Cooper - 12, 151 Words 60 Pages
The 2014 National
Poetry Month Chapbook:
“19 Years, 19 Posters, And 19 Poets”
This April of 2014 marks the 19th
year that America has celebrated National
Poetry Month (NPM).
To commemorate the 19th anniversary,
we chronicle each year of how the Academy
of American Poets (AOAP) celebrated NPM.
Also included are the 19 NPM posters. Each year the AOAP commissions an artist to
create the NPM poster, in which over 200,000 copies are donated to writers,
teachers, libraries, educational centers, and other literary institutions.
The most important part of this chapbook is the
19 poets who have contributed his or her own poem, background information of
the poem, a photo, a short biography, and his or her contact information. The 19 poets who participated are: Francesca Bell, Robert Ransom Cole, David
Cooke, Nancy Duci Denofio, John Fox, Noelle Kocot, Wayne Lanter, Colleen Lloyd,
Helen Losse, Christina Lovin, Freeman Ng, Allison Parliament, Kevin Prufer,
Jonathan K Rice, Jan Steckel, David Sullivan, Jon Tribble, Laura Madeline
Wiseman, and Sheri L. Wright.
We hope you enjoy reading “19 Years, 19 Posters, and 19
In 1995, members of the AOAP noticed how
successful the Black History Month (held in February) and Women’s History Month
(held in March) was and decided Poetry should also have its own month of
In 1995, the AOAP held a meeting, in
which publishers, booksellers, librarians, literary organizations, poets, and
teaches were invited to discuss the idea and the need for designating a month
to celebrate poetry. The group agreed
and, one year and one month later, the first NPM was celebrated throughout
April of 1996.
President Bill Clinton supported NPM from the
very beginning. On April 1, 1996
President Clinton issued his proclamation:
“National Poetry Month offers us a
welcome opportunity to celebrate not only the unsurpassed body of literature
produced by our poets in the past, but also the vitality and diversity of
voices reflected in the works of today's American poetry. Their creativity and wealth of language
enrich our culture and inspire a new generation of Americans to learn the power
of reading and writing at its best."
The AOAP focused on the reader and even those
who do not typically read poetry and asked the important question, “What are
you doing for National Poetry Month?”
The AOAP joined the American Poetry & Literacy Project (APLP) to distribute 100,000
free copies of the anthology 101 Great American Poems throughout
the United States.
AOAP and APLP placed more than 40,000 copies of Songs for the Open Road: Poems of Travel & Adventure in
Volkswagen Bugs, and copies were donated to Peace Corps volunteers and U.S.
AOAP and APLP distributed 100,000 poetry books on American Airline planes.
The AOAP invited people to vote for their most
favorite poet, and the winning poet would have his or her own postage
stamp. Langston Hughes was the winning
poet and in January of 2002 the United States Postal Service issued the
Langston Hughes first-class stamp.
The AOAP celebrated the 100th
anniversary of Langston Hughes birth, and sponsored the largest poetry-reading group
in the world on April 2, at the University of Kansas.
The AOAP featured the National Poetry Almanac a.k.a. National Poetry Map of America (poets.org/page.php/prmID/382). The map featured listings of poets, poetry
journals, presses, organizations, conferences, bookstore events, and writing
programs. The AOAP and APLP distributed
free copies of Across State Lines: America's 50 States As Represented In Poetry.
The National Poetry Almanac a.k.a.
National Poetry Map of America (poets.org/page.php/prmID/68) extended the celebration
of poetry from April to year round. The
almanac provides 365 days worth of poetry highlight, activities, and ideas, and
history for individual exploration and classroom use.
The AOAP celebrated their tenth year by
having their 10 Years/10 Cities Reading Series; featuring their new Poets.org
webpage; and the re-launch of the Poetry Book Club. The highlight of the month was on the 5th
of April when the Empire State Building honored the AOAP with a special
The AOAP continued the 10th
anniversary by launching a Poetry Read-a-Thon for students. Over 4000
classrooms registered and over 75,000 students logged, recited, and responded
to poets for the project. The AOAP and
the APLP published and distributed over 30,000 copies of the poetry anthology How
To Eat A Poem. The AOAP also
created their Life Lines Project by collecting the most memorable lines of
American poetry form poets and poetry lovers. poets.org/page.php/prmID/339
The AOAP launched a national contest
seeking Poetry’s biggest fan, individuals who exhibited a passion for poetry
that goes beyond the usual. The AOAP
received hundreds of entries, and from those entries chose six poet fans, which
included a chemist, an art professor and his class, and an independent
bookseller. These winners led NPM and
had their innovative ways of engaging with poetry profiled on poets.org
On April 17, poems traveled in pockets
across the nation, carried and unfolded in bookstores, schools, and workplaces,
even in Grand Central Terminal in New York City. The AOAP’s staff handed out city-themed poems to morning
The AOAP launched their landscape map of
American poetry by uploading and geo-tagging videos and images featuring poetic
landmarks, cities, dwellings, streets, roadside ephemera, and other places
immortalized by iconic poems.
AOAP featured its 30 guest poets on twitter via its streaming twitter feed
@poetsorg. The selected poets for each
day had twenty-four hours to post his or her daily insight before passing the
The same thing as last year, except this
time instead of on twitter, thirty poets were to post on tumblr. selected to 30 days, 30 poets on tumblr: poets.org/pag.php/prmID/615
The AOAP celebrated by focusing on the
role that correspondence played in the poet’s development and writing live,
using Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters To A Young Poet as an
example. The AOAP asked young students
to read poems by members of the Academy Board of Chancellors and then to write
letters to the poets in response.
On April 24, 2014, the AOAP presented its
twelfth annual Poetry & the Creative Mind celebratory reading at Lincoln
Center's Alice Tully Hall.
Photo: Arthur Tress.
Design: Michael Ian Kaye.
