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). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco. 

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.

Monday, January 11, 2021

insurrection

 By Dennis Gould 

remember to welcome visitors 
keep an open house for visitors 
friends and strangers need a bed 
hitch-hikers and wanders a home 
publish posters for love nor money 
 print poems for lovers 
plaster paint on gray town halls 
remember to keep a football 
for each side needs a game 
observe a listening silence 
everybody looks for flames 
on weekends hawk the streets 
selling magazines of view 
 with visions almost sighted 
beyond news of anarchy's utopia.

This poem was first published in August of 1969.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

What Kind of Times Are These

By Adrienne Rich

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Burning the Old Year

By Naomi Shihab Nye 
 
Letters swallow themselves in seconds. Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

I Am Me

By Virginia Satir 

In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me 
Everything that comes out of me is authentically me
Because I alone chose it – I own everything about me
My body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions,
Whether they be to others or to myself – I own my fantasies,
My dreams, my hopes, my fears – I own all my triumphs and
Successes, all my failures and mistakes Because I own all of
Me, I can become intimately acquainted with me – by so doing
I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts – I know
There are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other
Aspects that I do not know – but as long as I am
Friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously
And hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles
And for ways to find out more about me – However I
Look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever
I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically
Me – If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought
And felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is
Unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that
Which I discarded – I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be
Productive to make sense and order out of the world of
People and things outside of me – I own me, and
therefore I can engineer me – I am me and
I AM OKAY

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.