by Ivory Bennett

An old man once told me about the American dream. He was barefoot and shucking white corn.
His back was bent from years of hard work,
and his fingers read of routine and war. 

He told me about borders and bridges,
cultures crossing over one another.
He told me about jungles and judges –
the only difference between the two was one was of God and one wasn’t. He told me about loss and of love, and planting seeds that you may never see grow.
He told me about investments in self,
and investments in what will come long after you’re gone.
He told me to search for my purpose with my fingers and with my heart.
“The first step,” he said, “is to be courageous and just. That is the only way to start.” This man, he shared with me a dream deferred, as he looked me in my eyes.
He told me, “Take action, dear child, and arrive at these things you have heard.”

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by Brandon McQuade

I dream in the bed you were conceived
of the barn swallows outside our door
their precarious nest-cup hanging from the corner
a handful of mud and sticks in the beams.

Inside, eggs are hatching
the chicks are finding themselves
their eyes and legs coming down to earth
like the post-coital search for clothes and towel.

I realize, with my ear against her navel
listening to your mother like the mouth of a seashell
that the moment I cut the umbilical cord
my hands are forever responsible for your separation—

your hand and mouth will reach for your mother’s breast
as the fledgling foot escapes the nest.

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A Leaf’s Fall

By Robert Amenta

I’ve grown attached to this good old tree
This was a good summer you see
We spent many warm days with the sun so high
And stunning nights under a starlit sky
I was very green when I was not so old
And now I wear my fall colors of gold
With a cool breeze I make a rustling sound
And soon I will make my fall to the ground
I will have to say good-bye to this good old tree
He was very attached to me
So now I will let go and fly with the wind
Like a sail that catches a swift breeze within
Suddenly the wind changes in all kinds of directions
I was tumbling and twirling and trying to make my corrections
Just then the winds finally stop
Which left me floating down in a gentile rock
Out of the blue a swift breeze flew by
That powers me around the sky
I circle around and have the ground in my sight
As I prepare to land from this leafs flight
As I prepare to land from this leafs fight
Unforeseen I fell into the hands of a little child’s leap
Daddy this one I want to keep

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by Bobby Myers

she talks of losing her hair
once the treatments begin,
the inevitability of it
maybe, she says, it won’t be too bad,
but neither of us really believe
that’s how it’s going to be
and we say so immediately.
I try to reassure her
that it will grow back,
even more beautiful than it is now.
then, remembering some years ago,
of being at our old cabin
in the highlands on a late afternoon
as summer was slipping away,
and how in the waning light that filtered
through the leaves
the argent streaks
in her natural golden waves
were more pronounced.
it made me think
of Frost’s ‘November Guest’,
of simple worsted grey turning to silver.
I gazed at how kind time had been to her
and was fain to tell her
how pretty she looked in that light.
there was a breeze that gently played
on her face and those tresses,
subtle hints of autumn.
but there was nothing that day,
or that night

to warn us of a winter to come

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by Jo Schaper

I met him high in the Santa Rosas
At his backcountry camp
Bringing living water.
He was parched, and does not remember
Thinks it was an Agua Caliente angel—
What happens below 7000 feet
In the warm haciendas with the lights
Does not concern us. Here, where there
Is nothing but sky and rock, desert lavender
And creosote bush, we meet each other
Where the only law is the law of touch
Where the yearning of the soul guides
Where the fingers go. 
We are not free to offer this drink—
Cold, clear, almost frozen in the bota,
To anyone else: not a housebroken margarita
But straight from the barrel cactus, we drench
Our throats in the unfermented  juice—
What is quenched is more than thirst
What is sealed is a bond between us
As we drown deep in the others’ starlit eyes
As I huddle under his shoulder and he leans
As a single being, we prop our pinons up—
I met him high in the Santa Rosas
At his backcountry camp

Bringing living water.

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by Katie Thorp

I sleep on the back porch,
seeking the breeze in the summer heat –
stifling on the second story.
I let the fresh air’s ebb and flow,
and the cricket cellists
of August’s nighttime symphony,
lull me to sleep –
sheepish sirens give quick bleats, disrupting the melody.
Then, they are silent
and whirling emergency lights
from the safe, suburban street
startle me awake.
My father is already up
and rushing down the stairs
as I dash inside
to answer the insistent knocks
at our family door – time swirls.
A fire truck.
My father mutters apologies
to his lifelong neighbor, the first responder –
and the origins of the invisible flames
become known.
My grandfather,
protecting us, as ever,

from his own demons
and big, bad wolves –
on unfaltering patrol,
with the effective but

explosive actions
of an artillery man.

He calls for help,
accurately voicing imagined worries when often, these days,
he can no longer find the right words. Now, he yells fire
with soldierly diligence –
neurons and memories misfiring into the still-cool night air.
I move inside – sleep in the heat.

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What Has to Happen

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If someone would just come for me
Someone kind
And ever caring

You know

I never give up
Staring out
Into the ashes
Looking for signs of hope
Past my disappointments
And compromises

This is the ritual I’ve devised
To keep me believing I’m wiser
Than those fools
Whose tears fall
Like a million jewels—
The million diamonds they have mined
From the deep veins of loss
Where they will always find
Waiting there
With all the memories they have tossed
Into the flames

And nobody blames them
Most of all me
Least of all me
Last of all me

If someone would please
Just come for me

Someone so real
And so forgiving
That I could just live without
The need to hope for it

That is the power I invoke

But the hands of the clock
Continue stroking the hours
That have passed

With the words
That I spoke
And the one heart
I broke

Before I knew it was my own

© 2021 Julie Flanders
Photo Credit: Ali Karimi
April is Poetry Month Day 30

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Bread falls from the sky
And a voice breaks through the quiet
Of your third eye
Until you can weep
Your blessings cannot multiply

This is the strange mathematics of loss
You grow from what you take away
Subtraction makes the deeper addition

The chair across from you is empty
The grey day is too painful to forgive
The eternal
Giving you its vast permission to live

But you dread the sunshine
And its cheerful burst of light
Nothing is worse than hope
When you’ve already lost the fight

It was over before you began

Still you do whatever you can
To breathe deep
To open your arms wide
To swallow your share
Of the endless overwhelming tide of grief

But do not despair
And do not seek relief
There is no comfort there
In what you fear
In what you seek

The only comfort is the pain
That evaporates
Again and again
Into clouds, into storms
Into rain

And finally
Like something that changes
As it drops from the sky
You return to the source of all things
Where you no longer divide
Or subtract
To multiply

© 2021 Julie Flanders
Photo Credit: Alexandre Dinaut
April is Poetry Month Day 29

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As cement
My ears
One side
The whole
The invisible
Of molecules
By past
The dust
The other
To hear
The bland
Of nothing
Of everything
Of light
Of your febrile
To smash
The other ear
Will drop
Into silent

© 2021 Julie Flanders
April is Poetry Month Day 28

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