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Miriam Bird Greenberg

For almost forty years I have been alive, and the magnitude of my unknown grows before me, its shape the shadow of an occult creature occluded, eclipsed, unmade by its elder. Certainty shows itself little by little. It is something I cannot recognize until it has dressed in a faraway forest and passed close by […]

Miriam Bird Greenberg

Its beneficiaries ordinary in their disgrace, made to break at lathe or lumber mill, they like to say. Fruit bruised before the fall, broken open beneath the tree, they are liquor for wasps and ruined gods, rust-riven and rat- gnawed. They croon funereal rights, conceal what they carry. Of them, the garment rent by a […]

Andrea Rogers

You will remember how he moved toward you, hazard-handed, uttering your language—that pidgin of the partially recovered self. And you still won’t have learned, although you know the story well, won’t ever catch the flown bird of your breath, remembering how, still keen, still cold as a machine, Lust polished off your beer, relit your […]

Angie Vorhies

after Carol Ann Duffy’s “Prayer”   Dear Audubon Society: I would like to participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count, your annual citizen-science project that tracks the migra- tion and population of native species. I have a few questions: Why only in February? Do dead birds count? What about caged birds? Should I look beyond […]

L. Lamar Wilson

I smile at a cop for the first time in years—her skin Of caramel & whey, kissed the way French kiss to say Bonjour, not Je te veux, by a pale woman who, like her, Dons wolves’ flesh, the darkest blue, which should quicken My gait, exacerbate the arrhythmia that’s my birthright. I want you, […]

Ainsley Drew

Honorable Mention
Ruth Stone Poetry Prize

Tara Westmor

Ruth Stone Poetry Prize

Ainsley Drew

First Place Winner
Ruth Stone Poetry Prize

Ama Codjoe

I know tongues of fire as tall as men, autumn sap, red panties, a stack of sparklers lit, riotous laughter, a field of poppies, circus acts. I know mistakes: how fire tastes. I keep a scarlet dress for when day skirts the hill with its hem and ladybugs cover the bedroom ceiling. Tomatoes split like […]

Sara Ryan

here. at the dumb stroke of midnight. in the glass dome of roses. the woods at the end of the lake. I was taught where to wait patiently. to fold my hands on my lap like two sorry doves. to tie my shoes in knots too tight to unravel. it’s incredible how the oceans meet […]

Beth Bachmann

don’t call me goddess peace is armed like any man if the ocean is burning oil close your eyes when you come up to breathe lungs float the heart does not the ship is under quarantine often in life there are two choices die or come clean the people do not want an ocean they […]

Beth Bachmann

I laid down at your door a white bowl of milkweed houndstongue lupins cape tulips & juniper a garland big enough to kill a thirsty horse I like my peace like flower or fire wild you can bring a horse to water you can force it to swim but you can’t trust what comes after […]

Carl Phillips

The long fever of summer looks like broken at last, there’s a coolness that the hours, more and more, leave behind them as they tumbleweed their way to wherever it is finished hours go to. Here, finished isn’t the same as lost, at all, is this true where you are? When I lie down in […]

Stephanie Rogers

Heather—his youngest daughter, my sister, his baby, the one who always gave in when he needed money for rent or drugs—left me with her three girls outside McDonald’s, while she drove Dad for a carton of cigs and a Playboy. The girls forced me to play freeze tag. I picked at my fingernails, ripping off […]

poet Michael Brosnan
Lennie DeCerce

Michael Brosnan is a writer, educator, and editor. He is the author of Against the Current, a book on inner-city education for kids at risk of dropping out and most recently, The Sovereignty of the Accidental, his debut collection of poetry. Brosnan’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including: Confrontation, New Letters, Barrow Street, Prairie Schooner, The Moth, and […]

Sarah Elizabeth Schantz

My spine is strung together by a string of shattered stars. Neck wrung, I’m a dead swan floating in a moat—an amusement park ride, the fairgrounds abandoned. A stork stands in her nest atop the Ferris wheel, the emerald cascade of kudzu like a shawl for the steel skeleton, I stood at the stove in […]

José Angel Araguz

I must run: walking won’t get me there. Miles must take the place of arms; distance, embrace. I must run, until I become air. * Conditioning is a whisper on the eyelash of an eye that doesn’t blink, afraid of missing seconds pass. * Conditioning is the day spent hinting: a bee working his wings […]

