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Delali Ayivor

I was nine years old when my mother came to me,
told me of her
designs for the modern black woman.
“No more pain,” she said.

Delali Ayivor

It’s 4:15 am
and I have woken (again)
to read a chapter
of Lolita and the Metamorphosis, two books
that were never meant
to be read together

Mishka Hoosen

Dear Susannah like a bird
I am going to drive out today
to the desert, you know the place

Joanne Clarkson

Among barnacles and agates
as tides leak up the beach
she picks through litter
to choose a new labyrinth…

Doug Ramspeck

Hard to tell the birds from their voices
in the darkening field where hemoglobin

clouds drift low to the earth, bleeding
along their underbellies

Shelley Girdner

Greedy doll, so greedy you swallowed
four more like you, each with a rosebud mouth
matching floral blouse and hair kerchief too.

Lisa Rosinsky

Well I was definitely a cat, in one of them,
and I think I might have also been the captive
of a pirate or a robber, someone swashbuckling…

Joseph Bruchac

Who sang

the first song?

What human throat

first set free a note

Laura Rodley

A nurse is a good person to be
with a vagabond heart,
you can love a stranger instantly

Paul Carroll

It has stared at us for thirty years,
the scar they drew when your heart
objected to the material world.

Paul Carroll

You could see that she was caught
but wanted no escape, the way she tapped
her chest and refused the hammock chair…

Gary Moore

The stars pulled me closer
And unzipped their little silver jackets
And pressed their breasts side-to-side on my chest…

Sandra Stone

Nimble and knobby, high-stepping it is how flamingos do it, courting adagio under the kliegs, pretending dark. Their smile Flora confirmed for herself after climbing into the pen before she was pulled from it (giddy, gleeful) at the zoo, conservatory for the taxidermist. Everything is inclined that way—to mating. Flora had read this in a […]

George Kalamaras

I make easy emptiness of all the washing.
There is a washer woman in my ear. A very large sky. Remove the bees.

It is your name, solid around me, like a scar.
I would forever be grateful if you would call me Japanese scroll.

Wendy Miles

A spool of smoke unwinds across the sky. Crow clack, cicada, bodies open to the sky. In 79 AD ash and roasting heat seal an envelope around Herculaneum; they look but find no sky. But the heart remains. See it telescope the chest, long for the moon’s pull, that flight to the sky. Cyrano knew […]

Trina Burke

This fever is coming to its crisis. Body prostrate
for much of the day. Why not bite
a bullet or a dowel to weather the throes
of chill and bone torture tactics?

Trina Burke

Faded earth-toned photograph
at 45 RPMs preserves the speed of the roll-away
Davenport and infant me balanced on your knees…

Holly Virginia Clark

I imagine it’s what breasts feel like
welling up, except this was in my ears
and the tiny roots of my hair,

Holly Virginia Clark

He pissed on the spinning rear rim
of the truck stopped at the light,
little otter of mischief surfacing

Holly Virginia Clark

If I’m afraid of the hall of earthless burials,
the taxidermied bodies of beasts
we’ve brought down or dug up…

W.M. Lobko

First week of school all my pens clench up.
Faulty by the boxful, snapped pencil points.
What few words there are are warped.

Sally Rosen Kindred

This was back when meaning was trapped
in pebbled covers the color of his suit.
This was back when meaning
was the engine up the drive…

Sally Rosen Kindred

Grief wants her lean and pink
taking the sidewalk in warm sandals
and a summer dress. Her tenth June
is a hard plum’s shine. The sun is cotton.

Sara Michas-Martin

Hello internal assembly team.
I am un-singular today in this rash of faces.
I sense the careful in me trolling.
An itch welling at the crown.

Sarah Stanton

jackstraw,
where are you
wobbling—cap off
and tum fat, the sum
of grain?

Sarah Stanton

girl, go slowly in the yellow evening:
old man thunder’s got a grumble on
downtown and the hot drops of rain
are ready falling with a whip-smack…

Michael David Madonick

My wife does not believe me, in fact
she has started to mock me, to register

in her discourse and demeanor a kind of
flippant disregard for my sincerity…

Michael David Madonick

Clouds mitigate the sun. In this
there is no defense. One can stipulate

that clear summer days are often unreasonably
intruded upon by vaporous encumbrances.

