Archives for posts with tag: poetry

flying gull espen sundve
How to learn to fly
by Mathias Jansson

Throw yourself to the ground
and miss
Create an anti-gravity space
in your backyard
Transplant a pair of wings
from a pterosaur
Be born by parents
that are birds and can fly
Study for a year
and take a flight certificate
Or take the hard way
close your eyes and use your imagination.

PHOTO: Escaping from Alcatraz by Espen Sundve, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I started to think what I wanted to learn. And I wanted to learn to how to fly, but biological humans cannot fly by their own, so the task is impossible. The poem is about an impossible dream, but even if we cannot fly we can use our imagination to work around the problem and find new solutions to problems that seems impossible and against our natural boundaries.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and poet. He has contributed with poetry to different magazines and anthologies as Maintenant 8, 10 & 11: A Journal of Contemporary Dada. He has contributed to anthologies from Silver Birch Press and other publishers. Visit him at 

lost parrot nancy l. stockdale
Morning Ritual
by Jonathan Yungkans

Open the front door at six a.m. See if the dead still stir. They never keep to a regular schedule.

Swallow hard to move sinus pain from skull. Keep swallowing. Eventually, it might work.

Walk into bathroom. Splash face and back of neck with cold water. Whatever you do, don’t breathe. Gasp for oxygen, your face buried in a towel, once you’ve finished.

Do not notice the dead, laughing.

Make coffee. Two rounded scoops of grounds, three cups water, and who knows how much gravel from ancient water pipes.

Close eyes. Thank God the neighbors are quiet. They dragged trashcans along their driveway, dropped boxes from their second-floor balcony—all of this well after midnight. Hopefully, not even the dead are up over there. Purple nightshade twists through chain link, the fence one solid bloom; the vine has wrapped itself around the plum tree in a backyard shotgun wedding.

Pour coffee. Take it black. Sip. Feel tiny gravestones down your throat.

Notice seven large parrots perched on a line between two phone poles. Their feathers glow green, brighter than money.

Fill large salad bowl with Cheerios. Add milk. Shovel mechanically into mouth.

Do not notice the parrots are now shiny black, look more like falcons.

Ingest two pills of sanity—one nightshade purple, one bleached bone—and a multivitamin, just in case you should live so long as to enjoy that sanity, whenever it might come—you’re pretty sure it’s not going to be today. The pills feel like larger chunks of gravestone going down.

Do not count the parrots. Do not notice there are only five now, or the two large splatter patterns below them, like when liquid-filled balloons are dropped from high above.

Drink more coffee. Keep drinking. There is only so much solace in the world.

Previously appeared in The Chachalaca Review, Vol. 5 (Fall 2019)

PHOTO: Lost Conure, Tarzan by Nancy L. Stockdale, used by permission. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is how to get through the morning on days I have to force one foot in front of the other. This happens a lot more often than I let on. The weights of depression and unreal expectations for myself can be crushing in themselves. Together, they become almost unbearable. Thank God for coffee.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who earned an MFA from California State University, Long Beach, while working as an in-home health-care provider. His work has appeared in San Pedro Poetry Review, Synkroniciti, West Texas Literary Review, and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and is upcoming from Tebor Bach Publishing.

How to Return to Paradise
by Lisa Molina

Rhythmic pumping
whooshing womb wave
sounds crash upon the
darkening beach;

My toes sink slightly in soft sand;
White frothy foam washes up and clings to my legs.

I look up to the tiny sparkling eyes,
winking at me through
the onyx cover above.

Are they watching me
sparkle, wink, and shine?

As we gaze on each other,
I begin to spin.
As I turn turn turn,
the water begins to rise.

Rising up my calves, knees, thighs.

Up to my belly;
the scar that once connected
me to my mother’s womb,
and the belly that held my own babies.

It rises up over my breasts
that fed them warm milk,
and my heart still pulsing with life.

Feeling the soothing water
around my body and neck;

Throwing my head back as joyous
Laughter laughter laughter
Bursts forth from my mouth.

The stars and I still
shining on each other,
and Luna smiling down on me.

