by Sara Malott
I’ve never hurt so badly for someone I didn’t know.
I am working to rehumanize you, to turn your name
back into a feeling, to recover it from passing dinner
conversations. When I was younger, I used to hate
when my parents talked around me. I gathered snippets
like dandelions, but it was never enough to make sense.
I’ll explain when you’re older: worthy of little eye-rolls
and balled fists. Now, I am older and I don’t want
an explanation. I want to hold your children and cry
with them, I want to plaster your face around town
Your candle didn’t just burn out it was snuffed.
In explaining your story, my mother
started by calling you an alcoholic, but I know that yours
was not a simple tale. You are not a problem I need to
solve. I still don’t know how you ended things,
but that has not stopped me from inventing
that night in my mind. I do not want to turn you into
an example. In this poem there is only you and I
don’t believe we go anywhere after earth, but I would
try if it meant getting the chance to meet you. Yes, it
would be easy to say you got dealt a shitty hand, but
this isn’t a game and I’m sorry it was treated as such.
I found out that you liked to write, but I can’t say we would
have sat in a coffee shop scribbling about life together.
I think about it sometimes. To be honest,
I don’t know what any of this means. Processing you
is like trying to churn rock hard cement and somehow
I am always the fool expecting it to soften again. All I can
see is your skeleton hanging in my father’s closet, buried
so far in the back because I think he is trying to forget and
sometimes he exceeds.
But I never will.
by Heaven Angleberger
My mother is a seed.
Life grows from her,
springing up into the open air
as if reaching for the Heavens.
My mother is a wave.
A beautiful blend of blue and greens,
a blanket covering the sand.
My mother is the sky.
So much discovered,
but many things yet to unravel.
She is a planet,
orbiting around me as if
I were her World.
My mother is a blade of grass.
Pointy and sharp, but if you take the
time to know her, you’ll see
a blade of grass soft to the touch.
A blade of grass that can
make a mark on your life, just as
grass stains your jeans.
My mother is Camille.
Courageous and outgoing,
A mile that runs on forever, but never tires you,
Mellow as a mother should be,
Immune to nonsense–
Life is too short for that,
Even though she may not be loved back.
by Aevin Mayman
The world is ending.
The sun slides across the sky,
a smudge like a sick child wiping their hand across the blue behind it as it goes.
The ground pulls, now.
The grass is a wet carpet of quicksand
that yawns wide like a starved child
reaching for food.
A moss covers everything, a sickly green thing
like a tired bar sign, promising only despair and endings and decay.
The world is ending.
When the sun rises it is a fight, like a mangled bird pulling itself away from the road,
the trail of its heartbeats a smear in its wake.
The forests scream, now.
and they echo around the buildings still standing,
a tidal force of primal fear slamming against the crumbling bricks.
The world is ending— but so am I.
I can feel myself dragging along with the sun,
leaving behind a bloody, tired trail like leaves ground against pavement —
I can feel the suffering of the Earth,
of that tired sun,
of that yawning ground,
and I spread my arms — the doors of a funeral parlor — and say
“come here, don’t worry, I’ve got you.”
by Hailey Stoner
I never quite understood why people choose to have
open casket funerals. I guess they want
to remember their beloved in the best way.
Even if it means remembering the empty carcass.
Remembering a house no longer inhabited.
Today, I am at my great grandmother’s
funeral. I am standing in the funeral home,
opposite the open casket.
Red and blue lights shine down on her.
An arrangement of pink and purple and white flowers
sits on the bottom half of the casket.
I have to remind myself
to breathe in. Breathe out.
She’s beautiful. Her thin, grey hair is
curled. She’s wearing a blue and purple flowered
dress. A cream shawl lays over her shoulders
and arms, covering her wrinkled skin.
I want to burst into tears.
Again, breathe in.
We weren’t very close, but I can’t
stand being next to the casket.
She’s hollow. The mortician removed her
furniture, contaminated the house,
sealed the door.
That isn’t her.
There is no rise and fall
of her chest. No movement
behind her eyelids. She isn’t asleep.
Her heart is not beating.
That isn’t her.
It is only the cold, stiff body,
that everybody wants to remember.
by Sara Malott
I sit at a high-top table by a big open window
Looking over the streets of my birth place
I look up and I see blue skies finally
A promise of an eventual spring.