Illustration: Edward Koren. Design: Jessica
Design: Betsy Bell Photo credits @
2006 NPM Poster
Design: Number Seventeen, New York City
Design: Christophe Niemann
Francesca Bell’s poems have appeared in many
journals, including Rattle, North
American Review, Passages North, Poetry Northwest, and The Sun. New work is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, New Ohio Review, Crab Creek Review, Flycatcher, River
Styx, Spillway, burntdistrict, Pirene’s Fountain, and Tar River Poetry. She has been nominated six times for the
mouse, lying white on your side
a child in a christening dress—
thawed and placed you to wait
the flat, rock altar, but snake
interested. He sniffs once,
flickering like flame,
slides back into the shavings,
again. It’s as if we prayed
God did not come. Or came, but turned
face away, refusing to take the child’s
spirit deep into His devouring shape
free it. As each mouse released
generous jaw and steady squeeze is freed
the great, gliding goodness of snake.
Several years ago, my son had a Kenyan sand boa
as a pet. This is a very small, fairly docile boa that spends almost all of its
time burrowed, completely hidden in its substrate. My son’s snake was not only
functionally invisible to us, it was also a reluctant eater. We fed our
reptiles only frozen, thawed rodents then, and some snakes have a harder time
accepting dead prey than others. In the wild, snakes mostly eat food that they
have personally killed. If something is presented to them already dead, even
though it may smell like dinner, it is not always enticing enough to become
dinner. This particular snake would often come out of his shavings to sniff a
mouse I had thawed and warmed for him, and would then disappear again, leaving
the mouse untouched on the basking rock in the warm end of the cage.
One morning, after a couple of years of this
recurrence, I woke to find that I had been working on a poem in my sleep. The
experience of trying (and failing) to get this snake to eat became the focal
point of “As If God,” a poem that deals with a couple of other topics I think a
lot about. The first is the struggle to have faith in a God that seems to spend
so much of His time ignoring us and allowing us to suffer. The second is the
idea that a prey animal, consumed, is released, through death, into the life of
its predator and becomes a part of the music that predator’s life makes in the
“As If God” appeared in Georgetown Review and was a runner-up in their 2011 contest. It is
the first poem in the manuscript for my first book.
Cole is a poet living in Alabama with his dog Harper. He has been published in several places and
is currently working on his first manuscript. He teaches Composition and is the
Composition Publications Coordinator at Auburn University in Montgomery
A Poem About Two Poor
Kids & a Witch
we start with two children who, as it holds, are lost
a trail in the woods. Poor serf parents or evil step-
set them out, and now they step ever
a darkened forest that, like so many of this world,
darker with more ferocious plants as they, miserable
of profound weakness, step further.
comes the Witch. She’ll be no surprise
the children are too naive or pure to notice
her warts eke out in odd places or how her sugary
fades to almost silent cackles. But we the readers
gone through enough witches in our lives to know.
the young among us have seen enough of our world
know how this witch-infested one works.
so opened up before them, do these two children
this much evil despite their every breath taken
a world made out of it? No matter. They follow
Witch’s every whim—her slightest command or stroke
finger is notched to both lure the children and give herself
to anyone who watches. She splits her middle open
reveal a grotesque heart of smoke and tar, and the children
wrap their hands around it to feel how it pushes itself
to pump warm witch blood. It is a wonderful thing
emits the center of every story’s point. We know
will be destroyed by the children that entice it.
does the heart want with them? We never
privy to know. All we can see is how it will be destroyed
them. A black and rotten grapefruit that will burst
an oven’s flame or split sickly by a woodcutter’s axe.
was reading Joseph Campbell and my fiancé, Heidi, was watching one of those fairy-tale
reinvention series on Netflix that are so popular. I was also reading or had
just finished reading Gregory Maguire's /Wicked: The True Story of the Wicked
Witch of the West/. I liked the concept of the "other side" of a
narrative and how, even though the Maquire text and the fairy tale show were
new takes on older stories, they still fit the hero narrative. I liked
imagining a world where the audience existed but still knew the story would
play out the same way it always has. There's a weird comfort in that. This was
a fun poem to play with-- I think this is the third or fourth full version of
it. It still doesn't feel finished yet, though.
SLEEPING LADY OF MALTA
acquired their history,
a dream of flesh in stone-
call her Melitensis,
are a pampered twilight-
and urban sprawl,
the light comes good
lemony limestone dwelling
a distillation of herbs
wrote the poem after a visit to Malta. I
found the history of the island fascinating.
For centuries it was the interface between two warring cultures: Islam and Christianity, an antagonism that
still exists, even if its focus has moved elsewhere. My family background is
Irish and I found the islanders’ devout Catholicism, with its numerous roadside
shrines, reminded me of holidays I spent in Ireland as a kid in the 1960s. However, since then my own daughter has
converted to Islam and I have three Muslim grandchildren. The famous figuring of “The Sleeping Lady”
evokes for me a time in prehistory before the bloody history of religious
To Nancy Duci Denofio, creativity comes in many forms. Writing, Performing, Painting, Creating in many genres, and stretching one idea into many forms. It all began with a dance she would tell you, followed by the music of poetry, acting, and creating a world of make believe. Her gift grew to reach an international audience, and it reached many levels and several different arenas. If you talk with Nancy she would tell you she loves words, an audience, and to make people happy. She believes she has many reasons to continue down the paths she has chosen, and loves her life and everything she does; far too much to list here. She enjoyed teaching the art of Voice for fifteen years - and was honored to be asked to be a regular as a young girl on the Patty Duke Show, but she had to say not to the agent. New doors opened: you can look for Nancy as Aunt Faden in the movie, Snow Moon, produced by Altman/Howarth. Many of her writings can be found on Angie's Diary on the web. Her ghostwriting keeps her busy along with conferences and her own manuscript - hoping one day to see her work come to life. Nancy writes like she performs, and paints like she sees - it all comes together in her mind.
angel sits in a tree right behind the
room where my muddy shoes are
on a little rug near a door – grown-ups told
I slammed – or sometimes never shut – grown-ups
me so – do you believe me? Not about the door.
you ever seen an angel in a tree?
the angel right behind me near the back door
I stand to watch - my feet small, bare -
am outside, my toe’s touch wet grass – snakes
there – that’s what grown-ups say.
sit on my cellar door – it's wet; my night-gown is moist.
wiggle my toe’s – wait – I know angels
around the neighborhood -
my angel promised – she promised she
give me my wings and teach me too
I told my parent’s, “An angel greets me in
morning as the sun creeps like me out of bed,"
behind the mountain in the western sky.
think I creep out of bed.
wait for a long time – sitting on the cellar door,
long my hair becomes wet like my toes - the sun is round – it’s
time . . . my eye’s look over the mountain, no longer
I see a shadow near our drug store
from the market – she will be here soon, my angel . . .
in that tree. I keep waiting, same time every morning.
keep staring at the sun.
