Ballad of a Passionless Pickle

Poem by Xavier Fields

I am a pickle; sitting in vinegar,

thinking about how and when I will leave.

I ferment. I prepare my immortal body

for the future. Everything is jazz

but I cannot sleep due to the summer heat.

No, due to the roar of the nearby stadium.

 

Fifty-thousand people saturate that stadium.

They cry weak acid tears. Vinegar

flows from their eyes and boils in the unfamiliar heat.

They cry because they know that one day I will leave

them. It is deceptively simple: forget jazz

and wander until I forget my body.

 

Wander wide until I am a celestial body.

A comet passing an intergalactic stadium

where a famous band plays space jazz

on polypropene saxophones. I bathe in vinegar

every day so that when I do leave,

my oily, salty skin will worship the heat.

 

Only once I have left will sultry heat

transfer through our tangled, trembling bodies.

Only when I’m gone will I listen to the Leaves

of Grass and sing for me. Now, a stadium

filled with wealthy people, drizzling oil and vinegar

on their spring salads, are eating my jazz.

 

They do not know me. I will quit jazz

the second I am away. History. Heat

floods my face like an erupting vinegar

baking soda volcano. My cool igneous body

has always been on display to that stadium.

That is why I absolutely must leave.

 

I plan on falling away like Autumn Leaves.

Pieces of myself slide by behind a jazz

standard. The cacophonous fans in the stadium

make me sick. I am dying from the heat

and soon this contagion will destroy my body.

These country cucumbers have never tasted vinegar.

 

I take another shot of vinegar before I leave.

My frigid, winter body is now void of jazz.

Goodbye, friends. Next stop: the heat of my new stadium.

For Someone I Have Known Since Birth

Poem by Sophia Schlesinger

And my heart aches for you,

you who finally stand at a crossroad

you swore you had been running away from

for what some may call years now.

 

A lifetime of watching you kick at stones has taught me much about you.

One rock goes flying down an old, cracked alleyway,

skittering like an old cat’s claws.

And just when you thought it had disappeared into the world,

it would come screaming back toward you like a bullet.

 

And my heart aches for you,

for the parts that are now raw and angry red

for drops of blood left on the pavement,

but mostly for the mental storm that left them there.

 

And now here you stand at a crossroad

you were sure you had turned your back on,

walked for miles the opposite way

with music erupting in your head

and drowning out anything else.

 

You didn’t notice the flurry of words surrounding your name

Each chaotic and developed and beautiful

You didn’t notice the history behind each word,

each that started as seed, and now blooms in a changing atmosphere.

 

And my heart aches for you,

because even as you stand there now,

these words and all of their meaning

flutter around you in the breeze,

and I fear you still do not see them.

Sestina to the Smiths

Poem by Samuel Anthony

In their car of laughing men and music,

They hurdled along the empty road,

Too far below the starlit sky.

Through glass sheets of window laced by frost,

They never saw the truck of ten tons

Or its slanted eyes that shone blasts of light.

 

The air was struck by the light

Of a rush of fire laced in frost.

And the bodies on the road,

Who were struck by a force of ten tons

Whose ears still rang with music

Even farther below the starlit sky.

 

The sound could’ve never reached the sky,

Even if it came from a truck of ten tons.

The eighteen wheels were embroidered with frost,

And the sheets of metal on one another made music,

From which one could see sparks of light

Not far above the guilty road.

 

A young woman far away beside the road

Wouldn’t take a look at the starlit sky

And hear the metallic music.

But she’d turn back to the gas station’s light,

And watch the windows covered by frost,

And wonder, where is that truck of ten tons?

 

But the ambulance would see the truck of ten tons,

As it played its own desperate music.

And off the scarlet puddles it would shine its light,

And sit alone on the great red road,

As far as could be from the starlit sky,

Splattered with limbs of frost.

 

The men stepped from the ambulance of frost,

And held out their black rods of yellow light,

Which washed over the red truck of ten tons.

The little stars came down from the sky,

And held their hand along the road,

And led them to the men who played no music.

 

And no longer did light shine down from the sky,

Not on the bodies laced with frost on the sparkling road,

Who were hit by a ten ton truck, as they played their music.

Misty Eighteen

Poem by Rita Dang

There is a Grey area

Between the Black and White.

There is a century

Between the strides.

 

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.

 

It’s raining outside again,

Sky is crying for the farewell.

It’s the time to say goodbye.

Bye, friends; bye, umbrella.

 

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.

 

It’s another foggy morning.

Moon is still indistinct.

Like the dirt on my heart.

I lost my direction in that intersection.

 

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.

 

A windy night is coming.

Winds are blowing fiercely.

I’m travelling on the road

With the heavy cargo on my back.

 

Tick, tock—

Tick, tock—

Succulents

Poem by Olivia Peterson

Three plants sit at my window.

when I bought them it was sunny and dry,

fuzzy white patches on the thick, green, leaves.

Now they sit against a dark and wet horizon.

I try to tend to them every day,

but they can’t get enough water.

 

I buy a spray bottle and mist them with more water.

Yet still they sit dying at my window.

So sad, I think, as I watch them today.

Spray, drip, mist, but still too dry.

Quite different from the cold and wet horizon.

I shift their pots and prop up their leaves,

 

but this plague on my plants never seems to leave.

