Bristlecone twist upon twist, layer upon layer, like fingers of the crone or braids of her mother, reaching for the sky. Cold air, hot sun. High desert survivor
dared erosions and fires, needed only a few small strips of bark to stay alive, outlive them all. But 5000 years were undone in one afternoon.
We want to know, to name. We are Machiavellian in this pursuit. Prometheus stole fire from the gods, carried it
in giant fennel stalk, gifted it to humans. For this, he was bound to a rock, his liver to be eagle-eaten every day, regrow at night and be eaten again.
To understand the brain’s hemispheres, we cut the corpus collosum. To learn the spread of virus, we cull the herd, open skulls. To know the oldest, we bored the bark,
failed, then cut and sectioned, hauled and processed. Counted rings, counted time. Only then did we understand the ignorance and arrogance.
Still, we kept one slab at Ely casino, then convention center. Respect reserved for the lab or the field, now national park in part because scientist-cum-lumberjack pushed
to protect remaining pine, hobble the folly of men, like him, believing they need to know, no matter the damnation, no matter the pain.
Heather Bourbeau’s fiction and poetry have been published in 100 Word Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, Cleaver, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Short Édition, The Cardiff Review, and The Stockholm Review of Literature. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she is the winner of La Piccioletta Barca’s inaugural competition and Chapman University Flash Fiction winner. She has worked with various UN agencies, including the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia and UNICEF Somalia.
This piece is a part of South Broadway Press’ March issue, Language of the Earth.
Peas zigzag through weeds, scaling borage instead of trellis.
Tomatoes stagnate, grass and clover thrive, tender beets
sprout alongside dandelions tubers. Uprooting one hefty weed
evicts the fledgling vegetables. It all grows, though the weeds
grow best. My own roots reach back to clean plow lines and blooming
rows: eighty acres of fruit farm plus a rectangle of Ontario’s Eden
beside the old garage: all-you-can-eat green beans, snow peas, cherry
tomatoes, rhubarb for pie and stewed berries over ice cream.
I grew up knowing a weed is a weed and a plant
is sacred. Behold my upscaled quagmire—Royal Burgundy Beans,
rainbow chard, heirloom Spanish radishes, yellow pear tomatoes—
mingled with timothy, dandelion, broadleaf plantain. A feast of colours
descendant of rain-scented soil spread down a long laced
table, paired with a leggy wine. Inside, I hear the garden
call. Dillweed whispers and waves, its delicate imitation
fern summons rusted canning rings while blue morning
glories drown everything by mid-August.
Wendy BooydeGraaff’s poems, stories, and essays have been included in Critical Read, Not Very Quiet, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Meniscus, and elsewhere. Originally from Ontario, where she grew up on a fruit farm, she now lives in Michigan suburbia.
This piece is a selection from South Broadway Press’ March issue, Language of the Earth.
Long, limber stalks with out-sized bulbous heads Could be confused with other specimens, Especially to folks who’ve never seen Exotics rooted in a foreign pod.
By night they leave protected flowerpots.
Exhaling oxygen, these beings fly, Determined to reverse what climate change Eroded by offsetting greenhouse gas With purifying breaths, restoring trees, And tackling global warming, ice-shelf melt.
I won’t reveal this methodology.
My job is to provide fresh nutrients ― ― Ingredients from our rare biosphere.
Then curious balloon contraptions sail These pods to sites that need repair and care.
Disguised as gladiator allium, Purple florets compressed inside a round, Attractive head, the team disperses from Each stem ― ― a green antenna ― ― gets to work.
Earthlings don’t know extraterrestrials
Are wise, solution oriented, pained By man’s destruction, astral gifts blood-stained.
Night winds blow golden over what’s reclaimed And what’s unfinished. Damaged nature won’t Regenerate except through tender tips Renewing fruited plains, life’s green wealth, ’til Earth rejoices in its own undeath.
