death is within


Jaan Kaplinski
Death does not come from outside. Death is within.
Born-grows together with us.
Goes with us to Kindergarten and school.
Learns with us to read and count.
Goes sledging with us, and to the pictures.
Seeks with us the meaning of life.
Tries to make sense with us of Einstein and Wiener
Makes with us our first sexual contacts.
Marries, bears children, quarrels, makes up.
Separates, or perhaps not, with us.
Goes to work, goes to the doctor, goes camping,
to the convalescent home and the sanatorium. Grows old,
sees children married, retired,
looks after grandchildren, grows ill, dies
with us. Let us not fear, then. Our death
will not outlive us.

Photo by Hamish Weir on Unsplash

in ruins


Menna Elfyn
Life is a house in ruins. And we mean to fix it up
and make it snug. With our hands we knock it into shape

to the very top. Till beneath this we fasten a roofbeam
that will watch the coming and going of our skyless life,

two crooked segments. They are fitted together,
timbers in concord. Smooth beams, and wide.

Two in touch. That’s the craft we nurture in folding
doubled flesh on a frame. Conjoining the smooth couplings

that sometimes arch into one. Aslant above a cold world,
hollow wood wafting passion. Then stock still for a time.

And how clear cut the roof, creaking love at times,
as it chides the worm to keep off and await its turn.

“heart’s a useless sliver”


Winged Purposes
Dean Young
Fly from me does all I would have stay,
the blossoms did not stay, stayed not the frost
in the yellow grass. Every leash snapped,
every contract void, and flying in the crows
lingers but a moment in the graveyard oaks
yet inside me it never stops so I can’t tell
who is chasing, who chased, I can sleep
into afternoon and still wake soaring.
So out come the bats, down spiral swifts
into the chimneys, Hey, I’m real, say the dream-
figments then are gone like breath-prints
on a window, handwriting in snow. Whatever
I hold however flies apart, the children skip
into the park come out middle-aged
with children of their own. Your laugh
over the phone, will it ever answer me again?
Too much flying, photons perforating us,
voices hurtling into outer space, Whitman
out past Neptune, Dickinson retreating
yet getting brighter. Remember running
barefoot across hot sand into the sea’s
hovering, remember my hand as we darted
against the holiday Broadway throng,
catching your train just as it was leaving?
Hey, it’s real, your face like a comet,
horses coming from the field for morning
oats, insects hitting a screen, the message
nearly impossible to read, obscured by light
because carried by Mercury: I love you,
I’m coming. Sure, what fluttered is now gone,
maybe a smudge left, maybe a delicate under-
feather only then that too, yes, rained away.
And when the flying is flown and the heart’s
a useless sliver in a glacier and the gown
hangs still as meat in a locker and eyesight
is dashed-down glass and the mouth rust-
stoppered, will some twinge still pass between us,
still some fledgling pledge?

Photo by Ryan Plomp on Unsplash

Vegan chocolate protein bliss balls


Not long ago some acquaintances were raving about some protein bars that happen to come from Sweden. I will eventually get around to experimenting with making some approximation of those… but in the interim, doing my customary recipe research, I found a recipe for vegan chocolate protein ‘bliss balls’. I’m always looking for vegan stuff to try as well as gluten-free options (and this can be gluten-free too as long as your oats and protein powder of choice are GF). I’m not big on “protein bars” or snacks or what have you, but I know they are popular with many, so here’s my first foray into this world. Very easy, requiring no baking at all – just a bunch of ingredients thrown into a food processor and a tiny bit of mess when you roll them.

Vegan chocolate protein bliss balls (recipe)

1 cup almonds
1/2 cup oats
46-50 grams vegan chocolate protein powder
1/3 cup packed, pitted and chopped dates
about 1/4 cup almond milk (or water)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
About 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired

Throw everything into a food processor. Blend until you have a thick, smooth paste that you can easily roll into balls. You can then roll this in some coating (I used unsweetened cocoa powder). Store in the fridge. I think I made about 24 from this recipe.

I really can’t tell you what these taste like – I have never tried them and I am a bit too disgusted by dates to even put one of these in my mouth to find out if it’s edible, so I will have to rely on others to give me a verdict.

middle without an edge


The Long Now
Robin Beth Schaer

The sky is a map of questions: what burns,
how long, where is the middle without an edge?

