Monday, December 31, 2018

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. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

​how to make yourself small or how to be black and survive

​By Porsha Olayiwola

crouch down
do not extend your limbs to their full stature

bend your knees
allow your bones to fold or


                         let your skin hug to you

                                                               like a casket, keep it close

your tongue is thunderous
to dilute the roar, divert your eyes
observe only the pavement

how it is a       massive                     shadow                 spread                 for us

a grave

see only the ants

melanoid and minuscule

scampering by



Thursday, December 27, 2018

After the Gentle Poet Kobayashi Issa

By Robert Hass

New Year’s morning—
everything is in blossom!   
   I feel about average.

   A huge frog and I   
staring at each other,   
   neither of us moves.

   This moth saw brightness   
in a woman’s chamber—
   burned to a crisp.

   Asked how old he was   
the boy in the new kimono   
   stretched out all five fingers.

   Blossoms at night,   
like people
   moved by music

   Napped half the day;   
no one
   punished me!

Fiftieth birthday:

   From now on,   
It’s all clear profit,   
   every sky.

   Don’t worry, spiders,   
I keep house   

   These sea slugs,   
they just don’t seem   


   Bright autumn moon;   
pond snails crying   
   in the saucepan.

Sunday, December 16, 2018


Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry; don’t walk bare-head in the hot sun; cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil; soak your little cloths right after you take them off; when buying cotton to make yourself a nice blouse, be sure that it doesn’t have gum in it, because that way it won’t hold up well after a wash; soak salt fish overnight before you cook it; is it true that you sing benna in Sunday school?; always eat your food in such a way that it won’t turn someone else’s stomach; on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming; don’t sing benna in Sunday school; you mustn’t speak to wharf-rat boys, not even to give directions; don’t eat fruits on the street—flies will follow you; but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school; this is how to sew on a button; this is how to make a buttonhole for the button you have just sewed on; this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming; this is how you iron your father’s khaki shirt so that it doesn’t have a crease; this is how you iron your father’s khaki pants so that they don’t have a crease; this is how you grow okra—far from the house, because okra tree harbors red ants; when you are growing dasheen, make sure it gets plenty of water or else it makes your throat itch when you are eating it; this is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely; this is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set a table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set a table for lunch; this is how you set a table for breakfast; this is how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well, and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming; be sure to wash every day, even if it is with your own spit; don’t squat down to play marbles—you are not a boy, you know; don’t pick people’s flowers—you might catch something; don’t throw stones at blackbirds, because it might not be a blackbird at all; this is how to make a bread pudding; this is how to make doukona; this is how to make pepper pot; this is how to make a good medicine for a cold; this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child; this is how to catch a fish; this is how to throw back a fish you don’t like, and that way something bad won’t fall on you; this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you; this is how to love a man, and if this doesn’t work there are other ways, and if they don’t work don’t feel too bad about giving up; this is how to spit up in the air if you feel like it, and this is how to move quick so that it doesn’t fall on you; this is how to make ends meet; always squeeze bread to make sure it’s fresh; but what if the baker won’t let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Ghazal: The Dark Times

By Marilyn Hacker

Tell us that line again, the thing about the dark times…
“When the dark times come, we will sing about the dark times.”

They’ll always be wrong about peace when they’re wrong about justice…
Were you wrong, were you right, insisting about the dark times?

The traditional fears, the habitual tropes of exclusion
Like ominous menhirs, close into their ring about the dark times.

Naysayers in sequins or tweeds, libertine or ascetic
Find a sensual frisson in what they’d call bling about the dark times.

Some of the young can project themselves into a Marshall Plan future
Where they laugh and link arms, reminiscing about the dark times.

From every spot-lit glitz tower with armed guards around it
Some huckster pronounces his fiats, self-sacralized king, about the dark times.

In a tent, in a queue, near barbed wire, in a shipping container,
Please remember ya akhy, we too know something about the dark times.

