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 seven volunteers for May 2015 are Kate Fadick, Sarah Kai Neal, Ellie Slaughter, Elizabeth Twiddy, Allyson Whipple, Nancy White, and m.nicole.r.wildhood. Read their full bios by clicking here.
Please follow their work (by clicking “Follow” on the bottom of the page), and feel free to acknowledge their generosity and creativity with a show of your admiration and support by donating on their behalf to Tupelo Press. (Click here to donate, scroll down to the form at the bottom, and put a contributor’s name in the “honor” field.) Just imagine what a challenge it is to write 30 new poems in 30 days!
If you’d like to volunteer for a 30/30 Project month, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your offer, a brief bio, and three sample poems and warm up your pen!
Day 27 / Poems 27
My work of art / by Kate Fadick
for Sarah, Elizabeth, Allyson, Nancy & Nicole
………………and after Jean Valentine
a moleskin journal
black lined soft
and a fountain pen
leaves the shapes
of prayer on page
and stuck in the middle
Du Dunkelheit, aus der ich stamme
You, darkness, of whom I am born
I love you more than the flame
that limits the world
to the circle that it illumines
and excludes all the rest.
But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations—just as they are.
It lets me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.
I believe in the night.
then the drawings
a wing in a bottle
glass on the table
one severed limb of star matter
a monsoon-blue tarp
hands making shadow-wings
on the wall and then
you Hildegard . . . you
poet of caritas burning
presence in the night
How to be silent / by Sarah Kai Neal
Spread food on plate so it covers all the space.
Knife food into tiny pieces. Chew slowly
or do not chew at all. Drink. Drink a lot.
Sleep in comma shape. Sleep often.
Sleep in day. Count. Count calories,
count ribs. Shrink. Shrink yourself:
make muscles wither like an old
birthday balloon till you’re
feeding on your own
heart and world
when you stand
This Poem Contains Multitudes / by Elizabeth Twiddy
Do I contradict myself? Very well then; I contradict myself. —Our Father, Walt
for Kate, Sarah, Allyson, Nancy, & Megan
This poem is stuffed with All Things May:
The things we’ve said; the things we’ll say.
This poem keeps looking for the open door;
It doesn’t care if it’s a string of non sequiturs.
It’s got Hildegard’s flame and Hildegard’s flask
For mixing up alchemy, all made of glass.
It’s a thing blown at the edge of the bent world
Where peonies rouse to life with a whirl.
In this poem there’s a lady who’d like to be a bird
Who dreams regularly of a whole tree world.
She sometimes feels useless as a wing in a bottle
And wants to parachute away, leaving this hustle bustle.
There’s an adulterous woman with a dog-
Chewed wedding band, tired of sex odes.
She’s no Cary Grant but she takes her whiskey straight;
Her romance novels and dull transgressions won’t wait.
Ah, and then there’s one whose You fucked
A friend near a lighthouse. Tsk, tsk. A plum
Sits under lamp light. Grass carves circles in the sand
And she knows you won’t make it. You’re no big bang.
And finally, our star of stars, the one whose heart
Is made of thunderstorms: the annotated storm
Of all that will never be said. She is helixing in desire
Over here, to be there. What is the first thing about a lie?
This poem’s house is held together with an ever-
Expanding constellation of nails. Very clever.
Love for a Damn Good Reason / by Nancy White
for Samantha Moulton
Her flame feeds the hungry smoke.
She’s green wind through the kitchen
(but she readily admits it).
My leopard-print love, all zebra-zag gallop,
the stone wasn’t black and there was no valley, but
we went anyway to save the future
from the past. After everything
else, it was almost too easy. Wild forsythia,
daffodils, boughten yellow roses on the sill:
acting like harmony’s the only answer.
She’s cooking in high heels, a cold Sam
Adams on the counter, keeps the kettle
rattling on the stove, like it’s up to us
to feed elk and whale and finches.
Just last week I made her mad, said her
shoes looked like espadrilles. Something
else happened that surprised us,
but then it all made sense.
The House is No Longer Heritable / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
every single day,
but on the married days,
what will break down with me
on this slim but burnished mantle
of the task of fruit
nourish or banish
forever (the) question
hanging on the ersatz balance
we chisel our young to trust
so again I ask, every single day,
what will break down, out
of the parenthetically ensconced, to me?
Day 26 / Poems 26
what does not change / by Kate Fadick
after Elizabeth Twiddy #24
in the kitchen
while the sun
turns red and
stars break through light
on the table
a hasty poem worries
blues and greens
of a majolica bowl
found at the edge
and the first berries
ripen in the coming
Bird dream / by Sarah Kai Neal
I was surrounded by wrong-colored cliffs and experienced a sunset every 90 minutes. A hummingbird picked at me with his long beak. Each time he touched me it made a hole. It threatened my face. I parachuted away. Either I was really sick or sad, because someone gave me a huge cake. I was worried about my breath, looking for a plant that would in ten years grow to be my wife. There was a small box that had a bird egg collection from my childhood. I made myself very small and tried to burrow into the ground. I was burying myself alive. We locked all the doors and windows because awful bats that could suck out all our feelings were trying to get in. I was dancing to a beautiful waltz. I was graceful. It was warm and touchy. I was going to jump down into a box of water. I was a bird that birds love. I saw outside the storm brought birds and animals made out of ice. I lit a match and tried to melt them. I saw a sweet ice puppy and tried to melt it. It liked it.
Tea / by Elizabeth Twiddy
A line of light at sunset
marks the coming dark
as I pour water for tea.
Thank you, you say to me.
You can still see spaces
between leaves in the trees,
between blooms of clouds.
I think of what
we cannot see, like
the molecules of oxygen
Soon, though the tea
is still warm in our cups,
it’s grown dark.
We look out
to see the lighted windows
of all that is not said.
What I Wish I’d Realized Before Having an Affair / by Allyson Whipple
If you’ve never had one, you get a skewed view,
because everyone talks about the boredom of marriage,
but nobody writes poems about a dull transgression.
All the verse about lonely nights waiting for telephone
calls, moonlight vigils for lovers who might not show,
romance hyperbolized as madness, driving paramours
to fantasies of lives that can never exist, to distraction.
All these odes to the sex that makes the madness
worthwhile. But how do you sustain passion when his kids
are sick, when he suddenly cares about getting
caught, when he lays down one rule after another? (Text
messages only between the hours of 8 and 5, never
on weekends, no phone calls please.) So much between
us, but nothing as consuming or symbolic as an ocean.
Rather, a dingy puddle too wide to jump, filled
with sludge that will stain your shoes. When you’re trying
to remember all those rules, you’ll find it easy to forget
the spark, the waning fire. Nobody makes movies
in which the Empire State Building is just a tourist
trap. But I’m no Cary Grant. I can’t wait on some roof,
in some bedroom. Patience makes you virtuous
because it kills your libido. You can write about your affairs
and be unrepentant, as long as you entertain. You can write
about your affairs and repent, as any good woman should.
But don’t get bored. If you do, don’t dare put it down.
The Unhelpful Poem Speaks Up / by Nancy White
for Kate, Nicole, Sarah, Elizabeth, & Allyson
Call me unfinished or
give me an order, just hustle.
Snap the heads of the peonies!
Let the sun break the table!
Of course the cliffs are the wrong color,
darling. And your unrepentant eyes?
When we got married, you and I,
kite tails twirled and ants scurried off
with their eggs held aloft, and in spite
of our soft vows, a seething window
intentionally pained us. Sometimes we couldn’t
cross that space, the lovely shoulders
of our lies. Are you still full of bones?
Or snow? What kind of river are you?
Iconoclast / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
My eyes have a mind of their own.
This did not help with mom’s infrared anger.
Or ever come to aid in the double exposure that is conversation.
But the road widens.
But be on guard. It may tell you to run.
It is far easier than you know to be no one.
Some would rather thread a needle with a camel.
The fences are mirrors. Link.
Everybody knows what before means.
Nexus. Some in life are without a living.
Each new notch in the belt means another empty hole.
It’s that way with memoirs, too.
We all thought yours would be longer.
We did. Because.
Everybody knows what before means.
Day 25 / Poems 25
This morning in the garden /by Kate Fadick
Hildegard is held
in a shimmering flame
a whirl of peonies
roused to life
edges of a few petals
marked by fiery force
she gathers . . . puts
in the vase I bring
snapshot / by Sarah Kai Neal
she cant breathe because cat rubbed up against her .. the sound of rain
the backdrop to the sound of her sniffling over a plate of breakfast
lasagna .. smell of marinara in the air .. it’s mornings like this
mornings when she’s not supposed to be here .. but she is and you touch her
in the kitchen with her mother in the next room .. you touch her and the rain
falls around you .. and coffee in the mug so hot you can barely hold
is sweeter than usual and the blankets on the bed tangled from night
tell a story and the dogs are all near .. the old one whimpers and she whispers to her
it’s just rain it’s just rain I got you .. and no .. you weren’t just dreaming .. she’s real
as those roses out the window .. their bright stain despite the rain that greys everything
Storm Text / by Elizabeth Twiddy
In darkness, it rolled in: a loud hollow drum
on wheels. Bespotted, the last moths rose
from tree limbs and bushes. A twirl of bees
sailed off for elsewhere. From blank to blank,
the storm wrote down its water clock.
We deepened into our dream, as colors bled
into one another in a dampened paintbook:
in lamplight—all of you, shadow you—
our fingerbones touched, again. The dream storm
words said kites—bright kites, tails streaming.
The florist said, / by Allyson Whipple
Tulips will be out of season, very expensive. I said,
Peonies, then. Like the ones that bloomed
every spring of my childhood, the ones that perfumed
the house for weeks on end. My mother said, Ants
infest peonies. I said, Ants are industrious, they are a team, they work
for the good of the family. Now, I can’t remember
if anyone caught the bouquet, what became of those pink
flowers, the cream ribbon. Tonight, I dig a grave
for my wedding band at the foot of an agave,
a fire ant hill at close range. A year ago, I might have allowed
them to devour my skin like a peony petal. Tonight, I leave
them to their work, wonder what nature will do with tarnished metal.
Taking Five Friends to Provincetown / by Nancy White
I knew, walking with you toward the lighthouse,
Cold dry wands of grass carving circles in the sand
As the wind pushed them round and round to scribe circles,
That we wouldn’t make it. It was the weekend
You said yes, you’d move in.
We went ahead and did it.
You said, “Wouldn’t it be perfect
To live in O’Neill’s lighthouse for a year?”
I had never heard a worse idea.
It took a long, cold hour to walk there.
You wrapped around me in the dunes.
That night you fucked my friend while I
Was sleeping. I wrote poems about you
And you worked your way down a list of whoever,
Dipping yourself in every source that passed, gaining
Nothing. Your embrace convincing: wide, warm, snug.
For fifteen years the blue of the sky behind you beautiful.
Your heart like sand. I still have the picture.
We walked the beach. You thought you were
Rescuing a seal, ran shrilling toward it,
Which woke it from its peaceful slumber
And scared it, mad scrabble into the sea.
You wanted me to comfort you for your fear
And be impressed you ran ready to help—
I just thought you were stupid, obsessed
With rescuing what was doing fine
Until you came along. But when I wanted a photo
Of our humanness as light as the sea spray there,
Asked you to jump in the air while I crouched,
And clicked, you obliged, my most obliging friend.
