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Month: December 2015

Two Poems up at New Mexico Review today!


Hi all! Just in case you haven’t heard elsewhere, my poems, “Excavation,” and “Passing through My Neighbor’s Backyard,” are both up at New Mexico Review today!

Dear Editors, especially Tyler Mills, thank you so much for this recognition and giving these poems a home; I am so happy to be a part of this issue… Here’s to many, many more!

And readers! Please take a little break and sit back to read this issue; I’m sure you’ll love it. And thank you so much for reading my poems!

Until Later ~ Best, from Me.




Poem of the Day: Jericho Brown




Forgive me for taking the tone of a preacher.
You understand, a dying man

Must have a point—not that I am
Dying exactly. My doctor tells me I’ll live

Longer than most since I see him
More than most. Of course, he cannot be trusted

Not can any man
Who promises you life for looking his way. Promises

Come from the chosen: a lunatic,
The whitest dove—those who hear

The voice of God and other old music. I’m not
Chosen. I only have a point like anyone

Paid to bring bad news: a preacher, a soldier,
The doctor. We talk about God

Because we want to speak
In metaphors. My doctor clings to the metaphor

Of war. It’s always the virus
That attacks and the cells that fight or die

Fighting. Hell, I remember him saying the word
Siege when a rash returned. Here

I am dying while
He makes a battle of my body—anything to be seen

When all he really means is to grab me by the chin
And, like God the Father, say through clenched teeth,

Look at me when I’m talking to you.
Your healing is not in my hands, though

I touch as if to make you whole.


—from Jericho Brown’s The New Testament, Copper Canyon Press (2014)




Poem of the Day: Carrie Oeding




The meditation teacher said he wants to leave you alone with me. There should be no third party between me and “existence.”

The meditation teacher said I would soon understand the nature of the mind rather than fight with it. He winked at me then, a bit creepy. I’ll be honest, he really didn’t, but it’s my nature to say quick things to try and make it interesting. Winking is totally predictable.

My friend Jen would like to get to know you because she wants to stay in the moment.

I don’t want to get into it with her, but there could be a moment of a bright autumn tree, or a bright autumn tree that leads me to notice crows, cats, dents in my car, cars on my cat, leaves shaped like cats, the world is cruel. And then it’s not— bright autumn trees that come alive and wink. Or trees which then, suddenly, suddenly suddenly I notice then what happens next?    Looking looking         where’s the moment I’m in?         Bright autumn trees that don’t notice me

I’m not going back to class to find out how to look at a leaf or who really winked.

I got to know someone once and it led to third parties.

Dear bright autumn tree, surprise me.

Dear meditation, I’m sorry, I know I am getting you all wrong— but now you know how a person can feel and why they wouldn’t want to let that go.


—from Carrie Oeding’s Our List of Solutions, 42 Miles Press (2011)
—also previously appeared in Mid-American Review




Poem of the Day: Nancy Botkin




In childhood you unfold the map
of the world and smooth it out
with your small hand, and with one finger trace
a path somewhere not very far, usually
a block or two from home where the pond
is frozen over, where the trees sag
a little from the weight of ice, where the birds
are talking their language of pearl
and pit, where the creek
has stopped its constant complaining.
You arrive there with your new skates,
you try a little spin, and you spend
the rest of your life with that image.
Not the branches or the brambles,
not the pale moon,
not even the birds,
but the skates, all white and amazing,
there below you
at the end of your body.


