TWO POEMS by Marcia Roberts

along the pathway through live oak
and cedar trees ant trails lead
to dead cicadas and worms

I look for lichen-covered twigs
and a piece of prickly pear
to dry and paint on canvas

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LETTER TO A POET by Jeanne Walker

Midnight ticks in a quiet lab around
one sleepy dork who, suddenly sits up,
hearing two black holes larger
than Manhattan as they merge to one
unimaginably extreme black nothing

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Black skin tastes better when
the wheat has already been
threshed; just a kiss. I watched her “paint
her face” from the field through the
window. Death bruises like a
tornado; the land is new. We had

only just arrived when the
tornado came and tore everything
up. Watch the eye sweep him up into

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I flick brother’s ear;
say you could hide something
in here. Stonefruit maybe,

or the yolks we collect
from Narragansett. Our skin
yellow-like, hair both brush

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ON HOLD: by Elizabeth Morton

I can hold
my breath
for three minutes flat
in the superstore aisle
between woks
and waffle-irons
screaming catchphrases
in my head or
buying pillows
at the counter

like it’s underwater
wrong chemicals
in my lungs and
the jukebox

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When I first showed up the halo of my silhouette
dissolved like a jolly rancher

I began to put my mouth on every darkling
tried to eat away as much of it as I thought I could

After a couple of missing molars
I smeared my hand across my face

In a state of self-devour
I wore my bloodied ghost like a surgeon’s mask

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Leafing out, the trees blur in green mist,
celandine poppies bright fingerprints
at their feet. The persistent creek has hollowed dips,
roundels, arches into the limestone floor.
Waterleaf, twinleaf, spring beauties wander beside
blueeyed Mary, larkspur.
The trout lilies are mostly gone,
Jacobs-ladder has not yet arrived,
seersucker sedge returning, green fists
knocking along the slopes.

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TIGER-BOY by C. Wade Bentley

I remember when the doctor first told me

the red-with-yellow-frosting sores on my legs

were something called impetigo, all I heard

was tiger, and I thought maybe I was morphing

into a tiger or that I would soon have tiger

superpowers or, at the very least, that I shared

the same awesome disease that tigers get. So

you’ll understand my disappointment when after

two weeks of my mother dabbing at scabs

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FLORIDA MAN by Tyler Gillespie

And that spring a man beat his
94-year-old grandma
then ran off with her jewelry
and SUV. Judge set bail
at $77,000, said man cannot
ever contact her (in critical
condition). Week earlier
I had moved home, back in with
my own grandma. At 29,
hadn’t lived in Florida
for nearly six years. I heard
of this senior attack on
the six o’clock news.

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UNFINISHED by Peter Grandbois

If I opened my eyes
from this pretended sleep,
I wouldn’t be salting
the driveway before dawn,
though the snow stopped
and the air’s no longer freezing.
The trees would speak their silent
part. Swallows would arc
through the brightening sky.
And we would not be as we are.

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FUTURE ECOLOGIES by Madeleine Wattenbarger

Today’s look: be merciful
I gently suggest

that you check the earth on which you stand—
Ye are actually pretty rich

My friends, we have a job
Step aside Mother Earth

Vote or the dark happens
If it still happens, is this foreshadowing?

Do presidential candidates cry when traveling?
Politics is unfit for love

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DARK, DARKER by Jeevika Verma

dark, darker

when I frown
into this mirror
a depth takes
my forehead

inside there is a little white man

sitting straight
working hard
flipping through
pages used unused

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someone else’s car / a big dude dragging me up a flight of stairs / seeing my brother / we’re in his dorm / I don’t acknowledge him, because of the amethyst in the corner / loving its purple color / trying to eat it but failing because it’s a stone/ barricading myself in his dorm room/ the big dude breaks down the door / drags me out / kiss him on the cheek/ slaps me in response / hours later / I’m on my knees / my mouth dry

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WOOD LOT IN APRIL by Michele Leavitt

I lose the trail, or it eludes
me. Led astray, the bent-down saplings
keep their flex, may even rise.

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TWO POEMS by Flower Conroy

A door you thought locked,
not. How riddles work.
Sometimes the truth’s warped

I mean wrapped in humor,
& often the simplest unnerves
the hurt the most. I relapsed.

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NOVEMBER 2016, a poem by Lynn Levin, Featured on Life As Activism

This November blew
down to the just-reaped
fields a hectic
of leaves.
More golden leaves
than fevered leaves
but the fevered
claimed the land
in the way
that we call fair.

