November 25, 2011


i want to drive a steak-knife into
that feeling
to keep it from changing
scurrying away

andrew egerton (Towson, MD, 1989)

November 24, 2011

here is reality

a yell toward the wetlands will echo
through the trees and back toward the
voice which freed it. it will do nothing

to change the time it takes the sun
to rise. the birds, startled, will sing
in a way that is both peaceful and

haunting, and the light will slink up
the trees, then through the bedroom
window where a restless heart will

admit that the sunrise heals no better
than a sleepless evening spent

alexandra cannon (Pittsburgh, PA, 1988)

November 23, 2011


Sal's shirt smelling like garlic and sweat
or just garlic sweat
and whatever else is brewing
behind those swinging back doors
where Manny carries out meatball subs

Sal's life slices
through days of counting
the same three combinations of change
no bills over 20 cousin
and spring or summer fall or winter
that oven will make you

And today it's raining
dis bullshit weatha
and Sal sits silently behind his moat
of six different pies, calzones and zeppoles
crunching on memories of a place that is not this
new nor this old to him

It's empty and
Sal's eyes widen as lightning hits somewhere there
and something grows in the air around him
a second of clarity through pepperonis
and Sal is not here
and his jaw droops slowly
the only smell watery air
and 33 years of everything
flash like the lightning and the door -
whaddo I get you boss?

tristan franz (Brooklyn, NY, 1987)

November 22, 2011

eulogy for a clock

A clock, a near perfect mechanical invention,
a device that can measure all of time,
accurate, to seemingly godly perfection,
a creation that's greatness borders sublime.

Cogs, seemingly endless, populate its space,
pushing each other, like a tide,
each knows their function, and where is their place.
Seeing this all, I was mystified.

But there was one flaw, a hesitation
in the clock; a single error.
I tried to fix it, to achieve perfection;
but plunged the clock into despair.

The perfect creation has been destroyed,
the cogs, ruined, never to turn again.
It was great, until I interfered;
with my meddling, I've ended their world.

jeremy lockhart (Port Orchard, WA, 1992)

Calling all Young Poets across America:
last days for 2011 poetry submissions

Yes, it's that time of the year again: our reading period is coming to an end. Deadline for 2011 submissions is December 15th. Materials sent after this date will not be considered until we resume poetry reviews on February 1st, 2012.

Want to submit? Then hurry up, but don't forget to read our guidelines here.

The Young American Poets team

November 21, 2011

keep it simple

"Don't be fooled by the moonshine. The night is young and the night is ours. I can see you are wary. I can see the goosebumps beginning to crawl down your arms. They trickle past your elbow like Plinko chips and I watch with disco ball eyes as if a $10,000 slot sits above your middle knuckle. Don't be scared. Trust me when I say I will protect you. Trust me when I say I love you. Don't be fooled by the moonshine. Don't ever give up on a night like this."

cliff weber (Santa Monica, CA, 1986)

November 18, 2011

third floor view

The garage in my backyard
has a hole in the roof.
Leaves and rain
fall in September.

ronald steiner (Butler, PA, 1976)

upon close inspection

Tree rings reveal
good wet years,
dry cold droughts,
and fires, and births, and death.

ronald steiner (Butler, PA, 1976)

November 17, 2011

a love affair

"The poem is a love-affair between the poet and his subject, and readers come in only a long time later, as witnesses at the wedding. But what would the ideal witnesses—the ideal public—be? What would an ideal public do? Mainly, essentially, it would just read the poet; read him with a certain willingness and interest; read him imaginatively and perceptively. It needs him, even if it doesn’t know that; he needs it, even if he doesn’t know that. It and he are like people in one army, one prison, one world; their interests are great and common; and deserve a kind of declaration of dependence"

randall jarrell (Nashville, TN, 1914-Chapel Hill, NC, 1965), excerpt from the lecture Poets, Critics, and Readers, delivered at the start of his second year as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress —currently Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry—, October 1957, as quoted in 'Randall Jarrell in Washington', an article by Peter Montgomery published in the Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Volume 10.4, Fall 2009

November 16, 2011

premeditations on separation

"The Tulips have had their moments"
Margaret Atwood

Neither of us
knew if we were doing it right,
setting fire to each other
becoming a stirred pile of ash.
Your brain inside of mine.
Your brain wanting to multiply
mine trying to divide
back to base.
I’ve been thinking in numbers.
50 percent of unions break in ugly yelps
So in 30 years,
I am half likely
to be her.
Going through her attic
reading letters on mold and time.
Letters you wrote to me--
that is, if you were to start writing me letters.
I would have been a mess--your mess
Now a clean mess--
and leaving a wounded spool of hills.
I will be done killing you—too many times to count
You’ll be tired of dying.
Neither of us
know if we’re doing it right.

morgan eklund (Iowa City, IA, 1989)

November 15, 2011

dog behind bars

dog behind bars
doing time
gathering sympathy
from passers-by
black, young, strong
a patio is his prison
a patio where another dog lies
quiet, tired, numb
been there longer
knows better than that
but knows as well what he is
what he has become

the black, young one
longing for freedom
gathers sympathy from a girl, street lads
a smile brings light
a pat brings joy
silence brings everything back
as I, the poet writing this verses
get a glimpse from afar
riding the bus on an empty stomach
fiddling with issues from long and behind
an instant captive
riddled by the moral of the story
setting my problems aside
wondering who the dog is
who is actually in prison
what the odds are
of living in fantasy of freedom
or knowing better, lying stiff and numb
a dog minus the sympathy
another dog behind bars

james pendleton (Bordentown City, NJ, 1979)

November 11, 2011

levine on upbeat poems

"I can’t believe this guy Barr is a poet, because I don’t think a real poet would think in that way. When a poem comes to you, you’re not going to say, 'Oh, no, this goddamned poem is just too mean-spirited.' You’re going to run with it."

philip levine (Detroit, MI, 1928), answering the question "I wonder if you agree with John Barr, the president of the Poetry Foundation, who, with the help of a $200 million endowment, has been trying to popularize poetry by encouraging poets to write more upbeat poems" in an interview published in The New York Times Sunday Magazine with the headline Philip Levine Still Knows How to Make Trouble, November 6, 2011