I have it on my dresser: the opal water
Curled and rising behind you,
You with your fists in the air,
Feet splayed, coat flapping, airborne.
I didn’t take you for a long time,
But knew you’d sparkle in the waves,
Making the place wild and sweet again,
The sun, the sea, happy to be small
On the shore, digging a hole with a stick.
Why we have children at all:
If we’re lucky, we can look down through
A tall space of water still clean enough
And see our past down there at the bottom,
Once exactly as clean as you.
You said: This is after all the place settlers stopped,
Collected water, reconnoitered, then decided
No, we’ll move on. This is not enough.
Also the place they kept coming back to.
As I do, and you. Something here, something—
Ton as in Eschaton / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
I anticipate end with portcullistic frets
furied nerves that seem to only
become themselves in the minute-by-minute
rollcage of preemption
All else that is human seems perfectly nacelled off
out and away from the rest of the entropedic mess
that tideless excepts it
and does not know, besides the few bright clots
that bow too soon, what gift without woe is
They will say yes but not like in yesterday
And it will be before then that all this
all this that matters, all this in-one-place
mattering complexes against the window panes
a jaunt of haunt for most’s viewing pleasure
is a seething-softly gone for us undering the tow
Day 24 / Poems 24
In my dream Hildegard makes one final vow / by Kate Fadick
to lose all words
except the one
red leaf surrounded
by remnant green
the one that waits
to pull it to the ground
Useless / by Sarah Kai Neal
as a wing in a bottle .. I created nothing .. stared at a square
who failed .. I occupied space .. not-petting the dog .. just listening
to the fan .. second-hand-caress my skin .. the fan was not useless
nor was the birdcage’s emptiness
Still Life with Oranges and Hound / by Elizabeth Twiddy
A glass of water stands
on the table; telephone
wires cross the sky
on the other side
of the window. No sound;
no one at home, but the hound
in the corner, the rain
on the windowpane,
shadows of rain falling
on the bowl of oranges.
Rules for Drinking (if You’re a Woman) / by Allyson Whipple
“Of course I am not intimidated by men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.” —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Every woman in America has some sort of drinking problem.
Sources say men will be intimidated if you prefer gin
to vodka, red wine to white. They will be intimidated if you take
your whiskey straight, eschew salt and lime with your tequila shots.
But appletinis and chardonnay won’t get you any respect. Sources say
women don’t like beer, so people might be confused when you order
one, much less drink it. You’re a gold-digger if you prefer top shelf,
but an emasculating feminist if you pay your own tab. You’ll intimidate
men if you can hold your liquor, if you know when to stop. (Translation:
you’ll intimidate men if they can’t use alcohol to get you in bed.)
Of course, you won’t be respected if you’re a lightweight.
You’ll get thrown out if you punch the bartender who tried to kiss
you without permission. A bar is not designed to be anyone’s safe haven.
Nerve / by Nancy White
sometimes so angry at My Life
preparing to leave that the nerve
down the center so long
tuned to this one diagnosis aka My Life
which will soon turn inside out shuck me
ride on a train and leave an old skin
on the platform or in the stinking multisex
restroom or in the lot with the meter
expired so I pay it again and go
home the nerve goes numb and how
long will it take to grow back
from one severed limb of star
matter if that is that anything can
America, This is Your Nobody / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
My home is made of planks
covered by a monsoon-blue tarp
and the world is so big and is over so soon.
My school is a needy forest
under standing a web-footed bridge
and the seasons fall off it to their always untimely deaths.
My job is practicing holding my breath
while pointing at penitent birds
but I always let a few brighter ones slip by uncounted.
My heart is made up of thunderstorms
with holes so big you could put your whole head through
but most people don’t even lift theirs higher than an old sunset.
Day 23 / Poems 23
This is the poem made of glass / by Kate Fadick
blown at the edge
of the bent world
where Hildegard and I
lured by long nights
fed by a sweet name
we did not know
touched the rock
of stolen fire
she made herself stronger by fighting with the wind
–Frances Burnett, The Secret Garden / by Sarah Kai Neal
she opened the cage
the birds her fingers gripped (their clipped
wings .. (could not fly could not lift
to sky)) .. dug a hole with her fingers
on a sunday
her dress’s scalloped
dirt .. she buried
them all … covered them in dark weight she knew so
well now earth
with its mouth full
of bones is full
of songless .. she does not talk
to the baby she does not expand
even in her shiny shoes and sash-
cinched-waist so tight
she aches .. she walks
with a hole
in her aura you could shoot
an arrow through
the absence of blue
the place she buried
her sparrows .. unmarked
garden does not tell
I’m fine you
by my name
and I will answer
Summer / by Elizabeth Twiddy
the curtain, yellow
when you see
to a point: remember
pricks on the tongue,
Wet, Rapid / by Allyson Whipple
The dormant river now swells higher than my hips.
The current’s tendrils spiral down their path, trying
to lure walkers to new depths. My dog, who hates
rain, who hates baths, tugs at his leash, determined
to dive in. I tell him, no. I tell him, this river drowns.
I tell him, this is the kind of river women walk to after
filling their pockets with stones. But this dog never listens.
He pulls again. I dig my heels into the mud, drag
him back with all my fear and all my strength.
The Plum / by Nancy White
under the lamp the light
did you remember to grin? to ask?
five over seven was always the answer
(unless unless unless)
whenever you came I left
whenever you left I came
the lamp contained the seven the grind
turning down the long dirt road that curves
(she never knew we answered)
this radio finally on fire
Interpolation / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
Time is elimination unless
you’re the farrier of its flow.
I thought I was so close, too,
to the fine china of confidence
that I really started plotting a dinner
party. You were going to come
and maybe you were going to help host
because you were going to be
well, well on your way
to finally ferning out your
febrile fingers and gasping
at only things that are surprising,
well on your leptosomatic way
to broader pastures,
greener shoulders, lovelier lies
to me – dear God, don’t let him hear
that that is what I pray for –
and me on my way to needing you
Day 22 / Poems 22
Aubade / by Kate Fadick
first light pulls stars
back into itself
warblers’ first song
a lamentation taking
the shape of wings
sunrise cannot hold back
while Hildegard and I
have only a shared mirror
to hold such immense
Threatened is the holy / by Sarah Kai Neal
Tulips out of holes pressed
up against her dress
she kept digging … bloody
the heads smothered her with their jagged
lips she fought off
butterflies … the tangled tulips
bent over her body
she put soil in her hands to calm
herself hanging on
prayer she appeared
more and more blessed
Waken / by Elizabeth Twiddy
What is it about mouths
growing hungrier after
they’ve begun to suck
on one another? It’s as if
in their cold, they’d been
numbed to their need
for warmth—then all
at once in that red meeting,
I read a bunch of romance novels and all I got was this lousy disillusionment / by Allyson Whipple
Your bad boy doesn’t want to be reformed.
Your white knight won’t save you from yourself.
When he fucks you without consent, you will not learn to love him.
You can’t just keep your job in the background as a plot device.
Billionaire ranchers are sadly few and far between, even in Texas.
The most incompatible partner might be the best lay of your life.
When you reunite after 20 years, one of you will be disappointing in bed.
When he fucks you without consent, you will not magically enjoy yourself.
You will both want to stray; at least one of you will act on that desire.
The new old flame never shines as bright the second time around.
When he fucks you without consent you will hurt.
You cannot plot a relationship with a spreadsheet or a chart from English class.
Your spouse is not always the greatest sex of your life.
“Fate” and “fatal” share roots. Think about that.
When he fucks you without consent people will call it love, explain, make excuses.
When sexual tension finally resolves, there is a 50% chance you will be let down.
In fiction as in life, nobody gives a damn about consent.
Everyone sees when it’s over. Except you.
Learning to Drink / by Nancy White
Last summer I had enough time off so I
learned to drink which I had not done before besides
the obligatory glass of wine for dinner. I used to resent
the young, “Come on! Try one!” The refills when
I wasn’t empty. Tequila got me going, the one hard
booze I ever could bear, bloom-burn of the straight
shot, an hour later its sister to stoke the glow.
Easy. Who knew? Then the wry dignified fizz
of ginandtonic. I finally learned it wasn’t the limes I loved
but the uncoil, the sway to and fro, the high-sigh-fly-on-by
of strong stew. Uncle dead, great aunts toting the by-product
god-talk as they staggered back from the brink…Now I understand
the draw, and how a hand can freeze to the pump-handle.
When To Clear a Paper Jam / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
We’re on a walk past these trigged little lawn swatches, me and Bull – and let me just say that dogs can talk a mean, ammoniac slick around their subjects, especially traitors – and my small one, all fenugreek freckles and a memory you only hear about on the news.
She’s naming the flowers all the same primal sigh of awe. Bull barrel chests down the excursus of gravel lining the nice, paved sidewalk. I am already thinking about how to teach small one to purge – not nourishment, but its adversary:
the beauty yardsticks, scholastic pressures to produce sufficiently high data, and mostly,
ipecacic relationships. She’s not shown me she knows anything about any of this. For now, it’s all whole smiles and flower fawning while I strain hard against leash and fear.
Day 21 / Poems 21
Where she is most stubbornly herself / by Kate Fadick
wash rags and frying eggs
fathoms and final drafts
an unfinished map
hash marks of a mountain
a rift valley
quiet of a house
running a bath falling
asleep and dreaming
where the tremor
Note: cento from SOUNDINGS: the story
of the remarkable woman who mapped
the ocean floor (page 6) ~Hali Felt
a good poem is not an elevator / by Sarah Kai Neal
when you’re inbetween places
you have to work a little : moving isn’t magic if done properly
it will humble you .. on an ecosystem of steps
you have to trust .. one thing will lend to the next it will
take you .. on your muscles .. a little closer
to the moon
Animal / by Elizabeth Twiddy
Think of an orange, sliced
in half: the bright, wet
jewels, like raindrops—
the air sprayed with juice
smelling of sunlight, if you
could smell the sun. Then think
of rain falling on all
the animals: see the animals
furry, wet, full
of desire, with their own
eyes, looking around and hungry,
wanting, always hunting, in need
of fire, in search of
that elusive food, love.
Breakfast Routine / by Allyson Whipple
My paring knife makes the first cut
into the ochre skin. His pupils already dilated.
Three more swipes of the blade and then I peel
to reveal flesh, soft like ice cream. Juice drips
on the table. He salivates, body shaking,
always a predator, though he’s never laid
a tooth on me. Maybe this will be the moment
he snaps, becomes feral, all because of a piece
of mango, which I feed myself first,
let him sit on the kitchen floor, look
up. He doesn’t whine, but his expression
is the same as when a squirrel invades
the yard, and he must give chase.
I save him the last slice, reward his patience,
let him lick the juice from my fingers.
Play / by Nancy White
for my sister
long walk in the grass up to our chins
a landscape of grownups like boulders
by a small spark-tossing
fire we lay looking up up
those stars unnumberable
world beyond world
shrunken to humming and the sweet
smell of hay the swing the fort
heat and dust and bent fender
gathered stirred pounded down into
time spent looking for the right
rock to fill the hole in the dam
How to Clear a Paper Jam / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
I am so weary of doing your waking for you.
