I’m writing this for all that I’ve lost.
Honoring my life this way is inexpensive.
It’s refusing to grieve that has cost me.
My refusal to grieve broke a man I loved.
He wept for me, even as I refused to weep.
I thought I could get away with it—
my lustrous, grief-less life.
I had a lot of support.
Now, grief fills my pages.
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
JOANNE MCFARLAND is an artist, poet, and curator. Her poetry collections include: Acid Rain, Identifying the Body, and Tracks of My Tears published online by The Word Works in 2020. JoAnne's artworks are part of the permanent collections of The Library of Congress, The Columbus Museum of Art, and The Department of State, among others. JoAnne is the Artistic Director of Artpoetica Project Space in Brooklyn which exhibits work that explores the intersection of language and visual representation. JoAnne's collection Pullman will be published by Grid Books in the spring of 2023
the worst thing I’ve ever tasted
the raspberry bush
so hard to grow
moves to the neighbor’s yard
a box of good chocolates
I have to forgive you
Photo by Mary Bley
ROBERTO CHRISTIANO’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner (Pushcart Nominated), Beltway Quarterly, Silk Road, The Sow’s Ear, New Verse News, and The Washington Post. His latest book is Port of Leaving (Expanded Edition) published by Finishing Line Press. He has won two consecutive prizes from writer.org for seasonal poetry. His poetry has been anthologized in The Gávea-Brown Book of Portuguese-American Poetry.
A Group of Rats Is Referred to as a Mischief
––Jeff Andrews LCpl
Male rats are called bucks while unmated females are referred to as does and pregnant or parent females are called dams while the infants are
called kittens or pups and there’s a species of rodents indigenous to Vietnam about the size of a full-grown Boston Terrier that runs in packs and
we heard their menacing rumble under our
Quonset hut bumping the tongue and groove floorboards and when I say we I mean a squad of nine soldiers sometimes called grunts or draftees
or sometimes referred to as enlisted or as cannon fodder or comrades-in-arms or cited as departed heroes so we lowered our voices sensing that these oversized rats could hear us and attack and for
once our mouths were dry in this country of
humidity and beauty and pleading and in a while
this passel of rodents was gone but we stayed put whispering softly to each other and made a
promise not to mention our fear if we got back to
the states but of course in hindsight after all these years scattered across American towns and cities
like pack rats bushy-tailed woodrats field and
marsh rats I think we miss not being unified in our unease I think we miss being back together.
Photo by Margaretta K. Mitchell
JOSEPH ZACCARDI served as Marin County, California’s poet laureate from 2013-2015. His fifth collection of poetry, The Weight of Bodily Touches, was published by Kelsay Books. His poems have appeared in Cincinnati Review, Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Rattle, Salamander, and elsewhere.
She birthed you, but she is so
Is that the word? Try,
nocturnal. Each night
she glides on wings silent
as a vole quivering
under snow. Perched on your
bedroom sill she watches
you dream-twitch, then spins
her head to spy the snow-
mound ripple—sugary in moonlight—
as the vole tunnels past pines.
She lifts off, silent still, and you—
daughter of hurt and squeal—
are awake. When you sigh,
your heart-shaped face
aches. Is that the word? Try,
breaks, knowing when she dies
you’ll inherit all she’s swallowed
whole yet had to leave behind.
Photo by Gabriel Parker
MEG KEARNEY’s All Morning the Crows, winner of the Washington Prize, was published by The Word Works in 2021. Meg is also author of An Unkindness of Ravens, and Home By Now, winner of the PEN New England L.L. Winship Award; a heroic crown/chapbook, The Ice Storm; three verse novels for teens; and award-winning picture book, Trouper, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. She directs the Solstice MFA Program at Lasell University in Massachusetts.
THE DAY AFTER THE SCHOOL SHOOTING
In the park, Papa Swan leads
the way down to the water's edge,
gliding out onto the glittery surface,
the babies behind in a straight line,
Mama Swan bringing up the rear.
We waited all evening to see this,
the brood safe, protected, however
many pictures we take, how much the
radio squawks the sad news of our own.
MERVYN TAYLOR, a Trinidad-born poet, has taught at Bronx Community College, The New School and in the New York City public school system. He is author of seven books of poetry, including The Waving Gallery (2014), and most recently, Country of Warm Snow (2020), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation that was listed for the Bocas Lit Prize. A new full-length collection, A Common Place, is due Spring 2023. He serves as co-editor on the advisory board of Slapering Hol Press.
Betsy Garrett signs the papers not with an X
but with a +. Interest compounding.
Cross hairs. Short hairs. Short Straw.
Candles lit both ends. Irons in the fire.
Overstock. Over-run. Overboard. Eclipse.
Pay up, fool. You'll always owe me more.
An extra chair set fair to the table.
A coat that'll fit you, chit, once you grow out.
Beneath still waters, ice running dark.
Skin-deep? You don't know the half.
More than you bargained for, or you deserve.
Baker's dozen. Lagniappe. Sugar on top.
