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message 1: by Amy (last edited Dec 31, 2016 03:32PM) (new)

Amy (AmyKing) | 567 comments Mod

Stories of My Father’s Absence

I learned to dust when I was eight years old,
when grief and hope were equally sensual places.
I followed my mother around the house,
holding a clean, cloth diaper, cool with lemony sadness.

At the redwood cabinet filled with curios,
I dusted the stories of my father’s absence.
See how the dust settles in the lines of the ancient-faced
rickshaw rider, his cart laden with miniature fruits?

Between the pearls baked into the pearl diver’s lap?
Around the blown glass gills of the carp?
In the crannies of a bamboo tea strainer?
On top of a river stone darker than midnight?

On Saturdays, we polished these artifacts
tugging like the tides in the Bay of Bengal.
We handled them as gently as we would a newborn,
a wish, a sorrow. This story, this life of my father.

--Cynthia Grady



I inherit memories of Europe
Like keys to a safe deposit box.
Inside, are painted walls of caves,
And people who believe in past lives;
Quite sure they were kings and queens.

It reminds me of an Imperial ballroom
Decorated with faded wallflowers,
And the pockmarks of bullet holes.
A place where sinister music is piped in
Like crude from Siberian oil fields.

No road signs indicate how I got here.
It's pretty much the same as always.
In a strange city, vivid reflections
From the hoods of passing cars
Illuminate the darkest heart.

At night, through my open window,
A light waltzes across the room,
From stars so completely oblivious,
They do not know, they no longer exist;
Yet still bestow this gift of light.

--Richard Fleming


The Woodpecker

It was not made for him, that hummingbird nectar
But it matters not to the woodpecker
I watch as he sneaks up the railing of the Juliet balcony
Perhaps half-fearing, half-desiring an ambrosial kiss like Romeo
He pops his head out from behind the feeder
Turns it one way, then the next
Then repeats the action.
Timid, he creeps forward around to the opening of the feeder
Where I can see him best
He sips, stops, sips again
Tentative, he raises his head
And checks the clearing yet again

He loses time between the sips, by being so cautious
Who is he expecting to sneak up on him?
Who is he afraid of?
Who will prematurely end those blissful sips?
The woodpecker, of course.

The woodpecker is not deterred by the arrival of a hummingbird.
He will drink, and no one will tell him otherwise
He drinks.
The hummingbird must wait
Flitting about furiously
His wings humming with indignation.

Satisfied, the woodpecker takes his leave
Just after checking the clearing again.
His alert black eyes, the red plumage on his chest,
His cautiousness, I remember best
But I also know that the woodpecker’s bold.

For it was not made for him, the nectar.
But he drinks it anyway.




i'm riding
in the back of
my mother's beige
volkswagen beetle
sucking on apple
flavored now and laters
but in my mind
that was all one word
mellowing out
to john denver
singing to annie
telling her she
fills up his senses

off-white chuck taylors
jordache jeans
white t-shirt
long blue sleeves
my name ironed on
across the back
wondering how strangers
who spoke to me
already knew my name
afro ablaze
on my head
pick folded up
in my back pocket
my wallet on
the other side
with two dollars and
a library card

on our way
to dairy queen
for a footlong
with everything
or a soft-serve
dipped in chocolate and saturday
after blowing my allowance
at the hole
in the wall
smelling of dust
and fresh ink
leaving with my
stack of heroes
wrapped in brown paper
fifty cents each

it was afternoon
fresh off my
cartoon marathon
herculoids and
space ghost
still lighting up my mind
that chilled out chick
skating in a figure eight
blowing my mind
by telling me
if i turn it on its side
it spells out

but i'm
in the back seat
of my mom's
beige volkswagen beetle
singing at the top
of my voice
the devil went
down to georgia
and he was looking
for a soul to steal
because i'm bad, bad
leroy brown
and i'm leaving
on a jet plane
don't know when i'll
be back again

we roll into
the whistle stop pop shop
where I get
my discount
orange and grape soda fix
bottled while i watch
it's back to the car
because it's
and you can
and you can
ring my bell

--Gerald L. Coleman


The Things I Learned as a Bartender

There is no such thing as the perfect martini.
Jazz musicians make lousy tippers.
A couple can walk in fighting and after two shots of tequila
hold each other for dear life on the dance floor
like they did in high school.

A woman doesn’t notice her date’s drink order
as much as how he treats the waitress.
No matter how cool the pickup line
women want kind.
Even with nothing to gain
people can be small and mean.

A table of plastic surgeons
can be more obnoxious, abusive, than
a convention of professional wrestlers.
The plain girl alone at the end of the bar
has an achingly beautiful story
no one will hear.
The busboy with the bad skin.
His will also go untold.

Some people cannot be reached.
The hulking cab driver
who climbed the back stairs for his double cheeseburger
every night at 8:30, month after month,
stayed mute, no eye contact. He’d pay with a twenty
and wave away the change.
Leave without a word.
From him I learned
it’s impossible to imagine
all the damage done.