I know she's arrived, she brought sparkles of light, and
flicker all over my special
in my backyard, and the tree comes alive – it sings, dances,
waves as my angel spreads her wings – by now I
skipping and waving my arms up and down,
all over the yard; I hear her laughter. . .
watches as I slip and slide on wet grass and my
is stained green – if only angels
magical then grown-ups wouldn’t complain . . .
morning when we meet she says, “Your wings
grow, be silent. She told me the time must be perfect -
one so young to spread her wings – "You will
and you will fly.” Now I am so excited – I can’t
but skip around this tree, near this angel who
help me fly. I ask, “When?” She never tells me when,
like my parents – she tells me I will know –
like my parents - who know all the time –
keep asking and she never tells me not to ask again,
like my parent’s – who tell me to be quiet.
never believed I had an angel for a friend.
did, I had an angel who told me, “One day you will fly.”
parents told me, “You are dreaming.”
stopped telling my parents about my angel in our tree and
never questioned the grass stains or why I sat on our moist
door so early in the morning. . .
hoped one day they would see my wings grow –
every morning I watch my angel leave – my eyes follow
– as her wings spread, heading toward the sun . . .
do not skip, or run or dash toward the house – now it is my
time to dream; sitting cross legged on damp grass, eyes
my bare feet will walk on grass - no longer moist from a
mist - climb wooden steps – my hands reach to open
wooden door and I return to a grown-up world until I earn
right to fly - I knew even when my feet were small – and I
sat cross-legged on moist grass – angels never lie.
Background of poem:
As a writer of many genres I tend to focus on my memory of the past and bring them into the present day; it doesn't matter if I am writing a novel, poetry, short story or even when I am ghost writing, I bring a great deal of "me" into the story. I believe writing has to be lived - you had to have a backyard with a cellar door to write about the moist grass around it and that market lot and drugstore in the distance, they were there. The mountains were in the background - and yes, those darling lovable parents of mind had rules where an angel would be exactly as I said, an angel, and I always wanted to fly. The description in the poetry is as it was - and my eagerness to fly, skip and run, was from the inside - it was there all the time. So my writing is from the inside and it comes out like a painting, which is another hobby I have - I could take most of my writing and paint a picture with the words. I guess you could say it could be the beginning of a script, too. I simply love words.
to rest, as if you could cry now
the middle of a long journey.
whatever you regret having forgotten
with your aching tiredness
you cannot forget) all of a sudden
to a surprisingly vibrant sky
your eyes widen ever-so-slightly
a recognition that shimmers
your skin, wells-up
a calm line-of-sight
is your own and goes on
you walk outside breathing
slowly stroll in the fresh air
aware that back in your house
new, a stranger you like,
Background of Poem:
I believe, or rather feel . . . that in writing poems . . . and in particular when poetry and poems are treated with a respect for their healing power, there is within us a subtle and profound place of perception. It is not always shared but it is more capable of being shared than the general culture will acknowledge.
The place of perception is a deep well of feeling. As much as the perceiver has a place to go down, submerge, and sink below the surface of things, feelings also have a place to up-well.
It often seems dark and wet, glimmering and intensely pointed, like starlight. Unknown and felt, seen and wondered about.
I don't know, really, if the name for this is soul - because it also feels so deeply joined with the body and the simple gestures of the body - a nod of recognition, a gathering inward to listen with the heart, tears springing forth.
The action of all this is for me a place of
discovery and surprise, a companionship
that again is not recognized by the regular culture. This whole paraphrase about my poem is an
echo of my attempt to capture this moment, these unfolding moments in this poem
that I have been blessed to both feel and witness of the years.
I am the author of six books of poetry, most recently, Soul in Space (Wave Books, 2013). I also translated some of the poems of
Corbiere, and they comprise a book called Poet by Default (Wave 2011), and also a limited edition discography, Damon's Room (Wave 2010). I
have received awards from The Academy of American Poets, The American Poetry
Review, The Fund for Poetry and The National Endowment for the Arts, as well as
a Lannan Literary Foundation Fellowship. My poems have been widely
anthologized, including in Best American Poetry 2001, 2012
Poems: A Norton Anthology. I grew up in Brooklyn, and now I live
in New Jersey and teach writing in New York.
His Woman is Killed, Conan the Barbarian
On To Become a King by His Own Hand
Her Spirit Guiding Him
the village like giants
I shot up in a dream
I make sense or shall
tell the truth—choose either
eyes, an unmade bed,
know you are reading this
I go. I go, not quite as doctrinaire
an atheist, I will bend
like a reed over the broken
of a suburb, my home you,
home, me, and those who
Understand will also die.
are the most alive thing in the world”
too, in my world and in the other one.
I wrote this poem as a hope for myself a month
after my husband Damon Tomblin died in March 2004.
Lanter, English Professor Emeritus, Southwestern Illinois College, is a Writing
Fellow from the University of Iowa’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing and
the former Aspen School of Contemporary Art Writer’s Workshop. He is a former
Contributing Editor of the St. Louis
Literary Supplement and of St. Louis
Magazine. He founded and for ten years edited River King Poetry
Supplement, and has received numerous
literary awards. His books of poetry include The Waiting Room,
Threshing Time, At Float on the Ohta-gawa, Canonical Hours, A Season of Long Taters, and In
This House of Men. He has edited New Century North American
Poets, an anthology of contemporary American and Canadian poets, and has
published a novel The Final Days and non-fiction works, Defending the Citadel:
A Personal Narrative and If the Sun Should Ask. He is currently
working on a new novel, Psyaint David, featuring the Son of Sam killer
of 1977 and Kojak. He has various poetry chapbooks to his credit and his work
has been anthologized in the United States and in Canada.
