Poetry

The illustration shows a man looking out a big window at a woman and a child dancing under a tree in the grass.

Illustration by Haley Jiang

I was welcomed home by the me
I’d always tried to be—
more rainbow than thunderclap,
no more worry-do-worry-do.

D.S. Martin 5-09-2024
The image shows the ampersand symbol made out of a collage of magazine strips.

Illustration by Bri Robinson

A poem.

Abby Parcell 3-27-2024
The illustration shows five stacks of rocks in a grassy field with a blue sky. Coming out of one of the stacks is a bouquet of red flowers

Illustration by Ric Carrasquillo 

Surely I betrayed her at least three times:
eighteen months of bone-grinding hip pain,

a list of life stories never recorded, and
leaving her exposed to suffering because

I didn’t know. I didn’t know it was so hard to die.
The cock’s crow was just basic kidney physiology,

Joseph Ross 2-12-2024
The illustration depicts Elijah McClain, a Black man wearing glasses, next to his violin. His eyes are closed.

Illustration by Laura Freeman 

For Elijah McClain (1996-2019). Killed by police in Aurora, Colo., he was known as a gentle soul who played his violin to soothe anxious animals in shelters. 

If only a violin could redeem
the world.

Your skin, glowing like the violin’s wood,
might still sing its humble lament.

Kateri Boucher 1-10-2024
The illustration shows a woman holding a candle, looking out of a window

Illustration by Blane Asrat 

A poem.

The illustration shows a sheep looking out at a hill that is lit up with bombs.

Illustration by Hokyoung Kim

The electric fence is low,
and the coyotes many
this verdant year,
this jubilee when farmers
change their signs
from demands we
PRAY FOR RAIN
to THANK YOU LORD.

Laura Sobbott Ross 10-31-2023
The image is a watercolor painting of a barren forest with a layer of snow and a setting sun shining through the trees.

Egle Lipeikaite / Alamy

A poem

Theodore Deppe 9-27-2023
The illustration shows an open suitcase with the face of a man laughing on the bottom half, and a woman dancing in an empty room on the top half.

Illustration by Nate Sweitzer

Dream fragment in which Thomas Merton stops his Jeep
at the border, where a customs official who looks like my sister
opens his suitcase and, finding a spare monastic robe,

Leslie Williams 8-02-2023
An illustration of an underground waterway filled with pillars of brick, supporting arches of stone that give way to a ceiling of greenery and vines. A single gondola floats on the calm water in the center with a person standing in it with a lamp.

Illustration by Ric Carrasquillo

Dome of the rock
dome of the belly

every diaphragm
its own firmament

waters above
from waters below

eyeglasses flecked with salt spots
remnants of our oceans

Paula Bohince 7-10-2023
A white silhouette of a person's head with a brown backdrop and large bees surrounding the head like a halo. A bright pink rose with a bee pollinating it is inside the silhouette.

llustration by Danzhu Hu

Lisa Montgomery, the first woman killed by the U.S. federal government since 1953, was executed under former President Trump.

Red roses blooming all at once
when she finds between herself and any door
a male, be him grandson or lawyer, any flinch of any him brings a springtime
terror of thorn and attar, shivering with adrenaline, a clawing
of petal-flesh, the past beneath it, the blood
un-forgetting,

Kristin Gifford 6-02-2023
An illustration of four colorful rectangular panels. The top left has sunflowers with two birds flying over it. The top right shows a sunflower being cut by shears. The bottom left shows black seeds on the ground. The bottom-right shows a new sunflower.

Illustration by Rachel Joan Wallis

When I decapitated the sunflowers today, the birds had already
pecked them mostly bald. I sawed through those thick necks with
silver shears, squash leaning to cup falling petals and black seeds in her
green palms. I was cutthroat, ripping this food from the garden. I knew
how fierce and warlike the small wrens had become, and, sure enough,
there were the fearless nails in my scalp, clawing for my soul.

Elisabeth Ivey 4-27-2023
An illustration of a bird engulfed in flames with its wings spread out being held in human hands. A person's face is visible in the dark backdrop with glowing orange eyes, staring down at the bird poised over their cupped hands as feathers float downward.