Tyler Friend

Weird Trans Kid’s bladder is the size of a squirrel— not a squirrel’s bladder, but an actual squirrel, a chubby gray one. Weird Trans Kid doesn’t know which restroom to use. Is tired of all mainstream trans politics revolving around restrooms. Thinks restrooms are improperly named. Wants to rename them anxietyrooms. Wants to rename them […]

R. Cassandra Bruner

A man doused in roebuck piss says I saw it as I skinned its thighs & laughs. Your death always a joke, the shock of womb, a punchline. Darting through the underbrush, even your hooves resounded like cackling children. This velvet crown was not always a betrayal— In rutting season, the tongues of stags & […]

Anna Dunn

In this garden a draft of summer plays across the prayer flags. A handful of slugs marched into the Worcestershire sauce and drowned themselves last night. The red dog is tired and smells like dirt and air. In this graveyard you ask her again to tell you how the moon moves. In another you are […]

Ma'ayan D'Antonio

From her corner in Brattleboro, Vermont, Dede Cummings has carved out a multifaceted career: poet, literary agent, publisher, and book designer. Her debut collection of poems, To Look Out From, won the 2016 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize: “New England poems that transcend New England,” praised the poet Clarence Major. A little over three years ago she […]

Tom Sleigh

1 Everything that’s happening isn’t me doing it, it’s what the cold’s doing, the music’s doing, it’s what gravity’s doing to the guy and if I can’t imagine what it’s like how much less can someone outside the whole situation see it straight on when what somebody else is doing might be worse than what […]

Destiny O. Birdsong

“And the difference was all the difference there was.” ~ Toni Morrison I’m hard pressed to say America without sounding like a terrorist. I’m a guest here. I arrived with a few syllables lashed to my back. One of them is bitch. I wear it like a white dress made for your funeral. Here lies. […]

Myronn Hardy

Green awnings have rusted. Time unstill     you are unstill walking on a street stilled.   Your mind holds the no longer market. You want to show me the market. You have crawled prison floors.   Your son has done the same. You are the same     the ceaselessness. Your mother served green […]

Lennie DeCerce

By the time I found my way into a creative writing workshop I had already been to and dropped out of three different colleges. I had published a shitty, immature collection of poetry, fiction and non-fiction and had no formal education in writing whatsoever. I had no one directing me, assisting me, telling me what […]

Bianca Viñas

I place my bag on the chair beside me and the weight gives way, my books and notes spilling everywhere. I kick them aside; it is a minor distraction. The room I’m standing in is auspiciously staring back at me. There is an oblong conference table straddling what could only be described as the 40 […]

Matthew Dickman

Anton is marching with his new friends, their shaved heads like tongues of fire floating along 82nd Avenue, the cars at night honking at them like they were vets just home from the war. He is marching with an old lie in his mouth, a lie like a rotten acorn, the acid taste of it […]

Patricia Smith

Mammy Two Shoes, a fictional character in MGM’s Tom and Jerry cartoons, was a corpulent, achingly stereotypical black woman, seen only from the knees down. I am double negative charm, carrying the syrupy burden of your love in my yawning breaches of body. When I laugh, the sound is a knotted oil on each breath […]

Major Jackson

We enter without tears and huddle in the sidehills. The children’s cries are like spears in our chests, so we trade our silence for hammers. In our sleep, behemoths descend upon us which we cannot shake even when first light flames over the eastern crests. We eat flesh of the great furred beasts and wolf […]

Rosebud Ben-Oni

After a funeral, something wrestles from the wind, Flutters haphazardly close to your aching chest. Most likely it will fall to the cracked sidewalk. Stop walking. Consider it. You won’t understand What you are looking at, this sort of green would-be Katydid with dragonfly wings and limbs like a praying Mantis. It’s incapable of anything […]

Kwame Dawes

The sun falls out of heaven like a stone

Josiah Bancroft

One of Ovid’s gods is drunk,
and stalking the city in peg-leg pants,
velour shirt open to the loins,

Mike Wright

I stumble under sunny-thunder sky. The weather
simply does as it chooses, and we all might
learn some lesson there. I’ve been drinking.

Ian Haight

Becker’s belief in reality, his faith in meaning, and his understanding that meaning can be communicated, has value, and originates in consciousness; are all affirmations of human life. These are ideas worthy of gratitude.