Sindbad’s roc, or Ganymede’s eagle, some bird of rapacious ill omen
From bleak skies descends, and wraps an enveloping wing about the dark times.

You come home from your meeting, your clinic, make coffee and look in the mirror
And ask yourself once more what you did to bring about the dark times.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Measured in Minutes

By Jennifer Saunders 

I read it, and I saw a drunken sexual assault that probably was measured in minutes by two creeps with no premeditation. — Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) on Twitter 9/17/18 1:28 AM, responding to attempted rape allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.

Cover (one Mississippi) your (two Mississippi) mouth. 
Smash (three Mississippi) that (four Mississippi) palm (five Mississippi
good and hard (six Mississippi
against (seven Mississippi) your lips. 
Find a body (eight Mississippi) bigger (nine Mississippi) than (ten Mississippi) yours 
(eleven Mississippi)
and push (twelve Mississippi) (thirteen Mississippi) (fourteen Mississippi) yourself 
                        (fifteen Mississippi) down 
                                    (sixteen Mississippi) on 
                                                (seventeen Mississippi) the bed 
and turn (eighteen Mississippi) up (nineteen Mississippi) the (twenty Mississippi) music 
                                                            (twenty-one Mississippi) (twenty-two Mississippi

Cover (twenty-three Mississippi
that (twenty-four Mississippi
mouth (twenty-five Mississippi). 

Push (twenty-five Mississippi) harder (twenty-six Mississippi). 
Now tear (twenty-seven Mississippi) at (twenty-eight Mississippi) your (twenty-nine Mississippi) clothes. 

(Thirty Mississippi)

Never (thirty-one Mississippi)             forget   (thirty-two Mississippi
there (thirty-three Mississippi) are (thirty-four Mississippi) two (thirty-five Mississippi) of (thirty-six Mississippi) them (thirty-seven Mississippi

twoofthemtwoofthemtwoofthemtwoofthem               in         the       room    with     you.

(Thirty-eight Mississippi). 

(Thirty-nine Mississippi). 

(Forty Mississippi).

Try (forty-one Mississippi) to (forty-two Mississippi) yell (forty-three Mississippi)
for (forty-four Mississippi
                                    Go on. 
Push (forty-five Mississippi) that (forty-six Mississippi) hand (forty-seven Mississippi) down (forty-eight Mississippi) hard (forty-nine Mississippi). 
Yank (fifty Mississippi
            at (fifty-one Mississippi
                        your (fifty-two Mississippi
                                    clothes (fifty-three Mississippi). 

Push (fifty-four Mississippi).
                                                            Yank (fifty-five Mississippi).
Push (fifty-six Mississippi).
                                                            Yank (fifty-seven Mississippi).
Can (fifty-eight Mississippi) you (fifty-nine Mississippi) still (sixty Mississippi) breathe? 

That’s one. 
Begin (one Mississippi)                      again.

This poem was first published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry in September 2018 and reprinted by permission of the author.  Jennifer Saunders is a poet currently living in German-speaking Switzerland. Her poetry and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Dunes Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, San Pedro River Review, Spillway, The Shallow Ends, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Self-Portrait with Housewife, was selected by Gail Wronsky as the winner of the 2017 Clockwise Chapbook contest and is forthcoming from Tebot Bach Press. Jennifer holds an MFA from Pacific University and in the winters she teaches skating at a hockey school.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Light One Candle

By Peter Yarrow

Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn't die
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker's time is at hand 
Don't let the light go out!
It's lasted for so many years!
Don't let the light go out!
Let it shine through our hope and our tears. (2) 
Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts 
Don't let the light go out!
It's lasted for so many years!
Don't let the light go out!
Let it shine through our hope and our tears. (2) 
What is the memory that's valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What's the commitment to those who have died
That we cry out they've not died in vain?
We have come this far always believing
That justice would somehow prevail
This is the burden, this is the promise
This is why we will not fail! 
Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!