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PART 1: 10/4/20

LW #1

PART 2: 10/8/20

PART 3: 10/15/20

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PART 1: 10/4/20

 
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Emma Bolden

Pronouns: She/Her

3 Poems

Another Sad Sack Of A Spring

Fever / Dream

To My Younger Self

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Another Sad Sack of a Spring

I’ve been trying. I told you.
Pack up your storms & go. & still
you scatter your showers, you hail

your reign, thundered up
into a brightness, you

stretch roots beneath the dream
where my teeth are piano keys &
yes it’s true that a memory

is a forever in the same way
that a forever is a forever. Why

are you always a silver
waiting on the edge of

the mirror, a pill I count &
a pill I count out of my
own curiosity over whether

I have had enough. Even
the bushes have thrown

off their flower, their beauties,
their precious poison. I wish there were
a way to remember to forget

the very idea of sweetness, the teeth
time clenches when a love leaves.

Fever / Dream


I tried to live in the lacks   /   in what I had no words
for what I lacked was wanting   /   was it wanting was it
wet with the screech of heat   /   a leaf unpeeling itself from
the tree I suffered trying to be   /   straight & straightened
hair fingers teething   /   the story I was taught should be
the story I teach  /   myself moon night midlit the fuzz
of a bunker angry with alarm   /   the dream of a mother fathered
by a feathered impossibility   /   a swamp seething to wave
its slow wonder at the edges   /  of every ancient rumor
of a beast that speaks its fire   /   becomes the whole story lit
by the spokes of a wheel   /   each species rides into & out
of the water ambulatory   /  as any emergency racing righteous
& glory towards the spark of   /   that first start I wanted to stop
myself up in language I wanted   /   to find the way to say
none of this has been mine   /   aimless & ambulatory
none of this watered treed rooted   /   fleshlocked to a spine
that wavered was it wet   /   that bent each stem from straight was I
mother father alleluia a herald   /   come undone from on high I
knew mercy was a kind of judgement   /   come quick on feet cut
from their walking was wanting   /   the tree from which the first apple
fell & so why am I waiting   /   am I wishing myself
into an absence I have no desire   /   to be claimed or to name

To My Younger Self

Live lit. Love like a loch
that rises to let in all

ships. When the tide says
stop, listen. Don’t listen.

Let blood flood you. Become
full. A heart. Fuse feeling

to your body like a second
flesh. You are better

then bitter. Be grateful,
girl. To be fragile to the bone.

Feel the thrum of some undefined
desire swell, cello sore. When

you swear you’re breaking,
break. Flower into flame.

Part 3:

Emma Bolden (she/her) is the author of House Is an Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press), and Maleficae (GenPop Books). The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, her work has appeared in The Norton Introduction to Literature, The Best American Poetry, The Best Small Fictions, and such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Shenandoah, and the Greensboro Review. She currently serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly.

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Kai Coggin

Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems

Physics

Directions to My Childhood

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Physics

Newton’s third law
states that
every action
has an equal and opposite reaction,

that there are forces constantly

at odds,
at war,
the push and pull
and standstill of atoms all around us,

waiting to react
to whatever comes.

What is the opposite reaction to this chaos?

How far into darkness will the pendulum swing

until we swing back

willingly

toward

the

Light?

Directions to My Childhood

off the highway
turn right on Rio Bonito

another right on Sierra Blanca

end up at Presidio West
and you might find me there

wide-eyed
almost unbroken

knock on Sherry’s door
the babysitter who watches
a pack of us latchkeys after school

she probably won’t answer
don’t knock again

follow the secrets
down the sidewalk to the big green boxes
the giant sage cubes of metal
that hold in electric meters or connections

who even knows?
some currents can’t be contained or explained

there is a clubhouse there
sure it doesn’t look like one but it’s there

the password is scratched into the
the circle of hedges
you may hear us laughing
or crying

if anyone asks you which
during truth or dare
always say dare
the truth is not something we speak of

in these circles

we are all make-believe and forget-me-not

we are all bliss and recovery
we are all cover up and don’t make waves

something is hiding in us

ask Gabe if he still has that gun he brought on the school bus
tell Jessica to tell me a new tragedy that does not involve my cat and a fast car

tell Tiffanie she will mix drinks for a living and do it well
tell Derrick that football isn’t going to save him
tell Carmen she will end up just like her mother strong kind clutching young

tell me it’s going to be okay

wait for the streetlights to come on
then wait a few more hours for mom to come home and kiss us goodnight

how 10:30 might as well be 3am in our little waitings

wait there

you will find me warming something on the stove

you will see me not doing homework
you will see me full of questions
you will see me become

husband father
hardly little
girl
you will see me waiting for childhood

to be something

I can control


I see you coming

don’t stop

keep going

all that is left here has turned to dust

Kai Coggin (she/her) is a widely published poet and author of three full-length collections Periscope Heart, Wingspan, and Incandescent. She is a queer woman of color who thinks Black lives matter, a teaching artist in poetry with the Arkansas Arts Council, and host of the longest running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country—Wednesday Night Poetry. She lives with her wife and their two adorable dogs in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. 

