Ashes denote that fire was;
Respect the grayest pile
For the departed creature’s sake
That hovered there awhile.
Fire exists the first in light,
And then consolidates, —
Only the chemist can disclose
Into what carbonates.
Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886.
rescued from a garage-parked antique
coach by EMTs in a boat while the
wallet remained in the driver’s seat
the alcohol-breath rant bent the ear
of the officer until he pushed her
into the back seat of a patrol car in the street
soaking wet, sweatshirt on head, rifling
through the carpetbag; beneath the half full
bottle of vodka next to the Xanax
below the blow-dryer that travels everywhere
in case of frizz, loose bills by hundreds
fill the space of the absent wallet
with the ID that would prove
she wasn’t a lying vagrant
she was just down on her luck once
again with a friend who needed a friend
a cripple, he was, life-sucked by stroke,
holding a rucksack, standing in the slanting rain
Nancy Jasko lives in a small neighborhood in central New Jersey
near a bay. She enjoys early morning walks to the beach with her dog and taking photos along the way. She graduated Rutgers University with a BA in English and the University of Florida with a MA in Special Education.
I think back to the week I travelled
to my grandfather’s village, carved deep
in Greece, two hours from the Oracle.
Nearly a century after he’d left, I found
evidence of his gentleness
and beauty everywhere, gradations
of silver-green, distances of peaks
and forests and, nearby, an ancient platanos tree
arching its limbs across the rickety table where
I sat all afternoon. I sipped my Greek coffee, stared
at the clay-tiled houses that reside
that much closer to heaven
than I had ever been.
First published in A Stone to Carry Home, Salmon Poetry.
Andrea Potos is the author of eight poetry collections, including the forthcoming A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry), Arrows of Light (Iris Press), An Ink Like Early Twilight (Salmon Poetry), We Lit the Lamps Ourselves (Salmon Poetry) and Yaya’s Cloth (Iris Press). The latter three books received Outstanding Achievement Awards in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poems can be found widely in print and online. She received the William Stafford Prize in Poetry from Rosebud Magazine, and the Hearst Poetry Prize from the North American Review.
Back home, the roof collapses after a storm;
Our insurance collapses like a folding top hat.
Food in the kitchen, but we plan on leaving
before the sun blows away tears from furniture.
A roof is a tie down of our boat to a post.
I want to be the one who lets go of the rope.
I don’t want to be homeless/We don’t need
a house. The sky entices with perks.
You’ve got a famous painting of a shipwreck
to pull you in at morning. Canadian weather
down to the neighbours making pea soup.
We hate eating warm food; we’re cold people,
proof that sorry is a sense of humour.
Jessica Van de Kemp is an award-winning teacher, poet, and PhD Candidate at the University of Waterloo. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks Daughters in the Dead Land (Kelsay Books, 2017) and Spirit Light (The Steel Chisel, 2015). Connect with Jessica on Instagram @canadianpoet, Twitter @jess_vdk, and her website: canadianpoet.org.
Painting by Théodore Géricault.
Some of the dead leave us
in the form of a statue,
whose sculpting contains
the last breath, the ducking down,
as in a water game, into
the sanctuary of body.
They submit as they gave in
to coming, burying their face
at the last instant beside
the lover, or closing over a child
found fleeing in the street,
as the policeman appears
at the end in all of us
maybe, and bends himself around
one who is already helpless,
trying to be a different world
for the child, or trying
to be air.
Terry Adams has poems in Poetry, Ironwood, The Sun, Witness, College English, Catamaran, The Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere. He MCs a yearly poetry festival at the Beat Museum in San Francisco, and co-MCs, with Joe Cottonwood, the monthly “Lit Night” in La Honda. His collection, Adam’s Ribs, is available from Off The Grid Press. He lives in Ken Kesey’s infamous 1960’s cabin in La Honda, California, which he rescued from destruction in 1998.
The mysterious eyes of rain had concentrated,
purple and distant in the high branches like plums.
Not one drop, but a multitude. Not a grace note,
but a symphony where none of the musicians
have the same sheet music. Not an ending
spread out like a tablecloth,
but the disappointment of a supper
cold and forgotten when someone is late.
But it rained, nonetheless,
a temperamental child kicking and screaming.
Martin Willitts Jr has 24 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including The Uncertain Lover (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and Home Coming Celebration (FutureCycle Press, 2019).
Painting by Guillaume Vogels.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what Frost tasted of desire
He held with those who favor fire.
But added if it must end twice,
His understanding of man’s hate
Informed him for destruction ice
Is also great and would suffice.
But in my present case I note
The first becomes my final vote.
What’s been started from a flicker
Gets it done a whole lot quicker.
Ed Coletti is a poet, widely published internationally. He also is a painter and middling chess player. Most recent poetry collections were Germs, Viruses & Catechisms (2013 Civil Defense Press, SF) and The Problem With Breathing (Edwin Smith Publishing –Little Rock- 2015). A few sample journals include ZYSSYVA, Volt, and North American Review. Ed also curates the popular ten-year-old blog, No Money In Poetry. Coletti writes, ″There was a time when I almost completely gave up writing. This was during the years 1973-1987. Then I reclaimed my soul and have written and published regularly again from 1987 to the present.” Ed and Joyce Coletti were among those who lost their homes and all their possessions to the 2017 Sonoma County, California wildfire. Ed recently has published a chapbook titled Fire Storm through Round Barn Press.
Photograph courtesy of the National Guard.