If only we hadn’t bothered to make so emphatically much
of swimming in the lake that sprouted
that entire neighborhood right exactly there
where we met. If only that, then I could walk
my own life, have the option of disregarding
the rosy-towed mismatches in mistakes. Could catch
the cabs I hail for myself, actually.
But also, if you ever hear me, I want, really want,
am helixing in desire over here, to be there,
for all ways not as another cog in your machine
or to turn you into one, but to arrest the system before you break.
Day 20 / Poems 20
Blasphemy or Elegance: An Assay / by Kate Fadick
a stained glass window fills
with light the child runs
to touch green then blue
then yellow then laughs
I have a golden hand
a mind alive one moment
dark the next the woman
repeats the three green
blue yellow then takes pen
in hand writes a single
sentence and recites
from memory green…
Time capsule / by Sarah Kai Neal
Everything is for my eyes .. everything right now is a shade of green . except the sky
and you in my mind . even the pond is green with its moss cloak .. I want
to cloak you .. want to be the only in your thoughts .. a color you breathe towards . I hope
I get to buy your ring a necklace when your fingers thin from age . we will still
be making love . we will look back at now .. when I am wanting . to scratch the back of your body
which is miles away . the river will reach out and swallow our house one day . it is my hope
we have moved a little closer to the moon .. it’s so easy to love you . like how in 7 hours
it will storm and there is nothing to prepare .. the sky caters everything . I am ready
for shelter . your body at night . where I write on walls with my finger . is a soft batless cave
Believe / by Elizabeth Twiddy
I believe in hands making shadow-wings on the wall, moving and staying with terrible speed, more than I believe in those damp spirits some call angels; I believe in marionettes, their strings, and the Xs at their tops, moved by fluttering hands—and the clouds cast over them under spotlights on the stage. I believe my Demon is still settling.
Eavesdropper #1 / by Allyson Whipple
Blue Dahlia Café, Austin, Texas, May 2015
Oh, is that Nutella?
That’s how you do it.
She doesn’t call on Friday.
She doesn’t call on Saturday.
She doesn’t call on Sunday.
So I just ate a whole jar of Nutella.
She’s always got—
She’s just so controlling.
I know if I don’t see Brandon—
Wondering what’s happening—
All this anxiety—
Every single time—
An hour later, my stomach was like…
Last week on Monday,
me and John were having a thing.
And my friend Jamie—
And the Austin Police—
I think I’m going to get the sausage.
The Porch / by Nancy White
Who was that on the porch last night?
Who in the dark put up a hand to knock?
Who stood inside waiting but you?
Who had lured the kids to bed against their small but mighty wills?
Was there anyone on the porch besides wind?
Who still remembers building the porch?
Who put up the railing for safety if it wasn’t you?
Who will get the kids up and fed and off to school tomorrow?
Who is listening to the porch creak?
Who could knock but doesn’t?
Who can forget the children asleep with their arms out-flung?
Who could you be if not yourself waiting?
Amicus Curiae / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
We are at the plenary fair after the fire,
remember, and all that bounceback
from your maroon of a soul
almost brought to the same set of moments we
remember. And all that bounceback
could not re-move us, though it
almost brought to the same set of moments we
knew a distend too bright to be song.
Could not remove us, though it
looked like it felt like, could you say?
Knew a distend too bright to be song,
did you know it
looked like it felt like, could you say
we are at the plenary fair after the fire,
did you know it,
from your maroon of a soul?
Day 19 / Poems 19
Tonight I want Hildegard’s words / by Kate Fadick
after Maria Tsvetaeva
on the page
through my pen
for my song
it does not matter
some dress / by Sarah Kai Neal
let’s leave this .. hustle bustle . there’s a whole . tree world
out there .. concerned with birds . let’s become more wind-sensitive . so night
feels new again . surrounds us with its moving
dark air .. because humans here are beyond me . they tied a get well soon
balloon to the leg of a road’s dead deer .. I would rather not
have that echo .. I would rather bathe
with a consentual bird .. chirping as I lather her feathers . of course she’d be bright
and blue . of course they’d call me mad . but how could I care
with thrush in my palm .. singing .. as though I were Cinderella
as though the dress she could sew .. would save me from this place
Funny Poem / by Elizabeth Twiddy
—worries it’s not funny. It stands
in the corner with its red nose.
It plays its tricep solo. Blowing
on pinwheels to make them spin,
it turns cartwheels—anything
to entertain you. A little desperate
in its clown suit, it peeks at you
Stove Meditation / by Allyson Whipple
Breakfast was made for partnerships:
eggs and bacon, biscuits and gravy, mimosas and coffee.
These days I cook for myself
with ideas bigger than eyes or stomach.
I want my kitchen filled with memory:
my cold-weather roots; my comfort food.
I want my kitchen filled with geography:
my new southern loves; tastes of places I haven’t yet visited.
I am prone to experiments, to blown budgets,
to inedible mistakes, to mountains of leftovers.
So that I might avoid being wasteful,
the dog ends up spoiled by my excess.
Sharpshooter / by Nancy White
The name is like a scab
crusted, thickened, turned black
and grown tough and been knocked
to the tabletop. Let it lie there.
The maid will clear it away.
Last week the name, uninvited guest,
was directed to the back door, fed
last night’s scraps on the stoop,
and with a sharp kick sent off down
the road in its dirty stolen shoes.
It uses any means, all underhand,
like a shoplifter or a slug
in the garden. I will put out
a dish of beer so the name can
crawl in and drown, lay
ground glass all around the tender
lettuces so the name will shred
its belly. I’ll wait in the dark
and when the name lifts
its sinister paw over the sill
I’ll raise the barrel and blast
a hole into the center
of the name right
through its vowel, right
where it asks for it,
send that bullet
right where it belongs.
Collideascope / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
the encaustic sky was propped open
…………….did it think itself the only one in love with you
for the annotated storm of all that would never be said
…………….for time in at least the illuded-forward direction
did it not know how only so little long I loved with you
…………….without expecting to have to go back over all this
with a stonewalled smile in the dark did it not just get so much
…………….darker now after you and before I can find
that moustache of warmness or wind to yell into
…………….or yet the dawn in a closing sky,
the eyeshadow of the apocalypse
Day 18 / Poems 18
Sunday afternoon at the fair trade market / by Kate Fadick
a cloth bag . . . purple
earth browns orange
and greens . . . . . blues
spiral of sun at its center
just right for a notebook .. pens
two slim volumes . . . . I ask
the vendor about the artist
where she lives
May 1-17, 2015
115 earthquakes in Nepal
Dreams I wish for . . . versus . . . What dreams did come: the after-effect / by Sarah Kai Neal
Ferris wheel of pink cotton-candy held together
by candy-cane gears I lick as I rotate by
Unpeel myself from wet sheets
Fun house filled with popsicle slides and a baby penguin in a red bow tie
Strip off sticky shirt
Murmurating above an ocean of waving sting rays
Was just a dream I try to forget
Glowing lanterns float through a glittering sky
5 gauge needle threaded through my tonsil
Mossy labryinth leads to a glass of lemonade and my departed dog
Bubbleologist blowing bubbles all around me in the garden
Asked and asked for help
Bubbles stick to the wing
of a butterfly who giggles
No one will save me
I eat a never-ending blue apple
Bitten by rattlesnake
I ride the back of a purple platosaurus
I am dying/you insist we shop
Snail tells me God’s secrets I wear
her on a necklace
No one listens
Parachuting turtles at sunset
Poison spreads through my tick-tock body
I grow waterfall hair
Murderous men, sharp objects
stab my skull
I turn cloud into a sandwich
I fight to live
I lift a stone and find my baby
They cut off her wings
Loud Poem / by Elizabeth Twiddy
This poem would run around
crashing cymbals if it could.
I’m in love with you, it says.
This poem has no subtlety.
we clinked imaginary glasses?
It has no imagination.
But it tells the truth.
Baking Scars / by Allyson Whipple
I barely feel these slivers
of singed flesh up and down
my forearms. Don’t bother
anymore with ice or ointment.
Mosquito bite more of a nuisance
than bumping up against the oven rack,
getting nipped by heat.
Too damn hot half the year
for baking. Why’s she at it again,
making the air conditioning work
harder, dirtying all those dishes,
dusting all those counters in flour?
My first year of marriage, I decided
I could be a good wife without conversion.
Prove my fidelity in the kitchen, learning
the braid of challah, developing
fidelity to bread, to entwining yeast
and gluten, uniting sugar and salt.
The dog chewed up my woven silver
wedding band when he wasn’t begging
for scraps. I should have known.
I kneaded out my frustrations,
cured them in the oven,
and in my moments of distraction
began acquiring these little tattoos.
Superficial. Every summer, the sun
bleaches them away. I’ve lost
more than I’ll ever remember.
But dough rises. The timer beeps.
Another loaf. Another potential accident.
Jot / by Nancy White
o love my iamb
my less than all of eye
my newt and lash of lamb
I see you bob in the stuck
drop of dew and cling
to the blade as one black
egg in that brief pearl
of sea to fall to hatch to hear
the roar of world
you are no
big deal in the scope of things no big
bang or black hole
nor am I but we have done
O K so had I a boat would take two
sure I’d say come on
The Entourage Effect / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
What is the first thing about a lie?
Because of taint and slant,
I only know that the second thing
is dentral heart thumps
and a stomach that’s buoyant as a brick
because the third thing is either a smooth
movealong or a sentencing
even if the fourth thing
is an unwieldingly superb rationale
and the fifth, a strong band of likely corroboration
and the sixth, because of the fourth
and maybe the first – I wouldn’t know –
due but not forthcoming sympathy
because maybe the seventh is that your dog
or your dream just died
and you won’t be afforded time and pace
for a proper burial, which has nothing whatever
to do with number one or any other,
and numbers eight, nine and ten
are just as forthcoming as the grave.
Day 17 / Poems 17
When Hildegard grieves / by Kate Fadick
where are words
to become flesh
ache that grasps
for wild holiness
of a seed lands
on her head
from an asperges
in some forgotten
another on the page
as if to stop
Another poem about trees / by Sarah Kai Neal
if every time tree/dropped leaf/she made a wish/then the red pile at her feet/would represent her hope for tomorrow/and you/burying yourself inside the pile/now have her hope stuck in your hair/but what does she wish for/ you ask the leaves
she wishes for little birds
to live /wishes to catch
each squirrel/ wishes for courage
at night when the tree drops a leaf/she is really asking/will you consider me, God
Narcissistic Poem / by Elizabeth Twiddy
It is a very proud creature.
It is not beloved. It is
excluded by the inclusive.
It can’t stand the thought
that no one has a crush
on it. It is O, so
proprietary. It goes
in search of its fellow
animal: the one
with the human horn.
Landay for People Who Need My Address / by Allyson Whipple
“So, like, your street’s named after beer? Ha!”
Sigh. Again. “No, the Spanish word for crown. Corona.”