—from Nancy Botkin’s Parts That Were Once Whole, Mayapple Press (2007)




Poem of the Day: Mary Ruefle




Everything that ever happened to me
is just hanging—crushed
and sparkling—in the air,
waiting to happen to you.
Everything that ever happened to me
happened to somebody else first.
I would give you an example
but they are all invisible.
Or off gallivanting around the globe.
Not here when I need them
now that I need them
if I ever did which I doubt.
Being particular has its problems.
In particular there is a rift through everything.
There is a rift running the length of Iceland
and so a rift runs through every family
and between families a feud.
It’s called a saga. Rifts and sagas
fill the air, and beautiful old women
sing of them, so the air is filled with
music and the smell of berries and apples
and shouting when a gun goes off
and crying in closed rooms.
Faces, who needs them?
Eating the blood of oranges
I in my alcove could use one.
Abbas and ammas!
come out of your huts, travel
halfway around the world,
inspect my secret bank account of joy!
My face is a jar of honey
you can look through,
you can see everything
is muted, so terribly muted,
who could ever speak of it,
sealed and held up for all?


—from Mary Ruefle’s Trances of the Blast, Wave Books (2013).




Poem of the Day: Jean Valentine




You drew my head
the back of my head
my neck stem

you made my head a charcoal skull
and even the skull
is turned away

no eyes


—from Jean Valentine’s Door in the Mountain: New and Collection Poems, 1965 – 2003, Wesleyan University Press (2004)




Poem of the Day: Elizabeth Bishop




At low tide like this how sheer the water is.
White, crumbling ribs of marl protrude and glare
and the boats are dry, the pilings dry as matches.
Absorbing, rather than being absorbed,
the water in the bight doesn’t wet anything,
the color of the gas flame turned as low as possible.
One can smell it turning to gas; if one were Baudelaire
one could probably hear it turning to marimba music.
The little ocher dredge at work off the end of the dock
already plays the dry perfectly off-beat claves.
The birds are outsize. Pelicans crash
into this peculiar gas unnecessarily hard,
it seems to me, like pickaxes,
rarely coming up with anything to show for it,
and going off with humorous elbowings.
Black-and-white man-of-war birds soar
on impalpable drafts
and open their tails like scissors on the curves
or tense them like wishbones, till they tremble.
The frowsy sponge boats keep coming in
with the obliging air of retrievers,
bristling with jackstraw gaffs and hooks
and decorated with bobbles of sponges.
There is a fence of chicken wire along the dock
where, glinting like little plowshares,
the blue-gray shark tails are hung up to dry
for the Chinese-restaurant trade.
Some of the little white boats are still piled up
against each other, or lie on their sides, stove in,
and not yet salvaged, if they ever will be, from the last bad storm,
like torn-open, unanswered letters.
The bight is littered with old correspondences.
Click. Click. Goes the dredge,
and brings up a dripping jawful of marl.
All the untidy activity continues,
awful but cheerful.


—from Elizabeth Bishop’s The Complete Poems: 1927 – 1979, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1979)