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teri elam

Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems

On Writing A Fan Letter Lynda Carter

Circa 1975

On Being Called The N-Word In

Atlanta, 2016: A Southern Ghazal*

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On Writing A Fan Letter To Lynda Carter Circa 1975

Hot-combed ponytails grazing my shoulder, lip-pursed concentration,
Not a dumb No. 2 pencil—but my new blue BIC pen artfully scribing pages
In my wide ruled notebook. I practiced and practiced my W, its curves,

Loops and slants—its command over the alphabet. “The Capital W stands
Alone—it should NEVER touch other letters in any word,” Miss Manning
demanded,  tapping her yardstick to chalkboard. She favored Carol

Burnett, but not as funny—or at all—and a real Sargent Carter when
It came to cursive writing. But I did exactly as she asked,  because
I wanted the perfect W in my first letter to Wonder Woman, who just like

The letter, commanded space with curves, loops, slants—a perfection my
Eyes understood for reasons I didn’t quite get then. For me, it was simple—unless
Steve Trevor schlepped around—I loved watching her lift cars, tackle bad

Guys, golden lasso lies into truth—all to save the day, yet again. Most gloriously,
Was the way Wonder Woman stood tall with a hand on each star-spangled
Hip, strong and squarely alone. And soon, so did my W—and soon, so did I.

On Being Called The N-Word In Atlanta, 2016: A Southern Ghazal*

At six, barely knowing her A-B-Cs, first time this Southern girl called nigger

On the playground, hollow-pointed-word shot: her pint-sized heart caught “nigger”

 

Before flawless, now skewered, her heated veins drain their first blues—shame  

By Run Spot Run in school, kids learn mean tricks & invisible-ink her, nigger

 

At recess, taunting “eeny-meeny miney moe” boys run behind to snatch her up 

When “it” in hide-n-seek, but she knows she “ain’t nobody’s hollering nigger”

 

Her mama, who fought their fire with her own, would say, then roil ablaze after

Soiled-cotton-mouths snuff-drawled & spat at them both, “goddamn niggers”

 

Now older than her mother then, her toughened-tongue tries remixing to untooth it 

But Southern teeth grow fangs, this time a more forceful bite, “you nigger-bitch” 

 

And as if stuck in place, age six, she hemorrhages & rages & this Southern girl,

Boils & chokes up when venomous tongues noose-tie her name, call me—nigger.

*"On Being Called The N-Word In Atlanta, 2016: A Southern Ghazal" was first published n the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Auburn Avenue.  

teri elam (she/her), an Atlanta resident has work, most recently, in Slice MagazinePrairie Schooner, and the Visual Poetry Project. A recent semi-finalist for the Two Sylvias Press Wilder Prize, she has an essay included in Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19. she has work forthcoming for the Greenwood Art Project and the Black Comics & Afrofuturism Anthology. teri is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and alumna of The Watering Hole and VONA/Voices.

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Noah Falck.jpg

Pronouns: He/Him

1 Poem

Noah Falck

A Partial List of Evening

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A Partial List of Evening
 
It comes down 


like how you take


off your clothes
looking out the window.



 

The last of the sun’s 


cursive on a field
completing a warehouse


of shadows.
 
You close your eyes 


into how it falls.



Its arrival leaves


a paperback’s worth
of fear in the hills 


where the weather hides,



where the sky’s 


an ambushed theatre.



We look each other


up and down


in the last of the light
as if we’ve just met.

Noah Falck (he/his)is the author of the poetry collections Exclusions, You Are In Nearly Every Future, and Snowmen Losing Weight. He co-edited the anthology My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry, and has been anthologized in Poem-A-Day: 365 Poems for Every Occasion. He lives in Buffalo, New York.

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Diamond Forde.jpg

Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems

Diamond Forde

Hysterectomy

After Five Years of Absence, My Mother

    Takes Care of Me While I'm Sick

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Hysterectomy

I joke about chucking my fat sack uterus
every period. Scramble past the bramble
of bowels with bare hands, uproot the muscular
balloon. An eviction, no more painful
than what I already feel. But I can’t
remove what doesn’t belong to me—
 
to do the violence I want
and still be loved for it.
 
Difficult not to be defined by motherhood—
it’s all that holds me whole.
Doctors say I might want kids one day.
Mama prays one day is soon.
Curled in a helpless mess of punishment,
I let my first sin spill. This sloughed blood  
a sacrifice for fantasy. My uterus,
a little home for someone else’s dreams.
 
To do the violence I want and still be
loved for it.  
 
