Cleats by Joseph Mills

What a great poem this morning on one of my favorite poetry blogs — Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Editor Christine Klocek-Lim’s selections are always spot-on, and this one touches my memories of my own kids’ teenaged years.

Autumn Sky Poetry Daily


After practice, my son kicks off his cleats
and leaves them under the front seat.
He treats the van like a storage locker,
draping his uniform and sweats around.
The daughter complains each morning
as I take her to school. The cleats smell.
They’re in her way. It’s not fair. I agree
with all of these points, and yet I don’t
tell the son to move them. For one,
it’s yet another argument I’m too tired
to have. There are already so many things
I’m prodding him about: homework,
showers, closing doors, drinking water …
and, to be honest, I kind of like them there,
this mark of the boy, these muddy talismans.
He used to hold my hand as he fell asleep,
and once he pulled his fingers away,
picked his nose, then slid them back in my palm.
Yes, this is love, I thought then, holding snot

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The Contents

This is perfection. Thank you, Ms. Bridgewater and Eunoia.

Eunoia Review

After the tremors and reverberations of the explosions have passed, Mr. Beauchamp emerges, brave on feeble legs, from the tiny flea circus of a studio overlooking Beirut. His grey beard is somber enough for the occasion, thick with saline as he views his smoking city through an afghan of debris. A woman wailing swallows her sobs long enough to watch familiar Mr. Beauchamp head toward the square. He scrapes his box along the ground, lifting it gently at every step and crevice, though it may weigh more than his fragile, tweed-clad body.

The black box looks funerary, ancient paint chipped to reveal splinters of the light wood from which it is constructed, the cold metal handle small enough to dig uncomfortably into any hand that might attempt to carry it. The box is unusually heavy; most people pick it up twice, attempting once and then re-thinking their technique. If they…

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Light from a Dead Star

Nikki Velletri is a young poet to watch. Another of her poems can be found here.


Eunoia Review

after Donna Tartt

If there was ever a night to forgive
clumsy feet and hands reaching for
the unutterable,

we had reached it. Before leaving,
you had kissed your mother, even
your father,

both of whom would outlive you. This
is not the way the world should end,
fifty miles from home, earth reaching
up to take back

what it created long ago. Try as we may
to avoid it, lives dwindle. Try as we may to
avoid it, we are left with

blood-stained clothes and love, so much
love and no containers to fill it with.
Your mother sentenced

to collect dead children like stamps or
dust in corners. Your mother fumbling
against the darkest edge

of the universe from which all light must
reflect again, which is to say there is
a version of this life

where everything we’ve lost has already
been returned to us. I loved…

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Stevieslaw: New York City, 1968

My friend Steve Deutsch’s tour de force “NYC, 1968” has just been published by Misfit Magazine. I’m linking to Steve’s blog, but be sure to visit Misfit’s current issue too — more great poems there!

Stevie's Law

My poem, NYC-1968 just appeared in issue 23 of Misfit Magazine.  Here is the poem:

New York City, 1968

When last we met
we sat on a stone bench
in Central Park.
Frost had put paid to summer
and the big trees shivered
in the tepid sun.
We fed a squirrel
the remains of your lunch.
You said the draftees
had left
from Grand Central Station
that morning–
your fallen face
the color of the gunmetal sky.
That winter the water main
broke on the avenue
that ran along the park.
For months, we had to take
the long way home.

When last we met
we were in an apartment
in the East Village–
above the shop
that advertised “Fresh Produce.”
You said the Weathermen
had blown out all the windows.
We sat on the floor
in the hellish heat
and the stench of overripe melon.
A cloud…

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First Husband

“Poetry is . . . emotion recollected in tranquility.”
― William Wordsworth

I found his obit on Google,
hadn’t seen him, barely thought
of him in forty years
since the day he loaded his car
with half of everything – blankets, pillows,
dishes, albums (we fought over
who’d get “The Graduate” poster of Hoffman
and Anne Bancroft’s leg) – and drove off
to I-didn’t-care-where.

