Poems by Tyler Raso

Fascinating shapes, accidentally

Don’t hold it against me;
I am not an erotic body.
Hold what against me: the body
of eros, passions in tears and strips
and mache. Mache me to eros,

but leave space for the making,
unmaking. Hold me, together.
Couldn’t tell you my best side.

We are merely representations of objects
in fascinating shapes, accidentally.
Ravel to unravel gently, and I may follow.


Without the knowledge of,
one manages (to steal things)—
tremulous figures, pigeon wars,
flat boy, (letters, letters)—and, similarly,
another always manages (to return them).

One gets held up in storytime—
a mess of fingers (separating),
something like sun (surrendering),
pigmy origami animals (reposing)—
though does one know the meaning of?

All our people are little trees—
toppled down, left alone—
with personalities painted on
in soot and snail trails; yet
who bought (matter) the stencils,
or why was it (a matter of stencils)?


Tiny Crane,
About those hands who made you—
If a life is a bird in the palm,
Where would the eggs go?

It’s all in the wrist.)


I have a promise in my pocket, and
you may never live to see it like
the light might see it,

make it seen. It reads

these hands but not these lips
and especially not this voice
because those fell through,

the holes in my own fabric,
my other fabrics—fell up.
Belong, again, to the sky.


Furrowed no. I touch like folding, (like falling)—
I touch, no. Not touch but fold, (fallen)—
One touches, no. Touched, unfolding, (yet falling).

Maybe we’ll recover one another
in fortune cookies.


It is the final day for metaphor and so I prescribe sea salt salves
and a diet of spider webs. These will merely prolong the metaphor of metaphor
so you should hasten to find a replacement. You consider
taxidermy and the ways you might breathe new breath to breathless things.
Erect one woodchuck. Realize its eyes lifeless as silvering buttons on your peacoat
crinkle your spine and so chuck it in the dumpster to fail to rot.
Even so it makes friends with butcher bags empty of bleeding meats and batteries
with no clout left. You’ve done a good thing but you still wash
your conscience with staling baby wipes and hit the drawing board
refreshed. Consider something less lifelike which reminds you
to write a strongly worded letter to the green apple world. You recall
the era of metaphor will soon elapse and so withhold your comments
on the pennywhistle bullies who gave you a hard time
in grade school or the paperback philosophers who
made your ideas feel small but also recall that these mortal laws
detailed nothing about simile and so practice applying like and as
as generously as discount ointment on a burn wound. You’ve made your point
and now the green apple world feels just a little less rotten inside-out
but you hesitate to say you did a good thing which brings again
the baby wipes. As you think the world is more an
engorged and paling blueberry than green or apple
you are struck with the idea to decorate your kitchen
with fruits impervious to worms to oxygen to rot and you think this is
a discretely clever way to metaphorize metaphor for the artist himself painted
the wax the very convincing yellows reds and oranges of the fact the flesh.
You think it might be endearing to arrange a whole wax fruit nativity
and so the basket the manger. The grapes the farm animals.
The orange the mother. The apple the father. The banana the shepherd
though at this point you are stuck because you struggle
with the metaphor of shepherd as Jesus as God the metaphor
of Jesus as God as etc. and any as banana and so instead you
arrange the fruits to your liking and leave it that way
knowing that tomorrow fruit will be fruit.

A body but not my body

  I have spilt
our butter
  on carpets

Chocolate is   a body
the body I aim to admire
    in the way we admire
a body    of butter
  which is to say
  in the ways it is smooth
like chocolate not spilled

  I burnt the butter and
have made the smooth melting
which        Sadly

  Do you recall a body
like butter or recall it more
like chocolate     melted not burned
in the mouth     maybe palm

    On the day the carpet I spilled
that chocolate or butter     I noticed
  the stains    of body
under the burnt of butter   nonsmooths not chocolate
which you recall
   I spilt

