Poem of the Day - Archive - February 2021


The Mistake
after On the Beach at Night Alone
by Karthik Sethuraman



the tagline across the screen
an actress wanders across a seaside town
pondering her relationship with a married man


when I meet Whitman I’ll ask him
a plain question which America
is he seeking


I want him to say
pretending or pretending to
the distinction isn’t that important


on the screen a man
saunters across the beach
and abducts the actress


Whitman will call this a spiritual secret
Whitman will call this a metaphysical secret


but it’s okay to speak things directly
but it’s okay to trade in our mistakes


now a few frames of the actress
walking alone chronological order
trees are moving a conversation
someone’s sweeping the street


I’ll tell Whitman he’s made
a kind of contract with America
to believe that he and America exist
in the same reality


in act two the man returns
he’s washing the windows
but when he’s out of the picture
he’s the cinematographer


I’ll tell Whitman that I wake up at four
that I smoke and hurry to sanitize
everything that I still expect
America to knock for me


before she crosses the bridge
the actress folds and kneels
and prays to something off screen


Whitman will ask what is it she wants
Whitman will ask what is it I want


a noise
the change of light
from a boat passing by
to live in a place that suits us


off stage I’ll live
with Whitman and I’ll ask him
a very minute question and I’ll
ask him the same question
every day


then I’ll tell Whitman I don’t have
much energy I don’t have much
time I just have myself
asleep on the beach
and I won’t call it America


Poem from the Hyperreal
by Randy James


As you float in grim ecstasy,

  this wants you to wipe that smirk from your face

        in the face of Earth’s fading EKG.

    The world banged alive by eclipse,

         this is a chopper cutting morning gray,

           the human star system afflicting.

Can you help me?

                       My tank needs a refill of empty.
                       My mouth is going snail mail.
                       Every day, I reset in the shower,
                       lucky to have glimpsed
                       a hummingbird at rest
                       as institutions continue
                       to pack themselves
                       into the superlatives
                       of a lexicon
                       part sugar & grief.

                      This is level of specificity
                       traction of authority
                       power by proxy             
                       energy from atoms,

            this is what it means to insert, drain, & leave.

        Old blues in a new body, this is why newborns cry.


by Mark States   © 5/12/2019


you comb the night/ 'cause you're the cruiser/ you never get enough/ when you're cruising down the street/and taking off the heat/ when you're on the moonlight run
~ The Cars, “Cruiser”

Swipe the keycard
Lock flashes green
Open the door
But the alarm stays asleep
Lights off
not a peep or a beep

Where’s the reception, where’s the audio
Where’s the perception anyone else is here?

Flip the switches
Check the fax
Hit the bathroom out in the back
Log in and time punch the clock
43 new emails
2 new voicemails
Yesterday’s task reminders need to be snoozed again
Fetch the overnight lockbox key
Shut the cluttered desk drawer
Pass the pillar
Reach the front desk

And there she is, crumpled like paper
Face on keyboard
Forearm over forehead
In glitter and shadow behind the counter
Several hours after sunrise
Telephone softly ringing its lullaby

She combed the night
But her hair is such a car wreck
The limousine stretches, the engine hood yawns
The tires are tired of turning
And brake themselves
Back to sleep back to dreaming the beat
Party animal
Swinging from the rearview mirror

She won the moonlight run
But now flag is down
For the cheddar chase.


View Mark States' work in the Library catalog


One Red Berry in February
for Lawrence, sleep well poet
by Kim Shuck


Somewhere irrespective of brass plaques
Street names
There are the psychological memorials
The way that some line of poem makes its way into
Another line of poem that may take the idea another step
The mud street becomes
Wooden sidewalk becomes
Concrete sidewalk that is pierced to make space for
A tree that feeds birds in February
Red berries
Red berries in February that don’t remember the origin mud or
The wooden sidewalk
But are part of that story
Even so
Somewhere out beyond brass plaques
There is a new generation combing the words
Agreeing or not but
Using the earlier work to build with
To build on
To tear down
Agreeing or not
And somehow
There is a red berry
Here in February
In this poem
That tracks back to a jail cell
And an obscenity trial or maybe
Back to Coney Island but certainly
Through the doors of a bookstore
Where there has been refuge
Mud, wood, concrete, tree, berry, bird and
Whatever comes next


