To A Dark Moses –

To A Dark Moses –

by Lucille Clifton

you are the one
i am lit for.
Come with your rod
that twists
and is a serpent.
i am the bush.
i am burning
i am not consumed.



Torch Song

Torch Song

Anoint your dead
Put them in a little boat called
She Who Must Be Obeyed —
our little joke.
Invite the Molotovs for cocktails on deck.
Tell them to wear all their gold.

too full of dark vapors to ascend to the skies

too full of dark vapors to ascend to the skies

by Henna Ink

there’s something serious

about raping a willow tree—

stripping a wood elemental

of its innocence

and vaporizing the luster in its pale green eyes

between the lying blades of ascension’s scissors,

she must have cut herself

a dual nature—

it wasn’t a matter

of vanity,

or even for the revenge

of her airy body

and peevish spirit;

she was the daughter

of the River


but he failed

to foster and guard her artistic bark

and emerald hair;

with alchemy’s life force, he

reclaimed desire—

inside an unlocked dressing


her skin began

a tense

and distant relationship

with a permanent reminder

of giant clouds

Burning in the Rain

Burning in the Rain

Someday compassion would demand
I set myself free of my desire to recreate
my father, indulge in my mother’s losses,
strangle lovers with words, forcing them
to confess for me and take the blame.
Today was that day: I tossed them, sheet
by sheet on the patio and gathered them
into a pyre. I wanted to let them go
in a blaze, tiny white dwarfs imploding
beside the azaleas and ficus bushes,
let them crackle, burst like winged seeds,
let them smolder into gossamer embers—
a thousand gray butterflies in the wind.
Today was that day, but it rained, kept
raining. Instead of fire, water—drops
knocking on doors, wetting windows
into mirrors reflecting me in the oaks.
The garden walls and stones swelling
into ghostlier shades of themselves,
the wind chimes giggling in the storm,
a coffee cup left overflowing with rain.
Instead of burning, my pages turned
into water lilies floating over puddles,
then tiny white cliffs as the sun set,
finally drying all night under the moon
into papier-mâché souvenirs. Today
the rain would not let their lives burn.

How to Write a Poem

How to Write a Poem

by Robert Okaji

Learn to curse in three languages. When midday
yawns stack high and your eyelids flutter, fire up

✧ ✦ ✧

the chain saw; there’s always something to dismember.
Make it new. Fear no bridges. Accelerate through

✧ ✦ ✧

curves, and look twice before leaping over fires,
much less into them. Read bones, read leaves, read

✧ ✦ ✧

the dust on shelves and commit to memory a thousand
discarded lines. Next, torch them. Take more than you

✧ ✦ ✧

need, buy books, scratch notes in the dirt and watch
them scatter down nameless alleys at the evening’s first

✧ ✦ ✧

gusts. Gather words and courtesies. Guard them carefully.
Play with others, observe birds, insects and neighbors,

✧ ✦ ✧

but covet your minutes alone and handle with bare hands
only those snakes you know. Mourn the kindling you create

✧ ✦ ✧

and toast each new moon as if it might be the last one
to tug your personal tides. When driving, sing with the radio.

✧ ✦ ✧

Always. Turn around instead of right. Deny ambition.
Remember the freckles on your first love’s left breast.

✧ ✦ ✧

There are no one-way streets. Appreciate the fragrance
of fresh dog shit while scraping it from the boot’s sole.

✧ ✦ ✧

Steal, don’t borrow. Murder your darlings and don’t get
caught. Know nothing, but know it well. Speak softly

✧ ✦ ✧

and thank the grocery store clerk for wishing you
a nice day even if she didn’t mean it. Then mow the grass,

✧ ✦ ✧

grill vegetables, eat, laugh, wash dishes, talk, bathe,
kiss loved ones, sleep, dream, wake. Do it all again.


“what the dead know by heart”

“what the dead know by heart”

by Donte Collins

lately, when asked how are you, i 
respond with a name no longer living

➢ ➣ ➢

Rekia, Jamar, Sandra

➢ ➣ ➢

i am alive by luck at this point, i wonder
often: if the gun that will unmake me
is yet made, what white birth

➢ ➣ ➢

will bury me, how many bullets, like a 
flock of blue jays, will come carry my black
to its final bed, which photo will be used

➢ ➣ ➢

to water down my blood, today i did 
not die and there is no god or law to
thank. the bullet missed my head

➢ ➣ ➢

and landed in another. today, i passed
a mirror and did not see a body, instead
a suggestion, a debate, a blank

➢ ➣ ➢

post-it note there looking back. i
haven’t enough room to both rage and 
weep. i go to cry and each tear turns
to steam. I say

➢ ➣ ➢

I matter and a ghost
white hand appears
over my mouth


The Lake Isle of Innisfree

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

~ ~

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

~ ~

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.