Tuesday, October 19, 2021

October

By Robert Frost 
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Monday, October 18, 2021

I Will Not Speak Your Name

By Marilynn Carter

You spread
around the world
like weeds
infiltrating every
   country
      state
         city
            town
rich and poor as equals
none spared

Joined all as ONE
searching to reclaim
normalcy, health, freedom

Silence fills the air
deserted streets
occasionally 
a siren or passing car
echoing on the wind

You have a name
everyone whispers
written everywhere

I cannot, will not
speak your name
fuel its power

Despite your ferociousness
responders tirelessly work

Massive quarantines
restrict movement

indoors
separate, alone
we turn inwards
self discovery 
enfolds

outdoors
social distancing
virtual hugs
becomes new norm

Masked and gloved
embarking on
necessary activities

Elders
compromised
  weak
    immune
      systems
overwhelmed
   organs
ravaged
   bodies
squeezing
   breath from life
those you touch

Many forced to leave
   far to soon
      some without family goodbyes
overworked healthcare workers
   hold hands
      lend comfort
        til last breath
          little pieces of self
            fall away
              lost

Recharging
   important
      fill in emotions
         empty spaces
            overwhelming
               loss
  
Earth, shuddered, shifting
   changes needed
      for way to long

Appreciation for Mother Nature and ourselves
   healing now begins

We see, feel, smell, know
the earth and us
   together experience transformation
      our true selves unearthed
together
   better
      stronger

Mother Earth adjusts
  We follow

Springtime virus dissipating
bringing us together again
filling us up with
   Forgiveness
   Gratitude
   Compassion
   Love of Life
         FOR 
                  ourselves
                  each other
                  the world
                  the Earth
 
We are forever recreated and changed!

Marilynn Carter is a holistic health practitioner, teacher and life coach at Many Paths for Health; co-owner of Maat Publishing; and author of two books, No Fret Cooking, and Experience the Love Light Wisdom of Reiki. Her poetry has appeared in Trouvaille Review; the Merrimac Mic Anthology II: Going with the Floes; Lunation, A Good Fat Anthology of 114 Women Poets; and Klarissa Dreams Redux: The Illuminated Anthology; at the Metheun Arts outdoor poetry installation, Words by Winter Waterfall; Word Play, a virtual exhibit of poetic art and Trouvaille Review. Additionally, she had an essay on dowsing published in Lobster Tails. Her first chapbook of poetry will appear in 2021.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Closed Deals

 By Maed Rill Monte 

Mama splashes cheap cologne all over your work uniform,
affirms her reminders and
you leave unkissed —
some twenty years?
Your face is darkened
by the rooftop rising
caught in the sun,
after a burst of foliage,
the dead, yellow leaves
wedded into nipa roof,
spiderwebs and fly carrion.
I see the inner child, tense
beneath the face mask,
the face shield, and
the fatherly features.
He's upset today's another
no-play day. There are
mouths to feed,
bills to pay,
and a world
he conceded to.

This poem was first published in Too Well Away.  

Friday, September 3, 2021

Right to Life

By Marge Piercy

A woman is not a pear tree
thrusting her fruit into mindless fecundity
into the world. Even pear trees bear
heavily one year and rest and grow the next.
An orchard gone wild drops few warm rotting
fruit in the grass but the trees stretch
high and wiry gifting the birds forty
feet up among inch long thorns
broken atavistically from the smooth wood.

A woman is not a basket you place
your buns in to keep them warm. Not a brood
hen you can slip duck eggs under.
Not the purse holding the coins of your
descendants till you spend them in wars.
Not a bank where your genes gather interest
and interesting mutations in the tainted
rain, any more than you are.

You plant corn and you harvest
it to eat or sell. You put the lamb
in the pasture to fatten and haul it in to
butcher for chops. You slice the mountain
in two for a road and gouge the high plains
for coal and the waters run muddy for
miles and years. Fish die but you do not
call them yours unless you wished to eat them.

Now you legislate mineral rights in a woman.
You lay claim to her pastures for grazing,
fields for growing babies like iceberg
lettuce. You value children so dearly
that none ever go hungry, none weep
with no one to tend them when mothers
work, none lack fresh fruit,
none chew lead or cough to death and your
orphanages are empty. Every noon the best
restaurants serve poor children steaks.
At this moment at nine o'clock a partera
is performing a table top abortion on an
unwed mother in Texas who can't get
Medicaid any longer. In five days she will die
of tetanus and her little daughter will cry
and be taken away. Next door a husband
and wife are sticking pins in the son
they did not want. They will explain
for hours how wicked he is,
how he wants discipline.