I Talk About You When I Shouldn’t / by Nancy White
I say your name casually as if you were a movie star,
tell the story of the opera singer coming on to you,
dipping her finger into your red wine to show
how to make the crystal sing. I tell about when you
swam naked in the cave near Olympus where the shrine
(you claimed) had gathered offerings for thousands
of years and two old women came along but you
were so fucking charming they didn’t run away but
lingered conversing at the lip of the pool. At Pamplona
that day there were no bulls but! A stray dog you
felt sorry for and bought him a steak, I tell about that,
meeting you in stories, though the ugly me at the end
wears thin and tears. What about the one where we blew up
the quarry, what the engine did after we rebuilt it,
how when you saw me coming you’d light up like
a street all at once when it’s fighting off the dark?
On The Market / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
They’ve dressed you up so unrecognizably pretty,
taken a full cast of narcoleptically glossy pictures and sent them
– the realtor’s website upon which each dutifully presents and then ebbs
into the next against pleasant ballroom tunes, anyway – to me, less for me
to approve and more for me to send you off into new hands with,
and are now, even now, changing silver cabinet knobs for gold ones
and polishing the new contours of the backyard
– I have pictures of the first time “we” did that,
with our epileptically yellow and red and blue plastic
shovels and pales meant for the beach –
and translating low white walls to Colorado-red bricks to decrease
the kid-cleanup quotient. The runway of your owner’s warnings of this parting
has been two years long. Christmas past is probably really actually going to be my last
time I will slumber in your chest, eat in your belly,
put into your volleyed heights labored but committed efforts at the piano
– the only chunk of you I will get to quarry off for myself but have no room for
until I, too, someday acquire one of you to sleep and dine and music in,
though I cannot fathom I will ever be the very first to have my being
– or indelibly print my seven-year-old hand, splayed like a peacock’s tail,
into still-drying basement cement next to two progressively smaller
but similarly splayed hands – in one of you again. (And really, I don’t
want another one anyway.) To be honest, I kind of prefer the decorations
wrought by those little hands on your white halls and, come to think of it,
the ungussied, scrappy pictures of you – skeleton, pre-mask – the ones
just as you were being born.
Day 16 / Poems 16
In my dream I hear Hildegard’s voice / by Kate Fadick
in a hungry sky
with no grammar
wind that carries
the stuff of stars
honey for old wounds
that girl was not okay / by Sarah Kai Neal
coffee in morning . prepares me .. for what .. will come
for what .. I’ll create . when I sit .. cross-legged . I see marks
on my legs .. where I wrote my skin .. into rows of blood . was a sin
to feel .. was a choice . between one kind of pain
and another . thank god . i’ve outgrown . that kind
of writing . now . I must always remember . who I was for a time . now
I choose a different kind
Time / by Elizabeth Twiddy
time to walk the dog; time
to go out into the hood of neighbors
where the gardens now are sunlit
where later they will be hooded with stars;
for now though the book of faces
is open; each human face amazes
me: each changes, minutely, moment
by moment; each betrays its
true feeling, each face floating
above its yard, its little patch
of sidewalk—hooded in neighbors
soon to be hooded in stars
Lady Sasquatch / by Allyson Whipple
Do you think I stomp through the forest
with my shaggy, matted hair, eat men like air?
Too close to cannibalism for comfort.
Your interest in me was flattering once
upon a time, but now your expeditions
are a nuisance, and I’ve realized
I’m just some cryptozoology fetish.
You’re turning me into an object,
ugly as you think I am—you want me
available to ogle, harass, perhaps even own.
Give up hope all you who enter
my forest, drunk on adventure
and later on beer, give up
All those purported tracks are fake.
Bet you never thought a hulking woman
could be so full of grace.
Oh, but I am. So light, you’ll never know I’m there.
I’m a hirsute lady of the night.
When you sleep, I’ll eye your joke
of a campsite. Laugh. Leave no trace.
Ridge / by Nancy White
Barely six o’clock midsummer,
three in spring or fall,
one-thirty on the winter solstice,
the high ridge shuts out the light.
That’s a lot of night. The ridge
like an angry widower’s arm
or the long black snake that waits
between rows in the garden
to set a girl’s heart hammering.
She has to rush picking the beans
as soon as the bushes dry to get
the big basket back to the kitchen
for canning before the cool
hand of shadow creeps
across her back itching
to push her face-down
and keep her there in the empty
dark forever. Back
at the table snapping stems
and peeling out the strings
she’s safe like other girls
but here she bends unprotected.
There is always something coming.
Once she asked her dad are we poor?
What moved in his eyes falling
and dissolving said it was bad
to ask the question. But is there
enough or isn’t there? Why won’t
someone name what it seems
they live on the edge of?
Construction Site / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
We’ll have to pause at this one, too,
so my engineer spouse can thoroughly relish
in foundation, mechanized Caterpillars
conveyor-belting the crisp-new pavement,
careful to clear the patches still drying,
spindly skeletal reach to support
the full and coming glory of many, stacked offices.
Enormous steel Xs, he delights,
will ward off earthquakes
and the rebar will lovingly assure
the edifice of its collecting height.
He is swooned by the existing façade
left in place to be permanently unioned
to the new structure slowly filling out the gouge
behind it, a sucker for sandpaper and sealants,
ever a ravenous and enthusiastic fan
at each and every building-making game we pass
on our carless commutes to the disparate bits
of our lives kept about our chosen city.
I, too, have potential stature, I want to say
as he strains for every last detail against the chainlink.
I may not be reinforced against seismic heaves,
but I have an timeworn fascia also,
I whisper in my soul.
I’ll never be as useful as an office tower,
and I don’t have nearly as many people working on me,
but there is a plunging hole at the center
of my being, too.
Day 15 / Poems 15
Yearning: An Assay / by Kate Fadick
the blackberries bloom
white sweet symmetry
thick along the edge
of the cemetery
where the red fox
his steps deliberate
stalks the light breath of wind
that scatters the song
we both hear
A lovely souvenir / by Sarah Kai Neal
I woke up today .. remembering my self .. I am an ocean
who remembers her self each day .. on a different shore
she says .. I am here .. I will shape you into a smooth pile .. here
is a starfish I made .. you can put on a shelf to remind you
of the noises I make .. remind you of the way I made you feel
breathing through the hall of your ears .. when I leave sand
in all the places .. I am hard to forget .. I am your vast blue
lover .. I pass through you at any given time .. I never forget
the moon like you never forget to breathe but I can get angry
for no particular reason .. and the wind smells like me
Lantern Ghost Face: Tomomi / by Elizabeth Twiddy
you dressed me
in a kimono: tightened
the broad cloth sash
poured steaming water
from your teapot
earth tea mother
green water mother
of lanterns, of stones
here from Japan
you bow to me
you’re a lantern afloat
you’re a moon of green
set out on your boat
down the dark river
a twirl of air——
Cheer Up. Shut Up. / by Nancy White
Is this why I was born and live
To wash this pot and watch the rain
And park the truck and lean so tired that someone
Says god cheer up it’s not so bad and I tell them
To shut up but only in my head because
Their kids and my kids are in the same 4-H
Is this what I’ll add up to just a haymow
With last year’s leftover hay and I’m
Not strong enough to lug it out not tall enough
To reach the ones in the back without crawling
Over the pile to the shadow along the wall where
I found our old pinwheel only a little bent
It still goes round almost freely I remember you
Blowing it till the tiny hub squealed and the flags
Of its body made a whirbuzz like a plane in the sky
You’re the one who got away who knew
To run you always hid best of anyone in the barn
How to use the trapdoors your trick and you leapt
Fearless out the open loft and kept on running
Cunctation / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
we are at the table
me and my belligerent pharmaceuticals
they lined them up,
have since that time at the lake,
my tricycle and candy-stealing days,
and I have not learned how,
not at all how
to say goodbye
I had assumed it was a bit like a bird,
this lovely one of hunger
with timpani chest, palms splurging on sweat,
standing to the great overdressed crowd
list off my appreciations over you like ticker tape
but now as we are here together,
staid, raw white,
the plan all along, I see, has been the same
one of parents,
to leave you in the world
but for what I hope is the opposite reason:
you are just simply not careful enough
in choosing what you love
Day 14 / Poems 14
Hildegard heals the woman
………………………with a cloud over her eyes / by Kate Fadick
after Elizabeth Twiddy
a crumb of bread
sap of rue
pure liquid honey
a gentle poultice
for the long night
while the bees rest
The weight of elephants / by Sarah Kai Neal
I could see you watch me
in the corner of my eye with Diet Coke
in one hand .. sparkler in other
I couldn’t tell you .. I lied
my expression as they introduced
elephants .. each one .. holding on
to the tail of the one before .. walked circles
again and again .. circles across country
the elephant eyes lacked spark spark
that says I’m alive their long lashes framed .. what audience
chose not to see— .. years of captivity years of training .. how it
like a cloud .. blocked light in their eyes no longer
I couldn’t tell you .. when you showed me tickets the fourth year .. I hid
my sadness like the elephants who balanced
on their hinds .. all that weight to bring their audience
joy .. when all they wanted .. was a field
large enough to hold them .. a field
large enough to cry
Too Much Talk / by Elizabeth Twiddy
You talk too much
Their guests sat
at either end
of the table.
the woman passed
When it was time
for the main meal,
to procure it
from the kitchen.
with a platter
of windup teeth
their best china.
Space / by Nancy White
I was a small
existentialist in the dim
1920’s school hall
far-away ceiling and echo-stair
the drinking fountain
thought how do I know
anyone else is out there (really)
past that door the supposed
kindergarten and here the first
grade and our teacher
like a toad behind her desk
my father taught me
to count one to ten then
what next? to twenty
then what? to a hundred
and then? and then?
one thousand ten
thousand hundred one million
when does it stop I said
it doesn’t said he
he taught infinity its
impossibility as definite
as this hall so full
of space and silence
with a question mark of water
I brought the sparrow
warm and broken an open eye
still shiny he couldn’t lie
solid and warm in his chair
and the void’s been there ever
since when I needed it
the positioning of the
likeness of George Washington
in a water closet / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
the night my best friend drank the hell into
was also the one there will never be an ovation for
because it may go on forever it may go on forever it
may not dawn forever it may not don whatever
it wants; I hate that my life includes phrases like
‘it’s that time of year again’ – which folks have been
saying sooner and sooner each year – or ‘hey, remember when
Sam was alive?’ ‘Remember when Sam was alive?’ ‘When Sam was alive’
at this time of year any year we walk fugues into
the leaves and she leafs through each precatory day
the way I churn each page, churn each page, churny space
you’re neat in space – I’d know that flail anywhere.
all I had was the kindness of words between us and
between us and where she is now, in the gone, but
I will not stop saying them, I will sop and say them for
her for love for love is a wound tourniquet of parching requiem.
Day 13 / Poems 13
Now: An Assay / by Kate Fadick
for the taking
free at the end of the street
next to a wooden chair
at once empty
and full open
uncertainty in the cluster
God will ask / by Sarah Kai Neal
did you climb and speak
to trees did you
go high did you break
and bleed cry and sweat
for all the trying did you
give birth did you
stay up late with
question did you know
loneliness did you touch the world
without gloves did you probe
with your tongue did you
build did you find home
did you let warmth
hold you did you dance
did you open
windows did you let
them see you did you
love her so much did you
call out for god did you die
and die again did you squint
for all the light did you sing
with closed eyes did you
learn how to let go did you
study the space between
the branches did you taste
a different part of the world
did you let yourself melt
in someone’s arms did you
read did you know the birds
did you not waste even a feather
did you drink did you remember
your body did you push back
did you open in the light did you
speak when words could comfort
did you listen in the silence
did you stand for those unable to did you let
others stand for you did you know
the feeling of long hair did you
ever feel safe in the current did you learn
metaphor did you write did you
wrinkle did you listen did you give
did you realize did you bend
The Bees / by Elizabeth Twiddy
after Jean Valentine
The bees at midnight,
with black eyes,
with heavy bodies,
with short lives,
and me, watching in my mind,
and depression’s wet coat
its cold mouth
pressing on my eyes.
