Saturday, June 25, 2016

On One Hard Father

for Roger Weaver

Whenever frozen webs of sidereal dawn reflected white off the cold
winter moon, whenever warm exhalations were gray and socked in,
whenever all that existed between purpose and perpetuity was darkness

upon frost, whenever gloves and hat and thick blue flannel were not enough,
whenever the thermos in his right hand provided ballast against the frigid

slickness that stretched the length of the path connecting the kitchen door
to the lowing along the once red barn, whenever his left hand balled
into a tight round of responsibility and too many mouths to feed, whenever

Big Boy greeted him with 15-hands of mottled muscle and nostril-steam
prior to being led by small talk and habit to the leather bridle worn smooth

by one fulfilled obligation after another, he’d conjure a little extra warmth
from somewhere deep inside before breathing it slowly over Big Boy’s bit –
out of consideration for his horse. My father was good with horses.

First appeared in Kentucky Review - May 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

Poems I Admire #14


Was it art or accident
That led the hospital’s head nuns
To tuck the failure-to-thrive babies
Into a corner of the seventh floor
Beside the eating disorder unit?

Three of us padded down to that corner once,
Teenagers in double-hung hospital gowns and
Standard-issue slippers squashed at the heel.
It was Christmas night, past visiting hours.
Midway down the corridor, a gilt-framed Madonna,
Ample in blue, swaddled the child who reached for her.

The hallway light spilled in behind us.
It lit the crib slats and the hard, taut sheets.
Fluorescent and cold – unholy –
It was white-turned-blue, like skim milk
Or veins on the inside of a wrist.
It didn’t wake the babies.

Later, we settled back into our beds,
Tucking the thin blankets over our shoulders,
Curling our knees to our small, dry breasts,
Keeping our gifts to ourselves.
We each ran the day’s numbers privately,
Counting calories rather than sheep.

Days before I left, the art therapist
Asked us to draw ourselves as animals.
In sure, waxy strokes of crayon,
I drew a solid, forward-facing lion,
All head, with a mane that reached the paper’s edge:
I was wiser now, nearly thriving.

Kelly, 12 years old and new to the unit,
Sat beside me, working on a blank page.
Or so it seemed. Leaning in,
I saw a pink bird in faint colored pencil
at the very center of the white white page,
One wing raised slightly, as if in apology.

First appeared in LittlePatuxent Review – Winter 2013

ElisabethDahl is a Baltimore-based writer and editor. Her first book is a novel for children entitled Genie Wishes, published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

On Being Shunned at the Chinese Buffet Triolet

“do not even eat with such a person.” – 1 Cor5:11

It’s all tough love and heat at the Chinese buffet
of sweet sour shunning, Kung Pao and fried rice.
Sunday’s stiff wooden rulers no longer hold sway,
so there’s tough love and heat at the Chinese buffet.

My old brothers and sisters hold hands as they pray,
Thank You, Lord, for The Truth, Dim Sum, and The Light,
It’s all tough love and heat at the Chinese buffet
of sweet sour shunning, Kung Pao and fried rice.

First appeared in Kentucky Review - May 2016

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Poems I Admire #13

Kevin Convinced Me to Drink

the bottle, a brown eyeball caring me to blink.
I was fourteen and unsure how I felt about white people
but I knew I didn’t like beer, especially beer pong

Kevin was white, and liked beer. He said
it’s what men do. They drink beer and watch sports
and get into fights or else they are a pussy

I remember thinking this must be racist in a way
against women. I had never seen a pussy before
or any type of vagina, but I knew what a pussy was

from the movies we all watched at Kevin’s house.
In seventh grade, Brandon took off everything
except his sneakers, chased us around the house

a beer in one hand, his pinkish-white genitals
in the other. We ran around screaming and laughing
while he called us gay and threatened to cream on us

I giggled and said that must be racist
against gay people and probably women,
and we at hot pockets,

Kevin grabbed a couple of brewskies from his dad’s stash
said, you don’t seem that black to me,
and punched me in the chest.

First appeared in Radius

Aaron Samuels is a Pushcart-nominated poet, a TEDx speaker, and an acclaimed facilitator of critical identity discussions. Raised in Providence, Rhode Island, by a Jewish-American mother and an African-American father, Aaron discovered spoken word poetry at age 14 when his English teacher told him he was not allowed to break meter. After declining this advice, Aaron went on to become one of the premiere performance poets in the country, featuring on TV One’s Verses & Flow, HBO’s Brave New Voices, and TEDx Washington University. His work has appeared in multiple journals including the Tidal Basin Review, Apogee Journal, and Muzzle Magazine. His debut collection of poetry,

Yarmulkes& Fitted Caps was released by Write Bloody Publishing in fall 2013.