Category: Poetry (Page 1 of 9)

Three Poems

By Jedediah Smith

Does the Wail Diminish?
            elegy for Miles Davis

You were a Hell Hound
howling at the moon
on a moonless night,

had enough bad taste
to believe in your own existence
despite every authority’s proof
.         that you were gone.
Pouring out the empty spaces between notes
like the sacramental wine in a goblet of solid brass
– sounding, like a bell
.         in the bass
                   of an ocean
                                  orchestra.

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The Harrower

By: George Witte

A ditch parts husks of villagers.
Pale bodies heaped for prompt disposal, spent.
A boy approaches, fleeing hell,
suspiciously well-fed
(as commentators later note).
Bright eyes and healthy teeth
suggest the photo’s staged, composite hoax
where past and present tense
elide. What child
could pass through slaughter underanged?
And yet they do;
he did, and we must too.
That’s the path forgetful orphans
take, our parents gone before we knew
enough to harvest memory
against the day such cells
devour themselves. Riding air, we travel
light between this world and theirs,
reluctant guests, malinger
where they were.
___________ That boy:
He lived anonymous, a workingman,
identified through ledger notes
his captors kept meticulous,
each name a number, date, and means
of end. Not one
spared but he, whose record line
concluded blank and left
the question open. Nor when found,
now small-town widowed pensioner
and dogged by press could he recall
who framed and shot his one surviving proof
or where he wandered next or why
he seemed to smile or what,
before, he fed
upon.


George Witte‘s books are The Apparitioners, Deniability, and Does She Have a Name? New poems have been published in Hopkins Review, Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, and The Yale Review. He lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Women are Crewelwork

By: Barbara Daniels

A man thinks they’re made of chain
stitches, stiff appliqué. When
they enter a room, he smells

their blood. He rises at once and
leaves the room of a woman’s
body, her half-drunken hat,

the flounce of her skirt.
He’s scared of old women’s
hands like spatulas, legs

furrowed like corky trees.
He walks out to water.
Big Timber Creek pulls sand

toward the ocean, stirring up
filth. He reads its dark glossary—
purling, cabling, casting off.

The lip of a mushroom leers.
The sky exhales. He closes
his eyes and tries not to breathe.


Barbara Daniels is the author of Rose Fever, a book of poetry published by WordTech Press. Her second collection, Talk to the Lioness, is forthcoming from Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press, which previously published her chapbooks Black Sails, Quinn & Marie, and Moon Kitchen. Daniels’s poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, and other journals. She has received three fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

 

 

 

 

Old Burying Ground, Brewster, MA

By: Jennifer Stewart Miller

anna Gray
aged aBout
4 MONTHES
DIED JANVARY
THE 15TH
1709/10

Anna, in this burial ground brimming
with imposing stones, your slate—

not much bigger than an iPad—
catches my eye: lunar gray, topped

with a winged death’s head the size
of a Barbie’s skull—writ so small,

the fearsome jaw and glare
diminished. By your side,

your parents, Susanah and John.
I didn’t come here for you.

But I look you up—the miracles
of search engines—and see I’m

descended from your brother, Lot.
So long ago, but maybe we share

a gene or two.
Sharks and jellyfish may outlast us,

and someday the stars will drift apart
and the earth go shudderingly colder

than the January day you died. Still,
I honor this desire to speak the names

of even the smallest dead—
to acknowledge your gravity, Anna.

No Ozymandias, you, no King of Kings—
But as the details chiseled on your slate insist,

you were here, and you were loved—
colossal facts.

It’s spring—sky blue, a warm breeze.
A red-winged blackbird sings hard for a mate

in a patch of wetland near the church. Spring,
which you never lived to see—

today your name flutters like a jarred
butterfly in my skull, Anna Gray.


Jennifer Stewart Miller holds an MFA from Bennington College and a JD from Columbia University. She’s the author of A Fox Appears: A Biography of a Boy in Haiku (2015), and her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart and appeared in Green Mountains Review, Harpur Palate, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, and other journals. Her chapbook The Strangers Burial Ground is forthcoming in Fall 2019 from Seven Kitchens Press.

Holy Night

By: Derek Annis

With my first child on the way, my main concern
is how I am going to explain
about Santa Claus—that Christmas Eve
in the early nineties when, in the middle of the night
I heard a racket, rose from under the sheets, snuck
downstairs, passed the large dark figure
rooting around under the unlighted tree, snatched
a big knife from the wooden block in the kitchen
and buried it in his throat, from which gushed red
and white streams of molten peppermint candy,
hardening on the carpet while he gurgled
some pathetic plea for help to the reindeer
on the roof before going limp, breathless,
his no-longer-jolly gut still jiggling, his drunkard-red nose
going blue, and my grandparents who, upon waking, helped
me break the frozen earth, roll his body
in, and cover it—that this
is how I came into possession
of the magical red sack from which the wished for presents
are produced each year—that this is why, when the light
comes on in the middle of the night, I am the one
filling the stockings, consuming the milk and cookies.


