, K’i-in, disappears into the forest.

The beast’s voice, a monastery bell,
welcomes a just ruler in times of peace /prosperity,
or tolls the loss as great leaders die.

The medieval unicorn fascinates sweet girls,
and they him. His purity sweetens poison water,
while their song, their gentle nature draws him to their side.

Hunters want his magical horn,
while villages ravaged by disease await
his coming, his healing gaze, his touch.

Elemental, untamed, the unicorn is not
to be mythologized, stereotyped or bowdlerized.
Step forward, if you’re a one-horned beast:
proclaim yourself a green, red or blue man,
a brown, gold, white, red or black man,
universal in your one horn.

Step up and claim yourself, unicorn,
if you stand out among men
as gentle to the ladies all the time.

*
*

Day 3 / Poems 3

*

Never Drowning / by Andrea England

The soft suede of ballet slippers—
My mother smells like milk and resin,
dirty quartz. My mother’s the only one
I know before the start of quaking.

Alfred E. Newman is chasing me
up the attic steps. No matter how many
times I bite off his thumbs, he keeps coming.

Or the time I let the monster fuck me
in the barn, in return for my teenage life,
when I knew I was only dreaming.

The footsteps of black oaks—
I know there are sharks in the water
but I can’t help myself, bitten, never drowning.

My mother drives the monster truck,
up and up and up. I’m not sure if she knows
were going to tip. Freefall in the Dreamer’s
Dict. suggests, a precursor to flying.

*
*

Day 3 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

get back to you soon
my dead friend’s
voicemail

*
*

May 3 / by Priya Keefe

Leaf scraps fall from my hair
Language spiders onto the page
Wishes are snails that stem from night

*
*

Sundance Salt Mine, Redmond / by Laura Lauth

Once, we were real.

Before Laurasia left Gondwana
for good. Before this ancient

inland sea stood still,

waves bloomed then fell
five thousand feet beneath us now

in landlocked Utah. Once,

we moved too—like oceans move,
one inside the other.

*
*

In Memory of Diablo / by Rebecca Raphael

It hurts to love a little devil.
He lived a year instead of not.
Sick kittens don’t know not to revel.
It hurts to love. A little devil
seizes simple joys: the marvel
of leaps and laps and naps. He forgot
it hurts. We loved the little devil
who lived a year instead of not.

*
*

Akagera National Park, Rwanda / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

On the right is a baboon,
the guide says, and we swerve

our gaze, our lenses. We are
bumping over rutted roads—

to see an elephant with ears like
undulating sheets of leather, while he

munches on a branch, hippos slipping
into a watery edge, becoming islands of eyes,

zebras with skin art not for camouflage
but illusion; who knows where one begins

and another ends—the herd
in a huddle as one.

*
*

Tuesday Lunch / by Dee Stribling

My travel lunch out and about today
seated at a restaurant where across the way
a deer head trophy mounted on the wall
watched my every move from big to small.

I pondered this between eggs and ham,
how did this six-point buck so land?
Why from freedom then to hunter’s store
did this particular part land here forevermore?

I imagined Bambi romping happily wild,
growing strong to Fall from summer’s child.
And if, by agreement, he became the prey,
why on earth did he land here to stay?

But these things really matter not overall,
what counts is no spirit hangs upon that wall.
And all that’s left is framed so well by tintype
pictures of people (not stuffed) who’ll never tell.

*
*

Love Poem for the Hagfish / by Rebecca Valley

1
On or near the sea floor
you feed

often enter and eviscerate the bodies of dead and
dying sea creatures much larger than you.

You are known to devour your prey from the inside,
can survive months between feedings;

when I open you up
I discover polychaetes, shrimp,
cephalapods, bird bones, whale flesh.

2
The skin is naked.
It covers the body like a loose fitting sock

and comes in a variety of colors:
pink, blue-grey, black, white.

You have one nostril,
no backbone, degenerate eyes
buried in skin.

There is no jaw or bones
but four hearts;

one vertebrate,
another for the liver,
one in the head

and a small, shrunken heart
in the tail, half-forgotten.

3
I know almost nothing
about the way you turn this body
into other bodies.

They call you hermaphrodite
because your one lone ovary floats half-dead
until age or desperation wakes it up.

When they find you in the mud
curled around a hatch of thirty tough, yolky eggs,
they hesitate to call you mother.

4
Where you live
it is always dark.

I close my eyes
and press my fingers to the lids,
trying to perceive your light.

*
*

Set Back / by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Defeated, set back. Turned aside again.
Alan sat at his desk, head in hand.
Why had he even chosen this profession?
Or had it chosen him? Trial lawyer.
He attended U. Virginia law school
as had his antecedents before him.

