I look for
Somehow in this closed in
closed door year, this
looking out of a high window onto a silent street, this
never going out, this
waiting for and then forgetting the snow –
I cannot find the rich dark to roll in
revel in it.
Marvel: the plum rum raisin
wildness of this time of year.
I write this poem every year.
This time I am thinking of the twenty one year old Irish scribe
in Thirteen Fifty who
prayed for his friends an easy
death, for the plague to pass him by,
to live to see
the anniversary of this day.
He asks me to say a paternoster for him,
across the page, across
I want to reach into the pudding of these weeks
and pull out the oldest, darkest
the wren on the bier, the hunter stag-crowned,
the holly king.
I want a danger that sits in story.
I want it to have a point.
E.G.N. Lafleur is a history and English student in Toronto, where she herds unruly academic interests and fosters cats. This is her first publication. She is on Twitter @radicalaltarboy.
Reading Your Book, I Question What’s Next
for Jeffrey “Boosie” Bolden
I should have been sober for that conversation we had at the intersection of our two streets at 3 am last July, when you told me about death and dreams and your tattoos— how those dark streetlights shone meaning onto skin. The night isn’t always the best translator. I should have written it down right after I walked the three minutes home—about how friendship formed on Friendship Ave. Ain’t that some shit. Everything is everything, you said. Cover to cover, last night I read your book that you will never hold. You wrote into every storm and I just wish I was there with you at the end or even the eye, a way to see you surging through this, a calmness to stop the spinning. Loss is unthinkable. Grief a haloed hurt, maybe white. Now I know how you got your name. What past you walked from, those tree lined roads, neighbors from the south, every plastic patio chair. Crown Royal and your reasons. Frank Ocean lyrics on repeat, ambition etched into your skin. Exhale of smoke and chance. There was some twilight way, constellation of cities and souls maybe, you mapped out as you made your way from Mississippi to Tennessee to Pittsburgh and California. And now you still shine, still walk the gold littered streets that made you. Heart pumping strong in the body of a stranger. Inked words you brought to life. I’m wrestling with how proud I am, how mad I am. There were wolves I wanted to emerge from forests we’d both kept secret. There’s never enough time, is there? Replay the track, again, keep the book open and the light on, until I fall asleep, until a new morning breaks through, until whenever the music of your voice reaches me again.
Portrait of My Mother’s Youth
Before I even saw her, I heard her this morning, rustling in the kitchen cabinet for a frying pan, the clatter a golden sound hitting all the beams through the house. She lives now how she must, a woman not knowing she is a god. Every house she ran from as a child, all of them piled into an old Ford when the bills were due, her five siblings and one buried on the road somewhere in Alabama, that meet me by the train tracks/rum & coke/leave it all behind/won’t ever be like my mother attitude. There she is, on the beach in Arizona, sun burning in her blue eyes, time cradled in her arms in Ohio, spread out on the roof of her Pennsylvania apartment after working night shift, whipping down back roads with my father at the wheel, saying hold on! as they push that trusted car to its limit, metal body barreling into the night, her long chestnut hair taking flight as she leans to the right, laughing, open as can be, shooting straight for the next kingdom over, or wherever she can land in the company of a white moon
Kara Knickerbocker is the author of the chapbooks The Shedding Before the Swell (dancing girl press 2018) and Next to Everything that is Breakable (Finishing Line Press 2017). Her poetry and essays have appeared in: Poet Lore, Construction Magazine, Portland Review, and the anthologies Pennsylvania’s Best Emerging Poets, Crack the Spine, and more. She currently lives in Pennsylvania where she writes with the Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University, and co-curates the MadFridays Reading Series. Find her online at www.karaknickerbocker.com.
Storm sirens blare. Child of the Midwest, I step
outside to observe the darkening sky.
Clouds ink the afternoon enough to need
the light, and so I flip the switch, continue
chopping vegetables for dinner. Wind rumbles
walls, and rain skids sideways across the glass.
No verse, just refrain. Earlier today a wayward
toad sat unmoved beneath the curious nose
of my dog. Such strength, to face the maw
that could devour you. The ripest tomato
in the garden is my heart. One can make anything
a metaphor, it seems, says the woman who will not
believe what she cannot see. The tomato bleeds
onto the cutting board. The toad has fled the scene.
Donna Vorreyer is the author of To Everything There Is (2020), Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016) and A House of Many Windows (2013), all from Sundress Publications, as well as eight chapbooks. Her work has appeared in Rhino, Tinderbox Poetry, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, Waxwing, and other journals, and she serves as an associate editor for Rhino Poetry. Recently retired from 36 years in public education, she can’t wait to see what happens next.