(early) Poem of the Week, by Grant Clauser

It was surprisingly easy to get, someone who never should have been able to buy a gun once mused to me, a sentence that still turns my body to ice.

Last week at a Moth live show I sat in the front row the way I always do and watched warily as one of the storytellers brought a prop concealed in a plastic bag on stage. I turned to the stranger next to me and said I hope that’s not a gun in there, and then looked around to plot my exit routes. Should I crouch and scuttle or run in a zig zag?

We cover sockets with plastic caps, put car seats in cars, buckle our seatbelts, put locks on cabinets, stop signs at corners, add a rotten egg stink to odorless gas. We keep ourselves safer in common sense ways. We can do the same with guns. Mass violence is inevitable only if we shrug and say it is. Mass violence is acceptable only if we shrug and say it is. We are helpless only if we give up. So don’t give up. Take action. Here is one of my favorite organizations.

J35, by Grant Clauser
For two weeks
a killer whale
pushed its dead calf
around the ocean,
diving to the cold darkness
each time the desiccating baby
sank to the bottom.
She cradled her offspring
in her dangerous mouth,
raised the stillborn
back to the surface
to make sure its collapsed blowhole
could reach the air.

What if mythology
got it wrong about Sisyphus?
The rock not punishment
from the gods, but the weight
of regret falling
back on him,
grief rolling over
him each night
as he tried to quiet
the nightmares,
then woke again
to push it as far
up the mountain
as his shoulders could take.

Finally the whale-watchers
said it was over,
the body too decomposed
and eaten by fish
for the mother to keep
carrying, and the ocean
eventually separated them
by wave and storm,
the orca rejoined its pod
to follow the salmon,
something to focus on
while moving forward

Click here for more information about Grant Clauser.


Words by Winter: my podcast

Poem of the Week, by Albert Goldbarth

21034365_1822136601133837_3288638729780497471_nHurricanes and earthquakes and floods and the ongoing human cruelty inflicted by our elected employees against their fellow human beings. Jeez. It’s enough to make me understand (a tiny bit, anyway) why religious people start tossing around terms like “the end times.” Screw that, though. Enough good people determined to make the world better will do just that. Let us be like the whales in this strange and unforgettable poem by Albert Goldbarth, and sing to each other.


Forces, by Albert Goldbarth

It’s different for the spiderweb: 
the only architecture 
in a five-block radius not 
undone by yesterday’s tornado. 

Out at the More-4-Less, strands 
of uncooked spaghetti were driven, 
unbroken, like nails, through concrete. 
Different levels: different forces. 

I remember when Anna told me 
about the deep-sea dive that almost 
killed her, hammered and disoriented 
and tossed like debris in the middle 

of two converging vectors of power. 
That’s what she said. The whales 
only knew they were singing 
to each other. 



​For more information on Albert Goldbarth, please ​click here.

Poem of the Week, by Todd Boss

These days I spend a fair amount of time walking the beach and watching surfers. I don’t know how they do it, how they paddle out there and then hang out, waiting and watching for oncoming waves that are big enough to skim underneath, along, in front of. I don’t know they can see that wave coming and not want to duck right under it or paddle frantically back to the shore, the way I would do because big waves terrify me. The black-wetsuited surfers are maybe like the whales in this poem below, fearless without thinking about fear, because water is their home. A world without hem.

Whales Wear the Patterns of the Surface of the Water

– Todd Boss

all over their bodies whenever they rise for breath,
forever slipping in and out of sheaths of silk and sheer,
the sun’s hookless fishnets gliding over and over them,
over and over again. The surface is their coutourière,
and her daring glitz and glamour is what all the girls are
wearing this summer. How beautiful they are in their azure
negligees, their silver-spangled zigzag rags aglimmer!
Later, when the day’s bead curtains shift away and they drift
into the dreamless deep, they’ll leave their lovely lingerie
behind and find themselves unashamed between seamless
sheets of black satin—a world without hem—where nothing,
not even the moon’s thin strings of pretty under-things,
can come between their lovers and them.

For more information on Todd Boss, please click here.

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