Now here’s what poetry can do.

Imagine yourself a caterpillar.

There’s an awful shrug and, suddenly,

You’re beautiful for as long as you live.

- an excerpt from Stephen Dunn’s
“Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry”


Song by Adrienne Rich

You’re wondering if I’m lonely:
OK then, yes, I’m lonely
as a plane rides lonely and level
on its radio beam, aiming
across the Rockies
for the blue-strung aisles
of an airfield on the ocean.

You want to ask, am I lonely?
Well, of course, lonely
as a woman driving across country
day after day, leaving behind
mile after mile
little towns she might have stopped
and lived and died in, lonely

If I’m lonely
it must be the loneliness
of waking first, of breathing
dawn’s first cold breath on the city
of being the one awake
in a house wrapped in sleep

If I’m lonely
it’s with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it’s neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning.

"you have had love, and that means
your sternum is a divining rod
for both passion and grief. because the tongue is the body’s
strongest muscle, make it say
joy. make it say I am a factory of splendid things. make it say
the octopus is the smartest animal
in the animal kingdom, and I am an octopus. I am an octopus.
I am happy. my survival
was not an accident, or purposeless."

Marty McConnell, “Zoo” (via speioritur)

(via lifeinpoetry)

A 2002 poem from the archives. Whoa.

A 2002 poem from the archives. Whoa.

Personal, Tony Hoagland

Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,

the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me

and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,

and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.

Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk

Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
believe in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,

I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back

and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries

like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?

You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.

I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:

trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.

Sky — Matthew Dickman

I remember when the sky
was all the rage,
like last night and how it felt
like a bundle of letters
flung into the air
over the apartment
where you and I slept
like two keys in someone’s pocket,
the same sky
as this morning but now it’s more
like a sheet that’s been
lifted like rice over a wedding
party. Jumbo jets
are swimming through the clouds
and you are driving
to California
with your son asleep
in the back, every microcosm
of his body is initialed
with your name, with the sound
and wet mouth of your skin.
I’m getting ready
to walk through this city
for the tenth billion time, getting
ready to be a person
who is not like an empty building,
who is not like an emergency
kit, the swabs and needles,
the antiseptic and Band-Aids,
today I will be the way
I always wanted to be, someone
drinking coffee and being
kind of knowing
the difference between making
love and putting on
his shoes. The way I smile,
with the dental dam
of death clouding up my teeth
is something you always
knew about me, something you liked
a little in the left part of your body
which is the part that has water
and trees, puddles of blood
and planets of organs. I want to know
just what kind of a person
goes to sleep with one name
and wakes up with another, my inner life
has so many passports
I don’t think it belongs to any particular
Nation, nor would it be saved
if all out war were to appear over
the hedges like a mother
appearing in the middle of a Mall
where her lost child
has been watching a strange man
do a trick with a quarter,
a pin, and his thick hands. Whenever
you go, I am sawed in half
in front of an audience of one,
before the two boxes of myself
are wheeled back together and I get
to stand up again, and bow, and walk away.

MLS WEEKLY GUEST POST - Writer Franki Elliot



About two years ago, Franki Elliot (author of critically acclaimed “Piano Rats”) met a Craigslist stranger at Dunkin Donuts, gave her sixty bucks and left with a 1970s baby blue Smith Corona typewriter. Soon after, she began asking people to send her topics to write about because she was tired of writing about herself. Soon after, in search of new material, Elliot began carrying the typewriter to various festivals, beaches, flea markets and let strangers come up to her, request a topic, and leave with a story. (She has most recently typed at Pitchfork Music Fest, as well as at events for Puma, Airbnb, Yelp, Canon and Flavorpill). 

As Elliot wrote, she also took pictures of her favorite stories and eventually turned them into a tear & share postcard book titled Kiss As Many Women As You Can. The stories are complimented with stunning artwork by Shawn Stucky, who is a red/green color blind artist located in Chicago. Stucky has done everything from carving eyeglasses out of wood, adorning fire hydrants throughout Chicago with his masterful art, designing tattoos, live screenprinting, mural painting and, of course, creating books. Elliot, who is Los Angeles based via hometown Chicago, is a music industry professional booking bands by day and writing books by night.

You can view the book here:
Franki’s website is here:

"Oh the blackness is murderous
and the milk tip is brimming
and each machine is working
and I will kiss you when
I cut up one dozen new men
and you will die somewhat,
again and again."

An excerpt from “Again and Again and Again,” Anne Sexton

MLS WEEKLY GUEST POST - Writer Jenn Monroe

As I Was Saying

Old maple leaves barely able to hang on green, go

                        What will they do in tomorrow’s red dress?

soon to mulch or scatter down the street with

garbage. What is this conversation, this little

Crunch the bone of it to cake flour.

dance of when-we-can-what-we’ll-do? Are we

low, long, reverberations of dialogue about

the real dressed as the mundane? We’ve forgotten

                        A kind of play?

our native tongue, so speak with fingertips close to lips or

pressed into the small of my back. You whisper in

                         I want to float with those three in your key,

that breath span between release and reconnect. We are

                        let them curl under my chin.

closer to it there. That is our conversation.

                        Yes, that.

(“As I Was Saying” appears in Monroe’s chapbook, Something More Like Love.)

Let’s What?

Go for a rain walk with towels. Place bets

on puddles we’ve not seen since January

and may never see again. Let’s be serious

for a moment—let’s not! Count buds on maples. Let’s break

the window of the house across the street with our hands.