Let’s say I burned my body
  not butter and     it too
melts like chocolate    in palms
   or mouths
  not carpets and

though      let’s say
not the butter nor chocolate


nor burned   let’s say
I spilt

 your body


Poems by Anastasia Nicholas

farmer’s song

you are blue-collar, earthen-toned, taciturn;
unassuming, uninspired. stagnant. leisurely,
you lace me on like a leather boot.
it is nine in the afternoon. “no more,” you say. i wait:
watch you washing dishes, watching me, washing me
away. soon enough, we are done for the day
on a lazy ride in a blood-red pickup,
snake eyes swinging from the rearview mirror.
i am not troubled in the least by the mingled tones
of smoke and booze you exhale; i know
i’ll cease to notice soon enough.
i think of sugar, syrup, screen door slams:
mainly, how it used to be.

tomorrow, we rise to do it again.
the song remains the same: “let us be
sharecroppers today,” you say. we drape
ourselves in torn tatters and weathered frowns.
i think of the wolf laying down with the lamb
and wonder which of the two i am.
i like your hair when it most needs cutting,
and i like the way your hands assume
the texture of sanded wood,
but understand that it’s not easy for me
to sift through the sawdust, dress myself in rags.

what i like most of all is when we step out the back
and all i see, for miles, is a plain so flat i could fall off.
i plant myself squarely in your comfortable silence.
i never want to be like you.


elegy for a dead girl

i am not afraid of anything, save
cars, tall buildings, large canines,
spaces both open and enclosed.

in many ways, i am regressing.
whenever something like this happens, it is
retrograde to my ability to make decisions
or operate a motor vehicle.

i am wondering how alike we were:
if she ever hoped she wouldn’t wake up tomorrow morning
because her alarm clock ceased to work,
or the precise number of times she said to herself, aloud,
the precise combination of words “the worst is over,”
or if she lived to see the irony in it.
if she pushed her food around on her plate, cutting it into small pieces,
or if anyone noticed that she did it.
if we wore the same ball and chain.

it’s woefully characteristic of me to make this about myself,
but please understand that i view it as
a mere divergence of fate, an alternate ending.
initially, my overwhelming thought was of my mother,
who never knows where i am or who i’m with
and waits for me with placid unconcern.
i recall an ancient writing prompt: “what is your
‘i was the one that got away’ story?”
i can’t say it made me a sadder, wiser man
because the next day i did it all again.
we are all static characters; there is no scared straight.

it’s horribly vain, a baser part of human nature,
but sometimes it occurs to me (in a lingering, semi-
subconscious sort of way)
that i have the time she was cheated out of.
maybe i’ll write my kubla khan.
i didn’t go to the funeral, but that’s who i am.
i don’t think i’d go to my own funeral, if i could.
something about a great price for a small vice;
the central impression of this tragedy is one of waste.

“Thursday Night Dinners” by Emma Crockford


The floorboards in the kitchen are warm
against our feet, familiar
from before we can remember.
You are snapping the wishbone,
and it feels as if it is my bones that are splintering,
slippery between the fingers of children.

This is the kind of death no one taught me how to mourn,
this halfway empty end to love,
scattered on dinner plates and dropped in the trash.

In the world I want to believe in,
when my fingers find yours under soapy dishes,
you do not let go.

On the drive home, your feet find the dashboard,
your dark hair a kite, your window rolled as far down as it will go.
I count the telephone poles we pass together
in the honeyed dark.


Poems by Marika Brooks

This Breathing

seething and
between these


this breathing



Innocent Heart

make me my innocent heart

be so quiet like the room is wrong

in each tiny bloom

your true touch shares kind

his world, mutual, want him

no sound across body moments

through tears between hands

gauge night terrors, receive nothing.



alabaster disaster
gold cobble stoned
              no where to run.

sins & smiles i recognize
crashing oversized into
              eternal thermal

acquaintance our farewell
this time and forever
              in frozen finger


“Relative Matter” by Sara Schraufnagel

We rarely sit with ourselves,
and see the struggle within us all 

Stop letting the concrete jungle
tuck you in at night
lower one leg at a time and remember that
pain is also your connection to the living

His shirt blew behind him
a flag in the wind, his desired last stand
His hands spread inches from the rain
and the window washer’s rope
that hangs above the 24th floor
He told me love was much more 
than a chemical within us all 
with a fancy name

Poems by Chloe Castay

I Had Not Lived

Amass the firm timber and sow the foundation
for the hovel compiled to bliss.
Four plain sides
and a hearth of ashlar,
to sustain the old hare when
the wren has flown away.

