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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Nhattaleah Nichols ------ four poems


You only like me when you’re drunk
And I only like you when I’m lonely
But when we sleep
Our hands reach like branches
Pulling us up
Past the Brownstones
Soundly together

Magical Realism

I’m just going to say it now in
the season of bare branches
Just how I wanted to say it then
In the season of spiders and promises and leaves

You are not the first to not love me

I called that story magical realism (the one with the snow and the conditions that I read to you while balancing the book
hot tea
and myself in your lap)

Your long face opened and laughed, said:
You think two people in love is magical realism

I looked down
to the right
sloshing hot tea on bare skin
as if to say
How Foolish
How could I have implied that in the snow
your big hands wouldn’t support my spine in the spiraling flakes?

Your big hands and long face are not the first to not love me

And in the snow
What could be more magical
And more real
Than love


I’m going to sit here
on these rat ridden concrete slabs
in a city that smells like feet
all summer.
waiting for work
and imagine that you are here
Saying those words to me:
Skykomish Snohomish Snoqualmish

And telling me about the Joy you felt
The first time you had a Huckleberry
After leaving the lands of our people
And I’ll tell you about how I didn’t know that Salal
Was the name of a plant and not
All low-lying shrubbery

We can say Kalakala
And talk mountains and
Forget about our exile

The one that brought us happiness

Hay Fever

I woke up at 5 AM alone
My face swollen
 from every scrap of flora the world over trying not to be lonely
I know! It's awful, but it's also ok
It's just spring, and I know that myself
and the rest of the known world
want to smell dirty hair
Too warm skin
And be slightly disgusted
And completely in love

Friday, July 24, 2015

New poem by Mary Nielsen

"Receipt for a Scarlet Begonia"

found on the ground today
a receipt for a scarlet begonia
a phrase that has a poetic ring to it and
I really must look into iambic pentameter
and other patterns of human psyche
which we share a common thread of thankfulness
or thanklessness as they are two sides of the same coin
a begonia is a waxy flower of a genus species
often given as a gift for those so inclined to purchase something
for a sick relative who is not so close
and for whom one would not go out on a limb for
whose thoughtfulness or thoughtlessness we carry as banners
of our fancy notions with either wistfulness or sadness
emanating from the montage of our sincerity

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"The Snow Man" ---- by Koon Woon as homage to Wallace Stevens

“The Snow Man”

One must have a bottle of Gallo in this cold alley
And to shake the cops and other winos
And be on the look-out for some sucker to roll

It has been a long while since my abode
Was taken from me not because of ice or lice
But because of the drive for condos

That in this high rise reaching town
Where all the Californ Dreaming has lost ground
To the sound of broken bottles

Which is the brittle psyche of fife
Which leads the rats from places bare
To places that don’t any longer sustain life

For the dweller of the alley, who is on dope,
And nothing, I mean nothing, beats a quick fix,
Nothing that is pure nor is impure.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Stephanie Peirce ----- five poems

I return to you

The jasmine had bloomed
in my absence, your presence.
Nasturtium, tomato, sunflower, sweet pea, morning glory
had all sprouted, twining up in green
to meet the sun.

When the plane sunk down in Newark yesterday,
slipping through the violet air,
descending to the flat line that was the earth
leaving the sun and clouds above,

You were there on earth to meet me.
My head full of clouds and heart full of seeds,
I burst like a piñata
who had been stuffed with only happiness.

Dulce de Leche

Went to see Cookieman at the bakery. The café Tavolo Pronto opened this Spring and it was like having a little outpost from Italy land in the neighborhood. Giant cheeses hang from the ceilings. Cookieman’s real name is Dan but I call him Cookieman because he has always given me something sweet for free. It began the first time we met. A lemon drop, a pignoli cookie, some chocolate bark. Without even knowing it was my birthday, that day he chose to make little personal sized dark chocolate cakes, some topped with raspberry preserves and some with nutella. I bought one of each. He always asks where I have been and sometimes I have to say nowhere but this time I said Rhode Island. He was making a new kind of cookie. Alfajores. Chilenitos. A South American cookie, two round scalloped butter sugar cookies held together by dulce de leche and dusted with powdered sugar. His ex girlfriend’s recipe, he says. I say “Oh you should make a cookbook of recipes of ex girlfriends.” He says “Oh it would be very short, only two pages.” I tell him that his café is my church. He says I should come there more often.

Solstice Double Rainbow

Sometimes you think the earth cannot get any more beautiful
and then a double rainbow rises up out of the land and plunges into the ocean
and four Russian kids in New Jersey leap into the sea, fearless, riding the waves into shore, bobbing and tumbling like seals while their mothers stand watch.

