National Poetry Month: Community Submissions

April is National Poetry Month and we invited members of our community to submit their own poetry. While neither of us consider ourselves poets, we both deeply love poetry and our own occasional attempts to put one together. We love reading everything our community members submit, but it’s especially cool to read your poetry. We’re accepting submissions until April 30th, and will post our favorites to Instagram as the month rolls on.

Here’s what we’ve received so far:

Lake Effect
By Catherine Morse //

Yellow Adirondack chair,
I look out at the lake, waves ripple, fog rolls in
Snow falls but there I stay,
Engrossed in majesty
Hundreds of geese fly over head,
Tell anyone who will listen,
“The water retains heat longer” so it doesn’t freeze over just yet
When I am alone I stand at the edge
No picture does it justice, just my own
Flawed memory of this moment
Like all treasured memories, no faces or words,
Just a feeling like the one I get when I need to write:
Fingertips tingle and hair stands on end and—
Quick, quick, grab a pen
Grab whatever you can wrap your clammy
Fingers around
telling myself:
This is momentous because the earth is scary and beautiful in a million ways
Deep water, plunge my hand in, never
Find the bottom
Is just one. Beautiful and frigid terrifying at the same time, like
I won’t even jump in
Except that once on the docks in the
Man-made Maryland lake, bikini,
Water end-of-May cold
“Swim across to the other side,” we said
Or when I was ten, fearless,
Minnie Mouse tankini,
Jump off the edge of my grandpa’s
Fishing boat, into the deep great unknown,
No hesitation, Search for a sandbar
I don’t think I ever search for a sandbar
Not anymore
Keep my head above water, unnatural
Cerulean chlorine gets in my eyes
Throw my contacts out at the end of the day
Nurse a sunburn
The ocean is so largely undiscovered that
It scares me more than space does
Like, black holes—who cares?
When I’ve got monsters of the thousands of miles deep, if I could scuba,
I guess I would,
Fear taking over every inch of skin,
Water-wrinkled fingertips and
Hair grown long and then chopped at my chin
I am always facing the unknown so like,
What’s the difference?
I go with the flow, swim along with the tide
So why not?
Stand at the edge of the lake and breathe in,
I can see the sun glint off the water
From my kitchen window, morning coffee
Even crashing waves, I am calm seas on the water

Sorry for this Love Poem
By Catherine Morse //

I am wrapping presents, glide of the scissors
Paper-slice my finger open, single
Drop of blood

Sorry I’m no good at writing love poems
Of course, I love love, of course I do
Though I always revelled in the hungry empty of heartbreak
Of someone turning the auditorium lights out
When you’re still standing on the stage

Love is, of course, the easiest thing
You make me breakfast,
Perfect yellow moon egg yolks every time
I don’t need to ask for anything--simple
It is already there

Sorry i’m a Taurus
Sorry the love I see as real, big love is the kind I
Can tape together in shiny decorative paper
You tear it apart because what’s inside is better--
There’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere, right?

Oh, who cares.
If it’s simple, it’s probably boring
You and I, laying on the couch, my icicle
Feet tucked under your legs
This is an ode to the after, the capital-S simple
Not the before--

When-i-was-nineteen-i-was-chasing-you, complicated
Already so in love
Already catch-my-breath-when-you-enter-the-room
Do you remember that?

Young heart, open-eager, desperate, hungry
Raw like honey
Like if I am biting into a honeycomb, I am supporting
The bee economy

I’m just on the side of the road, wasting my days away
Picking flowers to weave in our hair
You teaching me how to play chess
You and I making dinner, chopping onions,
Wiping tears from our stinging eyes
You and I sunk into the couch, skin-to-skin

Snapshots that would be idyllic, heart-wrenchingly so
In the after, if there were an after
But there isn’t
Only a finish line,
Dress, passport, slices of cake,
Circles of metal that proclaim us a matching set,
Salt and pepper shaker

Only a continuation, only more nights on the couch,
More breakfast, more trudging through the snow winters
And Jump into the chlorine-eyes-burn-blue-as-blue-can-be summers
Every season by the side of the road, just picking flowers, the bee
Buzz watching us

By Meghan Austin

This is not some desperate plea
Saying that you’ll always be
And shamed
I don’t know if you ever felt that anyway

This is a war cry
From deep within, I
And proudly
The way you wouldn’t allow me

From deep down in my bones
This is a melody of wrongs
That yell
And swell
Protesting til all is well

This is an anger boiling up
This is a snake coiling up
Broiling up
Not dead
On me, you will not tread

This is a cry for what’s right
A cry for a light
In the night
And hard
But I will fight for my part

This is a cry for justice
You know, it’s just this
I wish
You could
You would
Just do what you should

by Mary Heath //

There are aches in my bones:
a new kind of growing pain. I
meant to tell you, Mother Nature,
that I already have bloomed.

