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Poetry | March 2022

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Last Updated: 12/07/2022 12:07 pm
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9D and 84

There’s a young girl
panhandling at the corner
of 9D and US 84
with a ring in her nose,
and her name is Megan.
I carry a Subway
10-dollar meal card and
she’s appreciative. While the light
is red and I can’t move on
we chat about December weather
getting colder and other
non-talk talk. Why a young
girl in her 20s panhandles
in affluent Dutchess County,
and why I can’t be a better
Jesus
to her, a woman at the well…
Well, that never comes up.

—Robert Phelps

Sister Fox

Some days I pinch and pull at my life
until it fits into the lines of a poem.

The sunset was beautiful but I feel sad.
Put in a loon’s call.

Then there are days when the poem finds me.

Like this morning, when the great red fox
walked towards the sliding door
and stared at me until I understood her

leave girl leave
I can smell the false love all over you

—Natalli Amato

Choice

How to celebrate the so-called
passing of our great teacher,
who spoke so eloquently of no-birth
and no-death?
“It is not a choice between
annihilation and immortality,”
Thay said.

I light a fire this January morning
and lick the small marshmallows from
the surface of my coffee. The goo
sticks to my lip.

I like to say that this day
is like no other,
that anything can happen.
Yesterday a red fox went
back and forth across the ice all afternoon long,
searching for food at the nature preserve,
then coming back home.

Just last night, I was startled to wake to
aliens in my bedroom, the ceiling
the contours of their ship,
just visible in the moonlight
that floated in.
Aliens take you, you know!
They might take you to Eden
or to a cold January hell!

I switched on the light
and texted myself:
Aliens @ 1:25, my so-called
last words.
In the dark again,
globes of light danced.
I got up and made tea.

—Laura Rock Kopczak

At the Graveside for Whom

All the THAT'S were dressed
In dirty dungarees
No one was crying

On the outskirts
With thin attendance
Were old grammarians
Dressed in dark suits
Sighing

And some children
Who hadn't the faintest idea
What the hell was going on.

—Anthony Herles

SERPiENTE

... He is the outlaw of beasts—the edge
on trouble’s doorstep, an arrow
      pointing
in the wrong direction. Don’t tread
on him
, please: He is more
than you asked for, less
                            than you admire.
...Languidly,
               on stones or on shores
you may see him, coiled
         or flat, that wedge
of ribbon ‘round the useless gift
you’ve secretly envied, eagerly tried—
        that cheerful, hissing fuse
to its hidden, incendiary surprise.
Once, he occupied
the boudoir of Heaven, stained its sheets
              blood-red:
He slammed the gate to that portal
                called Paradise.
Now, curled like a tourniquet
‘round your uneasy gaze,
your gasping throat, your thighs,
                   he cheers
as you change from Saint to rogue—
     a bonfire in a burning bed.
Serpiente: that matchstick caveat
your mother

                   always warned you of...

He has no use for a halo or wing,
some harp, or pardoned Fall.
It’s all so very clear—
                           Expect
                               Nothing,
                                         Relinquish
                                                       All...

—Marlene Tartaglione

Hotel Days

The dog in the room across the hall keeps
Barking. She is my alarm clock and the bane
Of my existence. First time I heard her, I
Went down to the front desk. The woman
There was already on the phone, talking the
Issue over. “We know about the dog.” I was
Wondering if the dog was a service dog and her
Person might be dead. “We hadn’t thought of
That.” I went to work and came back to the
Hotel in a state of suspended consciousness.
Is this real? It must be real, the dog across
The hall is still barking. Where does she get
This energy? The TV works. I have one book
To read and I go to read some of it. The laundry
Machine on the 3rd floor only accepts quarters.
I get my quarters together and you can assume
The rest. Sometimes the act of doing laundry
While staring through a window, not quite
At yourself and not quite at the traffic lights…

—Greg Tackach

Finding Poetry in the Trash

Of course when my son saw
that I was digging through
the trash he had to tell mama.
Mama, daddy is looking through
the garbage for poetry!