And we two strangers look over them also
as the rain and sun falls all around us, and the sea sweeps in and out,
and into the deep gray sky are burned the colors
violet indigo blue green yellow orange red,
and on the other rainbow mirrored
red orange yellow green blue indigo violet,
Reflective twins, stunt doubles.

No one needs a promise, no one needs a pot of gold.
Everything we need is right here,
and side by side we sink our feet into it
as it rushes in all around us.

The Pear Tree    

Our ritual is this~
We run through the autumn rain
to the pear tree
which is so laden with fruit
we think of ourselves as almost charitable
relieving its boughs of the weight
which is threatening to crack it in two,
split its limbs from its body.

The rain is thick and chilly.
The dog’s body so golden running over lush neglected grass,
like a river of gold,
 rushing over a river of green.

We each grab a pear
and then turn and run,
fast as we can,
back to the house.
I am a child again.

Once inside the door,
the dog cheerfully greedily grabs at both pieces of fruit.
His smiling jaws leaving tooth marks in our quarry, he
steals mine while I am drying his paws with a towel.

What can I say that he will understand?
I say nothing and wait for tomorrow
when I will be quicker, when I will be smarter.

The Joke

I am kneeling in the Acme grocery store in Fair Haven, New Jersey perusing the dizzying assortment of chocolate chips on the lowest shelves when an elderly man leaning on his cart approaches and asks:
“Soup, down the next aisle?”
“Yes, I believe it is.”
“Making cookies?” he asks.
“Yes,” I smile.
“Small children?”
“Nope, just me. How about you?”
“Nope, at 94 I am on my own.”

His eyes are clear and blue and he looks really not even a day over seventy. Nice skin, straight posture. The only give-away is the very careful way he grips the cart’s hand bar. And the fact that he is relaxed, he seems to have time, unlike some of other shoppers who are so hurried we must dodge them like traffic.

“They had a big party for my 90th” he says.
We continue to chat. He tells me a joke.
“You know what the inside of a tree and a dog’s tail have in common?”
I shake my head no.
“They are both the furthest from the bark.”

“Ok,” he says, “here is another one.”
There was a 90 year old man who went to his doctor and told him to give him a physical because he is getting married, and that to his surprise and delight he is marrying a 25 year old.
The doctor says, “I will do it but I am not sure it is a good idea, it could lead to death.”
The man shrugs and says, “Well, if she dies she dies.
What can you do?”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Shin Yu Pai ------- three poems

simmered rice in bone
broth builds sinews

the first solids I feed
my infant son,

other mothers said
Cheerios sugared cereals

give him your word
he’ll know
the taste of cheeseburgers,

– & yet the whole
family’s gone gluten-free

grueling, the first pablum
my father received

when his mother had
an abscessed breast,

a wooden stick dipped
in porridge what

he nursed  in the absence
of milk supply, powder

food shortages in wartime
no longer in a state

of famine,  I affirm
my own accord


I don’t know the trail
to my grandparents’

graves, knowledge the men
folk keep for themselves

secrets passed down from
fathers to sons where

the bodies are buried
behind the house,

on Ao Feng mountain
we wade through waist-

high grass my uncle
leading the way beats

back weeds with bamboo
pole, the path kept hidden

my aunts left out
of decision-making

when it came to gathering up
the bones of the family

ancestors, urns buried
deep in the earth to be

exhumed for a final
resting place, in reunion,

what they found, empty
plots robbed of their relics

stolen by an angry forebearer
to make fools, worshipping

dust, long gone

paper craft

folded cranes delight
my 9-month-old boy,

birds strung on red thread
circle the living room,
forms my mother fashioned
nine years ago for a wedding
blessings, I gave away to guests
not knowing until years later

embedded within hundreds
of origami bodies, my father
contributed a single bird,
the pattern of which he shared

with no one; I try to see
his hand, a shape folded

from common copy
paper embellished with

inked hearts proof of love
my son’s eyes brighten
when they float past his gaze,

awake in the early hush of
morning while his dad sleeps

I picture cranes, bald eagles,
double-crested cormorants,
& grebes filling the skies
around the manmade lake

my earliest memory: my brother
away at pre-school, my father

drove us to the foothills of
the Santa Anas each day to give

my mother respite from
tears, a time

when I couldn’t yet grasp
that my brother would return

home; washi relics crumple
in an instant in the fists
of an infant, my father waited
days to hold, citing allergies,

a cough, when what he feared
most – harming another,

birds supporting the frailty
of our feeling, an object

impermanence, a child’s
wonder yoking us together