Civil rights law, his first choice,
sued sometimes for good causes,
but also defended murderers;
life is complicated.
Took each case too seriously,
Margaret said.

They’d been married 50 years.
That day, she walked in, saw him slumped
in his office chair, strode in;
too many times she’d asked if he
shouldn’t retire, dear.
This time she put a warm hand on his shoulder.

“Call it a mid-life crisis (at 75),
take up hang-gliding, pierce an ear,
don a dashiki, jeans, folk dance with Quakers.”
His gaze, grim fading to fond,
“Thanks, my dear.
Time to start reading Dante again, no doubt.”

*
*

 

Day 2 / Poems 2

*

Crazy Linda / by Andrea England

Crazy Linda’s been watching you all
weekend and now, in the last
of festivities; Sunday you approach
this woman out of some displaced
love or pity, for which you are
ashamed. You know she will chatter
away your teeth and money, wrapping
swaths of found and repaired
clothes around rusty wire
coat-hangers. She could be
you think: oh, daughter of Ceto

and Phorays, do you believe your own
beliefs? And then I find myself
wanting to borrow the single tooth and blurred
eye, as she lays crystals for blended families
and unearthed aquamarine for open commu-
nication in my coat pocket, tells a story
of second husbands and ungrateful
stepchildren. She could be the orchard

woman you saw last week scolding
the Mexicans about picking peaches
on the other side of the orange tape,
the same woman who explained the soft ones
lose their sweetness, set firm
ones on the sill and wait
for the walnuts to drop, for the girls
who crack them open and stain

their hands. I’m always washing my hands
away in the muck of this life— I buy in,
lift up a lavender skirt with its too big
elastic waistband, let her bless my
commitment, and walking away
I sing myself again, again these laid
clear stones will sit on my desk, will
sit and weigh up on all my debts.

*
*

Day 2 / by Edward Cody Huddleston

the raindrops
my wipers don’t reach
funeral procession

*
*

Dirty Work / by Priya Keefe

I squat in on-again off-again rain
Try to crack the code that will deliver
And turn over every leaf
Weekends, I decipher papers
Flowers brown and wilt before bearing
The power of words to my students
I don’t know if they will recover
I feel the same, but for different reasons
The tomatoes are sickly
In a peculiar language
But I squat until my ankles ache
I have gathered evidence, a detective
And squash munching hornworms
Still, it comes down to this:
And two mating spotted cucumber beetles
Still in my work clothes
A young man puts his head in his hands
Conversation in an empty classroom
Leaves saying, “this is bullshit!”
Dirt moon fingernails
Taking the cases no one else wants

*
*

The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Hell’s Kitchen / by Laura Lauth

A little carmine theater plays inside me.

I know this to be true, but what can it

mean? In Hell’s Kitchen, continents rise:

oxtail, sofrito, ancient bream. On West 47th,

Eros pedals by in tight jeans disguised as

a young Raul Julia, weeping and pedaling, lo!

What arrow, what unknown heat! And there,

undulant in a sail-shadow of the actors’ alley,

two boys kiss and worry for us—they know

the wound is always deeper than it seems.

*
*

Panic / by Rebecca Raphael

The seed is yes when yes is not
possible, when I cannot contort
to the asymptote of every expect.
Then the cascade — gnashing teeth,
hyper-vent, heart rate careen
(oh my heart rates you, it, them,
the vectors flayed to the line
I ever approach, never reach.
Either yes-you or thing I wanted,
loved, but leave it begging, starved
of time because yes-you eats time.
Not both. Therefore, that illspiring
compliant yes joins other yesses
sublates to impossibility
until I’m shredded to mylar jags,
trivial confettied fragments.
The coherence that could want or do
says no, or lies impaled on yes.

*
*

After the rain / by Jennifer Singleton

& Persephone is awake
praying in the dew drops that
hang on the petals
singing of the goldfinches’ meadow.
Zeus (or St. Augustine?)
-the chariot moved through
the pear tree, pushed its way through
the daisy stem, she blew a wish on a
dandelion
and Hades heard:
give me a crown –
the six seeds of the pomegranate –
my heart will turn
over and over into
the songbook of seasons.
& St. Augustine heard her song
& with a lusty cry leapt from
his bed, kissed the woman,
walked linearly through the city
whispering
. . . . . . —This will cost me everything.

*
*

Quitting Smoking / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

I slipped away like
a prisoner needing ransom

in an airless bunker —
somehow finding an opening,

lifting the lip of a heavy cover —
hauling myself into the night

and running — looking
over my shoulder, breathless.

*
*

This Day / by Dee Stribling

To begin the journey, one step taken
on the path, each one of us at day’s dawn.

How can we know where our path will go?
Or what this day will hold? Yet we venture out
so convinced our ordinary world will continue.