Murray Silverstein

Back porch, twilight, garden on its late-summer binge.
Striders all over the pond. My mother called them Jesus bugs.

They don’t, though, walk so much as land, dimple-&-drift
on water, give it—you can almost hear—a sideways thwack

David Starkey

What is it about my seaside town
ninety miles north of LA

a chattering of starlings, a labor of moles

that makes the washed-up celebrities
who have washed up here…

George Kalamaras

It killed you to see it—not the tree
but the antelope leg dangling
from it, part star, part scar

Chris Featherman

Dear Brian, You’re right: there’s nothing left in war but to believe in a woman with three names who gives me mandarins and to mourn our friends as kings but not kings and to lift each stone that fell to build the city we find underneath and I ask her about the second name, did […]

Chris Featherman

Jaen You already know God my head is anvil these breaths your work in the bellows my shoulders huge and hunched from holding still your precious gift in the roaring forge and I hammer your daily hymn of ash in the sun-stroked dust I work from low-rising hallelujah sparks to almond moons whirring dusk in […]

William Olsen

A skunk running away almost casually like it might never have to look back. Like you a little. Even like me a little.

Nancy Eimers

1) Would you have dreamed your way so sweetly into this life beneath a flashlight’s shine? Or spotlit by a movie crew, the grandiloquent voice of Werner Herzog musing over the brush held in a human hand 30 or 33 thousand years ago? So, do you think the findings in this cave show the birth of the human soul?

Ron Carlson

When they led me
into the China Shop
I didn’t mind,
though it was a bright place
and the wooden floor creaked.

Bradley Harrison

This is the sound of the terror
of isms Of my rickshaw heart beating
yours

Samantha Kolber

For twenty-five dollars
my mother can dress your feet
in jewel tones. You send her a check,
she’ll send you jewel tones.

Doug Ramspeck

It will not do. This weak-willed light slipping
from the grass, pale as hands folded on a chest.

Doug Ramspeck

Say two crows at dusk in an auburn sky.
But which is the augury of which? Or then
a cottonmouth slipping like ripe fruit into the reeds.

Bradley Harrison

in the cracks in the mud / in the dried up / creek
bed we buried / you six months silent

Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Her long, thin arms
warmed us when the North wind
wheezed, like an old man,

Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Monday through Friday
we clung, like bats,
to the chain-linked fence

Guadalupe Garcia McCall

“Os pido posada,” I harmonized
the familiar lyrics even as I struggled
with and straightened the new ribbons
Mami had put in my curled hair.

Seth Abramson

I’ve found that many contemporary lyric poems—though certainly not all—make interwoven use of three distinct elements: image, narrative, and rhetoric. Sometimes I think of the interaction between and amongst these elements as representing a sine wave or sinusoid. A sine wave looks like a regularized horizon of hills and valleys: first a hill, then a […]

Emily Pulfer-Terino
Emily Pulfer-Terino

We’ve said desire requires absence.
We’ve said a lot, the good wine gone,
light draining. Outside, pavement dizzy

Julie Marie Wade

I sometimes go with him, & so does our friend James.
I joke it is like a “mind gym,” but not in the cultish, self-help sense of the phrase.

Austen Rosenfeld

This day is like a painting
hung
a little too far to the right
or to the left. Step back.

Denise Bergman

All evening my tongue

a manic magician in a submerged metal trunk
unknotting constraint.

Jean Esteve

The sun that succumbed to the mudflats
some time around four in midwinter
was blue as an owl and now its power
to rouse us is gone, gone, like the nuclear
end-of-the-world. I’m glad you were sure.

Phillip B. Williams

Built up only to collapse—your body over mine, into

mine, a hollow pentacle easily fallen into disrepair:

your tip still spilling as my body did drink.

Phillip B. Williams

The boys peeking into the Cadillac’s tinted windows
know nothing of disguises. Have never seen a man,

bronzed, lower his window, exhaling cigar smoke
to trellis their eyelashes.