Once, 20 years later I learned where he was
from his buddy John and called.
He still taught drama and directed
summer stock in a small midwestern town.
We laughed together, comfortable,
finally, in our separate skins.

Now an obit with pictures and two columns
in the paper. A well-loved, prominent citizen,
it read, wife, three kids, grandkids. He wrote
a children’s book and “left the town
with memories of comedy and drama
that enriched our lives.”

Our marriage wasn’t mentioned. No need,
I suppose – a youthful take off
and crash landing best forgotten. But I wish
I had a chance to say goodbye.

– Sarah Russell
First published by Silver Birch
Photo Source
for dVerse Poetics

Empty Cup

The haibun originally served as the poetic log of a journey Basho took in the late 17th century. Robert Okaji is documenting a journey here too, the words as tightly held as his grief.

O at the Edges

Empty Cup

I set down my cup, pour
tea and think this day, too,
may never end.

With what do we quantify love? How does grief measure us? Nine days ago I wrote “My father is dying and I’m sipping a beer.” More words followed, but I did not write them, choosing instead to let them gather where they would – among the darkening fringe at light’s edge, in that space between the shakuhachi’s notes, in the fragrance of spices toasting in the skillet. In unwept tears. Everywhere. Nowhere.

Seven days ago I wrote “My father is dead.” Again, I chose to let the unwritten words gather and linger, allowing them to spread in their own time, attaching themselves to one another, long chains of emptiness dragging through the days.

If experience reflects truth, sorrow’s scroll will unravel slowly for me, and will never stop. I feel it beginning to…

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Observations: “Truth” & Poetry

Excellent thoughts on “truth” in poetry. I attended this conference too. Very worthwhile for a hands-on poetry experience.

Put Words Together. Make Meaning.

Being on writing retreat for three days at the Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway last weekend left me recharged, rejuvenated, and refocused on what words and poems and community can mean, left me ready to be present in the “spoiled and radiant now,” a line from a new poem by Stephen Dunn, one of the special guests who read on Sunday evening. I wrote several viable, interesting drafts and spent time with like-minded people serious about writing. I got to see some beloved friends who live on the East Coast. These are good things. But there are also some questions floating around in my head, especially about workshopping poems.

The Getaway is a unique community and a welcoming one where anything can happen. For example, this weekend, I was honored to stand for someone saying the Kaddish, a moving moment. One year, I had a rousing afternoon of competitive…

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It Feels Just Like Starting Over

Being a poet is mostly a lonely business. But I found a post by Donna Vorreyer about this group reblogged by Trish Hopkinson. A great way to start 2018 — reading some poems and making some friends.

Put Words Together. Make Meaning.

*UPDATED LIST AS OF JANUARY 3 –  If you leave a comment after today, please be patient about being added.

It’s been a while, readers. It’s almost 2018, and I haven’t posted in over a year here. Which I miss. And I’m hoping you’re still there.

If you are, then stick around for what I hope you will consider good news. Many writers like myself found their first poetry communities online. By reading posts like this one and participating in forums (like ReadWritePoem), we built relationships and learned from one another. Since I do not have an MFA and have been primarily an autodidact when it comes to poetry, this was very important for me.  And, although I now use social media to connect with a large literary community, many of us have been mourning (for lack of a better word), the opportunity to have access to each other’s extended…

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Stevieslaw: Nominated for Pushcart Prize

My friend and fellow poetry workshop member Steve Deutsch just received a Pushcart Prize nomination for this incredible poem. Congratulations, Steve!

Stevie's Law

Many thanks to the editors at Word Fountain for nominating my poem, “The Year we all got Cancer,” for a Pushcart Prize.  Word Fountain, the Literary Magazine of the Osterhout Free Library (Wilkes-Barre, PA) is available in both print and on-line versions.  Here is a link to my poems (including audio).

The Year We All Got Cancer

Winter stayed.
The April rain so cold
it left blisters of ice
on an earth
as scarred and pockmarked
as a landscape mired in war.

We waited through the freeze and thaw
for some sign from the recalcitrant earth–
anxiety growing with each passing day.
The sun was of little use,                                                                                  …

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