out of these wounds, the moon will rise :: jay hopler

Now that the sun has set and the rain has abated,
And every porch light

                                     in the neighborhood is lit,
Maybe we can invent something; I’d like a new

Way of experiencing the world, a way of taking
Into myself the single light shining at the center

Of all things without losing the dense, eccentric
Planets orbiting around it.

                                     What you’d like is a more
Attentive lover, I suppose—. Too bad that slow,

Wet scorch of orange blossoms floating towards
The storm drain is not a vein of stars…we could

Make a wish on one of them; not that we would
Wish for anything but the impossible.

truant :: margaret hasse

Our high school principal wagged his finger
over two manila folders
lying on his desk, labeled with our names—
my boyfriend and me—
called to his office for skipping school.

The day before, we ditched Latin and world history
to chase shadows of clouds on a motorcycle.
We roared down rolling asphalt roads
through the Missouri River bottoms
beyond town, our heads emptied
of review tests and future plans.

We stopped on a dirt lane to hear
a meadowlark’s liquid song, smell
heart-break blossom of wild plum.
Beyond leaning fence posts and barbwire,
a tractor drew straight lines across the field
unfurling its cape of blackbirds.

Now forty years after that geography lesson
in spring, I remember the principal’s words.
How right he was in saying:
This will be part of
your permanent record.

 
 
 
Earth’s Appetite (2013)

father and daughter :: amanda strand

The wedding ring I took off myself,
his wife wasn’t up to it.
I brought the nurse into the room
in case he jumped or anything.
“Can we turn his head?
He looks so uncomfortable.”
She looked straight at me,
patiently waiting for it to sink in.

The snow fell.
His truck in the barn,
his boots by the door,
flagpoles empty.
It took a long time for the taxi to come.
“Where to?” he said.
“My father just died,” I said.
As if it were a destination.
 
 
 
Via American Life In Poetry

a small story about the sky :: alberto ríos

The fire was so fierce,
So red, so gray, so yellow
That, along with the land,
It burned part of the sky
Which stayed black in that corner
For years,
As if it were night there
Even in the daytime,
A piece of the sky burnt
And which then
Could not be counted on
Even by the birds.

It was a regular fire—
Terrible—we forget this
About fire—terrible
And full of pride.
It intended to be
Big, no regular fire.
Like so many of us,
It intended to be more
And this time was.
It was not better or worse
Than any other fire
Growing up.
But this time, it was a fire
At just the right time
And in just the right place—
If you think like a fire—
A place it could do something big.

Its flames reached out
With ten thousand pincers,
As if the fire
Were made of beetles and scorpions
Clawing themselves to get up,
Pinching the air itself
And climbing,
So many sharp animals
On each other’s backs
Then into the air itself,
Ten thousand snaps and pinches
At least,
So that if the sky
Was made of something,
It could not get away this time.

Finally the fire
Caught the sky,
Which acted like a slow rabbit
Which had made a miscalculation.
It didn’t believe this could happen
And so it ran left,
Right into the thin toothpicks of flames,
Too fast to pull back,
The sky with all its arms,
Hands, fingers, fingernails,
All of it
Disappeared.
Goodbye.

The sky stayed black
For several years after.
I wanted to tell you
This small story
About the sky.
It’s a good one
And explains why the sky
Comes so slowly in the morning,
Still unsure of what’s here.
But the story is not mine.
It was written by fire,
That same small fire
That wanted to come home
With something of its own
To tell,
And it did,
A small piece of blue in its mouth.
 
 
 
Poetry (February 2011)

whale :: donika ross

Know, first, that she does not remain
behind the baleen forever.

Know, too, that the whale is unaware
of the woman drowning on its tongue.

And knowing this, recall the keening,
the slow build of sound in the body;

that we were afraid and pressed our fear
low in our breast, held it alongside our breath;

that the tenor of our grief matched,
so nearly, the tenor of our hysteria;

how finally there was no whale
or breath or sound or woman;

how, finally, there was only the body,
rising through the water toward the sun.