Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Gospel of Ruth

By Jay Sizemore 

The purpose of dissent
is to speak for tomorrow,

to fight for what’s true,
convincing others to follow you

to a future with nine women
ruling the highest of courts,

none of them a token.
To a land where the immigrants

can become the best of us,
where a person’s dignity

cannot be usurped by a stranger
and independence

is the most precious of human rights.
The next generation

need not be so deaf
to the cries of the searched

and the seized, let the history books
be written

by those who have been
thirteen year old girls.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

This World

By George Stevenson

Masked, I walk South from my sanctuary,
steps on leaden cement, gray mantle overhead
quieting my spirit, one foot in front of the other.
I veer right onto asphalt, then a gravel path

into Perkins Woods, refuge of oak, elm and ash,
never cut, on land the way it always was, swampy,
obsidian water, tree stumps, an occasional Mallard.
Bird calls frequent in quiet, unmoving air.

Two miles East, a hospital, inaudible to me,
where too few fight for too many, tired orderlies,
nurses, doctors, their fatigue mixed with fear,
actors who know their roles in the play of their lives.

In these silent woods, spatter of rain, a distant siren
bridges the gap to inhale and exhale of ventilators,
bleep of monitors, soft steps of shoe covers, their mantra
just to keep going, one foot in front of the other.


George Stevenson is a retired businessman who has been writing poetry part-time for 20 years.  He was born in oil country in Oklahoma, raised in farm country in Missouri, and studied in Iowa and at Harvard.  He has taken poetry workshops led by a number of excellent poets and has been published in periodicals such as Rhino, Willow Review, 100 Words and Third Wednesday.  He tries to write accessible poems based on small events, usually in the Midwest, and hopes broader themes will emerge for readers. He lives with his wife in Evanston, Illinois,

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

To the Woman Who Said She Could Hear My Accent

By Sara Borjas 

We were walking down 1st St—a street I’ve only been down twice
this being the second time I’ve felt seen by a woman I wanted to be
seen by. You said you could hear my accent and it was the first time
I believed anyone when they said that. You heard my voice and heard
my father’s truck tires spinning through the neighborhood and not
the one he had, the one he dreams of having before he dies. And not
the father I complained about but the father I told you I wished
he could be, the one that listened. You heard my mother trying
to please everyone and keep her name at the same time
in the way I push down the syllables when they come to you,
how I keep them in their place so they don’t forget where
they come from. You heard the accent in me and called it chola
and I said, nah, it’s Fresno. You heard the Fresno in me
and my poor posture checked itself straightened up
like a Steinbeck novel in a brown girl’s hands: rare & familiar.
I said something about gold loop earrings, but what I meant
was thank you for not judging me for this. I didn’t tell you this.
I wish I would have mentioned how I heard your halfness,
which is a fullness, your all-in all-out mega Boricua,
your immaculate jump shot capability to name things by what
they are not, how your father makes it into every description
you give me of yourself: white, unequal, do you think you’re special?
You said, you’ve never come into a relationship as friends first
.I said, I’ve only loved people who are my friends. Dear woman
who said you heard my accent even with all these Los Angeles
cars stumbling by even with all the disclaimers we have both
made you have listened to my body with your body and I
have never been so true. Friends hear what you need
from yourself when you talk. I hear longing from every
direction with you. A woman said she heard my accent
but I think she meant I hear you talking to remind
yourself who you are and she listened and she said ok.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

On First Knowing You’re a Teacher

By Peter Kahn
Robert’s not coming in, my boss tells me.
I’m sitting sweating in a windowless office,
a stack of résumés eye-balling me, stinking
up the desk – I’m first screener and sleepy
in this stuffy box. Would you be able to lead
a workshop on résumé writing?
 I’m 22
and my own résumé got me the most boring
gig at Jobs for Youth-Chicago. Some of the “youth”
I’d be teaching are nearly my age, but there are
windows, and people, in that classroom
so I nearly yell, yes! 30 students look at me
and 45 minutes later look to me and I’m hooked.
And I’m floating and anchored at the same time.
For the first time. And I’m whole and broken
open. And I’m spinning and stunned still.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Carmel Point

By Robinson Jeffers

The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses-
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads-
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.-As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Prayer for the New Year

By Mary Mulvill


I want to write about
starting over. About how
the outgoing tide recedes,
almost imperceptible
at first, but steadily
lays bare the marooned
shells and delicate sand dollars
that were always there
under the tangle of kelp & foam.