Louder laughter as the
nourishing waters of Eden
slowly climb
up up up
until my head is
covered completely;

My hair caressing my
face and shoulders.

My feet lift off the
floor of the Earth.

I’m floating,
in the

From whence all Life began.

My soul smiles.
It knows it
is safe

As it returns
to the depths
of Paradise.

PHOTO: Mermaid by Sergei Tokmakov, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote “How to Return to Paradise” as a way to help myself cope with many challenges of life during the past year. When I have anxiety, images and sounds of water, especially the beach, always help to quell my worries. Since I am unable to go to the beach, due to Covid, this poem enabled me to “go there” through writing poetry.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: While not bingeing on her new favorite writer’s works, Lisa Molina can be found working with students with special needs, writing, singing, playing the piano, or marveling at nature with her family. She has lived in Austin, Texas, since earning her BFA at the University of Texas. Her poetry has been featured in Trouvaille Review, Beyond Words Magazine, Poems in the Afterglow, Sad Girls Club Literary Blog, Ancient Paths, The Poet Magazine, The Daily Drunk, Tiny Seed Journal, Down in the Dirt Magazine, with poems soon to be featured in Amethyst Review. You can read her poetry at

summer silhouette by justin copy
How to Summon the Dead to Dreams
by Sara Clancy

I wish I knew.

Don’t bother gazing at photos, sharing
old stories or ritualizing your set of mindful
cues. Your dream will be about a late paper
or your car losing its battery on the ice hill
between Laramie and Cheyenne.

Don’t listen to the song she hummed
or read from the hardbound copy of Emma
she gave you. Twice. Don’t make her favorite
angel cake with fudge icing. You will dream
her old blind dog begging crumbs
from your empty plate.

If you try to shake loose a visitation
by recalling a slight or word you wish
you hadn’t said, you will only wake
at 3:49 a.m. night after night
after night.

Don’t cast spells to the chrysocolla marker
where her ashes lie or the hummingbird
feeder that hangs above. You can keep
that green glass bottle filled with sugar water
and sorrow, but it won’t help.

When she does show up in your childhood
kitchen to whisper a wise reminder you won’t
remember in the morning, don’t try to call her
back or recreate the day before. She will come
and go as she chooses.

PHOTO: Summer Silhouette by Justin, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I realize that this poem is kind of a cheat. A how-to for something that can’t be done. Still, I wanted to go through the litany of trying because nothing is as comforting as meeting lost loved ones in dreams, and though I can never actually make that happen, each failed attempt brings them briefly into focus.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sara Clancy is a Philadelphia transplant to the Desert Southwest. Her chapbook Ghost Logic won the 2017 Turtle Island Quarterly Editors Choice Award. Her poems have appeared, among other places, in Off the Coast, The Linnet’s Wings, Crab Creek Review, The Madison Review, Open Arts Forum, and Verse Wisconsin. She lives in Arizona with her husband, their two dogs, a cross-eyed cat, and a 26 year old goldfish named Darryl.

How to Be Single Again
by Rebecca Surmont

Notice the rise and fall of the sun,
join its tour, head to heat
rub it gently into the eyes
for better vision

Admire the hands that sculpted despair
into so many tiny graves
(most of which lay forgotten in yesterdays)

Find songs that move the voice
from the sacrum — a call of the wild
that only you can answer and
call it often as a mad crow

Invite some mischief to the table,
lesser-known curiosities
dancing invisibly about you for years
like little ghosts

Throw in smoked trout on saltines
playing Scrabble with expensive
champagne in any season

Hear the morning birds, busy and bright,
goaded by the light
songs of fullness
songs that ache with instinct

Fill and empty
your lungs like a bucket
your heart half full
sleeping naked as a rose

