Posts tagged ‘2021’

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Romantic Evening for One by James Gaynor

Twilight birds turn into frogs
or they in their voices do
singing secrets known only to owls —
as dead-eyed in the darkening
a snaking silver fish with teeth
listens to its next meal

While on another shore
In a different forest
it’s hard to tell
under the feathers and tulle
who’s a swan and who’s a princess
because here in some confusion
so often they are both

There’s a wizard there’s a queen —
always a wizard always a queen — and
her pale flock dances in military formation
while one of its number molts into
her human other then into yet another other
perplexing a prince unaware
he’s half of an interspecies couple

At this lake nothing ends well
but time after time I hope —
just this once —
love might triumph
because well you never know
at least until now
stranger things have happened

but then
there are evenings
of uninterrupted music
when the indifferent unseen
fills with fractured light and

the end of everything isn’t


Date: 2021

By: James Gaynor (1948- )

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

“What a Man Wants Is the Power to Name the Terms of His Rescue” by Ray Gonzalez

“What a man wants is the power to name the terms of his rescue”—Stephen Dunn

If I had that power,
I would have rescued
myself long ago and
my private landscape would
remain mountain and sky.
These are terms I can accept,
not tell anyone I am growing
stronger each day, the dirt trail
never leading where it should,
people vanishing from our lives
so we can steal their power.

If I had that power,
I would measure how
much strength I stole from
my father who just died
without saying a word to me.
He was learning to rescue himself
because the most beautiful thing
I can recall are my working father’s
worn shoes at the foot of his bed.
That beauty reflects in the sentence
I wrote with my Parkinsons hand,
not on the page, but in punishment—
a sentence for the power of rescue,
a silent manner of living without shame.


Date: 2021

By: Ray Gonzalez (1952- )

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Homing by Julie Phillips Brown

Location is the long, long song.
Location is trouble.
Poetry itself is the practice of location.

– C. S. Giscombe

Doubtful about time, not to mention
place, I might like to point to a specific
somewhere, an origin—to claim belated
elsewheres, arrivals. But there is only
this practice of location—a homing
that happens through the shuffling
of questions, like too many cockle
shells cupped in a child’s palm:

How far have we come from home,
and where is the way back again?
What is a blessing, what is a mercy?
Whose hands kept us, held us, how?
With what did we make do?

Location depends upon a node:
the red of my son’s shovel and pail,
his blue wagon, wheelbarrow.
Location depends upon foci:
perhaps we remember the orbit
we ought to follow, even as
we forget the long, long
song of its gravity.


Date: 2021

By: Julie Phillips Brown (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??- )

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Private Road by William Logan

Dusty, sun-stroked,
the attic rose in sepia haze, a photograph
c. 1880: broad floorboards laid down

before the Civil War, square-nailed,
lined up in lockstep. The old colonial,
ours for two decades, reached

the low point of that once vast estate,
the winding drive half gone to grass,
two antique oaks slanted toward firewood,

and, in the back quarter, shrubby remains
that forgot to be formal gardens.
The basement, walls old boulders

lain to foundation, seethed a cheerful
vegetable air. Reduced to two acres,
the mansion had been surrounded by houses

generations younger, like an old roué
by children whose names he cannot remember.
The massive horse-chestnut

trailed its skirts on barren ground,
concealing a bower of greenery within.
From the demilune windows in the attic,

on a clear day you could see Connecticut.


Date: 2021

By: William Logan (1950- )

Monday, 14 March 2022

Postcard to Parsnip by Stacie Leatherman

Since we end,
there must be you,
who sweetens
because of frost.

Pale carrot cousin,
naked mole rat of root vegetable.

They call common statice

But the underworld’s
strung with lanterns,
pockets of moon.


Date: 2021

By: Stacie Leatherman (19??- )

Sunday, 13 March 2022

An Autumn Ceremony by Kiki Dombrowski

Split yourself right down the middle:
celebrate academic and spiritual
collision on a Saturday afternoon.
Leave the ritual early
to make it to critique, arrive late.
Distract the class: release unbound
papers into the air, corners ripped
out for gum and phone numbers.
Have dirt on your hands from moving
stones, smell like a bonfire,
do not remove the moss and mulch
caught in the fibers of your sweater.

Let your hair be damp and wild,
weather is unpredictable and so are you.
When they ask where you’ve been
answer “An autumn ceremony.
Persephone gave me inspiration.”
Write a note about the hawk
that flew overhead with a snake
dangling in its talons. Render
metaphors about the snake
as an uncoiled noose rope. Keep chanting
in your mind: you are a circle,
within a circle. Shake a rattle.

Allow mugwort and tobacco to crumble
in the bottom of your book bag,
let it live in the creases of your notebook
which is full of assigned poetry prompts,
Mary Oliver quotes, circled stanzas
and underlined verbs. Keep your mind in ritual:
imagine the professor a magician, evoking
the spirits of stag, salmon, crow, and wolf.
Let the students close the ceremony
with a clap in each direction:
rituals and words are temporary
and so are you.


Date: 2021

By: Dombrowski, Kim (19??- )

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

La Tarantella by Colin Dekeersgieter

Remember the broad rattle of grief
is a walking stick or a rain stick

and now you are a witch doctor.
Shake the rain onto the blinds

and over the abdomens of others.
Make the dance specially haunted.

My father’s a zumbi. He dances
in a little shop he’s bought

in Montpelier with single-origin light
where he lives by the grace

of fixing things. Through the white-wash
on the windows I hear steel grind

and strings twang. He dances
La Tarantella like a maiden

courting the poltergeist of Sunday morning
itching his bites and sweating out poison.


Date: 2021

By: Colin Dekeersgieter (19??- )

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Damsel in Distress Redux by Marsheila Rockwell

Her tower window
A knight below
Spinning tales of courtly love
Promising her freedom
She does not let down her hair

Spurned and sour, he rides away
She watches him go without regret
The wise princess knows
Rescues unasked for
Only forge new chains.


Date: 2021

By: Marsheila Rockwell (19??- )