Kim Shuck was the 7th Poet Laureate of San Francisco

View Kim Shuck's work in the Library catalog


A Coney Island of the Mind, 11
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti   1919-2021


The wounded wilderness of Morris Graves
           is not the same wild west
                                                   the white man found
It is a land that Buddha came upon
                                               from a different direction
    It is a wild white nest
                              in the true mad north
                                                               of introspection
           where ‘falcons of the inner eye’
                                                             dive and die
                     glimpsing in their dying fall
                                                  all life’s memory
                                                               of existence
               and with grave chalk wing
                                                draw upon the leaded sky
      a thousand threaded images
                                                  of flight

It is the night that is their ‘native habitat’
  these ‘spirit birds’ with bled white wings
          these droves of plover
                              bearded eagles
                                           blind birds singing
                                                             in glass fields
  these moonmad swans and ecstatic ganders
                                                                       trapped egrets
                                                   charcoal owls
                                                                       trotting turtle symbols
  these pink fish among mountains
                                                       shrikes seeking to nest
                       whitebone drones
                                                   mating in air
                among hallucinary moons
And a masked bird fishing
                                          in a golden stream
     and an ibis feeding
                                   ‘on its own breast’

           and a stray Connemara Pooka
                                                           (life size)

And then those blown mute birds
                                            bearing fish and paper messages
       between two streams
                                  which are the twin streams
                                                                           of oblivion
           wherein the imagination
                                             turning upon itself
             with white electric vision
                                           refinds itself still mad
                            and unfed
                                            among the hebrides


View Lawrence Ferlinghetti's work in the Library catalog


by Cristina Deptula


For years wandering, tracing footsteps in sparse soil

some mine, some yours, some theirs

some not to know, only to match

skimming the edge of the isthmus


between the continents, maps given in plethora

by flagwaving hawkers, gawkers, peddlers, cops

all for each interior, the routes and regulations

in detail, shy shakes of head at the mention


of crossover, passports, documents for the border

one does not travel, one belongs

safe within the scattered shantytowns of the mind

one or another, pick one, to have an address


laid out to rest, arms extended

my blood forms a waterway, a long

repressed canal to traverse the path

between past and present, old and young,


male and female, moral and wrong,

simplicity and success, the ideal and real.


Come! I have built the way home.


Honey Moon


Marry me moon
and I will wrap myself
around you
like a gown of sun
love your shadow
as much as
your pearled mirror
never forget you
when the sky
grows tired
of your glory
calls out the clouds

I long for a lover
who isn’t afraid
of my howling
sees my waxing and waning
with equal eyes
a mate who lays with me
some nights
leaves me alone
on others
always offers a sliver
to hold onto
the changing tide
my womb

Marry me moon
and I will never
be lonely again.


Audio video version on youtube




First they came for the shit talkers and I said nothing
I did nothing
I did not speak out
Because I am not a shit talker
Well not in public anyway
If you happened to hear me talking shit one time
That was a private moment of trust
Please don’t tell anyone

Then they came for the rabble rousers
And I said nothing
For I am no rabble rouser
Sure I’ve thrown a few bricks
Sure I’ve started a few chants
Or at least a clap
A slow clap

Then they came for the free thinkers
And I said nothing
For I am no free thinker
Three fingers in salute
My lock step behind your boot heel
I love big brother
All day every day
Well I have a crush on big brother anyway
I'm big brother’s secret admirer

Then they came for the unruly
And I very explicitly can be ruled
Tell me what to do
Have I not made that clear
politically speaking I am a bottom
So I said nothing
I did not speak out
Because that is not me
The unruly can speak for themselves I said

then they came for the fat sarcastic star trek fans
And I haven't really liked anything since DS9
And besides i've lost a lot of weight
And really fat i mean come on cut it out grow up

Then they came for people who wear all black
I mean maybe something
A t-shirt with a little color on it
But basically all black
And I did not speak out
Because I’ve been introducing some color back into my wardrobe recently
Mostly Navy blue and muted greys
A rainbow of introversion

