Poetry 2011

Life’s Ink

by Logan Campau

Our letters are drenched in life,
An ink that clasps our being
But reveals our faults,
With our hidden strokes
And careful movements,
We open as to be accepted
But often get distant,
For too soon can be painful
Timing is important,
Sprawled across our parchment
Are the fundamentals,
So compose your style
Clash with the pain,
Embrace the love
For life is your quill.



by Amanda Martin Sandino

I knew you once
We somnambled on
Across the dreamscape
Full of glowing steam-
powered street lamps
We were a gaslight romance
Wearing goggles with green lenses
piloting mechanical monsters
with large firefly eyes
and escape hatches in the feet
we comingled our bloods
cut open our gloves
on an orrery’s moon
promising to avenge each other
for each and every wound
How were we to know our promise
would extend beyond the collective sleep mind
to plague the waking imaginations with thoughts
of a romance yet unconsummated
the taste of machine kisses on our mouth


Ode to the Gingerbread Man

by Chris Cooper

“My mind wandered blindly as my thoughts became thin
And I laughed quite carelessly at the dangers within
But as I danced on the edge of this glass, half full
My world was sent spinning as I slipped and I fell…
My legs grew soggy and it was then I could tell
That this glass, now half empty
Had been my own hell.”
– The Gingerbread Man


A Little About Me

by John Mulinski

I just found out I know nothing.

I was surprised, because I thought I knew better.
Not knowing better, I can’t imagine anything worse.


When I Know

By Nicholas Klacsanzky

I rise with the city
because I am one of its lights.
A miniature brick building,
darker without dawn’s snoozed head,
reaches up with its red-webbed fingers
like a passerby with balanced attention
in the flurry of watch strokes,
clicking inside the minds of those who think
they were responsible for their waking.
Speaking of waking, I haven’t.
My eyes are misplaced anchors to the words I write.
I open them when I know the poem is written
out of its moment.


What James Said

by Cassidy Lenger

James said:
I’ve been reading Descartes in my sleepless mornings
in my mornings with crusty eyes
half broken heart
and storm tossed sheets
with my legs running to nowhere
red-eyed meeting the sun rise
that immeasurable beauty,
that window to the divine

James said I think therefore I am
there are no thoughts with copyright on truth
including those we see and hear
I’m fairly certain G-d speaks with me

Then James said:
Glory, glory, glory
I’ll take in each and every one of you
because you all find a use
when put in my hands
until, you are my hands,
I say thank you,
and worry be damned


Question: How Will You Live Now?

by Jill Dewald

Without him. Without his body. Without his mind. Without his thoughts. Without his words. The words that stung, the words that pleased, the words I can’t forget, the words I don’t want to forget. Without his family, his sister and mother…a relief. Without his irresponsibility. Without his addictions. Without my addiction to him. Without his arms around me in bed. Without his need for me. Without the helpless, childish stare of his blue eyes. Without his love for food, for cooking, for eating, for discovering. Without his intelligence. Without his stupidity. Without his lack of thoughtfulness. Without mercy for him. Without his sense of entitlement. Without his trail of mess. Without smiling as I picked up those dirty clothes. Without the sound of him chewing with his mouth open. Without rubbing his back. Without him in bed. Without his arms. Without guilt for leaving him. Without the frustration of seeing what I want and knowing I’ll never have it. Without pain when I think of him. Without wanting what I am without.

With control. Finally.

How will I live now?
Missing him. Loving him. Remembering him. With regret.


Fountain Head

by Harrison Pierce

The pen runs dry once more.
Words are little more
than scratches on paper.
Its meaning is lost.

This drought in the air
surrounds us as death,
ever present, ever watchful,

Some say this water is sweet…
I taste dust and murk.

This concern grips me tight
as questions continue to ask:
What is this? What is this?

Light removes all shadows but those held within.
Something I cannot release.

This fear instills doubt yet again.
Yellow menace I cannot foil.
Here, there, anywhere…

Goodness and mercy fail for me.
This doubt remains.

What was finished has become undone.
The prospective future has become blind.
The stairs are gone!
The stairs are gone!
Nothing more.