Walden Pond,
sophic eye of cold cobalt blue
bean-fields bestow their breath
until they are freed by
crystalline icicles exquisite.

Winter’s bite congeals
what the equinox restores.
The hermit seeks the philosopher’s call,
but it is wild and withdrawn.

I had not lived
until I found my soul,
a soul in the woods
forged profoundly and brave.

Transcendence the gift,
from Nature, the Host.


the monarchy of dusk

here the cult of ignorance reigns cardinal;
dressed in self-righteous garb
while faithful sip cyanide,
from the desert breast of civilization
and sing softly to the hegemon of dread

opinion amounts to insight, while the
egghead is martyred,
now the assaulted youth
see with only scorched and barren,
glassy eyes.

they worship their bodies,
because they have infected their minds.
parched them of truth,
and converted to pudgy fog.
now they cherish torches,
that burn the diseased womb of acumen.

oh, the squall is opulent,
raining acid on your tongue;
while minerva’s owl is shot down,
from the lurid sky
in the monarchy of dusk.

Poems by Ella Nowicki

Last Days

They were loose limbs in cherry trees
curved and darting
into throats of stucco fur.

Their hair grew damp
of sweat in judgement –
the sleepiest acolyte had
diverted in dust, covering
his own pieta in sticky straw
that crispened under
divine and budding nails.

Lot turned to Orpheus and drank salt.


Miracle of the Slave Ganymede

                      he glanced to the coarsest fur
          that finger-picked europa with bald berries
and chafed ferns up

                      her tintoretto spine. the water bead
          didn’t help, she said. she still collected
pulsars and swarthy constellations

                      in a blue that wasn’t night. but she had
          ships with lucretian strokes, and he was only
plump with angels. his feathers were crowns

                      of oiled hair and they were carved
          in brown thorns. there was no traced divinity in
the origin of mosaic-dirtied streets, so what

                      stars, red drape-throned girl, can
          he inventory from the same skull dusted
rugs that threaten to stamp them out?

Poem by Carrie Zhang

Room in a Bedroom 

Branch sling on my heart. It’s so easy for black letters

                To get lost in white snow. These

Flies come skating out, sucking

               Plums and claret stuck on the walls.

A plastic telephone

               Hangs off its cradle, a closet flings

open, revealing wintry depths. All these years

               Flutter off the calendar, silver mail

On doors unopened,

               The ancestral calico thick as sound


Poems by Emily Alexander

i wish i spoke moon.

(inspired by Elegy Owed by Bob Hicok)

i wish i whispered clear nights, wove them
into shirt fabrics, wore them close to my collarbone.

i wish i had three hands and knew
where to put them, regardless of the time.

i am trying to learn something about the craters
of a kiss. about folding sky into a note in my pocket
that tells me where the middle is, because
there are already plenty of stories that start
like this. all moonbeams and mouths, nothing about

right now. it is mid-afternoon.
my body is something i have to remind myself of.
it is a stranger to bleed; knows only bruise.

my neighbors have a porch swing i have never seen anyone use.

i have three pairs of jeans i wear every week.

i brush my teeth in the morning and again at night, floss words from between them,

tiny versions of hold, definitions
of embrace, nothing spelled quite right.

i think i need an instruction manual three moons thick
so i can learn where to put my knees
when i watch the news.

so i can sweep the kitchen floor, do something
about the mold on the bathroom ceiling without peeling
back my skin to see what could fit there, like my body is a new house
without a moving van in the driveway,

listen: i want to always mean what i say.

like my mouth has never known
anything but clear night moon.


