Dusting -Rita Dova
December 26, 2016, 8:17 pm
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Every day a wilderness—no
shade in sight. Beulah
patient among knicknacks,
the solarium a rage
of light, a grainstorm
as her gray cloth brings
dark wood to life.

Under her hand scrolls
and crests gleam
darker still. What
was his name, that
silly boy at the fair with
the rifle booth? And his kiss and
the clear bowl with one bright
fish, rippling
wound!

Not Michael—
something finer. Each dust
stroke a deep breath and
the canary in bloom.
Wavery memory: home
from a dance, the front door
blown open and the parlor
in snow, she rushed
the bowl to the stove, watched
as the locket of ice
dissolved and he
swam free.

That was years before
Father gave her up
with her name, years before
her name grew to mean
Promise, then
Desert-in-Peace.
Long before the shadow and
sun’s accomplice, the tree.

Maurice.

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On Death, without Exaggeration -Wislawa Szymborska
November 12, 2016, 7:39 pm
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It can’t take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.

In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,
which is always beside the point.

It can’t even get the things done
that are part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin,
clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
missed blows,
and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn’t strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, tracheae,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.

Ill will won’t help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d’etat
is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies’ skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.

Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it’s not.

There’s no life
that couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.

Death
always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you’ve come
can’t be undone.



“My Reality”
May 28, 2016, 8:33 pm
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Here’s my student, Kevin, reading his poem “My Reality”

SO proud of him!

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Words Unlocked
May 20, 2016, 7:05 pm
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just drove back to work to wake up one of my students and tell him that he tied for FIRST PLACE in a poetry contest! ‪#‎WordsUnlocked‬ is a poetry contest for incarcerated youth across the country and HE WON. he worked so hard on this piece, and this kid has probably never won a thing in his life.. SO EXCITED! (we’re poem #2 in the link below!)

http://www.ceeas.org/2016-words-unlocked-contest-winners/



A Brief Attachment -Cate Marvin
May 18, 2016, 8:02 pm
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I regard your affections, find your teeth have
left me a bruise necklace. Those lipstick
      marks leech a trail, ear to ear, facsimile your
smile. Your 40 ounces of malt liquor, your
shrink hate, your eyes dialing 911. The hearts
you draw with ballpoint on my cigarette packs
      when I’ve left the room, penned in your girl’s

cursive, look demented, misshapen approximations
of what I refuse to hand over. It’s a nice touch,
      though: a little love to accompany the cancer.
      My thought follows you to where you spend
your days lying in bed, smoking and reading
the Beats. The accumulation of clothes and ashes
      circles you, rising like a moat after rainfall.

Often you are a study in detachment—the trigger
eye is your eye, still as a finger poised to press
      should one refuse to cooperate, and I wonder
      how you can hate men so much when you think
like one. Think of what I could be doing outside
if I could unlock the door of myself: think bikini,
      think soda fountain, think tradition, a day lacking

entirely your brand of ambivalence. If you were
a number, I’d subtract you; if you were a sentence,
      I’d rewrite you. Are you the one who left these
      wilted flowers, are you the one whose PIN spells
out H-O-L-E? Why are you wearing my clothes?
If you are weather, then I am a town, closing down
      at word of your coming: you’re a glacier on fast

forward, you’re direct as a detour, when I say
good-bye you move in next door. You say you
      want to have my baby, you want to buy me a car,
      and you’re too young to enter a bar. I should tether
you to a tree in the dark park, allow the moon to stroke
your white neck. I should give you a diamond collar,
      walk you around the block and show you off.


Hold it Down -Gina Myers
January 19, 2016, 12:40 pm
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It’s 70 degrees outside but in the drugstore
Christmas music plays over the speakers as
I stand in line balancing my checkbook
in my head, stretching things thin until
my next paycheck when the rent is due.
The security guard cracks a joke, but
I wasn’t paying attention, so I just smile
& step forward in line. Images move
across the screen. When I think about money
it seems impossible. All over the country
people are moving into the streets
& we’re here in Atlanta starting a new life.
Darkness surrounds the latest revision
of our shared history. Everything clouded.
Yesterday 1 couldn’t tear myself from the news
& already today the events have been distorted,
the numbers downplayed. It’s late fall
& in the early morning crispness, the leaves
fall from the trees & cover the sidewalks.
This new feeling we lack a name for, struggle
manifested in the streets & in parks & on bridges
across the nation. The headlines read
“Protesters clash with police,” but as we watched
the live stream, we saw aggression only by officers
dressed in riot gear. We saw people tossed
on the ground, hit with batons,
a woman punched in the face, an eighty-four year old
woman’s face drenched in pepper spray.
The images endless in this land of the free.
I’m losing focus, distracted by the newsfeed
on the computer screen, hitting refresh.
The cat paws at my leg, demands its own attention.
This shift entirely unexpected but necessary.
Leaves blot the window. Every so often
I leave & start from scratch, imagine
damaged relationships & sick cities
where there was no damage & no sickness
greater than anywhere else. In Atlanta,
everyone drives. The bartender called us
“hardcore” when we said we’d walked there.
She said, “No one in Atlanta walks anywhere.”
Walking home from work in post-daylight
savings time darkness I pass no one on the
sidewalks. I pass the traffic backed up by
the stoplight. The weekend passes too quickly—
I wish it would last longer, which is what this all
is really about: time & my lack of control
over it, my inability to do what I want with it.
And there’s a greater futility at work
here too—a greater frustration in my inability
to control my environment or to stop my country
from killing its citizens. The police beat people
standing still, linking arms, holding cardboard signs.
Each day I think more & more about the past,
about where things began to go wrong, where I, too,
began to go wrong. Before I moved, before I
got sick, before I unfriended you on Facebook,
before I decided I no longer loved you,
before New York, before college—thinking back
to childhood when we could run fearless
through the neighborhood at night, when
we didn’t think about the future, when we loved
our country because we didn’t know better.



Summer -Robin Coste Lewis
January 8, 2016, 12:58 pm
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Last summer, two discrete young snakes left their skin
on my small porch, two mornings in a row. Being

 

postmodern now, I pretended as if I did not see
them, nor understand what I knew to be circling

 

inside me. Instead, every hour I told my son
to stop with his incessant back-chat. I peeled

 

a banana. And cursed God—His arrogance,
His gall—to still expect our devotion

 

after creating love. And mosquitoes. I showed
my son the papery dead skins so he could

 

know, too, what it feels like when something shows up
at your door—twice—telling you what you already know.