Janet I. Buck

Soliloquies I Did Not Plan

Watch that Blue Jay on the fence,
tall green grass that’s grown a foot in just two weeks.
A curly, plush geranium the color of a pomegranate
getting ripe inside a bowl—I place them both
where suns rise near an eastern window,
letting light in fast enough to feed my hunger to survive.
I roll an orange in my hand, pretend an angel
or a ghost dropped that coin right on my bed,
to cheer me through the shadow days, bounce it
like a tennis ball—it feels rough and knows the ground—
it’s just the size of all my brittle memories.

Life is never what it was, but I can’t seem
to love the garden growing here.
Arthritis going after bones—shapes of all the dwindled disks
that run my back, cartilage I wore out like old underwear
each time I struggled with a step. It’s catching up,
seems too close to punishments I didn’t see ahead of me—
a six-car wreck from traffic jams, more than just ten bumpers lost.
My spine is now the corkscrew minus bottled wine.
No one knows how dark it is in cellars that I’m sitting in.
And I won’t spell this shade of black.

The moan, the groan, the pinching wince—
this evidence of bodies sulking in disease
that stirs my lover in his sleep—shrapnel from soliloquies
I never meant to read or write, let alone
admit out loud like barking dogs.
On telephones, I scale down the doctor’s news
to whispers of an issue here, an issue there, summarize
so much that truth becomes a misty fingerprint.
Then I stew and wonder why—no one worries how I am,
feeling obsolete and lost, planets in another orbit,
hapless and so discontent. I’m the ugly rubber troll
I played with as a little girl, never could quite fix its hair
or dress up legs that didn’t move, no matter
how much felt I cut, hours spent in sewing rooms.
I always tell them, “I am fine”—
to keep their eyes from seeing black banana peels,
bedsores brewing on a knotted shoulder joint—
their noses clear of musty piles of folded clothes
untouched or moved in dresser drawers.

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linda m. crate

no moon, no moon

i loved you once
when there were a thousand stars
holding their breath
in a sky of cerulean blue so dark it
was almost as black
as your coffee,
everything seemed to shine brighter
than sun star (a phrase you said
i used too much in my
but now you’re gone
i have retreated back into my words
so easy to shed the skin
of my womanhood
and fall into the depths of my introspection
so deep and dark and beautiful
mysterious as our love
and its ending—
we can’t choose what goes and what stays
just experience it as it comes and goes,
and despite the pain and the
terror you put my
poor little red heart through;
i would endure it a thousand times because
as tragic as it was
it was a shakespearean winter and you
know how much i love his

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Emma Bernstein

This Is Not Lonesome

in early morning
solitude becomes
breath of lavender

bare shins in winter

or the garden you wander
bathed in fern and fetter-bush

you sit quietly and
are no one at all

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Carl Tillona

Finding this Poem in a Used Bookstore and Reading it

I might not be here with you
the old drum in the mountain

stars living separably apart
eyes blooming out of the hay

likely to sneeze the sleep off the shelf
or the one after that

kindly breaks the void
and free rises in showers

into the warm garage where sits your heart
and my thermometer compact with autumn

And if you read it might be
that I am as good as watching you now
for all you cannot see me

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Rachelle Neuman-Dimenstein


Sitting on my father’s lap
in a plastic folding chair from kmart,
explode above the baseball field.

A long ago night,
before imperfections were droplets that became
steady rain,
before I came to understand that relationships are often measured
in terms of complexity, before doubt and heady ecstasy,
before the knowledge that
it was indeed possible to become immune to the wonder of
these glorious lights.

This night,
when my father’s wool pants
scratching against my mosquito-bitten legs
was just enough
to make me believe
that this magic
could be kept
tucked into the back pocket of my denim cutoff shorts.

I never could have known
that this moment,
this night would be our pinnacle,
colored lovely and vibrant,
slipping into dark.

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PJ Lombardo

Ten Knowns


In between my fingers, there are wide open spaces,
Where I can cram pencils and stories and people and stars,
Like bread-kneaders kneading bread.


These pencils and stories and people and stars mean nothing;
They are only lonely moments, shedding themselves,
Shredding themselves, becoming and unbecoming.


These pencils and stories and people and stars mean everything
To me.


In between nothing and everything there is something;
I’m not sure what to call that.


There are two kinds of people in this world-
Those who know that there aren’t two kinds of people in this world
And those who are only fooling themselves.


The moon affects the tides somehow;
I am not sure how.
But we sure as hell can get lost in Her craters and tidal waves.


Any destruction is self-destruction.
Robbery, Road Rage, Nuclear Warheads,
Arson, Heroin, Genocide, Nerve gas-
All slit wrists on insecure teenagers.