It’s like this: he offers his body to me, and I take it
without asking where it’s been. We do this
to each other, fingertips whispering
through flesh, songs of steam
on car windows, soundless
mouths, sheets. This is a simple language,
straightforward: sighs, lines, thighs. He holds me
in place for the time it takes, bed rocking
like a boat anchored in storm. I do not know
of any safe harbors around here, so this
will have to do, his breath, my neck, regret
a distant shoreline I haven’t started
sailing towards yet. Look. I know that stuck
is not synonymous with stay. I have enough alleyways
in me without the complication of wanting
his abandoned building body
to hold pieces of my shipwreck. So I wake
first in the mornings, his face still
soft, open windows. I could almost love him
then, unanchored breath drifting
out of lips that know the place my secrets have slipped
through. Regardless of my mouth, still heavy
with broken boats. Regardless of my unkissed knees, wrists,
dark halls, cobwebbed closets. Regardless of his.

moscow, id

right now, 3 states away, the last of fall harvest
is settling into the chest of tractor
troughs. i remember watching wheat fields unraveling
like knobby knees and nervous
bodies. there was a time when that was
enough. when i only had one house, when the ground
didn’t count as one, when i knew staying
like tattoos know skin, despite the rest
of the body. i want to write a poem
about my father’s heartbeat, but
i don’t quite remember it. it’s been a long time since i fit
in his lap. listen, i have unlocked cities trying
to learn how to laugh without this deadbolt mouth,
and i am still shy. and i am always missing
someone. i know that right now in idaho,
light is pressing against grain silos as my mother
presses her fingertips into the piano. if this was enough,
i would still be there. if this was enough, i wouldn’t
think of home as a poem
about longing, about question marks, the pause
between notes. my own hands
pressing against a window in california.

Poems by Tyler Turpin

Note: Background information on Mr. Turpin’s work can be found on his bio page

Army diesel locomotive 8011

Most locomotives spend their whole service lives in one or two regions.
One went halfway around the world and to many states
It was not pulling relics from town to town
It will become a national treasure
Built for rural Georgia an ALCO RS-1 diesel road switcher locomotive
It left the factory in March of 1941
Over Richmond, VA river rapids that once powered Tredegar Ironworks it passed on its way to the land of Gone With the Wind, cotton shirt mills, peaches, rice, peanuts, and the Atlanta Ford Car Plant.
Locomotive 902 for the Georgia and St. Andrews Bay
The whistle sounds strange in the distance
As it comes by children look up
Steady hum of the diesel replaces the guttural workings of the boiler
What had been a chimney of black smoke turns to a haze
The Nutcracker come real an alien on the tracks
Children are told even simple things we take for granted someday change permanently
It will be a mechanical rainbow seen for a few months not to return to this line again
Others will come 4 years later to shove the steam locomotives away and become a daily fixture
902 will never come back to the Georgia line
The question is when like 80 years before will there be war
Already odd looking cargoes in and out of bases and new style factories rumble along with the cars of peaches, shirts and rocks and trees
The National Guard goes active in a parade and fades away in puffs of haze to two states away
In December not April and a continent and ocean away this time Pearl Harbor attacked
Rail not a novelty this wartime
Most of the young men and the young machine of the line are called to do their part
To distant lands they are not meant for
902 in the Army now and renumbered 8011
With a change of wheel mounts it becomes an RSD1
To the scrub, dry heat, and sand of Iran to hold in check the Nazi’s in the motherland of the USSR
War ends and it returns to the states still young proven and experienced newer ones available to replace it
Cost of overhaul would cancel other needs of owner
Like some other young veterans it starts any army career
Politics advances with technology, America in the Cold War now
Across the Bearing Sea, the bear it helped save gives America a menacing grin
Up to Alaska goes 8011 to scale the hills of the raven’s nest
Dark plumes no longer pierce the snowstorms of misty grey
A loud purring of pistons accompanies the Lynx in the Firs
Boiler bows to the diesel at even 30 below
Another generation passes railcars get longer
Some old diesels are ground up for metal to make Tomcats, Camaros and F40PH
Their motors to become backup power at the microchip factory
Not 8011 placement on the reutilization, donation, or transfer list gives it two more fates
To the DOT railroad research center in Colorado
Run test cars for making late night musing of mechanical engineers come true and artificial accidents to make gasses not release from tankers
The final miles for lasting well
A national treasure is found to the Smithsonian collection at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania it retires
Outlasted its manufacturer by 13 years
On a flatcar in 2011 over level two of Richmond, VA’s Triple Crossing
One level below is the Richmond and York River Railroad where rail first went into   battle
Through Central and Tidewater Virginia it travels
Past the cargoes of a nation in peace and war
To be in the collection at Ft. Eustis Army Transportation Corps Museum
Diesel Switchers still run on the rails
Once again the minds of children touched
This one reminds everyone how history of technology has turned a page
Unwind time to the dawn of the diesel era.