Tom Paine

3 Poems from Tom Paine

Donald Levering

God don’t let that be
my bombshell daughter naked
in a sleeping bag on a public bench

His outsider art graces the album cover of Little Creatures
by the Talking Heads, and a vision of his dead
sister climbing down from Heaven

Kate Kingston

She pours us tea, one that claims
to detoxify, to soothe the throat. Honey
dissolves in the agitated swirl

Jeremy Wolf

Half the time, the poems are alright and the prose pages generally work out, but it’s all about that discipline. It’s all about ratcheting in that time.

Sawnie Morris

You can safely e merge to sit with magenta tulips ,
orange day lilies shouting

Alison Prine

Alison’s poem, Coming Out, is featured in Hunger Mountain 21: Masked/Unmasked on sale now.

Lara Gentchos

I’m going to die, and I want my experiences, as much as I can control them — which is not much — to be experiences with art that makes me feel something.

Cindy Lamothe

Nolan’s soft, subtle expressions paint these invisible terrains with a quiet, haunting power. The speaker’s thirst for her previous life is a mirage that beckons us forward…

Lara Gentchos

“It seems like everyday now, anytime we make art, or really listen to someone else’s point of view, or empathize with the other, that it’s a fight against meanness…”

Breanne Cunningham

Most of what I write is love poetry. And a lot of it comes from dreams. A lot of it comes from lucid dreaming, that half-awake, half-asleep state.

Tara Bray

The warbler’s folded in my tongue
like a lemon drop. What joy
it is to trap a festival inside,

Chard deNiord

In steps at your command/down the plank of a tall
fast ship with the salt/of sex across its lips.

Katherine Hollander

These creatures with breathing blue
necks. Arch and bristle. Forelock and star.

Katherine Hollander

Round-headed, round-eyed, curious, astonished, like an owl or a sea lion, but white as moonlight: a lynx with feathered feet, a little snow-colored kit, bounding. Hullo, you silence. Hullo you secret joy. Take flight into the blackest forest, where the wild boar still roots with a coral-pink snout. Let him find you his one prize, […]

Jessica Goodfellow

In origami the mountain fold
folds down—constructing
an obstacle. The valley fold
folds up: receptacle.
The difference between
structure and stricture,
between paperweight
and wastepaper basket.

Nancy Eimers

Frog eyes glimmer in water then douse themselves and shiny turtles topple off a log down to the water’s under-black when I step out skin    form    and sun hauled out of layers of trees spring wood      summer wood the bark and pith to walk and stand at shore and trying not to move […]

WAITING Monday April 16th At the barre at Miss Allie’s I lean and dream: onstage alone where the spotlight glows, fears of an audience scatter like stage dust. Music flows through me – it always does like air and blood moving my limbs to dance in ways that push me out so close to the […]

Carol Tyx

The teacher did not like the poem,

but seemed unable to say why, his face

seeping dismay or disgust.

William Olsen

Wherefore the marram grass settled the land there also sprang the children who are as the sand in the sea, and houses on stilts as good as gone.

David Moolten

For they everted the irreversible,
Proved all that time my life went door slam
Door slam done an epic waste for the sake
Of argument.

Majda Talal Gama

I’ve seen you in souks that spill with people,

On streets that reek of three continents,

Found you filling cut-glass crystal with the scent

Of nine woods and the rose petals of three cities.

Jessica Goodfellow

The brain, Aristotle ruled,

was a system meant to cool

the heart. Hot heart.

William Olsen

Gust smattered gobs of snow glommed to spruce
shingled white, then, through snow fume, a hint
of living green

Michael J Pagán

Unghost, the leftover residue across the surfaces of
the sea, after a receding
wave or a skimming of the hands. The present has no

Majda Talal Gama

No sweeter air than the breeze that brushes the ankles
of the Lebanese women in their shift dresses

Frannie Lindsay

What else is she ever going to be
but one of the wind’s outgrown costumes
stuck in the swingset’s tangled chains

Dante Di Stefano

The dead don’t bivouac by the riverside.
I reckon love ain’t two fifths consolation,
but a pint of bastard light through the gut.

Matt Yurdana

Some admire the old bull’s cracked horns and peeling hooves, the second skin of ancient

mud as wrecked and crumbling as this narrow road

Gary Moore

I wanted the prize but the prize looked the other way
It was the other prize…

Laura Budofsky Wisniewski

You can dress my naked genome up.
You can teach it art and poetry,
but it will pace the corners of the night
grunting, ‘Something else. There’s something else.’