IMAGE: Nautilus by Andreina Schoeberlein (Polaroid emulsion transfer onto watercolor paper).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Recently I was reflecting on my past and how I got to have such a great life-partner. I recalled the time when I was newly single following a divorce and how that brought opportunity that both ached and moved me forward.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Surmont lives in Minneapolis with her husband and their canine kid. Her poetry is inspired by the everyday activities that make a life. Before poetry took more centerstage, she performed as a physical-theater actor and resident artist throughout the Midwest. Her poetry has been seen in Minneapolis’ Southwest Journal and the book Seasons (Trolley Car Press).

how to not have any children and feel no regrets
by Richard Vargas

occupy the space of a one-bedroom apt. watch the dust, day after day, settle
and accumulate on books, a record collection, and the smart tv. stand before
the picture window in the living room. the deep layer of snow on the ground
outside blinding and hurtful to the naked eye as it reflects the rays of the harsh
winter sun. then stare out the way an astronaut on the space station gazes
with wonder on the planet while floating high above surrounded in cold black quiet.

smell the sour hate and chaos outside, a scent so vile and thick it can’t be cut
with a knife. watch an endangered species slit its wrists.

the dull ache of being alone begins to fade. now turn around, welcome solitude’s embrace,
and face another day.

IMAGE: Astronaut by Pizar Almaulidina.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Vargas earned his B.A. at Cal State University, Long Beach, where he studied under Gerald Locklin and Richard Lee. He edited/published five issues of The Tequila Review, 1978-1980, and twelve issues of The Mas Tequila Review from 2010-2015. Vargas received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico, 2010. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference Hispanic Writer Award. He was on the faculties of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference and the 2015 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. Published collections: McLife, 2005; American Jesus, 2009; Guernica, revisited, 2014. He currently resides in Wisconsin, near the lake where Otis Redding’s plane crashed. He welcomes your comments at

heart if home by holly lay
How to Make Memories When the World Stops
by Shelly Blankman

Memory books line my shelves with pages of life
in pictures . . . moments in time that might otherwise
fade — photos, tickets, programs, awards.

But what happens when the world halts? When
pages of time have no record of trips, outings,
holidays, family gatherings. Nothing to capture

on film. This was my new challenge. Not the materials.
Special glues and pens, papers and stickers. I had
those. But how I do I fashion fond memories from dreary

days that blur, seasons that vanish like steam from windows,
quiet moments that fill our time where noise and color used
to be? Life as we knew it could only be pieced together like

the puzzle of a world that had fallen apart. Personal pictures
that could only be replaced now by snippets of time —
news clippings of Black lives that mattered and a new president

who would matter, too. Screenshots of Scattergories on Zoom
with our kids, now quarantined in Texas and New York, their
laughter echoing in our own living room. A screenshot of my

my husband, tallit on shoulders, yarmulke on head, cat by his side,
leading Shabbat services on Zoom with a congregation no longer
able to pray and sing side by side. And Zoom dinners with friends

and family, on-line toasts to a time when we could clink our glasses
to a future of a world of hugs and hope. A time when my scrapbook
can be filled with festive memories of travels and family gatherings.

New memories for a world reclaimed

PHOTO ART: Heart if home by Holly Lay (Polaroid emulsion on glass and mixed media).

Blankman photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Blankman lives in Columbia, Maryland. She and her husband are currently quarantined there from two sons: Richard of New York City, and Joshua of San Antonio, Texas. Richard and Joshua surprised her last year with her first book of poetry,  Pumpkinhea  (available on Amazon). Her work has also appeared in a number publications, including Literary Review-East, Ekphrastic Review, and Verse-Virtual. 

Olga Zarytska photo licensed
How to Stay Connected During a Pandemic
by Nina Bennett

Forget Zoom. Order colored pens, note cards,
stickers. Wait three weeks to hear a thud
as the package is tossed on your stoop. Select
a pen, fuchsia or teal, begin. Find a pithy
upbeat quote, copy it on the card with butterflies
migrating across the front. Write with calligraphy
you taught yourself while awaiting your order.
Push beyond I miss you. Try I remember
the day we met for happy hour, and you sang
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer along with the jukebox.
Include praise—I hear your voice, true as a mountain
stream—and an affirmation—Thoughts of getting together
sustain me. Close with a wish. This can be simple,
such as I wish we lived closer. Dig through desk
drawers for a stamp, and as you place the letter
in your mailbox, picture your best friend trudging
through snow to her mailbox.

