January, 2017

The Only Other Option: Leave the Area  by Eileen Cleary

Strange bowls tied upright with bed springs
against the backdrop of village wire.

Sabiha waters plants
in her West Bank garden.

Rows of flowers, pots of teargas canisters
grow for her dead son.

She does not raise onions or peppers,
just hillside reds in remnants of sprays.

Eileen Cleary is a nurse and poet living in Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Lesley University’s MFA program and her work appears or is forth coming in recent issues Apeiron, Bird’s Thumb, and Naugatuck River Review. She is a 2016 Pushcart nominee.


Poem by Paul Hostovsky

Some pronounce it poim.
Like it has an oy inside it.
The way an oyster
has an oy inside it. The way
all poems ought to have
a little oy veh
and a little oyez! oyez!
inside them.

Others pronounce it po-um.
Like it has an um inside it.
A thoughtful pause.
A caesura. A possum
that got run over,
its esses elided.

Me, I always say pome.
Like an apple or pomme
I want to bite into
because it has an om inside it,
a mystic and sacred
syllable I can’t wait to reach
and I have no patience
for all the diphthongs.

Paul Hostovsky’s latest book of poems, THE BAD GUYS, won the FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize for 2015. He has won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net awards, and has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. Website: paulhostovsky.com
Poetry matters because it goes without saying–the whole world goes without saying. Saying doesn’t make it go. Never did and never will. But when we make poems, we say to the world that we don’t go without saying. No! Because we say the poem. The poem is what we say when we go without saying or go without knowing what to say or don’t go at all but send the poem stammering in our stead.

“How do you keep your heart soft?” by Fred Joiner

the whole room squirms against the stillness,
the movement has moved us no closer to answering
that question, but I sit in certainty, knowing
that the heart is not a muscle,
           but aches as if it were.
It came so easily, from the audience,
after we read poems after Botero’s brush,
steeped in the madness of Abu Ghraib.
           but a thick silence unstills the air
over us, like blood trapped in a keloid,
remembering the whisper of the lash,
I dare not break the skin of this silence,
instead I remember that flesh feels,
but doesn’t always make memory,
& that the ear uses the whole body to listen.

First appeared in Delaware Poetry Review

Fred Joiner is a poet and curator living in Bamako, Mali. His work has appeared in Callaloo, Gargoyle, and Fledgling Rag, among other publications. Fred has read his work nationally and internationally. Joiner is a two-time winner of the Larry Neal Award for Poetry and a 2014 Artist Fellowship Winner as awarded by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Most recently, one of Joiner’s poems was selected by curator and critic A.M. Weaver as part of her 5 x 5 public art project, Ceremonies of Dark Men. Another one of Joiner’s poems recently won the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art’s Divine Comedy Poetry Contest, in response to  Abdoulaye Konate’s textile work.

As a curator of literary and visual arts programming, Joiner has worked with the American Poetry Museum, Belfast Exposed Gallery (Northern Ireland), Hillyer Artspace, Honfleur Gallery, Medina Galerie (Bamako, Mali), the Phillips Collection, the Prince Georges African American Museum and Cultural Center, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum and more.  He is the co-founder of The Center for Poetic Thought at the Monroe Street Market in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C


Elegy for the trees by Mary Ann Mayer

An angry man bought the hillside.
Hungry for blue bigness

he chain-sawed the trees;
he smashed the nests – the birds fled.

I wanted to write an elegy for the trees,
that old comforting wood.  I wanted to,

but couldn’t— being so full
of anger.

It’s bitter cold— sub-zero, and this jay
blue and clear on the branch below my window,

this jay: no song-bird, not sentient
yet here,

shining in low sun, red berries of mountain ash,
a dark crown animating the branches—

First appeared in Umbrella Journal (4), 2007-2008. Also, recently featured as Mass Poetry’s Poem of the Moment, January 2, 2017..


The Roofs Are Alive and Reassuring by Mary Ann Mayer

You say,
The snow on the roof
Looks like a swan sleeping in its wing.

I say,
The avalanche is coming, can’t you see
That iron rooster poke its head out of its clutch of white?

Don’t worry, you say,
The rooster is just a chimney cap—
Can we play the snowdrift game some more?

But the avalanche, I say,
Makes puckering sounds
In the night and I’m afraid.

You say,
I see a whale
Taking a steam bath.

I say, I love you.

                             Origami Poems Winter Celebration winner, featured in South                       County Living (Fall 2009).

Mary Ann’s second book, Salt & Altitudes, was published in 2014 (Finishing Line Press).  Winner of the Grub Street Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems appear widely— most recently in the anthologies, Missing Providence (Frequency Writers) and They Worked—We Write: Celebrating New England Textile Workers (Ocean State Poets). Through the Origami Poems Project, she helps distribute free, handmade micro-chapbooks.  Why poetry matters, writes Mary Ann, is something only poetry can answer.  She adds, “I’m in awe of its generative power. Good poems abduct, then release us, transformed. I only know, that like us, it has an unruly right to exist.