Category Archives: Poetry

More Than Living

By Elizabeth Mcfarland

I want to make art even more than I want to breathe,
I want to promise everyone I am enough,
That I will turn pain into prose,
And hurt to Haikus.
That I will be good entertainment for the masses,
Like the Classics.
Please,
I will carve stories into my arms with green fluorescent ink,
if it meant I could be art.

Test me,
I beg you,
I will do anything

I would hear the gasps in the hospital room
like a symphony,
after I realized it could be done.
The notes,
all different tones,
would hit me like a freight train,
shattering glass all at once,
like a car crash,
please.

Maybe that is inspiration enough?

Just tell me I did it well,
That I exist,
give me a slot in the list of the classics,
the Fantasticks,
I want to know what it is that they have
that I don’t.

I wonder if it is the feeling of being turned inside out.
Of dissolving and becoming
All at once.

I really don’t care how it feels.
Even if it’s like dying,
Or like bliss.
Does it really matter?
I just want to feel it more than living.
I want to be art more than living
too.

 

It Started with a Coffee

By Julia Pryor

I didn’t know your name, but I didn’t need to.
With brunette, shoulder-length hair parted to the left and chestnut colored eyes, you stood behind the counter with a crooked smile.
“What can I get for you?”
You looked young, could only be a few years older than I, which surprised me considering most of the baristas looked to be in their 20s or 30s.
I told you my order and handed you a twenty dollar bill.
“There ya go.” You placed the change into my hand before I dropped it, the change falling onto the counter with a series of ear-piercing clanks. We both went to grab the change causing our hands to awkwardly collide and fumble together. I pulled my hand back at the action and waited for yours to move too before I grabbed the change myself—two quarters, one dime, and two nickels. I dropped the change into the tip jar, which prompted a smile and a “thank you” to pass through your lips.
I waited patiently by the counter as you attempted to blend my drink, stopping halfway to look to me and say, “Sorry for taking a million years to make your coffee. I think the blender is broken.”
I laughed, “It’s okay, I don’t mind.”
I watched as you rushed around behind the counter and chuckled at the blush of your cheeks after you tripped. It was obvious you were still getting the hang of this, and I was glad I had gotten the chance to witness it all unfold. Watching you was like watching a baby learn how to walk for the first time; failing most times, but still getting back up and trying again.
After minutes of blending the coffee, accompanied by sighs full of frustration, you poured the mixture into a plastic cup and piled whipped cream on top. Your eyes flickered to the door as an elderly man slowly walked through, depending on his walking stick to stay balanced.
You looked to me one last time and smiled before walking to the cash register to greet the man and take his order. I smiled back and walked to a different counter a few steps away from where the straws and napkins were. I felt a sense of sadness for having to leave you behind as I turned towards the exit. Taking a sip of my coffee and being satisfied by the taste, I yelled, “thank you” before walking through the door. I heard a faint “you’re welcome” on my way out and knew it was you. I smiled.

em ▴ pa ▴ thy

By Aevin Mayman

em ▴ pa ▴ thy n. 1. The way I look at you when you smile / The way you never smile, so this is like a blue moon / the real kind 2. Us in your basement, 2am: as in we both need to stop feeling / stop giving 3. Why I know your tears apart from my own: the rain / Your bottle of not-vodka / Under these stars¹ / that neither of us can see 4. Distance / I cannot let you go, / the string that binds our / souls together, / it is not something tangible / Not something that anyone can see. / This star dust / This burning bond 5. Something only I feel burning / Not love / more than friendship 6. The way I want you to come back / how I want to pull you back / like maybe if I think hard enough the wind will bring you here / Back in this basement² / At 2am / Away from 7. The edge

Synonyms: I’m here, tired, trying, not to let go

¹hope.

²safety.

Praying by Your Bedside

By Summer Finkelsen

The bathroom mirror dances with me
When I wash you out of my mouth

Her reflection sings a
song of triumph
lovestruck trills of infatuation
which wither into sadness

and into an emptiness
that collapses in my ribs.

Words about you and what you did march out of my mouth
and stomp on anyone who tries to reason with me.
I know.
This isn’t healthy.

Because of you.

