In Crisis

  Our metaphors glisten and coalesce emerging from mist like freshly-caught fish; some rising up like hemlocks, needled, tall, others slithering or skulking, and some few in postures of sadness like parents, sons; likenesses of the sea return, tidal, with their beaches, moonlit, murmuring, music we thought described our happiness or a happiness beyond human pain, beyond the words we threw out heedless. Now nearly feral, searching redemption, they grasp the least thing real, a splinter, a tear stain, the flap of a banner in wind, seeking the flat desks of their origins, hoping to recognize a corner under a stair, wanting the shelter of our tongues, our mouths. Harold Ackerman - Berwick, PA

Pure U.S.A.

  The Corvette Club and Mustang Club—train of gumdrop-colored metallic would-be muscle in the smalltown July 4th Parade Retirees waving tanned arms out windows or silvery hair flowing with the top down, exhausting hot blasts over the sweaty crowd— half of whom walked to the parade route for lack of cars, or no gas til payday Each gleaming V6 worth community college for an oooo -ing child on the sidewalk in hand-me-down shoes. Kerry Trautman - Findlay, Oh

Just In Time For Sunrise

  Today’s new question to ponder in these four walls:  am I good enough for a ventilator?  this is what happens when you stay at home:  a FAQ with yourself where you just keep guessing,  it’s either that or wondering how much longer  it’ll be until I’m not allowed to vote   So much is banned inside here, and it’s all my fault,  I upheld the bans, en banc, ending any future appeals,  it’s the clear way to settle your issues,  there are, technically, invitations to join a camp  here or a community there, each one claims  they have the most important link I’ll click on today Ben Nardolilli - New York, NY

As An Insomniac

sleep is elusive so as you lie there in your bed you allow your mind to wander the roads of Prague or a Venetian piazza and then sweat through the New York streets on dog-day parades, all of which is better than sticking your eyelids shut with a second-hand plaster. Henry Bladon - Somerset, UK

Just A Poem

A poem is not important. It’s just a goddamned fucking poem. It doesn’t kill the president or save a life. It’s a bunch of words randomly thrown around a room, across a screen, changing nothing, helping nobody, and then, after you hear it once in a noisy club or read it twice in a smelly book it dies, like an elevator greeting or a subway hello. Lots of people have written me poems and songs. So many, that I could publish a lengthy volume of all of these poems and songs written just for me and then I could take it home, and I could sit there, alone by the window, reading them all to myself. Or, I could find a living person who doesn’t write poems and we could sit on the couch together and watch television and eat macaroni and cheese and Ring Dings and grow fatter and more comatose every day, staring at flickering images and suffering from the lack of all the goddamned stupid poems even if they never ever change a fucking thing. Puma Pearl - New York, NY

Cricket Question

A cricket fiddles his violin short tunes outside my bedroom window I sleep with his song trilling the night thrilling to his strings Bright day and still he sings within the walls of my house a captive, he longs for   liberty to free his serenade Flashlight and paperclip I search under, around, and in between hearing him play  but veiled from finding Windows and doors open to the wide world, no chirping carols within or without:  Schrodinger’s Cricket Victoria Crawford - Thailand

The Waiting Room

The door slams shut with a loud bang. We left all our belongings secured at the entrance. From whom? Them? Or us? Burly guards, made bigger still by Kevlar vests, Open doors to let even more walking wounded in. It seems no one ever leaves. You sit and wait, quietly cataloging the others. It’s hard not to notice the transvestite explaining the best way to slit someone, Or the shivering girl with the tears streaming down her face. People wrapped in thin hospital blankets wander around like a strange cult Or lay like cloaked cadavers on couches. A boy and his dad cheer on the ballgame While they systematically snack through the vending machine. They both agree to avoid row 4 – the “healthy “ food. The game is long over as they sit still waiting for a room. The boy’s hands are spotless as he repeatedly cleans them And bobs his head to a tune only he can hear. A young man dressed nattily in a prep school uniform Sporting reform school initials Is stealthily watched by his two male companion