Illustration by Kat Ash

I like my anger. I stoke it
like a fire, tend to it
with tender hands, cup
a hand ’round as I
blow to fan the flames

Nate Castellitto 3-20-2023
A painting of a lush cave with a lake. Stalagmites and stalactites fill the foreground and background, and a beam of light shines into the middle of the lake over a mysterious figure that resembles the loch-ness monster.

Illustration by Ric Carrasquillo

This spring, we’ll gather for a third time
since we first lost our forebears, martyrs to a cause

they did not choose for themselves.
Beloved grandmothers spent their last nights alone

in crowded hospital rooms while officeholders
deliberated over the what, not the what now or the how.

A vibrant illustration of Mary in a hood holding baby Jesus in tones of violent, blue, orange, and red. A glowing halo surrounds her as she closes her eyes.

Illustration by Ryan McQuade

Compulsively larger than life,
mom swaggered out loud.
Her eyes you could get lost in,
and they gripped like a drug.
The Virgin Mary twerking in a thong,
always herself but never the same,
never quite right
but never completely wrong,
she made me feel proud
and destroyed me with shame.

An illustration with an orange background of a vibrantly colored rooster cawing.

CSA Images / Getty Images

This morning it is minus six degrees.
The old woman at the corner with her bundles
says yes to a ride, but is, at first, unwilling
to say where. Then she does say and tells me
as a girl her grandmother kept three hundred chickens
which she tended every morning before school.

She says a Chinese man would come to separate
the roosters from the hens. Apparently they look alike.
In storybooks there’s no mistaking, but it seems
in real life, one must be outed by his crow.

Felicity White 11-22-2022
An illustration of a mother sitting down in a bathroom breastfeeding her infant. She leans against a wall with green tiles on the bottom section and swirls of orange paint on the top third of the wall.

Illustration by Hannah Lock

What moved me the most was a tiny hand,
like the claw of a cub, pawing at my
rib cage in time to the suckle of his lips.
This beautiful, wild person sustained
by milk drawn from unknown wells within me.
I remember nursing once in the basement
restroom of the zoo’s primate house.
The floor tile was cold — no other place to sit.

Jeanette W. Stickel 10-31-2022
An illustration of a woman curled in the fetal position, partly covered by leaves that surround her as she is ensnared by green briar.

Illustration by Aldo Jarillo

My bones have been scraped
free of flesh, free of tendons,
muscles, veins—my heart is gone.

The marrow in my bones
is disappearing fast
and I am fragile,
dissolving into dust.
With a gust of wind
my cells could scatter.

Muriel Nelson 9-30-2022

Illustration by Maddie Fisher

It’s silly to call trees people
saying firs waving limbs are yelling at wind,
and cedars so tall their tops disappear
have heads in the clouds,

or to sympathize with plants below
ripening berries, sending out seeds
on wings while struggling for scraps of light,
and then feeding survivors of fires.

Silly. Better listen. Memorial
services have their ways of bringing up

Richard Wile 8-02-2022
An illustration of the prodigal son being embraced by his father both enveloped in luminous flames.

"The Return of the Prodigal" / Grace Carol Bomer

All I wanted was work,
not the old man’s joyful tears as he ran down the hill.
I was afraid he’d fall or burst his heart to kingdom come.

Now what?
My head still pounds from yesterday’s wine, father’s ring hangs heavy on my finger,
and after all those years of pea pods, my stomach aches from too much fatted calf.

I didn’t want that damn banquet,
my older brother pacing outside the door, muttering into his beard.
But he’s right: he deserves a party more than I do.

And next?

James Dewey 6-29-2022
Illustration of two piercing blue-purple child-like eyes

Illustration by Alex William

“Can a woman forget her sucking child ... ?” —Isaiah 49:15

Mary eyed her little survivor tightly
          as he nursed and teethed, then crawl-step-jumping
taught Egyptian games to Nazareth boys

Joseph noticed his ears
          how they filled like cups
how they thrilled at the sounds of the synagogue
sifting words that fell from dry scrolls
                                                                                                    drifting

temple doctors muttered
shaking their heads
          he speaks like a man

          astonishing man!
mobs flocked to crossroads, pushing
their children forward, pleading: