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.