Belle Isle Hydro-Electric Plant Richmond, VA

It sits on the cliff of Belle Isle
On gnarled weathered slopes sculpted by man and nature
Its machinery began to rotate over a century ago,
64 years it ran,
A distant storm named Camille
Like a meteor entering earth parts of it impacts twice
On the Gulf of Mexico and in the James River
Physics runs the waterwheel
Physics with a blow turns the wheel to never align again
The river weaves threads of water and particles
Ensnaring the generators
The river reclaims the lease
No more infant striper and shad torn to bits before they can grow to spawn
Hydropower is clean energy if fine size screen and fish ladders are used
This one had neither
Trains of fossil fuels rumble by
On the wall the switch is set to
CLOSED, permanently
The walls crumble
With the echoes of the fishermen on the rocks below.

A-26 invader 44-35617

Built in 1945 to keep America free
Built to clip the wings of the evil eagle of the Baltic and free the slaves of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
War ends before it is used
A stifling chill breeze of ideology makes an iron curtain of exchange and real fences of barbed wire descend across Europe
Only 5 years of peacetime routine the Cold War turns hot in Korea
The once friendly bear must be monitored too
Its fighting men and spies ready to spread a lone star red
So the guns are slid out the bomb bay sealed
From the physicist and lens maker a panoramic view camera installed
A few years later the Cold War turns down to a simmer
Still good to use not just by Uncle Sam
He just wants jets that roar and turboprops that hum not propellers that churn
The camera unlatched the flashbomb pods put away
44-35617 is sold to a manufacturing firm becomes N600WB on the civil aircraft register
Transformed into a hot rod and mansion of the air
The war bonds repaid with the contracts resulting from its trips
A generation comes of age the Learjets come
Downgraded to an unscheduled cargo hauler
A succession of owners then N600wb purchased by an associate of the evil empires of the western hemisphere the drug cartels
The rewards of the cargo so great the plane can easily be replaced should it be lost
Now it brings manner of death again not to soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the nation’s foes but to the people of the country that built it
Each trip is hundreds of kilograms of poison: heroin, cocaine, and marijuana for minds and bodies
Each ounce triggers battles for corners of streets and families
Uncle’s agents with badges of gold wearing suits of Kevlar
Reclaim it with flashbangs and pointing MP-5 submachine guns
Off to the museum it goes to honor the crews of the A-26 that blazed a contrail of glory with rocket pods, bombs, and machine guns over Lorraine along the Rhine, Pork Chop hill, Hungnam the Imjin River and probed the boundaries of the bear’s lair
To honor too the grease stained men with the wrenches in their hands who made every flight possible.

