“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”
― Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
A Definition of Poetry
Why is it the
a pool of blood,
inserts two fingers,
rubs and smells
then gravely announces
it is fresh?
–> M. Kelly Peach
you can use your own keys
open unknown doors close them
turn white to black strike
you can create worlds
you can be unfaithful foreign
you can be the opposite sex
you can make the past
the future present tense
in your parallel universe
there can be
can be a happy ending
what you don’t want
you kiss to death with crosses backspace
–> Fiona Ritchie Walker
Dear girl-I-was—always tight shouldered and panting over an icy ceramic sink,
cheap Bic with a slimy aloe-strip still singing into the never-seen pale of your thigh,
a swiped bio lab pipette dropping a white-out of bleach into the shocked cuts—
come close and let me show you a trick. We’re caged in grammar, the me you are always
happening in the imperfect past: I say, I was bleeding, and you are looking
into the cold mirror again, meeting pupils huge as charred fire pits after rain.
That consuming emptiness, the flat black of forever / still / again in a verb of being
continuous and anticoagulant. What would you do to have an end?
Watch closely: The sun is white and wipes out the trees as it rises. I am the you
you will be for the last time—the pen drops from my hand like a razor falling through
a cold sinkfull of water. I bled once. I had bled.
–> Erinn Batykefer
The Robber’s House is Rigged
It is one thing to think
“You were too stupid
To avoid it,”
And another to see
No way out, no matter how
You wish and plan.
In the world, in a tale,
Every choice is a gamble—
Leave the egg, take the key,
Drop the egg, drop the key—
The Robber’s house is rigged,
No action guarantees salvation.
When the binary choices of
“Choose your own adventure”
Fail, what is left to you?
Feathers, honey, a skull
Crowned in flowers?
The chutzpah to roll in the remainders,
Don disguises too foolish to consider.
When the game can’t be won,
Rip the page,
Raid the bones.
–> Dr. Sara Cleto and Dr. Brittany Warman
For the good of the poem
the words that curdle
the lines that whine
the stanzas that abandon
of the night verse
what you’ve lost
in times of need
if you must
–> Kathryn Paulsen
Six months pregnant
I stood on swollen heels
in his kitchen,
paper plate slacking under salad,
lasagna, bread, and beans.
He crept up behind me,
pressed his cheek to mine,
slid a wide hand
around and over my belly.
My freeze melted
into a hot oil of terror
at this touch,
my mother’s fiancé
the night before their wedding,
a man I’d known
a handful of months.
How kind she was
when I made this confession,
my heart like storm drops.
ten years later,
she mocked my discomfort
for that night
I ruined for her,
for my weakness,
for my wrongness,
for my misinterpreting
as unwanted touch.
all in one bitter string
I bit to break.
But you see, Mother,
Stepfather, right here,
I get the last word.
–> Becky Nicole James
Maybe I Can Dream a Title
If only words
would grow out of me—
as bedrift and calm
as morning shadows
over a planked pine floor—
rather than wrenched
from my mind like hairs
one by one
off a guillotined head
balding a generous patch
of scalp, until standing
naked and bold, the chosen
stare up at me asking,
“Are you finished?
Are we a poem?”
–> Barbara Reynolds
Last Generation: The Undertaker Examines the Bones of the Last Dead Aboard the Ship
For each cut I say we had changed, we,
make in the bones less bound by gravity,
I tell myself: this is not of the ship and not
a bone, but a fragment of the new planet–
of what has already been does it matter that we were
given to the ship. A life recorded shaped differently
and gone. Like the others, (if in minor ways)
I inscribe the names and dates from our ancestors on Earth?
of the deceased on their Reminders
right distal phalanges, their causes of childhood, when I collected little birds’
of death or causes that moved bones, hollow and fated
them through life here. for reuse. What I wanted
When the time came, need was to see what I’d
called for all the past dead’s read about once: the sudden flash,
bones to be disinterred, ground light from the sunset, catching
up for what was useful. These bones the white figures
we’d meant to inter on the new soaring, seemingly still–
planet once we’d reached it, did we ever know what
bones we’d scanned, everything a sun’s passage meant?
on them recorded again. Still, beneath these lights
I inscribe the names and dates that fade, that do not make
of the dead, then take the illusion of motion of one
pictures before that bone too around the other, we
must be mined for what is collected what we thought
scarce. My children asked me or hoped we could protect,
if i will continue this practice knowing we couldn’t.
once we have all you must adapt there, once
landed on the new planet’s memory of this ship as a home–
surface. I tell them we keep the inverse of a home–
calling the ship becomes a fact
by the wrong name: isn’t it of ancestry, or the illusion
a ship so much as a map. of ancestry. Your children
We return to what we know will be shaped by what
cannot be true: these bones we were shaped by: gravity,
that never touched us or what you can find
directly, these bones that only on the surface of a place that
shaped the contact between us– you must shape in return–
–> T.D. Walker