You have me in your freckled arms,
watching the T.V flash violet fractured light.
You trace your name on my side
as I fall heavy and away from you.

But,
tomorrow you will be with another.
Stroking her barbwire hair and
you bleed
as she falls asleep.

You tell me,
you are no good for me.

Your whole facade is based around this.
And trust me,
I believe you.

But that doesn’t forgive the thoughts
tinkering in my head
screaming like a wild boar
at 4 am
when you are fast asleep
with someone else.

Someone that’s not me.
And I’m not jealous of her
or her hair in between your fingers.
I’m jealous of you
and the freedom you have
to do as you please

and
having me
still begging on my knees

A Conversation I Worry About Far Too Often

By Sara Malott

Of course I love you,
and of course I will miss you
to the moon and back,
but I can’t stay here.
There’s nothing left for me;
nothing at all.
I want to go away and make new memories.
Why?
Momma, this town follows me around like a disease.
I really need to get away.

I am scared of getting stuck.
Like a little oak tree in a forest of oak trees,
I don’t want my roots to get too comfortable.
I think the longer I stay,
the harder it will be to go.

No, I’m not sure where I want to go.
I want to write,
and I want to have kids to tell stories to,
but I don’t want them to be raised here.
To most of the people in this town,
I’m just someone’s niece
or someone’s granddaughter.
They see my last name and they know who I am.
It’s like a title
that wasn’t meant for me.

I see the old guys at the football games.
Graduate class of ‘73
They talk about old Coach Hammer
like they just had his class the other day.
They never leave.
Why would they?
Their whole lives are here.
This is all they have to hold onto.

I will never be just here or just high school.
That’s why I have to go.
I might come back to visit though,
because as much as I hate to admit it,
this town raised me.
These people made me who I am.

A Forest of Pine

By Olivia Teague

I stood in a forest of pine trees, observing nature in its purest form.
I watched as the little pinecones swayed in the breeze,
the needles falling to the ground, cross-hatching a pattern underneath my feet.
A cardinal flew into a tree, and began to sing.
Soon, this forest would become a development for homes.
The trees would be cut down, their old roots pulled from the soil, and the homes
of animals would disappear.
It made me sad, knowing the trees soon wouldn’t exist.
I wished I could do something about it, but I couldn’t. Corporations don’t care.
All they care about is making money and expanding the next shopping mall.
I’m not really like those people who chain themselves to trees in order to save one forest. Even if the forest is big, and looms above in a way indescribable by someone who has never seen it. Even if the birds chirp sweetly, like a choir. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Besides, one person can’t convince money makers to stop production.
Deep in my thoughts about the inescapable sentence of the trees, I didn’t notice someone come up behind me.
My friend calls me back to the picnic.
I turn, put on a smile, and follow her back, the shadows of the damned trees looming behind me. It was almost like they were calling out to me, trying to tell me to help them. But I couldn’t.
I picked up a pinecone off the ground, hoping to use it as a bird feeder.
Maybe that would help in some sense, giving birds some food and a place to stay in the woods near my house.
Maybe.

Acrostic poem #9

By Derek Frazier

Prophecies and fate aren’t things I believe in.
And yet I have never felt this sure about anything before. It’s
like writing my name, a part of my identity, a way to
express who I am and how I want to leave my stamp
on the world. I have dreamed of this profession for hundreds of
nights, ever since I was four years old. You don’t just choose
to ignore something like that, to turn your shoulder when all
of the signs scream your name like a coliseum’s crowd. I
love this career and, for the life of me, I do not fully understand the rhyme
or reason as to why I crave the words “Doctor of Paleontology” like an alcoholic with
gin. And I doubt I ever will.
I was put on this planet for a reason. I have a whole life ahead of me but the most
single truth I know is that this was what I was built, designed, crafted, engineered
to do.

if you want to reach for your dreams

By Evette Davis

I. honeysuckles drip from my scalp. my hair has been falling out. there’s a sweet sting of something insane nested deep in my follicles, there are particles of honey coating my lips. i can’t let go of this anxious reality because it kisses me silent at night when these white walls won’t do sleep justice.

