November 27, 2014 |
How Do I ...?
Featured Poems

Kentucky Wonder by Kerry Trautman

Food for a New Year by Andrew Field

Where I find Will by Jonie McIntire

Someone’s Drinking it All in. by Peter Faziani 

Tea and Cake by Kerry Trautman

Kentucky Wonder

She snapped away the stem ends,
dropped them to the sink.

The green the exact green of
the mother plant.

A scent like riffling grasses,
puddled soils,

the muggy clouds behind
the whirr of mowers.

The wet ruptured pods
like castoff sparrows’ eggs—

something left alive and broken
or intact with rot,

something briefly delicious,
something maddening and gone.

                           -Kerry Trautman

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Food for a New Year

I taste the sweet meaning of my mother’s honey cake

as if I was holding a fresh piece in my hand, as if

through some glitch in memory

I might enter the kitchen again as a boy, slide the wooden door open an inch,

and stand there as my mother cracked eggs and poured vanilla,

feeling sad for no reason, but thankful for such a mother. 

She wouldn’t see me at first, or, if she did, she’d grin, invite me in, help me to a taste

of the batter.  When I was strapped into a stretcher three years ago

and driven at night in the back of an ambulance, while it snowed outside, so many

shredded pieces of paper, and my heart broke again and again, I realized

something I can’t express in a poem.  I was talking to a man in the back of the ambulance;

he’d just left Iraq and the army, had deep-set eyes and a crew-cut, and he peered at me

with curiosity and empathy.  What I couldn’t express

was like the cry of a water pipe in the morning, something strangled and desperate,

which could make you cry years later, but not then.  My life

had taken on a glaring intensity, like a movie you wanted to leave

but couldn’t, and I was lonely like a homeless man

crouched in an abandoned building, terrified of the noises outside.  When I

 think of myself then, I feel a reaching-out kind of sadness, as if my sick self

was the boy at the door of the kitchen, though the kitchen was empty, the lights turned off,

and there was no mother.  Today, because I am alive, I praise the sweetness

of my mother’s honey cake.  I turn the light on in that dark kitchen. 

I invite that boy inside.

                           -Andrew Field

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Where I find Will

In the next to last pages of stacked legal pads.

In the center drawer of a 1000-pound metal desk.

In the folded white undershirts, in the

     balled brown socks.

In the cold morning car classical radio stations.

In tobacco smoke and pineapple sherbet.

In a bad joke about an armless bell-ringer.

In impossible crossword puzzles.

In cheese sandwiches and diet coke.

In books found and immediately read.

In my grandmother’s lonliness and my

     mother’s obsession with presidents.

My grandfather is everywhere, in glimpses, and again

in four letters across, meaning “desire or insistence.”

                           -Jonie McIntire

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Someone’s Drinking it All in.


the way the ball hits

the backboard, and falls flat

due to mediocrity.

The way the flowers face the

Sun and follow it all day. And

when the ball rolls across

the squares of cement that are crumbling at the

corners and edges, and into, on, over, through

the bed that houses the daisies (even though

for all he’s concerned, they could be

dandelions) the crickets quiet down.

A boy of eleven pulls the stems upward

to simulate life, to fool his mother who is watching and

laughing from behind the glass in the bay window inside the teal split-level

wearing a flour covered flowered apron.

But the boy does not hear her laughing and

his panic sets in when the flowers fall flat again

and again and again until the yellow flood light flickers

on above the backboard.

                           -Peter Faziani

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Tea and Cake

As if it was nothing but a matter of thirst,
she gulped her tea, hot, gripping
the mug handle in her fist, like a child
whose grasp could save her from being
swept off in a mass of strangers.

But she knew the brewed herbs,
soothing as they were, and of earth,
couldn’t sluice away his gone face.
The tea, unsweet, seething in her throat
could never provide enough heat.

There should have been milk, but today,
sniffing the jug, she had recoiled,
and since it was spoiled used it to bake
a coffee cake, but with tea instead, because
he always said coffee would yellow her teeth.

She thought baking would help—
the cinnamon cover traces of his smell,
the whirring of the beaters drown
the phantom clinks of him stirring his tea.
What isn’t healed by warm streusel?

                           -Kerry Trautman

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