I have known what it is
to be made ugly, blackened
by the imprint of you —
erased, imprisoned, embalmed.
Like the moon serene and whole
but on closer look skin made
imperfect by the scars of her
craters, her rocks.
I soak myself in her lit up gaze,
drink the night sky in,
gulp the stars . . . always
The constellations spill like
bloodwine from my glass,
Like you as you walk away,
watching the moon from the
corner of your eye as if she’ll chase
(the way I never
or maybe, just maybe
as if she’ll guide you
on your way
by Kimia Madani
Editor’s Note: Most first person poetry is too internalized for a reader to relate to the meaning very easily. However, this poem uses unexpected imagery and inventive line breaks to convey a sense of knowledge and purpose.
Gently Still Finding You Between
spirals in the shell you left behind,
on staircases, in tiny unseen rooms,
interstices, hidden ventricles,
auricles collapsed and yet alive,
imaginary origami hearts,
a nautilus still pumping through the days
that lost you in their downy underside
like sepals undernoticed, or a potted
cactus near the window no one looks through.
What liquids had been stored in you for years?
Love or some restrained guffaw or blooming
should have burst through sediment and rock.
So much to say, we found no way to talk.
The droplets never touched the cavern floor —
bonded to the minerals that melt
in geologic time, you are no more,
although your shape still shadows my old thoughts:
a gentle tapping on the window’s cold.
A film of rain coats footprints on the stairs.
by Siham Karami, first published in Kin Poetry Journal
Editor’s Note: I’m pleased with how this poem uses imagery to suggest that memory lives in between all the spaces of a life. These detailed pictures (origami, nautilus, the cavern floor) show the narrator’s emotional attachment to a missing loved one without ever coming right out and baldly stating it. [ETA: I’ve been told by the poet that this is blank verse. My apologies for not recognizing the meter.]
In kindergarten, you had kids
stick crayons up their noses
and walk around like walruses.
I was teacher’s pet, sang Mass
with nuns, made sacrifices.
I had designs on the paperboy,
took his little red wagon; tried
to sleep with a boy on his mat
at naptime. Carla became
a Brownie, learned to draw
horses so you would marry her.
You made a finger trap from
your milk bottle wire with intent
to torture. Now you and I play
games: cat and mouse, push
‘n pull, tit for tat. But flash back
to that first night when I refused
to let you get away. We touched,
we fit, we knew, and you said
you’d found “the One.” And on
this spring day, remember how
we, our long hair cut short, walked
into our life together. Without father,
mother, scripture, or God, we said
we’d take, we’d have, we’d do.
And we did, gladly, all these years.
by Margaret Stetler
Margaret on Facebook
Editor’s Note: I refuse to concede that love poems are dead. Happy anniversary, Maggie.
Explaining My Tattoo
(In a form innovated by Lester Graves Lennon)
Stignatz. It’s a mouse, you sabby? Stignatz
Mouse. Stigmatic pin scratch. Mouse
yet not a mouse. A peanut bellicose yet
errant bastard from a folio of errant
whimsy—miscreant o’ concrete whimsy,
brick and mortar and a inky little prick.
Ain’t no canine constable to deal with. Ain’t.
Lurk low in lachrymose, in mirror lurk.
Usurp the yardarm of the afternoon, usurp.
Around the corner. Maybe:“Kop”. A round
obstruction shadowing the path’s obstruction.
Desert moon, the bastard’s just desserts.
Cat man do his damndest, ain’t no cat.
Rat man in the flesh. Remember: Rat.
Call me Mr. Stignatz, Kat. The catcall
rings in echo sleeve, in ostrich pant leg rings
determined to transgress, but Stignatz is determined,
jerk-off cop-or-not, to not exist. Jerk.
by Rick Mullin
Editor’s Note: Hello wordplay! Nice to meet you. Thanks for coming to visit my inbox. I’m not kop, and I ain’t no cat, so pull up a chair.
Poem without adjectives
Pity the poem without adjectives
as it staggers through the night.
It wipes the rain from its face
and ponders how to describe
the minds of its generation,
the hands not even the rain has.
The wheelbarrow, the chickens,
are shadows. The sands stretch
in drabness away from the plaque,
from the sneer. The sea of Homer
misses its companion. Aeneus
cannot locate his piety.
The poem lifts a bottle. “Nothing?”
The crash of glass, like a wave.
“I need a fu….”
It groans. “I can’t do it.
I need…. Oh, I need
a drink. And an adjective.”
Its skin shakes. Its eyes totter.
Ahead of it, day leads into day
like the houses in a city
in lines down the streets,
no adjectives there. Emptiness.
It stands on a corner,
waiting for the light
to change from a color
which cannot be said, to….
It sobs. The rain
drums a march
as if from a distance:
where they buried
all the adjectives.
from Autumn Sky Poetry 21 — by JB Mulligan
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim
I have painted a picture of a ghost
Upon my kite,
And hung it on a tree.
Later, when I loose the string
And let it fly,
The people will cower
And hide their heads,
For fear of the God
Swimming in the clouds.
by Amy Lowell (1874-1925)
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim
This World and This One
The house you grew up in
I’ve never seen. The window
you stared out from, the porch
where you kissed your first
boy, the tree you climbed
for spying on your sisters—
Ah! How you stood before
the mirror and brushed your hair
snappy with staticky air, made
faces you wanted to show
the world, the ones you prayed
to hide, the definition of self
you so wanted to erase and rewrite,
the girl with the slipping mask.
And if the house shook off its
moorings and sailed through the black
Ohio night, and if you stood
before the window and watched
the watery world slide by,
well, there you are, pushed
by wind, carried by wave
into the future yet to be written.
by John Calvin Hughes
John on Facebook
Editor’s Note: Sometimes I can’t quite make sense of a poem, but after a few rereads, the words settle into something interesting. This poem isn’t linear, but by the end, the reader is changed, much like the narrator is from contemplating this world. And this one. And the people in it.