Latha Kottapalli – An Ode to Black Gold

An Ode to Black Gold

Roots pulled from hiding

Soothe my soul like soup.

Into you, I empty their skins.

Crucifers crisped to crunch,

Laced with lemon, linger on my tongue.

Into you, I empty their stalks.

Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks

Greet my lips with kisses of meringue.

Into you, I empty their shells.

Coffee beans roasted to an aroma

Titillate my nose to chase the whiff.

Into you, I empty their grounds.

Drupes drooping from stems

Satiate my sweet tooth.

Into you, I empty their stones.

Autumn’s burst of hues,

A muse for my eyes.

Into you, I empty its leaf litter.

Into you, I empty all the refuse.

Off you stir and cook them to a new birth.

Lo and behold, Black Gold tumbles out.

Gold that crumbles to the touch.

Smells like the parched earth

When kissed by the first rain spells.

Gold that soaks up like a sponge, springs up

As the roots, stone fruits, and all that nourishes.

O Earth, your kindness knows no bounds.


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TIM STALEY – Confession, honesty and repentance are my first steps forward.

This isn’t a poem or a joke.

This is a confession. Confession, honesty and repentance are my first steps forward.

From approximately 1985 to 2001

I participated in racist behaviors.

I called black people racist names.

I looked down on black people and laughed at racist jokes.

I was not an ally to the one black student in the graduating class of my high school.

I wish to repent these crimes

in earshot of America. It took me 45 years to say these words.

It took me 45 seconds to say these words.

A wise poet once said you have to write about the one thing that scares you most.

Maybe this is the first poem I’ve ever written.

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Tohm Bakelas – end of an era

end of an era
outside the pawnshop
i held those rings
autumn leaves
on the turn of winter—
i felt the beautiful times
crumble in my palm
withered november leaves—
how could two rings
represent so much happiness
and then
like the last leaf
on an oak tree
winter winds shook me loose
from a numbing reminiscence—
i took a deep breath
went inside
and made the exchange
it was that simple
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Emily Bornstein – Just Another Hand


Just another hand perfecting her form. Keeping

her knees tucked to her chest, her arms above her

head, preparing to plunge into the earth. Ready

to dive wrist-deep into worms, to brandish grainy

chunks of manure. She’ll ignore the smell and the

perpetual line of black residue beneath her nails.

She’ll turn a blind eye to the bubbling calluses and

the crumbling arthritic joints below her fingertips.

Just another foolish hand insisting she has a green

thumb. Painting her nails baby blue so that the flower

might think her honeyed water, so that it might sway

balmily between her fingers. Bathing madly in lavender

and vanilla (so that the blossom might unfurl with her

touch) only to walk swollen and wretched through a twinkling

fog of bees. A crestfallen hand trudging eternally towards an

empty bell jar, a barren translucent womb. (She always saw,

though, the beauty in nonexistent, and therefore undying, petals).

Just another hand on her knees, asking to be sent anywhere but

the hopeless, blistering field. Pleading with the cheap, crackling

wires to send any other message to her muscles. Begging the poet

to stop sending her on endless missions to scrawl futile love songs

across the trees.


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Douglas Collura – Her Third Date After a Twenty-Five Year Marriage

Her Third Date After a Twenty-Five Year Marriage



She says, “Look. The rain’s harder now.”

I say, “Yes, but the theater’s close.”

She thumbs a path across

her melting glass.


Her daughter in third-year law.

Her granddaughter a swan.

When did I say I believed

in anyone’s tomorrow?


Her cupped hands; lines

connect, curve, cross,

predict nothing. She stares

into the passing moment.


“I never thought I’d be this person,”

she says, “never this alone.

I’m afraid sometimes, though

it’s nice not to be second guessed.”


My bedroom a chaos of shadows.

She’s unsure what comes next.

Then her legs clamp my hips,

and her mouth finds my neck.

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Margaret Wagner – A GIRL ON HER BOARD


She rolled on the sidewalk at dusk,

the wheels of her skateboard whirring.

She bent without effort,

feet tucked under knees

in a pose I’d never seen.

Gray leggings popped out of pink high-tops. Maroon lips,

aubergine nail polish, metal hoops dangled from her ears.

Her chin rested on her long arm. One bare shoulder

slipped out of her oversized black cardigan. She flew

past cherry blossoms, absorbing cracks in equal measure.

Gliding in her own momentum,

never intending to forget her flow,

she followed her beat wherever it led her.

Was this the starting gate of her velocity

or the peak of it?

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