“The whole is greater” means the womb
remains. Coins rattle my uterine purse,
valuable collateral for the folk I owe—
women who pray for children. Let her
have me how she wants me. Self-sacrifice
is easy. Everyone loves a martyr.
 
To do the violence
I want
I want
I want
and still be—

After Five Years of Absence, My Mother Takes Care of Me While I’m Sick


I’ll tell you how it started: a cat scratch on the back post
of my throat, a sniffle, a sneeze, a fever whose high-rise
demolition, all shattered glass and metaphor-swallowed,
diamonded my lungs like a car-marred stretch of road—
memory makes something beautiful of my mother
plastering slivered onion to the bottoms of my feet.
In cotton socks, I marinate, sick broth of a Vidalia’s
pearlescent sweat. Mom swears the onion will blacken
with bacteria by morning, makes promises she can’t keep
again. She spoons yogurt to soothe my fever-fried throat.
I smell a pasture of scallions, I fumble for spoonfuls
of macerated berries, habit of chasing sweetness, why I keep
coming back to reach for the hand that holds the flat silver
spoon like a ward—finally, the two of us close enough
to wound, if we wanted. When she tells me she will check
on me by morning, I need to believe her. Even while I dip
in the somnolent stream of fever-dreams, past optometrists
and their peeping scopes, jabbering cows, and a runaway
Volvo, I will weasel my feet back and forth in my socks,
a pendulum hoping the onion will drink up the dark. 

Diamond Forde's (she/her) debut book, Mother Body, is forthcoming with Saturnalia Books in Spring 2021. Her work has appeared in Sixth Finch, Great River Review, Massachusetts Review and more.

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Dorianne Laux.jpg

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

Dorianne Laux

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Mine Own Rachel Maddow

 

Mine Own Rachel Maddow

I have a Rachel Maddow pin, a small round button
I wear on my vest, just above my right breast, All
it reveals is Rachel’s eyes and forehead, her signature
glasses and eyelashes, her close cropped nest of hair.

Yet someone always recognizes her, the girl at the bagel shop
Oh I LOVE Rachel, the dignified supermarket checker who
lifts her plucked eyebrows and says Well, well, well, if it
isn’t my old friend Rach
.  My neighbor when I walk out

to collect the mail, Did you see her last night?? My god
that woman should have been a lawyer!
We are a cult,
sunk deep in the dungeons of our beds or couches,  
blinds closed, porch lights out, waiting for her take

on the breaking news, putting the kibosh on a suspect
political theorist, parsing the rigmarole and legalese,
What happened? Is this happening? How did this happen?
We are comforted by her 20 dollar blazer, disquieted

by the bad omen of her pencil eraser tapping on the desk.
She seems to wear a Trump repellent.  No matter what she
says he never calls her out.  She’s the star of her own movie,
The Ten Thousand Foot Woman, her sword roughing up

the tree tops, smashing Watergates and Trump Hotels
underfoot, clouds like laurels wreathed around her head.
We can’t go to sleep without her, she revs us up then knocks
us out, her voice a lullaby, her hands thrown up into the air

like startled doves. 

Pulitzer Prize finalist Dorianne Laux’s (she/her) most recent collection is Only As The Day Is Long: New and Selected (W.W. Norton). She is also author of The Book of Men, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize and Facts about the Moon, winner of the Oregon Book Award.  She teaches poetry at North Carolina State and Pacific University. In 2020, Laux was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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Donna Vorreyer.jpeg

Pronouns: She/Her

3 Poems

Donna Vorreyer

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Shimmer

Refusal

Karma*

 

Shimmer

I don’t want to  rise and leave
your head still on the pillow,
the sun barreling through the window.
You and this ache and this diamond light.
I know now that I want only this.
That the ache is a way in.
That the light is a way out.
That you are both light and ache, a door
that swings two ways. My lips seek
your collarbone, a supplication.
Me, dragging all my Marley chains.
You with your ring of iron keys,
your strong, patient hands.

Refusal

When she grew tired, refused to eat, would go nowhere
outside the house, we pleaded with her to go there,

to the doctor who she claimed to like. She’d make excuses–
weather, father, hockey on TV. The status quo. There

in the home where we grew up,  each surface shined and set
with photos of our younger selves, she’d call and we would go. There,

there.
Groceries. Company. As it got worse, we begged
some more, but she wouldn’t hear. Falling is what got her there,

frightened in the ER. Once admitted, in her bed and gown,
she said, Something bad is happening. I just know. There

in that same room, we got the news. Late stage. Few options.
More refusals. Listened to her choose how to go, there

in that white room, answering every question No. My brothers and I
crying in the car so my father wouldn’t see. Watching her go, their

sixty years flashing before him, he bent his head to hold her hand
through every visit. She wanted to come home. When we got her there,

she could not speak or eat or move. We swabbed her mouth, read to her,
fed her morphine. She waited for her last grandchild to show. There.