And the vast plain
of luminous sand
that smoothes out
to welcome
those who have not given up
on nature, who pick up
each soaked bit of driftwood
in wonder. Examine
the fierce marks of seagull beaks
and the rounded corners
from years in the water.

Meanwhile, the incoming swells
give up the horizon
over and over. Reappear.
Everything I need
is here for me,
if I will only allow
myself to receive it.
I don’t know
quite where to start.

So, let this small poem,
almost overlooked
entirely, be my way
of beginning again.
Let me be open
to what lies hidden
in plain sight, watch
the slow doubling
of the beach unfold,
inhabit my
disappearing body

before it’s only a soul.


Mary Mulvihill is a health psychologist and professor at San Diego State University. She specializes in working with chronic pain, trauma, medical regimen management, geriatrics, and use of mindfulness, somatic therapy, and creative arts - including poetry for healing and personal growth. She grew up in San Diego, enjoying the ocean, swimming, and communing with nature. Dr. Mulvihill is a registered Soul Collage facilitator, which is an accessible modality for all to enjoy working with healing images, learning self-care, and fostering creativity. She began writing poetry when in graduate school at Emory University, where her mentor was John Stone. 

Saturday, May 9, 2020

In the Time of Pandemic

By Kitty O’Meara

And the people stayed home.
And they listened, and read books, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Virus

By Jericho Brown

 Dubbed undetectable, I can’t kill
The people you touch, and I can’t
Blur your view
Of the pansies you’ve planted
Outside the window, meaning
I can’t kill the pansies, but I want to.
I want them dying, and I want
To do the killing. I want you
To heed that I’m still here
Just beneath your skin and in
Each organ
The way anger dwells in a man
Who studies the history of his nation.
If I can’t leave you
Dead, I’ll have
You vexed. Look. Look
Again: show me the color
Of your flowers now.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The First Lines of Emails I've Received While Quarantining

By Jessica Salfia

In these uncertain times
as we navigate the new normal
Are you willing to share your ideas and solutions?
As you know, many people are struggling.

I know you are up against it,
the digital landscape.
We share your concerns
As you know, many people are struggling.

We hope this note finds you and your family safe.
We've never seen anything like this before.
Here are 25 Distance Learning Tips!
As you know, many people are struggling.

Feeling Fiesta today? Happy Taco Tuesday!
Calories don't count during a pandemic.
Grocers report flour shortages as more people are baking than ever!
As you know, many people are struggling.

Count your blessings. Share your blessings.
Get Free Curbside Pick-Up or ship to your house!
Chicken! Lemon! Artichokes!
As you know, many people are struggling.

How are you inspiring greatness today?
We have a cure for your cabin fever.
Pandemic dial-in town hall tonight!
As you know, many people are struggling.

Mother's Day looks a little different this year.
You're invited to shop all jeans are 50% off!
Yes buy one, get one free!
As you know, many people are struggling.

Call us to discuss a loan extension without penalty.
ACT NOW! Tell Congress Charters should not be lining their pockets during the Covid crisis
Now shipping face masks as recommended by the CDC.
As you know, many people are struggling.

This is not normal.

This poem went viral after the author posted it on her Twitter account.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Blue Screen of Death

By Adam Clay

Today I wonder who
moved the high steeples
of my childhood, knowing

there's a twist at the end
of the answer because the urge
to dig deeper is coded somewhere

cold within the folds of my
past lives. What other animal
would teach a computer

to be a Buddhist, to design itself
right out of existence with this much
hubris? The sea somewhere

feels gnarled but not here,
not now. Enlightenment might
be the only gift we could

ever give. In our effort the bricks
were set so carefully, we can't see
the source or shape of the light.

Of course there's a candle
that doesn't burn out, but no one
knows how to light it.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

A MESSAGE FROM YAYOI KUSAMA TO THE WHOLE WORLD

By Yayoi Kusama

Though it glistens just out of reach,
I continue to pray for hope to shine through
Its glimmer lighting our way

This long awaited great cosmic glow
Now that we find ourselves on the dark side of the world

The gods will be there to strengthen the hope we have spread throughout the universe
For those left behind, each person's story and that of their loved ones
It is time to seek a hymn of love for our souls
In the midst of this historic menace, a brief burst of light points to the future
Let us joyfully sing this song of a splendid future
Let's go

Embraced in deep love and the efforts of people all over the world
Now is the time to overcome, to bring peace
We gathered for love and I hope to fulfill that desire
The time has come to fight and overcome our unhappiness

To COVID-19 that stands in our way
I say Disappear from this earthv We shall fight

We shall fight this terrible monster
Now is the time for people all over the world to stand up.

