i am a song.

sometimes i play too loud,
get stuck in your head.
sometimes i hold the sound
of memories in my notes,
send you on a journey
inside yourself.
i am a song.
sometimes i am
the only one who understands at all,
the only one you want to hear from,
the only way through.
i am a song 
that always 
takes you home, no matter 
the years or miles.
your heart feels the rhythm,
and there you are. 
i am a song.
just as the wound is 
maybe, finally healing–
with a lyric unexpected
or a feeling you’d rejected–
i cut back down to bone.

Someone Said It’s OK If You Can Just Send Money

I bust out a bottle of summer rose’
fill up a bright blue plastic beer cup
half full with wine,
check to see if it’s all in my belly pack—
flashlight, cell phone, bio-degradable poo-poo bags.

The dog has the leash in his mouth,
teeth clenched on it,
shaking it like it’s a mole he just nabbed.

We go for our evening walk,
the sky bends from blue to indigo,
a red streak fading.

A helicopter has been circling
slowly for almost every night now, 
the dog is spooked by the sound, 
he cowers—we are out after curfew.

Less than 3 miles away
are the protests:  Justice for Breonna
Less than 5 miles away, on Chestnut,
the windows of my son’s bar, shattered,
bricks and bats, but really
anger, rage, desperation, disgust: 
Justice for Breonna.

40 or so years ago I would join them—
chanting, raging, walking night after night
in sticky relentless heat:  Justice Justice
Justice for Breonna,
down Broadway to Baxter to
Bardstown Road and back:
Justice for Breonna.

I can’t go—my husband’s big heart tied
into knots depending on a battery to keep pace,
at-risk during this pandemic,
we are locked-down,
the pandemic has opened the Pandora’s box:
inequities of all kinds revealed—many vulnerable–
many lives at stake.

So many lives at stake–
I drop off a pallet of water bottles at a curb,
hope the protesters find it,
send money to Dare to Care, the Humane Society,
the local bail fund, the KY Covid 19 fund:
Justice for Breonna
So many lives at stake.



Juicy tomato
Sandwich with mayo and salt
Summer is here now

♡Anastasia Z. Cunningham


A Cat Named for a Teddy Bear

He was a scrawny, electrified-looking
creature, a raggedy baby with blue eyes
and a tiger’s shadow in his fur. 
I named him Snuggles, after the laundry
detergent teddy bear, because they were
the same color. Nothing about him
in this memory speaks to cuteness, no
brain sketch draws him as adorable
or cuddly or wanting. And yet, 
he was mine as soon as I saw him, meaning
and tumbling in the bathtub of some
woman’s house with the others. My mom
let me choose, and I picked him. I think
on the ride home he disappeared
in the car, playing with the brother
that my sister got to adopt. Snuggles wasn’t 
a lap cat; he wasn’t a lover or a fighter;
he wasn’t the sweetest of the lot;
he didn’t come immediately but neither
did he leave. He let me hold him (a while),
name him, and keep him. I never deserved better.


Red Over Red Flag: Water Is Closed to Public Use

i feel myself

constantly being pulled

into the riptide.


i don’t make

the waves myself,

they are led by

all the other currents

fighting over who

will be in the spotlight.


and though i’ll watch them

from afar and laugh

while they squirm,

i’ll be waiting for one

to reel me completely in,

letting me follow their lead.


and as i spiral

down, over, up and out

i’ll still lay low

on the backside,

begging for someone

to gawk at me

but not be swept

into the water.


and i’ll slowly fade out,

 and wash upon the shore,

wondering why i get

so carried away

in the uproar


June 30, 2020

And now at the close of the year’s LexPoMo,
we do not make speeches, hire a brass band to play.
Rather, we offer a cache of poems to show

that for the past month our creative juices did flow
towards writing a verse of poesy each day
as we courted meter, rhyme and music to fill LexPoMo.

We poets don’t seek kudos or expect that much dough
will accrue from our villanelles, sonnets, odes, triolet,
yet still we crafted carefully these treasures for show,

and if at times it seemed the muse came too slow,
we didn’t abandon hope, give up, turn away
or flag toward the end of our tribe’s LexPoMo.

No, we knew we could do it, could generate glow
with the ink from our pens and our scintillating wordplay,
could produce a collection we’d be quite proud to show.

So now on June 30, we’re pleased, don’t you know
to be looking forward to next year, the sign-up in May,
to opening season ‘21’s challenge: LexPoMo,
and to launching a new trove of verses to show.


The Ossified Man Waves Back

This week: rumors of war bribes
and Saharan dust so fine, it swirled
silica and watercolored sunrise. 

Meanwhile, I plan by myself
the lives I’ll lead someday, as if
I’m Benjamin Button, magically
mobile again. 

Every time I think of you,
there are so many yous I’ve failed
to communicate with–to commune,
a human need I’ve neglected,

I’ve been trying to poem all day long,
which is to say I sat in the dark
for a long time

Dear, dear reader-of-this-poem:
I’m trying to confer it all to you,
and I don’t know exactly
what to say.



Last night I dreamt a poem
but it was missing when I woke

All day I’ve searched my brain
but all I find is your face

and the following refrain

Is it bravery or cowardice 
to leave something toxic? 


Orange Schwinn

I have wanted to write a poem 
about your orange Schwinn,
on the back there was a little folding chair-

I rode with you like a queen, just me –
perfecting my wave form,
looking forward over your bent curly head.

You were strong then, wide back, muscled calves,
cutoffs, beat up sneakers
shifting smoothly, glancing back at me, smiling.

I have wanted to write a poem.

for Daddy


I sink my fingers into soil / trying to regrow severed roots

I sink my fingers into soil
     trying to regrow severed roots

My grandmother married in a
blue velvet dress. Practical,
for the time. I have her shoes, purportedly,
from that day.
I have a sunflower-yellow necklace,
a bracelet of luminous green glass.
A ring, I think. A brooch.
I do not have: her forsythia,
iris, lilac. Weigela, hosta,
baptisia. Casualties
of a life that had to be lived.
I do not have: her peonies and roses.
Not for lack of trying, they died.
She too, was gone. Years
before my parents met, the
kind of cancer you can’t inherit.
And yet
I have her Hungarian kifli recipe
and the knowledge she
made rum-soaked fruitcakes
to afford Christmas trees. She
delivered milk by wagon with
her sister, laughing while crawling on
icy roads, midwinter.
I have
her glass gazing ball. Her
mended-glass Buddha-lidded
jar. Her persistence, I think.
Her Ashkenazi blood, and all
the newfound weight that brings.
I mourn.
I try to grow new things. The
milkweed-seed that set itself
in the doorframe last year. The
vetch and wild rose that appear
uninvited but no less welcomed, yes.
The mullein and mallow, the
violets I hold so dear. Some year
still to come, baptisia will bloom
and seed-pod rattle. Maybe,
maybe then
my roots will settle.