For Harold Reiser catching up to a
was a moral imperative, as much as
getting knocked off his horse
between Eden and Damascus was for
Pistol Pete legging the outfield
on instinct and that great speed he
could simply out run the resistance
of turf and air pressure, the
of a batted ball, surprising even
often enough to believe that if you
your mind to it anything is
Within the moral resolve to win,
the wall simply drifted out of mind,
maybe set back thirty or forty feet,
invisible, maybe made of glass or
or not there at all. Then it was
with resounding and unforgiving
This was Saul hitting a wall of
dropped to his knees, the sparks
of the divine fire lighting up his
This was the wall of prayer, the
of missed opportunity, a testimonial
to human leaning toward something
that luminous sphere of pure
and grace slipping from his fingers
and rolling away on the outfield
This is where the moral becomes
No wonder his head came apart.
Approaching the infinite with pure
no wonder he had to be juried from
the field a dozen times or so,
through Eden’s gate, onto the road
to Damascus, anointed and given
the Last Rites before being
in the clubhouse in what must surely
be seen as a lifting of the spirit
to his diminished physical
Limitations of Desire
story of Harold Patrick “Pistol Pete” Reiser (1919-1981) is the story of a
ballplayer with legendary talents that included a driven desire to play at a
peak of intensity every day, in every game, on every play, but who, though
gifted physically beyond even the exceptional of most baseball players, was
paradoxically undone by his desire and the practical limitations of the
physical world. Of Reiser, Leo Durocher said, “Willie Mays had everything. Pete
Reiser had everything but luck.”
title of the poem is “July 19” a day in 1942 when the Brooklyn Dodgers, with
Pete Reiser in centerfield and leading the league in hitting with a .380
average, were playing the St. Louis Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.
In the 11th inning Cardinal outfielder Enos Slaughter hit a ball to
deep centerfield and Reiser took chase. The expanse of centerfield at
Sportsman’s Park at the time featured a flagpole, no warning track and a
twelve-foot concrete unpadded wall 426 feet from the plate. As the story goes,
Reiser with his legendary speed (one year he stole home seven times) avoided
the flagpole and simply out ran the ball and caught it going away only to
immediately hit the concrete wall. The ball slipped from his fingers, rolled
away on the grass, and though he suffered at least a concussion, and possibly a
fractured skull, Reiser returned the ball to the infield before collapsing.
Meanwhile, Slaughter circle the bases with the winning run. Reiser was carried
from the field on a stretcher.
was the first of eleven or twelve times (depending on who is counting and
telling the story) that Reiser would run into a wall and have to be carried off
the field on a stretch. Several times, again depending on who tells the story,
Reiser was given the Last Rites at the ballpark. When asked why he ran into the
wall so many times Reiser is reported to have replied, “Well, what kind of a
ballplayer would stop before he caught the ball?”
the story(s) that intrigued me as an example of a human being, with great
talent for doing it, trying to do something beyond the physical conditions in
which he finds himself and beyond his capabilities to overcome the time-space
restrictions. Of course, the first
collision with the wall changed Reiser’s life irrevocably. Though he played off
and on for seven more years (he missed three years serving in the military in
WWII – and when he volunteered and was rejected by the military and classified
as 4-F, he volunteered again and again until he was accepted) he never played
as well as he had before July 19, 1942, and later because of the brain damage
of repeated encounters with outfield walls slipped to heart-breaking lower
levels of performance.
a former pro baseball player and poet I was (am) intrigued by Reiser’s history
and the moral imperative of his desire to play perfectly, the ideal humans
often seek, the celestial sphere, even if it is only a baseball they want to
catch, and how they are sometimes impeded and destroyed by perceptions and
beliefs that do not account for the limitations imposed on humans by the
physical world. Somehow in his pursuit, his desire for perfection, whether it
be catching a baseball every time or approaching the divine, Reiser discounted
the wall. Possibly he forgot it was there. There was no warning track in
Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis in 1942. Maybe in the heat of competition he
could not see the twelve foot unpadded concrete wall, or felt that on that day,
on that play, that it might move or be moved for him. Maybe he didn’t really
care, and/or was willing to suffer the consequences of ignoring the wall –
which he did. However it was, that afternoon, and other afternoons and
evenings, for Pete Reiser, approaching the wall was a juncture at which the
moral meets the physical, and fails. Here finite reality, or limitations
imposed by the physical world, intercepted the infinity of desire, where desire
prompts us to act and to act in a way that destroys rather than heals us.
of that being said, I cannot fault Reiser for trying. Nor anyone else for that
matter. Humans always push the envelope, trying to do something that has not
been done before. That’s part of our nature. So rather than a warning, I
suspect the poem is a celebration of the spirit’s willingness to take on the
impossible, especially when the odds are themselves impossible. For though the
body is sacrificed, we are transformed and in transformation the spirit is
sanctified. And I would imagine we are better for the sacrifice.
Lloyd is an artist and a Native American Indian Activist. She is the creator of the famous Homeland
Security T-shirt. She is presently the
Associate Editor and writer at the Las Vegas Tribune, singer/dancer/actress at the Pioneer Theater Company, and theatre
director/choreographer at the University of Utah.
The Old Wolf
You are with me when I am drumming
When I am crying at the moon
When I am singing mournful tunes
Howling like a lone forgotten wolf
Whose kin have fallen one by one to hunters
And she roves on spending only the energy she must
to make the kill
And if her prey outruns her
Sensible, she turns back for home after a mile
Instinct or luck or skill has favored her
The sole survivor left to return
Familiar territory claimed as home
I offer no explanation
as I climb the sacred hill
Shades of black against horizon
Chill is no match for spirit
Even though feeling comes back slower as the years erase
Fresh memory and will
The old wolf may hang her head
Evading foreign intruders
Shy and wild in an advancing scrimmage of settlers
but she knows the day, the time, the hour, the year
To raise her head and howel her feral prayer.
