Archive for March, 2022

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Aemilianus the Moor by Evan Jones

There is nothing in the letters
Aemilianus sent to the Senate
of his childhood in North Africa.
Nothing of the goats bleating
or his mother’s affection.
He wrote that he would ‘assert
the glory of Rome, and deliver
the empire from all barbarians
of the North and of the East’;
he declared himself a general,
where the Senate knew the people best.
His reign was short, his ideals never tasked.
He stepped out of his tent one night
woken by what he thought were goats
and his soldiers sacrificed him.


Date: 2017

By: Evan Jones (19??- )

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Noah’s Song by Evan Lloyd Jones

The animals are silent in the hold,
Only the lion coughing in the dark
As in my ageing arms once more I fold
My mistress and the mistress of the Ark.

That, the rain, and the lapping of the sea:
Too many years have brought me to this boat
Where days swim by with such monotony,
Days of the fox, the lion and the goat.

Her breathing and the slow beat of the clock
Accentuate the stillness of the room,
Whose walls and floor and ceiling seem to lock
Into a space as single as the tomb.

A single room set up against the night,
The hold of animals, and nothing more:
For any further world is out of sight –
There are no people, and there is no shore.

True, time passes in unbroken peace:
To some, no doubt, this Ark would seem a haven.
But all that I can hope for is release.
Tomorrow I’ll send out the dove and raven.


Date: 1960

By: Evan Lloyd Jones (1931- )

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Bats by Amanda Jernigan

They billow from a hillside in Cha’am.
Together, they are more than plural:
the planet’s darkest song, a tongue,
a serpent muscling air apart,
a dire banner come unfurled,
a river flowing wholly from
the old, mute mountain’s desperate heart,
the last confession of the world.
Conceive of each one singly, if you can.


Date: 2005

By: Amanda Jernigan (19??- )

Monday, 28 March 2022

Revising the Will by Brian Bartlett

A lawyer’s office ten floors above the harbour
shines with the light of those heights, the windows
wide, facing two islands far below, between
downtown and the opening to the ocean.
Clients’ eyes are often drawn to the expanse—
all those miniaturized tugboats, minesweepers,
frigates, and cruise ships, the waves like watery
corrugations leading to a last destination.

The lawyer near retirement, cheerful and relaxed—
but terse when the facts matter—looks at home
in his leather chair, by a table suited to a board meeting
but now supporting only the arms of a couple
near retirement too, tweaking their out-of-date wills.
The room is mostly emptiness and air, as if
the furniture of the past were boxed up and
transported down the glass-walled elevator
to a more inhabited floor. Do the details
of sickness, death and survival alternate with chat
like brooding symphony chords interrupted
by woodwinds’ fanciful leaps? In fact the overall tone,
even for the hard legal stuff, is light, or at least
never sombre. The couple and the lawyer
often grin or chuckle as the documents are
summarized, quoted, discussed, initialled
and signed. Well, that’s done.
The windows
remain wide and bright, unlike those
in the doctor’s low-ceilinged basement office, cobwebs
and gnarled leaves speckling the barred view,
the floor at a level deeper than a grave’s.
Before they shake the lawyer’s hand and leave
the stark, long-tabled room, the couple turn
once more to face the distance: that ocean
on the horizon, smudged by the light, expectant.


Date: 2021

By: Brian Bartlett (1953- )

Sunday, 27 March 2022

The Revenge of Henrietta Lacks by Cecilia Caballero

She owns you
You owe her your life
All your medical advancements
The secrets to an immortal life
Held in her cells that never die

Black women will never die
HeLa cells travel space
Clone themselves
Created the polio and Covid-19 vaccines
Blood-pressure medications and antidepressants
That her daughter swallowed to keep herself alive

She lived in the former slave quarters of her ancestors
She was a tobacco-plantation farmer
She tended the plants, dried the leaves,
Packaged the profit.
And she worked the land
Underneath the 100-year-old oak tree
At the home-house.

