Category Archives: Zingara Poetry Picks

“Change of Heart” by Marian Shapiro

Suppose – no decisions
could be changed, no fates
rearranged,
nothing broken;, nothing
needing repair –
where
would I be then? And you?

Marian Kaplun Shapiro is the author of a professional book, Second Childhood (Norton, 1988),  a poetry book, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play (Plain View Press, 2007) and  two chapbooks: Your Third Wish, (Finishing Line, 2007); and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday (Pudding House, 2007). A Quaker and a psychologist, her poetry often embeds the  topics of peace and violence by addressing one within the context of the other. A resident of Lexington, she is a five-time Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2012.

“Where the Peaches Are Always Ripe” by Kim Baker

And then a knife
lifting skin from a peach
paring away the succulence
as if fruit never bruises
and she lost the rhythm
for just a moment
the aroma taking her back
that summer
his skin
her sublime laughter

And then the knife did what knives will do
continued cutting
even when she was already bleeding
down to her very bone
and she is alone
his heart stopped long ago
long before this peach
this knife

Her children never understood why
she wouldn’t come live with them
preferred to make her own bed
and lie in the fragrance of what was

So that all she can do in this existential minute
is watch the bright red of her life
flow through her fingers
stain her apron
empty her of all she knew
watch it descend

like a staircase to another place
where the peaches are always ripe
and she can swallow them whole
because wasting the skin
the pit of grace
is just too human

When she isn’t writing poetry about big hair and Elvis, Kim works to end violence against women. A poet, playwright, photographer, and NPR essayist, Kim publishes and edits Word Soup, an online poetry journal that donates 100% of submission fees to food banks. Kim’s chapbook of poetry, Under the Influence: Musings about Poems and Paintings, is now available from Finishing Line Press.

“Dikaryote” by Yu-Han Chao

Just because we pierce our septa,

           know how to wield a Mr. Softee

                      as well as sit on one

doesn’t give you the right to call us

           the d word.

We may not have PhDs in Oral,

           but we’ve two years of training

                      (plus two years of Spanish)

           will eat anybody,

                      could pass as hetero.

So what if we scissor and fuse our roots,

           fruit,

           fertilize each other’s eggs?

We spend our entire lives treated like halves, not wholes

How dare you call our favorite non-clone daughter halfie

           or the d word

                      she just barely reconciled our genes

By the time she has her first O (brief, nearly dies of the p)

           her heart, worn on her basidium,

                      will break into four pieces

                      not quarters but pulsing halves

should they land in the right place,

           sprout into

meandering, scissoring hyphae,

continue this figure-eight cycle ad infinitum.

Yu-Han Chao was born and grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. She received her
MFA from Penn State, taught at UC Merced, and is working towards a
degree in nursing. The Backwaters Press published her poetry book, and
her short story collection is forthcoming with Red Hen Press. Her
website is http://www.yuhanchao.com.

“The Muggy Night Air” by Kristen Ruggles

There is an alley I walk
with my dog in the late
evening, between two
buildings that have
turned their backs on
one another.

Through the cracks in
refrigerator box porches, green
blades of long grass reach
through and point at
the yellowed light that
gives the night a
jaundiced feeling
and illuminates my
mental state.

Those fingers reach for
Me, prisoners
trapped in wooden cells,
much like the inhabitants
of shoe-box homesteads
behind protected wooden boundaries.

They reach their
hands through to me, asking
for one last connection
before the executioner
with his scythe takes
their heads for crimes
against their own nature.

Kristen Ruggles is an adjunct professor in the First Year Writing Program at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi.  She is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing in Eastern Kentucky University’s Bluegrass Writing Studio.  She has been published in the Sagebrush Review and the Rat’s Ass Review.

“To Go From Here” by Michelle Holland

Our little lives extinguish themselves
like lit matches – ephemeral brilliance –
then darkness that can’t be helped.

The match is not meant to burn long,
just a moment in order to ignite
something else – a camp fire,
a cigarette, to sterilize a needle
before the splinter is removed.

We flame up, create our colors,
burn briefly, with just enough time,
maybe to start something.
Another life, a movement, a poem,
a garden, a body of work,
a connection with a network
of family, friends, our momentary mark.

Before Jim died, an arbitrary sequence of events,
his son, our daughter, the threat of fire –
led to their family evacuating
to our big, rambling adobe home,
created a chance to connect,
to get to know his silent ways,
his wry grin, his shaggy, black dog.

Just a guy and his family,
a daughter, young and moody,
whose tears brought him to her borrowed room,
where she let him know she wanted
no part of our hospitality, just wanted
to go home. He listened,
and later she groomed our big, friendly horse.

Her father is dead now; only a couple of days ago
he was alive. Suddenly, his match lost its fire,
whatever he was able to touch with his light
done. A son who wants to fly,
the last ignition of a father who made the connection
real. The fire will continue,
in ways no one knows.

Fathers die. Fathers die unexpectedly,
commonly, on the floor sprawled, unaccountably breathless.
The match was lit, and sputtered to its ashen end,
but everyone else he illuminated continues to inhale,
embrace the connection to keep our flames alive.
resist the breath that will extinguish.


Michelle Holland lives and writes in Chimayo, New Mexico.  Her books include the New Mexico Book Award winning collection, The Sound a Raven Makes, Tres Chicas Press; and Chaos Theory, Sin Fronteras Press.

Enjoy additional poems by Michelle Holland: “Take The Apple”, “Approaching Another New Year,” and “Empire of Dust”.

“Where the Dead Go” by Denise Low

Snow petals ghost
the northern wind.

Among wild plums
my father’s face kites

in wickerwork limbs
gray-eyed, trapped,

no escape as trains
huff roadside tracks.

Within twist of this,
a flounce of cold chill.

Beneath, below, within—
where does he anchor?

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is author of over 30 books of poetry and prose. Forward Reviews writes of her memoir The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival: “An accomplished poet, Low’s well-honed prose flows with lyric intensity.” American Book Review wrote of her Jackalope: “an engaging and humorous read, one that reveals a great deal about the parallel, contemporary Native America that exists and thrives in ways largely invisible to many other Americans.” She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. She has won three Kansas Notable Book Awards and has recognition from Seaton Prizes, Pami Jurassi Bush Award of the Academy of American Poets, Roberts Prize, and the Lichtor Poetry Prize. Low has an MFA (Wichita State U.) and Ph.D. (Kansas U.). The Associated Writers and Writing Programs, national creative academic programs and independent writers, selected her to serve as board president. She is on their Inclusivity Committee and is a contributing editor of The Writer’s Chronicle.

Also enjoy my interview with Denise Low  and her poem “Remembering Monk, 1966”

 

“Death like your Father” by Lola Haskins

He drops your eyes into a bowl of water. Like those Japanese packets
you think vaguely, remembering first tendrils then flowers.

He wraps your arms and legs in newspaper and packs them away.

He’s brought a special case for your breasts. It’s lined in velvet,
with a depression for each one.

He sets them in right-side up, so the nipples protrude like little doorbells.

He asks if you have anything to say. Yes, says the chunk of you that’s left.

Like your father, Death is good at looking understanding. So good that
when you’ve done, he thinks to pause before he continues,

your heart’s blood cupped in his hands.

Lola Haskins’ most recent poetry collection is How Small, Confronting Morning (Jacar, 2016). Her prose work includes an advice book and a book about Florida cemeteries. Among her honors are the Iowa Poetry Prize and two Florida Book Awards. She serves as Honorary Chancellor of the Florida State Poet’s Association.