read about the Aeolian Harp Series submissions below


It was a time when winter leaned hard
into spring and the coats of dogs

and horses grew soft and thick, and women
savored the weight of woolen skirts upon layers

of petticoats, at least imagination tells me this
was how it was when a sullen and bearded Leo

took up his pen once more, having spent his youth
on war and peace with Sonya--determined to pass

The balance of his life planning the ruin of a woman
he once knew whose love had cut him through. Like me,

Tolstoy lifted lines and scenes from his own life, I imagine,
"Respect was invented to cover the empty place where

love should be," Sonya said, closing the door upon him,
their lives together. A Russian winter cold, dark, and bottom-

less is a kind of nontime in which a writer might be lost
without her own inventiveness, or sacrifice, or dreams 

about what lovers do when they're alone. 

This poem is a part of a folio of poetry, "Excavation," which appeared in Aeolian Harp Series Six and was selected by guest editor Angela Narciso Torres along with ten other poets' work. 

The submission period for Aeolian Harp Eight, guest-edited by Gloria Mindock, closes 2-28-2022.

 Glass Lyre Press


After an artifact of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, This piece of writing appeared (9/30/2017) on The BeZine hosted by Meta/Phor(e)/Play during the live "100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC) people the world over...gathered to stand up and stand together for PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY, and SOCIAL JUSTICE.


    Before we left Oswiecim, went to work elsewhere for the devil, and left you to play your sweet clarinet for those officers' socials and decampment marches. Six of us said a Novena and made a promise in the bunker you built. Remember that sweet German marmalade, Albert? And those cups of tepid soup we brought to you those August nights? I remember your ready smile and broad hands. How capable you were with a carpenter's tools. We were, each of us, around 19 years old in September of 1944. Karol said you reminded him of his kid brother, the stubborn mass of your young muscles despite the starvation and hard labor you endured. You heartened us. And we loved you as we did another Jew, a Nazarene who was also a carpenter.
    In that place, where you worked alone those hot afternoons, in that bunker, we built together; the one made to protect the SS from an air-raid. The rest of us gathered there. And Bronislaw wrote our names and prisoner numbers on a scrap of paper that Karol ripped from an empty cement bag. We used the pencil left by a visiting inspector and right where you hid the evidence of the food we would stash for you, jelly jars and soup tins. Then, just there in the cement wall, inside an old vinegar bottle, after we said a prayer for survival, and if nothing else remembrance of our young lives, we secreted that scrolled paper after adding your name, Albert Veissid, and A12063, your prisoner number.

Girls in the Garden

Girls in the Garden

Because this is a love poem,
nudity should be expected
It may be cliché—but there will be flowers
and since this is love—gazing for hours.
A woman in love is a woman insane.
She'll sacrifice everything in ritual flames.

Love eternal sometimes ends in flames,
even if pledged in an oath or a poem.
Such loss, it is said, made Lilith insane,
her natural power is still not accepted,
replaced by her sister Eve, within hours;
she fled, and the footprints she left filled with flowers.

For Lilith's breath and her touch begat flowers
and thoughts of her body, for Adam, begat flames,
when she disappeared that man searched for hours;
he filled with lament and wrote sonnets and poems.
This longing for Lilith he had not expected.
If not for his Eve, he would be insane.

Eve complained to God, her man was insane.
God gave her some apples (they started as flowers)
then he slithered away as should be expected
from a snake in the grass or a bush full of flames.
God made Adam write lies in a very long poem
and recite it to both his wives for hours and hours.

Brainwashing these women took more than just hours,
and for millenniums since, women are seen as insane,
forbidden to speak or sing, or to poem.
Instead, they must quietly tend to the flames.
And when in their wake there grew tides of flowers,
the power of women remained unexpected.

Lilith and Eve behaved not as expected.
They studied and chanted like witches for hours.
Raising their power in starlight and in fiery flames.
Today, belief in a Goddess is considered insane,
and when women seem pretty, they are treated like flowers.
They're worshiped in plays and in dramatic poems.

The power of women is rarely accepted by scholars, or clerics, in love or insane. Yet young girls sit vigil for hours and hours. They tie up their hair in ribbons and flowers and speak secret wishes to candlelit flames. Writing their poems and calling God by her name.

America is Sell

I wrote this when I was in high school, 1974 or so, I'm not sure about its strength as a poem, but it's uncanny how true it remains.

America is Sell!

