Poetry Archive

“[it’s rocks you’re after and you rake]”

[it'srockyou'reafter]

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Tim McLafferty lives in NYC and works as a drummer. His poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Painted Bride Quarterly, Pearl, Portland Review and elsewhere. He is the poetry editor at Forge Journal. timmclafferty.com

“West 46th Between 9 and 10”

west46th

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Kenzie Allen is a Zell Postgraduate Fellow at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, and is a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in Sonora Review, The Iowa Review, Drunken Boat, Apogee, SOFTBLOW, The Puritan, and elsewhere, and she is the Managing Editor of the Anthropoid collective. She was born in West Texas.

“The Break-up of the Western States”

I.

A drop of rain reminds me

The world was once an ocean

A blue blanket folded around us

The crests of wool were waves

We were close, and warm

Panthalassa kept us afloat

Until the great ocean dried

We circled the whirlpool on rafts

Made from dinosaur bones

Washed up on the banks of the river

Fell asleep while the stars moved

To a different corner of the sky

 

II.

When you left my heart dried too

It sprouted twigs and a squirrel’s tail

I put it on a hat, and set out to explore

The American West in a canoe

You hired a guide for me

Half Shoshone, half redwood

You knew we would fall in love

You just wanted me happy

His skin was soft bark

His eye bled sideways tears

Of dew, the leaves caught them

In the middle of the night

While the animals were asleep

I called him Cinnamon

His sister was Almendra

She was half Spanish, half shooting star

 

III.

When it rained again it became a flood

We gathered together

Underwater in a net

Cinnamon pushed his roots into the mud

Almendra lifted her shining hair into the sky

Pull your heart apart and feed it to the fish

They spoke through bubbles in the stream

You will melt into the water and be no more

But the fish will grow legs and walk on land

Their arms will become branches

This land will go on

Your river will spread fingers

Multiply, divide

Run to the sea

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James Joseph Brown’s writing has appeared in Desert Companion, Santa Fe Literary Review, Hot Metal Bridge, Connotation Press, Red Rock Review, Canyon Voices, The Whistling Fire and other journals and anthologies.  He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Visit him at www.jamesjosephbrown.com.

“taraxacum officinale”

when you blow on the bulb,

the false dandelion is a wonder

—the white seeds, the teeth,

don’t budge from the flower

 

head. cat’s ear. hawkbits. or beards.

the wish you think you want runs

with milky sap through the stem

down your hand, past your wrist,

 

into your long shirtsleeve.

it’s a faulty premise, like mistletoe.

never have i once, beneath its green

mystery, the cinnamon, cloves,

 

and orange bursts skipping

through the air, the evergreen

holly and oxblood berries above

the boughed jamb, been kissed.

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Janea Wilson is a first-year MFA poetry student at CSU Long Beach. Her poetry & fiction has appeared in Mused Magazine, Myriad Magazine, American Mustard Magazine, & elsewhere. She is founder & editor-in-chief of lipstickparty mag, an online creative writing & general interest zine.

“Inflorescence”

-for Patrick Parnell, d. 2011

 

Speaking of hemispheres, in his they found

a hidden notch in the inoperable spot under hair,

 

skin, and scalp, the folds and fluid of grey matters,

in the deep, “a spurious malignant neoplasm.”

 

Ten months of furious burns to a locus above

the left ear, he became bold in baldness: half-man/half-dust.

 

Conversations are events beginning with a slow, joyous slurring

and smiling resolve, his calm clasping of the hand

 

with his glove-like paw, where notes and sonorities rake and shake

the frets, sustains and flourishings, exuberant renditions

 

of “Little Wing” to a fast-flown double-stop. To this moment.

Where he closes his eyes in a deliberate isolated quiet,

 

a face that fades, breath that stills the motions through

open Spring windows, where the ghost eyes of an afternoon bobcat

 

slink up and down the glade. I held your hand like a son

might clench a father’s and I note how you smile,

 

how now your wife just might let you go.

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Dylan Crawford is from northern California and studied Slavic Literature and Languages at UC Berkeley. He is a writer and educator currently living in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, with his wife and two children.

“FEIS”

We were only aware of small parts

of ourselves and they became

everything.

 

Just our crimson kickpleats.

Just our ghillies, the

black latticework of ankles, our fists,

white hearts clenched

around a bit of sleeve.

 

Entrechat.

 

Over — the stiff panels of our skirts

closing back over our legs like trapdoors.