The Way We Hurt Each Other

by Spencer Reed

he said “I’d love to” the way
most people say “over my dead body”
but all she heard were the words
and she wondered what went wrong
she said “sure, sounds fun” the way
most people say “what were you thinking?!”
but all he saw were her lips
and he wondered why she left early
he said “let’s go now” the way
most people say “bad dog!”
but all she heard were the words
and she hoped he was okay
she said “call me” the way
most people say “I need you, I love you, we were meant to be together!”
but all he saw was a chance to let go
and he hoped she’d forget about him for a while
he said “goodnight” the way
most people say “I’m afraid I care too much and it will make me run”
but all she heard was the word
and she was afraid he didn’t care
she said “I love you too” the way
most people say “I’m tired and you’re bothering me”
but all he saw was her back
and he was afraid nothing would ever change



by Jessica Louise Hoffart

He walks into the room

time stands               chaotic

blood rushes    to          places

I didn’t know it could



I call him

he smiles

a book is written


a poem appears

He sees through me

the words written

on my heart

pulls them through

fingers to paper

Too      much  sometimes

I run from the burn

he leaves

within me

Not a muse

for he is

the words

the paper

the Pen


I put down to live

Too much inspiration

I may be left

mind barren


for new words


Dangerous Things These Late Blues

by Patricia Reed

somewhere between the click and the inbox
the words are turning blue

like they couldn’t bear to stand coming in
black so they stole sky

or got wet on their way to me. when they come,
I know that they are blue jays

flitting in the box and waiting. each jay resting
on empty space. it’s the blank white

they perch on, little legs tethered to nothingness
which probably makes this easier

for you. Dorothy sings for Frank at the Smooth Talk
but now it’s me who has to be frank.

how many of us sending out black signals
are receiving them in color now?

as if this phenomenon were a product of a mood–
blue for a lack of strong emotion

or for calming the nerves, but then why is Viagra
blue? because nobody is sleeping now.

you’ve sent three hundred and sixty-eight
all written in perfect lines

waiting in perfect space.


Gardener of Xibalba

by Amanda Martin Sandino

let the roses float
then sink into those black
and foaming waters
bringing just the stems
with thorns that cut away
bits of finger flesh
placed into a vase
fed with river water
where all their beauties
bled and flowed
like angry souls reaching
out from a river of
la llorona’s tears



by Katie Joy

Ballet shoes spinning, arms moving, beauty
Motions with meaning, swaying left to right

Circular motion, dancing lace, no thoughts
No pain, Oh how I wish I could dance free

She moves without a smile or discomfort
Concentrating on her motion, turning

Her hair neatly in place, mirror to wall
Ballet shoes, how beautifully simple

What a perfect escape, uplifting music
Flowing through her veins, she beams feeling sound

Transporting her to a garden of soul
A garden of ballet shoes, innocent

Satin lace dancing on a wild river
Peaceful, at one with herself, pink ribbon



by Mari Nichols

A woman’s outline was painted urgently onto the body of a girl
in slashing red brush strokes.
She didn’t notice then: the adults observing,
deconstructing meaning in thoughtful stage whispers.
It wouldn’t have mattered.
She had no appreciation for art or animus
and no patience for the obscure.
Yet she believed all abstraction was obscure.

Girls mature faster…
A vague warning when she first heard it,
but by then she knew it as a vile lie.
Already the boys wanted mature things
with an urgent curiosity once kept hidden behind oak trees.
Now it slithered up their legs, tangled in their hair,
and marked them with its musk.

The girl?

She wanted only to know
how pigment gave art life,
and why the woman was so frantic to escape
that she rained in long, sad droplets from from the girl’s pores.
She wondered why a vine grew from nowhere
binding her innards before emerging through her throat.
In retrospect, she will note the moment
and call herself ma’am.


I’m On Your Team

by Hannah Mason

Hey baby hey
They say ‘Nothing lasts forever’
But I’m on your team
Even if your team is garbage
Weak sauce
And false.
Who wants to be seen
Walking through the band entrance
I’ll walk with you
I’ve got fitty-eight twos
I’ve got a short straight
I’ve got nothing
I’m coming from behind but
I’m on your team
And I play for keeps
Hey baby hey



by Jasleena Grewal

Pass, inhale, hold, exhale.
I like obscure bands too.
I graffiti their names
Onto concrete never seen.
Take another hit.
Like me, like me, like me.