Remembering when once so small one step
followed by another, we ran from front door
over porch down walk to waiting school bus.

Grown now to high school but oh so suddenly
the world can shift, jobs are lost, parents try,
but life’s weight can fall and crush so completely.

Now standing by highway’s edge, counting on
next car to stop, window down, dollar bill
waves, quick hand-off before they drive away.

Interstate channels successful lives, oblivious
that some are left behind when day dawns bright
and shiny cars pass on to jobs in cities.

Standing like a ghost of days long past, old silo
wrapped in ropes of kudzu defiantly waits through
the night until broken promise of day’s first light.

*
*

Moon Poem / by Rebecca Valley

Which moon have I landed
on? One pulled out of the Earth like
the stray teeth I keep in a jar.

I am not brave enough
to look at my bones, and neither are you.
Instead I pretend they are pocked and greying

like the moon,
like this tooth

which is in the middle of your palm now,
and is still warm from the minutes
I held it.

*
*

Delinquent, Already a Day Late / by Christine Aikens Wolfe

Because I love to write,
write poetry, fiction, journals,
I like the idea –
posting a poem a day.
I thought the idea to be
that all 30 of the poems I write
are written in the now,
so that I might not only live
but write in the present.
In the many workshops I take
other writers kvetch about how long
the process takes,
how infrequent the visits
from the muse.
I have to silence myself;
no one likes a cheeky listener
to respond, “Oh really?
For me it’s only a matter of sitting
to receive. The plots, the angst, the images
the beauty is always up there.
Just let it rain down on thee.”
Now I have a chance
to put my money where my mind is
so to speak.
To write each day and share with you
something freshly plunked from the ether.
But I am also one of the world’s better procrastinators,
somehow let Mayday slip away,
that subject for another poem;
I’ll play catchup.
I also maintain, and sometimes say
that the poet is merely medium with pen
Shakespeare really had his ear & heart open,
he was ready to receive and wrote so much.
He probably had a poet’s discipline,
sat down and penned poetic thoughts
every day.

*
*

Day 1 / Poems 1*
*

Pompeii / by Andrea England

Techtonic plates colliding,
bass explodes like lava—
Ecstasy under Tempe skies.
Your lightning-yellow v-neck is

bass imploding like lava,
a florist gifting broken stems.
Your lightning-yellow v-neck is
still in my closet.

The florist gifted broken stems,
daisies you gave me each morning.
Your skeleton is still in my closet
dancing the mournful kung fu.

The daisies you gave me
my mother’s favorite—
They dance the mournful kung fu
alone with cows in the pasture.

My mother’s favorite
ecstasies, under small-town skies,
bow alone with bulls in the pasture,
their techtonic bass-lines colliding.

*
*

Day 1 / byEdward Cody Huddleston

words unspoken
an ellipsis
of stars

*
*

Argument / by Priya Keefe

We used to agree
on cremation.
We disagree on timing.

One day when your body
gave you grief:
I hate it when you do that!
Shots fired.
But it was just the neighbor’s shutters
banging in the wind.

Imagine seven billion people
buried in formaldehyde boxes
to keep dirt from touching bone.

A neighbor conversed casually on a sunny day:
a woman who lived, before,
in your house killed herself. She was
disturbed.

You and I walked a strip of land.
You spoke of death,
I spoke monosyllables.

Bone-ash seemed better.
But burning just two people
burns more than our breath.

I hate sensitive people!
a student said in class. He’s 19.
We need sensitive people.
I believed it when I said it.

You tell of a mushroom shroud
that makes us a meal for fungus.
Harmonious death.
Antidote to distance and denial.

*
*

Poem with a Line from Hafez / by Laura Lauth

This loneliness in you tonight, and me. Not deep as oceans
or the vast speculative seas of Venus and Mars, no

this loneliness is one word, a swell of bodies—fish bodies,

monkey bodies, the unknowable squid and selve bodies,
murder bodies, split-beam and quantum bodies, the bodies

watching nine heavens, heaven’s bodies, mistake bodies,

plastic bottle and tube bodies, hypodermic and bright—
this loneliness that’s waking us up tonight, let it

heave hard and break, stopless, let it cut more deep.

*
*

The Measure of Loss / by Rebecca Raphael

Late in life, I follow the trail
of ink I left — to mark the way,
then forward, now back — and read
this memory of proleptic loss:

“Late in summer, as I walked
to class one morning, I thought, the snow
will come, you will walk this way and crunch
snow underfoot, and he won’t be here.

“The snow came. I went outside
to stand in it. The Midway
was strangely quiet. Here’s the snow,
he’s gone.” Is it late,

or only lost in that middle
where eyes treading ink under gaze
find boots crunching snow underfoot
and join at the words across

twenty-five years? I miss him still,
but grieve from old ink an un-thrown
mark: the terrestrial loss
of winter’s atropic return.