Poem of the Day: Erica Bernheim




I’m willing to bet that greasy twenty
stuck to the bottom of your empty
file cabinet, it’s never me you think of
when you try to shoot yourself
onto the ceilings of your apartment.
Your thoughts lie somewhere in the sink
you call your Amazon Basin, soapy home
to blue Julies and banded Lisas and frozen
Charlottes, their spiny tongues making short
work of crumpled toothpaste tubes
and tiny spoons and the questionable
ghost of your mother’s lover who kicked
your dog across state lines, showing little
more remorse than a teenage shoplifter.
Last night I dreamt you took out the
trash, flipped beautiful lean burgers
on an outdoor grill; I can see you talking
to the plumber, convincing him to lose
himself down the slimmest of pipes
in search of what we’ve discarded
and still cannot move past. Without
you, I dream of blood in my stomach,
my breath shrinking when jewelry
salesmen beckon enormous topazes
in my direction, and I am always tempted
to move towards that city which has yet
to discover neon. It is my turn to bask
in the limelight. My turn, Tabasco.
The lime’s light, and this glass so heavy.
Pretending we have been pensive, all bets
are often decided by the sea star, stomach
flowing out its mouth, straight to
the point, that food, nothing gets wasted,
save a few starfish, one backed against the
wall, tube feet straining to make sense of
a truck that refuses to shift into reverse, and
is still going nowhere fast, a bad phrase,
a neck in the creek, a tiny piece of skin,
determined not to let you love it, or ever
be able to give it up. Watch out
for this, super-mouth, skullcap of bald, you
don’t have to adjust your ill-fitting pants to know
everyone’s looking down, and there’s everything
you could do about it and won’t. The gum I pull
from well-tractioned heels clings like a
cinnamon-scented animal, who knows what it
doesn’t know yet is worse than being
stepped on. I’m sorry for still thinking of
you, for wanting to clip your nails with
left-handed scissors for no reason other
than to be difficult, to repeat an old
man’s mantra in your ugly ears while
you pretend not to be asleep, “The bench
is in the church, the bench is in the church.”
Virgil Moon is willing to see my bet
and raise us both, straighten our legs,
and get our minds out of the soap
dish, but the line at his window is too long.
Tell me something dreamy and hopeful,
why Virgil Moon’s hair is in such
disarray, why his face has fallen so. If
there is a reason to clean out the sink, I
should be notified. Virgil Moon, with your
thick face, grab me by my ankles and
make a wish. Play my heart like a
terrible, hot fiddle, replace me with catgut,
and see what I’ll look like come Monday
morning. Virgil Moon, you are over the top
and smell like canned beans. Virgil Moon
with the top down, making his travel plans
to the museum and to the beach. Virgil Moon
takes back the ring. Spit me out sideways,
somewhere near a track where dogs are
supposed to race, and place your bets against
me. I will disappoint.


—from Erica Bernheim’s The Mimic Sea, 42 Miles Press (2012)
—previously appeared in Black Warrior Review (30.2)




The Gun Joke




It’s funny, she says, how many people are shocked
by this shooting and the next and next and the next.
She doesn’t mean funny as in funny, but funny
as in blood soup tastes funny when you stir in soil.
Stop me if you haven’t heard this one:
A young man/old man/teenage boy walks into
an office/theater/daycare/club and empties
a magazine into a crowd of strangers/family/students.

Ever hear the one about the shotgun? What do you call it
when a shotgun tests a liquor store’s bulletproof glass?
What’s the difference between a teenager
with hands in the air and a paper target charging at a cop?
What do you call it when a man sets his own house on fire,
takes up a sniper position, and waits for firefighters?

Stop me if you haven’t heard this one:
The first man to pull a gun on me said it was only a joke,
but never so much as smiled. The second said
this is definitely not a joke, and then his laughter crackled
through me like electrostatic—funny how that works.
When she says it’s funny she means funny
as in crazy and crazy as in this shouldn’t happen.
This shouldn’t happen as in something is off. Funny as in
off—as in, ever since a small caliber bullet chipped his spine,
your small friend walks kinda’ funny and his smile is off.


—written by Jamaal May, previously appeared on Apogee Journal,
and Winner of the 2013 Indiana Review Prize


San Bernardino







Poetic Donations! #poeticdonations


Hi, all! The holidays are upon us, and for many of us, so is the winter chill (with or without the snow yet), and I have an idea just in time for the holidays that could be beneficial to everyone!

Contact me, either over on Facebook or at mcklynntozan (at) gmail (dot) com, and I will write and send you a poem, for you or a loved one. You can specify the title you want, the theme, a line you want in it, who the poem is for, anything! Within 24 hours, you will have a nice, new poem to savor or give away.

Here’s the catch, though: When you request a poem, I will ask you for a monetary donation. Of any size. It can be 5 cents, it can 5 dollars, it can be ANY amount, and all of those proceeds will be donated at the end of December for meals and winter coats and warm clothing for families in need.

I have included the original flyer below, which is already circulating on Facebook, as well as the hashtag #poeticdonations. Please help, please share, please donate; it’s for a good cause.

Thanks, all! All my love and warm wishes, this holiday season and every season.

Until Later ~ Best, from me.


Poetic Donations FLYER