I pick up my can, fill it with water,

and feed my plants as my eyes scan the horizon.

I move to the left. The view is better from this window.

Then I inspect the soil. A bit dry.

Good thing I water them 20 times a day.

 

I can’t stop watering, but maybe someday.

Twice a day I check them, inspecting every leaf.

I am filled with sorrow because one looks dry.

I pick up my can and water, water, water!

After this I feel better and look out my window.

I shift my plants toward the sun, as it moves to the horizon.

 

I love the look of my plants against the horizon.

But wait, one looks dead. Did I water it yesterday?

I can’t remember. My spray bottle smashes the window.

I pick shards of glass from the leaves.

Then I take my can and begin to water.

I feel the soil between my fingers. Too dry.

 

My plants are always too dry!

I gather them up and throw them to the horizon.

I stomp on their leaves and drown them in water.

I will always remember the day

I killed my plants. I left

them to die and now there are no plants on my window.

Metronome

Poem by Olivia Parrott

This soft dailiness deafens

my eyes twitch to the muffled time-keeper

it pierces my ears

stay on pace-they all say

my soul sweats

the escaping salt confuses my circuitry

this isn’t right

but blood has never known where it is in the centrical schedule

I can’t be human enough

I try to reach the viscera of my fumbling mind

it can’t keep pattern,. tick

follow instruction,. tick

conform to a template,. tick

define an equation,. tick

my circle doesn’t have

a radius ‘r’

or a diameter ‘2r’,

and therefore does not have an area

‘pi r squared’

Instead I travel through the center of rotation

and float through the mathematical improbability of

complete silence

Punishment

Poem by Nina Dang

atlas; you balance the heavens on your bare shoulders.

the stars glisten in your sweat,
wars are forged within your spine,
and the tide bears along the nape
of your craning neck.

atlas; do you ache still?

Untitled

Poem by Natalie Holmes

It doesn’t really have to end
But it feels like the right time.
A minute ago, I was
Conducting the air
To a melancholy group of notes
In my brimming brain.
Now the atmosphere hangs dead before me,
A blue haze obstructing my vision.

It clumps in imperfect droplets
And rolls down my rough dry skin,

Landing on my chest, and catching in the creases of my nose.
I cry and I cry because it’s the end.
I cry until I feel numb
And have forgotten what I was crying for.
The haze occurs so frequently it is a friend to me.

Tears are my companions.
I face the end clutched in their embrace,

wishing for the notes that have leaked from my mind.
They were perfection.

The Hopes of Young Black Men

                                       Poem by Miles Aron

          • I am the son of beauty
          • Not beauty born from physical
          • Attraction but beauty born
          • Of the struggles of my people it
          • Is the struggle of a mother bearing and caring
          • For her children alone it is the struggle of the young
          • Black man who cries out for help but instead is answered
          • With a bullet it is the struggle of the want for what others take for granted
          • the things that others do not care about
          • it is the struggle of the ancient slave
          • and his children’s offspring
          • it was the struggle of the sharecropper trying to vote
          • it was the struggle of every man woman and child killed for the simple fact that
          • the pigment of their skin was darker than that of the people they slaved under
          • it was the struggle of a pastor from Georgia
          • it was the struggle of a young boy from Missouri
          • now it is my struggle it is the struggle of my brothers the struggle of my sisters and it will be the struggle of my sons and daughters and the generations that will follow them and it will be as it always has been our struggle for we are a people who will struggle we will fall down and we will not spring back to our feet all of the time but when we fall we will get back up and continue our journey

Accidentally in Love

Poem by Keryk Nikolas Kuiper

I’m hanging by a moment,

Thinking out loud,

As if

I don’t mind,

As if

We’re having the time of our Lives

 

Another night,

Here without you,

Stuck on a feeling,

Jealous,

As you take your time.

 

And,

Since you’ve been gone,

I bet my life,

Till it’s gone,

And I see you,

With

My lonely eyes,

And

I fall for you

 

I try,

To shake it off,

As I’m Blowing in the Wind,

Along Highway 61,

But, I miss you

And I fall to pieces

 

Because everybody

Needs somebody,

To love.

 

Ain’t that a shame?

That I can’t help falling in love?

That I can’t explain

This sweet emotion?

 

This unchained melody,

Is a bad moon rising.

Maybe I’m amazed,

Or maybe I’m just

Comfortably numb.

Either way,

One way or another,

I feel love.

 

So get up, stand up,

I put a spell on you.

Walk this way,

Cause sweet dreams (are made of this).

I’m tired of being alone,

With a heart of glass.

 

And so,

Should I stay or should I go?

Reach out, I’ll be there,

Under the boardwalk,

I’ll take you there.

And baby,

Just like heaven,

Lean on me,

And dance to the music,

And dance with me.

So,

Say goodbye, yellow brick road

And say,

Welcome to the jungle.

Cause I only have eyes for you,

My dancing queen.

 

And so,

I’ll dream on.

In a purple haze,

In purple rain,

Free fallin’

In the still of the night,

Because I still haven’t found

What I’m looking for yet

 

Torn

Pictures of you.

My sweetheart,

You’re a masterpiece,

Just the way you are

 

And I’m Drunk in love,

Thinking about you.

Be my girl,

You belong with me,

So,

Call me,

Maybe?