Convince. Persuade.
Free expression?
Free enterprise.
Words are want-ads.
Unrighteous screams demand righteousness!
Political impressiveness
The hard sell,
the soft sell,
the "oh well" apathetic 
voice of the people,
slapped silly by the flesh-eaters.
Where are her guts gone?
Who soiled sweet liberty?
Land of my advertise.
A land where believing died.
America is Frisco,
Disco, I love my Crisco.
Oil boils, corporate fingers,
eager for the crude.
I am in the mood for good
old-fashioned white, blue
and read the paper yesterday.
Seems the world may burn away.

(This land is their land. This land is their land.)


Some things I like 
for the language of them:
Plant cell division
for xylem and phloem.
Catholicism for
extreme unction,
limbo, purgatory,
and Sister Mary Pious.

I could love a human
for vascular and cranium.
And though portent of trouble,
free radical begs affection,
like James Dean
with a cigarette.

It's why I'm a philatelist
so I can say that word.

First appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of the "The Tower Journal" online magazine. 


My brother digs in the village of his wife,
he brushes dust from artifacts, clutches pearls
he finds lying around the site. Today he found
her rings, has spoken with the locals, a daughter, and a son.
He tries to keep from fury, 
they are young and this is their first dig.

He catalogs the stratosphere of his finds
in the dwelling-rooms of the decedent:
a wardrobe of fine linens, scarves, and jewels,
her library, and sacred recipes. It is believed

she collected these stones for use in ritual.
Her sewing room is a vast assortment 
of notions and textiles: curious pastels,
funky buttons, and glitter craft glue.

Hands gloved, he turns each item over,
examing it for further evidence.
Before the expedition, he slept on her side of the bed,
with her robe, a shroud, scented by her still.

He searches for proof of her. This is her paperclip.
Here is a picture of her in the army, her diamond ring.
It's as if she only just sat here in this leather chair
and sipped from this chipped ceramic cup, he tells me

by texting from his location. I am states away.
I do not say that she is a matter of record now,
an artifact more distant and less comprehensible
than the light arriving from a dying star.

First appeared July 2013 in Spaces Lit Mag
Cyn & Jim

Do Not Disturb

If I am a traveler, come
to wander the earth

if a scientist meant
to catalog it all

if a butterfly born to taste
every flower’s nectar

If abundance
means this day

if I am the taster
swallowing some poison
meant for you

if a high powered microscope
to view things smaller than quarks

if a radio receiver built
to capture all the waves

if the woven blanket which
puffs the smoke-signaled message
from the sacred fires of ancient tribes

if a rocket ship of wonder meant
to visit every rock and star
in the Milky Way

if, after all, you would ask me
to interpret this hieroglyph

Ghost of my Familiar

 Grief Must Be witnessed to be Healed
 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

At breakfast, Jessica asked if we'd heard a cat
mewing somewhere in the cottage

In the bathroom, the shadow of a cat brushed my leg
tagged along until I returned my head to the pillow.

Abigail and I, walking to the vacant camp at midnight
encounter a black cat—eyes flashing moonlight.

In a dream days later, he reappears on the porch, chasing
spiders, sniffing an empty dish. His purrs stir the quiet.

When I wake, I remember a skittish calico kitten I fed last summer,
how Denny said not to, he'd only shoot her after I'd gone for the season.

Now I hear a mournful mewling and recall Frida and Diego,
stalking a brown moth or noiseless rodent in the cottage.

In Jane's dream of you, you wore a beautiful golden ring
and complained that you could no longer hear Jim's voice.

We hear you. Your laughter, sweet as those redwood
chimes sound against the span and stillness of our sleep.

What the Water Gave Me

Amy King

    About her most recent book, I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press), John Ashbery describes Amy King's poetry as bringing "abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living."
    King was honored by The Feminist Press as one of the "40 Under 40: The Future of Feminism" awardees, and she received the 2012 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. She organizes "The Count" and interviews for VIDA: Woman in Literary Arts and teaches English and Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.
   King also co-edited Poets for Living Waters with Heidi Lynn Staples and currently co-edits the PEN Poetry Series and Esque Magazine with Ana Bozicevic.

The Boating Party by Mary Cassatt
    A recent visit to the Baltimore MOA allowed me to bask in the beauty of Degas, Monet, Seurat, and other favorites. Impressionists' are easy to love. Perhaps a little less easy surrealist art is an acquired taste. I don't love poetry for its measured formulaic success in making a mark of beauty; I love it for the way it makes me feel. This is the same thing I love about the strange.
   I might hang a print of the painting above in my living room or use it as a palette for a color scheme. But "What the Water Gave Me" by Frida Kahlo is at times' unbeautiful,' even incomprehensible. How am I to understand the strange images that float above the bather's legs in Kahlo's painting? My relationship with Kahlo's work has evolved. And when I view it, I consider it in the context of the artist's story.