This persistent insistence for
growth wakened what was once
sown into the most ancient marrow.

I knew my grandmother’s bones
are my mother’s bones, and hers
are mine. Their lessons, mistakes
sparked neurons—the burden

has been to be their better story. I wonder,

is singing really not screaming
when you bury your truths beneath
this body’s deserts and plant your fears
into this body’s most fertile places?

I hear these bones; they yearn to sing
Great Are You Lord, but, oft instead,
have locked into postures unfit for living.

Before I mourned what’s lost by
only looking at the ground, yet at
twenty-three, I found myself standing
where flowers once grew

by the hands of my foremothers.

I had forgotten what women taught me:
that flowers bear witness to the trauma
of living, that they can bend so far
and—even so—will not break;

that seeds push themselves up from this
hostile Earth to swallow Heaven’s tears,
and to transfigure death, to breathe life out.

Remembrance becomes reminder—
my bones will not be broken. Strong
is what binds me to You; resilience,
is the promise of good news,

and, sister, our pain births beauty, too.

I Love You
by Mary B Safrit // @maryb.safrit

Three monosyllabic words exploded,
Fled, volcanic out of me and
In the electric air between us.
We stood stunned, stationary,
You could not take them in
And I-
I could not take them back,
I could not make them untrue,
I could not make you accept them,
Receive them as the gift they were.

You did not want them.
You could not handle the force
With which they were projected at you.
It was too much,
Because those eight letters contained
My hope,
The weight of my affection, my passion,
My soul,
All of my being.

You froze, and the words remained
But never meant to be,
Dissipating into the dry air,
Unable to be conducted.
Lost- no, displaced.
Wandering like a refugee,
Waiting for the moment
You might, at last, be ready for them.

Medicinal Pondering
by Audrey Bennett // @gingersauce

These were my steps-
and that my rail.
Splintered with time are
my fingers
as they pass over the wooden support
of four years.
Will my footprint remain here?
On dirty blue carpet?
Will my song be sung,
stuck like a canary bird
in the tiled hallways of my
sophomoric youth?
And what of the passageway
that leads to a curtained stage set
for me?
Who will wrestle with character there?
With my Hansel, my Julie?
Does it matter though.
The staircase descends
just as it ascends.
My path leads back out the door
that I once had never touched.

On dating his vignette
by Holly Moore // @itshollsyall

you could chart your roots like
the stars, each trauma dotting the Milky Way
map, would you let me trace the edges of your
constellations, wondering if your legacy was the
wide-eyed moon, where would your
North Star compass point?

you could be washed away by your own river of rhythmic
emotion, maybe you’d called it a monochromatic mudslide,

your briefcase read:
Combustible Storage and Skeletons

you knew, would you tell me
about this frequency of fragility?

you blamed it on your brain’s wrought-iron bars, still
bouldering the dents of a reckoning they don’t remember.

you said, let’s not belabor the bruises.
Censorship really is a guilted gift.

you muffled your high-rise history with a
wink or even a frown, saying:

I am only an anthological

Gone Green, Hyde.
By Hannah McCracken

Thoughts fluttering furiously, 
Air thick, coarse, 
Hands clenched. 
Lips burning, bruising, begging,
From hard pressed love.
Illusive affection, 
Evaporating once identified. 
Seen in rawness, 
Suddenly vanished 
Lips bruised by a stranger
Stranger belongs
Wishful thinking. 
Green haunts my gray
Risen from single origin, 
Twice the suspicion, 
Twice the curiosity, 
Curiosity leads.
My body bound in Radiohead. 
20 years in 20 hours, 
Word bewildered
Tangled within and beneath. 
Taste your love as you bruise my lips
Enlighten my gray, oh green. 
Color me, my green. 
Do not hide your brilliance.

Want to add your poetry to the collection! Submit it here.

Ashton Ray