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Before you start your freewrite, read a poem (written by someone other than yourself, a poem you haven’t memorized or read so many times it’s almost memorized—and if you want to add to the excitement get on poetry.com or open any book with a poem in it that you can find and read the first poem you land on) aloud to yourself.  Now, put the poem away. Now, set your timer. Now, use your memory of the poem—its sound, its sensory details, its emotional tone, its point of view, its line length, as well as whatever you felt was emotional or physical about it that’s still echoing around in your brain, and write that poem again. (This isn’t plagerizing. This is inspiration. No poem has ever been written since the world’s first poem that didn’t take its essence from a previously existing poem. If you find your freewrite is too close to the poem your read, revise it when you revise it: you could make it the opposite of that poem by turning a love poem into a hate poem, or a poem about childhood into a poem about old age, or a poem about spring into a poem about winter. If it’s still too close for comfort, dedicate your poem to the poet whose poem inspired yours.)

For Creed
by S. Atticus O.

dream please
there is a place
in these pages
where each word
is yours your story
your meaning your
your freedom to roam

in realms of peace
pieces of remembrance

in the page place
where your tale
waits for no one
but you a train
to rememory only
you take you chug
along into a world

of only a word
Me.

We sit in our book
sin in it, but no one
else knows nor needs
to forgive a transgression
for me and Me only
are seen by Me and me.
feel seen in Me story

no need to see anyone
else We forget ourselves.

[For Carrie Fountain]
by Carmen Moyer

I dream
that I can write like you
as a cold October
rain thrums
against the soft green breast
of the earth

on a Sunday anything
seems possible
like when Jesus healed
the lepers but only one
returned

these are the best bits
of my life
the long, slow spaces

where my husband snores
at the back of my neck
just before

the bluejay bandits
come cackling for their peanuts
I throw a handful
Of my heart

And wait for them
to crack open the shell

The Swashbuckling Hero Of Magnesia
by Rushabh Shah

It’s been 15 years. 15 years

Since the silver of his sword

                                                his shield,

                                                            his sheathing, outshone even the red of the Romans.

Since the flowers turned pink, a bit shyer to bloom,

            and the streams went quiet, unwilling to disrupt the galloping of his horse,

   and the swish of his blade.

            Since the Swashbuckling Hero of Magnesia arrived, at last, in all his glory --

                        and left soon enough,

                with a missing leg,

                                                                        and probably a missing head,

                                                                                         because I don’t remember his eyes,

                                                or his nose,

                                                                        or his hair,

                                    or his face...

           

It’s been a very long time. Very long,

            So, only the dead know the truth, because the living quickly forget.

            We sing songs for those who fell, but who were they, really?

            So, we paint our heroes on silver cups and use it to intoxicate,

            to numb the brain and dull the senses and forget the bitter pinch of reality.

            So, we make toasts to men who had it all, who did it all.

            bravery. sacrifice. honour. every man of the past worth ten of those today.

O, All those years ago… (How much does it even matter?)

 

THE ROCK SHE CHOSE

            after Russel Edson, and with gratitude to Daniel Neuroth, who shared Edson’s

            poem “The Turtle” with me

The woman carried a rock in her purse. She kept it for protection, she told her friends when they asked about it. But, in truth, it was purely sentimental, the rock. She’d picked it up from the side of the dirt road on which the man she’d been in love with lived. With the rock, the man stayed with her, as did the days and nights she’d spent with him in his house on that dirt road. The two of them used to go for long walks at night on that road. She’d never lived in the country, had spent her childhood on a suburban street outside of which there was a lamppost. After she left her childhood, she lived in the city, in a high rise. Her bedroom window faced someone else’s bedroom window in another high rise.

The dark terrified her at first. But she held his arm. He was so muscular! So, once she finally quit feeling afraid of him, she no longer felt afraid, when she was with him, of anything.

 The rock was some extra weight, but she liked to carry it. Her leather purse would swing, bruising her hip, as she walked from the parking garage to the entrance of her apartment building or down the street to the convenience store where she bought most of her groceries. But what could she expect? This was gravity she was carrying around with her everywhere she went.  

The rock was large and gray. There was nothing mottled about it, no purple threads or or bluish veins or flecks of rusty red, like so many rocks. She hadn’t chosen it for that reason, although she loved that about the rock. She hadn’t chosen the rock at all. She’d just pulled out of his driveway for the last time, knowing it was for the last time, and then stopped, opened the door of her car, got out, walked to the edge of the road, and picked up a rock.

There were hundreds of rocks on that road. She could have taken them all. Rocks belong to no one, and no one knows who made them or where they came from. Or, if someone knew the origins of rocks, that information had never been shared with her.

What’s the crime, in such a case? There wasn’t even a crime to commit, taking a rock off the side of the road, if what you wanted was to commit a crime!

Some were pebbles, or perhaps they’d could have been called stones. The differences were mysterious to her, but she was too tired to look it up. But there were larger rocks, too, larger than the rock she chose. Still, even the one she chose was large enough that f you ran over it, it might puncture your tire. And even if it didn’t, it would still sound like a trauma, and you’d pull over to take a look, expecting to find some damage.

Once, she’d been to a party thrown by a woman who’d won a contest. That hostess had, suddenly, a lot of money, and she wanted to share it, she said. (Although she still wrote BYOB in red pen on the bottom of the invitations when she sent them.) About an hour after the party started, a man got drunk, he he hit, with a baseball bat, the marble mantle over the hostess’s fireplace.

There was a sound. Guilt and sadness (as one), wearing workboots, kicking down a steel door. Everyone froze, and then they’d scattered, except for the woman with the rock. She had the rock with her by then. .  

All that dreamlessness, and all that potential.

No, the rock she carried with her wouldn’t kill a ferocious animal during an attack.

But, if she ever wanted a larger rock, or a second rock, now she knew where to find it.