Photo by Olga Zarytska, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My best friend of 42 years lives a little more than an hour away. We used to see each other frequently, including girlfriend weekends away, but Covid has put a temporary halt to our get-togethers.

PHOTO: The author (left) with her best friend, Michele.


Delaware native Nina Bennett is the author of The House of Yearning, Mix Tape, and Sound Effects (Broadkill Press Key Poetry Series). Her poetry has been nominated for the Best of the Net, and has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications, including South85, I-70 Review, Gargoyle, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Philadelphia Stories, and The Broadkill Review. Awards include 2019 finalist Jack Grapes Poetry Prize, 2014 Northern Liberties Review Poetry Prize, and second-place in poetry book category from the Delaware Press Association (2014). Nina is a founding member of the writing group TransCanal Writers, publisher of Five Bridges: A Literary Anthology.

How to teach family policy
by Dorotho O Rombo

To teach family policy is
To show that even if you are not interested in politics, politics is interested in you
To know ideologies, their roots and values
To debate both sides and even more
To question and understand underlying assumptions
To identify the stakeholders

To teach family policy is
To explain dominance in the construction of knowledge
To show the association between family theories and policy
To determine the negative unintended consequences
To connect functions and cause

To teach family policy is
To politicize problems and how they are solved
To show that it is a cultural expression, not science per se
To debunk the myth of neutrality
To appreciate the skills of persuasion, mediation, collaboration and confrontation

In the end, to teach family policy is
To center families
To ask how they are impacted
To ask how they can be part of the solution
To ask how they might have contributed
To infuse science into policy practice
To prove that all policies are indeed family policy

IMAGE: No. 112 (Woodblock print, 2003) by Funasaka Yoshisuke.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a course so dear to my heart and each semester that I teach it I strive to make it relatable to everyday life. It is in striving to achieve this goal that I have conceptualized a poem to capture the themes of the class. I share this poem with my students at the beginning of every class and have them react to it, and then have them read it again at the end of the course and ask again for their impressions. It is a learning tool and a way to motivate students to be curious about policy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dorothy O Rombo is an associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies in the department of human ecology, State University of New York at Oneonta. She holds a Ph.D. in Family Social Science with a minor in family policy from the university of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has extensive experience in higher education, both internationally and in the US. Her research interest is centered on vulnerable populations, including international families, women, children, gender and sexual minorities. Her theories of preference are human ecology and family strength perspective. She has published on different topics regarding these populations. List of publications.

by Kelley White

There is an art of confronting
a family with child abuse, to bend
sincerely to the child and to keep
the level of concerned sincerity
in your eyes as you face the parent

When I see a burn like this (in the shape of an iron,
            complete with steam holes)
When I see bruises (in the shape of a hand)
When I see this type of fracture (spiral humerus)
This type of bleeding (anal tear)

I have to be concerned
            for the safety of the child
I have to be concerned for safety
I have to be concerned for the child
I have to be concerned

and they weep with me
and wait quietly for the treatment
the hospital admission
the call to social service

IMAGE: No. 121 (Woodblock print, 2002) by Funasaka Yoshisuke.

PUBLICATION HISTORY: “Art” previously appeared in Mad Poets Review, the anthology When I Was A Child (PoetWorks Press), and the chapbook Against Medical Advice (Puddinghouse Publications).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I returned to Philadelphia in 2018 after a decade in my home state, New Hampshire, and now find myself in the same exam rooms that I occupied at the beginning of my pediatric career. Looking around those walls brings back memories, almost ghosts it sometimes seems, of former patients and their families. This piece is a sort of “how to do” description of one of the toughest aspects of my work. COVID has challenged families in unexpected ways; we fear increases in domestic violence and child abuse. Fortunately, I haven’t needed to report any cases recently. Unfortunately, we may not be seeing the children most at risk, as they do not venture outside of home to schools or pediatric offices for “well child care.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.