Category Archives: National Poetry Month

Finally Going to Tell You about the Staircase Ghost by Luanne Castle

When my baby said peaches, peaches,
I put the can into the opener.
Its lid rose on the machine’s arm.
The peaches smelled peachy-spice
and curled into little moons.
My son gummed his peaches, sloshing
juice from his mouth’s ends.
I washed out the can and then saw
what I had missed in my loving him
like water into wine. The cool blond
of pear slices on the Del Monte label.
The membrane between here
and there can separate as an unexpected
wind swishes silk draperies apart.

Here’s another one.
You might not have noticed.
You could have been standing
at the base of the stairs,
seen a woman in a long shift hesitate.
What was happening was this.
My foot reached for the next step,
and in that instant a ghost
passed through my chest
on its way downstairs.  It didn’t
move out of the way for me,
didn’t care that I knew it existed.
We both went our separate ways,
my path leading me to this moment
where I tell my tiny limitless tales.

Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award.  Her first poetry collection, Doll God (Aldrich), was winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she studied at University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University.  Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, Glass, Verse Daily, and other journals.

Balm by Anne Whitehouse

A parade of goats clambered down the path,
bells clanging. Between two cliffs
jutting out to sea was a green valley
with a gray road like a fallen ribbon
surrounded by palm groves
and little houses like white sugar cubes
sprinkled down the slope.

The ocean crashed against the cliffs,
frothing white on dark blue, and puffy
white clouds massed on the horizon
beyond the shadowy shapes of distant islands.
The air smelled of sweet juniper, as I bit
into the soft flesh of a ripe fig
and basked in the warm sun.

Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016). She has also written a novel, Fall Love, which is now available in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes by Compton Press. Recent honors include 2017 Adelaide Literary Award in Fiction, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’ Poems of Gratitude Contest, 2016 RhymeOn! Poetry Prize, 2016 F. . She lives in New York City. www.annewhitehouse.com

Other poems on ZPR by this poet: A Dog’s Life, Dance in a Drugstore, Shadows

 

Blackbird by Yvette R. Murray

(on Nina Simone’s “Blackbird”)

A dot sprouted in the universe
She wanted, she wanted, wanted flight
Doubt filled her hollow bones with sand
and night kept her black wings from rising.

How could there ever be enough tears
for an orphaned bird still at the nest?
How could fear ever make her sun rise
or drip moonlight rest into her soul?

No place wanted a black bird like this.
Nowhere a hometown she can call near.
A little sorrow can hold a soul back
and force the brightest of lights to roam.

Nina Simone: February 21, 1933 to April 21, 2003

Yvette R. Murray received her B.A. in English from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She has been published in Fall Lines, The Petigru Review, Catfish Stew, Genesis Science Fiction magazines and online.  Presently, she is working on her first collection of poetry and a children’s book series.

Landing in Snow-Covered Landscape by Anneliese Schneider

I take the comfort from
the seasons’ soft edges

That this is not time.

The ice that holds your
footprint slides upwards
into my bones

We must step—
Carefully. Slower, now.

I have been thinking
that all snow is
       some form
            of falling

Soon it will be time
to forget the old fear,

slipping off
the wrong side
of that darkened line.

Anneliese Schneider is currently an undergraduate student, living in Virginia and pursuing a personal interest in poetry and literature.

Sound the Trumpet by Edith Friedman

All hail the trash-talking bball players, high-voiced sixth graders,
out on the courts this early summer evening
I curve my bike through San Pablo Park.
The city took the big oaks last year, but the fields are lush and broad
and the sunset sky is full of treasure.
Here at the border of have and have not
there’s a shooting about three times a year.

Four months since the last one took a grandfather to the ICU.
We’re nervous, but we can’t live inside.
At noon today the park was full for Eid al Fitr, prayers in the open
a woman in a burqa walked down my block with her package of food
then a family on bikes, dad and two little girls
long handlebar streamers and flowered helmets.
Flowing garments, people laughing,
full plates on laps, smell of grilled meats.

Tonight softball players race across the June grass.
The scofflaw dog owners, out in force
cluster deep in right field
as the bright lights come on.
Back home, praise the boy who unloaded the dishwasher unbidden
now he’s lacing up basketball shoes
bigger than dinner plates.

The gleaming crescent moon clutches her drab mother
but you always go back to the park.
I say, don’t come home too late.

Edith Friedman is sheltering in California with her partner and two stunned and bored sons. Her work has appeared in Sisyphus Literary Magazine. She studies Writing at California College of the Arts.

 

Maybe It was Spring by Luanne Castle

or winter
and there were nine girls or seven.
Certainly it was overnight church camp
when we formed a second
skin around Lacy
with our fingertips.
What happened wasn’t a dream unless
a mass dream dreamed en masse.
We were one organism,
the skin we made stretched
tautly like a drumhead, lifting
up the girl Lacy, a musical offering.
Our song flowed in and from us,
all seven or nine, with Lacy the melody.
But one of us must have felt an itch
and discovered she was separate
and, doing so, withdrew her touch.
An epidemic followed
from this undoing until Lacy’s body
shared many points
of contact with the floor.
I remember looking under her
just before and noting
her two inches above it all
though of course that is ridiculous
because it wasn’t a dream.


Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award.  Her first poetry collection, Doll God (Aldrich), was winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she studied at University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University.  Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, Glass, Verse Daily, and other journals.

Hurt Friends by Max Reese

this body of mine used to be
all papercuts and scraped knees,
beestung summers clinging to our heels and sunburn blushing
across our cheeks;
you showed up to the picnic with bruises and I thought nothing
of it – clumsy boys will fall
as they please.
I never knew a home could be a gravesite until
you moved away and the grass overgrew
the porch steps.
I wish I could have saved you,
back then,
but we were both so far away and so hurt
we could never go back to our new skin,
to the blackberry stained mornings
when there were no broken bones,
or hearts —
only fireflies and cherry coke.

Max Reese is from Reno, Nevada, and currently attends the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as a sophomore. Max is long-time, self-taught poet whose mother instilled a love of poetry in him from a young age.