Losse is the author of three books of poetry, Facing a Lonely West, to be released in May from Main
Street Rag, Seriously Dangerous, and Better With Friends, as well
as three chapbooks. Her poems have been included in various
anthologies, including Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont and
nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and three times for a Best of the Net
award, one of which was a finalist. She is an Associate Editor for Kentucky
a poet’s pointing finger,
swayed by the cadence
river joins ocean
their personal history.
life becomes question.
abounds. Yes, I’m the one
watched gathering clouds
they became the picture
a girl, arms reaching up
of the taller figure
think back on what it
me to remember that.
the street in my dreams
not the street I live on,
even a house I have seen.
am I—that cloud-formed girl—
to wrestle with rock-hard questions,
just the poet with a propensity to borrow
are symbols for love,
a castle is our home,
perhaps rubies, sapphires, and emeralds
yield themselves to poems and songs.
might be the nature of things,
by clouds, remembered,
covered much of the cliff
Spring River. Small cedars grew
odd angles. We used them like
we clamored over rocks.
spent much of my childhood there,
dreaming I would miss it,
thinking it could be gone.
we all want a home in the west,
day our family motored the river
the way upstream to Grand Lake,
we docked our boat and drank Cokes,
kind you get in cups from
soda fountain. But when the time came
us to rescue the land—
the Cabin itself burned years ago—
stopped paying taxes and let it all go
reasons deeper than memories.
published in Hobble Creek Review http://www.hobblecreekreview.net/issue20/helen_losse.html
Background of poem:
I wrote this poem because I was not happy with the way my new book Facing a Lonely West ended. The poem before this, which I liked and had worked hard to perfect, came across too much like "happily ever after," which is NOT the final impression I wished to leave.
I had written a book review of Strange Angels by William Pitt Root for Wild Goose Poetry Review, so Bill Pill is the poet mentioned in the early stanzas of the poem, the one with the pointing finger. He did not literally point finger at me, but he did challenge me as a writer. The questions were questions he posed to me. Several of the images in this poem came from poetic tidbits that I had removed from the other poems. yes, I keep the leftovers; I never know when one will be just what I need. And, after all, they are mine to use. The section of the poem about the girl and her Savior in the clouds is a paraphrase of an older poem, "Clouds," that I wrote and published in 1999.
Then comes a section about my family's property on Spring River in Oklahoma. The boat-trip to Grand Lake, where we drank Cokes, actually happened. The Cabin also burned, years ago no. But the decision to stop paying taxes, that my mother had done faithfully ever year until her death last March, was a recent one. The reasons for that decision go "deeper than memories," or so the poem says. The final line is not supposed to clear everything up and make everything right: life isn't like that. Life contains a bit of mystery, so a poem should also.
Facing A Lonely West, which contains this poem, will be released from Main Street Rag in early May. The book is now available for advanced sales. http://mainstreetrag.com/bookstore/prodcut/facing-a-lonely-west/
native Mid-Westerner, Christina Lovin was born in Galesburg, Illinois, but has
lived and worked in states as varied as Indiana, Ohio, Maine, and North
Carolina. She now makes her home in Central Kentucky, where she lives with four
rescue dogs in a town reminiscent of Mayberry RFD. After having several
careers, including minister’s wife, retail shop owner, and VISTA volunteer, she
received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree from New England
College in 2004. She began teaching college-level writing courses that fall,
and is currently a full-time lecturer in the English & Theatre Department
at Eastern Kentucky University. Lovin's writing has appeared in over one
hundred different literary journals and anthologies, as well as five volumes of
poetry (Echo, A Stirring in the Dark, Flesh, Little Fires, and What We Burned
for Warmth). She is the recipient of numerous poetry awards, writing
residencies, fellowships, and grants, most notably the Al Smith Fellowship from
Kentucky Arts Council,
George Foundation Grant, and Kentucky Foundation for Women.
young dogs the calves chase each other
gather to lie down next to a stream,
knobby knees scuffed and stained
pasture grasses. Heads too big
their bodies, nodding until they give in
sleep. They are tired from their youthfulness
as their mothers, like any mothers,
wearied from their duties of motherhood—
watchfulness, the worry.
hot days they slide down into farm ponds,
withers deep to cool themselves. I imagine
exchanging pleasantries or gossip
teenage girls at the lake or pool.
I stop beside their fields, they come, curious as cats,
see who it is that visits. When I stand near the fence
draw nearer to me, my humanness mirrored
the depths of those eyes that appear
like souls: some other creature
like them is gentle and slow.
I see them yearning their gazes
a country road where grass is always greener
know their intent, their longing, their fear
something is being missed,
something better must lie over that hill.
when the field yawns open and emptied,
absence is like a bolt shot through my mind.
like the young soldiers I have witnessed
like steers through the terminal—
of what lies ahead—they did not know
were nothing but meat
be ground for some ravenous red hunger.
I Don't Eat Beef." is published in the book, Hand Picked: Stimulus Respond, a British anthology from the editor
of the journal Stimulus Respond.
Background of poem:
This poem came about in three stages. The poems I like best (and like best to write) have three somewhat different points of entry, so to speak. In this case, I remember being in an airport terminal around ten years ago, shortly after the Iraqi-Afghan War began. Iw as between flights, so was just sitting watching people go by. What looked like a large "herd" of young men came by and my first thought was that they reminded me of cattle, going off to slaughter, oblivious to what lay ahead. I couldn't help but think of the more than 50,000 young men near my age who were killed in Viet nam.
I moved to Kentucky not long after that, but it wasn't until 2008, when I began making daily 20-mile tripes between the little town where I live and Eastern Kentucky University, where I teach. As I explored different ways ot make the trip (all of it on two-lane roads), I discovered more and more cow pastures. I've since learned that Kentucky produces the most cattle East of the Mississippi. It seemed there were more and more pastures full of cows and calves every week. I started paying attention to them, stopping beside the road sometimes. I was touched with how curious the calves were, how much they seemed like dogs or cats (or even human children). I remember looking over one day and thinking to myself: they don't know they are just meat. After a year or so of passing 12-15 pastures full of these gentle creatures twice a day, then finding the pastures empty when the cattle were sold for slaughter, I found I could no longer eat beef. The poem then began to form. Somewhere along the line, I was reminded of my experiences in the airport years before. So what started out to be a personal poem about not eating beef suddenly became more; it became a protest poem about the senselessness of war and the loss of thousand of young lives.