Native New Yorker LindaAnn LoSchiavo, recently Poetry SuperHighway’s Poet of the Week, is a member of SFPA and The Dramatists Guild. Her poetry collections “Conflicted Excitement” [Red Wolf Editions, 2018], “Concupiscent Consumption” [Red Ferret Press, 2020], and Elgin Award nominee “A Route Obscure and Lonely”‘ [Wapshott Press, 2019] along with a contribution in “Anti-Italianism: Essays on a Prejudice” [Macmillan in the USA, Aracne Editions in Italy] are her latest titles.
This piece is part of South Broadway Press’ March 2021 issue, The Language of the Earth.
Brice Maiurro (he/him) is a poet from Earth. His work has been compiled into two collections, Stupid Flowers and Hero Victim Villain. He has been featured by The Denver Post, Boulder Weekly, Suspect Press, and Poets Reading the News. www.maiurro.co
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
What does this quote mean to you?
I think about this quote just about every day of my life. It’s so easy to get swept up in any moment into what seems so important, while those little things fly on by. Recently, I took care of a dog, a great dog, Garbanzo, while my friends were in the process of moving. I’ve never had a dog, I grew up with cats, and I was very excited. I felt like a little kid the whole time, taking him on walks, chasing him (or having him chase me) around the house, taking weekend naps curled up beside him, it was amazing. I work from home like a lot of us and analyzing business processes for a solar company felt really important until I’d look over and see Garbanzo, belly up, requesting a few good belly pats. Every day at work I told myself there was no time for me to go on a walk, but when I was watching Garbanzo, I was outside, bundled-up, several times a day and I was so happy about it.
What books have made an important impact on you and why?
Radical Dharma by Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens and Jamine Syedullah. Since I was maybe 22, the ideologies of Buddhism have always resonated with. I was raised Catholic and that didn’t stick, but Buddhism has always made sense to me. It’s a religion, or ideology, built around intentionality and compassion. There’s a lot of wiggle room to find your own way within the forests it offers you. Especially something like Zen Buddhism, that often has an attitude of “always do this… unless it doesn’t work for you!” I appreciate the grey space, but found myself plateauing in my Buddhism over the last couple years, as with American Buddhism comes a lot of white people feeling kind sitting on a yoga mat while there’s big revolutions going on outside of its doors. Radical Dharma busted open those doors for me and showed me this new beautiful intersection of anti-racism with queerness with Buddhism. That you have to take your Buddhism practice into dismantling it all.
Lama Rod’s experiences of rejecting his Christian roots really resonated with me. He found he had a lot of anger, but opted to say “this isn’t for me” rather than “let’s burn this to the ground.” Rev. angel reminded me the ideas of existing in a state of not having all the answers, and expanded my ideas of queerness beyond gender and sexuality into a larger realm of seeing how binary thinking is so pervasive in the smallest microcosms of our culture to the very large interlocking systems of oppression that we should collectively disrupt and transition to a better place. Radical Dharma reminded me that our liberation is a collective liberation and we all have to use the tools we’ve been given to work together.
What is the value of writing and art in the current state of the world?
I see it all as storytelling. In many ways, we all exist in silos. Storytelling is a way to peek into someone else’s silo, maybe inch their silo a little bit closer to our own. Storytelling can be a time capsule, it can be an exercise in compassion and solidarity, and I believe with the right considerations in place, it can be a therapy.
How has writing and art helped to form the person you are today?
I discovered poetry almost on accident. I just was bored and found myself messing around with words. The words led to more words, which led to poetry events, which led to a larger, though far from holistic, understanding of Denver’s communities, and through all of that, I’ve been able to teach things with my words, but what I love maybe more is being the student. I’m very blessed, in considering all my privilege, that for years I’ve had the chance to be exposed to the writing and art of so many people unlike myself. That continues to challenge me.
As for my writing now, writing is best for me when it’s fun. When I’m having fun, I feel like I’m doing something well.
What is something that matters to you?
Kindness matters to me. Small gestures that set the tone of the world we deserve to gift each other. Goofiness is a virtue of mine, sincerity. Cooking matters to me. I love that cooking offers me this chance to spend time by myself in the kitchen, and then share the rewards of that time with the people near and dear to my heart. My partner, Shelsea Ochoa, matters to me. She challenges me to do more and be more, and especially to be myself more.