Derek Annis is the author of Neighborhood of Gray Houses, which will be released by Lost Horse Press in March, 2020. Derek lives in Spokane, Washington, and holds an MFA from Eastern Washington University. Their poems have appeared in The Account, Colorado Review, Epiphany, The Gettysburg Review, The Missouri Review Online, Spillway, Third Coast, and many other journals.

Emily as I Breathe Normally

By: Darren C. Demaree

There is a lot of cereal
in the modern marriage.
Emily buys a lot of cereal

& so I eat a lot of cereal.
I could be more specific
about the granolas

& the chocolate rice
she buys because the children
love the chocolate rice,

but really, what matters
to Emily is that I keep
spoons in my pocket

everywhere I go. Ask me
to show you a spoon.
I’m always ready for Emily.


Darren C. Demaree is the author of eleven poetry collections, most recently Emily As Sometimes the Forest Wants the Fire (June 2019, Harpoon Books). He is the recipient of a 2018 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, the Louis Bogan Award from Trio House Press, and the Nancy Dew Taylor Award from Emrys Journal. He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

Death of a Millennial

By: Cole Depuy

Tech Support stormed my apartment
carrying “hot spots” & LTE coverage.
They were too late.

My obituary read:

Officials reported Netflix froze,
then Snapchat wouldn’t load,
& finally Instagram displayed an error.
The 27-year-old bravely unplugged
his modem & plugged it back in several times
before collapsing.
He was isolated in seconds,
asphyxiated in minutes. His last moments
were spent guessing at the neighbor’s password.
The coroner’s report named
WIFI deficiency in a millennial
as the cause of death.
The deceased is survived
by his 14 YouTube subscribers.

I got an open casket
despite what the pressure
did to my veins.

My followers lined up & approved,
leaving comments like flowers.

I heard he didn’t pay his bill, they murmured
& called it a suicide
while taking selfies in the parking lot.

After a month, hundreds of friends
had unfollowed me.

My profile an old gravestone,
showing pictures and messages
of a person who never existed.


 Cole Depuy is a Ph.D. student in SUNY Binghamton’s Creative Writing Program and recipient of the Provost’s Doctoral Summer Fellowship. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Penn Review, Boston Accent, The Maynard, pacificREVIEW, and elsewhere.

Angel Wrangling

By: Roy Bentley

It’s tough, I suppose, to lasso anything living.
Especially a creature hunkered down in an hour
of buttery light carrying Eden like some found coin.

This bright-feathered portent is talk-singing a rendition
of Gregg Allman’s “Melissa,” and so quite distracted
with some ghost-Melissa—as if you can categorically

cowboy the Metaphysical, drop your best blue noose
over a shoulders-and-wings upper part of the body
while last sun brazes the grass and groundcover.

Once, this one roadied for the Allman Brothers.
He gives me a look that says Really, bub? really?
in effect, weighing in on millennia of human failing.

He deports himself well, this unrepresentative god,
with rope-squeezed chest and flame flickers for eyes.
I can feel the white lie of a hereafter set like a hook.


Roy Bentley‘s poems have been widely published, notably in Crazyhorse, Shenandoah, Rattle, The Southern Review, American Literary Review, and Prairie Schooner. He is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a fellowship from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, as well as six fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council. His fifth book, Walking with Eve in the Loved City, was a finalist for the Miller Williams Poetry Prize. A new collection, American Loneliness, is available from Lost Horse Press.

 

 

 

Pass / Fail

By: Larry Narron

_____Somehow, you pass          the ball
___________to the other           school’s mascot.
_____For years, the rumor
________________has been the Bandito
________________costume
___________contains
________________a leper
___________who failed
________________out of Oceanside
__________________________High
_____________________after stabbing
_______________________________a Vista
_____________________Homeboy
________________in the knee
_____________________with a screwdriver.

