You hear a ding and reach for your pocket. It’s a text or an email. Or perhaps a notification from Facebook telling you that someone “liked” something you wrote. It might be an Instagram photo from a vacationing friend, awash in golden light and sipping an early morning mimosa. It might even be your spouse, reminding you to pick up pet food on the way home.
This ding reaches you everywhere—messages, alerts, and texts floating into the palm of your hand at random. They interrupt thoughts, conversations, and musings—always tearing you back to a world that demands your response. Such is life in the 21st century, where everyone is only a thumb’s tap away. Continue Reading
The following poems were generated by workshops led by Underground Writing, a nonprofit organization that leads creative writing classes in migrant, incarcerated, recovery, and other at-risk communities in Northern Washington. I belong to this group. Continue Reading
Ever since I was born you’ve been there. You were there when my biological mom would relapse and let my sister and I run around free. You were there again as I began to realize how to work on my own and take care of my mom and little sister. Continue Reading
From a black nylon rope around
her neck hangs a silver instrument
bouncing on her tummy as she walks Continue Reading
I’ve known of your existence
from the time I was 4 years old.
You were always told to me
like a scary story, something
from a dark fairy tale. Continue Reading
I, too, sing America
in hospital beds,
wires stuck to my skull
with heavy glue. Continue Reading
When I look in the mirror
I see a girl who’s hurting
but still puts a smile on her face for people. Continue Reading
I have to swallow the time they’re gonna try to give me and more
And if I don’t try to swallow they will force it down my throat. Continue Reading
Politics is remote. I want to reach it, but I can’t see it. I can’t see where it goes on. I do hear of it. And when I do, I hear Greeks talking, saying the same things, saying them more beautifully. Kalon. Beautiful and fair. “Last of all comes the tyrannical man; about whom we have once more to ask, how is he formed out of the democratical? and how does he live, in happiness or in misery?” Continue Reading
The other day, lying in bed, my son asked me, Would you rather be a circle or a line? I looked at him. He held up his hand, made a circle with thumb and first finger. Eeenie. Straight line with the finger. Meenie. Circle. Minie.
I thought about it. Continue Reading
An Interview with Susan J. Erickson
Susan J. Erickson’s debut full-length collection of poems, “Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine”, reflects her view of the world as an unpredictable mix of the serious and humorous. Erickson received a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Minnesota. Susan now lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she helped to establish the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk and Contest. Her poems appear in “Crab Creek Review”, “Verse Daily”, “Sliver of Stone”, “The Fourth River”, “The Tishman Review”, and numerous anthologies. Continue Reading
Sunlight, shadows, wind. Strangely, no birds.
Out there, ice caps, cold as knives.
Steam from her mouth, his mouth, none from the boy who lay between them. She cradling the boy’s face but he knowing what.
She knowing what but not able to bear it. Continue Reading
If you ever had your Bach, Beethoven, Bartók or Britten on 33 RPM vinyl or 78 RPM shellac, you will have heard my Great Aunt Tilda—even if you’ve never heard of her.
She appeared on every prestigious classical-music label—Deutsche Grammophon, Archiv Produktion, Philips, RCA Red Label, CBS Masterworks—from the late 1930s to the mid-1970s. (She did not, fortunately, live long into the 1980s, by which time, thanks to the digital re-mastering of recordings from the vault, her legacy had been all but obliterated.) Continue Reading
The morning I first saw snow, real real snow, as it rained onto my black coat purchased the night before from Ross-Dress for Less, I stood outside my main door, frozen in place, my fists clenched to the sides in fear. Continue Reading
Something broke the spell. It was either a student’s question or an answer to one already suspended in air. It prompted our professor, a tall white man with the kindest voice and bluest eyes, to start talking about Vietnam. He gripped the sides of his chair, his words trembled, and his sobs, loud and full of sorrow filled up what had been until then just another regular classroom of my life. Continue Reading
At drift log #38 you had jogged 457 strides. That’s an average of about 12 strides per log, which you recall was a low stride/log ratio. It must have been a stormy winter to deposit all those logs, you surmised. At log #78 you noticed a group of seagulls flocking around what would be log #83. At log #80, log #83 looked less like a log. At log #82, log #83 looked more like a body. At stride 975 you confirmed log #83 was a human corpse. Continue Reading
When OJ Simpson was leading the police on the errant chase on that freeway in L.A., I was in Madison Square Garden in New York, at the famous Knicks playoff game where the monitors switched to the chase, to our astonishment, but it didn’t register as surreally or wildly as it might have otherwise because I had been in the middle of telling my brother about Ann. Continue Reading
I write the word on ice-fogged glass not yet shattered by night
raids. This is routine, one man removed and cuffed and bashed about his head. Continue Reading
Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1561.
I’m smiling right out of my face;
whether it’s the sunset or the hummingbirds,
I can’t be sure. I’m exhausted by springtime Continue Reading
Alter- / inner-ego,
to everything outside
and everything within. Continue Reading
Beneath the boat, metal
artifacts. Remnants of Deliverance, the SS
Mont-Blanc’s collision. Wartime
vessels, twisted & tacked
under sediment, the sea floor. Continue Reading
The sea. Sky. Glittering, two sequined
pilgrims. A tear in my sleeve grows, pale skin
disfigured by light, by shadow. Long nights
on water, my breaths I hold like fumes Continue Reading
It is here, in the empty lot across from K-Mart, dusk falling at the cusp
of summer, that you realize you love her. Continue Reading
Throwing the coyote from my bedroom
window wakes me up. Its silhouette and
wild struggle at the screen had sent me
scrabbling at my bureau drawer for something:
a lamp, a camera, a hammer. Continue Reading
And then a final light step:
sputtery inch of a candle
between my fingers, I’ll slip
from a sliver of sun
into black woods— Continue Reading
I chewed your words with my morning
coffee and watched drivers peel out
of their driveways, while you crawled
“along the thoroughfare
of snakes.” Then I ate a peach and sweetbreads. Continue Reading
We brush our teeth with bottled water.
We shock the well with chlorine.
After a day we turn on all faucets
and for hours flush the tap. Continue Reading
The desk clerk’s a slow jerk. The crowd grows,
Wanting to send parcels to friends and kin.
The path of the people will not become overgrown—
Dear readers, puzzle over this Pushkin line. Continue Reading
Harder than I imagined, her
pregnant belly, the thick rind
of womb pliable yet taut. O
sweet shield of flesh. Continue Reading
Is this History, he said.
No, she said, it’s beyond
that door. The exit sign
also shows a way
in. Continue Reading