Karen Holmberg

………It glides by with the grand leisure of a whale in migration. Yet once it sees me ………it retires, melts a little ………………foreskin over . ………its face. The prompt eyes probe upward and re-bloom, dewed with humectants. I stroke its neck, ………glandular and chilled ………………as a dog’s nose. . ………When I cover the single nostril […]

Ginny MacKenzie

You pull into a diner and order your life
to change. On the road
you saw farmhouses
with stacks of frayed hay

Jeff Tigchelaar

Wilmington, Delaware; Wilmington, Delaware.
Does any real mail
ever come from there?

Steve Myers

An early blessing—
neither “the image of Industry
in winter,” nor “flashing seraph,”
but pure figure

Casey Thayer

Loneliness needles him like a ghost limb
on Sunday nights, so he porch-sits.
He cracks the tab from a can of Bud,
scans the valley’s gallery of streetlights.

Marie Gauthier

Day’s close—August’s ineluctable heat
avows rain, relief. Above the new-mown

meadow, an aria of wings:
the swarm strafes gold.

Frank Paino

Early December and the moon bloats with milky light.
Hyde Park sleeps, silvered in ice that wraps the naked elms—
all the lampposts and curved benches. Inside her, heaviness
like the thick silt and mud on the Serpentine’s bottom.

Jessica Ratigan

We walked down to the water together
the day his old friend just didn’t wake up.
I had no words to offer as we sat in the sand
watching the mother osprey hunt.

Lauren Goodwin Slaughter

I’m tired, she says. We’re sleeping, he says.

Who knew a beginning could be totally quiet.

Kerrin McCadden

I once found a deer collapsed near a lake—sleek, immaculate, & unmoving except for its antlers, which swarmed with orange-&-black-speckled butterflies that obliterated the velvet beneath. Whatever word explains this, I don’t want to know it yet. —Matt Donovan The thorax needs to reach 59 degrees for wing-muscle to take flight. Angle the thorax toward […]

Erika L. Sánchez

Woman’s destiny is to be wanton, like the bitch, the she-wolf; she must belong to all who claim her. — Marquis de Sade In Cicero the white prostitutes in front of the Cove Motel lean into cars— knotted hair, limp breasts jiggling underneath tattered t-shirts. We are seven when we watch from our steps, sucking […]

Amber Flora Thomas

You have to hit it on the head with a hammer, good and hard between the ears. You will think of hunger, as its tongue preens its wet nose and its legs buck air and its eyes roll back into its skull. You have to think of killing as a kind of weather: you make […]

Matthew Dickman

Cheaper than therapy and you can smoke pot,
flip the eight-ball around,
ask your question.

John Spaulding

The stars shine tonight /
like lights in vinegar.

Judith H. Montgomery

The Wound parks its load by an appalled sofa,
clambers awkward up the tea table’s shrinking
legs. Squats close by the sugar bowl, smack

Dorianne Laux

I listen to the boxcars coupling, the exhaled crush like air squeezed through a ragged metal hole or wind unwinding in an abandoned drainage pipe, like the one we used to hide in when we were kids, drawing cocks dripping tears with a stolen lipstick, rippling vaginas with a black magic marker, scrubbing our names […]

Dorianne Laux

Uncertainty. Doubt. Mystery. Suspended there not needing to know. Not scumbling after. Undefined, unsheltered. The rain splashing down, not calling it anything. Not asking why now and not yesterday. Tomorrow ‘s a bird hidden in its nest. Buried there. Not here where you’re standing, face lifted to the rain. Whatever silver it is. Whatever life […]

Benjamin S. Grossberg

“To some, that’s just how God
initiated the universe : galaxies
tumbling out one by one, rolling…”

Benjamin S. Grossberg

It’s also filled with wondering
at the wonder: why the shaking
hands, the pacing corridors,
why the shallower breaths?

Benjamin S. Grossberg

“All these years in space have
(among other deleterious effects)
troubling ramifications for one’s bones,”

Benjamin S. Grossberg

“Spend enough time alone
and the difference muddies:
internal, external.”