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Poetry | November 2022

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if this is lightning
and this is thunder
how far away am i?
—p

The Still Spot

There’s a still spot in my brain that is getting bigger
Like a puddle or a pupil, and I wonder
Which undulating mists disappear in there?
Lately I stare, blurring my eyes on purpose,

And try to unthread everything’s name
From its existence.
Then I don’t have to worry.
I don’t have to know that I care

If it’s my face in the mirror.
My room is a square;
It’s a shape; it’s four lines; it has been erased.
There’s nothing but time.



When the slow sun finally rolls itself over the ledge
The still spot blackens,
Defiant as wind through a candle flame.
There’s nothing like morning flattening.

My arms have become such numb stretches of skin.
Two ropes of dough
Nudging themselves into parentheses,
Pushing into my pillow,

Framing my head.
Ah, to be born again!
There’s a still spot in my brain that is getting bigger.
This paper is getting thinner

—Jennifer Wise

Shorter Days and Colder Nights

At 12 I behaved strangely, skating uphill in winter
or rolling summer swimmers back into the pool.
I was a kid with a village to make, a tree

to enjoy. Through a looking glass I searched
for lips—the good life needed a theme song,
conjured in a carriage house. It was my duty



to always play it, to belt it out at petting zoos.
From childhood I learned how to place light
between gray medals and how to check trees

for Asian beetles. My mom taught me to sew,
and it saved my mental health. Mom opened me
like a present as I grew up too worried

about getting burned to feel deeply remorseful.
Instead, I felt like a reluctant but loud crusader
for autumn’s shorter days and colder nights.

Right on time I went walking into fall,
for now silver seemed like gold. I walked
onto a blue horizon, where paradise formed

apples as enchanting as stones of hope.
Against all odds I caught a magical daydream
with no hands: I just fell right on top of it!

—Cliff Saunders



Some Love

Some love hides in the bushes
Pounces when you least expect it
Or pads up to you silently in the night
Tickling your nose with its cold, wet one.

Some love hums in the background
Pleasant white noise until you turn it up
Your favorite song.

Some love you ask directly
“Would you like to be friends?”

Some love needs to be toasted in a cast iron
Baked at 375
Until the heat oxidizes caramel
Crystals that stick in your molars long after you swallow.

Some love speaks a secret language
Just one word unlocks an encrypted other self
Fully realized after months or years asleep.

Some love fortifies you in armor of steel
Feeds you Appalachian melodies
While the world rages outside
But time and rain rust the hinges
Trapping you until you summon the strength
To bust out: naked, alone, new.

Some love picks you a bouquet of wildflowers
Your favorite
You keep them on your desk until they dry
Scatter pollen everywhere
Then you toss them on a brush pile
Knowing they’ll return.

—Isabella Kosmacher


Witness
They grew from seeds pressed into thimble pots
twenty-five years ago,
privy to windowsill views of swirling snow and vibrant leaves,
children splashing,
birds in flight.

Nine cacti, spires and nodes,
tolerate clumsy hands and watering spouts.
Cobwebs and cat-fur sweaters adorn them,
creating delicate auras
punctuated by eight-point stars.

They endure,
growing thicker in the middle
drying out down below.
Experiencing new vistas and neighbors, a majestic river
and flaming sunsets that sizzle when they slip behind the Palisades.

Their needles intertwine, a safety net of sorts
for their silent community
of shared existence and vigilant observation
amid the steady progression of time.

—Lisa Kosa

Vague

It’s not really clear
what my intention is,
though you might argue
it’s intended to be that way,

but, honestly, that’s not
the case. I might start out
not knowing where I’m
going, but it becomes

clear as I go along.
I intend for it
to become clear—to me,
to you. Here, though,

if it really was
clear from the start
that I intended to define
vague in a long-winded way,

then perhaps, instead,
it should be called
clear, but, really now,
isn’t that

a whole different
poem?

—Matthew J. Spireng

The Rain Came Late and Other Cynical Thoughts

Suppose it thundered last night and you woke up frightened as you were as a child. It took a while for you to remember where you were, in a bed by yourself, as you were as a child. There’d been a drought, the rain came late, or not at all. A wildfire swept into the ridge ignited silently by lightening from the storm. And you slept, and others slept. What did you do yesterday to participate in this calamity, or to end it?

Let me take this on board for you. It’s beyond civic duty so I cast no blame. I will take it on board. Maybe it’s a mandate, maybe it’s a calling, a writer’s calling. And you are elsewhere, in the garden composting or harvesting sunflowers.

The storm is over and we go on living. So long as we don’t congratulate ourselves for our participation in ending the calamity. Whatever we have done isn’t enough.

—Carol Bergman

Poetry Has Been Purged

Not having been in here a while, it could be
I just misremember where the poetry section
is located. I thought it was one aisle behind
science fiction, yet I’ve been back and forth
from one end of the store to the other three times.
My conclusion: poetry has been purged.

I should march right up to that attractive
honey-haired sales associate and demand
to speak to a manager. But my preternatural
tendency to avoid confrontation will
likely only render me demure and annoying.

Let’s say I go through with it, though, and find
myself face to face with someone in charge.
Am I prepared to accept the possibility
people don’t read poetry anymore?
Would learning it was an albatross around
corporate headquarters’ neck cutting
into profits mollify me?

Man, I could use some poetry right about now.

—Ted Millar

Without Apologies

I have a wheelbarrow.
It isn’t red.
Not much depends upon it.
I don’t have chickens.
My neighbor has chickens.
They make a mess of my mulch.
They shit like crazy on my walk.
I wish it would rain.

—J. R. Solonche

River

It goes both ways
This rolling brine and trash
A habitat,
symbiotic
Swollen from heat and time
We tiptoe in
every day
trying not to touch too much
and drown each other
And maybe,
feet up,
make estuary progress towards somewhere
Just
a bit
better

—Cole Sletten

What About Him? (Saint John Alone)

Lately I’ve been turning out
The pockets of my memory;
You’re all museum faces now,
Dark washes of oil yellow-blurred,
Plaster identities crumbled under
Impersonations of some artist-beloved.
(Well, at least they are stolen too.)
Lately I’ve been breathing;
At night, it’s all I do.
Dreams, bloated maudlin,
Waltz with that little tongue of fire-
Drunken hope and pathetic glory,
Hand in hand with a lung for each.
Lately I’ve been taking nights off
From work, from prayer,
(If there’s a difference anymore.)
In my free time I write postcards.
Sometimes I send them home
With a year for the address,
And when they come back undelivered
I just burn them, and pretend.
Grace became a gamble,
Faith, a film of stale wine,
But lately I’ve been saying your names again,
So I’ve reason yet to stay.

—Emily Murnane

When I’m Lost

Sometimes when I’m lost and weary,
and the Wind has quit my sails;
Night-time comes in robes of sadness,
bringing with it storms and gales.
Then gently do I launch my lifeboat,
trying hard to steer toward land,
hoping that the One will see;
and take me in Its loving hand.

—Donny Kass

Good Intentions

I knew my friend would be
embarrassed too.
She’d scold herself in the car on the way home.

And we’d each work through our
own unnecessary shame—
born from good intentions.
Her driving away with it
and me,
pouring it from the bowl,
back into the bag.

—Leah S. Brickley

I Know A Field

I know a field where the sun always shines
Golden when the world is grey
Golden in the morning
Before the sun hits the pines
Golden again at the end of the day.

When the mountain goes dark
And the towering trees no longer glow
My meadow lies still, yet spinning
Rays that spin straw into gold.

—B. Moore Columbo

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