--Tricia McCallum


Waiting for Justice

I waited for justice
On the corner of
Eternity and vine
She said nine but
I knew she would be late
Bitch is never on time
So I waited, blowing bubbles
Precise pockets of air encased in hope
Shining, iridescent like a new born baby’s smile
The guys on the street hooted and whistled
Made rude gestures with forefingers and thumb
Their insides melting from the glare of too much suffering
I waited, impatient for
I don’t know what
For time to move and dance and sway
For a love I’d been falsely promised would come some day
For a song with lyrics that galloped down the empty asphalt
The echoing bass like horses’ hooves unshod against pavement.
In Syria they are dying for sect, for land, for falafel
And no one seems to care that babies float on an empty sea
Their stomachs full of the sharks of doubt
And fear we in the West use as a shield to protect our children
At least until they walk into school,
through a metal detector beeping
with the incongruity of knowledge
and violence sharing the same hallowed halls.
I waited for Justice, smoking a cigarette
and listening to Coltrane on my iPhone
I should’ve known she wouldn’t show.

--By Jamie Etheridge



Black Lives Matter

By Shondra M. Quarles

God bless America from sea to shining sea, with so many people hurting who look just like me.
Where is the little black boy whose hair is like mine and skin as dark as me?
A boy who has the potential to grow up and be the man he was meant to be?
He has been broken by inhumanity and discarded by the world which is filled with inequality.
Although he is lost he will never be forgotten because he still lives through me.
Where is the little black girl who looks just like me? A girl with curly hair and big brown eyes as curious as can be.
She dreamed a dream like Dr. King and imagined the world full of peace and equality.
A dream where all people were judged by the content of their character and not the color of skin you see.
She too is gone but not forgotten, because I live her life through me.
Yes, All Lives Matter whether they are red, white, yellow, brown, or blue.
But in a world that is filled with injustice, I am always reminded that BLACK LIVES MATTER too.


If why, then liaison, then alibi
then lock the door. If weird, if andante,
then Szechuan. If the sad cellar of my heart,
then the paintings of Rembrandt.

If radio, then dragonfly. If poetry, then fiction speaks.
Invent a language to name it.
Carry it close in your pocket while the ocean

If I am bored and anxious, then this poem
cannot read cannot pronounce itself its flawed
and is ignorant of listening this poem is a run-on sentence.

This poem is a dark yellow with turquoise splotches.
Now it is black carrots and blood oranges.

One quarter of this poem is about being elusive,
being a shimmering duration of my own fantasy
with images. A song of bones.

--Stephen Lindow


The Gift
by Mary McCormack Deka

Snow cloaks the stone lions
at the building's entrance.
The little girl
stands next to them,
her dark brown hair and eyes
startling against the white landscape.
Lions don't intimidate her.
She leans her head against one
as if it's alive, and warm,
a comfort.

Cradled in her hands:
a box of chocolate mints—
a gift from her aunt.
The box, like the lions,
seems different at her touch.
She holds it so gingerly,
like inside is something precious,
fragile, something
with its own heartbeat.

Then she turns, skips
up the steps to her aunt, and joins
the adult world again, far removed
from such things as objects
coming to life in one's hand,
and stone animals
who breathe their warmth
into winter air.


One Winter

Where are the snows of years gone by?
And where’s the one who came this way
beneath a low and chalky sky
and walked with me that winter day

down hillside woods, past limestone walls,
then up a creek bed deep in snow
to see the frozen waterfalls?
The cataract’s arrested flow

shone like a pillared mound of glass,
all plunge and roar solidified
into a looming blue-green mass.
We stood in silence, side by side,

and winter held us, kept us bound
in consonance like ice and stone,
and laced together on the ground
the only tracks were ours alone.

But lives are fluid, mutable,
not fixed tableaux inside a sphere
where worlds are snowy beautiful
and nothing changes year to year.

I saw that winter melt and go
in icy currents down a stream
and all that bright beguiling snow
become a lost dissolving dream.

--Richard Meyer

message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul Richard Meyer & Stephen Lindow's poems are the best of all these (even though you didn't ask me.) They're well crafted, with interesting language, and are not predictable. They're also musical, and far from prose. They're also more about the language than what it's saying.

message 3: by Debra (new)

Debra Tachibana | 2 comments Ed.: Lindow: typo: "it's flawed"

message 4: by Gerald Coleman (new)

Gerald Coleman | 15 comments Last line of 1979 is missing ...

"ring my bell"

Thanks for the consideration!

message 5: by William (new)

William Robertson (goodreadscombillro) | 97 comments I thoroughly enjoyed "Things I Learned as a Bartender."

message 6: by Tricia (new)

Tricia McCallum | 109 comments William wrote: "I thoroughly enjoyed "Things I Learned as a Bartender.""