I was indeed looking for poetry
in our kitchen trash bin.
On this day early on in the
pandemic I was experimenting
for the first time with found poetry.
Could I make a poem from garbage?

And it turns out GLORY BE
I could raise from out the rubbish
the wrappers, receipts and rinds
a grimy handful of lines
entitled “This Poem is Garbage.”

But the real find was the whole damn scene.
This preposterous diving into the gross unknown.
This search for gold amongst the gunk.

—Daniel Sennis

Cherry Tree

Go kiss the drunk girl
She might still believe in love
Imagine planting her a cherry tree
And years later
Chopping it down with your kids
To keep warm
In the longest winter of your life

—Forrest Hackenbrock

The Waterbearer

we watched by the fires flickering light
the ferryman guide his craft down the still river to our dock
so many before me have taken this journey
now it was finally my turn
I said goodbye to my family
grabbed my pack and water jug
and boarded the boat knowing I would never return
to the forests I had played in as a young girl
we moved upriver, our oars beating against the current
past crumbling cement and steel that twisted out of the riverbank like witch fingers
long past sunrise we saw its huge slender obelisks rising above the treeline
the dying place
we all must pass through
we all must look upon the face of what god may live here
I disembarked in the shadow of it
the ferryman departed without a word
I looked only forward. fear does not follow us in this place
so we are told
As I marched I whistled
the birds whistled along with me
I did not think there would be birds here
there is so much of the old world
strange masks with blunted tusks and large opaque ovals for eyes
the same fading black and yellow hieroglyph
the tri bladed fan
some kind soul had scrawled arrows in chalk
but every person of my tribe knows well the ritual
I walked up the metal stairs as I had practiced so many times
we are born for this moment
it does not make it easier when it comes
to look on god, you would not know you were looking at the thing
a lump of glowing green rock
beautiful but not breathtaking
I poured my water and gave my thanks, as my ancestors did
as my children will
now, I think, I will sit here awhile
and listen to the birds until I fall asleep.
—unknown, found written on a wall in the ruins of Three Mile Island

—Randall Schmollinger

Short Stories

On that day we spun a short story of joy
After years you were sorrow-bodied
Those darkened days, and darker love woven tightly into blood

But on that day there was blinding southern sunshine
Your ashes stuck to my legs, flowers and death
Poured into the open ocean waves

Now I pray for your joy
That you were amused by the rose petals

I’ve carried your sorrow from the ocean

—Elise Elizabeth

When Things Become More Than Things
For Noah

Things can do that,
Become more than things.

We often keep and keep them
Well past their keeping time.
A shirt without elbows, pants without knees,
Or an item so long a guest in our life
No one even remembers “when we got it.”

Like our aged and beloved pets,
We keep and keep these things.
A chair almost without stuffing,
A battered lampshade, crooked but kept.
And yet, some things that we keep and keep
Do, in fact, “get better with age.”

Like a treasured table, its thick wooden planks literally
Soaked with history, from birthdays and holidays,
From noisy rambunctious family meals, as well as
Quiet familiar repasts shared by just two, alone, happy.

Yes, a table like that, one that bears
The invisible imprint of countless elbows,
One that remains sturdy long after we are not,
Whose planks still glow beautifully
And grow warm with sunshine,
Yes, we keep and keep a table like that,
And we hope others will keep and keep it, too.

Because things can do that,
Become more than things. Much more.

—William P. Hogue

Trash

I have my own
pile of sadness
you have yours.
Mine is high
so is yours.
Let's make
one big pile
and trample it
into the ground.

—Susan Liev Taylor

Butterflies dancing over flowers...
Dazzling sunlight

—Frances Greenhut

Simple Precautions

If I had known how
aggressive you could be
around a bathroom sink,
I wouldn’t have left
the Mason jar of Q-tips
so close to the edge
of the counter. Now
no one can clean their ears,
and I have to worry
about cutting my foot
the next sixteen times
I exit the warmth of the shower

—G. R. Bilodeau

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