We were observing ourselves colliding with ourselves as if in a dream, as if on a king’s road, with horses, with dogs, with spears, the air tinted in red, the age-old branches between us and the hidden stars. We were keeping a record of proceedings.
Underneath the skin, upon which the devastating battle for tenderness is being played out, there is a cocoon. In a cocoon of blood, I am bathing – a red egg, a red butterfly – in full safety behind the curtains of the bloodfall.
Yes, I brought my shield down. My breasts were bared, elongated. Around my ankles, there was dust.
The roads wept. I gave them my eyes.
Margarita Serafimova is the winner of the 2020 Tony Quagliano/ Hawai’i Council for the Humanities International Poetry Award, a 2020 Pushcart nominee and a finalist in nine other U.S. and international poetry contests. She has four collections in Bulgarian and a chapbook, “A Surgery of A Star” (Staring Problem Press, CA: https://bit.ly/3jDU793). Her digital chapbook, ‘Еn-tîm’ (Wilderness), is forthcoming by the San Francisco University Poetry Center Chapbook Exchange in 2021. A full-length collection, ‘A White Boat and Foam’, is to be published by Interstellar Flight Press in 2022. Her work appears widely, including at Nashville Review, LIT, Agenda Poetry, Poetry South, Botticelli, London Grip, Steam Ticket, Waxwing, A-Minor, Trafika Europe, Noble/ Gas, Obra/ Artifact, Great Weather for Media, Origins, Nixes Mate. Visit: shorturl.at/dgpzC.
Fuck word counts, and fuck regret, and fuck enjoyment, and guess what? Fuck origin. That’s right, fuck origin, and fuck memory. Do you know what fuck means? A girl told me back in middle school: Fornication Under Consent of the King. She said the word was posted on the front door of every reputable home, and that it meant yes, we got the okay from our royal leader to mate, copulate, dance the horizontal polka, put the thing in the other thing. We’re sinners with a lifetime indulgence we bought in advance. We fraternize with the devil, but only according to protocol, baby.
So I say fuck word counts, and fuck regret, and fuck enjoyment, because that’s what fuck is. Fuck is enjoyment. Fuck is regret. The Fuck Word Counts. Fuck is the apology before the infraction, the permission before the play. And who is fuck for? Fuck is for the people who look like Matt Damon and Marilyn Monroe, for bodies concealed just well enough to display. Fuck is for paleness and paler-than-paleness, a certain shape of eye, a certain girth of waist, a certain functionality of limb, a certain history of genitalia. And I say fuck that.
I say fuck origin, and fuck memory, and fuck death, because fuck is a gift, and Fornication Under Consent of the King is Matt Damon in a red velvet hat and a red velvet cape, a walking blood-filled penis with a golden wand, pretending to give out fucks when in reality, he doesn’t give a fuck. I say fuck origin because fuck is origin, because before you and I were you and I, we were twinkles in the eyes of people, maybe lusty, maybe frightened, maybe willing, maybe not. I say fuck memory because fuck is memory, because no one was watching when you or I morphed from a twinkle in those eyes to a glob of cells, as the glob of cells halved and doubled into the tube that formed a mouth and an asshole, two instruments of fucking, consent of the king or not.
Fuck is one person. Fuck is two. Fuck is three. Fuck is more. Fuck is rapid addition. Fuck is no gender. Fuck is all genders. Fuck is silent. Fuck is loud. Fuck is ordinary. Fuck is occasion. Fuck is insult. Fuck is compliment. Fuck is monetized. Fuck is freely given. Fuck is hot. Fuck is cold. Fuck is chafed skin, hidden liquid, violation, ceremony. The Fuck Word counts.
Samantha Steiner is a Fulbright Scholar and two-time Best of the Net nominee. Her 2019 essay “To the Current Tenant” appears in the print anthology Coffin Bell 2.2, and other works are published or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Apple Valley Review, and The Citron Review. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Steiner_Reads.