Palms together, bowed forehead.
I know what each of the ten gurus did
For Sikhs like me. And I can make chai
Like my mother.
For the Sikh man I marry.
Like me, like me, like me.

Bring x to the other side. Divide by 6.
I can help you with your math homework.
And I balance my bank account.
Like me, like me, like me.

2010: Summer
Overdrawn every week
Chalking the sidewalk corner,
where I saw my addicted brother
at an all-time low

Forgetting to sweeten the chai
Listening to radio hits.
Calculus nightmares.
And I think I like Buddhism better.

Me, me, me

I met a soda-drinker
pop music listener,
who held my hand at the Tibetan monastery.

Not keen on calculus,
But I tell him,
I love you, I love you, I love you

He said:
Happy New Year.
I can’t wait to marry you.

We, we, we



by Mari Nichols

When it was young, The Story wanted to tell her
with elegant wrinkles in the final chapter.
Gentle lines that framed her eyes with wisdom and sadness–
not cracks that split her face and whispered of capture,
nor crevices to remind a gentle reader
of furrows like dried Arizona mud,
dug by the wild madness of the sun.

By the time The Story became the story,
it asked the narrator to leave editing
to the children or to another day. She agreed.
She could let the climax stay, though discrediting
her truth: lives not plotted intersect long before merging.
She feared only that the gentlest would read
of destiny between the lines.

Soon enough, a studio was completed
in one bare room marked by a red glass door,
somewhere between the attic and the root cellar.
There, the story danced on the parquet floor
while waiting for her to begin transcribing.
Instead she paused to ask, “But who will write the end?”
as though she hadn’t wondered it before.

And as though it hadn’t also considered this,
the story shrugged and gently, gently offered
before mutely deciding she needn’t write at all.
With an elegant pirouette, the final elegy renounced,
it danced her through a vast hall.
Spinning, she found it easy to ignore memory
as it fell from the stairs and dared her to catch up.

Now danced, she doesn’t care to understand
why life tried so hard to convince her.
Instead she paints rivers and moist Arizona mud
on glass with colors that wouldn’t dare to occur.
She ignores the narrative when it chants
and she can’t find the straight lives that once intersected
so she doesn’t try to paint the people or their truths.

Through gently wizened creases, she sees the irony
of pigment drying on stiff brushes
as she tells The Story, climaxes too.
Words pause; hopeful she’ll give them consideration.
In time, the end will offer its own narrative
but she will be too busy painting life between the lines
to hear the storyteller.



by Kelle Grace Gaddis

Reservation of mud,
cattails and mosquito swamps
lost territory, lost people
and booze…
It’s not sleep,
when you can’t wake up.
Copper brown eyes
like pennies in the mud;
lost to give luck
to the rich.
Red, yellow and turquoise trinkets
miniature totem poles;
tourists watch poverty dance,
in costume,
to a foreign beat.
The Star Spangled Banner or
I pledge allegiance to. . .
minds going damp,
wet wool and
smoldering fires.
spirits turned to shadows
behind missing trees.



by Kat Seidemann

Old Man–
Your white fleece has marked you
with time’s swift lip prints—
your kiss good bye.
No matter how fastidious your grooming
nor how strong is your heart
your placid days are limited
(You have us to thank for this)

You amble pale, glossy floors
passing or meeting
other slick silvered brethren
all destined for demise.
As hoarfrost carpets thaw
your journey becomes tremulous.

Should you leave your bitter home
in search of sustenance or succor
avoid wandering near us,
you bring us terror–
reminding us of our own frailty
and our responsibility
for your quickened end

We trespass and hope to plunder
the precious inheritance
hidden beneath your frosty floorboards
while you still exist–
but out of sight and if possible
out of mind.

Forget your glamour, your grace,
your fine adaptability, forget
the ferocious care of your young.
Accept that the ground is no longer
stable beneath your pace.
Allow yourself to slide into
the torrid waters of your last days.