Adventures in Good Music / by Allyson Whipple
Drive through 480’s infinite construction,
daughter whining about being late,
only calm when she hears the introduction
to her favorite radio production,
Beethoven the only sound to sate
her as she frets through the construction.
Each orange barrel an obstruction
on the trip. How can a child hate
tardiness so much? What was her introduction
to this militance? Just appreciate reduction
of her fretting as the regal weight
of Haas’ voice cuts through the construction.
Exit freeway, taxpayer-funded destruction
that’s never done. You’re almost there. You hate
to disappoint, though every child needs an introduction
to bad commutes, to adulthood abduction
of time and space. American dreamer’s fate.
For now, be glad you’re free of construction.
Enjoy music, postpone harsh introductions.
Instructions to Students / by Nancy White
for the class of 2015
Use scissors to disentangle the exam question,
then arrange the pieces in a controversial
shape on the answer sheet. Do not sniff the glue.
You need a clear mind for the essay question.
This one requires a scalpel, a starfish, a tank of oxygen
and two skinnydippers. Hide the starfish where
the professor won’t be able to find it, someplace
obvious, but first cut off one of its limbs, which the starfish
notoriously will regenerate. Give the teacher an apple
but warn him that to eat it will result in an excess
of knowledge and suffering. Make sure the apple
is irresistible., succulent with vice and juice. Open
your mail noisily during the interminable lecture
and toward the end leap up shrieking I WON! I WON!
Embrace the members of the class, your startled
instructor, and declare you still plan to continue
your education even though you’ve been awarded
17 million from Publisher’s Clearing House which,
you announce, is because you love learning for
its own sake, especially now that you are rich.
Day 12 / Poems 12
When Hildegard loves a woman / by Kate Fadick
the tiniest daphnia
swim in deep waters
and a raven
carries the last drop of blue
Van Gogh will scatter over wheat
Change what happened: / by Sarah Kai Neal
smell. Rewind clock.
Give cat a cat-
friend. Fill room
Pillow corners &
hard surfaces. Thread
candle through fist
and turn her face away.
The moon’s never safe
so she faces
the sun with closed eyes
the warmth is cloaking her.
Night & Day / by Elizabeth Twiddy
Sunrise breaks on the horizon:
a line of eggshell light.
You watch me sleep: you see
my eyelashes move as I dream.
Pith / by Allyson Whipple
How you’d capture every lemon
quarter gracing the rim of a restaurant
water glass, how you’d bite into that yellow
meat, suck the juice down, gnaw the flesh
until only empty rind remained.
How Mom worried about the acid
you consumed, whether it would burn
esophagus or stomach lining.
But our ulcers never came from food.
Our headaches, our tense muscles weren’t born
from appetite. We were children learning
to digest broken glass, air laced with the poisoned
gas of furious words our parents thought
we didn’t understand, that we’d forget by morning.
I learned to soothe myself with sweet
and secret, downing whole bags of marshmallows,
entire jars of peanut butter up in my room,
stealing sips of vodka from the freezer. But you—
you sat at the table, laughed, looked
everyone in the eye, ate our bitterness.
Eye / by Nancy White
for Jane Cooper
……………….After I’d torn
……………….spread it across
……………….the floor out
and back she
walked the path of it
saying yes I see
……………….she went backwards
……………….a rower trailing
……………….her sinker and line
you have it
……………….outside the room years
……………….of pine needles fallen
……………….a rusty calm
the lucky hour
her unexpected eye
Day 11 / Poems 11
So this is how the body begins its betrayal / by Kate Fadick
a stumble back
with the grace of a hawk
a swoop into the raised bed
a hydrangea snatched
then the twist and bend
swelling … pain … pools
of blue-john and citron yellow
and each step a cipher
from here to there
the heal slow
and for the first time
you feel your age
witness her from bird’s-eye-view: / by Sarah Kai Neal
she wants to speak only beauty/wants
her throat to glow indigo/with those words she’ll find/mouth-loose/over yonder
words to bend light/uncloaked/she recalls dragons from deep time/beautiful with their sailing spine
she wants to float above ground/a hot ghost/in a circular pool of blue/gaze a sky/emptied of cloud and creature: a surviving treelessness/ a hopeful birdlessness/she wants/a wanting of nothing to fill her from bone to bone
Origami / by Elizabeth Twiddy
We sit quietly folding delicate papers:
you make a crane; I make
a luna moth. Piano music in the key
of C carries us—as if we
could fly away, like them: from nothing
to something; from wingless to winged.
I watch your hands working, your mouth a star.
You look up, out the window: far, far.
Rules for Getting Tattooed / by Allyson Whipple
Find an artist who isn’t desperate
for your money. Find an artist willing
to tell you no. Find an artist who doesn’t believe
the customer is always right, who makes
you check your attitude. A tattoo is made
mostly of water, just like you. Skin
is not a book. 14-point type won’t look
right in a year or two. Everything will run
together. Pick designs that will work
with the body you have, just like you choose
your clothes. Clichéd designs and locations
are really classics that endure through time.
The popular isn’t trite; it is beloved.
You are going to bleed. Make
no mistake. You are going to bleed.
The Womb Retires / by Nancy White
Let me bronze it like a little shoe
to remember. My danger-cup,
red toy car, fruit ballooning…
From thimble to fist to loaf to
big hot stove, that was me and
for a while you thought
it was you. Turning out its last pocket,
hums a few stray phrases.
Shall we throw a bon
voyage fete? But what farewell
cruise to send it on? No sea big
enough, no boat too small.
Inmate / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
for Papa A.
You go behind the stripes because, though vales
of paperwork, tectonic tenure review proceedings
and administering of the academic sacraments
of committee assemblages, syllabi compiling and data gathering,
those being obliterated by cosseted confinement are what matter.
You teach, and learn, among the striped, you want to,
because on the pariahed outskirts of every manner of sprawl
shiver what the angels of our castigatory nature hope
that we, by rumor or removal, forget.
Or is it that you go to the warehoused off, toiling
in their custody sometimes not even for another’s glory,
because you, too, seek aperture enough to gleam?
Day 10 / Poems 10
This is the poem / by Kate Fadick
that bends to the rose
walks its labyrinth mute
embraces the rain-filled
that has yet to flesh-out
words to carry the god
no longer believed
Never goodbye / by Sarah Kai Neal
I want to wear loud clacking shoes down the corridor
of your dream .. I want to mean so much to you
that we do not miss each other while you are
sleeping .. that way we never have to say goodbye
I never have just your photograph in my wet hands*
In your dream the clacking would get louder and
louder but it wouldn’t be a scary crescendo it would
be a rescuing crescendo . I would be coming to rescue
you from a murky pond . . no I wouldnt wish that
upon your dream . there would be no murkiness
no poisonous snakes either .. no mean turtles
there’d never be anyone’s head blocking the view
It’d be just you and me on the same white horse
riding through a field of yellow umbrellas
*I try not to think this thought.
Kraken Naps / by Ellie Slaughter
Underwater, the sun is more lamp glow than gaseous burning orb with definitive edges. The mermaids, in a quest to be unseen, hide in the spray which crashes against seashore boulders. Fish swim between bars of light hoping to avoid giant tentacles that reach upward for momentary warmth. Between passing ships, even the Kraken naps like a cat, basking in light, snoring out of its beak.
As a lion comes to know its trainer, mermaids play with the mewling squid, scratch gently between its giant suckers. One false move, however, and tentacles wrap and snap the half which divides the human from the fish. Giants cannot be tamed or prevented, only known, as any thing which is larger than the self: Kraken, lions, earthquakes, the end of the world.
Be happy. It’s one way of being wise. ……. / by Elizabeth Twiddy
O wise little dog: teach me
to be happy!
Clearly you know the way
to live the questions, to be
there you are, chewing
your yellow towel, as if you
were chewing the sun,
My family lives in a legacy of bottles / by Allyson Whipple
The orange ones in medicine cabinets.
The glass ones on countertops.
Some of us are so skilled, we don’t need chasers
for the dry swallow of pills, for the swift
kick in the throat from bourbon.
We’ve all bought in, at some point,
to Oprah, yoga, clean eating, meditation
as smoother paths to tranquility,
but all that ever keeps us grounded
is the pharmaceutical lab or the distillery.
My sister speaks of Klonopin
with all the fervor of a born-again Christian.
There was a time I thought myself superior
for my avoidance of prescriptions.
Now, I am all too aware of the angle I tilt
my glass, the fervor with which I suck
the last liquor clinging to ice.
Sun / by Nancy White
I asked My Life to pay attention not go
all hyperbole on me today not
freak out its dinky self
it says what its predecessors did:
look at me look at me forgets
the spark the soup the sap
once it was my savior but the sun
is out and I want to lie in it and be
an animal to be again its
animal furred fanged clawed
longtailed carnivore my killer eyes
silent paws one perfect wordless throat
Mom: An Ekphrasis / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
you are the leader beside still waters
you are the staff of structure
you prepared a feast for me
every night with my enemies
(your other children)
but made me set the table
you are a dwelling in your home
and cups are ever overrunning
you pasture expectations, tears and lunch boxes
but let me mow the lawn
you are the lightening of the earth
and the saltation of the world
you point to greener pastures
ever on the other side
and so were at times a tine in this side
but it made me make my life mine
Day 9 / Poems 9
A dream after reading Hildegard
……………………….on desire in women / by Kate Fadick
rips one thin veil
as she bends to me
a hint of skin
warm on my lips
as I breathe
her spice deep
the heart’s spin
one gentle moment
For you . who makes me want to stay in my body / by Sarah Kai Neal
I teleport to a field of those yellow I-don’t-know-what-they’re-calleds
but they take over . weed the green yellow . and I am . from above
an other in the field . I am a not-yellow . like a woman is a not-man
but then you come to me with your blue bowl . say taste this
and it tastes like sugar is teasing me . like it has a need . (I know the feeling)
for a dash of bird-murmuration . then you scratch where my wings would be
and it feels like I want to stay in my skin for a minute . I am like a horse
getting a carrot . and I remember how much I love your hands . how lucky am I
to have them working for me at times . along with the rest of you . who lets me
taste what’s inside your blue bowl that lacks murmuration . and later today
it is possible I will taste the inside of you . It will probably be the most memorable
part of my day but for now I haven’t brushed my hair . . my eyes without shadow
are the color the grass buries into . like my eyelashes are grass and they are burying
into some place deep that will feed them
Figurehead No. 2 / by Ellie Slaughter
The mermaid sits upon the bow, barnacled breasts, luminescent scales layering down her tail fin. Brunette hair. Painted green eyes, fair skin. She mounts the ship side saddled, leisurely as if the stormy clouds before her were old friends, or as if she, when confronted with the swell against her breast, could duck down beneath the waves unharmed. The ship, however, attached, would be brought down with her and the men would, if lucky, bobble as buoys atop waves, briney and calcified in salt. There, underneath the water, she’d find the remnants of another ship, the lost treasure, as if looking upon a mirror at her own backside.