Next they came for people with outsider complex and imposter syndrome
And while I consider myself unique
A loner at times
Who has always faked it til I make it
I just don’t like labels
So I said nothing
Because that didn’t really describe me
At least not grown up me
Teenage me maybe

Then they came for the wannabe woke-ish normcore lubersexuals with dad bod
Grey flecks in their ginger beards
Never lived up to their full potential
Forty somethings with thinning hair
A useless bachelor’s degree in creative writing
Plenty of pretty good forgotten band name ideas
Like servicables ones that you could see headlining a nice mid-size venue maybe
Pretty mellow but not total pushovers
Fixer uppers

I said nothing
Closed my eyes
Maybe when i open them this will all be over
Maybe everything will turn out okay
I certainly hope so


Learning the Right Way to Wish


I met a wish. She was surrounded by demi-gods and mountains and kings and lightning bolts and
giants and gray wolves and gentlemen and rogues and mermen and dudes and warlocks and
golden eagles and Me, holding a deck of fool cards—thinking she’s length in light, she’s a moon
dogs bay to, she’s a blanket of night that lets solar system shine through. And if I could leave my
handprint anywhere it would be on your heart.
I met a dream. She heard my thoughts through all those “And's” she was in. So that meant she
must have seen my twinkle shine through all them planets and nebulas she's drifting through. She
wrote a letter to me in hopes for some sign of life. She told me where she's exactly at—ending in
to be continued and ellipsis. And if I could leave my voice anywhere it would be the chambers in
your soul.
I met a driving force. She gave me a small door that was slightly ajar. I gave her a mountain of
bravado in a vast forest of would. I laid at her feet 10 tons of desire wrapped pretty in everything
black I own. I place each note from each love song I play alone on her heartstrings wishing she
give me a chance. I gave her everything she’s running away from in a slightly damaged package
I gave her 99,999 words of unrelenting want, not one word wondering; what does she need? And
if I could leave my ego anywhere it would be in a shadow; my ego has no more to prove.
I met a good woman. You filled my trick or treat bag with all my red flags and shut that small
door gently. I can't blame you because too much air blows out wrapped sage, pops beautiful blue
balloons, erodes majestic mountains, push's clouds to other skies further than the one I'm wishing
under now; that I would have just shut the fuck up, got out of my own way. Burn all these fool
cards I'm holding and words I said to you, into crowns I should have wrote for you instead, if
you ever came around asking why I twinkle like shine in your eyes. I‘d have some cool shit to
talk with you then; And if I could leave my smile anywhere, it would be on her forgiveness.
I met a wish and even if it wasn't to become one I wanted, the wish granted me left a better man
dreaming. And that's all I can hope for now.


by Sarah Kobrinsky


There are eleven syllables in this line-
eleven eleven, my dear, make a wish!
This is also a Dear John letter, dear John,
but not that kind of Dear John letter, John.
I just wanted to feel your form, try you on,
count and count again the stars in Joseph’s dream.
Did you see any stars when you were under?
Are you any lighter now that growth is gone?
Once I heard of a man who kept his tumor
on his mantle in a jar next to his wife.
He wished on it like on a star, called it John.

- From “Let the World Wonder,” Emeryville Cal Poets in the Schools, 2018




It was the day you put down the wound:
We both knew it was time.
We were not doing the wound
any favors anymore by keeping it around.
You, you said.
No, I said. You.
Your arms full of wound, you walked
around the back side of the house
and it was quick, the munchausen of the gun,
then you were back,.
Something in the eye, you said.
It was a good wound, you said. The best.
Then we didn’t say anything.
We started walking.
We were going to have to dig a hole.
The hole had to go somewhere. It was sunny
in the yard. We malingered over
the blooming cyclothymia,
communed with the fragrant anomies
in the light. The patch of aspergers glowed quietly.
You stopped in the narcissist
without looking. Here, you said,
and you were right. Yes. Here.
You took my hand.
We walked towards the house
slowly. Then we walked slower.
Something about tearing the earth open.
Something about gouging the dirt.
Something in your eye.
It was a good wound,
you said. The best, I said.
We reached the house
too soon. We split up.
After that, we split up and split up,
after I went to the garage for the shovel.
You went out back for the wound.