You have us to thank for this


On Chartres

by Patricia Reed

shadowed by pigeons, the iron bones
opaquely phlegmatic under the tickling ash trees.

her rails lightly fingered by a passerby
queen’s brail wrought with beaks and pinions

they cluck at her arches, at her bluesy smoke glow,
at her sinewy legs, smooth masonry inexhaustible

beneath the bright flashes cleaving
to her as diatoms under the sunlight.

a torchlight sentry cannot deny him his gawking
only stands there threadbare against the throng

quietly pointing the possibility of another way.


Summer -An American Sentence

by Spencer Reed

mirage covered blacktop, she floats over, hazy, her gift; a whisper


Stronger Woman

by Jasleena Grewal

You’re in love with my disease.
Thinning hair falling over
protruding ribs and jutting hips
when you’re over me

I’m frail and delicate
like your favorite celebrity.
Size Zero doesn’t talk too loud
but I don’t want to be like her.

Crohn’s made me that way
and you love me that way

Waiting for remission
to gain back thirty pounds of
happiness, hair, hips.
And scream, with my loud lips,
that I am a stronger woman.

If then you do not want me,
I will find a stronger man.


Can You Imagine

by Joshua James Smith

Conceive of, or contemplate of, something not present with intentions to create a subject for perception in your eyes. The pretentious life form of social class, undeserved importance or distinction of people is unnecessary. Creativity of the mind creates innovative artistic paradigm shifts. Do as you see to imagine.

Imagine impossibilities for pleasure. Imagine failure for results. Imagine this world as a dream and waking up is paramnesia. A dream in which this world we live in is a past life of our future beings.

Be as you will, refrain from losing focus of your temporary existence in an ambiguous world. Remember that what you see is how you imagine it.



by John Mulinski

If by chance you find a wish that somehow proves our dreams exist, then will this world o’ ours be missed?


linyphia triangularis *

by Cate Foster

your fatal mistake
was assuming I would
show pity when
feeling vulnerable

we don’t do that

uncertainty breeds defensiveness
attack me when I am
cold, naked, barely awake
and I merely make the
water scald and
rinse you down the drain

* the Money Spider, native to Great Britain


Writing Poetry

by Nicholas Klacsanzky

Wanted it to be natural – a fact
in a guidebook about India,
or the acceptance of an insectile fragility.
But no one hears a voice
through a broken lantern.
Silos of blank poems
are empty to pursue division –
how a word tastes when injected
through reading sight – elongated tunnels
of light, their tips securing a painting out of canvas
on childhood wallpaper. Art is never
art. Coincidence has as much clarity.


A Page Left Empty

by Jessica Hoffart

losing power
with words.
staring at the ceiling
they are
slipping through my fingers
a shadow
moving bed side to hallway
as I try to
press them,
they depress the passion I yearn for
Puzzling a puzzle
dreamed up within dreams.
heat filled with perplexed reciprocation
turned me around on myself
He leaves
without saying a thing
the page is
I cannot scare
him back
with obligation.
He has never felt need or want.
I stand under
a hot shower of thoughts
feeling an empty space
that he has left behind
looking for the
power the words
he has stolen.


A Definition of a Word

by Ani Dorsett

green bean

1. The immature green pod of the kidney bean, eaten as a vegetable.
2. Since when are beans immature? Do they not act their age?
3. If I don’t eat it, is it not a vegetable? If I were to drink it, would it be a fruit?
4. Also called string bean, stringless bean.
5. Crunchy and delicious.

Origin: 1940–45, Americanism. A little green pod grown on a grandfather’s farm; may house aliens.


From the Rat’s Mouth: After George Ella Lyon

by Patricia Reed

I am from the sand,
from salty ebbing Dreamland
I am from lightening bugs trapped in a Mason jar
(luminous dance lulling me to the hum of land.)
I am from hibiscus blooming magenta,
the palm tree that smacks
me with her flowing arms.

I am from lemon ice pops and two-toned fluorescent socks,
from Publix and Second Time Around,
potato salad and Dad’s Root Beer,
from hurricane snacks and sticky vinyl seats.

I am from Carol and Victor,
I’m from the yeah, yeah, yeahs
and the what about the time crop.
I am from the bread and the blood,
the confessional box,
and agony Jesus nailed with a loincloth.

The South County Fair and the Mouseketeer ears
silhouetted against a firecracker sky
recalling memories
of shuttles never launched,
barracuda jaws, and pelican throats
engulfed in saltwater
and stinging my eyes.