First Kiss / by Elizabeth Twiddy
I sat on a chair; you
knelt before me
on the floor—playing
parted as if
to speak, but just
that blue electric
Litany for the Messy Car / by Allyson Whipple
Honor the stack of keys you have collected,
the ones that ex-landlords and ex-lovers
never asked you to return. Even if you have forgotten
which doors they opened. Honor the broken
necklace you still love, the one you don’t know
how to fix but can’t bear to throw away.
It reminds you not to wear nice things if you’re going
to find yourself in the heat of passion, at least
not until you’re sure this person is worth
ruined jewelry and ripped seams. Honor the red
garter you wore once and don’t know why
you still have it. Perhaps even that will be of use.
You never know when you will need a tourniquet,
and on the one the blood would barely show through.
Traveler / by Nancy White
I came among frightened people.
They had lived there all their lives.
In their eyes you could see the speeding fear.
The land itself quiet with shushing geysers then long stretches of gray.
But a populous country and those eyes were always upon me.
The remaining animals were skeletal and slinking.
The homes drastic and identical.
I learned to move quickly stay light and in the shadows.
The alleys gave safe passage.
Traditional costume concealed some portion of my difference.
We embraced at formal events.
I felt their brittle ribs the small bowed shoulders.
I always wore my lightest shoes.
Should they turn their blue eyes on me.
Should the smell of my joy prove too much.
Should it corrode something.
Should the sight of my uncovered throat.
If it should… They were not my people. But I stayed.
Bait / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
we are pooring over
anodyne emporium of portals
to louche but lovely reprieves
I remember uncle said he never
said he saw combat: he closed his eyes
until the warm tension to his right disbanded
it goes right as rain through us
spotchecking our formation
in all the sense the word has
You’ll not soon forgive yourself
for nights you did not ring out,
calls you dropped
we raven for ever mounting more
life lived through mediation
less and less can we face that
everything That is already here,
you cannot believe it, you really thought
everything that mattered would stay in this one Place
Day 8 / Poems 8
Blue: An Assay / by Kate Fadick
Mayans will tell you
nine words are needed
if all butterflies
are to be seen.
The thanatophobic poem walks into a bar / by Sarah Kai Neal
This poem knows it knows
nothing today. Today this poem
gathers air in broom, sweeps
up nothing-special images:
trash, dirty dog-collar, loosening
nails. Table with shattered
top. Somewhere someone
is writing the best poem
of her life. But this poem
barely knows how
to breathe today.
Knows barely breath
will calm it when it’s fear
of dying is so great
it cant be written another letter
longer for fear of being
This poem cant piece
together brokens today, cant
weld a sky to a hand or a mother
to a field it cant
discern between one hard thing
and the next, cant
untangle the meaning
of blue. This poem is
without God, God
is too busy today
to blanket the poem
in her moss. And the poem
is too busy reciting
the serenity prayer:
on its knees for the wisdom
to remember how
and when, to breathe.
Mantra / by Ellie Slaughter
Teeth sink into pear flesh
soft as cork. Wind chimes
clang to the sound
of early morning bird chorus.
A stranger adjusts his body
beneath a perfumed quilt.
Clothing debris crawls
its tired self back upstairs
and into the laundry basket.
Feet sweep up English muffin crumbs.
The sound of pouring liquid
oranges as it fills up the glass.
The toaster rattles, snaps downward.
Coffee, two spoonfuls of sugar,
Two spoonfuls of milk.
A deep breath.
I have made it through the night.
Disappearing altogether— / by Elizabeth Twiddy
—is no longer so simple.
That hummingbird droning
in your ear is a drone—
and there, over there, is a bird
on a telephone wire; birds fly
through the wireless, too. Even
the wind shows up, now:
we look from darkened windows to see
the air all clouded with snow, making
wind currents visible. I myself
am pixelated these days; the closest
I get to hidden is the feeling
of my particles frittering apart,
flying off at my edges—
a disc of rice paper
dissolving on my tongue.
Play Bad Poker / by Allyson Whipple
The best time to play is when you’re drunk,
the next best when you’re in a bad mood.
Always bluff on hands you know are junk.
You’ll always be clear-headed in a funk.
Stay in, even if you’ve viewed
the turn and know it’s hopeless. Play drunk
or stoned. Your stack of chips has shrunk?
Bet harder. Maintain the attitude
of a winner. Don’t fold, even if it’s junk.
Don’t watch your opponents. Plunk
money down, get loud and rude,
take another shot. Get good and drunk.
Raise double. Never check. Try to debunk
every voice telling you the dude
across from you has a hand that isn’t junk.
And if you lose, just blame the punk
kid who won, who took it all, who screwed
you over. Bet he can’t play well drunk.
Wouldn’t have the balls to risk a hand of junk.
No Such Thing As Self / by Nancy White
just mud hot and thick
and lava cooling into rock
and ash that stings our lungs
the silver skin of the cliffs
the dark grown by hemlocks
that scent of drying grass
juice of the blackberry
a chair welcoming you
(the door that slams in your face
changing your life for the better
fur on your lips in the night
water in your hands
when you are sad
when you open your bag of rice
to find a tiny bird who flies off
causing senseless wonder)
among the beams and splinters
the small flowers the bowed head
we have waited
because she sleeps we can sleep
because she sees we see
we wish there were more lives
through which we could be listening
to the careless rise and fall of her breath
Let the Light There Be / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
In our stone coats, our hearts plunging-blue in us,
we are as wide from truth as welcoming rivers.
The coursing is instinct, the swelling is hospitality
the spate is itself time.
We can only stand on sifting silt
and feel the thrill between our toes
as God is tipping the quaking bottle of creation
and, thumb in its punt, pouring it all all the way out.
Day 7 / Poems 7
Something Van Gogh might have painted
………………………………..as your mother was dying / by Kate Fadick
where bluebirds gather
in early morning rain
and chicory blue
opens and closes
at the same time every day
the one field
How to make safe space / by Sarah Kai Neal
Had fingers. She admired
against sky. Fingers tipped
with nails she drew x’s on
to make them her own, mark
spot. But hands felt not a part
of her, her body not yet garden–
more desert /more sky above it.
In the desert at Christmas they string lights on cacti.
String a light on anything
to soften it, make it holy.
Make ocean’s bottom a place
to pray: light-break it open.
Make more like girl-humming
sad song, more like roof-rain,
more like feathered thud
of a cloud’s beating
String on ghost,
on man who took hands,
made them his own. String
his eyes: light them with soft.
His face, his frame, space
between his fingers. String
them all. String all parts
together till they’re light-laced, till they’re whole.
Forgive Me / by Ellie Slaughter
Tell me which same
you will struggle in
next week when
my faltering state.
My crib is full
my hair is full
and your rose water
meant for cleansing
does not wash away
the foul smell
of my weekly confessional
No, I did not dream
of death today.
Yes, the prescription
sticks to my throat.
The cranberries all bob
like nipples at my hips
and that blue sweater
is just hideous.
Mote of You / by Elizabeth Twiddy
You’re stepping now through slender
grasses of your garden.
Spotlit by a little fire
in the cavern of your ribcage:
a mote of you. She’s the same one
from thousands of years ago. You
glimpse her in dreams: a slip of light.
She’s the one who tells you
as you bend to smell the rose:
you must change your life.
Avoid Discussing Politics at Holidays / by Allyson Whipple
Every time Greg Abbott shoots off his damn mouth
I feel as awkward as I did the Christmas
when a cousin got plastered and hit
on me with all the finesse of a frat boy in a dive bar.
Or the mornings when I avoided the stares
of kids at school who had heard from the gossipy
neighbor that the cops had visited our house again.
Whenever some Texas politician makes a foolish statement
that gets attention, I feel like that woman whose husband
you can’t stand, who is tired of trying to explain
why she stays, who doesn’t understand
why you can’t see her man in the same flattering light.
The places you love will embarrass you
sooner or later, just like the people
you live with. We were born into bigots
and addicts, married into deadbeats and liars.
We spend decades learning when to fight,
learning when to roll eyes and look the other way,
hope the gossipy neighbor isn’t looking out the window.
The Dark / by Nancy White
I used to feel it cloak around us
but the dark feels different now the velvet
roughed and there is blood in the middle
of its light. No matter who answers
the candles sorrow. The blankets
have become strangers. Worse:
traitors. My dark is not mine. Nor air.
Heat the enemy. Cold the enemy.
You went into it and it closed behind you.
The door is dissolved. The particles fly
away from my hand before I even reach
and I just go through. No solid. Only no.
Both Sides / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
For my day off, I’ll have surgery,
a transposition from old wounds into new ones
is, indeed, what’s all about history.
Coriolistic annals and lives –
we know nothing besides,
which may be the cradle our otherwise senseless
and unceasing trust we weave
into our systems and call it using our rights is rocked in.
But, the surgery. Where they incise both belly and back.
Have I not put it off long enough,
which I also ask of cleansing the fridge
or knocking out cobwebs or making certain
we actually cannot open the hatch
to the attic before calling the handyman.
Should I do it for their mother,
or, come to think of it, mine?
Those with the blades might tell you
that love and judgment are incorrigibly separate
but, at least in fighting matters,
I wonder if one is the face on the coin of the other.
Day 6 / Poems 6
there is no time / by Kate Fadick
yet it grows less
a feast of blueberries
as the empty bowl
fills with laughter
a red trillium uprooted
from the old woods
to ease the coming birth
a silence that holds
the distance between us
leans into indigo grief
The title and first line are from W S Merwin’s “The New Song”.
He dissolves into her pink / by Sarah Kai Neal
The bees are dying they said. Bees dying, bees
thirsty. She’ll have nothing without them. To eat
black places at night, she fills bowl with marbles
and water so they may drink. I will miss you
while I sleep she thinks beside a bowl of bees.
She sings in her sleep: no words, sings in honey
drips from her mouth, she is sweet-skinned,
follows birds and bees enter through the spiral
of her ear– one-third her life: a bee-dream.
She wakes sticky from the over-world, bee-wrapped
she cant get the buzzing out of her. Their song
becomes her on embroidered wing, bee becomes
her when he stings, he dissolves into her pink.
Picnic Before the Invention of Loincloths / by Ellie Slaughter
My mother wakes with the remote set to NEWS in her hands. I wake with you in my mouth.
The grass tastes of green sour apple popsicles which refuse to melt when licked. The sky like coconut and blue raspberry lemonade stain your lips blue, and my body parts become blue too. I laid you out ant-like crawling and pressed under finger onto red gingham cloth.
Don’t the clouds shiver when pressed upon by other stranger-clouds, or doesn’t the young deer, which is called to the beckoning sunlight, shiver when our low moans ache the dirt or wouldn’t our god be so proud of our fucking naked and exposed to the rolling hills and passersby, just as intended before loincloths were invented.