*
*

Soft / by Jennifer Singleton

I wish I could share my passion with someone.
Anywhere we would walk
My friend and I would notice
The feather almost hidden on the ground
Next to the almost dry stream.
Maybe a cat? Or maybe a song sung badly?
I notice the lines and the faces in rocks
The leaves that look like miniature
Smiles. Can I coax you into holding
The feather we found tucked behind
Your ear until you laugh?
Nevermind the world, the ugly burnt out
Buildings, homelessness, addiction and
Waste breathing on the highways. Let’s
Notice the graffiti in the water
That gathers in the cups of the bottom
Leaves. The flowers that curl towards
The happiness of the clouds.
Anyway, the night can’t hold a rainbow
But we can cradle our memories
With a feather.

*
*

My Father’s Story / by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

He’s been dropped off at a sugarcane farm
in Texas, his mother en route to San Diego
to pick up his father on his way home from war.

It’s summer. He’s sixteen or seventeen. It’s hard
work hacking sugarcane with a machete, knowing
the brittle stalks rattling might be snakes.

Two weeks in, his mother calls and talks.
When she says goodbye, he pushes down the hook
but keeps speaking as if she’s still there.

Oh no! Uncle David died? Yes… I’ll head back
to New York on the train tomorrow, the farmer
and his wife in the room with him. How he packed

his bag that night. At the train station
the next morning he watched them drive away,
found a room at the local Y, worked all summer

on an ice truck to make enough money
for the train ride home, leaving the farm,
the machete, the rattlesnakes in the dust.

He never told his parents, just us.
We loved the lie, the boy who hauled
blocks of ice in the Texas heat,

his index finger unseen on the knob,
holding off a dial tone, his cowboy spirit,
his finding a way home on his own.

*
*

Journeys / by Dee Stribling

Ask of my dream and I’ll tell you a lie
. . . . . until I go there and see the landscape
. . . . . and watch as the horizon disappears
. . . . . behind waves, mountains, glaciers.

Until I hear the wind screaming through
. . . . . the canyon and howling across the plain
. . . . . as it picks up packs of other sounds from
. . . . . wolves, ptarmigans, owls.

Until the yellow sun blazes into the cinders
. . . . . of night with white moonlit clouds showing
. . . . . the way across fields full of pricked ears
. . . . . waiting for the tiniest rustle of grasses.

Yes, ask me of my dream until I can tell you
. . . . . with all my being that my heart found
. . . . . temporary lodging there and that the earth
. . . . . and skies were comfortable and welcoming.

That my days and nights in those places added
. . . . . immeasurably to my soul and that I could
. . . . . only offer my appreciation as a small gift
. . . . . to the landscape in return.

*
*

The Birds Tonight / by Rebecca Valley

are asleep in the bushes,
happy to share their dusk.
You open your body to show them where you are bleeding,
but they don’t have a song for that.

In this heat
you can finger the seconds before dark.
Perhaps you are asleep again,

in the back room of the church
where if you knock a body will always appear
on the other side of the door. In this room,
the women have fallen asleep on their knees

with their hands clasped together.
You nestle yourself between the bodies of two mothers
with their heads in their hands and their mouths half open
dreaming gravity will drip their words out.

Tonight,
the birds are one voice,
a dozen dozing instruments.

In their sleep, the women are animals.
They use their whole bodies for song.

*
*

May Day  / by Christine Aikens Wolfe

May the first is International Worker’s Day,
aka the feast of St. Joseph in some circles.

Here in Pittsburgh, it’s complicated:
the Pittsburgh Marathon begins at 7:00

a light rain is predicted, and runners
from Kenya and Ethiopia end up garnering

1st and 2nd places for the long race and the half-race,
for men and for women too.

Second place finishers in the full marathon
for men and for women, are a married couple.

It’s also graduation ceremonies – University of Pittsburgh,
a school with 30 – 40 thousand students. Add in parents.

The Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team has a midday game
at 2:00 in the beautiful PNC Park

and my grandsons, ages 2 & 4 arrive with their parents,
who will leave the boys with both sets of grandparents

for 3 days while they (our daughter/their son) jaunt to the Apple
for 10th year anniversary extravagances.

I miss 2 obligations in the sun & rain filled day:
my first poem for Tupelo’s 30 – 30

and my promise to walk in the suburbs (I’m a city dweller)
with like-minded members of the Thomas Merton Center

to demonstrate our solidarity with our Muslim neighbors.
I’ve been to one counter hate dinner, so I

toss upward the psychic reassurance that I meant to come,
but traffic flow and the day got too complicated. Next time.

 

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