October 17-19, 1989
the Cypress section of
mile to a mile and a quarter
from the ground floor
Mills Building downtown
Candlestick the World Series
provide desired information
the federal government
provide relief which is to say
one another residents
sightseers Pete Wilson
Channel 7 anchor had to
only getting in the way
in an unrelated segment people
really pulling together
panache nor nobility
Charles Schwab employee
Survived the Big One cap
the sun for two hours waiting
Mayor Agnos to speak but
been wonderful to us
next Tuesday will be
Vincent the Commissioner of Baseball
been denied the opportunity
of freeways and bridges
faint patterns of streets
I wrote it in the days following
the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake here in the Bay Area. For three or four days following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, I sat mesmerized in front of the TV, watching the coverage and writing this poem. The poem's title reflects the fact that the medium through which I was experiencing the event became almost as important as the event itself. Coverage refers to both the media coverage and the houses we build/over the surface/of this world.
A.R. Parliament was born in Orillia
Ontario Canada and grew up in the great states of Indiana, Ohio, and Alabama. She attended university at Auburn University
Montgomery where she studied Psychology and later English. A.R.
Parliament is an avid writer and photographer and enjoys spending her
time with her two Meezers, her wonderful husband, and friends.
Drops of ink fall upon the page,
Remnants of tears that will go unseen as always,
She brushes them away, putting back the brave face,
Making the disappointment that seems to be,
The only thing she will ever know, it's how her life always goes.
Constellations marking the failures of her past,
Mapping the steps she's taken,
Each breath a little less than the ones before,
She falls broken upon a cold marble floor
Conversation, like forgotten cups of coffee,
Cold and empty, at least in part. Scars mark her hands,
Whispers of what once was her life,
The fight, just letting go from once strong soul
Ink following through the painful pages,
Never to be erased, always a part of what and who she is,
Never being able to get rid of the words that haunt her dreams,
That leave her wishing for a place to dream.
Heaven they say is over rated, lost among the ink-strewn stars,
Unfamiliar faces mark the blank space around.
Nothingness greets her, plain, unchanging the face she sees,
So much for ageless, there's nothing left for her there.
Background of Poem:
Constellations was written about a girl battling with depression and hardships. It came after being diagnosed with severe depression and trying do deal with that. I think it was a way of dealing with it and the way it's been document through my mind and through my emotions.
Prufer (b. 1969, Cleveland) is the author of six poetry collections,
including Churches (Four Way Books, 2014), In a Beautiful Country (2011,
an Academy of American Poets notable book and a finalist for the Rilke Prize),
and National Anthem (named one of the five best poetry books of 2008 by
Publishers Weekly). He's also edited numerous volumes, including New
European Poets (Graywolf Press, 2008; w/Wayne Miller) and two forthcoming
volumes: Into English: Multiple Translations (Graywolf, 2016; w/Martha Collins)
and Literary Publishing in the 21st Century (Milkweed Editions, 2015; w/Wayne
Miller and Travis Kurowski). Prufer is Professor of English in the
Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, where he co-directs the
Unsung Masters Series.
much the Colonel loved his granddaughters
Their laughter filled his black Mercedes
way a flock of starlings might fill a single tree
he’d had to do that day, he’d done
their laughter overwhelmed him
such unarticulatable love
and neither could the
empathetic little bomb
burst through the hood with self-obliterating joy.
the Mercedes burned in front of the courthouse.
the black smoke billowed and rose like a heart full of love.
the Colonel rose, too,
a scrap of soot, then nothing, then
Colonel’s granddaughters are still laughing in the back seat,
they are uncomfortable in the new bodies
Oh, darling, darling, one of them recalled,
with fever—her mother’s cool hand
on her forehead,
the sense of slipping under,
into black sleep. She’s asleep now,
voice said, turning out the light,
in every hand, smart phones made footage
the heaps and twists
smoke uploaded the wreckage
it goes on burning forever—
will never know if dying is like that,
same scenes repeated across a larger mind
it like a small girl with a high fever asleep in a dark room
as the brain closes down?
She’s asleep, the voices say, she is resting.
(My fleeting one, my obliterated device, my
bit of pixilated
and the smoke stops: a black
weighs the wreckage down.
the Colonel had done that day
the sound of his granddaughters’ laughter
him high into the air
like a scrap of burning paper
from the street into the trees.
The poem was published in The Paris Review
earlier this year. It's also the subject of a Paris Review interview, if
that helps. It's findable at:
Jonathan K. Rice is founding editor and
publisher of Iodine Poetry Journal,
which is in its fifteenth year of publication. He is the author of a chapbook, Shooting Pool With A Cellist (Main
Street Rag, 2003) and a full-length collection, Ukulele and Other Poems (Main Street Rag, 2006). His poetry has
also appeared in numerous publications. He has been a longtime host of poetry
readings in Charlotte, NC, where he lives with his family.
He is the recipient of the 2012 Irene
Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award for outstanding service in support of local and
regional writers, awarded by Central Piedmont Community College.
is also a visual artist. His art has been exhibited in group shows at Hart
Witzen Gallery, Green Rice Gallery, MoNA (Museum of Neighborhood Art, formerly
known as Plaza Muse), AKA Creative, Max L. Jackson Gallery in the Watkins Art
Building at Queens University Charlotte, Mooresville Art Depot (Mooresville,
NC), Dilworth Coffee (Concord, NC) and Gallery 102 (Lancaster, SC). He has had
solo exhibits at Jackson’s Java, Vin Master, Wingmaker Arts Collaborative, The
Peculiar Rabbit and University of North Carolina Charlotte Student Union
Gallery, all of which are located in Charlotte, NC.