Yayoi Kasuma is a brilliant and fascinating 91-year-old Japanese artist.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Heartfelt Hieroglyphics: Learning the Chinese Characters

By Yuan Changming 


anger influxes when slavery
                                                                        Rises from above the heart
worry thickens as autumn
                                                                        Sits high on your heart
depressed whenever your heart is
                                                                        Shut behind a door
meaning is defined as                              
                                                                        A sound over the heart
thought takes place
                                                                        In the field of heart
forgetting happens
                                                                        When there’s death on heart
: to tolerate is to bear a knife
                                                                        Right above your heart



Yuan Changming  published monographs on translation before leaving his native country. Currently, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, eight chapbooks  & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) BestNewPoemsOnline, among 1,609 others across 43 countries.  

Monday, March 16, 2020

Eichengrün in Terezín, 1944

By Peg Duthie 

Fingers numb
from lack of insulin
and lack of heat

he sighs
at the tremors
almost thwarting
his placing
of the paper
into the typewriter. 

He is here
because his stationery
did not include “Israel”
within his name.

It had not mattered
that his name was not included
on the US patent for aspirin

back when it had not mattered
that he was Jewish.

He is a man of science,
trained to examine
all the possibilities.
Once upon a time,
they’d earned him homes
and tailored clothes,
a handsome car
and a yacht,

but now
he has nothing
except the truth

so he types
the whole history
of what really happened
at Farbenfabriken Bayer:

his supervision of Hoffmann,
his defiance of Dreser—
Dreser, whose name
appears with Hoffmann’s
as co-inventor of aspirin
in Munich’s Hall of Honour.

A man used to secretaries,
Eichengrün types slowly.

He has never been
the praying type,
but now he prays
he will not run out
of paper


or time.

Peg Duthie is the author of Measured Extravagance (Upper Rubber Boot, 2012). She works at a museum in Nashville and dances from Asheville to New London. There's more about her at zirconium.dreamwidth.org, and she tweets @zirconium.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Self-Help

By Charles Bernstein

Home team suffers string of losses.—Time to change loyalties.
Quadruple bypass.—Hold the bacon on that next cheeseburger.
Poems tanking.—After stormiest days, sun comes out from behind clouds, or used to.
Marriage on rocks.—Nothing like Coke.
Election going the wrong direction.—Kick off slippers, take deep breathe, be here now.
Boss says your performance needs boost.—A long hot bath smoothes wrinkles.
War toll tops 100,000.—Get your mind off it, switch to reality TV.
Lake Tang Woo Chin Chicken with Lobster and Sweet Clam Sauce still not served and everyone else got their orders twenty minutes back.—Savor the water, feast on the company.
Subway floods and late for audition.—Start being the author of your own performance. Take a walk.
Slip on ice, break arm.—In moments like this, the preciousness of life reveals itself.
Wages down in non-union shop.—You’re a sales associate, not a worker; so proud to be part of the company.
Miss the train?—Great chance to explore the station!
Suicide bombers wrecks neighborhood.—Time to pitch in!
Nothing doing.—Take a break!
Partner in life finds another partner.—Now you can begin the journey of life anew.
Bald?—Finally, you can touch the sky with the top of your head.
Short-term recall shot.—Old memories are sweetest.
Hard drive crashes and novel not backed up.—Nothing like a fresh start.
Severe stomach cramps all morning.—Boy are these back issues of Field and Stream engrossing.
Hurricane crushes house.—You never seemed so resilient.
Brother-in-law completes second year in coma.—He seems so much more relaxed than he used to.
$75 ticket for Sunday meter violation on an empty street in residential neighborhood.—The city needs the money to make us safe and educate our kids.
Missed last episode of favorite murder mystery because you misprogrammed VCR.—Write your own ending!
Blue cashmere pullover has three big moth holes.—What a great looking shirt!
Son joins skinhead brigade of Jews for Jesus.—At least he’s following his bliss.
Your new play receives scathing reviews and closes after a single night.—What a glorious performance!
Pungent stench of homeless man on subway, asking for food.—Such kindness in his eyes, as I turn toward home.
Retirement savings lost on Enron and WorldCom.—They almost rhyme.
Oil spill kills seals.—The workings of the Lord are inscrutable.
Global warming swamps land masses.—Learn to accept change.
Bike going fast in wrong direction knocks you over.—A few weeks off your feet, just what the doctor ordered.
AIDS ravaging Africa.—Wasn’t Jeffrey Wright fabulous in Angels in America?
Muffler shot.—There’s this great pizza place next to the shop.
Income gap becomes crater.—Good motivation to get rich.
Abu Ghraib prisoners tortured.—Let’s face it, shit happens.
Oscar wins Emmy.—Award shows are da bomb.
FBI checking your library check-outs.—I also recommend books on Amazon.
Gay marriages annulled.—Who needs the state to sanctify our love?
President’s lies kill GIs.—He’s so decisive about his core values.
Self-Help.—Other drowns.

