Latest Poems

REQUIEM

In memory of Paul Berné

At the end of Paul’s life.
we painted the lampshade
with the stencil,
playing with colors
as in the past.
I knew his time
was getting shorter,
but not that we were
out of time
altogether.

The nurse said, “Dying is hard.
You and I have never tried it.
He doesn’t want to leave.
Though he can’t see you,
he can still hear you.
You must help him to let go.”

Anne Whitehouse

LIGHT IN AUGUST

Fields glow gold in the early morning,
and curtains of light float to the ground.

Leaves blow up silver
when I chase the light through woods.
I collect a shriveled leaf
in the shape of a heart,
dried brown and flecked with holes,
and hold it to the sky,
filigree filtering light
through its interstices

Anne Whitehouse

DANCE IN A DRUGSTORE

The dark-eyed salesgirl at CVS
jumped into the toy collection box,
bobbing like a jack-in-the-box,
tossing her long, dark, silky hair.

She jumped out laughing,
flirting with the salesboy,
inviting him to dance
to the background Muzak.

Under the store’s fluorescent glare,
they swayed and twirled,
overcoming the boredom
of a slow Sunday night
in a dead-end job,

in step with an old love song.

 

Anne Whitehouse

How to Eat a Pomegranate

Score skin so lightly

slices can’t be seen

Cut at the lip

Soft pith same color as northern
sky after snow falls
to dirt

Brush arils
into your palm

Embryonic

You are temporarily stained
red

Turn sideways

No one should see
this feast

 

Amy Schmitz

Canaletto’s Skies

Half the painting is
sky, sometimes more;
just what the critic
Clement Greenberg wished for.
Placid sky and languid clouds;
almost blues,
mouse turd gray shrouds.

Classical breezes only
blow here;
no Tiepolo skies
to die for –
just plain sky that would
never suffice
as alibi.
No Constable
tumultuosity,
no baroque pomposity.
Nothing happening here
to disturb
this ant farm of detail.

 

David Headley

Jeffrey

Ease

She holds her face up to him
and he leans against the wall
staring back, around them the eddies
and swirl of the others, the shouts
and calls between classes,
she creates an idea that this
is the only world, the one between them:
his earnestness of desire is her proof of love;
this intensity holds them rooted past
the late bell and the hallway quickly empties:

Jeffrey glides by, a quick smile,
somehow no girlfriend but the girls
all watch, and his scrawny shape
transforms with an audience.

Everyday he flexes and poses, his body
impossibly sculpted, a rushing stream
of a body, he pokes and teases the girls
with this body, and they read in his shoulders
and stomach the soliloquy of sex
it promises them.

Then he is sprawled in a desk,
the metal and plastic covered in ink declarations
stop and make shapes with his smooth skin
and he is writing quickly, attempting to keep up,
he is alone then, furiously so sometimes,
and the girls cautiously examine him,
his lax form contains poetry
they would not dare utter.

 

Andrew Decker

Zaydee

A Whole World

She leaned forward everyday
right before the bell rang,
ending class.

A world to see, she was pregnant
by seventeen, the usual story
and the loyal boyfriend
loyal for awhile.

Metallic yellow curls, an afternoon
in a beauty parlor in the Heights,
other girls placing their hands
on her belly. She still fawns
over the boyfriend in photographs
she once took delight in, he looks out
cardboard tough, do-rag and turntables,
behind him the unadorned geometry
of somebody’s apartment.

She’s a collector. She unfolds
and shows what is hers: the photographs,
the notes and text messages. She shows
her friends these last exchanges
from the phone she snuck
through the metal detectors on her way
into school this morning.

 

Andrew Decker

Real Life

How can I go back to the real life
when I have flowers like this on the table?
Blossomed and proud.
There to remind us where they came from.
The kind that take in light,
not to be greedy, but to grow.

Standing quiet.
They sway slightly,
Just enough to make room for the breeze.

Eve Van Dyke

Is that you?

Sometimes I read your obituary
To remember where I came from
According to Google,
It’s the only piece left of you.

Sometimes I read message boards
And find the comments you left
From years past
Your memorable usernames,

Your use of all CAPS,
Your strange humor.

Sometimes I find profiles
Of people who share your name
And wonder if there’s a little
of you
in them
somewhere.

Sometimes I think
That if I search long and deep enough I’ll find you there
Floating and waiting, your picture next to an “add” button

And I’ll finally know
where you’ve been all this time.

Eve Van Dyke

Self-Portrayal

Perks of prosody: hurtful memes
are hidden in images and innov-
ative wordplay. It’s no longer
embonpoint or porcine. In my
head I’m not fit to be seen: this
fusillade of feelings continue
to swell as I do nothing except
the occasional mop up.

Sanjeev Sethi

Kiwi the parrot

When a friend of mine leaves town for a vacation,
a couple of times a year,
he brings his parrot into my house.

Babysitting somebody else’s pet earns no reward:
as a proxy I am only tolerated, not loved.

Yet the bird begs for attention
so I speak to it, it squawks at me – to the end of its stay
we get close to what may pass for a mutual understanding.

When my friend comes to get the parrot back
I am almost jealous watching how happy it is:
nodding, dancing on the perch, spreading wings…

It takes a few minutes to clean the room afterwards.
Everything gone: the cage, the jar with food,
the small bottle with vitamins, the plastic bag with toys,
the cloth for covering the cage at night.

Sleep-sleep-sleep, Kiwi murmurs softly.
Sleep-sleep-sleep

Boris Kokotov

February

A quick change of weather,
a cold wind off waves from an ocean
we never see. The window, still half-open
for afternoon’s sun, let’s in instead
a breeze that chills the sheets.
I arrange my books again in this new place.