Writing / by Elizabeth Twiddy
All day the ants
worked at their mound:
moving in lines,
each with a grain
of sand in its mouth.
Slowly the mound
became a small hill.
All of us long
for the new star:
in our mouths.
Italian Girl’s Bitter Kiss / by Allyson Whipple
The first time I kissed a boy, his mouth
tasted like it was full of garlic. I thought
it was a sign that he was my one and only,
his lips reeking of the scent that clouded
my mother’s kitchen on Sunday afternoons
as she stood over pots and pans, as she rolled
meatballs chunked with breadcrumbs and herbs.
How could garlic stink when it was the plant
that bound an entire meal together, that held
us at the table for an hour or two, kept
the family’s fragmentation at bay just a little longer?
These days, I’ll choked down raw cloves three
at a time at the first sign of a cold. Science
waves away my folk magic, but I’ll be damned
if I don’t feel better when I burn my tongue
on that acid, when my breath is filled with love.
Good Voodoo / by Nancy White
for Barbara Ungar
Sway. Dissolve the walls. Drain
the jelly and scrape the skull.
Unhinge the arms. Slip the skin.
Instead of stalking, flutter. Swap pound
for patter, then shimmer. Sand
the phalanges. Translate brass
to piccolo, cricket, sigh. Soften, offer,
relinquish, drift. Weep. Waft, fluff,
settle. Widen. Stop. All done now,
my dear, as sweet as our favorite
enemy (the moon) whom
we’ve watched too many times
shuttle the sky. Mere deeds are
dead and loose thread all that’s
left to carry now.
Notice of Errata / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
Most classically trained harpists
are formed to keep their pinkie free.
Harpo Marx handled his set of strings full force.
The difference might be caught
only if you’ve got a capo on your heart threads,
which saturates all the shades and sounds
so you can find, for example, the hue of blue so fulfilled
that will return a kidnapped child
or hear the wring of air exhaled
by generous and remorseless forests
but might also cozen you to believe
emeritus transgressors victor into even today’s hours.
It really is not just the bush, though;
everything is blazing, in a wisterial forfeiture,
probably, but still undifferentiated:
the capo clad can trust their souls,
if not always their eyes. Maybe, in terms of promises,
God is a self-taught harpist.
Day 5 / Poems 5
In my dream of Hildegard / by Kate Fadick
we turn to face the worst
our kind can do
our bodies the spinning
death of stars
and woven with all that lives
a fragile weft of green
runs dull through her fingers
the yes of her eyes
enough of a song
Holy cow / by Sarah Kai Neal
The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.–Gandhi
I say to cows in the field .. I love you
and they . in the field .. each one
of them facing the sun . look .. as though
they are praying in the slanted light . and the cows
with their orange hue .. tagged . for slaughter
are worshipping the last bit of light . and some
swollen with milk nearly dragging the earth as though
saying .. they . too . want to live .. in this hour
I say I love you .. and I do .. want to leap
the fence and touch each .. of their beautiful
black faces . for I am swollen
with their sorrow
Candy / by Ellie Slaughter
A ribbon of phospholuminescent grass leads me through a path of giant mushrooms, the spotted red polka-dots, greens and browns, the underfanning of the tip plumes outward. I see your negative figure outlined at the end of the path. I keep walking, and the path stretches like rubber to create more distance.
In my dreams, I am always persistent, but now faced with the cool wet glow of this light, these mushrooms, I find my feet stepping backwards, backwards, and my hand outstretches, my legs retract, two parts opposing. The midsection stretches as if on some medieval device; I am taffy, I am caramel, my center is the too-sweet whiteness of inner candy.
Traveling—After a Death / by Elizabeth Twiddy
We put the dog in a kennel
for the first time. I tugged
at the owner’s sleeves: Please,
I said. Nothing must happen
to him. We drove past farms
and fields, hazy in full sun.
We came to a clearing—full
of cows, twitching their ears
and swishing their tails, moving
their mouths from side to side,
the fine hairs on the tops of their noses
grazed by sunlight. I wanted to break
out of my body, plop myself down
with them, and sob.
Take Me to the Slaughterhouse / by Allyson Whipple
Make me walk through the morgue where dinner hangs
in various stages of dismemberment. Make me smell
the blood that drips on the floor, stains aprons, stains
shoes, needs bleach to lift its settled splotches.
Give me gloves, give me knives, teach me the anatomy
of every cut, teach me the butcher’s geography.
Show me how cowhide yields to blade.
Guide me through the slip of the knife, the tumble
of intestine, bladder, lungs. Make me face
the source. Make me hold the cold, raw heart.
The Other Season / by Nancy White
I have my columbine
foxglove to stop the heart
here the lady slipper
dug from the swamp
with My Life
riding sleepy on my back
its infinity of root
withered crocus leaf
first peony bud (no more rancor)
among the living
among the dying
no furred choosing
nor endgame tune
see where the creek
bend is dry?
down where yesterday’s killer
washes paws in the sun?
how the last feather catches
on a fine blade of sun or so
it seems before it lifts and
Doors to my Right / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
What is the universal sign for give me the gun?
Do you turn your palms up to spring sky and step, once,
towards the marksman – or is that
too much like can I pray?
I’ve been in arrangements where those end
up being something like the same question
and summer always gets the gold.
Give me the gun? you don’t think
to ask when winter is winning
and the matte thunks onto the incontinent
trash heap we will all mistake for progress
and they want to ask can I pray?
To the God who still thinks it’s working
to pitch tent in partnership
with those who could look at you and still choose fall:
Did you give them the gun?
Day 4 / Poems 4
If I could dream of Hildegard / by Kate Fadick
dream of waking
and finding her there
waiting for me
she takes my hand
walks with me
to the limits of longing
Afterlife Fishing / by Ellie Slaughter
The boat heaves its way through the clouds, wave upon wave of cumulus. The dramamine supplies fall short of what is needed; the fishers all vomit down into the sky-fluff. But the poles remain still and unwavering in that the sailor-chum attracts what they hope to catch. A graveyard finder sits upon the prow of the ship, bleeping when headstones draw nearer. When a soul rises, the mate calls gaff in which a long scythe is brought from around the deck to impale the astral body. Ice buckets keep the afterlife cool and fresh. I am the captain, you are my white whale; I save my harpoons for you.
tea on the moon / by Elizabeth Twiddy
the wind blows through
the open window
red—the wind on the moon
the spoon rests in the sugar bowl
they cast down stars like salt
i tie a thread around my finger——
a balloon suspended above my head
instead of red, i will carry
a yellow balloon
yellow, and lit at its heart
sunlight floating behind me
where i go
no more of this red
no more of its solemn love throb
o let’s carry yellow
instead of red balloons
the planets agree with me
they nod at the ends of their strings
the animals—all of us—move
out onto a lawn of teacups
made of thinnest china
painted with small brushes
my hand trembles
to hold a thing so fine
The Scorched-Earth School of Broken Hearts / by Allyson Whipple
I don’t just mean gasoline.
I don’t just mean matches.
I mean to rip up every blade of grass
first, using my bare hands
if I have to, tearing up the roots
of every flower, every bush.
I mean to upend every tree,
leave pits in the ground.
However many miles now between you and me,
I will walk them, dirt up to my elbows,
undoing every forest, every garden.
Next, the salt.
I will coat the wounded soil,
make it sting all the more.
Big white rocks that I hauled from caves,
a sick, pebbled snow.
Finally, after salt, the fire.
Let the flames seal everything into ash.
(Hope I haven’t hurt any civilians.)
Only then will I leave you
to gaze upon your wasteland.
Farm / by Nancy White
it’s not the roof over my head
or a shed or fence or hair
prickling the back of my neck
as the rain comes closer
it can’t help me stand up
won’t let me sit down can’t
carry off the heat and the flies
never says put your feet up you’re due
it’ll forget my name
as soon as we’re ever introduced
doesn’t care if I have kids
whether I get benefits it stands
there staring with eyes
closed and I don’t get it
not really but I’ll never
be able to look away
Mezzanine Medley / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
I have wasted many lifetimes standing at crosswalks,
bilked by agoraphobia-strength bad timing.
Somewhere, illegally educated women read
to their daughters under their breath
while somewhere else, breakneck gales lower
the pride of crowns
whose subjects dream of progenal crowds
burgeoning somewhere else
and somewhere else, the corrugated confrontation
is ingested by gas and tears and bigger numbers.
I would love to forgive – I do not want to clutch
what I do not want to be mine forever –
and the power to set out with punctual reverence
for the flood of being human all the way.
Day 3 / Poems 3
When Hildegard cannot sleep / by Kate Fadick
she stays up all night
in delicious disregard
hidden in the branches
only she can see
and when she tires
of darkness … color spills
from her arms into the wind
the sky fills with its blue flame
gentle as breath .. her words
once empty shells
begin to sing
and the sweet ache
rises in my throat
The way pregnancy is like rape / by Sarah Kai Neal
Body hijacked by another being who wants
nothing more than to devour
from the inside out. Weight
takes over every thought and bite
as rooms get walked. Crave– things
never craved. Secret grows
larger, digs heel into rib till it can be held no more.
Left body. Blood, torn tissues. Release. Surprise!
Forgotten parts. Hiraeth: homesickness: the longing for your mother.
Hiraeth–pronounced “here-eyeth” is a Welsh word untranslated into English. An unattainable longing for a place, a person, a figure, that may never have actually existed. To feel hiraeth is to feel a deep incompleteness and recognize it as familiar.
Secretary Checks You Into The Hallucination Room / by Ellie Slaughter
The woman at the counter will eat you alive. She takes payment by fingernails pried away from the skin in exchange for medical records. Her coworkers laugh when you approach, but you are here for your name and a list of ailments, not to be concerned about the clucking, just a mirror so you can see your own features: blue eyes or brown?
Of course there are forms to fill out, a questionnaire asking if you hear voices when, at night, on the couch, when the shadows on the wall rip their limbs and peel away from the two-dimensional, come to you and beg for a danse macabre, an orgy of bones clacking. The answer is NO, for to admit is to give the counter-woman not just nails, but whole hands severed — the more which is wrong, the more you owe.
At last the doctor will see you now. He leads you back to the last room, which is warm and the lights are low-lit. There are no mirrors.
Holding Hands — a Triolet / by Elizabeth Twiddy
with Tomas Tranströmer
It’s funny how arrogance holds hands with insecurity
the way the demon merges with the opened newspaper.
Your speech dazzles—fast, loud, witty,
funny. Arrogance holds hands with insecurity
and they go skipping across the stage, so pretty,
while you are busy guarding your terror.
It’s not funny. Arrogance holds hands with insecurity
while the demon merges with the opened newspaper.
Fight Night / by Allyson Whipple
In living rooms, bets are shoved in envelopes.
Television announcers give all the numbers,
how revenue fight will gross more than the GDP
of twenty-nine countries. People drink to that, drink
to jab and dodge, drink to showmanship,
say, “He can slap his girl around all he wants if he wins.”
I hear America cheering.
In Baltimore, you have to riot against both racism and rhetoric.
Public servants charged, the root of new destruction.
Citizens have pulled away the thin veneer of egalitarianism.
Meanwhile, white journalists declare themselves authorities
on racism, pontificate on why the word thug isn’t a problem,
give us false images, half-narratives, mutilated quotations.
