No one’s exempt. We go inside
to encapsulate ourselves in home.
Sheets of old newspapers offer
two choices: read them or use them
for warmth. Just as the flame weeps
for the candle the plummeting sun
must pity us. We know this: our lives
are obtuse. Our time in the light
of the bald reflective rock
has been gerrymandered. Night goes
prematurely flat as we covet the air
denied us and await repercussions.
Outside our dominion of parochial law
some say there are vineyards, some say war.
First published in Phoebe
Alan Elyshevitz is a poet and short story writer from East Norriton, PA. His collection of stories, The Widows and Orphans Fund, was published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press. In addition, he has published three poetry chapbooks, most recently Imaginary Planet (Cervena Barva). He is a two-time recipient of a fellowship in fiction writing from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Currently he teaches writing at the Community College of Philadelphia. He believes that poetry remains the most effective and incisive way to express human emotions and the complexity of the human condition.
Here and There by Meridian Johnson
I seldom take the change.
But next time I will. Every penny or two
for little hands wanting a purse full of treasures.
Now that my daughter is growing lithe,
her voice stretches to meet the wind.
Beginning to speak is like this—
we’re transferred through words to the lake.
Fur ball from the black cat heading
in that direction too. All the water flowing
from these hills into that basin. On to
the sea. From here, how many miles?
A thousand pitchforks triggered
in the mind. A million strands of hay
drying in the barn. Hair matted in the plastic brush.
Why bother pretending these things
are easily separated.
first published by Yes Press, May 2008
Meridian Johnson is the author of Kinesthesia (New Rivers Press 2010). Her poems and essays have appeared in AGNI, Borderlands, Beloit Poetry Journal, Dislocate, Gettysburg Review, Massachusetts’s Review, NPR’s On Being and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota, and a BA in English from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Her website is www.meridianjohnson.com
“Poetry matters, because it kept some of my ancestors alive during difficult times in eastern Europe and is probably why I am here today. Because it has kept me alive in moments of stress when I had no idea that I knew my poems by heart. Poetry is a resource that lifts the spirit of a person or an entire people and makes them remember why they are alive.”
Five a.m. and a New Friend by Courtney Justus
Intertwined, like branches
at the corner of a house
in a neighborhood from which I’ve strayed.
Kids grow up looking at these trees
from their houses, knowing
they will never dare to climb so high,
would never grow into blissful confusion.
But we dared, that night and further on,
to climb, to intertwine ourselves, teach each other
what it means to want someone unlike you, twined
to you like an apple to a branch,
becoming sweeter with each bite.
Courtney Elizabeth Justus is a sophomore at Trinity University. Her work has been published in Eunoia Review and Arsenic Lobster. She loves acting, playing the piano, and searching for her next favorite novel. She can be found atcjustuswriterintro.blogspot.com andcjustusbookrecommendations.blogspot.com.
“Poetry matters because it saved my life and those of others that I know. Whether we realize it or not, every poem contributes something meaningful to existence. It reminds me that life is worth living. Writing and reading poetry made me realize that there are numerous ways of viewing our experiences, and it is up to us to find the beauty in everything that happens to us.”
Prayer for Elvis by Mercedes Lawry
I’m a good girl, Jesus smiles on me,
I don’t forget myself, I know my Bible.
I try and do right by those who mock me.
I sing praises every Sunday,
imagining the angels up there by the ceiling.
I keep my blue spotted dress over my knees.
I pray for you, Elvis, I pray extra hard
even though my eyes saw that twitchin’
and twistin’, even though I never knew hips could go
in that direction, I have not been turned
toward the devil and his nasty ways, I am not
tempted to shake my own self in front of the mirror
just to feel it, that music, that terrible music,
if you listen too long, your bones start jumpin’,
it’s like possession, oh Elvis, you have chosen
a path to hell but it’s not too late, truly,
I would wait for you to figure out there will only
be trouble ahead, whiskey and worse.
Love can save you, Elvis, the love of Jesus
and my own sweet love, tender,
like that one song, the quiet one.
First published in Subtle Tea
Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, Natural Bridge, and others. Thrice-nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she’s published two chapbooks, most recently “Happy Darkness”. She’s also published short fiction, essays and stories and poems for children and lives in Seattle.
“Poetry is breath, a chance at honesty, a reflection, a wail, a shout, a mirror, a surprise, a distillation, a sideways route, an echo of whatever it means to be human.”
It might deceive.
Or like a cruel
window, live its life
offering a view
yet reserving the taste
even the wind.
The roots, as always, look down.