Heard her voice and completed her farewell list. Later that night,
my brother in a chair beside her bed, she let go. And there

in that house, my father now, alone and yearning for death, refusing
to accept her gone. Daughter, courage. It’s time again to go there.

Karma*

For years, my favorite story about
teaching featured a first grade girl,
round-faced and doe-eyed,
who entered the classroom one morning
weeping. I knelt down beside her,
asked her what was wrong, if she was
hurt. She wailed between sobs that
she almost forgot her lunch. But
it’s right there in your hand, I said,
see? Everything is fine, there’s nothing
to cry about. But I ALMOST forgot it,
she repeated over and over, her breath
catching in between words, the thought
of that unwalked path simply
unbearable. How sweet and naive
she was. How innocent, to mourn
a thing that did not happen. When
I visited the nursing home one night
in November, my father swatted at me,
pushed me away when I tried to kiss him
hello. Mumbled prison. Mumbled
conspiracy. Told me to go to hell. Told me
and my brothers to stay away since
we were all in on this together. That we
were lying about my mother’s death.
That I should never come back. I knew
he didn’t mean it, but for the first time
in my life, he didn’t say I love you
when I left. I still crumble at the thought.
It was almost the last time we spoke. Almost.


 

*"Karma" was first published in Tar River Poetry (V59, I2).

Donna Vorreyer (she/her) is the author of To Everything There Is (2020), Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016) and A House of Many Windows (2013), all from Sundress Publications. Her work has appeared in Rhino, Tinderbox Poetry, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, Waxwing, and other journals, and she serves as an associate editor for Rhino Poetry. Recently retired from 36 years in public education, she can’t wait to see what happens next.

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PART 2: 10/8/20

Beth Gylys.jpg

Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems

Beth Gylys

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Pyrocumulus

Social Media Window

 

Pyrocumulus

We hadn’t noticed the cloud or thought of flames.
By the time it came to view, the house was lost.
We could only watch and say their names

together as we had.  How could we blame
them, so full of ideals, so  driven by lust?   
We’d missed the cloud and never pictured flames

shooting through the roof, wind-whipped chimes,
wings of ash lifting from that past.  
We could only watch and say their names

as if to conjure coupling. Some homes,
I know, burn down and some are built to last,
but we’d totally missed the cloud, the raging flames,

until a hose was useless, the word ‘remains’
meant nothing left to salvage.  The place was toast.  
We stood and watched, repeating both their names.

I thought of Moses’ bush, his tablets of shame,
of doors slammed too hard and windows burst.
We’d missed the cloud and never imagined flames.
Now we could only watch and say their names.

Social Media Window

Adopted as an orphan, an army brat,
sometimes a little “rough around the edges”
but pretty good to you, you’ll give him that.

He lost a brother in a car wreck, sat
and listened to him die, both of them wedged
in metal. Orphaned, adopted, an army brat

now a handsome, flirty flawed diplomat.
Buddies until he moved to Georgia—a stage
for racial strife, you’ve heard about that.

His post’s stupid, almost cruel. Maybe it’s what
he’s turned to, turning around the buried rage
of losing parents, a brother. An army brat

adapting to surroundings. You don’t want
trouble, but now the trouble is yours, his page
a reckoning. He’s been good to you, but that

is the matter: what to do? You’d like the thought
gone, instead its steel-toed boot is lodged
in your gut. Adopted, an orphan, an army brat,
and mostly good to you, you’ll give him that.

Beth Gylys (she/her) is an award-winning poet and professor of creative writing at Georgia State University. Her 4th collection of poetry, Body Braille, was recently released by Iris Press. Her other books include Sky Blue Enough to DrinkSpot in the Dark, and Bodies that Hum; she has also published two chapbooks Matchbook and Balloon Heart.

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Pronouns: He/Him

1 Poem

Travis Chi Wing Lau

In Which He Attempts to Breathe

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Travis Chi Wing Lau (he/his) is Assistant Professor of English at Kenyon College. His research and teaching focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, health humanities, and disability studies. His poetry has appeared in Barren Magazine, WordgatheringGlassSouth Carolina Review, Foglifter, and The New Engagement, as well as in two chapbooks, The Bone Setter (Damaged Goods Press, 2019) and Paring (Finishing Line Press, 2020 forthcoming). 

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Michael Montlack.jpg

Pronouns: He/Him

2 Poems

Michael Montlack

Strange Big Fish

"I'm not your fucking grandmother,"

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Strange Big Fish                     
    
Like birds of paradise, we pecked
appetizers at an Amazonian place
Felipe said everyone was raving about.

A rooftop dinner for Natasha, a dancer
from Uruguay, in Rio for her birthday.
So at home here with friends. At home
in her body. At home even with me,
the Gringo, five minutes into meeting.