I Let Her Leave

by Peter Freeman

I remember the day my mother told us she had breast cancer. I was 19 years old. I was busy watching something on TV, and didn’t pay her much attention. She tried to explain the seriousness of what was happening, and I ignored her. I was too busy watching what was on the TV. She started crying. I didn’t change. I knew that she’d be alright. I didn’t have to worry. She’d be around for years to come. She cried. I felt little. She left the room, and I didn’t follow. I didn’t feel sorry, I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t feel urgency. I let her leave the room.


What Your Psychiatrist Knows

by Kim Sharp

You remember being picked up from your grandparents’ house, climbing into your father’s yellow pickup, asking where your mother was. You buckled your seatbelt and sat silent on the drive home. You remember a particular smell, like boiled hotdogs and cheap plastic.

Shock therapy and
leave for weeks on end.

After asking too many questions, you learn that her first depressive episode came shortly after you were born. Postpartum depression developed into manic depression. Your entrance into this world set forth a chain of events that led to everything you have since experienced.

Little brown bottles
sit in perfect rows in your
bathroom cabinet.


Lavender Mist

by Kat Seidemann

bursts of blue-grey anger
black lines of quixotic revenge plots
spatters of leftover hope
ellipses of things left unsaid
drunken meanderings
from end to end– vertigo
an impossible texture
of yellow bile, lavender bitterness
a fiery corrosion of longing
the pure white of loss
struggle to find meaning
within this Jackson Pollock


Early Fragments

by Denise Calvetti Michaels

1. How could I pour into four walls everything my pen wanted to say?
No house was ever big enough to write in.

I return home, cover tables with first drafts on unlined paper.
Wrens rise from birch, transformed to scrolls of chalk.

When I awake from this dream the leaves outside my studio window are falling.

2. Maybe it was near the water.

Did I say I was running away to write?

3. Some would say we failed—the walk to the clearing—pursuing the poet’s life.

That was yesterday.
When summer struck the steeple we didn’t know we were beautiful.


Only Pirates Wear Shoes

by Spencer Reed

peter, more man than a boy
watches darling walk away
recalls how she looks in flight
looks up to the sky

darling is five days away
rain drumming on the roof
peter recalls how they built this house
their second one together

rain clouds, grim companions
peter, lost in the library
the second one since she left
dreams of tiny wings

peter, lost once more
chasing murky memories
of glitter and paper Mache
wishes he could go home

chasing half remembered faces
peter thinks of darling and his life before
he forgot the voices of home
and the one who rescued him

peter thinks of tiny wings
dreams of glitter and pirate ships
forgets darlings voice, their home
dreams of one who will save him

looking up at the sky
peter, counts the stars
slips out of his shoes
begins the journey home


A Friendly Wager

by John Mulinski

A bet is placed upon my worthless head
To test the strength of God and Man
For on my mortal life I swear
To face the lord in deadly dare
But fueled by blood and dependent on breath
My life was owned by Him, and with it, my death!
Upon hells fire a plan’s conspired
To surpass my feeble mortal power.
Flesh and bone now cast in steel
The immortal man has been made real
Fueled inside from ungodly hate
In despise of human fate
The immortal thing approached the gates

To God I address, “step forward my Lord,
I’ve been courteous enough to meet at your door.”
And as the clouds parted from a thunderous storm
Arose the First in most perfect form.
Mightier than any clergyman’s notion
The universe distorted with each motion.
I raised my finger to meet his eyes
To call to him his planned demise.
And to my declare God only laughed.
“Do you deem yourself a god in match?”
“A god?” I chortled. “I’d say not as such.”
“But rather relieved of God’s deadly crutch.
Sacrificed the mortal for Almighty Machine
So in my own strength resides my belief.
Go! Take to arms your infinite power.
Told forever shall be the tale of the man that made God cower.”

Each pair of eyes drilled into other’s
Resembling rivalry of two brothers.
The shadows of God matched by man,
Danced across the sky and land.
The seas grew fierce, they roared and cheered.
For Lord Poseidon’s win drew near.
Immortal man so drunk on pride,
Made a slip off heaven’s side.
And pulled on down by his own girth,
Into the ocean fell all his worth.
His limbs seized up eyes frozen shut,
The twisted wreck his rusted gut.