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WINDOW SEAT, a poem by Molly McGinnis, Featured on Life As Activism

On my flight back to Washington at 4 am
in air marbled by night and snow
I leaned against the oval glass and saw
tiny bodies of light pushing slowly
down the mountain roads, each sphere
its own life full of sideways winds.

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TWO POEMS by Gemelle John, featured on Life As Activism

So They Will

Time is the lightbulb burning for the first three traffic lights
And blinking after that
Is the side street slick with remainder
And a storm cloud trying to drown

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VOTE TRUMP CHALKED ON A WALL IN MY RUSTBELT CITY, a poem by Freesia McKee, featured on Life As Activism

Walking home
from the protest We pour
water from the bottle another marcher
gave us over this temporary
sign With my wet and dirty
hand Lifting the fist
I would vote with Taking the side
of my arm and smearing it out

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AND SOMEHOW THE MAN ON CNN IS ASKING IF JEWS ARE PEOPLE, a poem by A.K., featured on Life As Activism

and horns crawl like an apology out of my skull;
my tongue splits in two and gropes the air
in front of my mouth. I need two tongues, you see.
One for me and one for my grandmothers.
One for Yahweh and one for Shekhinah.
One for the body and one for the blood
they would have you think was theirs.

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TWO POEMS by Jeanne Obbard, featured on Life As Activism

Suspect in transgender slaying says ‘manhood’ was threatened”
– NY Daily News, April 1, 2016

Manhood: more fragile

than the hollowed-out egg I practiced pysanky on.

More frangible than the hem

of snowbank in early March.

More delicate underfoot

than the infant sea

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FACT CHECK, a poem by Laura Yan, featured on Life As Activism

yes, let’s
argue over semantics while
decapitated bodies and babies litter
hospital floors in aleppo and
not-my-president unites with Russia in
a fight with common enemy number 1
terrorism and extremism and
hoses spray ice and gas and bullets
against water protectors protestors while sophia’s
arm is exposed cartilage and elders ache from
head wounds let’s argue over safety

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F M K, a poem by Sybil Kollappallil, featured on Life As Activism

Two months ago they played FUCK MARRY KILL
He picked me as Fuck and the other brown girl to Marry
Kill was a white girl who changed her name a lot
Anna then Ann then Anne then Anna again
Marry Girl told me, I wasn’t there
He would have been my Kill, so you know
Then when the president was elected he yipped his pitchy yip
Marry Girl shrugged and told me, don’t forget
That they think of things when they see us
And especially when they see us together and recall
There is more than one here

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THE DAY AMERICA DIED, AGAIN… by Joel L. Daniels Featured on Life As Activism


this is not an essay. no, this is not that. not a poem. not a bomb. not hydrogen. this is not blackface. not a pledge to a new allegiance. there will be no cotton picking. there are signs – a cross stump stuck in a lawn, a flag burning. there may be a march, some spring uprising to coincide with fall palettes and patterns, of bodies being flung to concretes, red pastels overshadowing the grainy elements of white hoods floating in the background.

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SIEG HEIL/Their Shoes, a poem by Howard Debs, featured on Life As Activism

The shoes are made of iron
presumably to preserve the
symbolic footwear, but they are
attached along the Danube’s
stone embankment, so
perhaps the sculptor intended
that the splashing water
would with time
have its own effect;

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NIGHT IS LONGER, a poem by Leonard Gontarek, featured on Life As Activism

anarchy isn’t for everyone can you hear me now
find your soul paint here on a saturday night
light is grandfathered in we sit in an ancient garden
dropping flower seeds and breadcrumbs dripping blood
beauty and music descend leaves and petals circulate
in the world the world grows dark and people grow older
x-rays float in the stream two car doors slam two doors down I sing

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TWO POEMS by Leonard Gontarek featured on Life As Activism

Walt Whitman With Light On A Lake

The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.
The land and the sea, the animals fishes and birds, the sky of heaven and
the orbs, the forests mountains and rivers, are not small themes … but
folks expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which
always attach to dumb real objects … they expect the poet to indicate the
path between reality and their souls. Men and women perceive the beauty
well enough … probably as well as the poet. You shall ratchet up the moon.

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My mother’s mother,
Widow of the Episcopal
Bishop of Idaho, sat her namesake
My sister, seven,
On her lap and sang to her
You’re so ugly, you’re so ugly
You’re such an ugly child
While Carolyn cried and cried.
The lines repeat.