Shake on it. Shake with it. Can't shake it off.
Fist against hand. Hand to glove.
Saddled with. Hitched. Held. Bound.
from Held and Firmly Bound
NATHALIE F. ANDERSON is an American poet and librettist. She is a 1993 Pew Fellow, and author of numerous books of poetry: Following Fred Astaire, Crawlers, Quiver, Held and Firmly Bound (a chapbook), and Stain.
Jealous is the night,
the feckless night,
coming over us
as water into sea,
the forceful day's
geography turned black.
Your body is the sea
I float upon, your skin
becomes the waves.
Nothing will ever bring
you here to me, nothing
will ever call you back.
from The End of Horses
Photo by Margaret Fox
MARGO STEVER's latest full-length book is The End of Horses (Broadstone Books, 2022). Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, including Plant-Human Quarterly, Plume, Verse Daily, Poem-A-Day on poets.org, Prairie Schooner, Connecticut Review, Poet Lore, Cincinnati Review, upstreet, and Salamander. She is founder of the Hudson Valley Writers Center and founding and current co-editor of Slapering Hol Press. She lives in Sleepy Hollow, New York. (www.margotaftstever.com )
Susana H. Case
THE PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE
The Institute doctors won’t talk
to the local police about Janey’s file,
but they have an arrangement
with the FBI.
For security reasons.
How language gets twisted:
security, as in freedom from danger.
How her death leads to violation
of facts, strips a person down.
Stacks of documents,
life’s scaffolding. The irony
of a diagnosis of paranoia.
Janey thought the Feds were after her.
She was right. The cops
all agree she was wacko.
from The Damage Done
Photo by Eric Hoffmann
SUSANA H. CASE has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022. Dead Shark on the N Train, Broadstone Books, 2020 won a Pinnacle Book Award for Best Poetry Book and a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. http://www.susanahcase.com/
ONE AFTERNOON ON ROYAL STREET
After Kelly Cherry
You are reading Les Nègres. I am writing
To César. The sun gleams like a gold doubloon
Over the levee and the early winter bloom
Of camellias, the blue flame trembling
In the wall heater. Sun is blooming
With a cool flame, and you are talking
Over César and the early news. I am writing
And camellias are listening past you
To the voice of César blooming like a dark sun.
Your voice is a blue flame gleaming
On the pages of Les Nègres. The levees are trembling
Winter's darkest gold. Listen: I am talking to you.
Photo by Scott Martin
Carolyne Wright's latest books are Masquerade, a memoir in poetry (Lost Horse Press, 2021) and This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse, 2017), whose title poem received a Pushcart Prize and appeared in The Best American Poetry 2009. A Seattle native who has lived and taught all over the country, and on fellowships in Chile, Brazil, India and Bangladesh, she has 16 earlier books, chapbooks, and anthologies of poetry, essays, and translation. A Contributing Editor for the Pushcart Prizes, Carolyne has received NEA and 4Culture grants. A Fulbright Scholar Award will take her back to Bahia, Brazil, post-Covid-19.
E. Ethelbert Miller
DO YOU STILL SING IN THE SHOWER?
Sometimes the craziest thing you
can do is love someone. I find my arms
are always outgrowing my sleeves. Once
I stood in the shower watching my lover
slip down the drain. When I reached
for the soap she was gone. I’m always
waiting for a woman to come around
a corner from somewhere and love me
maybe forever. This is what happens when
you live alone or don’t own a car.
You find yourself in the middle
of the street wondering why the shower
at home doesn’t work. Love is like water
you can only hold for so long.
E. Ethelbert Miller
Photo by Richard Harteis
E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist and author of two memoirs and several poetry collections. He hosts On the Margin with E. Ethelbert Miller (WPFW) and hosts and produces The Scholars (UDC-TV) which received a 2020 Telly Award. Miller’s latest book is When Your Wife Has Tommy John Surgery and Other Baseball Stories (City Point Press).
In the woods
are these things:
fingers of madmen
nimble and quick
playing cat's cradle
with ropes meant for strangling
a great horned owl
in the treetop
the soul of a Chippewa
caught in its throat
a sidewinding snake
rubbing its scales
hungry for neckbones
quicksand, though no one
knows where exactly
These are stories our children tell us
to keep us from wandering.
Barbara Goldberg has authored six prize-winning poetry books, including Breaking & Entering: New and Selected Poems. Recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, she translated and edited contemporary Israel poetry. Goldberg, Series Editor of Word Works International Editions, has selected poets translated from Kurdish, Croatian, and Ancient Greek for publication.
And so this guy says to his friend
who happens to be a wheelbarrow,
Tell me, amigo, Don't you get tired
of being a wheelbarrow?
And his friend says: Hey, I'm lucky
I got to be a wheelbarrow!
