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.


The Sitting

Inside beige rooms or taken out
to feel the breeze or the sun,
they sit in chairs that roll or don’t,
recline or don’t, chairs that bear
the imprint of long sitting.  They sit
when the bells ring for matins, nones,
and compline. They sit for meals, for Bingo,
for TV–the set fixed on reruns of The Rifleman,
Gunsmoke, and Bonanza—a world as black
and white as the sitting and not sitting.

They come to love their chairs
like a worn-in pair of shoes, like home.  

The chairs receive them, skinny buttocks,
out-of-style pants–too loose, too long,
that once fit to a T.  They receive
cushioned Depends, crumbs
from afternoon snack, the seeping
of every accident.  The chairs are sturdy,
made of plastic,  rubber, and steel,
and they take the wear.  The chairs retain
their value. When the one who sits
wears out, the chair will be passed on.  


as does change

last day of the month
last day of the first half of the year
even good days are now difficult
the moderate has become what would have once been labeled as extreme
and here I am
in the middle yet outside
I am totally and utterly alone
despite the booming of the firecrackers and the uncontested silence of a voice
both of which assure me people are present
if only in certain instances
I explained I write quickly and yes, grapes were in my chicken salad this time around
my friend said she shouldn’t have to explain why her life matters and I quite frankly agree
my other friend told me what I already knew
and strangely I am not disappointed
uncertainty is the grand punishment from God, or at least one of them
at times that is how I feel, how I interpret anyway
some people never get angry with God and I wonder what kind of relationship that is
I also wonder why God gave me this particular set of emotions
why not a different temperament but ordinary disturbs me
as does change except at times it thrills me, depending
I asked multiple groups what Independence Day will be about this time around
and not surprisingly no one seems especially patriotic as of late
except for those I don’t generally associate with
I do miss baseball games
and wearing my black high healed sandals that I only wear a few times per season
the fact I was going to take some girls to New York and now I cannot
or can I, just not today
sometimes I forget I own a particular dress
my pandemic weakness is shoes and I have now ordered four pairs
but maybe my strength is I have not purchased more
I continue to work on my painting, based on a photo
I will soon purchase seed beads and make an anklet
my puzzle is slowly, ever so slowly, progressing
and I am bewildered at the state of the world
confused as to why I am still here, in this place
despite the freedom and my ability to swim in deep water
change only comes from more than a posted sign in ones front window
change can come swiftly and override it all