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Poetry

Plane

Some poems percolate for decades, waiting to be born. My friend and baritone sax player Rick Countryman tells a story about working in a band that played behind an Elvis impersonator. When I heard this story, Rick and I were sharing a tumbledown house in Seattle that had no heat. In the winter, I’d open the stove and stand in front of it for warmth. This was the beginning of the presidencies of Reagan and then G.H.W Bush. Once I remember watching some African-American kids playing hoops. One...

Seventy years after the ten minute jury deliberation that sent him to the electric chair at age fourteen, George Stinney, Jr., was exonerated of the murders he had been convicted. When I read the story, I was, of course, deeply disturbed. Disturbed by the glaring injustice. Disturbed by the similarity to the circumstances surrounding the recent deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner at the hands of law enforcement.

What upset me most, though, was the description of...

Michael Spence's poem, "The Unbroken Code" was an Honorable Mention in the 2009 James Hearst Poetry Prize from issue 294.2.

Note from the author: "The image of blackberry vines coming over the back fence and encroaching on the yard of a childhood home came to mind as I found myself writing a poem about my father. It occurred to me that his natural quietness was perfect for the kind of engineering design work he did for both the Space Program and various military projects. In my mind,...

Shawn Pittard's poem, "Fall Creek" was an honorable mention in the James Hearst Poetry Prize in 2009. His poem is featured in ...

I began “Ullage” one morning—almost all of my poems are written between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.—in a darkened room, in a 250-page notebook I bought (one of several) at a paper store in Florence called Tassotti (sadly no longer there), a company founded by Giorgio Tassotti in Bassano del Grappa (Northern Italy) in 1957, having taken over the business from a firm called Remondini (flourished from 1657 to 1861). I had charged myself each morning to write, and if a poem appeared on the page at the...

We who are poets know that the reason for a poem is not disclosed until after the poem exists.

                                          —Thomas Merton

TO HISTORY—

You will not remember me.

And I will not remember...

Vincent Peloso's "The Boy in The Men's Locker Room" was a finalist in the James Hearst Poetry Prize in Spring 2010 issue.

The Boy in The Men’s Locker Room

The boy in the men’s locker room tries not to stare
as I strip off my clothes.
How big, how hairy and how old I look.
I remember being a...

How to Keep It Real When Everything Has Gone Wrong

Ladies and gentlemen, party people and displaced souls,

we’re now reluctant refugees of a scratch-and-dent world.

This moment would mimic countless others we’ve squandered

were it not for this impromptu sermon. We should know better

than to be reckless with the truth. Honesty is careless by nature,

a master of bad timing, a deadbeat father repeating his litany

of stillborn promises. You...

Coat Rack

“Every word was once a poem”[1]. Every poem was once an experiment. I’m a pragmatic man. I’m a test pilot flying a fountain pen. Testing the limits of honesty[2]. I was going to begin by saying “watch me pull a rabbit out of a hat” but that’s the sort of malarkey I’m trying to avoid, the stiff collar, cleverness of prose (should I apologize?).

There’s a theory that professes honesty is a requirement of writing. Poppycock! I’m being impetuous. I’ll test this theory with three...

Notes from the author: I am especially pleased to appear again in America's oldest literary review. With respect to my poem, "A Day in the Life", I want to express my view that poetry which does not take risks is of insignificant value. Having served as an editor and publisher for a decade, I came to believe a distinctive voice is the most prized attribute of any poet. Witness the...

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