Posts tagged ‘2018’

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

The Long Dead by Doug Ramspeck

Mostly we smoked with our backs
to the fence, watching our classmates
filing out from the school grounds,
or we exchanged pills for a handful
of dollars, or we made rude remarks
to the girls we liked. One was named Marlene,
and nine years later she took her own life
in a bathroom of an apartment house
where she was living with her boyfriend
and their son, though back in high school
she would give us the finger or pretend
she might flash us. Her brother ended up
doing time for check kiting—a term
I didn’t know until he went away for it—
and decades later I saw him at a YMCA
with his clothes off, as fat as a walrus,
and he reminded me of a time we’d almost
stolen a car then had chickened out,
reminded me of a time we drove
to Wisconsin where the drinking age
was eighteen. Apparently he struck a car
in the parking lot before we headed back,
though I had no memory of the accident.
Mostly I nodded while he stood with a towel
draped over his shoulder, and we talked
about the long dead, including his sister,
and I imagined my back against the fence
as she was walking by, and I remembered how
she would turn as we called out, her mouth
undecided whether it were angry or amused,
and the clouds above her seemed a reliquary,
the earth spinning out on its wheel.


Date: 2018

By: Doug Ramspeck (1953- )

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??- )

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Aftermath by Lisa Baird

She saves spent light bulbs,
wraps blown bulbs tenderly
in tissue saved from birthday parties,
stows them in stacked boxes,
carefully labeled as close as she can get
to the exact time the tungsten fragmented.
She holds a service for each one,
wept over the first few dozen,
but there are hundreds now. She is old
and has done this for a long time.
Next spring she will empty the closets,
unpack every row in the basement,
take shovel to earth along the lane
and bury each bulb,
grow dark flowers
from dead light.


Date: 2018

By: Lisa Baird (19??- )

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Confession by Mark DeFoe

Once a famous man in a notorious speech
told the old story about throwing down your bucket
where you stand and drawing up the pure, good water.
Hoist yourself up, don’t reach too far. Don’t demand.
Don’t see your problem as everyone’s problem.
Wait and believe that kindness is coming.

The suffering of the world assaults me.
Huge, sad eyes and bloated bellies, a child
picking rice grains from a blanket in Somalia.
What would you have me do, Reader? Give up
my treasure to wander that blasted plain,
find that wretched child, comfort it, feed it?

But what of those I left behind, without
protector, provider? What of my here and now?
What of the swaying bridge I build each day
to span my own pit of chaos? My knees buckle.
I have not bread enough to feed the world,
so I give sad dollars to those who dig wells.

I gather close those I can lift above
the cold rapids. I do not go numb at
the touch of their hands or silence the lilt
of their laughter. I should be ashamed, but
my love is cruel. My love is selfish.
I will abandon all those not my own.


Date: 2018

By: Mark DeFoe (19??- )

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Boxing On by Bruce Dawe

‘Little boxes, little boxes …’ – so went that sixties song,
along with other youthful Woodstock sneers
-and still suburbia’s moving right along,
undaunted, in both human hemispheres …

Media focus on those odd disputes
concerning trees, and rights-of-way and such
particularly, but suburbia refutes
claims such communities are out-of-touch.

Indeed, the spread of suburbia is ever
aware of the inner cities increasing cost,
challenging bland utopias and those clever
green dreams of urban dwellers hopelessly lost.

For most of my life, suburbia’s been my home,
and I still see new suburbs, east and west
(and north and south), defining themselves like families who come
seeking the better, hoping for the best,

Supposing in distance habitable space,
those things the clamorous outer life denies:
room to turn round twice and not grimace
and find some sympathy in unburdened skies …


Date: 2018

By: Bruce Dawe (1930-2020)

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

A Jar of Moles by Matt Howard

I have trawled the whole city for your gift,
trusted the knowledge of black cabs to bring you this –
it is quite full, so be careful of its weight.

The man couldn’t say how many it contains,
simply that it’s full because it has to be,
just as a true heart only ever brims with love.

Each side is crammed with quiet wild faces,
pink snouts clear from their maze of dark chambers;
see, this one here still bares its teeth.

The labouring velvet behind blown glass through decades
and where one man made that emptiness
another has worked hard to fill it.

So take these moles darling, with my love,
hold them safe, and away from the sun,
cherish each heavy earth-swimming hand.


Date: 2018

By: Matt Howard (19??- )

Friday, 24 December 2021

Model-Train Display at Christmas in a Shopping Mall Food Court by James Arthur

These kids watching so intently
on every side of the display
must love the feeling of being gigantic:
of having a giant’s power
over this little world of snow, where buttons
lift and lower
the railway’s crossing gate, or switch the track,
or make the bent wire topped with a toy helicopter
turn and turn
like a sped-up sunflower. A steam engine
draws coal tender, passenger cars, and a gleaming caboose
out from the mountain tunnel,
through a forest of spruce and pine, over the trestle bridge,
to come down near the old silver mine.

Maybe all Christmases
are haunted by Christmases long gone:
old songs, old customs, people who loved you
and who’ve died. Within a family
sometimes even the smallest disagreements
can turn, and grow unkind.

The train’s imaginary passengers,
looking outward from inside,
are steaming toward the one town they could be going to:
the town they have just left,
where everything is local
and nothing is to scale. One church, one skating rink,
one place to buy a saw.
A single hook-and-ladder truck
and one officer of the law. Maybe in another valley
it’s early spring
and the thick air is redolent of chimney smoke and rain,
but here the diner’s always open
so you can always get a meal. Or go down to the drive-in
looking for a fight. Or stay up
all night, so tormented by desire, you can hardly think.

Beyond the edges of the model-train display, the food court
is abuzz. Gingerbread and candy canes
surround a blow mold Virgin Mary, illuminated from within;
a grapevine reindeer
has been hung with sticks of cinnamon. One by one, kids
get pulled away
from the model trains: Christmas Eve is bearing down,
and many chores remain undone.

But for every child who leaves, another child appears.
The great pagan pine
catches and throws back wave on wave of light,
like a king-size chandelier, announcing
that the jingle hop has begun,
and the drummer boy
still has nothing to offer the son of God
but the sound of one small drum.


Date: 2018

By: James Arthur (1974- )

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Packing a Punch by Scott Thomas Outlar

Not every poem
has to hit a homerun
pertaining to the wit
with which it is presented.

It is not perfection
that is expected,
only the pursuit thereof.


Date: 2018

By: Scott Thomas Outlar (19??- )

Friday, 20 August 2021

Recalcitrant Paperbark by Ross Jackson

roosting ibis unknot her leafy brows
unpick her twigs
long shadow off her shoulders
entices mosquitoes into reeds

planted in mud
her one big leg bared
solid stance of a peasant woman

skirts hoicked above the surface
lace petticoats damp
at the hem

like fists at the sky her thickset
limbs defy
any storms that would see

her curly crown

From: Jackson, Ross, “Recalcitrant paperbark” in Eureka, Vol. 28, No. 3, 11-Feb-2018, pp. 59-60.

Date: 2018

By: Ross Jackson (19??- )