He currently has work on exhibit in the
Pennington-McIntyre Gallery at Cleveland Community College in Shelby, NC
through June 30, 2014.
glistening on cobalt domes.
stroll through a village
the sun begins to set.
overlooks a bay where boats
softly on the water.
I wrote this poem after a friend and I had been
looking at a travel book about Greece. I remarked that every year I go the
Greek Festival here in Charlotte, NC and I always buy a few raffle tickets to
win a trip to Greece. We talked about how much fun that would be to travel
there. Writing a poem about it seemed to be the next best thing.
(This poem was previously published in a slightly
different form in Referential Magazine.)
Jan Steckel is a former physician who retired early from taking
care of Spanish-speaking low-income children because of chronic pain. Her
poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a Lambda
Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press,
2009) and her poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press,
2006) also won awards. Her writing has appeared in Yale Medicine, Scholastic
Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, and many other journals and
anthologies. Her work has won numerous contests and has been nominated three
times for a Pushcart Prize. She is shopping a book-length manuscript of short
stories for publication.
Man Tells Police Unicorn
he urinated in the wastebasket once by mistake.
couldn’t remember if he had taken his pill.
didn’t give her the right to patronize him.
used to factor large numbers in his head.
was unique, she said, like a unicorn.
why she married him.
numerals wriggled by like water snakes
slippery for him to catch.
couldn’t get the checkbook to balance.
course he would drive.
man was supposed to drive.
father had always driven them.
his father drove them across the bridge,
told them of dead workers buried
concrete pylons when the cement was poured.
bridge had fallen now.
levels rose. How did that song go?
a rose in Greenland’s ice,
no bird in Greenland
the ocean rose, land bridges
inundated and disappeared.
at those silly unicorns breasting the tide.
to cross against the light?
Background of poem:
The title of this poem was a headline I saw. My grandfather suffered from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. We didn't have the definitive diagnosis until the autopsy, but he got presumptively diagnosed relatively early and spent a long time living in his own home with help. Nobody wanted to "put him in a home." One of the final straws for my mother was when he started urinating int he wastebasket of his bedroom instead of in the toilet. She was afraid he would wander out onto the street and get hurt, even if he lived with her. She found him a small group home with five other Jewish Alzheimer's patients and a very caring staff near her house. the group home had staff around the clock to keep the patients company and keep them safe. My mother visited her father a few times a week even when he could no longer recognize her. No matter what time of day or night we dropped by (we never had to call first), we always found him in a safe situation with people who treated him well. It was still horrible.
Now I have other people in my life who are probably in the early stages of dementia. Like my grandfather, they are extremely intelligent and compensate well, so that strangers (and those friends who don't want to know) may not be able to tell. My own memory is lousy and my cognition slow because of the medications I take for chronic pain. I'm fascinated by what happens to really bright, creative people when they lose their memory but are still pretty smart. When they can't understand what's going on some of the time, they have to make sense of the world any way they can. Sometimes they do it by confabulating (what we fiction writers like to call "making shit up" and make a living doing.)
Allen Sullivan’s first book, Strong-Armed Angels, was published by
Hummingbird Press, and three of its poems were read by Garrison Keillor on The
Writer’s Almanac. Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a multi-voiced
manuscript about the war in Iraq, was published by Tebot Bach. A book of
translation from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not
Breakfasted Yet was published in 2013, and Black Ice, about his
father’s dementia and death, is forthcoming. He teaches at Cabrillo College,
where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa
Cruz with his love, the historian Cherie Barkey, and their two children, Jules
and Mina Barivan. He was awarded a Fulbright, and is teaching in China
2013-2014 (yesdasullivan.tumblr.com). His poems and books can be found at http://davidallensullivan.weebly.com/index.html
David Allen Sullivan, from Black Ice, forthcoming from Turning Point
truck hoists me from bed.
mug, fingerless gloves.
jolting the neighborhood
and I descend to kick
grapple another wheeled bin
the blue-black sky—Wait!
sleep, and tumbling in
his disappearing ankle,
us in everything
hate the taste of coffee—
be bothered . . .
my son’s shouting for me
once?—want still, to be
this nightmare’s wild ride,
tell. Quiet, busy brain,
poem “Wake Up Call” is from my book Black Ice, which will be published
by Turning Point Press in 2015. The book is a series of poems dealing with my
father’s dementia and death, and my relationship with my son Jules. This poem
records a dream I had while writing these poems. Where I live in Santa Cruz,
California, the recycling and garbage truck trundle past our house at ungodly
early hours. Once, when he was young and both of us woke early, we raced out in
our pajamas to take in the pre-dawn sight of the giant grappling arm descending
to hook and hoist our bins and fling them over its back. This reminds me of the
scene from Star Wars where their escape lands them in a refuse room and the
walls begin to squeeze in. In my dream I was pulled out of by the bitter scent
of the coffee and realized this couldn’t possibly be reality. When composing
the (mostly) playful poem I came to understand how much I missed having my
father around when I was young. He was often up in the attic (reached by a
steep stair behind a low, narrow door—once he smacked his brow by not bending
down enough and I heard my first volley of swears), working on his
dissertation. He’d emerge to refill his coffee mug from the pot that was always
on the stove, blackening and thickening throughout the day. I still dislike
that smell so many relish, probably because it tells me my father’s away,
working (or reading James Joyce’s Ulysses, as I later discovered). He wasn’t
there to listen to his son’s thoughts or read his first feeble attempts at
composing poems. And I wonder if my writing—even about my son—gets in the way
of my being with him, and how every father struggles with competing claims.