We are all born of woman, in the rose
of the womb we suckled our mother's blood
and every baby born has a right to love
like a seedling to sun. Every baby born
unloved, unwanted, is a bill that will come
due in twenty years with interest, an anger
that must find a target, a pain that will
beget pain. A decade downstream a child
screams, a woman falls, a synagogue is torched,
a firing squad is summoned, a button
is pushed and the world burns.

I will choose what enters me, what becomes
of my flesh. Without choice, no politics,
no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield,
not your uranium mine, not your calf
for fattening, not your cow for milking.
You may not use me as your factory.
Priests and legislators do not hold shares
in my womb or my mind.
This is my body. If I give it to you
I want it back. My life
is a non-negotiable demand.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Three short poems by Carl Palmer:

August Forecast


Looking like the usual foggy summer morning 
of our Puget Sound town just south of Seattle,
normally burning off to sunshine before noon,
however this is smoke from the California fires.

Air quality level shows us worst in the world,
no protection provided by coronavirus masks
as we pray for a rain to wash them both away.

To Do

On my workbench a list of tasks to tackle,
projects put off since at least last summer,
hoping to find the time to do them this year.

Pandemic mandate means I must stay home
these past six months of days filled with time,
plenty of time, yet my jobs remain undone.


normalcy in chaos

hearing her harping 
on all that’s changed
since this virus struck
makes me appreciate
that she has not. 


Carl “Papa” Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway, Virginia, lives in University Place, Washington. He is retired from the military and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enjoying life as “Papa” to his grand descendants and being a Franciscan Hospice volunteer. 


Friday, May 21, 2021

Good Bones

By Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real s---hole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Fuck Your Lecture on Craft, My People are Dying

By Noor Hindi 

Colonizers write about flowers.
I tell you about children throwing rocks at Israeli tanks
seconds before becoming daisies.
I want to be like those poets who care about the moon.
Palestinians don’t see the moon from jail cells and prisons.
It’s so beautiful, the moon.
They’re so beautiful, the flowers.
I pick flowers for my dead father when I’m sad.
He watches Al Jazeera all day.
I wish Jessica would stop texting me Happy Ramadan.
I know I’m American because when I walk into a room something dies.
Metaphors about death are for poets who think ghosts care about sound.
When I die, I promise to haunt you forever.
One day, I’ll write about the flowers like we own them. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Lady Lazarus

I have done it again. 
One year in every ten I manage it— 
 
A sort of walking miracle, my skin 
Bright as a Nazi lampshade, 
My right foot 
 
A paperweight, 
My face a featureless, fine 
Jew linen. 
 
Peel off the napkin 
O my enemy. 
Do I terrify?— 
 
The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth? 
The sour breath 
Will vanish in a day. 
 
Soon, soon the flesh 
The grave cave ate will be 
At home on me 
 
And I a smiling woman. 
I am only thirty. 
And like the cat I have nine times to die. 
 
This is Number Three. 
What a trash 
To annihilate each decade. 
 
What a million filaments. 
The peanut-crunching crowd 
Shoves in to see 
 
Them unwrap me hand and foot— 
The big strip tease. 
Gentlemen, ladies 
 
These are my hands 
My knees. 
I may be skin and bone, 
 
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman. 
The first time it happened I was ten. 
It was an accident. 
 
The second time I meant 
To last it out and not come back at all. 
I rocked shut 
 
As a seashell. 
They had to call and call 
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls. 
 
Dying 
Is an art, like everything else. 
I do it exceptionally well. 
 
I do it so it feels like hell. 
I do it so it feels real. 
I guess you could say I've a call. 
 
It's easy enough to do it in a cell. 
It's easy enough to do it and stay put. 
It's the theatrical 
 
Comeback in broad day 
To the same place, the same face, the same brute 
Amused shout: 
 
'A miracle!' 
That knocks me out. 
There is a charge  
For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge 
For the hearing of my heart— 
It really goes. 
 
And there is a charge, a very large charge 
For a word or a touch 
Or a bit of blood 
 
Or a piece of my hair or my clothes. 
So, so, Herr Doktor. 
So, Herr Enemy. 
 
I am your opus, 
I am your valuable, 
The pure gold baby 
 
That melts to a shriek. 
I turn and burn. 
Do not think I underestimate your great concern. 
 
Ash, ash— 
You poke and stir. 
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there-- 
 
A cake of soap, 
A wedding ring, 
A gold filling. 
 
Herr God, Herr Lucifer 
Beware 
Beware. 
 