What the Water Gave Me by Frida Kahlo

   Liz Hager blogs about Kahlo's painting, and about it, she writes, "The painting is one of Kahlo's most visionary and disturbing; the sophisticated water fantasy provides the vehicle for a densely-packed portrayal of the artist's subconscious. It's almost as if she crammed her entire life into this bathtub scene. Kahlo returned to the same symbols...many of the items included here are in other paintings, some without much alteration." 
     Someone recently asked me why I love Amy King's latest book, I Want To Make You Safe. I've mulled over my response. Why do I love the strange stuff of Amy King's voice?

               Without a sex-o-nista season, the pizza is burning
               the other room down, and these cracks aren't
               as pungent as the crack the great state of Ohio deserves
               when you rock 'n' roll over; so grab your poles,
               go by the lake, and eat up to embrace whatever organ
               makes you gyrate those hips, lace those long legs up
               to our waists and turn out a turntable on this party face,
               sans with or without us, our great groaning lusts a marked
               increase in the moon's ancient pull by the top of the stairs (69).
    I love it because, like Kahlo's painting, I Want to Make You Safe is a collection of odd images floating in a tub above the bare legs of the narrator. The observer is alone in the artist's head. Likewise, King's poems are dream poems. When we are in the dream, it is not odd. We don't question the absurdity. That is how I've learned to see Dali too. In magical realism, we suspend our disbelief. In Surrealism and with the absurd, we suspend our expectation of the expected and allow for the outlandish with the commonplace and other uneasy matchups. Such art forces us into a stream of conscious response. It is there that meaning, if any, is found. 
   King's voice is the body under the bath-water soaking beneath soft and hard floating images. "Hello Lady Bird/ Hola, Smashed Guitar Parts,/ I take these strings to this neck/and cut the tumor in half—love is a surgery/ in participles, pus-filled insects./Additional commands keep the planet well-heeled."
   Peculiar as the voice of I Want To Make You Safe may be. It is an accessible voice with its casual declarations, "A dandelion seed also looks for corners to lie,/so here am I/a seated tin can/with intrusive mice to lend a hand," (38) and conversational tone: "You think I am she. She is you and everyone who adjusts too well, (63).
   This book is from the author more than by the author. It revives the unconscious experience where the mind jettisons a million thoughts into existence simultaneously and leaves the reader to select, order, give attention to what matters at the moment.
   Interestingly, Frida Kahlo made separate paintings of many of her "tub" images. I also get this sense with King's poems. Each piece contains the potential for tangents and journeys. 
   I like King's poems because they are semiotic. We think we know things. Pilfer the lint of dreams,/uproot every yellow, follow stigmata for dust./We have always been the first fruit and the first to rot./We are the ones that read the signs after we bury them./(5)
   I like King's poems for their asymmetry: Ohio is equidistant from the religious saviour/I've become and the promise of America's decrepit/class. The "critique of political economy" dangles/from the arch of my hot-pants tongue. Pencil lipped,/we're left wanting what? 
   I like the feminist King in the poem, "Men by the Lips to Women."

I am the love you light yourself with
and my gender is powerless in this,
We are metered only by our own machines,
While the book is a clock that forgets mechanics.
Her hands can count but would rather wipe warm dew,
The pall from your lips and kiss the lids,
Of your eyes from sleep. Here am I, is he,
with yoke and shadow removed, she is, her in me,
apart from you, man reading men by the lips of women. (31)

   The voice of the narrator is interior. She talks to herself. Readers cannot censor this dream. This voice allows all and speaks the tongue of the contemporary god. King tells me she likes Ana Bozicevic's (King's life and work partner) take on her work that she "scats out these casual masterpieces of rhetoric, then promptly forgets where they came from, makes experiments at careful authorlessness seem funny and humorless in comparison." 
   Be assured that despite I Want To Make You Safe's surrealistic sensibility, King does not kiss to be clever. These are not facile poems. They are written in the context of a contemporary queer narrative.
I like I Want to Make You Safe because it is intelligent. King does tip her hat and in a way that reinforces what I've been thinking. One of the names she drops in her work is Claude Cahun's. (9)  Claude was born Lucy Schwob. She began making photographic self-portraits at age 18 and continued doing so through the 1930s. She took the name Claude Cahun and assumed a sexually ambiguous identity. During the 1920s Cahun lived in Paris with her life-partner Suzanne Malherbe. Cahun and Malherbe (known as Marcel Moore) worked their art together, making sculptures, photomontages, collages, and writing collaboratively.
   André Breton, a founder of the Surrealist movement, called her "one of the most curious spirits of our time. "Although she produced a huge amount of work, as well as significant writings, Claude Cahun operated on the fringes of the Parisian Surreallist (sic) movement. It was not until the 1980's that she was discovered (by François Leperlier), and soon became seen as a forerunner to queer theory and feminist art." 4.
   It is easy to draw a parallel between Calhun/Maherbe and King/ Bozicevic since both couples shared their art and lives. Both are pacesetters in their communities and both committed to art and an innate right to self-identify.
   In his Surrealists Manifesto, Andre Breton says, ""Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express -- verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner -- the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern." 5
   And there is other evidence to support the idea that King's writing is dreamlike. Her poems feature an element of surprise. They include unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur. Andre Breton believed that Surrealism was, above all, a revolutionary movement. Perhaps the same is true of King's work.
And there is other evidence to support the idea that King's writing is dreamlike. 
   Analyzing last night's vivid dream is daunting, but re-dream the dream and the strange is readily accepted. Amy King's poems are like that. They are not easy to understand; don't try. Instead, read them in the way you might a dream where the odd and discordant becomes part of the landscape. And then reread them closely.