Anarchy is humanity’s inherent freedom.
It pours from your pores and reddens the sky.
No one can lightning-strike your soul.
If they try, you will only rise, electric phoenix.


The moon smirks at us in crescents,
Says, Damn, man.
Just let it all wax and wane.


There will always be a reason to kill yourself,
But there will always be pencils and stories and people and stars
I know I can’t make you make yourself stay,
But I can clutch you until there is no more clutching,
And I can thank you all for being bodies.

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George D Brockner

I’ll Follow the Egrets

There are no secrets to Spanish Lake bottom
other than the nature of the crow
In the crow sky, a thickness of vultures
explore the bloody fields

of which I can suppose,
on a night of full-throttled moon,
loving that which is forsaken,
resembles an alien garden. Man must have,

one-hundred years ago, pulled the plug
for the sake of agriculture to leave behind
a trace of people to trench in the earth forever
to expound a god

I’ll follow the egrets;
knowing they would rather walk,
while all that remain now are the trees
bent from the punch of wind

and a treasure-trove of sun-dried mussel shells
long ago picked clean by scavengers
High above the ridge, birds fly against the clouds
in some metaphorical performance

Here, one sees the fewness in the landscape,
which is often mistaken for a flaw
Each day settles on a perfect purple prayer
On the shores of the dead lake,

I root myself beside the green cypress
and redeem the ancient elements
of those people,
who left with the water

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Jillian Kaplan

Mangatsiaka, or, a long way to say “Cold.”

I could float apart in the banging of arms on arms
at the market, or when watching Sunday soccer,
the cultural disregard for personal space
and the sense of a body prickled by cold.

I want to stay wrapped
in the tumbling embrace of blankets.
Here, I can melt into a flat surface
where I am immense and infinite.
Covers salvage the morning bite
of a Malagasy winter, and my mind lingers
in that hazy moment between asleep and awake,
longing to cling to some forgotten dream
that dissolved in the sound of morning rooster cackles.

Breath warmed by lungs,
I see outlines of air surge
from the front of my mouth.
They’re a poreless puff clinging
between life and a stream
of vast atmosphere.

Is this the distance between
a year, me here, you there,
hanging before my palms on a Wednesday?

Outside, brown, unwashed bodies
run through sharp wind
wearing flip flops.

Here, extremes thrive.

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Michael Davenport

dayflower blue

Life is a startle of epiphanies
Hues of bubbles popping
Pattering rain singing umbrella songs
Greening showers awakening dry leaves
Falling in love with a garden
The zest of marigold,
Blankets of verbena and alyssum
Bright red berries, chili pequin leaves
Gladiolus soothing mourners
Robes of dry grass

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Simon Perchik

You whisper as if this dirt
weighs nothing and underneath
the way darkness sifts for rain

once the Earth moves alongside
fondles each footstep
that is not evening

–in your low voice
an ancient sky is brought to life
as still more stars

holding on to one another
unable to crawl between
these two small stones kept together

for this hillside against your shoulder
and helpless to lift your face
in the same breath.

How can it lose! this stairwell
held gently the way each step
comes loose and your heart

reaches across, covers
the dirt, the flowers, the eyebrows
–it’s snowing under her legs

that are not yet evening
held back as a banister
not meant to last, staggering

alongside her footsteps
that no longer have a mouth
somewhere to somewhere.

You belittle the directions, this paint
needs thinning –it’s not safe
though for now you hold on more than ever

the way a flower inside another flower
spreads out when you add rainwater
as if this wall was still on fire

surrounding you, yelling at you to paint
with the window open, jump! the air
has nothing left, needs time, years

–the paint is new at this
can’t dry by itself, half brush marks, half
motionless, already those exhausted stones

no longer overflowing near the dead
–the broken glass helps, emptiness helps
once on the ground and alongside your hands

remembers to enter this room back and forth
as if you were being watched, counted on
are sweeping it clean for later and later.

As if this dirt still childlike
was something new in the world
not yet the powerful side to side

and you could walk slowly uphill
the way each breeze is cradled asleep
–you wrap these stones with a mask

that is not a grave –closer and closer
they follow behind one another
tugging you somewhere that weighs

nothing –you don’t plant anymore
though your arms move softly
as you wait for the stones

and whatever they can still lift
–every Spring is filled with dirt
and one hand already hillside

–even now you open your arms
and the emptiness, by instinct, sways
with her footsteps facing the others.

Though there’s no boat the rain
waits among the waves
the way every bridge faces the ocean

then leaps into rock once water
used to tides and the stench
from a small stone wearing out

smoldering, half cinders, half
as if it was bathing her cheeks
over and over in this shallow path

remembered only as your shadow
holding down a single splash
–nothing drifts off, all these years

heading nearer to the bottom, sifting
beneath her lips for coastline
for seabirds then arms and feet and kisses.

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