She was a 14-year-old mother
She declined medical treatments for
Toothaches, syphilis, injuries, pain.
“Happy home” was noted in her medical file.
She was told she had cancer
And went home and did not
Tell anyone her fear of failure as a mother.

At the public wards for colored women
She was afraid her womb would be taken
She wanted to mother more
But she was treated with radioactive
Radium rods sewn into her cervix
A glow-in-the-dark substance

During her first cancer treatment
Her cells were taken
With the umbilical-cord blood
Of Black babies and mothers
And used to develop the first
Vials of human cell cultures
Made of salt and water and plasma.

And her cancer was mixed with chicken blood
And her cancer was mixed with chicken blood
And her cancer was mixed with chicken blood

Taken with a syringe from the still-beating heart
Of a chicken. They tell us this is science
When she mothers you without her consent.

And they call us witch doctors
And they call us witch doctors
And they call us witch doctors

And we are.

Because her daughter said
Blackness be spreadin all inside you.

Because we know
Blackness is not a cancer
But it cannot be killed.


Date: 2021

By: Cecilia Caballero (19??- )

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Persephone Writes to Her Mother by Tara Mae Mulroy

Mother, he is a gentleman.
He is a builder with bricks of moonlight.
He knows the secret places of the earth.
He washes the sleep from the eyes of the souls.
He lets them look on beauty.
He lets them tell him they hate him.
In the mornings, I gather berries and apples.
I scrub his back with rind.
I weave spider-spit, eyelash.
He talks in his sleep: pudding, fire, discus,
the things he misses.
He breathes, Your body is my orchard.
I am undulating grass.
I am a field of wheat he parts with his fingers.
Poppies bloom in my veins.
When he kisses me, he tastes pomegranate.
The night crawls nearer.
The moans of the dead roll and swell.
Mother, we are well.


Date: 2015

By: Tara Mae Mulroy (19??- )

Friday, 25 March 2022

At the Lecture on Atmosphere and Special Effects by Susan Grimm

Outside the leaves frantic with wind like a man
working to get someplace else until the moment

he drops. Background footsteps fog. Slow dolly
forward with a squeaky wheel. The audience always

in the dark, unless they’re in the car’s backseat,
incandescent with hands. But what shuffles

forward. What scrapes the roof. The key on the ground
in an excess of leaf mould. Even though we’ve left

the city, even though this is our city now
with its tuneful radio and modest cup of change.

Our cabin in the woods with its architecture of limbs.
Is suspense an emotion. We change shape, breath,

scramble for edges and moistures. Plackets and clefts.
How is it that even unthinking we are still afraid.


Date: 2018

By: Susan Grimm (19??- )

Thursday, 24 March 2022

Dendrochronology by Caleb Nelson

You can lacerate my pointed wing.
I can put my head inside a cloud. Poof.
It is 2002, I remember your last day on earth.

You had Ray-Bans parting your hazel hair.
Everything is cliché, eventually. I remember
your numbing shimmer, your half-life of love.

It was too easy for you. You poked my inactive
cells, this sting of rain, a longer season of growth.
There’s one black mark: the space you left behind.

Even now, I try to prophesy your return.
I offer sweet lies to the red-tailed hawks
and your memory devours me like forest fire.

From: Nelson, Caleb, “Dendrochronology” in Epigraph Magazine, Issue Seventeen, February 2018, p. 10.

Date: 2018

By: Caleb Nelson (19??- )

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Solitary Sonzal by Amit Majmudar

Whose voice was that, here, where I lie alone?
Look at you, said Eros. Scared, shy, alone.

I dreamt my dreaming of you
Brought us together.

I love you as only dust can love you.


Date: 2020

By: Amit Majmudar (1979- )

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

The Backwards Flight of Names by Gretchen Mattox

in dream my mother has planted a yard of sorrel,
yellow flowers folding into themselves like beach umbrellas

taste sour like sorrow and I want that yard of grass—

we know the men can’t be trusted so let them go

but what about the bitterness?—sting like soap in the eye
the time my mother washed my mouth out

for saying shit—hard bar of Dial sudsing, rabid


Date: 2007

By: Gretchen Mattox (19??- )