Jon Tribble is the managing editor of CRAB
ORCHARD REVIEW (http://craborchardreview.siu.edu) and the series editor of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry
published by Southern Illinois University Press. He is the recipient of a 2003
Artist Fellowship Award in Poetry from the Illinois Arts Council and his poems
have appeared in journals and anthologies, including PLOUGHSHARES, POETRY,
CRAZYHORSE, QUARTERLY WEST, and THE JAZZ POETRY ANTHOLOGY. His work was
selected as the 2001 winner of the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize from Sarah
Lawrence College. He teaches creative writing and literature, and directs undergraduate
and graduate students in internships and independent study in editing and
literary publishing for the Department of English at Southern Illinois
can’t see you through silver clouds of fish,
veils of algae tangle between us until
faint trail of bubbles disappears and I
to find the water glancing back
my solitary reflection. And if for now
just my face on the side of a frosted stein
black and tan, the bubbles’ carbonation
up to the head as you pour yourself
and sit back to tell me how the Navy
train you to dive with welding crews
offshore platforms in the North Atlantic,
station you on submarines running silent
months so no one can find them, I want
understand your need for this submersion
a career I thought would take you
wards, ER, and ICU, places you’d help
hold together bone and blood and breath,
hooked up yourself to this iron lung of
apparatus. In emergencies they’ll fly
out over open water to jump in full gear
they think the sub waits to let you
through torpedo tubes, and, as you assure me
only lost one man in forty years,
can’t help remembering a young man on
D.C. Metro with his Pentagon clearance tag
the wide lapel of his suit who kept declaring
the woman sitting beside him doing the Post
that he was the only one who knows
all our subs are at any given moment.
boys, we made seine nets to drag through
ponds, revealed worlds of diatoms and
under mirror microscopes, watched films
underwater volcanoes flaming into steam,
you even sent off a dollar and a quarter
a piece of real coral. But now we know
are sharp and treacherous, not like
novelty you carried as a talisman,
the only silt we’re concerned with settles
the bottom of these bottles of stout and ale
emptying. It’s not going to change
you feel, but each time you say the Navy
doctors ready to go under, I want
hold you back, whisper I can feel tides
in like heavy breaths. You’ll learn
language of oxygen/hydrogen mix, the threat
nitrogen narcosis, the benign shadow
the napoleon fish and knife-like silhouette
barracuda stalking, but I have no answers,
my hope your tanks will always be full,
you’ll be watchful, patient and surface slow.
“Underwater Medicine” was written at a time my
brother, who is a doctor and a public health and an infectious disease
specialist, was being offered possible assignments to request in the U.S. Navy
coming out of his residency. One of those assignments was working as a ship’s
doctor on either an aircraft carrier, a large ship, or a nuclear submarine. We
both loved marine biology growing up, and, though the ocean fascinated each of
us in a big way, practicing medicine underwater in a sub was immediately at the
bottom of his list of desired postings.
I did once sit across from a young man wearing
Pentagon credentials on the D.C. Metro who kept telling his seat companion that
he was the only person who knew “where all the subs were.”
The poem tries to bring together these different
things and the way this circumstance touched on the nature of sibling relationships
and the way the ocean lives still in my imagination.
Wiseman’s books are Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience, Queen of the Platform, and Sprung.
She is also the author of the collaborative book Intimates and Fools with artist Sally Deskins, two letterpress
books, and eight chapbooks, including Spindrift.
She is the editor of Women Write
Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence. She holds a doctorate from the
University of Nebraska and has received an Academy of American Poets Award, a Mari Sandoz/Prairie
Schooner Award, and the Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. Her work has appeared
in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies.
The Blue Funeral
help us let go of our dead,
the morticians dress in suits
the business of paperwork:
certificates, plots, and permits.
can reach one always by phone.
ties and wingtips, they move slowly.
cup coffee or lift cigarettes
the break-room, but fold before them
they speak of small things like the weather.
men laugh and offer witticisms
a softness around their mouths.
eyes hold yours, but glance away
the thick carpet if you do.
low tones and slight shake
the director’s voice can be heard
he cradles the landline phone
tell someone of today’s service.
they receive a call, one leaves
room to listen to what is required
him. He bows his head and murmurs,
Yes, I can be there
a visitation they escort to chairs,
open doors, and they stand still,
and posture resigned
the entrance of the funeral home.
funerals, they shake hands.
lips pressed together in a line
wrinkles around their eyes,
meet your gaze and nod.
are the ones you want near you
your world has shrunken
a catch in your throat, the bend
your head and shoulders as you feel
damp corners of a tissue tremble.
Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and
Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014)
“The Blue Funeral” is the final concluding poem
in my new book Some Fatal Effects of
Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014), which is a campy,
contemporary retelling of the Bluebeard myth. It charts the love of three
sisters who each marry the same man upon the demise of the sister who preceded
her. Bluebeard is usually framed as a story of blood and gore, but this
retelling focuses on the love each of his unfortunate wives felt, the first
blush of romance and young marriage, the complicated turns of mature desire and
the past we bring into our present affections.
Two –time Pushcart Prize and Kentucky Poet
Laureate nominee, Sheri L. Wright is the author of six books of poetry,
including the most recent, The Feast of Erasure. Wright’s visual work has appeared in numerous
journals, including Blood Orange Review.
In May 2012, Ms. Wright was a contributor to the Sister Cities Project
Lvlds: Creatively Linking Leeds and
Louisville. Her photography has been
shown across the Ohio Valley region and abroad.
Currently, she is working on her first documentary film, Tracking
storm found her first,
her unrest over the gnarls of an elm
clutched the earth like arthritic fingers,
it underneath chicory
wild in the empty lot.
child plucked a femur
barbs of crabgrass stitched along the sidewalk,
home with his misbelieved proof
a dog poisoned by father.
phone does not ring this early with good news.
policeman’s words shuffle like a drunk through my head
I wonder if I will be arrested before I can claim her bones,
high school ring tarnished against her breastplate
secret from another,
hold onto the steering wheel like a drowning woman
there is no safe place.
snap through the police tape
someone’s hands covered with the earth
absorbed her youth, the outline of her face,
grimace she wore like a death mask
stretched into a scream under the silence
in the roots of trees that took her memory,
her life on the sighs of falling leaves.
I heard them in a dream
rustled together, pulled down
the damp of November,
like chalk-drawn figures in rain.
what is rest, if not release
drifting in another’s desire,
that reverses course like The Saint John –
roiling into sweet,
back the flow of spring into winter,
flesh starved for mercy,
of Sara is inspired by an episode of Law And Order, in which a victim was
found long buried. As she was exhumed,
people stood in the dirt that held traces of her existence as it faded away.