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Get cozy. You pull me
under starlit covers, coax
the past from my throat.
The blue-veined suburbs.
Winters gathered like sticks.
My father, when he was there.
Face-first mornings pressed
to the blacktop, the boyish
crackle of skin on ice. And
in the window, a comet
falling, clearing a path
through the trees.

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AFFIRMATION by Ben Nardolilli

Any interested parties herein? I sought to execute a release, they ended up executing me.
The conscious pain and suffering, while extreme, lasted approximately 30 years. Yes,
I sought to execute a release. Just the good air and the silent situation. All necessary releases.
I left New York behind, the only decent discovery zone for games and diversity.

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CONDITIONAL [FALL 2009] by Nicholas Fuenzalida

if he hadn’t planned to go hunting with his father

if his father had kept the rifle locked away

if that day had been overcast, a variation in our state of sun

if I hadn’t been in a distant country

if lightning rods didn’t have to watch the storm clouds come

if the air took shape as a barrier, and not a field for the bullet to seed

if someone was in the house when he came home

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DECEMBER by Matthew Burns

I will, and I will
Walk into the morning
Light falling like snow: a flurry:
Life. Cold is and I am.

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CHAMELEON and CAMERA MAN by Justin Jannise


He liked to watch me change.
I slipped a bra strap over my left shoulder.
The room darkened.

As if I could maintain myself.
I dream of living under a bluer star,
a sky more deviant with color.

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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18th, 2015 by Kimberly Ann Southwick

the glass of water he breaks
after our only night out this week,
a slow drown for him at the bar,
almost ruins a roll of postage stamps
when he comes home and falls down.
i am holding his eyeglasses.
i’m not even sure how
and you move away from him, from us.

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SHEEPSCOT WELLSPRING CEMETERY by Michele Leavitt Mercury shrinks to the bottom of the gauge, and you follow the stone wall to a gap too narrow for more than one, past a granite foundation pit, an abandoned orchard, and down through a dark hemlock stand to the ice choking the headwaters. You imagine the gurgle of strangled water, the unbreathable gap between ice and slush, and you’re grateful for spaces between stones in the wall, where your breath, which has now left you for good, collects with the fresh snow. Michele Leavitt, a poet and essayist, is also a high school dropout, hepatitis C survivor, and former trial attorney. In 2016, her essays appeared in Narratively, Guernica, and Catapult. Poems appear most recently in North American Review, concis, and Hermeneutic Chaos. She’s the author of the Kindle Singles memoir, Walk Away. Image credit: Tom Hilton on Flickr … chop! chop! read more!

PUSHING THINGS by Matthew Mogavero

I threw my sandwich wrapper out in a trash can. On
the side of the trash can was the word LIMITLESS.

I threw out my sandwich wrapper,
I threw out my clothes and toiletries from my
I threw out my suitcase, I took my clothes off and
pressed them through the rim of that trash can.

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DON’T TOUCH by Elisabeth Lloyd Burkhalter

Magnolia to aloe, silver-sheened river, and shallow.
We are minor in the composition but figure prominently.
Often now I think of the past as a large country
of crumpled maps, fragments
arranged under my feet. Hasn’t it always been
a question of which trees, which injuries
to include, where to place them? To be human is to hoard.
We keep the hours to curate them:
Imagine a place, now mute its colors.

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you know that photo
stuck into the side of a frame in the den
you know, the photo of Katie & Jamie on the stairs
well, we found it halfway down the block, black-edged but whole.
must have blown out with the force of the explosion
like a balloon out of a kid’s hand
& maybe two weeks later
you find a mound of popped rubber and string
with a boot print on top

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THE UNBORN by Kika Dorsey

They are cutting down all the trees for Christmas.
Pine and spruce lay bundled on warehouse floors,
and I drink cognac in the corners of silent rooms,
red oriental rugs bursting with flowers and leaves,
warm feet wrapped in wool,
my body a river where the man capsized,
my body that I gave away,
all of it.

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Winter beforelight.
Lamp by lamp the house of night
shuts. Dawn enlarges;

a father turns off the lights,
loves each room for lives it holds.

