Category Archives: National Poetry Month 2018

“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.

“Mermaid Suicide” by Danielle Wong

My skin ripens—
a nutty hazel canopy of flesh.
Cocoa dust and tawny
muscle roasting, hot
fire beneath the relentless

Sun. My private vessel,
suffused with color and
plagued by a vain
saturation, but draped
in Vogue and saintly couture.

The corrosion has
already begun—
hot blood coursing
through precious skin and
brackish waves claiming me
as their own.

To drown like this,
I think, would be quite
convenient.
To wither away,
via sun and
decay. Ugly moths and

fireflies are the only
inhabitants of the corroded
corpse where I once dwelled.

Has there ever been
such a simple decline—
an ending more languid than this?

Danielle Wong is an emerging author living in San Francisco. Her debut novel, Swearing Off Stars, was published in October. Her work has also appeared on several websites, including Harper’s Bazaar, The Huffington Post, and USA Today. Beyond writing and reading, Danielle loves traveling, running, and watching old movies.

“Pachyderm” by Toti O’Brien

What makes baby irresistible
is candid decrepitude
held so gracefully.

Wrinkled and sagged
a zillion-year-old skin
stacked on its tiny skeleton

yet clear of all attitude
only wisdom
that of pretending none.

Little beast, born a centenarian
but without a lament
totters by with unsteady majesty.

Such conspicuous fragility
grizzled innocence
in its meek stare.

Eyes black corals
buried by timeless oceans
submerged by rippling sand.

Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. She was born in Rome then moved to Los Angeles, where she makes a living as a self-employed artist, performing musician and professional dancer. Her work has most recently appeared in DIN Magazine, Panoplyzine, Courtship of Wind, and Colorado Boulevard.

 

 

“White Crow” by Yuan Changming

Perching long in each human heart
Is a white crow that no one has
Ever seen, but everyone longs
To be

Always ready
To fly out, hoping to bring back
A glistening seed or a colorful feather
As if determined to festoon its nest

Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan and hosts Happy Yangsheng in Vancouver; credits include ten Pushcart nominations, seven chapbooks, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), Best New PoemsOn Line, Threepenny Review and 1,389 others across 41 countries.