mercy beach :: kamilah aisha moon

Stony trails of jagged beauty rise
like stretch marks streaking sand-hips.
All the Earth has borne beguiles us
& battered bodies build our acres.

Babes that sleep in hewn rock cradles
learn to bear the hardness coming.
Tough grace forged in tender bones—
may this serve & bless them well.

They grow & break grief into islands
of sun-baked stone submerged in salt
kisses, worn down by the ocean’s ardor
relentless as any strong loving.

May they find caresses that abolish pain.
Like Earth, they brandish wounds of gold!

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working dream :: john montague

At the end of a manuscript
I was studying, a secret message.
A star, a honeycomb, a seashell,
The stately glory of a peacock’s tail
Spiralled colour across the page
To end with a space between a lean I
And a warm and open-armed You.

An hour later, you were at the door;
I learnt the word that space was for.

up against it :: eamon grennan

It’s the way they cannot understand the window
they buzz and buzz against, the bees that take
a wrong turn at my door and end up thus
in a drift at first of almost idle curiosity,
cruising the room until they find themselves
smack up against it and they cannot fathom how
the air has hardened and the world they know
with their eyes keeps out of reach as, stuck there
with all they want just in front of them, they must
fling their bodies against the one unalterable law
of things—this fact of glass—and can only go on
making the sound that tethers their electric
fury to what’s impossible, feeling the sting in it.

the president has never said the word ‘black’ :: morgan parker

To the extent that one begins
to wonder if he is broken.

It is not so difficult to open
teeth and brass taxes.

The president is all like
five on the bleep hand side.

The president be like
we lost a young      boy today.

The pursuit of happiness
is guaranteed for all fellow      Americans.

He is nobody special like us.
He says brothers and sisters.

What kind of bodies are moveable
and feasts. What color are visions.

When he opens his mouth
a chameleon is inside, starving.

sparrow :: melissa kwasny

The dawns are numbered, as I am. Though I remain ever
after in a state of surprise, like a child, dumbfounded by
the word “Enter.” My name is small, a garden-mint, a
sprig to decorate a plate. I rarely try to speak for others,
and consider the words I say, not like the mockingbird
who repeats banalities, not like the robin, habitual, not
like the rabbits who are silent but move loquaciously.
Clack of dried pea pods, cloud of mosquitoes, one can
have too many roses in the house. The world is loud,
anguished by its processes. Though perhaps it is wrong
to settle, as I have settled, for the simple meal, the cutting
garden, the circumscribed stroll by the pond. When what
I want is to sing something monumental. My family is
rough. I wish I could smooth them. I have been lucky.
Not married out to trash men. But while I sleep, the
great winds come. Spruce forest. Pine forest. Fir forest.
A door opens. One slams shut.

a wind will come from the south :: circe maia

A wind will come from the south with unleashed rain
to beat on closed doors and on the windows
to beat on faces with bitter expressions.

Happy noisy waves will come
climbing paths and silent streets
through the port district.

Let the hardened city wash its face
its stones and dusty wood, worn out
its heart sombre.

Let there be surprise at least in the opaque
taciturn glances.
And let many people be frightened, and the children laugh
and the greenness of the water’s light wake us
bathe us, follow us.

Let it make us run and embrace each other
and let the doors of all the houses open
and the people come out
down the stairs, from the balconies,
calling to each other…

title :: oliver bendorf

     epigraph

Now a first-person declaration that verbs a noun.
Now a pet name, a yellow object, and a sensory experience.
Now something about what this poem is not.
Now the confession that you get nostalgic, but in your own words.
Now a couple things about how life has lately felt.
Now something that alludes to being lonely.
Now who or what it is you miss, and a question about how we recover.
Now a few things about the local flora
and a frank assessment of your current state.
Now a zoom out. Now something that is gone
and something that is still here. A strange pronouncement.
An assertion that X is Y.
Now a question. Now a question. Now another.