Around me are stoic brick buildings
Older than anyone I’ve ever met. Across the street
Award Beauty School, rusted hanging white sign
Above a school that has been closed for ages
And I am reminded that there was a list at one time
Claiming our city to have the third largest collection of ugly men
In the country. Satisfied customers stroll out of the age-old
German restaurant, doors held open by rusty bolts and miracles.
A man in a blue-buffalo-checked shirt
Walks through the middle of the road and inspects each car
He passes. A stop sign is angled directly towards myself
And I am worried that I am exposing somebody’s secrets.
The ground below me is all concrete and pavement. The
County commuter bus stops for no one while a balding man pushes
A double stroller down the sidewalk with only one kid.
I will leave this library and go home soon to a neighborhood
With houses that do not have TV satellites hanging by a thread
From somebody’s window. I will go home to a neighborhood
Where people still hide their drunk crumplings behind the bedroom door.
In my neighborhood there is only mowed grass and flower beds.
You will not find cop cars or cigarette butts on the streets.
Yes, I was born here
Yes I call this place my home but I have been lying to myself
For too long. I do not know what it is like to ride a bike
On these streets after sundown. I am not around to see
Lost souls shooting up in the back alleys. I am still taken aback
When I see people without homes talking to themselves
On the streets in mid-day. This is not my home
I am but a visitor. So today, I write this poem as one
Would make a scrapbook documenting a beautiful vacation.
I am a tourist. Here are the attractions.
I will be back soon.
By Macy Miller
She has an old soul,
but her eyes are young.
For each step she takes,
the ground quivers
And if I could,
I would douse myself in all her glory,
breathe the air from her lungs
and drown in her perfume.
she’s a forest fire—
she burns me, and I love the pain.
By Silvie Sandeen
I am the one who causes you
to hesitate, avoid risks, to fear.
The darkness creeping over your mind,
the what ifs whispering in your ear,
the churning in your stomach.
I make you second guess,
bite your tongue,
miss out on opportunities.
I make you indecisive.
With me in your life,
everything will end in crisis.
I crush creativity.
You will bring yourself down.
I am the weight on your shoulders,
you must carry me around.
Is that a glimmer of confidence?
That is not who you are.
Too meek, too timid,
too easily scared.
Not around me.
I’m in control of your life.
I’ve spent so much time
making you uptight.
Acting with certainty?
Ha! We’ll see.
Listen to me!
I am Worry.
Made of fear.
Of conviction and self-assurance
replacing me here.
Boldness and positivity
make me cower.
Acting with courage,
now you have the power.
By Aevin Mayman
A word that describes the smell of rain.
But what about before? Could there be some
collection of sound and thought to mirror
this primordial energy that sings through the air?
A term to describe the buzz of lightning right
before it strikes; of ground that craves the touch
of absent water drops; a sky that sits,
tense. I would imagine that it would be less
of a sound, and more like the rush of
electric raindrops dancing on skin.
It might feel like imagined wind gusts pounding
against spread arms, against a smiling face.
This word could feel like jumping from the crash
of thunder, close enough to raise the hairs
along your neck. It’d feel like unrestrained
primal energy that courses through
veins. If you would dare to utter such
a word, your blood would turn to rain, your voice
to wind, your thoughts to thunder. You would be
the very thing the ground is hoping for.
By Gracie Hastings
I’ve grown to know you as a role model.
A silent, intelligent being.
I’ve never seen you cry.
Maybe your eyes have built barriers
of teardrop hurt
and your skin has turned to concrete
to suppress any
I don’t believe that you’re careless.
Behind your clouded expression
you are trying to make sense of
the complicated while I
am trying to make sense of your silence.
I want to understand the different ways
in which we hold ourselves together.
You’ve locked your vulnerability
from other presences.
And I’ve stored my weakness
in the ballpoint of my pen.
By Heaven Angleberger
Dad and I approached
the dimly lit winter woods
careful not to crunch
loud leaves under our
cold feet. The rasping wind swarmed
about our bodies,
causing us to sway.
We staggered up the mountain
as the sun began
to rise, its shadow
looming over our painted
We walked in silence
closing in on our hidden
hung high in a tree.
I found myself thinking twice
about the steep climb.
With my heart racing
and my vision a mixture
of red and orange,
I stood very still
taking in my surroundings.
Birds sung their own songs,
deer tracks seep in soil,
wind echoed off the trees,
my own breath falling.
I focus on the
synchronizing beat of my
heart with the fading
sound of my footsteps.
I’m left with only the sound
of my steady breath.