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I don’t know whether I’m awake or sleeping,
but I know the past is the prison we break into,
a penitentiary of what was before it was nothing.
I’m watching Donald O’Connor wall-walk sets.
The backlot-lumber complains. One minute,
there’s the choreography of a canary-colored
couch defying gravity—the first dance number

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FROST-BITE by Erin McIntosh

mother i have strayed here too
long. a winter mist rising at five
o’clock and oustide’s dim. outside’s
lust. (Mother I wish to tell you
I love a girl and I love her naked)
in ten years’ time or twenty
snow will fall from the sky and
i will find within me strength to stay
the night.

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She led us knee-deep into mud.
Horses squealed and thrashed
as the earth dragged them under.
Mire sucked at our boots
while she shouted, stout
on her John Henry mule.
We pulled them hoof by hoof up
from the trembling cold.

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EDDIE AND DONALD, a poem by Wendy Marie Vergoz, featured on Life As Activism

Giggling girls have power the radio tells me
after the election. An epidemic of contagious

laughter spread through a girls’ school
in Africa, 1962, and no one then knew

why. Hearing this carries a now-giggling
me back to my 5th grade classroom—to tiny

freckles on Eddie’s nose, sprinkled sweet
as whispers. My girl-small hands unfold a scrap

of notebook paper, where penciled print
asks, Do you like Eddie? Circle: Yes or No

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WHAT IT IS, an experimental piece by Susan Fedynak, featured on Life As Activism

is how I hate my face. is how my face is amnesia. is how i love my face. is how my face is still amnesia. is waking up at 4am feeling like there is someone in the room, someone saying don’t forget me. is saying, ma, you know what the really effed up thing is, is how knowing where you come from is the privilege $99 and a mailing address gets you. is that the effed up thing is it isn’t a right. is buying your mom a dna kit for christmas. is what the hell is christmas anyway. is collective amnesia. is wanting to know if her estranged father had royal blood in him. is rethinking what is royal. is what is blood. is colonialism. is sitting in a lecture hall while a professor talks about post-colonialism.

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GOD IS MY ALIBI, a poem by Cynthia Atkins, featured on Life As Activism

Abide with me the night shadows
caterwauling on the walls—Lava Lamp Red
as the squad car pulling up to the curb.
Inside, a fish tank shifts—precarious—Colors dizzy
in a kitchen of bodies without form. Pot partying,
I made-out with my boyfriend, our friend gave
his hands to be cuffed into silence—Whispers in
the next room. All said and done, Willy sat
in jail for an ounce of stale attic
mouse-weed. We went to college to cavil
in a dormitory of freshman.

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SUPERMOON, NOVEMBER 14, 2016 and AUTUMNAL EQUINOX, WASHINGTON, D.C, two poems by Jackleen Holton Hookway, featured on Life As Activism

The week has been long, one of the longest
in my heart’s slim record-book. But the moon
is at its perigee. It hasn’t come this close
in years, more than you and I have known. So rise
and go to the window, the one that faces the canyon.
Tonight, as red as Mars, it will ascend, round
and smoldering, through the dust.

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FATAL MOUTHS, a Life As Activism poem by Jennifer Martelli

The city guys are stringing Christmas lights on the locust trees.

The men are lifted up in buckets. First, any old witches come down.

And then the forgotten paper pumpkins. The bats.

The city guys shake loose the dried up locust pods: brown and curled

they land on Essex Street like snakes dropping. Finally, the white

lights can go up and stay up past the New Year.

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OUTHOUSE BLUES: Three Poems by Herman Beavers, featured on Life As Activism

Accounts coming due, enunciated in
The mumble of feet. Coathangers,
The electric eye of catechesis.
Populism blushes in a frenzy
Of bared teeth, biceps swelling
With the ripple of Confederate flags.
Manacled in a pageant of
Disconsolate shotguns, the echo of
Self-confident dice, public figures on both sides
wondered about the succulence of the Crow.

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PANHANDLE, GULF by Cady Vishniac

I forget to butter the skillet, so my egg spreads
like pond scum, and it’s filmy and stuck, and the smoke alarm
goes off, and it rings in my head the way gunshots do,
and I’m parched and sorry, so I pull the sun from my hair
in penance, and I slap my face with my largest ring turned inward, and I touch
the skillet with the tip of my thumb, and I wait
for the blister, and that’s the place the black widow bit me
in preschool, so I had to go in the ambulance, so I had to get the shots
that scared me, so my father kissed it better, but even now
my hand catches fire when I think about spiders,
and I toss my breakfast in the sink, and my kitchen fills
with steam, and it’s those muggy days in Houston, so I worry
someone might peek in the window, see me dancing barefoot
on the linoleum, shrieking for help but not wanting any.

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