Out of the ash 
I rise with my red hair 
And I eat men like air. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Rider

By Naomi Shihab Nye

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Guest House

 

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Conditional

By Ada Limón

Say tomorrow doesn't come.
Say the moon becomes an icy pit.
Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified.
Say the sun's a foul black tire fire.
Say the owl's eyes are pinpricks.
Say the raccoon's a hot tar stain.
Say the shirt's plastic ditch-litter.
Say the kitchen's a cow's corpse.
Say we never get to see it: bright
future, stuck like a bum star, never
coming close, never dazzling.
Say we never meet her. Never him.
Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
Say, It doesn't matter. Say, That would be
enough. Say you'd still want this: us alive,
right here, feeling lucky.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Dream of Knife, Fork, and Spoon

By Kimiko Hahn 

I can’t recall where to set the knife and spoon. 
I can’t recall which side to place the napkin 

or which bread plate belongs to me. Or 
how to engage in benign chatter. 

 I can’t recall when more than one fork— 
which to use first. Or what to make of this bowl of water. 

 I can’t see the place cards or recall any names. 
The humiliation is impressive. The scorn. 

No matter how much my brain “revises” the dinner 

to see if the host was a family member— 
I can't recall which dish ran away with which spoon.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Soul has Bandaged moments –

By Emily Dickinson 

 
The Soul has Bandaged moments –
When too appalled to stir –
She feels some ghastly Fright come up
And stop to look at her –

Salute her, with long fingers –
Caress her freezing hair –
Sip, Goblin, from the very lips
The Lover – hovered – o’er –
Unworthy, that a thought so mean
Accost a Theme – so – fair –

The soul has moments of escape –
When bursting all the doors –
She dances like a Bomb, abroad,
And swings opon the Hours,

As do the Bee – delirious borne –
Long Dungeoned from his Rose –
Touch Liberty – then know no more,
But Noon, and Paradise –

The Soul’s retaken moments –
When, Felon led along,
With shackles on the plumed feet,
And staples, in the song,

The Horror welcomes her, again,
These, are not brayed of Tongue –

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Love and Memory

By Yehuda Amichai

How we made love in the memorial forest for the Shoah dead
and we remembered only ourselves from the night before!
The forest did the remembering for us and gave us leave to love.
You remember how we threw off our clothes in the madness of desire:
The outer garments flew like heavy birds to the branches of the trees,
and the underwear remained on the forest floor
clinging to the springy briars of the thorny burnet, like snakeskins.
And our shoes stood nearby, mouths open in psalms of praise.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Blue Suitcase

By Juanita Rey


He lies back on the couch,
lights a cigarette.
That’s one more reason
why this is not my place.
I would never allow smoking.

And he doesn’t beg for forgiveness.
A butchered haircut he can live with
but guilt is not his style.

That’s why I’m packing all of my stuff
in the blue suitcase.
Luckily, what I came with
is the same size
as what accompanies my leaving.

This wretched piece of luggage
is rectangular shaped, warped in places,
and closes with much effort.

Who’d have thought
snapping it shut
would be the hardest part.

Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in this country five years. Her work has been published in  Pennsylvania English, Opiate Journal, Petrichor Machine and Porter Gulch Review.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Star to Star

By Cassandra Lease 

From the stars of old we came 
And to the stars we shall return 
 Stars we’ll never see or name 
Past all we’ll ever know or learn 

The stars themselves will fade and die 
All things must fall to dust one day 
We hope the soul endures, and I 
Hold to this fragile faith and pray 

All things fall, and all things rise 
All that we were, all that we are 
From earth below to fertile skies 
From dust to dust, from star to star 

You were like the shining sun above 
Guiding me through every day 
Your strength, your patience, and your love 
Set my feet upon this way 

There were dreams you dreamed for me 
And tales you wove when the nights were long 
Now I must dream what’s next to be 
And weave all my own tales and songs 

All things fall, and all things rise 
All that we were, all that we are 
From earth below to fertile skies 
From dust to dust, from star to star 

In ending, there must be some grace 
Or all ends in futility 
There’s so much of you  I can’t replace 
But some part of you must live in me 

Now let your pilgrim soul fly free 
Past setting sun and evening star 
Through time and all eternity 
To a bright and boundless world afar 

All things fall, and all things rise 
All that we were, all that we are 
From earth below to fertile skies 
From dust to dust, from star to star 

We commend you now to earth and sky 

All that you were, all that you are 
All that falls again must rise 
From dust to dust, 
from star to star 

Cassandra Lease was a writer and friend of mine, who passed away too soon and too young in February of 2020. She wrote this poem and performed it to honor her mother when she died a few years back.  