Pablo palming my lap as he translated
dishes. Mostly strange big fish. Natasha
suggesting wines, fluent in Portuguese.
I hadn’t studied a word. Afraid to dig in
too deep. In a place too far away. Pablo—
seven years younger, seven inches shorter—
liked rescuing his big helpless baby:
What can we feed you tonight, Daddy?

Usually lost in the music of their words,
I gathered only names and cities: familiar
flowers that floated on a Portuguese river
too rapid to swim. Felipe insisting we stay:
Para la samba!

But we’d leave for Fortaleza. The calmer
Carnival. Baby steps for Pablo’s baby!
Natasha winked. A New Yorker who hates
crowds?
I confessed I only came for Pablo.

Of course, she said. Her accent soft like her
shoulder’s curve, a sigh in the pre-Carnival
quiet almost as charged as Pablo’s fingertips
combing the hair on my thigh, her eyes
trembling candles in the dark. But won’t you
suffer?
she asked. When the trip is over?  

Neither of us answering. In either language.


 

“I’m not your fucking grandmother,”


            she told Rufus Wainwright.
When he tip-toed up at some event
to confess her Golden Girls Dorothy
was Miami sun in a dark childhood.
And surely she spat it like a Marine
Staff Sergeant—her real-life role
before studying for stage and screen:  

Our Auntie Mame’s bosom buddy,
dramatically drunken, voluptuous Vera.
More glamorous but no less relentless
than the feisty liberal, ready for another
verbal brawl to gravy holiday dinner
with racist cousin Archie.  

Always delivering a stronger argument
than any Republican retort: her
drop-dead deadpan—not drop dead
gorgeous like Ida Lupino, the petite
Depression-era starlets of her youth. No,
she was statuesque. Lady of liberties:
Divorce, gay rights—Seventies taboos,
too soon, too maudlin for mainstream—
an abortion? On prime time? Yes, and
just two months before Roe v. Wade.

There was Judy’s Dorothy. And then there’s ….
yours. You might’ve growled at Rufus, Bea.
But somewhere in Manhattan, 18 queer kids,
homeless, estranged, dream tonight in beds—
entrusted from your grave—tucked in
and warm beneath blankets, thanks to their
“not your fucking” fairy grandmother.

​​

*Bea Arthur is a Patron of NYC's Ali Forney Center (for homeless LGBTQ youth.)


 

Michael Montlack (he/his) is author of two books of poetry, most recently DADDY (NYQ Books, 2020), and editor of the Lambda Finalist essay anthology My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them (University of Wisconsin Press). Recently his work has appeared in North American Review, The Offing, Prairie Schooner, Cincinnati Review, Court Green, and Los Angeles Review. His essays have appeared in Huffington Post and Advocate.com. He lives in NYC.

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Maureen Seaton.jpg

Pronouns: She/Her

5 Poems (Best for desktop view)

Maureen Seaton

Fates

Canary in a Coalmine

Sex with an Angel

Her

Poem Ending in a Line by Ntozake

Shange; Or, Death by Music (2020)

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Fates

1

Recently I saw an iguana killed on the turnpike.

He was trying to get to the other side,
which is all any of us is really trying to do.

2


(My body spins but my soul spins faster.)

3

Once my chiropractor touched a fake skeleton

across the room and I felt my vertebrae relax.
Is this possible? I said quietly, so as not to jinx him.

4

Now I’m writing about the Fates with my friend

Neil and we decide to mention Neil’s lover,

Hector. We both agree that Hector is extremely

mythological. He even has mythological OCD,

Neil points out, which I actually had once myself

in the nineties or seventies. Hector is excellent at

vacuuming and so was I. We both enjoy soap.

Furthermore, I hate it when bacon spits fat onto a

clean kitchen floor, even though I’ve always loved

the sound of sizzling oil and the way it burns like a

tattoo when it hits the wrist: lizard, lifeline, bone.

Canary in a Coalmine

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect (The Police)

Once upon a time there was a perfectly
fucked up world where if you tried to defect
to a nicer cage or some bright coalmine
(canary alert), you’d walk a straight line
in yout old (yellow) boa, your delusions
caught in the pouring rain between conclusions

and Charybdis. What are conclusions
but the tail ends of (yellow) imperfect
days where all your (yellow) delusions
come crashing down on your (yellow) defects

and attempts at walking a (yellow) line

as if (yellow) were blue and the coalmine

cutting off your birdsong like a coalmine
in a wave of methane gas draws conclusions

that will change your (albeit yellow) line

forever. Breathe. We will need perfect
air from this stanza on, all our defects
of character (shortcomings) (delusions)

piling up around us like the delusions
we sang in our once upon a coalmine,
the way all the other songsters defected

when they realized we’d reached conclusions

no one who wasn’t a bird and perfect

could ever understand, a dizzying line

between you and you and another straight line.