The clouds hang to the edge of land
and the birds stray only to collect
in our windows: sounds at dawn,
shadows in morning,
buddhas in the afternoon.
In the darkness they are just one more
fragment of the mystery.

Late at night, half-listened to songs
heard hundreds of times in similar moods,
wondering at the folly of desire.

 

Andrew Decker

Illumination

There is an industrial sky and the wind
is a little too strong, a little too cool
to blow like this through the still leafless
branches of the trees on this two-flat street.

You asked, inside, the lamps lit at 4 o’clock,
if my mother read my poetry and I said no,
why would my mother read my poetry?
And I thought of one she’d found, put
on the wall of her pharmaceutical company office:

“We are all homeless,” it began somewhat dramatically,
and I suppose she was, a passed around orphan
in 1950s Northern Ohio: plains without expanses
and the canned laughter out of the tinny speakers
of new televisions: the fakers pretending
to be just like you and me. She told me she used
to go to the Akron airport to watch the planes
on Saturday afternoons and when heaven came
on Sunday morning she felt a similar awe,
with the rosary beads like pebbles
in her fingers and the candles lit and the thick smell
of the church clinging to her clothes the rest of the day,
like an importance carried even that far
from the faraway cathedrals in Europe
with the same Latin calling down the same God.

In that same poem I talked of the ballgames
at dusk and how the air felt against our forearms
as the sun was replaced by the night
and all the voices of our parents calling us in
and they were much younger too.

Later, everybody around our patio
with the grilling and the conversations
and I would sneak off into the corner
of the shared yard and the crickets
with their sound of the rhythm of the earth
seemed like a permanence in the summer
and not a vesperal hum announcing
any of these auroras of autumn.

I would kneel down to hear them closer,
sometimes I would get a jar
and all night, I would hear that song
and it was quieter than silence to me.
I am remembering this now,
it is the part of the poem that was never written.

 

Andrew Decker

Hairdresser

The hairdresser asks me to wait a moment outside.

I´m clearly the first customer of the day.

He rouses three guys who have been sleeping inside the worn salon.

I sit on a tiny plastic stool in the street, waiting for my turn.

Peter Köhler

Front door

My dad tells me about a dream he had shortly after I was born.

He´s in the hallway walking past by the front door. It´s ajar.

Reaching out to close it he spots a man with a drawn gun

standing right outside.

Peter Köhler

Kite King

An old man stands in the square outside the museums. He’s flying a kite that looks like a big black bird and he’s awesome!

Every time the kite looks like it is going to crash he lets out some string from his big spool and yanks a little at it.

Soon the kite is a little dot against the smoggy skyscrapers in the background again.

After a while another kite flyer shows up. He’s at least as elderly as the first one and brings the same kind of kite. A great big black bird.

It crashes right away!

Peter Köhler

Hofnarfjördur

On the wall in the hallway between our bedroom and the kitchen is a pair of

Gnome-sized knitted socks.

Later I read in a tourist leaflet about guided tours

to the kingdom of the Little people, among the volcanic rock

a stone´s throw away.

Peter Köhler

Peach Garden

The peach garden is a quiet place without many visitors.

I’m suddenly pleased to find a nice statue of a giant peach.

It’s the size of a small truck.

The paintwork grades from white to a pinky orange.

Next to it is a brownish black deer with a glassy stare.

Peter Köhler

Minnesota Summers

It began with bats as

sometimes, it does.

Bat claws scratching. Bat voices

chirping. Bat families

squeezed between the stairs

and the attic door.

 

————

 

Evening, only street, Crow River.

 

Pickup truck after

pickup truck; dirt roads, tall browning grass,

weeds in the irrigation ditch.

 

One dusktime walk a pheasant

burst up, scared the shit

out of the dog.

 

————

 

Bat thwap landing

on my mother’s bare thigh.

Midnight. Hot sticky summer.

Bat. Thwap. Thwap.

Fuck.

 

————

 

Swimming in a t-shirt in the

river overflowing, afternoon downpour

everything green

everything grey.

 

Huddled on the screened in front-porch;

my grandfather’s glass of

powder-made lemonade. The game,

dummy-rummy, Swedish and

Norwegian flags flapping

in rain kick-back wind.

 

————

 

Bat hunters—

mother, grandmother, grandfather.

Bat hunting—

tennis racket, frying pan, broom.

 

Elusive bats. Multitude of bats.

Bats on bats on bats.

 

————

 

Matching kitchen and bathroom

linoleum, black and white

like Italy, red walls.

 

Well-traveled whole-life couple

whose friends don’t like when

he cooks

she talks at the dinner table,

their daughter

whose daughter

doesn’t wear skirts.

 

————

 

My grandfather’s burn pile,

writhing brown paper bags

he carried out

one at a time, three a day,

bats.

 

————

 

Because corn stalks cut skin

when you run too fast between them:

a Minnesota summer

but the stray cat they call Capote

the house cat, Truman.

 

Neighbor in a one-piece

on an ATV with a shotgun

three kids

one target:

neighborhood woodchuck.

 

Same neighbor, other summer:

her kids’ black and white rabbit released.

 

All the rabbits are cow-rabbits

in Crow River now.

 

————

 

Burning bat bodies

isn’t illegal but

bat murder is.

 

————

 

Hang buckets of water under the eaves

so bats fall in and drown—

bat assisted-suicide.

Bat vulnerability.

 

It ended with bats,

with bat endings.

Bats on bats on bats.

 

Carly Taylor

The Color of Love

Touch reveals colors only the blind can see.
Flushed cheeks blush in morning sunlight.
A flashover arc hoists our blue and yellow flags
that merge in green.
Saffron warms the prism of our blue light of ice.
We shiver and shake in a kaleidoscopic
hologram of wordless love on a Borealis night.

 

Milton P. Ehrlich