- originally published in “15 Ways To Stay Alive,” Manic D Press 2011


The Great Spirit
by Jesse James Johnson


The Great Spirit
that is the sky
spreads it wings
to conjure a night
ablaze with stars
fragrant with juniper
and the promise of rain.

Gentle wings guide
our journey
over curving black serpents
and magenta sands.

East to where my father
will be buried
at the edge of the southern plains.

We shall all
each through our own journey
with bare feet and dusty hair
to a field of stone and yellow flowers.

There we wander
among the grave markers
and broken angels
mouthing the names
of ancestors and dead lovers.    

The tragedies
and miracles of life
are exhausting.
We grow heavy with nostalgia.
Lower our bodies
to the stony ground.
Close our eyes
and give ourselves
to the cicadas singing
in the broomweed
and yarrow.

We dream.
We dream of purple thistles.

Barking dogs will wake
those who must return.

Hiking up hills and along dried arroyos.
I seek the counsel of crows.
I laugh with coyotes.
I burn copal and sage.

When I cross a path
that my father walked
I miss the comfort of his arms.

His absence is a sack of stones.

Mesquite trees tremble
with splendor and thorns.

Leaves swirl into
the quiet of the storm.

I am now
an elder of my tribe
and I must show no fear.


Given Name
by Brynn Saito


No one tells me how to name it, I name it
           animal. I tell it never come. I watch it
                       strengthen on the fever farm, take tendon

after tendon, lift its own spoon
           at the family table, taste. I watch it grow tall
                       with the family’s starch and salt,

the sweat and the family’s wide-awake
           eyes staring like light beams
                        at the all-night ceiling, fear fuel.

No one tells me how to name it,
            I name it animal. I name it clean-crushed
                         beer can, cop-outfit calling, binge dawn.

I tell it come here, come willing to dance, say:
            take me by the eyes and explain
                         yourself and your blood time

with this blood life—this river family,
            that valley farm. I say, What took us down
                        that day, river-worn, wordless?
What takes us down, animal? Explain you.


First appeared in American Poetry Review

View Brynn Saito's work in the Library catalog


breaking         the findings
by arlene biala / dec 2020


governor beshear            my heart breaks for miss taylor    
board up the windows

ag cameron         my heart breaks for miss taylor    
set up barricades

i wish things had been done       differently     
that no knock night          wantonly        
risk moving forward         process                blindly    
if i had a wish      it would be for more        trust     in the force
no, i’m not talking down       to  anyone      we have a vacuum
of endangerment        his forced       entry         the need        to see
what was          what      wasn’t       manifesting         
of a black woman’s          life          this is hard        
do you want to add to that?         curfew             burn it down       
demonstrators        i want    to listen        i want   
a better world        for    my kids
moving forward      i will never     EVER         tell someone not     
to speak out       but please        no violence      no hijacking    
the eyes of the world      are on     louisville    
be mindful     they are here        let’s do this      in a positive way      
think, people    trusting    is the right thing     to do    after the fact    
what was the question   oh yes,    racial and demographic
makeup     of the grand jury    it was sufficiently diverse    
i believe the expectations     were     too high     to put in context    
other incidents have gone    on    and on    i believe     in truth    
addiction crisis     get out     of it     stay out of it           
war on drugs       or whatever      impact        the demand    
not the supply    take fentanyl         we have to recognize      
our high    speed pursuits          the danger we  create         
the harm to other people    police need a high vantage point         
no intention to snipe      it’s not personal        the national guard    
our goal to keep safe     a militia      walking around    critical
infrastructure        deployed    from my standpoint       
first amendment rights      the national guard knows    citizens
of louisville    i assure you    each of them know    their job         
oh    you can bet      i’m getting updates
action      inertia        movement       discipline
they are under their own command    trained more         
akin to what is needed    we were integrated     if you will        
the guard is answering         to the guard       and only     
to the guard     look        it can’t be done     just to look     
like we are trying     to do      something   not just for a show    
$60,000 a day?     i hope     i’m not being        callous      
remember     we are reporting      xxx cases of covid-19          
just for today        p.s. my heart breaks
for the loss of miss taylor      please         we need peace
my heart breaks for miss taylor
        our job is to present    
facts       blast    heat in upper thigh       justice mob   
justice by violence    neither i nor the general
public     have seen        what the public deserves      
do you have     faith      moments later     more      gunshots          
here’s what it sounded like
head space         silence      violence      wanton wanton    
wanton  wanton    looping like     murder     of course paid leave    
too much time   street murals     excessive time    vogue covers       
celebrity hashtags      excruciating time       someone declare     
a state of emergency       breaking     news
summon     the national guard     board up the windows    brace
for the expected    rage     the expected         and murder        
murder wanton      murder         wanton again
not again    then again        there’s always    tomorrow