Something to make you laugh,
César. Or maybe groan.
from Hotel Montparnasse: Letters to César Vallejo
Photo by Jana Brubaker
John Bradley is the author of Love-In-Idleness: The Poetry of Roberto Zingarello, which won the Washington Prize, awarded by The Word Works. He first encountered César Vallejo in the Southeast Minneapolis Public Library, while reading Thomas Merton's Emblems of a Season of Fury. Vallejo has been a close friend ever since. His latest book is Hotel Montparnasse: Letters to César Vallejo. Bradley is presently a poetry editor for Cider Press Review.
Andrea Carter Brown
Let’s not romanticize bodies
falling. Others may use float
or dance; I refuse to pretend.
They were not graceful, quiet.
They fell unbelievably fast.
Straight down. Head first.
Some screamed. The sound
they made landing? Forget
thud. Louder than the wind.
Photo by Thomas Drescher
Andrea Carter Brown's most recent poetry collection is September 12. Previously, she is the author of Domestic Karma, The Disheveled Bed, and Brook & Rainbow. An avid birder and backyard citrus farmer, she lives in Los Angeles, where she is Series Editor of The Word Works Washington Prize.
exists to make us think
that the ferocity of lions
Or lion taming exists
to parody our sense
of human mastery
over the earth.
is a shot in the dark.
But a poem exists
to contain it.
Now a thought
is a watched pot.
Photo by Andrea Auge
Rae Armantrout is the author of fifteen books of poems, including Conjure, a finalist for the PEN/Voelcker award, (Wesleyan, 2020), Wobble (2018), a finalist for the National Book Award, and Versed (2009) which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2010. She is the current judge of the Yale Younger Poet award.
Years Later, Frank O’Hara
I was only five
that john door
so I came
to this poem
and a moment
to do much
for her except
saying to myself
Henry Crawford is author of two poetry collections, American Software (CW Books 2017) and The Binary Planet (The Word Works 2020). His poems have appeared in several journals and online publications. His poem The Fruits of Famine, won first prize in the 2019 World Food Poetry Competition. His poem Blackout was selected by Southern Humanities Review as a finalist in the 2018 Jake Adam York Witness Poetry Contest. His poem Making an Auto Insurance Claim was selected as an honorable mention in Winning Writer’s 2019 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. His multi-media work, Gettysburg Auto Tour, was selected as a finalist for the 2019 Deanna Tulley Multimedia Prize. He has produced numerous online poetry events and is the host and developer of the online poetry series, Poets vs The Pandemic.
Forget what I said before—
It’s evening in Tuscany.
Someone is making bread that will not grow stale,
others are picking carciofi.
The moon won’t speak one word
so covered with the moss of clouds.
I know someone who died, but stays.
I would live it all again.
Nothing is divested but the
crêpe myrtle that screams pink.
Nothing is enough but the
empty wastebasket where letters once were.
from The Man Who Got Away
Grace Cavalieri is Maryland’s Tenth Poet Laureate. She’s author of 26 collections of poetry. She has had several plays produced, most recently “Quilting The Sun,” NYC 2019. She founded, produces and hosts “The Poet and the Poem,” for public radio, 44 years on-air, now from The Library of Congress. For ten years, Cavalieri was poetry columnist/reviewer for The Washington Independent Review of Books. She has taught poetry workshops in colleges throughout the country. Her latest book is Grace Art-Poems and Paintings (Poets’ Choice Press,2021). She is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the 2013 Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ George Garrett Award, The American Association of University Women, Phi Beta Kappa, and The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Silver Medal.
That your shoes are two fish, a school that moves by the singular will. That the body is here, but elsewhere, too. That there exists a body of wind, one for you, one for the city, the country, the planet. That there’s one wind moving all of this just so. Even the bride in the white wedding gown. And the groom in the charcoal suit. The beautiful car that’s waiting for them. The vast night.
Photo by Czarina Divinagracia
David Keplinger is the author of eight books of poetry, including The World to Come (Conduit, April 2021) and Another City (Milkweed Editions, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 UNT Rilke Prize for a mid-career poet. His other books of prose poetry include The Prayers of Others (New Issues Press, 2006), winner of the Colorado Book Award, and The Most Natural Thing (New Issues Press, 2013). In 2020 he was the recipient of the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America. His books of translations include Forty-One Objects, his 2019 collaboration with Danish poet Carsten René Nielsen, which was a finalist for the 2020 National Translation Award.
I AM BECOMING MY MOTHER
My mother raises rare blooms
and waters them with tea
her birth waters sang like rivers
my mother is now me
My mother had a linen dress
the colour of the sky
and stored lace and damask
to pull shame out of her eye.
I am becoming my mother
fingers smelling always of onions.
Photo by Scottish Poetry Library
Lorna Goodison, born in Kingston, Jamaica, is author of nine poetry collections, including her latest Collected Poems (UK: Carcanet, 2017). Forthcoming in 2021 is Mother Muse. A painter before she became a working poet, Goodison was educated at the Jamaica School of Art and the School of the Art Students League of New York. She was appointed poet laureate of Jamaica in 2017. In 2018, she received a Windham–Campbell Literature Prize, and in 2019, she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.