Who is bird enough to shed delusions?
Who is (yellow) enough and who perfect?

When I died I came out of the coalmine

into a world I’d jumped to conclusions

about. You could say I was defect-

able. You could even say my defects
were respectable. Here is a conga line
to hop onto and then skip conclusions.
What is this world but all kinds of delusions?

Zenyatta Mondatta, my friend—and a coalmine

with its canary poised for flight: perfection.

Sex With An Angel
Her

Poem Ending in a Line by Ntozake Shange; Or, Death by Music (2020)

The nuns used to say

I was vaccinated with

phonograph needles.

It’s true. I was slain
in the spirit of song when

I was little more

than three feet tall. Lis-

ten: forte, fortissimo,

fortississimo.

You can hear the way

the heart son claves itself:

You can hold your breath

and syncopate a poem.
Your breath could catch fire.

You could die right now while you

hold yrself in a music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJtq6OmD-_Y

—Playing for Change | Song around the World (2011)

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Maureen Seaton (she/her) has authored twenty-one poetry collections, both solo and collaborative, most recently, Sweet World (CavanKerry, 2019), winner of the Florida Book Award for Poetry. Other honors include the Lambda Literary Award, Audre Lorde Award, NEA, and Pushcart. Her memoir, Sex Talks to Girls (University of Wisconsin, 2008, 2018), also garnered a “Lammy”. She teaches creative writing at the University of Miami.

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Brendan Walsh.jpg

Pronouns: He/Him

1 Poem

Brendan Walsh

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ode to spirit airlines

 

ode to spirit airlines

you golden Proletariat missile
you penny-pinching, carry-on measuring sky chariot
i sit in you and contemplate mortality

most people hate but tolerate you
you’ve taken me to panama at 3am for $100 and a randomly selected middle seat
they say you gouge them

i say pack less shit
you say the sky’s too heavy already: they don’t need three pairs of shoes
for a weekend in nashville

i say i love you. it feels so good to say i love you.
it feels right to eat your humidity and jet-exhaust each time we land in fort lauderdale
you have no first class

we are all one class
we’re all kinda poor or stingy
except for the first-row of extra legroom bourgeois fucks

you cram us in and demand our closeness
you deny us little bottles of water and scraps of chips and we thank you
we know we can live leaner

we, the hardened mass of workers cutting clouds in your yellow belly
you give us nothing but gray chair and palm-sized tray tables
you don’t pretend that we are special

you tell us we are stinking apes strapped to seats in the stratosphere
and isn’t that enough?

Brendan Walsh (he/his) has lived and taught in South Korea, Laos, and South Florida. His work appears in Rattle, Glass Poetry, Indianapolis Review, American Literary Review, and other journals. He is the winner of America Magazine's 2020 Foley Poetry Prize, and the author of five books, including Go (Aldrich Press), Buddha vs. Bonobo (Sutra Press), and fort lauderdale (Grey Book Press).

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PART 3: 10/15/20

Julie Bloemeke.jpg

Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems

Julie E. Bloemeke

Work Clothes

Poem Before The Whitney

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Work Clothes

Even folded over the back
of the chair, the shirt holds you.  
The pants, creased to the bends
of your legs, already worn

enough to never fit another.  
Naked, I touch them
as you come up behind me,
pull my pelvis back into yours.  

Already I am marking the you
I will miss, woven and worn
into seams, stitched into the fabric
that covers you. All these ghosts

of wanting. I pinch a button
for my lonely future
self, circle my finger
over the flat pearl.  

You tell me its time
to come to bed.  You.  
How you pulse, course,
move into me.  

But just for now, let me
keep you here, let me hold fast
to the husk of what you shed
in order to enter my body.


 

Poem Before The Whitney

                   - for Robert

Without weather, I would not
have come to this, settled onto

a stool, listening as one bartender
banters over bitters, strains the ice,

while another comes to me, slides
a napkin next to my notebook

and asks what I do.  And to hell
with it, I think, I am in New York.

So I go with the truth
and confess: I’m a poet.

He considers this.  Surprises me
because he does not say he is one too,

doesn’t regale me with some
conflated syrup of social media verse.

He even correctly references
Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,”

versus “The Road Less Traveled.”  
He doesn’t ask where

I’ve published
or joke about a beret.

Instead, he knuckle raps the bar,
says he will be back.  

And I continue to write, which
I now know is just to be writing.  

He returns with my Manhattan,
and pours himself a shot.

We lift our glasses in unison,
bring the ring of them together.

To the words! he laughs.
And after a long pull he says

it’s all on the house.
And I put down my pen,

because for right now
nothing could be better

than to leave it all
unfinished



 

Julie E. Bloemeke (she/her) is the author of Slide to Unlock (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2020).  A fellow with the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, her poems have been widely anthologized, most recently in Mother Mary Comes to Me: A Popculture Poetry Anthology (2020).  Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals including Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Cortland Review and others. A freelance writer and editor, her interviews have been featured in AWP Writer’s Chronicle and Poetry International.

