Category Archives: National Poetry Month 2018

“Internal Exile” by Diane G. Martin,

          “…we have no hope and yet
          we live in longing.”

                     Inferno, Dante

I’ve been pressed between the pages
of a heavy book, a keepsake
to be rediscovered one fine
day, yellow, brittle, print-stained—
a sentimental talisman.

I’m so close to every line;
indeed, they are on me engraved.
Exquisite shapes keep me awake,
though once lofty, once plain thoughts have
blurred, have rubbed their meanings away.

The lack of air is thick with them—
clouds of locusts on a rampage—
these words elbowing each other
These worlds of words, all alien.
I distrust them–black, banal worn.

Yet it’s not for nothing I’m named
Diana.  For now, I bide my
hours quietly, lie warily
between famed leaves and string my bow.
Somehow, I’ll fly to the dark wood.

Diane G. Martin, Russian literature specialist, Willamette University graduate, has published work in numerous literary journals including New London Writers, Vine Leaves Literary Review, Poetry Circle, Open: JAL, Pentimento, Twisted Vine Leaves, The Examined Life, Wordgathering, Dodging the Rain, Antiphon, Dark Ink, Gyroscope, Poor Yorick, Rhino, Conclave, Slipstream, and Stonecoast Review.

 

 

“Notes in the Night” by Judith Bader Jones

A summer breeze, sheer
as bedroom curtains, floats
through a screened window
and joins us in our double bed.

Evening slows the rhythm
of your beating heart when I rest
against your chest and nighttime music
becomes a cover for body pain and sorrow.

Livin’ in this murky world – the blues
dilutes our hurts while brush-stroke lyrics,
sung by survivors, saves souls as we fall
asleep holding onto each other.

Judith Bader Jones, a poet in Fairway, Kansas, has recent publications in  CHEST- The American College of Chest Physicians, Nostalgia and i-70 Review. She is an avid organic gardener and bird photographer.

 

“Sleeping in Bed Together” by John Grey

You’re from a world where seasons never varied their routine
and construction workers waved from beams on high
and a revelation could be as simple
as a bucking trout pulled from a stream.

And now you’re with a woman, in a bed
her body barely a shiver away from yours,
suddenly aware of how little touch is needed to identify the other
while always imagining the worst that lies in store for you.

You got from hatching to imago
with the usual helpings of slime and ooze,
to where you’re heel to heel with the desired one,
and yet still can be startled by such close companionship.

You’re from a place where so little flesh went into the making of you.
And here being fully grown is not something you find comforting,
Yet from lack of light, a strange cadence emerges.
low-breathing, low-flying beings navigating their way through sleep.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.  

 

 

 

 

“Absence by Inference” by Duane L. Herrmann

A row of cedar trees
native to the plains
and nearly indestructible,
with a shed behind,
old, ruined,
indicate the absence
of a home
once in the space
the trees protected.
What happened
to this farm?
The missing family?
The tragedy afflicted
on their lives?
And, the children?
What did they feel,
uprooted, scattered,
with the wind?

Duane L. Herrmann is a survivor who lived to tell; a prairie poet with a global conscience.  Recipient of the Robert Hayden Poetry Fellowship, he is published in print and online in several languages and various countries. His collections of poetry include: Prairies of Possibilities, Ichnographical:173 and Praise the King of Glory.

“Things to Be Grateful for During the American Winter” by Michael Brockley

~For K.D.

The portrait of Harriet Tubman burbling in the ink of a twenty-dollar bill. The way hands can be cupped to form eagles and bison when the shadows on bedroom walls slip through the jet stream of your imagination. The way women’s boots never go out of style. The way wallets are cluttered with unclaimed lottery tickets and Chinese fortune scripts. Take pleasure knowing chaos theory honors the wisdom of Japanese butterflies. Cherish this year of lunar wonders. October’s Hunter’s Moon. The November moon so close a heroine could step off of her hometown street into zero gravity. Hold your memory of a president racing his puppy through the White House halls at Christmas. Celebrate the happy accident of the newest blue and the oldest cherished songs. Sing Hallelujah! Thank the fog. Thank the way persimmons ripen during hard frosts. The taste of haiku lingering on your tongue. Take comfort in the assurance that scarves will always fit. Be grateful for the circle of light dancing above your head. It guardians the secrets in your eyes. Be grateful for the photographs of your most embarrassing moments. Be grateful for the impossible challenges before you. Be grateful knowing that, for this hour, gratitude is enough.

Michael Brockley is a 68-year old semi-retired school psychologist who still works in rural northeast Indiana. His poems have appeared in Atticus Review, Gargoyle, Tattoo Highway and Tipton Poetry Journal. Poems are forthcoming in 3Elements Review, Clementine Unbound, Riddled with Arrows and Flying Island. 

 

“Geode” by Beth Politsch

The news of your cancer
began a fracture – a small crack
we thought could be patched.

But then it crept outward into the multicolored expanse of time
and spread gray
outward from its edges
like the matte surface of a stone.

I’ve tried drinking
to stop my mind
from trudging
along that deepening fissure
that spans from month one of your illness
to month twenty when you died.

But I never manage to dull the sharp edges
of your truths:

You were too young and too kind
and so imperfect
and complicated
on your surface
that you were everyone’s favorite
sister and friend.

The pain is unstoppable now,
and in this strange middle phase
of my life, I have accepted it
as necessary.

Now I am walking with purpose
to break the gray veil
of your sickness.
I conjure spikes
from my heels
and push them down into the darkness.

I fall to my knees
and my hands become pick-axes.
I claw into the fear until it smashes open,
exposing its crystal center.

And this is where I find you:

In this precious cache
of mineralized memories
you sparkle with facets
both jagged and smooth,
your light and color

reflecting
into all dimensions.

Beth Politsch is a storyteller, poet and copywriter based in Lawrence, Kansas. She currently creates content for Hyland Software and writes children’s books and poetry in her free time.

 

“Nook” by Hannah Rousselot

The closet is small enough
that when I go in with my book
my body is compressed on all sides.

I lean the pillow I brought
against the thin wood.
The flashlight makes the shadows
stronger, but now I can read about

a girl who escapes and saves the world.

I have nothing to escape from
except the toxic cloud
that my parents created downstairs.

I have nothing to save except
my own bloody fingernails, from myself.

Hannah Rousselot is a queer DC based poet. She has been writing poetry since she could hold a pencil and has always used poems as a way to get in touch with her emotions. She writes poetry about the wounds that are still open, but healing, since her childhood and the death of her first love. Her work has appeared in Voices and Visions magazine, PanoplyZine, and Parentheses Magazine. In addition to writing poetry, Hannah Rousselot is also an elementary school teacher. She teaches a poetry unit every January, and nothing brings her more joy than seeing the amazing poems that children can create.