Let’s climb trees slick black, grab the crow at the top by the tail.

            Let’s pray! Let’s not. Let’s beg! Let’s not.

Let’s let each other have our way with each other. Let’s do this again

real soon. Let’s create strange verses. Let’s try to pick ourselves up

off the floor after so much whiskey—so many whiskey kisses.

About Jenn Monroe: Jenn Monroe is executive editor of Eastern Point Press and co-founder and an editor/educator for Eastern Point Lit House. She is the author of Something More Like Love (2012, Finishing Line Press) and her poems have been published in a wide array of literary journals. She lives with her loves in New Hampshire. 

See more of her work here:

MLS WEEKLY GUEST POST - Poet, Writer, Aesthete Christopher Calvin Pollard

Pompadour Cotinga

The amount of people: natives & tourists would make anyone dizzy—but she was not focused on the swarm—her gaze had landed on a stop sign, a stop sign that had become a perch for a bird. An insight began to form—the red of the stop sign topped with the red of the fat little bird—she could see how human red was halting and that nature’s red was pulsing with life, she could not see it from the distance at which she found herself—but she could feel that life expanding and contracting in the chest of that bird. The insight was becoming pure—nature’s red was about living and man’s red was about not dying. The insight was now a part of her—she did not care if others had had it before her or if she was the first—it was now just within her—making her newer—her body was aligning with her soul and she could feel it taking place—the moment—she was becoming a witness to herself.

The experience had prevented her from seeing the young man making his way through the dense crowds—his gaze firmly on her—never breaking, which made him bump into more fellows than needed be. The young man had made way through the bulk of the fleshy traffic and found himself not far from the object of his gaze—his own soul, so entwined with his body, kept him from following her gaze—he had no interest in birds atop signs. He continued to move confidently toward her. Her soul felt the approach of something serious and turned toward it—her body, lagging imperceptibly behind, caught up.

She was surprised and pleased to see the figure drawn to her. He was before her in a few strides—his pace did not vary at all—one would think he had counted out the steps beforehand—to come to rest at what was the perfect distance from her—just within reach of her, which he took advantage of—he reached out and took her arms in his hands—his gaze resting on her face. “I love you.” The words started an earthquake—that is why he had taken her by the arms—just to keep her from falling. The words became pure again—they became the ancient poem they had always been. The purity of the poem came from the truth that he had no interest in knowing if she loved him—his love was enough and her knowing it was all that he desired.

For the second time in a single day the gap between her soul and her body closed a little more.

Creative Director at ICONODULY and publisher at Horse Smith Press, see more of his proclivities here:

Honored to share this beautiful collage poem “Nothing Substantial” from artist Vivienne Strauss. Thank you, Vivienne, for allowing for this guest post on the MLS blog. xx-Rebecca

Honored to share this beautiful collage poem “Nothing Substantial” from artist Vivienne Strauss. Thank you, Vivienne, for allowing for this guest post on the MLS blog. xx-Rebecca

"Is hunger
only automatic

— Robert Creeley

Tear It Down - Jack Gilbert

We find out the heart only by dismantling what
the heart knows. By redefining the morning,
we find a morning that comes just after darkness.
We can break through marriage into marriage.
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond
affection and wade mouth-deep into love.
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
The village is not better than Pittsburgh.
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh.
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound
of raccoon tongues licking the inside walls
of the garbage tub is more than the stir
of them in the muck of the garbage. Love is not
enough. We die and are put into the earth forever.
We should insist while there is still time. We must
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already
in our bed to reach the body within that body.


I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it’s you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.


— Pablo Neruda

THE MATTER - Kim Addonizio

Some men break your heart in two…

—Dorothy Parker, ”Experience”


Some men carry you to bed with your boots on.

Some men say your name like a verbal tic.

Some men slap on an emotional surcharge for every erotic encounter.

Some men are slightly mentally ill, and thinking of joining a gym.

Some men have moved on and can’t be seduced, even in the dream bars you meet them in.

Some men who were younger are now the age you were then.

Some men aren’t content with mere breakage, they’ve got to burn you to the ground.

Some men you’ve reduced to ashes are finally dusting themselves off.

Some men are made of fiberglass.

Some men have deep holes drilled in by war, you can’t fill them.

Some men are delicate and torn.

Some men will steal your bracelet if you let them spend the night.

Some men will want to fuck your poems, and instead they find you.

Some men will say, “I’d like to see how you look when you come,” and then hail a cab.

Some men are a list of ingredients with no recipe.

Some men never see you.

Some men will blindfold you during sex, then secretly put on heels.

Some men will try on your black fishnet stockings in a hotel in Rome, or Saran Wrap you

to a bedpost in New Orleans.

Some of these men will be worth trying to keep.

Some men will write smugly condescending reviews of you work, making you remember

these lines by Frank O’hara:

I cannot possibly think of you/other than you: the assassin/of my orchards.

Some men, let’s face it, really are too small.

Some men are too large, but it’s not usually a deal breaker.

Some men don’t have one at all.

Some men will slap you in a way you’ll like.

Some men will want to crawl inside you to die.

Some men never clean up the matter.

Some men hand you their hearts like leaflets

and some men’s hearts seem to circle forever: you catch sight of them on clear nights,

bright dots among the stars, and wait for their orbits to decay, for them to fall to earth.