Category Archives: Poetry

Peter Serchuk

Peter Serchuks poems have appeared in a variety of journals including Boulevard, Poetry, Denver Quarterly, North American Review, Texas Review, South Carolina Review, New York Quarterly and others. His poetry collections include Waiting for Poppa at the Smithtown Diner (University of Illinois Press) and All That Remains (WordTech Editions).

 

 

Spring Training

On ball fields and in school yards
we caught the first scent, as if
someone was barbecuing down
the road. School was out.
Summer made us restless to swing
and run, the sun simmered every limb.
Light was on our faces, moss sprouting
in hidden places, urges barely understood.
No doubt it took years to ingest,
years more to bake into our bones,
and yet now it seems the games
had just started, that we’d barely taken
practice swings before one by one
we began to disappear, sucked
into the air, desperate as Icarus
for whatever lay beyond the fence.

Kim Roberts

 

Photo by Dan Vera
Photo by Dan Vera

Kim Roberts is the author of five books, most recently Animal Magnetism, winner of the Pearl Poetry Prize (Pearl Editions, 2011), and the anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC (Plan B Press, 2010).  She has been a writer-in-residence at 14 artist colonies, and individual poems of hers have been published in journals beginning with every letter of the alphabet, and have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Mandarin.  She edits the journal Beltway Poetry Quarterly and co-edits the web exhibit DC Writers’ Homes.  Her web site:www.kimroberts.org.

 

 

THE INVASIVE WEED SYNDICATE

          Shepherd’s Purse

A rude ring of lobed leaves cling
to the bottom of the stem, and from this stage
the actors rise in heart-shaped pods
and strip to white petticoats by the open road.

          Bull Thistle

A ratchety stem with spiny leaves splays;
at the top of each spear, a green gumdrop
garbed in angry spikes wears a hot pink Mohawk,
and the bees hone in and get drunk.

          Chickweed

Tight oval buds covered in a coarse white beard
pop open to reveal a tiny white flower
like a loose corona following the sun.
Little prospector: beware the claim jumper.

          Fleabane

Leaves like elongated spoons climb,
alternating, left and right, as if marching
in single file.  The buds droop at the top
as if from shame.  So much
is beyond our control.

          Nutgrass

Tri-corner stems shoot from underground tubers,
a deep blackish-red, that tunnel
under the crops. This mission is a go:
pulling them up leaves the nutlets behind,
pulling them just makes it worse.

Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy is the author of seventeen novels including Gone to Soldiers, The Longings of Women and the classic Woman on the Edge of Time, as well as her critically acclaimed memoir Sleeping with Cats. She is the author of eighteen volumes of poetry, including The Hunger Moon: New and Selected Poems 1980-2010 and The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme. Also, PM press republished Dance the Eagle to Sleep in December and Vida this year with new introductions.

A popular speaker on college campuses, she has been a featured writer on Bill Moyers’ PBS Specials, Prairie Home Companion, Fresh Air, the Today Show, and many radio programs nationwide including Air America and Oprah & Friends. Her poems are read frequently on The Writer’s Almanac.

Praised as one of the few American writers who are accomplished poets as well as novelists — Piercy is one of our country’s best selling poets — she is also the master of many genres: historical novels, science fiction (He, She, and It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction in the United Kingdom), novels of social comment and contemporary entertainments. She has taught, lectured and/or performed her work at well over 400 universities around the world. http://margepiercy.com/

 

Bang, crash over

Breakage.  Yes, splinters, the shards
pierce my brain.  In each friendship,
a new self grows different from any
other of the selves we make and unmake.
In every love however small as marbles
children roll in their palms and stare into,
we become.  In the big ones, our faces
change and never quite resume.

So a piece tears off after the final
quarrel, after the argument that burned
the night to cinders and a wind of grey
ashes, after the wind has dispersed
even the last smear of ash and nothing
nothing at all stays but a friendship
whose dead weight hangs from your
neck like the sailor’s albatross, quite

murdered but still of sufficient weight
to bend your back.  Your neck hurts.
Words clot in your throat like blood.
A lot of you hurts.  Pain grabs attention
but is boring as it spikes and drones
on and on. Shut up you scream at it
at three a.m.  But in the end months,
years pass and you forget.   Almost.

Lyn Lifshin

Lyn Lifshin is the author of  Another Woman Who Looks Like Me, published by Black Sparrow at David Godine in 2006. Also out in 2006 is her prize winning book about the famous, short lived beautiful race horse, Ruffian: The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian from Texas Review Press. Lifshin’s other recent books include Before it’s Light published winter 1999-2000 by Black Sparrow press, following their publication of Cold Comfort in 1997 and 92 Rapple from Coatism.: Lost in the Fog and Barbaro: Beyond Brokenesss and Light at the End, the Jesus Poems, Katrina, Ballet Madonnas. Persephone was published by Red Hen and Texas Review published Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness. Most recent books: Ballroom (March Street Press), All the Poets (Mostly) Who Have Touched me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially the Lies. And just out, Knife Edge Absinthe: The Tango Poems. In Spring 2012, NYQ books will publish A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also coming For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell. For other books, bio, photographs see her web site:: www.lynlifshin.com.