The immortal man was still alive
Imprisoned in his metal prize
Forever trapped where dreamer’s trod.
Within himself his self a God.



by Jessica Hoffart

She wanders – wanders through hallways – wanders through rooms – checks door handles – looks through windows – through hallways – hallways to more hallways – that lead to other rooms – that lead to different houses – she wanders – down stairways – down spiral stairs – down – down – down – the stairs lead down – to a kitchen – to a living room – to a door – leads to a door – leads to a door that opens up – leads down stair – down a staircase – down a dark staircase – the darkness opens up – opens to nothing – opens then closes – closes in and closes – then nothing – it all falls away into warmth – into pillows – into a bed – falls into wakefulness

She wanders – wanders though hallways- wanders through rooms – wanders through kitchens – wanders through living rooms – wanders through bedrooms – over and over again the wandering – staircases and old furniture – wanders and searches – searches for something – searches for something she doesn’t understand – she wanders – down stairways – down spiral stairs- down – down – down – the stairs lead down – to a kitchen – to a living room – to a door – leads to a door – leads to a door that opens up – leads down stair – down a staircase – down a dark staircase – the darkness opens up – opens to nothing – opens then closes – closes in and closes – then nothing – it all falls away into warmth – into pillows – into a bed – falls into wakefulness

She wanders through a hallway- the hallway turns into a stairway- the stairway lead down- down leads the stairway to another hallway- leads to another room- to another house- the hallway leads to a different house somewhere miles away- she looks for something- looks for anything that will lead somewhere – she wanders down stairways- she wanders down- down – down – leads to a door- to a living room – into a bed room- she waits- looks in the closets – stands there and waits- waits to find something – she is not scared as she wanders – she is scared as she walks through another doorway- she is not afraid- is she afraid – is it okay that she is scared as she wanders the houses – is it okay that she is scared as she wanders the hallways – the hallways that lead to doorways – doorways that lead down to stairways- is it okay- is it okay that she is afraid as it all falls away into warmth – into pillows – into a bed –she is afraid as it falls into wakefulness

In wakefulness she wanders – not through hallways- not through doorways- in wakefulness she does not wander through darkness – she does not wander through doorways that lead to stairways – in wakefulness she is not scared as she wanders- in wakefulness she waits- she waits and wanders – she waits and wanders through the day – wanders through time and light – while she is awake she wanders and wonders – she wonders what and why she wanders in the darkness at night- she wanders and wonders what is beyond that next door- while she is awake all she thinks about is being asleep – she thinks about sleep and wonders what she could find- In wakefulness she wanders – not through hallways- not through doorways- in wakefulness she does not wander through darkness – she does not wander through doorways that lead to stairways – in wakefulness she is not scared as she wanders- in wakefulness she waits- she waits and wanders – she wanders – down stairways – down spiral stairs- down – down – down – the stairs lead down – to a kitchen – to a living room – to a door – leads to a door – leads to a door that opens up – leads down stair – down a staircase – down a dark staircase – the darkness opens up – opens to nothing – opens then closes – closes in and closes – then nothing – it all falls away into warmth – into pillows – into a bed – falls into wakefulness

In her sleep she dreams- dreams of walking hallways –walking hallways and looking for something – looking for something she is not sure of- something lost but not forgotten – in her sleep her dreams wake her to something deeper- she wanders – wanders hallways- wanders through hallways that lead to stairways – the stairways are long and intricate – the hallways she wanders always lead her to stairs- the stairs she always finds lead her down- down – down – the stairs she always climbs down lead to a darkness- and at that end- there is an end- sometimes there can be an end- the stairway is long and intricate that leads down down down the hallways she wanders- and in this end – in the end there is a door- the end leads to a door – a door that is closed – she sees someone- down the hallways she wanders she sees someone at the end- someone at that end looks small- down at the end of the hallway is a small someone looking through a peephole- at the door closed in the end she is the peephole- around the door at the dark end of the hallway is a small somewhat looking through her- darkness surrounding the doorway only light streams through the peephole at the end of the hallway- at the end of the hallway- she is the small someone- she is the peephole- she is the light

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