II. when the bluebirds scamper and leave skid marks in the air, you will find me, whitewashed eyes pulling at loose leaf hair and camera shutter eyelids. i am trying to repeat the three to five dreams i was supposed to have last night but must’ve forgotten. i just want to dream. i am tired of the sand in my eyes hauling me back to the ground from the limitless skies. i am tragically awake.

III. it is time to for all residents to arise. welcome to no man’s land, where the bluebird’s wing is crushed and it lays motionless in white.  this is not my bed. i am lying in a casket, and they are pushing me out to sea. this no man’s land is a wasteland called real life, where one hopes to remember their dreams. i feel lifeless in this casket. i clutch my eyes tighter and try to recollect last night’s fantasies. did I have three to five dreams? did i even have one? i hope to drift off holding one, at the very least.

IV. in all of this madness- the broken bluebirds, the honeysuckle hair that is strewn on the ground, the cries of the not quite dead— i aspire to dream. maybe crystallize it, too. this reality is oh so cold, but if i close my eyes tight enough, maybe one day i’ll remember and reach for my handful of dreams.

 

Mr. Fatherless

A letter to an unborn orphan whom I will adopt

By Derek Frazier

My son,
I will not be the stereotypical
American father you imagined.

When we play sports, I will
throw baseballs through your
mother’s windows and lose frisbees
in the trees of our front lawn.

On the Fourth of July, I will
be too busy making a bonfire in the grill
to actually cook anything.
And I will spend far too much time baking
and reading to watch football with you.

I do not fish, I do not like smoking,
and I do not enjoy fighting
another person’s battles.

I will, however, be a teacher.
I will show you how to cook,
how to speak other languages
and write worlds into being.
When you fall in love or become frustrated
because of some mercurial romance,
I will be there to explain them as best I can–
and I’m sorry– because with all
my experience, I will fail miserably.

I will teach you how to fight
and stand up for yourself.
To treat others with respect no matter their color or gender.
You will learn to hold the door for someone,
to look both ways before crossing a street.
You will learn to mind your manners,
your “yes ma’am” and “yes sir.”

In the end my child of Africa, China, India,
England, or even Harlem, you will learn
from a father nonetheless.
And I will give you a home.

Success in a World Full of Shortcuts

By Sean Callahan

I didn’t come into this world
to be left traveling on back roads,
blindfolded,
with no atlas,
no compass,
no first mate,
making twists and turns into lands people call colorful.
But perhaps I’m colorblind,
because I don’t see the same shades
of red and green as they do.

I came for the highways–
at least people call them this,
but me? I call them
the only way.
Hovering above millions
of little rights and lefts,
billions of hidden trapdoors,
leading to quick escapes
that no one would judge me for taking,

because a lot of people did it too.
They turned headlights to the highway,
they placed their hands
on the steering wheel that gave them direction,
and they started driving.
But they didn’t know the rough waters that lie ahead.
Highways are not easy.
They are not slow.
They are not always safe.

Highways have strict guidelines,
tolls to pay,
rules to follow,
too many wrecks to avoid,
too many exits to watch for,
And at the end of the day–
patience is a necessity.

It’s something they lacked,
the ones who gave into warm motel rooms,
the ones who took wrong exits through state borders,
the ones who made U-turns onto the closest back road,
and never dared to brave the highway again.

I don’t judge the ones who choose back roads.
They are steering their life at their own pace,
easing on the brakes at the tops of hills,
shying from busy interstates,
because they aren’t ready.
But some of them will try again.
and when they do
some of them will wreck again,
some of them will pay speeding tickets,
many of them will dread rush hour.

But there will be the ones who will brave the tightly packed roads.
After maneuvering past trailers as tall as mountains,
living off cafe coffee and hamburgers,
spending hours on a horizonless road,
their patience will have paid off.
They will be the ones who will say they have navigated the highway–
and survived.  

I know I will crash. I will reroute to the nearest back road,
I will pay too many tolls to count on my fingertips,
and I will lift my foot off the gas pedal
in my happy place.

But one way or another,
I will discover how
to drive my dream car
through glowing cities at night,
over vast hilltops,
up rocky mountainsides.
And when I look to my rearview mirrors,
I will see the millions of miles traveled
upon my highway.