 

More Red Shoes

Haven’t you wanted to
put them on and have
everything that holds
on to you dissolve in
the rearview mirror?
Don’t you want to be
flame? Be inflamed?
Haven’t you wanted to
dance with a newspaper
that morphs into a man?
Maybe you wanted to
just get up from a pasta
dinner, walk backwards
to get a last look at the
room and plunge into
the weird reality of the
Red Shoes film? The
guavas and rouge tints
of Paris, Monte Carlo,
London mist and be
back in the forties when
everyone wore chic
clothes and were perfectly
mannered. But you knew
something smoldered
behind the veil of their
faces and you knew you
were stepping inside a
fairy tale where you won’t
even think of that small
dining room you left with
canned peaches and a
clean napkin. You are
moth, Lorelei at once,
hypnotized, hypnotizing.
The eyes glued to you
once those red shoes
you slide into (easy
as adultery) glue them
selves to your blood,
become your blood as
you leap, smoke from
what is too hot to touch.

 

Bad Dream # 279, June 22

I go back to Vermont, to Middlebury.
It’s been a while, another life time?
And the uncles, the dead ones hover
in shadows, ghostly, their lips and
cheek bones on faces that some
how aren’t there but then, nothing is
as it was. The beautiful bookstore
with the flat above it where I dreamed
in my lavender back bedroom of
starring on Broadway or writing a book,
now looks like collapsing bricks about
to be bull dozed. This can’t be. There’s
no bookstore, no sign there’s ever
been one. The bricks shift, the building
looks like something too dangerous
to enter after a hurricane, a house of
tooth picks one small breath could
make fall down. Even Main Street, a
perfect New England small town
where Life magazine came to photo
graph this perfect calendar frame, the
red and green lights strung for Christmas,
children on sleds and of course the traffic
police who checked out every boy who
came to pick me up for a date my
mother would wait up for me from.
Have I been comatose a hundred years?
Where is the town I knew? What could
be left but mice and droppings in the
mostly abandoned street. Drug vials litter
the street instead of flower boxes and
geranium. When did the town become
a slum, a torn blighted disaster? The
only color is grey. It’s as if the mortar,
whatever held all that mattered together
dissolved. A heart beat. Just the touch
of one brick and everything I thought I
could keep will crumble.

Jeannine Hall Gailey

Jeannine Hall Gailey is the Seattle-area author of Becoming the Villainess (Steel Toe Books, 2006) and She Returns to the Floating World (Kitsune Books, 2011,) an Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal finalist for 2012. Her third book, Unexplained Fevers, is forthcoming from Kitsune Books in 2013. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her poems have appeared in journals like The Iowa ReviewAmerican Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. She volunteers for Crab Creek Review and currently teaches at the MFA program at National University.

 

Lessons From Old Photographs:
Appalachian Childhoods Look Much More Picturesque

You barefoot in a giant T-shirt, next
to your little brother with his thumb in his mouth
and his blanket in hand, under a giant willow tree.
Just out of the picture is the sludgy pond,
with a sign telling people no one was allowed
to eat the fish. Your uncombed hair in mouth and eyes,
looking slightly pensive, slightly fearful, away
from the camera. The light around you is golden
because every picture from the seventies now
has a yellowish hue, which lends an air of nostalgia
it probably did not earn. All around you lush,
and two young children so small in the yard,
alone against the background of tree and tree and wild things.

Jeff Friedman

Born in Chicago, Jeff Friedman grew up in St. Louis. His fifth collection of poetry, Working in Flour, was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2011. His poems, mini stories, and translations have appeared in many literary magazines, including American Poetry ReviewPoetry, 5 AM, Agni Online, Poetry International, Prairie Schooner, Antioch Review, Quick Fiction, New England Review, and The New Republic. He is currently working on a collection of fables, parables, mini tales, comic sketches, prose poems and other prose pieces. Homepage: http://www.poetjefffriedman.com/

 

Old Bird

Old bird is creating a commotion again, flying around the room with his big stinky wings as he rages on about injustice.  “Buy now, suffer later,” he shouts. Feathers fall over us, sticking to our shoulders and faces. “Come down,” we say. “Have a bite to eat.” “Not until the time is right,” he answers. “The time is right,” we say. “Besides you’re not an angel.” “I’m a prophet,” he says. “You look more like an angry bird,” we say. Now he’s bumping the walls and the ceiling. Plaster comes down in pieces. On his next swoop, he causes the light fixture to crash on the floor. I toss some of the pellets into the corners of the room. “Food for thought,” I say.  He eats them like cookies. “Got any more,” he asks. The stench in the room is so strong we cover our noses with our shirts until one of us grabs him from behind, and then we strip his wings and toss them in the trash. “You won’t need these anymore.” Without his wings, we can see clearly his bloated belly and the ugly expression on his face. “I’m a prophet, he says as we truss his legs, stuff him with onions, and put him in the pot.