Peck Iron and Metal 1948

For every ship service begins with a tow from the launching and ends with one to the scrapyard, scuttling, the target range, or the museum
Some Landing Ship Tank built at Newport News and other yards around the country end on the James River on a towline.
Downstream from Richmond, VA
Past Drewry’s Bluff over the frames of the ironclads of the Confederate States of America’s Navy that only lasted 3 years.
Salmon last only a few years and return to spawn and return to the earth.
These LST will return to the smelter
On the ironclads when Richmond was to nevermore be the Capital of the CSA
Lines of powder were lit with slow burning matches as fuses set by the crews.
Produced a flash on each to turn them to ruins never to be used again
These LST too will end in flashes. They too only served one war
Pass over the shattered hulks of the CSA ironclads
At Peck Iron and Metal beside the port
Men with welding torches descend on them like a flock of grackles to the fall harvest field
Peck them apart. Metals for appliances
Toxic substances rain like buckshot out of a shell onto men, water, and earth to join the molecules of oxidation of metal in the James from the ironclads on the riverbed
The engines are handled with the care given to a wedding dress before a wedding
To be used to bind two eras of time
Transform tugboats from the previous century and some from the war a generation ago
Anew from clouds of smoke from stacks tall as the columns of small temples of the pagan gods of Rome and the gentle rhythm of the steam engine that complemented the waves
To the roar of a diesel in a hold below a grate, a steel-case engine whose cannon-sized pistons provide a big rumble emitting barely visible haze scattered as dandelion blooms are quickly to the wind
Columns replaced with octagons that are like half a tree trunk
The edges capped with cartoon character like lips
From sailing ships to 800-foot freighters with Azipod propulsion units that only require one tug where once a 450-footer required 3 barges made of sailing ship hulls hauling jute to container barges taking synthetic fibers to the container ports for export
These boats towed it all. Lasted longer than their builders and first 3 generations or more of crews
Hulls of rivets with electronics in wheelhouse having cases cut with lasers
Some dock the sailing ships for the museums that own them
Lowell Thomas Movietone News clips live in color for those who choose to view real colors these days.

Mr. Trigg

Mr. Trigg
His legacy is all around not just in books or the Internet or point of case law brought up still
When government contractors fail with unfinished goods on the factory floor and creditors press against the court dock’s rail
Not just cigarettes, little things of iron, later foil and cough syrup too
Post-war Richmond known for more
Meet William Trigg, paralyzed by brain bleeding in 1902,
His wheels stopped turning in February ’03, kidneys not destined to make it through the winter.
The baseball diamond’s announcers voice echoes
Across the tracks to the wall of the factory
Where once machines that had pulled the trains of Cobb, Ruth, Cool Papa Bell were built
On screen on the Boulevard
The analysts and case officers of cold war spy thrillers practice their trades
From that very room parts for H2-293 of Finnish Railways were made
From small parts around the country and Tredegar and the Blue Ridge’s iron reheated
Machines cut grind and mold in whirring guided by eyes and fingers locked in unison
In 1917 revolution comes into Russia hidden on a train pulled by H2-293
Whose dark plumes pierce the fall clouds of misty grey portending fires of misery and industry in all corners of the globe
The factories sold to ALCO in 1901
In ‘27 Shockoe’s dynamo sends its last volt
Boulevard just a spoke on the supply chain as a parts plant after 1927.
1401, one of the last made,
Whose wheels had carried FDR, the man whose wheels had carried the nation…
Sits silently in shiny green paint, a statue, rods forever stilled in the Smithsonian’s basement hall,
The shrill whistle of 1904 built Southern 630, the only Richmond-built still running,
Accompanies the stataco of the Kingfishers on the banks of the Appomattox in March of 2013
And his shipyard, too, just a propwash on Richmond’s history,
Trigg’s, three short years of glory, now
The bleached white walls left of a drydock form a tombstone,
The dredge Benyuard improved the flow of commerce for the cargoes of the world at uncle’s behest for 44 years
Benyuard was built so tightly it got another 10 years of action to a private firm.  Outlasted the yard and many of her builders
Today’s locomotives just rectangles that give steady drone
Ships big boxes on the sea like chain stores
Tugboats do not have the fine lines like ballerina costumes anymore they just move like them.