2008 Poetry Compilation

Today in the Rain

by mikerollin

You said that everything is always possible
as long as we’re willing.
It makes me feel lighter
like reading Nazim Hikmet
plain and direct—
“My missing you
I mean being the last streetlamp on the last city block.”
Some people are terribly bored with Hikmet
too didactic
some people don’t like to watch a rainstorm
so many things to do.
The rain is didactic, says
you are going to feel wet now.

As I stood under an awning
waiting for the downpour to stop,
I saw a woman inside holding her head in her hands at an odd angle.
I thought her neck must hurt terribly
though she looked like she knew
what she was doing.
There are some people who would not be
bound by this woman’s sad tilt
even stuck in the rain, which kept pouring down
restless and gray.

I heard today every path to the heart is awkward
(I imagined a crooked line
like one of your few grays, lightning
among the dark clouds of your hair).

Later, I got lost in the cemetery
well, not lost, unable to find
the grave section 44
my wallet maybe dropped at my great aunt’s funeral.
It’s distressing to lose your wallet,
of course, all the graves put that right into perspective.
Does anyone forget death when the sky goes dark
at three in the afternoon?
We’re all thinking umbrella, awning, a little protection,
there are millions of volts
crackling above our heads—
much as I like the sky opening
today, in the rain, all I can think of
is how your hair sometimes smells like a storm arriving
(and I can’t stand people who won’t stop
to watch the rain).

Haiku for the Final Man

by Anthony Bernstein

I am the last brut
In this lunatic jungle –
all servos and steel

Saint Francis

by Oren Wagner

a half moon hangs over head like it were stolen from a
Van Gogh painting and accidentally dropped in the sky
and the trees in this forest were borrowed from a
Rilke poem with the intentions of never
returning them

crickets talk in their invisible vocabulary, while
lightening bugs speak in their luminous vernacular

mosquitoes have their own gospel
all their mosquito wings are making
noises like tiny Howitzer guns
shooting praises to the god that provides sweet
sacramental wine of flesh

everything alive seems to be making
a pilgrimage toward various impossibilities

and here I am
walking the night with Saint Francis watching over me
like the lost animal I’ve become

Weed on Donner Summit

by Jeanine Stevens

Each winter, snowplows sprayed
salt showers on tiny stars,
pointed as glacial chips, small
tan colored nosegays hugging
asphalt, poking cracks in the interstate.
Some would call them weeds.
We picked armfuls.
They stood in a vase for years,
a mix of black walnut and nutmeg,
until only the scent of dust remained.
Just now, from the train,
I saw them—tight tuffs sticking
sideways in creosote soaked ties,
lasting…in wind, exhaust
and early autumn heat—
there then, here now, outlasting us.


by Guy R. Beining

we have gone nowhere in this
day of uncomfortable angles,
& words lay in the belly of it.
the wall within the letter
began to swell & strips of cement
were applied while keeping the identity
of this letter protected in order
to soften the load of the alphabet.
brown leaves now cover the spot.
for a moment, daylight
snapped between black & white,
& then the letter fell
onto a gardener & splattered
over his exposed ribcage.

We Crouch Beneath Eves

by Z.Cody Lee Carlsen

We crouch beneath eaves, lean on a railing, do things barefoot in
the sprinklers at night, tap out our pipe and empty it. Maybe we
run our palm over the buzz-grass of a putting green and think:
minutia. Maybe we leave everything for Europe. I leave again for
Paris by way of my mother now in DC. I don’t know what to
believe. Torn awake on the couch that night I think: This is how
losing your place happens. That night, locked out in a storm, I
believe in the chaos of liminal spaces, I see how it rains most just
below the eaves. Transition is a mind state. There must be more.
I cannot stop leaving. Let the last letters be scattered
here, let my mind move like a strip mine. Leave it bare. Bring it
elsewhere, put it up, forget it. Pour some coffee. Return home.
Stand by lakes. Find work. Call in. Go away. Get out of town.
So, I go. Blue highway, car-silence. Everywhere
corrugated steel covers bare spots in structures in
‘unincorporated’ places: Coldspirit, Blackwater, North Superior
East, Mann, Old Snake. Each one American, unpeopled.
Though cats pace there, barn to shattered hay-roll, hole to hole in
house walls, curating nothing, like the stewards of ghosts.
Unincorporated. Snowmelt, wind & water, tasteless. Early
November, contrails grate the air—pull the car to the side—their
compositions, modern. I’m returning now, home. Every
streetlight out but three, my street. An ellipsis. The
sky makes a million shadows of itself as snow, remassing as a
solid, low form below. I find an old journal, my mother’s
handwriting: My son, you now grow intimately in my womb.


by Don Thompson

I drive the back roads every morning,
Ordinary asphalt with potholes
Deep enough to crack axles
& carcasses decomposing slowly
As if they had forever to get it done;

Ordinary, except when they’re not,
When they shimmer like sunlit black rivers
Flowing into that other world
Overlaid by this one—
A book of revelation in which

Nut groves contain more lost wisdom
Than ancient libraries,
& water spilling from a pipe
To irrigate alfalfa
Makes everything absolutely clear.