View arlene biala's work in the Library catalog


by Naomi Cooper


Somehow a great chasm had opened between them.
She stood on one mountain, breathing cool air,
redolent with the good scent of spruce trees. 
She kept calling to him, receiving only an echo.
Harsh tones of loneliness clawing out of her throat. 

Between her and the beloved, their valley extended.
Steep.  Rocky.  Vegetation growing sparse.
Some straggly wildflowers.  Naked roots entangling above the soil.
Anyone who fell or leapt into this wide deep hole would surely die.

On the other side, his mountain rose, dark greenly, eerily similar to hers.
She could not see him anymore.
Finally she heard another voice.   
She imagined an animal, perhaps an animal spirit
trying to tell her something.
Turning away, she set off for home. 
It was frightening to remain alone in the mountains
after sunset.  


Poem of the Day


The wind was blowing
It was blowing hard
So hard even the heavy metal plastic cars were being lifted as they climbed
Leaves and things were rolling and smashing against other leaves and other things.
A fierce haunting was coming in from a few centuries ago.
Time of old injustices coming in for the new ones right here right now
It made my loneliness balloon out more in my bed alone not even the cat slept near.
My eyes couldn't look at anything in the milky dark
Just the sound and the speed of air
Against the black window again and again
The wind is a voice
A power
It takes
It sweeps
It presses
No way to get away from the falling apart.




I built myself again
            with the pieces
                         I knew
                         we’re yours
the morning after
the night when
              you went catatonic when
                           I told you
                           I would be new
                                         on the way out
the morning after when
morning broke when
              it was all over
                          do you remember
the night before
              you went catatonic when
              I knew you as cataracts
                                      as cloud and cascade
my room dark
              to hide the mess on the floor
my room dark
              breathing tranquility
              through open windows
                          do you remember
              through open windows
you taught me to feel
                                      but not yet
                           do you remember
with the pieces
              I knew
              were yours
I built myself again
              jagged at the edges
that’s why it cuts you
on the way out

              I borrowed your mirror shards
you taught me to see
              in the darkness
                            do you remember
I would make a promise
              of seven years
              I meant less
                            do you remember
the morning after
the night
              you went catatonic
we made a promise
              to be whole until
the morning
              broke in
early afternoon
              we did not break
                            until we both stood
on the floor
              the mess
              on the floor
                                     in cloud and cascade
I turned my back
to pick up
the pieces
              I knew
              were yours
              I knew
              you were


Poem of the Day


ensure my need
for validation
by giving me nothing
I’ve done the idiot
dance my entire
life and I’m tired.
And still, you are this mix of
amazing and beautiful
feminine energy
strong and capable
and more than anything else
my eyes
my heart wish you
so I can lay my
meager accomplishments
before you


When You Look At Me: A Brown Woman’s Lament


When you look at me
you see motel maids
changing sheets
in the pink & grey rooms
your parents stay in.

You see dark brown women
on their knees scrubbing floors
in Baja restaurants
or standing with a blue-eyed child
on each hip.

It doesn’t matter if I wear
tweed suits and pace the floor
on Givenchy heels
in front of busy chalk boards

You see Lupita the nanny
in your T.V. mind.
She wears mismatched clothes
and slides heavily on leather huaraches
towards her unwashed children.

To you I am an aberration
that confuses your senses
and blurs your vision.
It is difficult for you to
Recognize me as “Dr. ”
you want me to remain nameless
silent, invisible.

