Category Archives: Poetry

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.    

 

True/False

By Maddie Lynn

  1. There is a girl trapped in a moon.
  2. A cat meows at 11:59 every night.
  3. There are rocks in my shoe.
  4. The rain bounces off the tin roof (and)
  5. She can’t hear the arguments.
  6. Always look for the brightest star.
  7. Her name is Pluto.
  8. We all believe in ourselves, even if just a little.
  9. Angles don’t have wings.
  10. Nothing ever makes sense.
  11. This paper airplane has a message inside.
  12. This is not true beauty.
  13. She is stuck in the middle.
  14. I don’t have a good side.
  15. Everyone has a reason to stay.
  16. Love is spelled C-A-U-T-I-O-N.
  17. There are no warning signs.
  18. Water is not transparent.
  19. Neither is she.
  20. Owls always ask why.
  21. Days are longer when spent outside.
  22. Hospital bills are way too much for a poor family.
  23. My pockets have holes in them.
  24. Penguins are afraid of the dark.
  25. Brownie batter bubble gum.
  26. Time moves on.
  27. The bananas are brown again.
  28. We need to go to the store.
  29. Some plants need more water than others.
  30. I want to grow.
  31. You never grow out of childhood.
  32. The people in this poem are all imaginary.
  33. These angels are complementary.
  34. The clock is stuck at 3:15.
  35. The homeless poet has a home.
  36. Flowers don’t need food.
  37. She is wearing a fishing hook for an earring.
  38. Everything is accidental.
  39. Everything is theoretical so the people you don’t want to exist don’t have to.
  40. The moon is flat, and we are living on top of it.
  41. Grab a jacket.
  42. The answer.
  43. My mouth is a zipper.
  44. Baby it’s cold outside.
  45. And it is full of marbles.
  46. Her mouth. His lips.
  47. You are made of glass.
  48. You are an owl.
  49. You ask yourself so many questions (and)
  50. Go to number 42.
  51. Maybe the people in this poem are real after all.
  52. We all play Kristen Bell.
  53. Our lives are just living in fiction.
  54. My roots are overgrown.
  55. The 14th floor is the 13th if there isn’t a 13th.
  56. You can’t avoid bad luck.
  57. I put dominos in my tea.
  58. Always chew on dice.
  59. The sky has cracked down the middle.
  60. She lays down on her bedroom floor.
  61. C h em i cal s.
  62. This water doesn’t work anymore.  
  63. Organs don’t have keys.
  64. I don’t know what my zipcode is.
  65. The Queen bee refuses to make honey anymore.
  66. She kamikazies into a car window.
  67. We’re all going to die someday.
  68. Slurpee slipping through a straw.
  69. She’s finally in adult sizes at Target.
  70. Dying young has comfort in it.
  71. Virgo. Virg. Virgi. Virgin.
  72. I am both, and maybe you didn’t need to know.
  73. The glass pyramid is not the glass castle.
  74. We can never achieve perfection.
  75. I ask myself how they ended up together.
  76. Nothing is impossible.
  77. I’ve been told conspiracies don’t exist, but I believe.
  78. Everything is everything, but nothing all at once.
  79. Nothing has meaning until you assign it.
  80. I gave a boy meaning, but he didn’t caution me back.
  81. Constellations remind me of how many sprinkles can fit into a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
  82. Eating lettuce won’t help you lose weight.
  83. I know too much about the L Word.
  84. There are always 13 sides to every story.
  85. The rain forest will be the only place to find trees.
  86. I’ve never learned how to read
  87. people.
  88. I change the lyrics in songs to fit how the moon feels.
  89. This poem can only last so long.
  90. Mayflies, bye.
  91. The worst things in life are the most expensive.
  92. Wikihow doesn’t have an article for How to Pay For a Funeral When You Don’t Have the Money.
  93. You have to move quickly.
  94. Maybe the sky has 42s.
  95. I overthink everything that happens to fall in my path; maybe he just doesn’t like looking at the stars.
  96. He always brings beer in opaque bottles, but doesn’t think we know what he’s doing.
    96.5. Even at the hospital where she was born.
  97. This was the first time he’s ever held a baby, even after having two kids of his own.
  98. Water has memory, but does it remember?
  99. I’ve written about you so many times, that my pen automatically begins to cry.
  100. This world is just a big crater, and I don’t know how to fix it.
  101. Everything always has to be a little extra.
  102. This is the end of the phone call where I say goodbye.
  103. You are at the prime of your life.

