Monday, July 29, 2019

636 Lyons Avenue, Apartment 1A

By Andrea Hollander

My grandparents chewed
with their mouths open.
I knew better than to mention it.
My mother, who’d grown up
in that apartment,
would not have approved
and would have given me
one of her knowing looks.
Stripped of hope this time
that she’d ever leave the hospital,
I’d come to eat with them,
these two who that evening
knew themselves
only as her parents
but seemed more like children
learning for the first time
appropriate behavior
as they sat at the Formica table,
paper napkins on their laps,
the meat on their plates cut
into tiny digestible pieces.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Holy Sonnet 10: Death, Be Not Proud

By John Donne 

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Ode On a Grecian Urn

By John Keats

Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed 
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Tiger

By William Blake

Tiger Tiger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tiger Tiger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Saturday, July 13, 2019

On His Blindness

By John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Friday, July 12, 2019


By William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Sonnet 18

By William Shakespeare 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Bus Station

By Sheenagh Pugh

Passengers on the move, not moving,
becalmed in a between place

intently into their palms.
eyes flickering, picking up messages,

the price of gold, what’s happening in Iran,
their faces backlit; they are no spectators

to a global exchange where thoughts,
like cash on a Baldwin Flyer. It’s off-key,

with static, we should hear a buzz
the sound this glow would make, that wells

into the room whose windows
only on our own reflections.

on the way elsewhere. Dead quiet, staring
They are talking with their quick fingers,

catching the latest news. They know
tomorrow’s weather; they scan the world,

but part of the play, tuned in
facts, rumours, insults zip along wires

this silence, it should hum, crackle
pitched just too low for eavesdroppers,

from a dozen tiny screens
are dark with winter, looking out

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Let America Be America Again

By Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Hold onto your hats, boys

By Katherine Perry 

A reckoning stands before you

her hands clenched in tight fists
and she has said no 
one too many times
to someone who has not listened
to a man who has not heard the message
and now you all have to change
to make all of the accommodations
that you never had to make before.

You no longer can have what you want
whenever you want it.
You can now learn what it is we want:
it is not, and has never been, a mystery.

If biology is the problem, 
we want you to masturbate
instead of sticking it in us.
Do it alone. In private.

We want to decide where and when and if
we have sex with you.
And when you ask, and we say no,

you must obey.

Yes, go home unsatisfied.
You think we don’t? 
We do. We always have. 

And we will continue to ruin every single one of you
who has committed these felonies against us
until you get this right.

Katherine D. Perry is an Associate Professor of English at Perimeter College of Georgia State University. Some of her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Women’s Studies Quarterly, The Dead Mule of Southern Literature, Eco-Chick, Poetry Quarterly, Melusine, Southern Women’s Review, Bloodroot, Borderlands, Women’s Studies, RiverSedge, Rio Grande Review, and 13th Moon. She works in Georgia prisons to bring literature and poetry to incarcerated students and is currently building a prison initiative with Georgia State University to bring college courses into Georgia state prisons. She lives in Decatur, Georgia with her spouse and two children

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Dear America

By Jose Bello

Our Administration has failed
They passed laws against our people
Took away our rights and our freedom
and still expect to be hailed?
Dear America,
You and your administration caused fear -
fear through separation.
Instead of building trust with our people
do y'all prefer this racial tension?
I live my life in frustration.
Private prisons, political funding,
mass incarceration - you make the connection.
I speak for the victims who pay for this scam -
Vietnamese, Jamaican, African, Cambodian,
Mexican, Salvadoran, on and on.
Together we stand.
We demand respect.
We want our dignity back.
Our roots run deep in this country,
now that's a true fact.
Dear Americans,
What's the whole point of repeating these facts?
Well I'm here to let you know
We want to feel safe
Whether we're Brown, Asian, or Black.
We don't want your jobs,
we don't want your money.
We're here to work hard. pay taxes, and study.
The fight has begun.
"We will never be apart chiquito"
is what I promised my son.
Y'all can try and justify your actions
and try and make excuses
The bottom line here is that in the end
the people always triumph
and the government loses.
Dear America,
Do not consider this a threat
Our intentions are the continue making America great
It's time to begin standing up for what's right
Criminalizing children,
separating families
"Our national security" -
Does this make it alright?
No. It doesn't and it won't.
The youth have to stand up
We have to unite with our peers
Let's begin educating our children
Speak wisdom into their ears
Because at the end of the day
I am you, and you are me.
Together we are.
Those seeds you tried to bury.

Jose Bello was picked up by ICE two days after reciting this poem in protest.  Resist! 

Monday, July 1, 2019

It Should’ve Been A Red Flag

By Alexandria Warneke

When you got so damn angry at the person that parked too close to your car in the lot that you took a hot sauce packet and poured it all over their window and yelled
“they did that because they knew it was my car that asshole”

During the 2016 election when you kept telling me a woman can never be president And that you’d be bothered by me following my dream of being a lawyer because that would mean you’d make less than me

It would hurt your ego
When every time I saw you you’d ask me “so like how many weeks until you’ll be ready”
Every time
I’d tell you it’s not a thing I can put a time limit on I just don’t feel comfortable that’s all

Then you hit me
And called me a cunt
And fucked me while I cried

And all you ever worry about is your ego.