 

Tea

When Herkel returned home, his lover had become a cup of black tea. She had been sick for days, lying on the couch with a plaid wool blanket wrapped around her body. He squeezed some lemon and honey into the cup and tasted the tea. “Your lips are cold,” she said. He shivered. “Tea doesn’t talk,” he answered. “I’m not tea,” she said, “I’m your lover.” He sipped the tea again, still bitter. “Why are you drinking me?” she asked. “I’m cold,” he answered. The blanket was crumpled on the couch. He sat down on the couch, pulling the blanket over him. “If you’re my lover, why don’t you speak to me?” “I’m only tea,” she answered. He squeezed a little more honey into the cup and tasted her again.  Now she was sweet enough.

Gene Doty

Gene Doty taught writing and literature at Missouri University of Science & Technology for over 40 years. Now retired, he publishes and edits (as “Gino Peregrini) The Ghazal Page online and is moderator of the ghazal forum at AHA Poetry Forums. Up to 1988, his work was published as by Eugene Warren. His books include Geometries of Light (Harold Shaw Publishers, 1980) and Nose to Nose (Brooks Books, 1998). Recently his work has appeared in Natural Bridge and Cave Region Review.

 

The Power of Story

My eyes are not immune to the power of story;
My ears are in close tune with the power of story.
A long line of refugees trudges beside a stream;
Their misery does not impugn the power of story.
Cain lays hands in bloody violence upon his brother,
An act that shapes a rune of the power of story.
Two lovers lie entwined in a hidden bower,
Their names brought to ruin by the power of story.
Your feelings, Gino, glisten on your cheeks,
Your heart’s been given a boon by the power of story.

William Davies Jr.

William Davies Jr. lives in rural Pennsylvania with his wife, Theresa, on ten acres. He has three grown children and four grandchildren and has been writing poetry and prose for many years. He is not sure whether his poetry is ‘lightening in a jar’ or its naturally come to fruition, the latter he hopes! He is published in The Cortland Review and The Wilderness House Review.  He happened onto ‘The Night’ sitting on his front porch as the Perigee moon rose behind the pines. Of course there was quite a bit of notoriety in the media with this moon as to it’s larger than usual size, however, for him the moon was its same old usual self and as sweet as the peaceful evening that bore it.

 

This Night

The moon rises
And fills in
The cracks, crevices,
Spindly lines
Of the woods,
Like lead in a
Stained-glass window
That follows
The outline
Of Pilate’s arm
As he dips
His hands in
The silver bowl.

Nancy Naomi Carlson

Nancy Naomi Carlson is the author of two award-winning chapbooks (Tennessee Chapbook Prize and Texas Review Press’ Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize), a full-length poetry collection (Washington Writers’ Publishing House competition), and Stone Lyre, a collection of René Char translations, published by Tupelo Press. A recipient of grants from the Maryland State Arts Commission and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, she is an instructor at the Bethesda Writer’s Center, as well as an associate editor for Tupelo Press.  Her work has appeared in over 225 literary magazines, including Agni, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and Denver Quarterly, and is forthcoming in The Georgia Review. “Ant Hills” was unearthed after visiting a counseling colleague at a renovated public school. During their conversation, a tiny ant walked across her desk. Explaining that the school had the misfortune of having been built on a huge ant hill, her colleague smushed it.

 

If You Build It

She built a sunroom to wall in honeyed light,
but by nightfall, not a drop was spared.

Patience, she prayed, though to no
particular deity—room drained, even of moon.

The smell of new paint made it hard to breathe.
She had put her faith into star-crossed words—

cadmium lemon, corn silk, goldenrod pale—
and the hubris of human floors,

when a simple sound would do, as a song
without words—Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise

instinct in the flowering oo’s
or a river’s lap and purl surrounding a basket

woven from twigs, baby asleep,
hidden from sight but buoyed by a pattern of reeds.

 

Ant Hills

Build your house on an ant hill if you’re tired of living alone. Even if windows are sealed and a blanket wedged in the space beneath your bedroom door, they will find a way in. Let them come. They can help you get past a season of cold, or show you how purpose gives form to the day. They can teach you the language of trees. Bred to bear twenty to fifty times their collective body weight, they can carry away your fears, one by one, to the deepest reach of the ground, or bring you small crystals of garnets unearthed from below—fire-eyed.