_____Now,
_____from the eye-
___________level row
________________of bleachers,
__________________________a mom from immaculate
_____Torrey Pines
__________________________calls
________________you a failure
__________________________from filthy
_______________________________Escondido.
_____When your eyes                      lock with hers,
__________your souls are two           ships

_______________________________colliding
_____________________in daylight.
_____________________You fail
_______________________________to see
_______________________________what you mean.
________________You mean,
_____________________when you pass          off somebody
________________else’s words
__________________________as their own,
________________what we have
_____________________here is a failure
_______________________________to communicate
_________________________________________by echo,
_______________________________to exchange
____________________________________numbers

____________________________________by
____________________________________telepathy, to make
_____________________a transaction
_____________________of bodily          fluids

_________________by        screen. How
_________________did you ever
___________________________manage            to fail
__________________________________________Sex
_______Ed.? Whatever you do,
___________________________do you,
________________________________but don’t let
________________________the millennia pass
______________________________________you by.
______________Don’t let          last summer
______________pass the starting
______________________________line.           Failure
_______________________________________to comply with
___________________these prayers
_____________________________will result in blood-
__________________________________shed.
_____________________________How
_____________________________could you
______________________________________________forget
__________________________________to memorize
_______________________________________misery?
_________________________The pass-          word
________________________________________you’ll need
_______________________________to access
_________________________your memory
_______________________________banking account on-
_______________________________line

_____________________________________is fail-
_____________________safe. Thank      you
_______________________________for calling. If
_________________________________________you know
_________________________your party’s extension,
_________________________________________please
_________________________________________remain
____________________________________on anti-
_________________________depressants, or
_________________________________________press 1
___________________________________________to make more
_________________________________________mistakes.
________________________________Press 2
_____________________if what you’re feeling
_______________________________surpasses
_____________the frustrating limits
__________________________________of your tongue-
____________________________________________tied shadow’s
________________________________________________vocab.
________Didn’t you catch          your shadow          red-
____________________________handed, arm
_______________________wrestling
__________________________________the wind          without
____________________________you?
______________Press 3 if you saw it          collapse
______________________________on Denise          during morning
________________________assembly.
_____________________________Didn’t you
____________________see the no trespassing sign
________________________________________on her skin?
___________________________________Your eyes
are beginning          to fail. Where
_________________________do you think
_____________________your                                         shadow
______________________________is going
_____________________________________________without
a hall pass?
__________Press               4
__________if your young              flame          failed
_____________________________to burn
_________________________down

_____the school
__________after Winter

___________________________________Formal.
________________________________________Press
______________________________5 if you knew              you
___________________________________were born
___________________________________to fail
___________________when your old
_____man passed.          Press
_______________6 if          each night
_____the principal
___________passes
____________________through your mind
without fail. Press
_____7
___________if you always puff,                  puff, pass
up opportunity.
_______________________________Press 8          if failure
____________________________________is the mother
_________________of failure. Press 9          to pass
it on.
Blabber-
___________mouth, please              don’t
__________________________fail          me now.
_________________Press 10 if you
____________________________think you can pass           for invisible
__________________________when the spectrum of all           light
_________________fails.
_______Press 11 if you’ve just discovered the drugs
____________________________________your aunt takes for cancer
_________________just make her see
_______________________________the Google logo
___________haloing over her
_______________________________head instead of snickering
_______________________________________________spiders
________________________________________babies
_______________________________crickets.

_________________Press 12          to return           to the dream

______________________________________in which the principal
__________________________________________passes
_____________out drunk at the club, snores          so loud
_______in your lap          in the V                                IP
______________________lounge.
___________________________________To speak
________________________________________>to the ghost
of your brother, wash
____________________down this bottle
____________________of pills

_______________________________with this bottle
_______________________________of gin.
__________________________Thank you          for
_________________your despair. We value
______________________your
_________________________________confusion. One
_______moment
_______please.

_______Gently,          splash
____________gin
_______in the principal’s face           to wake her.
_______________________She fails          to recall          what she’d said.
_______________________You fail           to wake up          in time
_______for dinner.
_______Mom, you should
_____________________say
________________when you finally
_________________________________sit down
_______________________at the dining room table,
______________would you please
________________________pass
___________________the desirable
genetic traits?
_____Thank you
________________________________________for calling.


Larry Narron was born and raised in San Diego’s North County. His poems have appeared in Bayou, Phoebe, Hobart, Booth, Santa Clara Review, and elsewhere. They’ve been nominated for Best of the Net and Best New Poets. Larry’s nonfiction has also appeared in The Coachella Review. A graduate of UC Berkeley and Pacific University’s low-residency MFA program, he currently studies literacy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School
of Education.

A Glass I Won’t Pick Up Again

By J. Jules

Why did I pick up that glass?
Wine doesn’t sit well on an empty stomach.
And I’m allergic to sulfites.

I could have avoided it all.
The nausea, the vomit,
the horrified look on her face.

No excuses. I did. And boy,
did it make a mess to clean up

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