 

And when we took them off, our empty dresses

stood on their own along the wall,

as if to say

if we fall, and

ear pressed to the ground,

like a row of bright tents or overturned

barrels.

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Katie Hogan recently completed an MFA in Poetry at the University of New Hampshire.

“Corrosion”

It claimed a padlock yesterday, withered in my hand. In Denny Brovsky’s Ford this morning,
my foot pushed through the cab.
A coat of paint slows the spread; I’ll surely lose my fence. Anna sliced both legs on the
porch rail’s ragged edge.
With every rain stains like fat-bottomed girls edge down the factory walls. Gravity, the only
act of God seen in a mill town.
 
They sold stainless steel visions down on the docks—a promise per page boy hat—divided us
rats from the Balkans, half to Carnegie, half to Schwab.
 
Nightshift forged the modern Navy, one turret at a time. Dayshift bound this land to your
land with a ladder of railroad ties.
But then, the Empire’s glowing I-beam thrust into our ribs. We gathered in tin lean-tos
like flocks of iron pigs.
Rain, the color smokestacks cough, rolled off our oven-baked skin. It ran to the shiny Lehigh,
where even Baptists would not swim.
 
Now these powdered dreams dust my dungarees, keep washing from my hair. But the red
imprint of chain link is stubborn on my hands.

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D.E. Kern is an author and educator from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 2011, he earned an MFA from San Jose State University. His poems have appeared in Mission at Tenth, Reed Magazine and online in Hypothetical: A Review of Everything Imaginable. He recently finished a novel examining the relationship between baseball and the American Civil War.

“Brett”

Route 22 has swallowed up

too many bodies before their time

swerving over medians, yellow lines

splashing through sleet.

against concrete

his body, ejected

like cassette tape

his tape, pulled out

and spilling, coloring

the white field with red

turned black in the night.

where ducks babbled

about the cold.

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Alyssabeth Knerr was born in New Jersey and raised in Pennsylvania. She enjoys writing poetry that is experimental in form, as well as fiction and creative non-fiction. She is currently in her first year of the MFA Poetry program at San Diego State University.

“Ozone”

The sky is the bright orange

of midnight, and it hangs like

salted dew on my tongue.

I inhale the filthy perfume with

a gasp in, a rattle out,

and Mom says not to huff

the ozone but it fills me with greedy

thoughts of soft seats and tiny pretzels,

international scents circulating through stale air.

I linger by the streaked windows

that show the planes falling out of the orange

to skid across a wet runway that’s fragrant

of fuel, charred rubber and cloud vapor.

And against the weathered glass that’s

cold to my nose and fingertips,

I dream of being a flight attendant

who starts the morning in a nameless terminal

and ends the night somewhere far away

from rusted water pipes and broken apartment stairs.

I will fly today and watch the cities spin below,

and I will fly when we return

from dusty Montana where Papa lives,

with musty horses and fields

of hazy yellow wildflowers,

back to LA and its orange midnight,

stopping at airy Denver this time

and dingy Salt Lake the next.

 

The doors to the plane open for me,

and while Mom wrinkles her nose and

complains about the dirty air,

I inhale through the plane doors

that seep of the star-stained stratosphere

a gasp in, a rattle out,

and I am home.

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Devyn Hamberlin is an undergraduate student at UC Riverside.

“Sea Song”

I’d sing you a better lullaby, babygirl, if these chipped walls

cradled soft notes right. They sag and give, the way

Mama’s voice does when she tries to sing the doxology.

 

Church never held no cradle for me, but you know how

She grew up in choir robes and hymnal dust.

Sunday afternoons, Papa’d sigh over to the piano bench and

Drop his fingers into the slots for middle C. I used to believe

Gershwin was a snake-charmer, and when he and her soared

I swear no serpent could have held out

 

The first time I saw your daddy in Blues I laughed.

Couldn’t help it, wouldn’t help him – that cap sheared off

Whatever the barracks barber hadn’t. Babygirl, if a man

Don’t sing, don’t follow. His boots snapped over streets in

Okinawa, France, some burgh in Germany, but his socks

Don’t got time to lose their pairs in our hamper.

 

You know the beaches here hiss different. Funny how

Grey mornings make the sound of water

Sneaking into the cracks between crushed up rocks and shells

Important. Girl of mine, we’ll find you a song that clings to

Salty fog and slabs of ocean. Maybe he’ll hear it.

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Alexandra Villamore is an undergraduate student at UC Riverside.

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