But I stand before you  
speaking your language
and teaching you things
you are not sure of.

Now you must either change
your misguided notions of who I am
or kill the me
that cannot live in your world.

When you look at me
you see educated nipples
intelligent legs, a brilliant ass.

You chica, mija, chula me
until you get beyond the fact
that I have a PhD.

In department meetings
I call for broad visions
and student needs.
you envision a broad
who can meet your needs.
You are unfamiliar
with a woman
who can see through
your  veneer.
my loud clear voice
threatens your ears.   

To you I am expendable
like the woman who keeps
taking you back
like the mother who is
always there to feed you.

Like that part of yourself
that you thought you destroyed
when you decided to become
a thin worn metallic chair
a conflict without a resolution.


                           - First published in Poetrymagazine.com

View Naomi Quinonez's work in the Library catalog




This is lonely business.
I didn’t aspire to be a big-shot
in cheap barrooms.I tried

to ignore the blood
pushing and pulsing irregularly
through to my toes. I said,
“the road bumps launched
me here. It was the only place
to stop, pee and eat.” I drank,

different. I drank beer,
not vodka. I drank red wine
in big goblets. But I knew,

I’d soon be hiding
bottles in dress bags, I’d lie
when I say I’d stopped.

People will stop calling
after eight at night. I wouldn’t
remember talking anyway. I say,

“It is in my body.” Vodka weakens
the heart muscle until
it droops and stretches,

thins. The boy
who loved me once stopped
trying to put me back together.

I sent postcards
from Colorado, Minneapolis, Maine
to my mother. I signed,

I understand, it helps.

*previously appeared in The Dandelion Review


by Kelly Landmine


I lined up my orchids
and dumped out
their bark
one by one
feeling for death

I ran them under the faucet
and carefully removed
what was left
of the medium
they clung to

I sprayed them with hydrogen peroxide
to kill any mildew that had grown
and peeled away
the dried
dead leaves

I got new pots
no residue of anything
that had come before
and reassembled
their homes

I put them back
up on the shelf
away from the direct sunlight
and thought about how I wanna
do this round differently

and how I wish
I could do this with my heart.


by Missy Church


Tonight I must get back up
on my haunches and
take a look around,
it is too late now,
for the tired old show
where the last character standing
is a ghost of a person he once was,
holding center stage
under a milky yellow
glassed with the stagnant dust,
of someone caught in the crosshairs.

It is too late for these mangy rusty razors,
riddled with last night’s red stains,
bleeding brown the thigh
it is too late to be packing vodka bottles
in the lunchbox each day
sucking the tit at every bus stop
hoping the fresh air of new passengers
will kill the odor of alcoholism,
it is too late to be fat,
it is too late to drink wine from a box,
it is too late to be over-medicated,
it is too late to be fucking up

It is too late to be ruining
the fresh flesh of like lips puckered
head extended in infant expectancies,
waiting for family history to kick in and
go begging for coins,
that we cannot cash.


by Joel Landmine


I went into the Tiffany’s
on Union Square with
             my father.

It was crowded,
Neil Young was the only other
shabby-looking motherfucker in the joint.
I was clearly the only one without money
             to burn.

We went upstairs.
The girl behind the counter
looked at the rings through my ears,
at the heavy ring
              hanging from my nose.

“You look like you’re good on jewelry,” she
              and laughed nervously.

I looked her up and down,
               looked her right in the eye.

“What can you show me
               in stainless steel?”


Black and Blue
by Linda Noel


Because I wore black consecutive
Blue because my eyes could have
Become sapphire
                             From the inside out
Black because charcoal would have
                             Been smeared over my face
Blue because the color of the sky
                             Became black
Blue because my prints staggered
                             Across moon
Black because the bruise was deep
                             And lasting
                                             Misshapen and borderless
Black because my tongue struggled
                             To sound words
Blue because cry song could have
                             Strangled me
Tied a black bow around my
Blue surrounding the clouds in
Indigo of dusk shadowing each
Black shadow edged in cyan
Blue the color of coyote’s voice
                             Warped and hovering over
                                                                   The valley floor
Black and icy on mountain’s
In and beneath my
                                        Gesture and view
Season of the dim lasting beyond
                 Each moon
Thin blue lines between each
                               Each teeth
Black line between every
The color of grief

Call it bereavement
                 Time of sorrow
Offer condolence
                 Words of solace

Hear the tear fall off
                  The face
                                 Hit the air and dissolve




There is one piece of sky and you can have it,

no questions asked.