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Regie Cabico.jpg

Pronouns: He/Him

1 Poem

Regie Cabico

He's Gonna Fuck Him

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He’s Gonna Fuck Him

I can taste it. Why did we meet
at a bar? What did I expect to find
Why am I one of two brown men
in competition for a White guy
Oh yeah, they fucked
a year ago. My fingers
unfurl to Wolverine claws.
Another Oriental diva
stabs herself in the breast.
I’m a brown fucking swan
& my understudy
is another colonized
US territory. May there be
fireworks & fury to be
celebrated in their
tongues. An atomic beehive
fills my head. If I grabbed
his crotch this would be
over. Guam guy
did Not. Just. Grab. His.
Crotch. My body eats
the audacity. I reach for
my Captain Morgan
& Orange Juice & slam it
down on the bar like a shard
of sunrise. Maybe he’s
in love with him. Maybe
he’s not. And when he’s
done studying for his law
exam he will flash
his gumbo smile. He’ll bury
his Cajun eyes in my skin.
All his tricks drift
down a bayou. Orpheus rises
& can’t believe this shit.
He plays Send In The Clowns
on his lyre. He really is gonna
fuck him. Guam guy
lives in Logan Circle. I hope
his air conditioning breaks
in the storm. May
the electricity be damned
in Logan Circle. Everybody’s
lived through what I’m going
through. I’m not afraid
of comparisons. I know
who I am. I’m kind,
I’m smart & I’m important.
I did not just quote
Viola Davis from The Help.
Oh that I may be as fierce!
Nina Simone,
belt me a new dawn,
Tina Turner give me the legs
to strut Proud Mary
on the cruisey asphalt,
& this is for asian guyz
who have considered suicide
when the guy you thought
would be your summer
romance leaves you
for another brown guy
like a bag of hot skittles
on the dance floor. We were
gonna have jambalaya
& chicken adobo, bring back
Little Manila from
the wreckage. This love affair
was gonna be a miraculous
loving that would hold the levees
& take back the oil spills.  But no,
he picked the crotch grabbing
slut he fucked last year. Mermaids
sing Hans Christian
Andersen sea chanties
in my tears. & day is rising
like a shroud around
a death-stricken heart.



 

Regie Cabico (he/his) is the first Asian American and Queer poet to win top honors in 3 National Poetry Slams. He resides in Washington, DC where he produces Capturing Fire Queer International Poetry Slam & Press.

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Genevieve Cobb.jpg

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

Genevieve Cobb

Untitled Tomato Poem

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Untitled Tomato Poem

 

First, tomatoes are green.

They hide in leaves and stems

and swell themselves all summer

with sun—

first a pale orange

then flushing full red

like sunburned cheeks.

Pick one now.

Touch palm to ripe flesh

warm from the sun.

Feel it almost jump

off the vine

into your hand.

Eat it like an apple—

juice and seeds

running down your chin—

or take it inside;

slice it carefully;

layer it tenderly

on white bread

spread with mayonnaise.

Anoint it with salt

and maybe a fleck of pepper.

 

Later, tomatoes are red

bulbous piles in the kitchen

where your mother is

peeling and seeding them—

preparing them for

bright sterile jars with brass rings.

She sets them in boiling water.

After long minutes of impossible heat,

they are a red glass regiment

on the counter.

All day they suck in their lids

with a pop.

 

Then, this tomato is black

ink—empty circles

on a white page—

black like a seed.

Not like tomato seeds

in slimy, creamy shades—

yellow-green to barely-orange—

this black seed

with or without serif

is dry, flat, odorless, tasteless.

Where can it go?

Will it grow?

Genevieve Cobb  (she/her) is from the Land of 10,000 Lakes through the Pacific Northwest to Hotlanta...Recipient of a bachelors degree that took 10 years and cycled through theater, women’s studies, education, city planning, poetry, and nursing...  A girl living in Atlanta who fell in love with a single dad raising three kids... Halloween costume designer, stuffed animal surgeon, private duty nurse, sourdough dabbler, and kisser of fish...Lover of words. And the people she meets who also love words.

Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton.jpg

Neil de la Flor &

Maureen Seaton

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A Box of Boys

Neil's Pronouns: He/Him
Maureen's Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

 
Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton.jpg

Neil de la Flor &

 Maureen Seaton

Neil's Pronouns: He/His

Maureen's Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

A Box of Boys

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(A Cento)

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Quoted writers, in order of appearance:

Jack Spicer, Frank O’Hara, Steve Fellner, Steven Cordova, Neil de la Flor, Richard Siken, David Trinidad, Maureen Seaton, Jericho Brown, Michael Montlack, D.A. Powell, Ana Bozicevic, Alvin Feinman, Jeff Walt, Kate Bush, Dolly Parton

Neil de la Flor (he/his) is a writer, educator, artist and Executive Director of Reading Queer, a Knight funded organization dedicated to promoting queer literary culture in South Florida.

