Stephen Kuusisto


Tonight I felt it in my ribs:
A flood of green in the marrow,

And I decided to live right here
And sing sometimes.

I pulled a book from its shelf,
Held the minutiae of the world

Open like a killdeer’s wings.
I’ve lived without names

For plants and trees.
What happens now?

What happens?




R. S. Thomas


I thought, you see, that on some still night,
When stars were shrill over his farm,
And he and I kept ourselves warm
By an old fire, whose bars were bright
With real heat, the truth might ripen
Between us naturally as the fruit
Of his wild hedges, or as the roots,
Swedes and mangolds, he grew then.

No luck; the thought hopefully sown
On such evenings never could break
The mind’s crust. Keeping my own
Company now, I have forsaken
All but this poor basement of bone,
Where the one dry flame is awake.




Matt Rasmussen

Reverse Suicide

The guy Dad sold your car to
comes back to get his money,

leaves the car. With filthy rags
we rub it down until it doesn’t shine

and wipe your blood into
the seams of the seat.

Each snowflake stirs before
lifting into the sky as I

learn you won’t be dead.
The unsuffering ends

when the mess of your head
pulls together around

a bullet in your mouth.
You spit it into Dad’s gun

before arriving in the driveway
while the evening brightens

and we pour bag after bag
of leaves on the lawn,

waiting for them to leap
onto the bare branches.

James Davis May


To get him out of the house so she and her husband
can have a few minutes of real arguing, the woman
sends their child out into the garden at night
to pick basil leaves for the tomato sauce she’s making.
The boy forgets his flashlight, but knows enough
not to go back inside, plus the moon is bright and full,
filling up the open sky above the yard, like a face
peering over a cradle. The moon, the smell of basil,
how peaceful the house looks when he isn’t in it.

Molly Bashaw

Every Time I Have Never Been Here Before

Dark beans
string their velvet tongues.
A horse eye blinks

through a curtain of mane,
purple the shake of black, black
the shade of sound. Nights

the nightshades undress and sing,
mares whip the air cantering.
The field reveals another node.




Thomas Zimmerman

Zimmerman and Poetry

He googles Zimmerman and poetry
when he feels low. The point? A poet is
a junkyard dog; the published poem, a bone.

Most readers give you twenty seconds. Then
you’d better give them something back, or else
you’ll end up teaching, never to atone.

He drinks an ale called Anger. Two-thirds gone.
What’s next? That cheap Shiraz that vibrates by
the stereo? He’ll workshop now. Alone.

Next time you want to die, remember just
how good you feel right now. This jagged verse
has snagged a drifting petal, scratched a stone.

So what’s a poem? A rhythm, and a tone.
So what’s this flesh we lug around? A loan.



Timothy Donnelly


When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
and to the crest of my ability for never was I a snob about it
moreover never lazy, day into night through the cold
pine forest we were bred to and for which I came to feel
love as fast as others as a blur that slowed around us
at our suppers, then watched us twitch in our heavy sleep.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
mile on mile convincingly, my tongue construed the forest
no condition not to drape in, identical its pinkness
from my open mouth as theirs, the nylon tapes between us
reinforcing sentiment, a kind relief through constant
focus but from what I failed to grasp, as did our language.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
who didn’t know I didn’t know, but that was what we were
meant to be there for to begin with, yet I could follow
them who followed anyone behind us through the forest
where what seemed to know but was a shape without
sufficient contour hovered, and it proved some trouble to me.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
concealing my disquiet like a shoulder bone the forebears
said to hurry up now bury, but everywhere the dirt
rebuffed my larger purpose, a fortitude from all the earth
had frozen up against me, the paws of whom had brought me
nowhere but to shame to let it drop for another mouth.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
the way a roof collapses, inevitably, and even as the wind
must always push or it isn’t wind, it’s air, and I was air
that had come to think of it, in some trouble to me the others
felt no twitch of, or if they did, our language failed what
must have been its purpose, or I won’t soon be a dog again.