Poetry

Bree Hsieh 4-03-2013

I

The crumpled woman pushes through the door
and sees your plump limp limbs

held tight in my buckled arms.

She remembers holding
such sweet eternity.

Betsy Sholl 3-14-2013

Blindfolded and gagged, tossed in the back
of a car—it's how they gather up young men
and after tire irons and chains, leave some

lying in the road like dirt, rained on all night.
Some are bundled-up, tossed off a bridge
into the river whose muddy swirls warn:

kick, fight, breathe, twist your arms free.
Some do. They rise, spit out the rags
stuffed in their mouths, limp back to town,

and one begins to sing—slow at first— Lord,
I want to be in that number
... Another moans
a low muted tone where words won't go.

Joseph Bathanti 2-11-2013

Station #10, from the Norwalk Stations of the Cross. Oil on wood panel by Gwyneth Leech (2005)

Hemorrhaging from the concertina
crown, brass knuckles, scourging, cigarette burns,
lurching the last meter of Golgotha
where He must dangle three hours in urns
of japing ether, He drops His bloody tree.
Executioners rip His clothes away,
cut cards for His keepsake convict jersey.

Judith Werner 1-07-2013

(Lance Bellers / Shutterstock)

Deep with one savior’s death, how many more?
In observance of which, the Dresden burghers
as usual held Shrove Tuesday circuses
around Our Lady’s Church, the Frauenkirche,
eating pancakes before their fast for Easter.

Theodore Deppe 11-27-2012

A GiveBox in Berlin / Sally McGrane

Something called a GiveBox appeared
this fall on Falckensteinstrasse, and my first gift

was a memory: Dorothy Day, decades ago,
gently quoting St. Basil to me: If you have two coats,

you've stolen one from the poor.
Like a walk-in cupboard on the sidewalk, brightly

painted, decked out with flowers, this GiveBox
is for the anonymous exchange of gifts.

Sandra M. Tully 11-02-2012

(Elena Itsenko / Shutterstock.com)

You wait a long time for Christmas morning
drifting asleep even as the ebony slate of sky
shatters in clarion silence
Glory, Hallelujah!
and shepherds in the hills cast down their rods
look up at angels and find themselves
no longer huddled in darkness
but lucent between the stars.

Elvis Alves 10-03-2012

New York City skyline (santi_madrid / Shutterstock.com)

He uproots teeth primordial in nature and that eat his soul
with appetite the size of mercenary forces plundering a city

whose inhabitants do not fight back because most of them
are women, children, and animals that creep on all fours.

He knows of a city not spared and is without name, unlike Nineveh,
whose repentant king decreed:

Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth,
and they shall cry mightily to God.

Mark Hiskes 9-01-2012

(chungking / Shutterstock.com)

About love she was all wrong,
the old capitalist, patron saint
of the self-made rich. How well
she misunderstood the paradox deep
as mothers’ grief: that finding our self
requires losing it, that love and loss
make one truth, not two. Objective
as granite in relationships, her hero
never collapses into cancer with a wife,
never drops into death with a brother.

Muriel Nelson 8-01-2012

On Proverbs 8

My saints won’t be named by a church.
Their sainthood won’t stand as statues. Listen.
Voices
calm as cooking directions
play continually—

If any thing’s resurrectible, it’s memory:
those eyes,
song-haloed, so full of lightness
nothing could stop their flight;
not a Thomas who peers into pupils’ darkness,

not a ravenous soul left grounded.
We are born, yin-yanged, of lightning
with saints and putti the lightest of all.
But love-rumpled faces, quick limbs, and pierced hearts
are unstable, done only in clay.

Maritza Rivera 7-01-2012

There is nothing casual
about casualties of war.

It is serious business deciding
which of the wounded
get Medevac’d or left behind
on the battlefield.

It is not the ones
with the most severe of injuries
who are transported
elsewhere for treatment

but the ones with the best
chance of surviving them
that make the trip.

“There’s nothing we can do.”

D.S. Martin 6-01-2012

You can’t desire to catch the sacred fish
as much as he desires to be caught
& yet
he darts through the dim depths
with tail swerve & swish
laughs with the joy of glistening fins
at huge holes in your net
through which he swims

To get the shining coin from his mouth
is worth selling all you have
To get him         even better
Everything you know about him
wavers in uneven light

Denial
This has nothing to do with blackness.
This has everything to do with blackness.

Anger
I could break things
but everything is broken.

Bargaining
Maybe I should have left
with the slave catchers.

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.
                                                                —Wordsworth         

Belle Fox-Martin 3-01-2012

We are the lay of the land— / pocked, hilled, knowing every ember / and seed imprinted on our bones.

R.M. Blair 2-01-2012

While he was in jail, two policemen / came to his apartment, took / all his books, sat at his kitchen table / drinking his coffee, and cut out / the forbidden words: kitchen / was first to go;

Annie Deppe 1-01-2012

There were two sets of stairs: the front ones curving and formal while the backstairs rose steep as a canyon wall. As a girl, I used to fly from their heights when I wasn’t falling.

Barbara Crooker 12-01-2011

The amaryllis bulb, dumb as dirt, inert, how can anything spring from this clod, this stone, the pit of some subtropical, atypical, likely inedible fruit?

Ken Sehested 11-01-2011

We all knew it would come.
Someday. Always later.
Mañana.
It comes for us all. Sure.
Of course.
We know that. Someday.
Mañana.

But when someday draws near
for someone you love
whose silenced breath sears
your lungs with flames of grief
and sobs so immense
you wonder:
How dare the sun ascend?
The stars to shine?
Even the yeast to rise!

Richard Schiffman 9-01-2011

Eschewing perfection, they knotted in a flaw,
the human signature and kink that made
the carpet whole -- not less perfect, but more
for the fraying edge, the bleeding dyes
that cloak their treasure in disguise,
an act of indirection modeled from on high:
as when the Deity said Be ...
and out crawled -- the twisted,
the crippled, the deformed.

(for Daniel Berrigan on his ninetieth birthday)