Friday, March 13, 2020

My Death

By Tim Dlugos

when I no longer
feel it breathing down
my neck it's just around
the corner (hi neighbor)

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation

By Natalie Diaz

Angels don’t come to the reservation.
Bats, maybe, or owls, boxy mottled things.
Coyotes, too. They all mean the same thing—
death. And death
eats angels, I guess, because I haven’t seen an angel
fly through this valley ever.
Gabriel? Never heard of him. Know a guy named Gabe though—
he came through here one powwow and stayed, typical
Indian. Sure he had wings,
jailbird that he was. He flies around in stolen cars. Wherever he stops,
kids grow like gourds from women’s bellies.
Like I said, no Indian I’ve ever heard of has ever been or seen an angel.
Maybe in a Christmas pageant or something—
Nazarene church holds one every December,
organized by Pastor John’s wife. It’s no wonder
Pastor John’s son is the angel—everyone knows angels are white.
Quit bothering with angels, I say. They’re no good for Indians.
Remember what happened last time
some white god came floating across the ocean?
Truth is, there may be angels, but if there are angels
up there, living on clouds or sitting on thrones across the sea wearing
velvet robes and golden rings, drinking whiskey from silver cups,
we’re better off if they stay rich and fat and ugly and
’xactly where they are—in their own distant heavens.
You better hope you never see angels on the rez. If you do, they’ll be marching you off to
Zion or Oklahoma, or some other hell they’ve mapped out for us.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

I want a president

By Zoe Leonard

I want a dyke for president. I want a person with aids for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia. I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to aids, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying. I want a president with no air conditioning, a president who has stood on line at the clinic, at the dmv, at the welfare office and has been unemployed and laid off and sexually harassed and gaybashed and deported. I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape. I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them. I want a Black woman for president. I want someone with bad teeth [and an attitude], someone who has eaten [that nasty] hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy. I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible. I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown: always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker, always a liar, always a thief and never caught.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Caged Bird

By Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Football for Dummies

By Marge Piercy

Among my husbands and lovers
I had never before lived
with a sports fan. Hockey
he does not follow, but base-
ball, basketball, football, all
in their seasons consume him.
I had to share something,

baseball is too slow.  Basket-
ball goes on months
and months, interminably,
a herd of skinny giants
running back and forth myst-
erious as a flock of swallows
wheeling together at twilight.

But football: Ir's only sixteen
Sundays and maybe playoffs.
That seemed reasonable.  I
bought a book. Now every
Sunday in season I stare
avidly while huge millionaires
collide like rival rhinoceros.

When we watch the Super
Bowl with groups of men
and I explained a nickel
back they gaze at me
with esoteric lust. I
look only at the screen.
Football, it is mine. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Poetry Richard Milhous Nixon

Compiled by Jack S. Margolis

THE POSITION

The position is
To withhold
Information
And to cover up
This is
Totally true.
You could say
This is
Totally untrue.

TOGETHER

We are all
In it
Together.
We take
A few shots
And
It will be over.
Don’t worry.
I wouldn’t
Want to be
On the other side
Right now.

IN THE END

In the end
We are going
To be bled
To death.
And in the end,
It is all going
To come out anyway.
Then you get the worst
Of both worlds.

The chapbook was originally published in 1974 from direct exercpts from the Watergate tapes.  It was partially republished by the Paris Review in 2015.