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Long Division

By Gregg Shapiro                                                                              after Dave Awl

 

Sitting with the lost souls in the airless

circle of hell known as the State of Illinois

DMV waiting room. Which, despite being

 

underground and the little, useless rotating

fans mounted precariously, randomly along

the walls, manages to be 20 degrees warmer

 

than the street above. A half-asleep guy who

hears his number get called, jumps up, shouts

an exaggerated "Hey!" like he just won the lottery

 

or bingo. No one else shifts or stirs. Except for

the fans on the wall, looking shyly, slowly in

our direction, and then slowly, shyly turning away. 



Gregg Shapiro is the author of seven books including the 2019 chapbooks, Sunshine State (NightBallet Press) and More Poems About Buildings and Food (Souvenir Spoon Books)

Monday, January 25, 2021

Achieving Closure

 By Hal Sirowitz

You’re both trying to achieve closure
in this relationship, my therapist said.
You want to marry her. She wants
to break up with you. And I think
she’s going to prevail, because
it’s a lot easier for her to break up
with you than it is for you
to marry her. You’ll have to buy her
a ring, go for a blood test, & get
both families involved. All she has
to do is not see you again. And
it seems like she has already started doing that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

In This Place (An American Lyric)

By Amanda Gorman 

There’s a poem in this place—
in the footfalls in the halls
in the quiet beat of the seats.
It is here, at the curtain of day,
where America writes a lyric
you must whisper to say.

There’s a poem in this place—
in the heavy grace,
the lined face of this noble building,
collections burned and reborn twice.

There’s a poem in Boston’s Copley Square
where protest chants
tear through the air
like sheets of rain,
where love of the many
swallows hatred of the few.

There’s a poem in Charlottesville
where tiki torches string a ring of flame
tight round the wrist of night
where men so white they gleam blue—
seem like statues
where men heap that long wax burning
ever higher
where Heather Heyer
blooms forever in a meadow of resistance.

There’s a poem in the great sleeping giant
of Lake Michigan, defiantly raising
its big blue head to Milwaukee and Chicago—
a poem begun long ago, blazed into frozen soil,
strutting upward and aglow.

There’s a poem in Florida, in East Texas
where streets swell into a nexus
of rivers, cows afloat like mottled buoys in the brown,
where courage is now so common
that 23-year-old Jesus Contreras rescues people from floodwaters.

There’s a poem in Los Angeles
yawning wide as the Pacific tide
where a single mother swelters
in a windowless classroom, teaching
black and brown students in Watts
to spell out their thoughts
so her daughter might write
this poem for you.             

There's a lyric in California
where thousands of students march for blocks,
undocumented and unafraid;
where my friend Rosa finds the power to blossom
in deadlock, her spirit the bedrock of her community.
She knows hope is like a stubborn
ship gripping a dock,
a truth: that you can’t stop a dreamer
or knock down a dream.

How could this not be her city
su nación
our country
our America,
our American lyric to write—
a poem by the people, the poor,
the Protestant, the Muslim, the Jew,
the native, the immigrant,
the black, the brown, the blind, the brave,
the undocumented and undeterred,
the woman, the man, the nonbinary,
the white, the trans,
the ally to all of the above
and more?

Tyrants fear the poet.
Now that we know it
we can’t blow it.
We owe it
to show it
not slow it
although it
hurts to sew it
when the world
skirts below it.       

Hope—
we must bestow it
like a wick in the poet
so it can grow, lit,
bringing with it
stories to rewrite—
the story of a Texas city depleted but not defeated
a history written that need not be repeated
a nation composed but not yet completed.

There’s a poem in this place—
a poem in America
a poet in every American
who rewrites this nation, who tells
a story worthy of being told on this minnow of an earth
to breathe hope into a palimpsest of time—
a poet in every American
who sees that our poem penned
doesn’t mean our poem’s end.

There’s a place where this poem dwells—
it is here, it is now, in the yellow song of dawn’s bell
where we write an American lyric
we are just beginning to tell.

Monday, January 18, 2021

A dead man’s dream

By Carl Wendell Hines Jr. 

Now that he is safely dead, Let us praise him.
Build monuments to his glory.
Sing Hosannas to his name.

Dead men make such convenient heroes.
For they cannot rise to challenge the images
That we might fashion from their lives.
It is easier to build monuments
Than to build a better world.

So now that he is safely dead,
We, with eased consciences will
Teach our children that he was a great man,
Knowing that the cause for which he
Lived is still a cause
And the dream for which he died is still a dream.
A dead man’s dream.