No purchase necessary.

No grip at all.

You can breathe it, bide it, fly it, shine it, you can

just about anything it except

own it. You can’t own it.

You can’t own it

unless you let it own you,

let it eat you,

let it ride you all the way home.

Yes, I’m still talking about the sky,

that one piece of sky

that’s all there is.

Let it possess you,

let it breathe you,

let it slide into you slowly,

let it through you,

let it disperse you

and drift away,

and then you’ll know a thing or two

about ownership.

You’ll know a thing or two.




I dream
            rulers will stop blaming us
            and fire will be sacred
            and our bodies will not be sold
            and our bodies will not be used, against our will
the quiet guerrilleros of the forest
the hundred-year-old grandparents
cracking the asphalt of their freeways and their malls
growing in places
we are not meant to exist
              as mere tokens
              as shade for their cars
              as fire hydrants for their dogs
              as backgrounds to selfies
We, witness
explosive games of hide and seek
unmitigated tantrums of taller children
War, justified by the white man
in the name of God
and continues to justify
the strange fruit on our branches
And when we can no longer give oxygen
we shall tell stories about the beginning of time
and the secrets of the universe
guiding each rooted soul
            to the ancestral land
Cracking asphalt
growing in places not meant to exist
giving respite of hope
across generations

Just like us
unwilling to die despite
rules and laws wanting us to disappear
in the name of progress
cutting our bodies–our temples
forcing our spirits to migrate
in search of a safe home
where we can share our gifts
Rooted, we are
the color of Earth
surviving every day
living the truth
                         speaking the truth
                                                      holding the truth
                                                                                 breathing--is a revolutionary act.




I don’t know why we’re so guarded;
body pillows, the silent phone call,
the times I reach out to take your hand
but think better of it.

            We’re not going anywhere.

Parents are supposed to die before their children;
Boys are supposed to be loud and destructive;
Friends are supposed to fade with memory.
The signal repeats, the moment is lost.

I cling to the idea of our love:
replacing your breasts with bosom.
Cuddling instead of foreplay,
the soft folds of our fat like a blanket.

Safety, more important than sex.

            You don’t need to worry;
            My cock and I aren’t traveling anymore.

I want to wrap you in my hugs and kisses
and hold your hand and grab your ass;
and play a game of tag, you’re it!
            But sometimes I can’t quite reach.

I wish I could look you in the eye as we make love,
but I only stay hard when fucking you from behind.
            Sometimes just being inside you is enough.

Family is supposed to hurt each other;
Parents are supposed to be quiet when having sex.
Our sons are supposed to leave home without us;
Rinse, repeat, sense, complete, spent, defeat

Cling to me as I cling to you.

Close your eyes tight against the demands;
old bills, dirty dishes, hunger, and so little time,
sleep next to me, with the TV on and the fan going,
dream of work and a boring life together.
Tomorrow we’ll figure out what to have for dinner;
Tomorrow, we won’t forget to make the bed.


You Shall Not Bear False Witness
by Linda Michel-Cassidy


Okay, but what if the neighbor is a known scumbag, a raging alcoholic and your friend from Los Angeles comes to stay, tells you she’s in love, and it turns out it’s this guy. What if you are out of town and she stays in your house, but it turns out it’s also him and some of his caveman friends and they break the tile counter and a table and somehow manage to leave red wine stains on the wall, which is adobe, for Christ’s sake, not just something you paint over.

What if she says, “I think he’s seeing someone else,” and you have no idea, but could easily confirm this, ending the whole nonsense, but you don’t and you also don’t tell her that he’s a dealer because he’s never been convicted, because he can afford a great attorney, who happens to be your friend Carl, who tells you, yeah, he’s guilty as shit, but you don’t pass this on because you are supposed to believe he’s innocent until proven guilty, plus she’s running around town glowing, really glowing, and telling strangers she’s in love.

What then?