Poetry

“Around the Final Bend” and “Lovely Scene”

Kate Adams

Song, take these rhymes and carry them abroad.
Lift your little wings and beat and beat
like in some Disney film. The Greeks had gods,
the Christians, Christ. We moderns have the heat
of giants booming from the screen. Our stars
take close-up orbits, Venus kissing Mars.

“Muscat of Alexandria,” “La Porte d’Enfer,” “Omar Khyamm’s Restaurant in the Sequoia Hotel”

Stephen Barile

On Temperance Avenue,
Southeast of the city of Fowler,
Is a ten-acre vineyard
Planted to Muscat of Alexandria vines,
In the true sense of the old world.

Near the railroad tracks and old highway,
Raisin packing, and packaging plants,
And their chain-link fences.
Hundreds of solitary vines
Over one-hundred years old…

“4 + 18 = 5,” “Posse Comitatus,” “The Rape and the Lock”

Ailish NicPhaidin

Gerald awakens to a shrill alarm
Gouging out his eardrums at 4:30 each morning
Rousing from a delicate slumber
He slinks into the bathroom to prepare his wan body for the day.

Rose arrives from work at 7:30 a.m. as she does six days every week
Like an invisible shroud of gossamer her soulless fragility moves…

“First Morning in Town,” “Lake House,” and “Trail That Has No Name”

John Brantingham

In the morning,
I edge my Saturn past
the horse carriage.

I hear the hoofs clack
over the sound
of my engine.

“Mural of the Aztec Market of Tlatelolco by Diego Rivera,” “Walking by Charles Henry Alston,” and “Untitled (New York Cityscape) by Charles Henry Alston.”

Ammanda Moore

I’ve always loved a crowded market, busy with comings and goings. In Peru, I craned my neck at the crowds of people, laughing and exchanging goods. I was zooming by in a van, but how I wished I could stop, buy an elote with large kernels to eat, and meander the stalls.

“Creative Storm Watch,” “Tornado Warning,” and “The Cultivar”

Ashley Williamson

My hands crackle with electricity
And when it happens
my wrists start humming
Somewhere between
my eyes and nose tingles
And the neurons
direct that
sensation
(Anticipation before
lightning strikes)

“The Greenhouse,” “Open Water,” and “Brotherhood of the Brotherless”

Amy Allen

On a corner lot
nestled among two story homes
wooden swing sets
and paved driveways
stands a glass greenhouse.

“The Magic Hours: Tucson Mountains,” “Lacuna,” and “Cenzontle”

Susan Cummins Miller

The universe lurks
in the magic of the hours:
the evening sun slides behind
the ruins of an old stone house

and the cholla thicket, strewn
with the wreckage of windblown leavings—

“I Am Not My Father’s Dream,” “Song Dust,” and “Ricardo from his Adobe Says”

Mario Duarte

counting smoke plumes
on the mesa horizon
while yucca spire buds
remain un-blossomed.

Between rocks guarding
the front door, a sunflower
stalk bends. I welt too.
Yellow flames wake the air.

“Weather Whiplash,” “Thoughts and Prayers,” and “Sharp Edges”

Aurore Sibley

Two trees came down across the neighbor’s lawn last night
with the rain, kissing the gutters along the roof, knocking over
patio chairs, but everyone inside, just safe. We are uphill
from the flooding, where the beachfront parade of restaurants
were washed away

“Simon Baker’s Heart Attack”

John Horvath Jr

Having played aces at the poker table in one dark
Corner of the bar and been accused, drank
Sloe gin fizz then kissed the girls (the music was just great;
The women naked danced demurely on tabletops slimy at Jake’s Bar-n-Grill
Whose neon sign announced “This Place Will Make Your Ladder Climb”)

“Notes on the 21st Century,” “Reality,” and “Readings of a Seashore”

Kathi Crawford

It’s not the end of the world, though it could be, but the sun
came up today and I’ve had my morning coffee, while, at the same time,
Yellowstone stood rain-smothered, the Midwest roiled in the midst of a heat wave,
and millions across India and Bangladesh lost everything to raging floods and landslides.

“Stakes,” “Mount Nebo,” and “Time Pieces”

Michael Sandler

A lump hammer propels me close
to buried root, each head-heavy swing
a blow at resistance. I want to lash
the stubborn vines to scaffolding

so they’ll grow upright, as we want
for our children—as I raised you, my child,

“Linn Junction,” “Midwestern Blues,” and “Dear Capitalism”

Julie Benesh

My father built the cabin by the river
himself, and built me a treehouse
on the riverbank and two kinds of swings:
one with a tire you sit on and one to hang
on upright. We found a wounded duckling
near the pond, and nursed it back to health.

“How to raise a child who loves herself,” “Blessing for the Prairie Plants,” and “Ode to the Waterwheel”

Rosalie Hendon

To raise a child who loves herself,
remove the word “beautiful” from your vocabulary.
Replace it with brave.
Smart.
Creative.
Kind.

Instead of her hair, her eyes, her skin:
Notice her soul.

“The Choosing,” “Raveled,” and “Last Judgment”

t.m. thomson

Fly from that house
clad in cotton dress & aviator cap
with its cracked leather—you knew you’d need it
someday.

Ride mistral through
a sky casting its greys over a landscape
brown with mud & blonde with barley spikes
bending.

“Can’t lawyer any mawyer,” “a little bit of everything not too much of anything,” and “Friends”

Thomas Barranca

a torture fund
for the poorer:
a rampant righteous dance
themed: taxidermy of piety

so hot do my cheeks burn
in hypocrisy
lost to our lessers

“arcs of light,” “The Divine Right of Kings,” and “Walk in Balance”

Howchi Kilburn

How can I still be sad about ancient pains?
These tidbits of lost connection strewn like bread crumbs
to delineate a path back to the witch or warlock
who cast this spell of forgetfulness
“the better to manipulate you, my dear”

“In the Valley,” “Reflections,” and “A Spat”

Joanne Grumet

I walk north where garlic mustard grows
with heart-shaped leaves,
clusters of tiny white stars.

Their slender stalks border a trail
into the woods
past a brook where the deer drink.

“Appointments,” “Steps,” and “Last Days”

Ronald Pelias

I wait for the next appointment knowing
it will arrive as another scheduled day
where I’ll put my body in a stranger’s hands.
That person in white will study my numbers,
listen to my heart, press fingers into my flesh

“Between Worlds,” “Fly,” and “Undulation”

Serena Agusto-Cox

I never imagined being a mermaid
Other girls talked of curly hair,
seashell bras; all I saw were scales —

Water felt like a second skin to me.
I could glide and swoop, avoid
imagined obstacles at speed.

“Medicine Ball,” “Existential Crisis in the Cereal Aisle,” and “Retirement Home, Room 314”

David Icenogle

When I hate myself I reach into photo albums
and pull the child version of me into the present.
I make myself look at that boy
and say the awful things I have said
to the mirror in my mind.
The condemnations rush away
like the refugee raindrops that scatter

“Stone Bottle Balustrade,” “Chelyabinsk-65,” and “Squiz Normcore”

Steve Biersdorf

Stripping one
of one’s
memories
the cruelest of outcomes,
by design
or
predetermination

“Sophia’s Wisdom”

Elder Gideon

the moon will be like the sun
& the sun will be like the seven
who bind up our trauma
& mend the wounds inflicted by our flesh