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Maureen Seaton (she/her) has authored twenty-one poetry collections, both solo and collaborative, most recently, Sweet World (CavanKerry, 2019), winner of the Florida Book Award for Poetry. Other honors include the Lambda Literary Award, Audre Lorde Award, NEA, and Pushcart. Her memoir, Sex Talks to Girls (University of Wisconsin, 2008, 2018), also garnered a “Lammy”. She teaches creative writing at the University of Miami.

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Aaron DeLee.JPG

Pronouns: He/Him

2 Poems

Aaron DeLee

The City Announces Quarantine

Mask 4 Mask

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The City Announces Quarantine

In a game of Magic the Gathering,
              Armageddon lay between all of us
face-up on the table, and I declared we
              needed to slow down; it was the Ides
of March, and every land we drew our
              power from was removed from play.  The world
fell and we rewrote rules so that we would still
              convene, while busy highways became open
avenues of asphalt; we held hands and kissed
              each others’ faces when all else disappeared
like loaves of bread from grocery shelves,
              stolen away for what’s unknown.  We met
with a shuffling of sneakered feet in dark halls.
              Was it cheating to celebrate birthdays
in this age, to smile and laugh with friends
              in our arms and between our legs; to eat
cake when so many had a hunger
              for what we had?  We sang loudly off-key
and it sounded lovely, like the word secret.


 

Mask 4 Mask

 

We held our breath,

    walking past others in the narrow

grocery store aisles;

    our bandanas hid curled lips

and our eyes fixed ahead.
    
    We were afraid to touch

the food we were to take

    home and eat, but we touched

regardless.  The line between

    want and need spilled

somewhere in aisle 13,
    
    and we grabbed bags of snacks

for our quarantine;
    
    Doritos, Oreos, and ice cream

suddenly seemed essential

    when meats, bread and tissue

paper went missing for the first

    time I could remember.

An elderly man with no mask jolted

    upright as we passed, and lifted

his arms as if he were being robbed;

    none of us knew what would be

taken, or when we could breathe

    easy again, but the joke

was welcome all the same.

 

Aaron DeLee (he/his) received his MFA from Northwestern University, where he was the former poetry editor of TriQuarterly.  His poems have appeared in Gertrude Press, AssaracusThe Good Men Project, Mad Hatters' Review, and Jet Fuel among other journals. Additionally, he is a visual artist, focusing on the practice of sumi-e.  He lives in Chicago with his husband and their dog.

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Denise Duhamel.jpg

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

Anna's Dance Card

Denise Duhamel

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Anna1a
Anna1b
Anna's Dance Card
Anna4
Anna5
Anna6
Anna7
Anna8
Anna9
Anna10
Anna11
Anna12
Anna13
Anna14
Anna15
Anna16
Anna17
Anna18

Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry is Second Story (Pittsburgh, 2021). Her other titles include Scald; BlowoutKa-Ching!Two and TwoQueen for a Day: Selected and New Poems; The Star-Spangled Banner; and Kinky.She and Maureen Seaton have co-authored, most recently, CAPRICE (Collaborations: Collected, Uncollected, and New). She and Julie Marie Wade co-authored The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose. She is a Distinguished University Professor in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami.

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Gregg Shapiro.jpg

Pronouns: He/Him

1 Poem

Gregg Shapiro

Questions from the Insomniac’s Playbook

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Questions from the Insomniac’s Playbook

What would a caseworker think of the neat, sculptural
pile of toenail and bitten-off fingernail clippings
on the corner of the desk? Does the rule of three apply
to the stickup at the credit union, the collision

at the intersection of Andrews Avenue and Cypress
Creek Road and the driver’s side window that came
off the track? Is there any significance to the homoerotic
dreams about Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch?

Now that you know what a “golden birthday” is, can you
ever forgive your mother for giving birth to you on June
2nd? When is a Pride parade not a Pride parade? Are you
safe? Is anyone? How long can you hold a grudge? What is

Mitch McConnell hiding in his military records? His chin?
His neck? Will anybody notice the causal slide in personal
hygiene if you are self-quarantined? Is the Christian right?
Can a dog be an insomniac? Don’t ask Coco.

 

Gregg Shapiro (he/his)  is the author of seven books including the 2019 chapbooks, Sunshine State (NightBallet Press) and More Poems About Buildings and Food (Souvenir Spoon Books). An expanded reissue of his short story collection How to Whistle is forthcoming from Rattling Good Yarns Press in early 2021. An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.

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