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from Shadow Self

“Surrounding my great-grandfather’s life and death, I sensed an intentional silence.” Mixing prose memoir and poetic imagination, Karen Holmberg tries to reach through that silence into her family’s immigrant history.

What We Call a Mountain in the Valley, They Call a Hill on the Mountain

“Can you conjure a love that substantial,” asks Jaswinder Bolina, holding poetry up to everything within this country’s reach, “a lyric / more American than the one in the bed of the penitentiary // nestled between soybean fields?”

Meditation with [                        ] Inside It

In a series of meditations on violence, data, language, nationalism, awe, indifference and more, George Kovalenko tangles America is its infinite detail: “so little depends upon those permanent shadows, / their respective casters immolated and offered up to the altar / of Example, tongues so deep in cheeks we wonder if what walls still // stand might bleed.”

Gratitude for Nothing

Responding to a friend’s poem and playing on the phrase “Thanks for Nothing,” Alan Shapiro offers an intricate song of praise to nothingness–”blind giver and dumb taker, / my stone deaf end / and origin, whom / I pretend / hears me pretend / to thank for being”–that is also an exquisite poem of gratitude for all the hunger that led to “this last, this / best love.”


“Anxious as seaweed, over the sides of the ships / creep hordes of trembling locators.” In this poem of seeking, Sumita Chakraborty summons ghosts and summons, too, words and weight crushing enough to pin them down.

For Lynn, At Lake Nockamixon

“How is it we can go through / Our lives without being routed or sent // To madness,” asks Ernest Hilbert in this measured poem of gaping loss, “wild with all we want, / And filled to vastness with all we view?”

Greenwood Cemetery

“I am trying to tell you in a foreign language / What everybody knows at home,” explains Destiny Birdsong. “I may well have been a worthless / Child, but my mother kept it to herself.” Out of violence and loneliness, in a sequence of elegies, she writes toward a place to belong.

Brooklyn Antediluvian

“Look how far / a name can travel, borne by a brown body,” writes Patrick Rosal, weaving family history, far-flung places, word origins, new myths, enduring injustice, hunger, streets, and relentless blossoming. “The horses snorted down from the hills’ / crests with no one but her to witness // how a steed mid-gallop flops over so fast / and so hard it opens like a rose.”

Sing Sing

Tired of prison, a failed muse tries to draft a letter of apology to her parole board. “For the record,” she writes, “I never was a god. I am / spirit same as you, / moving body to body / through the years.” By Tomás Q. Morín.

Eight Lo-Fis

“I believe in Music, / maker of all that, though / never quite, is as that / which was should have been.” H.L. Hix‘s Lo-Fis loop “what does not happen there” and what did not happen here, making much of what’s not quite.