A brief chat with poet Amy King:

Bluemoon Northeast: I'd like to include one of your favorite poems from IWTMYS here. Which poem do you choose today?

Amy King: "The White of Sacre Couer Against a Blue Parisian Sky"

Bluemoon Northeast: I note that you do some name-dropping in your poems. Among the names dropped are David Wojnarowicz, Tina Modotti, and Claude Cahun. These artists and writers share a solid and specific artistic identity and a reputation of being something of an activist or revolutionist. How do you see yourself in this context? That of being and artistic revolutionist and an activist?

Amy King:  I think the labels are intricately linked – there are simply gradations of each. For instance, one can be seen more as a "cultural worker" via art. But the artwork can resonate among folks and inspire action, which echoes the "activist" label. I'm quite fond of artists, though, whose work and life somehow speak similar political messages. Watch out for a paper I recently wrote on the life of Leonor Fini, an artist who never officially subscribed to being a member of the Surrealists, though her work and life certainly resonated politically and still inspire others, like myself, to be an independent agent when the group one is affiliated with reinforces /requires various oppressions.

Bluemoon Northeast: What other poets or artists feed your muse?

Amy King:   Loads. Right now, I've been engrossed with the work and lives of a loose-knit group of artists: Frida Kahlo. Leonor Fini, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo. And many more.

Bluemoon Northeast: What is next for you?

Amy King: I'm testing the waters of poetry still, integrating more "real life" material of the aforementioned artists' lives into this upcoming work.


The white of sacre coeur against the blue Parisian sky
marks passageways that blur whenever we enter this city's face.
By our bankrupt dreams, we hold out for starkness,
remember its eyes to dine in.
But I'm of little use to persons undercover, craving
in these buildings' recesses the corners of smiles,
eyes that bulge behind curtains, looking for anything
that will pull the cork, boil the blood
of displeasure tightened by the work of pleasing bosses
and each neighbor whose fence moves a little closer
each year, moaning to stroke the package
left nightly on my doorstep--of pearly liquid, bottled and tied
with a ribbon the color of fairy dust.
They, a secreted them, would have us die to erase that glow.
Mostly at the height of moon's night do her shady limbs
work across properties and lawns they guard with their lives,
whatever these are, whatever they become, however they burn.
For your listening pleasure, I turn as old as I was born,
stroke the bumpy skin of our whisky illness, manage the pyramids
we've never climbed or crawled within,
enter the Morocco never wrapped by your feet
kissing pebbles, visiting your veins, telling you mythologies
that include how we are the sores of hope riding
the backs of tomorrow, mountain peaks we climb
and shout the names of those to come and those who've been,
each of us who happens to be the world's greatest against every
shade of sky, and every sky that cradles our dying heads, still living.

For Michael

I'm always borrowing grief, a cup of sugar.
This is the neighbor's grief, not mine;
the neighbor's cup. Let me take that sure
walk through the rocky meadow down
to the place next door and return it.
I've not seen you in so long. What
should it matter that you are gone?
It is not like I'll need to fill up the space
left by your absence from my day.
I can't say when last we spoke or met.
Yet, your loss is keen and bitter
as some bad root that no amount
of sugar will temper. It burns into me.

Ten Suggestions

The Goddess came to me and suggested that I write these TEN SUGGESTIONS down. (That's her yelling, not me.)

1. I'm your mother; all of life passes through my vulva. Worship whoever you'd like; I'm still your mother.

2. I like sculptures of anything; stars, earthly animals, Poseidon himself. Life is art; imitate it.

3. Call me anytime.

4. Nothing is holier than today.

5. Your parents are exhausted.

6. Death is inevitable but not permanent.

7. Sex is a sacred private gift.

8. Give things away.

9. You know what's true. 

10. You are my favorite.