Thank you, William.

message 7: by Dr. Eugene (new)

Dr. Eugene (elanderbooks) | 11 comments All great and meaningful poems, but The Woodpecker is my favorite. Eugene

message 8: by Sajeda (new)

Sajeda Manzoor | 11 comments All poems are well written but I like Richard Meyer's One Winter the best it is very interesting to read the season is described in an artistic way. Wish you all the best Richard Meyer. Thanks

message 9: by Artūrs (new)

Artūrs Lūsis (ArthurALewis) | 3 comments stephen lindow

message 10: by Sridharan (new)

Sridharan | 47 comments I liked most, "Black life Matters" followed by "One Winter". i liked the ease of thought in both the poems.

message 11: by Sue (new)

Sue Johnson | 49 comments I loved 1979!

message 12: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Watkins (AnthonyUplandpoetWatkins) | 795 comments loved Cynthias father, but enjoyed most of them. I would probably publish half of them. congrats for another fine month's crop! cheers to the poets and especially the judges!

message 13: by Bookjunk (new)

Bookjunk | 2 comments "The Things I Learned as a Bartender" struck a chord with me too. I loved it.

message 14: by Peter (new)

Peter Prasad (goodreadscomPeter_Prasad) | 10 comments Fruit is a collective noun. I pass on voting. Please write more, more often.

message 15: by Esmeralda (new)

Esmeralda Plangesis (goodreadscominsearchofliberation) | 9 comments My vote goes to Cynthia Grady's "Stories of my father's Absence"

message 16: by Anne (new)

Anne Howard | 47 comments Paul wrote: "Richard Meyer & Stephen Lindow's poems are the best of all these (even though you didn't ask me.) They're well crafted, with interesting language, and are not predictable. They're also musical, and..."

This is an excellent traditional poem. I love the imagery, the conciseness of language and how it flows, like the melting snow, into the thoughtful ending.

message 17: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  L | 199 comments I like all the finalists this month! Great work, poets. I will add, Trisha, that your poem about lessons from bartending reminds me of Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio." Your poem succinctly captures characters, and now I want to read a whole book of poems about these people!

message 18: by Kabir (new)

Kabir (kabirmukerjee-mustafi) | 17 comments Bartending - lunges ahead with its last lesson stated....

briliant in it s assumption.

message 19: by Paul (new)

Paul | 38 comments I loved Waiting for Justice, yet the universal moment of truth in "yet still bestows the gift of light" brings hope to the lost yearning.

message 20: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Aylsworth | 33 comments Stephen Lindow gets my vote. Poetry differs from prose. It calls
for rich metaphoric language that transforms.

message 21: by Shatha (new)

Shatha | 9 comments I like Jamie Etheridge's poem waiting for justice.

message 22: by Colin (new)

Colin | 24 comments Very in tune with the political correctness so necessary to receive acclaim. Not sure that just being well written is validation alone. Poetry needs to jump the bounds that attempt to restrict true feelings and ideas. I like the 1979 poem. The establishment will be proud of the political messages implanted in the poems, generally.

message 23: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (emilyraye) | 2 comments Trying to decide between 1979 and What I learned as a bartender. They're both intriguing and offer little surprises that made them enjoyable to read.

message 24: by Charles (new)

Charles | 2 comments enjoyed "The things I learned as a bartender"

message 25: by Tricia (new)

Tricia McCallum | 109 comments Anyone notice the winning poem wasn't featured in this month's Newsletter?

Disappointed... Anyone know why?

message 26: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  L | 199 comments I noticed that immediately!! I wondered why also. Such a disappointment, Tricia.

message 27: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Watkins (AnthonyUplandpoetWatkins) | 795 comments yes, i am wondering what happened.

message 28: by Tricia (new)

Tricia McCallum | 109 comments I sent an email to the Editorial Team last night. I haven't heard anything.

I'll keep you posted.

All best, Tricia.

message 29: by Tricia (new)

Tricia McCallum | 109 comments Just received an explanation... Due to holiday timing, the January newsletter was actually compiled before the contest ended. Thus, my poem will be featured in goodreads' February newsletter instead.

Mystery solved.

Happy New Year to all!

message 30: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  L | 199 comments That's good news!

message 31: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Butler | 1 comments Beautiful offerings mean hard decisions. Congrats to all for some good writing.

message 32: by Diana (new)

Diana Kanecki (diana1k) | 40 comments Hi,
I like all the poems and feel a common theme. A theme of synergy of ubderstanding the past goals and achievement and the willingness to preserve; yet, the realization one can live in the past forever or try to live isolated.
The world is changing and evolving; I'm happy to see the the spirit and vitality of all. How I wish those friends who are over 65 in evanston would realize you can't isolate your past and keep the world or political party in amber.
To choose one, I like 1979 as it reminds of that time; albeit in a 1972 colony park station wagon which we travelled around wisconsin taking different roads and stopping in various shops, restaurants along the way.


message 33: by Sajeda (new)

Sajeda Manzoor | 11 comments Hello writers,
All the poems are lovely expression of mind and thoughts well written. Congratulations for the beautiful words those come from the core of hearts.
I will vote for "One winter" by Richard Meyer well written positively it potrays the hope after the peak winter, How does the season change?

The next poem I will choose "The things I learned" by Tracia Mccallum well written the experience lovely poem beautiful.

Thanks to everyone ♡

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