Frannie Lindsey

Sometimes you visit bringing the lilacs’ stifle and chill
sometimes the earthworms’ benevolent gleam

Nancy Eimers

Under the skin, that’s where I am afraid—
I found it in the mirror tonight
between my breasts and just below
where halves of the ribcage meet…

Joel Brouwer

We should be glad our safety and security
are someone’s top priority, yet we
can’t help but hope for fresh announcements

Chard deNiord

In a sea beneath a sea without a name
where waters gathered to a clarity

Annie Lighthart

The body keeps us ordinary. It says Sleep, and we must,
it says Eat, and we do.

Mike Wright

The office tower is glass,
so cars float on its wall as ghosts,
and I’m a phantom too, my shadow split
as three figments onto the marble floor.

francine j harris

i have walked with half a skull and i have walked
with a blanch shell. i have walked, legs
split hungry, and i have walked too old.

Michael J Pagán

A magician in
a ghetto-full of
magicians, just groping.

Laura Budofsky Wisniewski

Only half the deadwood’s down.
A man’s maul releases
the sour smell of poplar,
severs the gnarled scars of oak,
bites through yellow beech.

Gary Moore

I wanted the prize but the prize looked the other way
It was the other prize
I wanted the beach but I got the mountains

Chard deNiord

In a sea beneath a sea without a name
where waters gathered to a clarity
that was also sorrow. There, in the darkness

Julie Cadwallader Staub

This goat kicked me only once,
as if to say she knows
I’m an amateur

Kari Smith

like chrysanthemums, like tulips;
like the droopy pink heads of peonies
that filled our kitchen windowsill, spilling
over mason jars and plastic cups…

Lisa Breger

I don’t want to leave this world:
My friends are in it, and there’s so much beauty.

Pussy (cropped) by Toby Gonzalez
John James

Impalpable, transparent, a big man /
In a rabbit-coat turns twice, turns three times…

Kwame Dawes

in this swelling city a cluster of mountain
settlements—he has learned how to sniff the air
in search of the things he has lost.

Katherine Hollander

Three rooms: a dark section of hive.
A father with a shepherd’s crook of flame.
A mother like a flame.

Laura Budofsky Wisniewski

one day the skin will fold like a velvet curtain
the limbs will knot and bend
the old fears will work their way to the surface

Neil Shepard

Exit upward toward commuter blue, clouds billowing
in enormous sky. Here, fields open wide, slanting upward
toward antediluvian barns, barn-board and stone leaning, leaning…

Neil Shepard

And charity is a spare that will spare us the night broken down.

Daneen Bergland

I imagined looking down at my fingers to find
they were feathers. I have been that useless.
I have felt the moon beating on our roof,

Daneen Bergland

I wish this waiting felt more like work. I’m so tired
of cataloging all the things we’ll miss. Plastic, pollen,

Daneen Bergland

to read the bees. All the while
the unfinished business of discovery,
fingertips perched on their tiny platforms

Marcus Myers

Before the weight
of our thing overtook us, we undressed.

Matthew Hotham

The miss(ed) anticipation of needs:
a hesitance to object—or,
readiness to complain.

Matthew Hotham

the hops of licit love curl the tongue to bitter

Lisa Furmanski

the eras are deep vaults, peeking and seeping beyond.
And the ridge line is the skyline is pure water.

Jessica Melilli-Hand

The first three rosaries that ever were were black black
for grief for beauty for burnt mustard seeds and what the smoke released.
Some say the threads snapped when God and Lucifer played tug-of-war,
best two out of three. Some say God never was…

Peter Cooley

There’s no way you can see all six at once.
Even walking around them, they’re too much again.
Today, as always, I fasten on just one.

Peter Cooley

Dead singularity of all things seen

in isolation, —

I take one sculpture with me this morning.

Peter Cooley

Crossing the God-line, I am in a space,
I tell myself,–lying–I made myself.
It’s always new, there’s always this re-birth
so long as I remember why I’m here

Mary Fitzpatrick

On this walk
the bones of the beach

glow. They choose their light
from moon’s candle…

Lauren Hilger

I as Leda loved you,

we had read the myth,

with indecorum…

Lauren Hilger

Tolstoy is in the cold of Madison Avenue, Christmas lit.
Still a scent of horses, men in ties, a marble intensity.

Pigeons come too close,
scatter wind off the wing
and lovelessness.

Cody Todd

In America, it is always
the car and the road, the gun
and the girl, the grasp beating the reach,
the inevitable death in a bank vault.