You ask & my answers are never enough.
When you were small, we lived by milkthirst

& sleep, outside of time & the shifting blues,
unaware of any world beyond the two of us.

But now, you point upward & every question
bears another: how bright, how many, can we live

out there? I warm your hands with mine
& tell you how even stars can be cast out

or mistaken. In the Winter Triangle, the red giant
is Betelgeuse, a runaway in a stellar wake

of heat & wind, & soon to supernova.
Just above the pines is the evening star,

which is also the morning star, & not a star
at all, but a cloudy planet, double-seen,

so close to us. Imagine me in Ohio
and you on the ocean, a pole to the other

in half-dark, where the strongest light
is Venus, low in opposite skies.

Why is it not all one day you ask
& I cannot answer because all I want

is more of your days. If each life is a single
spoken sentence, then I know how yours

begins, but will never hear it whole.
All the time & we do not have time. I draw

a circle split in two. The empty curve is half
a turn, a door, or a burial mound, the way

my body without me is an outline of moss.
I could tell you how distant light from stars

still finds us long after they burn out,
or that bones are made of their dying dust

but that is no consolation. We are experts
at division. You want to know how far,

where we go, & what happens after.
To locate ourselves is to measure separation

from another. We are in the same field
but forty years apart, a thousand feet

above the sea, & five hundred miles
from the graves of my grandparents.

Listen, my love, the universe cannot
be fathomed, not with circles of stone,

an abacus, or even a telescope. If infinity
is edgeless, then the center becomes wherever

we are. You are my fixed point as we spin
on an axis, turn in orbits inside of orbits,

& speed outwards. Instead of a sentence,
may our lives be endless questions. On Venus,

each day is longer than a year, & if we keep
walking toward the sun, it will never be night.

ordinary sex


Ordinary Sex
Ellen Bass
If no swan descends
in a blinding glare of plumage,
drumming the air with deafening wings,
if the earth doesn’t tremble
and rivers don’t tumble uphill,
if my mother’s crystal
vase doesn’t shatter
and no extinct species are sighted anew
and leaves of the city trees don’t applaud
as you zing me to the moon, starry tesserae
cascading down my shoulders,
if we stay right here
on our aging Simmons Beautyrest,
dumped into the sag in the middle,
that’s okay.
You don’t need to strew rose petals
in my bath or set a band of votive candles
flickering around the rim.
You don’t need to invent a thrilling
new position, two dragonflies
mating on the wing. Honey,
you don’t even have to wash up after work.
A little sweat and sunscreen
won’t bother me.
Take off your boots, babe,
swing your thigh over mine. I like it
when you do the same old thing
in the same old way.
And then a few kisses, easy, loose,
like the ones we’ve been
kissing for a hundred years.

good to be here


It’s Good to Be Here
Alden Nowlan
I’m in trouble, she said
to him. That was the first
time in history that anyone
had ever spoken of me.

It was 1932 when she
was just fourteen years old
and men like him
worked all day for
one stinking dollar.

There’s quinine, she said.
That’s bullshit, he told her.

Then she cried and then
for a long time neither of them
said anything at all and then
their voices kept rising until
they were screaming at each other
and then there was another long silence and then
they began to talk very quietly and at last he said
well, I guess we’ll just have to make the best of it.

While I lay curled up,
my heart beating,
in the darkness inside her.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash



A Mosquito
Brad Leithauser
The lady whines, then dines; is slapped and killed;
Yet it’s her killer’s blood that has been spilled.

the catch


The Catch
Kay Ryan
Among nets
some are stout
and cast by
sailors who
venture out
in boats and
talk of knots
and floats and
diesels and
gruesome accidents
to decent people.
Whereas the
nets approached
by birds and moths
and set by
Nabokovs in white
are lighter stuff
tied by threads
to branches
as though for sport.

A bird catches
like a shuttlecock.
In both events
what they get
only partly matches
what they sought
plus the problem
of the innocents.
One can admire
the common sense
it makes for sailors
who desire the
hardest, the most
backbreaking work,
the way you’re tired
and broken to dispatch
by the time it’s time
to justify the catch.

Photo by Frank Zhang on Unsplash