Charlatans with their sound bites rerouting our attention.
I hear America jeering.
On Pay-Per-View, you can forget about places
where the fights aren’t entertaining. Look at these celebrities,
these washed-up athletes with their predictions.
See all the sponsors’ logos flung around the ring.
Tonight, we’re not going to think, because two men
are going to beat each other up for fun. No, profit.
I hear America. I feel like screaming.
Biped / by Nancy White
What’s your name again? When did you arrive?
Do you like the shore? Are the waves
too loud for your taste? Do the heights make you
dizzy? Or are you more like a mussel?
Clamped to the rock, I mean, shut tight?
Do you have one foot like the mussel
in its purple shell or two like me?
Do you have protection like the rough-hulled
mussel or none like me? Do you fill with salt
then empty slowly then fill? What seeps
from you with the brine? Do you worry
about the next wave? Do you wish
we’d been invited to a different party?
Can you introduce me to our host?
Do you know if there will be dancing?
Can you even dance on your one foot anyway?
Though your purple costume fits in
isn’t there some embarrassment?
Is that why you’re not answering my questions?
Or do you resent my ease of movement is that why?
Are you resenting the mollusk I have made you into?
Can’t you forgive me? Aren’t you a good
Christian bivalve? Wouldn’t God accept me
as I am? What’s wrong with you anyway?
Causemology / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
I’m ready for the misdirectemy.
Brain may be chiseled by a somehow self-perpetuating series
of unfeeling accidents
but mind is rocked in the cradle of apophatic wholeness,
deep-unto-deep beyond our most gracious humility.
I’m ready for the dismissal of the present distended song.
We are not ourselves the cage,
no, we are not ourselves the cage;
even when we can leap no longer, we are not our cage.
Maybe we’re all fallowing to fossils
but our anthropological grins weigh more
than the metamorphosis they’re hewn from.
We are bloating our buildings and our bodies with static,
stasis in the beds and in the courts
in our iditarod for middling security.
World is worn as light,
the world is as worn as light,
we cannot stay warm unless the world is as worn as it is light.
Day 2 / Poems 2
Some comfort / by Kate Fadick
to think the peony needs the ant
the poem needs the poet
to think the ant craves the bud’s waxy sweetness
and the poet some lure of words
a shimmering flame
a cloud floating in a clear sky
shadow of the living light
that holds elegance and blasphemy
She knows her way around … could draw a map of this world / by Sarah Kai Neal
numbers are gods the voices tell her
hold breath and go deep in the night
she was brought up on a boat .. dove deep
the blue hole .. those lovely .. gliding dreams
she is likely to collide with window
it is her fatal night attraction .. with blinding .. columns of light
mountains will crumble but a 4 is forever
she fears surface-living .. goes deep as she can: … goes 11
God crochets souls they whisper gods in numbers
she kneels .. sees the coral reef– its hyperbolic surface swirls .. she curls
with it till she can swirl in the math no more–
covered in moss and loving it
she is long-winded bribes her plant to live with fresh dirt
she can be found easily … wears fabric … allows light to pass through
she no longer lives in the garden that grew into a cage:
the voices say you can choose another body … but she chooses her own
Acknowledgements on a Chaise Lounge / by Ellie Slaughter
I am eternally grateful to this hallucination room which billows old cobwebs out of my brain. Gooey yellow crust scrapes away the matter-folds — tubular, gelatinous, grey-pink — as hydrochloric acid sizzles out bacteria and more for deep cleaning. Cuticle clippers cut out old memorials — tombstones which grow like mushrooms upwardly trying.
Thank you, callipers, which have measured my bodyfat in spoonfuls of binges. Thank you, corkscrews, which have made my arms into raised and furrowed soil, a place to plant new-beginning-crops. Thank you, my dear God, for trials which have not killed me yet.
Brainless now, my head is air-filled-happy. I can see the wake-work-sleep cycle’s rotating chain no longer revolves around my neck, but in the spokes which allow this moving bicycle to churn. There are birds in the trees, and that’s okay. There are worms between my toes, and that’s okay. And I forgive the anti-psychotics which have cured me from myself.
Weather Report * Live Broadcast / by Elizabeth Twiddy
a red umbrella
tumbles across the field
rain falls in
the key of F sharp
stars shower the hills
in curtains of light
the wind on the moon
your lovers are flocking
in tornado formation
you sit reading this,
a balloon sailing from your mouth
This is not my mouth / by Allyson Whipple
These teeth are not the little enameled bones
that gapped and clustered on a whim,
finally yielding to braces. These teeth are ceramic,
they should be teacups, should rest
on white linen, aside sandwiches and scones.
My tongue does not recognize the smooth edges,
the perfect cut, the artificial slickness.
These lips are not the ones that wrapped
around a clarinet, that helped my hands and breath
produce Mozart, Smetana, Gershwin.
Packed with scar tissue, underlined
where the doctor’s thread pieced skin back together.
These lips will never play again,
nerves dead, embouchure hopeless.
Damn you, errant automobile, damn you road,
the way you took my mouth from me.
When I was unconscious, white gloves
replaced it with this scarred, unfeeling
substitute that doesn’t fit, my jaw
never feeling straight. Damn the way you robbed
me of easy speech, confidence with a glass,
the full sensation of a kiss.
Hear / by Nancy White
the rustle: moist
flake of mica
slant of granite
a decomposing leaf:
where the leaf
its cells fall
tune the ear
to a moon’s stony
note: brim with
be the quiet:
and the pool where
it lives and dies
The Commute / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
We travel in a skewered set of nights
where our soi-disant suns buzz earnestly
on indelible metal trees.
We walk home, perched on the lip
of believing at once that this is all there is
and that this is all there should be.
Rapt, we are the least like each other
when we hold and fold each other.
Remember the sounds – they are light
for the blind – the rush and the tips.
And remember the facts – only when
you are leaving, naturally.
Nimblesome creatures’ shadows crowd time
and we box our tanning air, brace ourselves
away from our superiors (each other?)
in the proud flay of febrile, fenestrated identity.
Day 1 / Poems 1
When Hildegard takes up her pen /by Kate Fadick
from a huge mountain
eyes cover one lone figure
living sparks shower the child
at the foot of the mountain
and windows fly open
nothing remains hidden
so tell me
what is there left to say
of this one peony
the ant poised to open it
Girl slavery /by Sarah Kai Neal
Girls trucked in
to Kentucky for Derby. A free girl’s
ear rings, skin needles
bumps: she can feel them
near. Both horses
and the girl/s
to run: exit
But gone in a circle
that leads back
to same spot, salty
and lungs a’heave.
Girl draws zipper for a mouth
Swirl. Sky, field of daisies– their yellow
eyes stare at the girl, whisper with out
lung. Birds dive, bird shadows.
Field eats birds
like potatoe chips. Girl trips
over snail, lights candle to remember
her dead self. Girl chews on
rock: all the apples covered in slugs.
Hawk circles, cotton candy
pink behind her eyes
when she closes them
her glitter-star cupcake.
Horse nose drenched in clover,
the sound of its breath as she goes
blind from second-hand death.
as leg from hip, spreads
together she wants nothing
but to zip self up
from the toes.
of his sex on hers:
meat smoke, she won’t
on her grandfather’s farm
before she was sold–
in their eyes
god knows all of this.
she dreams of
falling from sky,
away from god
without wing, doesn’t care where
that body was holding her back.
Blue Receded /by Ellie Slaughter
I heard that the blue has left the ocean, leaving a gradient of brown with tan sea foam. Pelicans can no longer dive down for a meal, the beaches are empty save a few dead horseshoe crab carcasses, tide pools dappled with the floating bodies of minnows or sardines.
A bone casket of some sea thing lay landed on the shore, chunks of flesh fallen from ribs to sand — the smell of low tide at high tide. The body’s unrecognizable head moans, as flipper-bones reach and pull at sand to try and reach back toward the sea.
The great hand from the sky used his paint brush to dip into the salt water and removed the blue as paint; more cyan for cloudless sky, an attractant above to distract landlings from the water, and that beached creature tries to return to his home as the tide recedes.
Dressing Up /by Elizabeth Twiddy
Stevie Smith says she’s not
so afraid of the dark
night above as she is of
the friends below, and I agree.
Those friends put on a skin—say
black gauze, and stand around
watching each other. It’s hazy
watercolor. It’s representational. Down,
up, or straight ahead—the holes
in our heads look. We pass the time.
Nothing’s more dangerous than people
smiling at one another and talking.
Rules for Putting Down Roots /by Allyson Whipple
Learn to gauge your thirst before your commit.
The hardiest cactus can drown
from too much rain. You can lie
in your bed, unable to stop inhaling a storm.
What sustenance do you need from the weather?
Calculate the square footage you need
to get by. Magnolias dwarf entire yards, grow
so thick the grass beneath will die
from lack of light. Pecans will refuse to fruit
if their limbs touch those of another tree.
Your own arms—how much space
will they take? Or do you always need
a beloved within reach?
Most plants fail to thrive
because a thoughtless gardener stuck
them in the wrong soil.
You need to check the dirt, dig
your fingers through, let the loam or the clay
clutter your nail beds, fill the thin rivers
of your fingerprints. Maybe you prefer cool, moist
earth, or maybe you need something loose
and dry to drain your sorrow.
Parcel / by Nancy White
one hundred acres
one hill one swamp one wood five fields
three barns one brook small pond house that’s all
so that’s us
a rectangle shape and time
to run new fencing on the west the slope
has its way and those damn useless horses
you think it’s so much space but
the number of seeds the beetles
and grass the bark the fruit the leaves
the stones the roots the fallen
water plan feed cut
as if it were all up to us
as if we could push what we need
forward out of the dirt
Room 226 / by m.nicole.r.wildhood
It’s a hefty but rather pediatric sunset, incomplete,
edemaic clouds with chocolate messing their faces
not even bothering to recess the bawling
sprouts of sun gashing into the transfusion of night.
I’ll admit, the day was sort of a bloodless,
mild thing, mostly because you were already far away,
and had been for so long, really,
and not unlike a humid husk yourself
but also because the singular out-of-the-ordinary
occurrence in the last eighteen and a half hours,
which are now full behind us, was that the neighbor’s dog
turned up lost for the first time (with his trampolinian hind legs,
I’m in covert awe that this didn’t happen sooner).
I know because I got a call while I was matter-of-factly affixing
the DNR sign onto what won’t be your door much longer
as a favor to who won’t be your invasively nurturing nurse much more.
Death, they say, is part of life, so none of this,
the tubeage theoretically ferreting good stuff in and bad stuff out,
the unbroken beepery blaring your vitals
to those who need to know and those who wish
for all the world not to, the thrice-thrashed suggestion
of mattress and equally wimpled pillow, none of this
is surprising. And most of it, the mechanics of it anyway,
is easy as echo, which is soon all you, and later all those
who knew you, even those close enough to stroke
the skin of your soul, will be, indulging
the eternally hungry past
howling with catoptric gluttony
for ever more life it never owned.
I guess I’m just saying, now with less hidden wonder
for not seeing it sooner, that simply day could prepare us
– missing man’sbestfriend notwithstanding – for this, from its terse,
hairless inception right up to its hoary-knuckled, expiratory rill.