Lillie Fischer is a storyteller and director. Her work explores loss, honesty, our relationship with the earth and how to reach out to our inner child. Currently she is prepping for several experimental short films on an artist commune in Northern Colorado with her husband and dog.@lilliefischer
Jesse Lee Pacheco is a Performance Artist from Denver, Colorado. Life is wonderful. Life should be positive. When it’s blown to pieces, that’s when it becomes art.@jesselee_sent_ya
Every night before bed I would wander into my Dad’s kingdom Laying on his king-sized bed With a book and pretzels scattered across his hairy chest His trusted steeds (10 lb. twin toy poodles) Intently waited for treats A low static from AM talk radio filled the room He removed suit and tie Donning blue converse shorts, no shirt
I remember the way his toes would wiggle How he would tell me what he was reading about How crumbs would fall from his lips As he laughed at his own jokes
My mind was much quieter then No concerns of burning forests or abused children I wasn’t stressed By the weight of earning paychecks and paying off loans I didn’t find myself overwhelmed How my dreams often feel like the Amazon River 7 miles wide And I’m on the bank I can’t swim and my boat is on the other side
On good days, I’ll remember the world isn’t about me That dreams come and go That I live with my best friend In some sort of Earth fort That I get to walk to work And spend my days with kids
And when the night comes I lay in my bed and give thanks to tired legs I open a comic book and my toes begin to wiggle It’s in these moments I find my hairy chest full of pretzels
Danny Mazur’s fascination with the human experience led him to founding Soul Stories, an organization that facilitates conversations for personal healing and social change. Over the past six years, Danny has produced and facilitated over 100 Soul Stories events in the Denver community, ranging from community dialogs to live performances. Danny collaborates with members of the Denver community to create events that unpack challenging topics such as consent, personal identity, relationships, race, and even the political divide of 2020. Soul Stories events are unique spaces where people go to practice authenticity and find connection.
This poem is from the Thought For Food anthology, a poetry collection benefiting Denver Food Rescue. You can purchase a copy of the book here.
A friend, a fellow poet, announces that he will someday open a restaurant called None Of That, wanting customers to say Oh, I’ll have none of that, and by that, he means cheese!
What confidence! I see now, only years later, its acronym: NOT. I am jealous of his utter disdain. I am jealous of his unwavering voice. What would I not serve? What would I not allow on my menu?
All I can think is beets, but who likes beets? They would not be missed. No, I long to loathe what others likely love, and to be okay with that loathing. But I am poor at decisions. Insouciance is an illusion.
I desire to deny others based on my own predilections, the strength of my convictions, whether right or wrong, but I find myself lacking, full of wishy-washy sympathy. Though I don’t much like—what? what is it?—mint! trigger of my migraines, I see how others might. I have seen the thick tongue licking mint-chocolate-chip from a cone, have heard talk of julep, a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.
This friend will not stop. He claims that his second restaurant will be called None of That Either. He has more, more than I can muster. I try harder to think of something, the thing. But all I want to keep from others is what I most want for myself because there might not be enough to go around.
Anna Leahy is the author of the nonfiction book Tumor and the poetry collections Aperture and Constituents of Matter. Her work has appeared at Aeon, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, The Southern Review, and elsewhere, and her essays have won top awards from the Los Angeles Review, Ninth Letter, and Dogwood. She directs the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chapman University, where she edits the international Tab Journal. See more at www.amleahy.com.
illuminous through the smoke issuing from where eyes wander?
Tonight, I am not certain if I will be alive long enough in this America to fall in love.
Who among my kind has not been lost in this city of syringe and scar
has not wished to be found burning with song
has not wanted, more than being alive, to belong?
Tomorrow there will be a war between who I was and who I am and who I want to be.
I hope to know whether my flesh is made perfect by its longing
is made bundle of kindle for the spit
or is made beautiful in its absence.
Here. Let me warm your hands enough to show you this burning country can be a terrific place.
Samuel J Fox is a bisexual poet and lyric/personal essayist living in North Carolina. He is poetry editor at Bending Genres; he is widely publishing in online and print journals. He can be found in coffee shops, perusing graveyards, or exploring dilapidated places. He and his work can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.