 

Achilles and the Art of War

By Evette Davis

We live in a world where Greatness is the general to You.

Greatness lashes, forbearing at your heel.
The same one that Achilles fell front on, and says,
“As far as you go, I will follow.”

Greatness tells you that he bruises your weak spots only to help you.
To this, I have discovered that Greatness specializes in the Art of War.

He knows that your weaknesses can be conditioned like Pavlov
can craft an armor of callous so thick
that it is Strength.

You are a soldier,
quivering in line.

Only in drills done later do you stand without falter
and know that for as long as you live,
Greatness works in your favor.

Adopting Unwanted Gifts Or, This Is All I’m Left With

By Josh Snyder

Hold a mirror to yourself
and consider the eyes that stare
back at you. When you cannot stand it,
blink.
Wonder how on earth you did it.

Now look at someone else.
Study their movements,
how they cover their smile
when they laugh,
how they burst with passion,
how they could talk for hours.

Notice the way they soften,
their hands resting over yours
like flower petals falling overtop
each other. Watch them finally
blink.
And wonder:
how marvelous.

Time will pass.
When you look at yourself
in the mirror and study
the structure that looks
back at you, observe
the similarities
you have collected.

You will laugh at yourself,
hands coming up to hide
your crescent moon smile.
You will fizzle out after
becoming a firework
of passion, and you will think:
how did I do that.

Realize how you have been shaped
into something new.
You are no longer yourself,
but rather a fusion
of those you admire. Had admired.
Of those you love. Had loved.

Cram these new things into the spaces
where the old things were.
The parts of yourself you never meant
to lose will be replaced by the parts
of others you never meant to consume.

Keep these things safe.
Cherish them for all
they are. Cautiously
raise your hand to cover
your own smile,
and think,
incredulously:
my God, here I am.

Ars Poetica

In Response to Beau Sia’s “a slow disease”

By Tyler Hoffman

It’s a slow disease, but not terminal.
You will lose your grip slowly. Don’t hold on,
because the loss will be rough, but not fatal.
In time you will use the pain, call upon
the hurt, draw with the dreams you have given
up. Create with all that has been unfulfilled.
All you have ever made will be riven–
not fatal. There is more blood to be spilled,
But all that has been spilled is never lost.
Take what you have torn, and then weave a net.
Catch what you can with it. Let your exhaust
be the I ams you sing– your own duet.
Pain and hurt will sing for themselves. Go, make
what you can with all that you have. Create.

The Big House

By Derek Frazier

Cheap sheets and
big dreams can’t keep you warm.

Neither can a three-page love song.

So I’ll work through the days and nights,
trying to keep bills off the table,
so we can live in comfort.
You might say that I’m working too hard,
that it’ll be the death of me.
To that I’ll say:

“One of these days
I’m going to buy you a big house
and it will have a wrap-around porch,
a massive garden blossoming under
blue gartered windows, a rope swing
and a large picnic table
with homemade apple pies, and long green grass
where our kids can run.
They’ll pick wild herbs and read
books under the shadows of the tall
pine trees.
They’ll laugh and share smiles
while we watch from the shade,
drinking cherry wine.

We will put it on a hill
that slopes down to town.
Growing by the front door is
an apple tree where we will stretch
a quilt under the stars and watch Venus flirt with Mars.
The city won’t be able to reach us.
We will lose them in the dust of our long
dirt road, all those smells and sights and sounds
of the metropolis.

And when nightfall finally comes
we will push my grandmother’s chair,
the old coffee table, and a hand-me-down couch
against the living room walls.
So we can dance
beside our night light shadows,

under the roof of our home.”