Online Open Mic

With the COVID-19 situation, our Open Mic Night meetings have temporarily been derailed. However, we want to keep our poetry community engaged.

We are offering an Online Open Mic venue, using the same guidelines as our Open Mic Night gatherings. We ask that the poems you submit should address our current “times” — the pandemic and/or sheltering, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, or just spring. So, lots of room to run there. 

We invite all the poets in our YCP community to send in ONE POEM PER ENTRY.  The first 30 poems that come in DURING THE MONTH OF MAY will be posted here.

Email Yakima Coffeehouse Poets for more information.

We hope you enjoy our poets and their thoughts in these trying times…

Penny Johnson

Mark Fuzie
   Corona Sunset Spring Sonnet

We stand like Western gulls, our beaks
Up straight, wings folded, two wing lengths
Between us and the droplets of salt
Concentrate dripping from our neighbor’s nares,

Facing into the west wind washing
Through the coastal pines behind
Us whose pollens seek pine pistils
Downwind to begin the great divide.

Unlike other living things discriminately
Seeking the stuff of life, we retreat now,
And watch the horizon each end of day
For the crowning explosion into night.

If this unwitting force threatening our survival passes
In the dark, tomorrow brings more chances.

Joyce Hernandez

When I swim in a river
or that old trickster, the sea
when I embrace
the tree I’m climbing
the load I’m lifting

I want brains in my arms
like the octopus, thinking
my way to balance. But

when I hold you, my dearest
let arms be free
of every thought
quickened only by limbic longings
and the blind
circuitry of joy.

Leon Petty
    After Eden

Sometimes it seems that God has no preference in peoples
but I’m not talking about the precious
Red and Yellow, Black and White
I’m talking about Dog, Cat, Mouse, Sparrow and Me
The chattel world
not so precious

It wasn’t God that mandated this Social Distancing
between man and nature and even one another
God didn’t proselytize the shotgun or the Atom Bomb
God just planted these diverse spirits
all together in this miserable
no win scenario

Everything is supernatural
That’s what is so pitiful about existence
Doddering before the big heedless powers
juggernauting everything in their paths
So I am not so surprised at genocide
wherever it comes from
even with this dying like in H. G. Wells
War of the Worlds

Once I cut myself with a table saw
and it really astounded me
that the saw
made the exact same noise
after it cut me
as it did
before it cut me

This occasion
harlequin to my vulnerability
took my blood to puddle
with everything sacred and bane
and muzzled the child molesting Gods
to never whisper of my divinity again

And with this blackened apple bitten
the new swords turning fiery at the gates
the new dark angels scowling bidden
and every earth bound breathing thing
comes crawling for my nakedness to share

Yea and rapacious the newborn mercy

Yesterday I repeated
like a Mantra
“Atom Bomb, COVID19”
until the words began to hummmm
all meaning the same wonderful thing

W. D. Frank
Sand puzzle

Simple physics pulls sand down the hourglass
a slow trickle initially,
imperceptible, noiseless
until gravity overwhelms the interior
the final bits hurtling to the bottom
all at once.
Puzzling me is this unseen force
altering the acceleration
shattering our fragile glass ampoules
before the grains run their course
leaving shards and granules
for ventilators to sift,
a muddle impossible to piece back
and no chance
to flip the frame back round again.

Joseph Powell

What melody subverts the listless funk?
What dance seems right without belittling misery?
When sorrow overtakes the daily news, stalks
the grocery aisles, the hardware stores, hospitals,
what sentence is without a perfumey residue?

This should be an artist’s dream—
no excuse to charm us from our inner life.
Yet something chafes the soul when the unknown
has locked the doors, and change like gloomy weather,
deeper than what we’ve ever seen or felt before,
surrounds the house, shakes the window frames.

We could commune with the moths that find
their night-time glow, or spiders webbing
chairs to tabletops almost as fast as they’re cleaned,
spitting white droplets in dressered corners.
Or marvel at the bristley white fuzz
climbing the stems of the tomato starts,
or out-Zen a fly and nimbly catch and release it
like the trout we’re banned from.

Yet intimacy is finding new borders to cross.
Everything we do with each other is magnified.
A tone reverbs. A casual critical word researches a history.
A loaf of steaming bread rejoices, raising
its hosannas like Pentecostal tongues.
How smells colonize their square footage,
each writing its limbic ode.
Children see parents without their armor,
and claim their unsuspecting bodies like conquistadors.
Women barber, discover moles, thin spots, doubts.
Men learn to dab the gray from roots, the fluency of hair,
the many ways that touch redeems,
the facts and flaws and fruits of nakedness,
how I love you takes on newer, deeper meanings.

Ed Stover
May Day 2020

From my dining room,
I gaze out at the flowers
in my yard and remember
another May Day 70 years ago.

There I am, 10 years old,
sneaking up Gloria Stipac’s
front walk with a fistful
of flowers and a card signed Love.

I will leave the card and flowers
on Gloria’s front step and run
because I’m afraid
to present them in person.

Afraid Gloria will laugh
in my face as she eventually will.
And awfully afraid
of her football coach father.

golden curls,
dark eyebrows,
blue eyes clear as water.

Strange what returns,
the details so clear and cruel.
But what of the bouquet?
Its color? Its fragrance?

All I remember are flowers
purloined from my mother’s
garden, how they shook
in my small, hopeful hand.

Betty Van Ryder


Above the clouds
Over the moon
Around the bend
Beneath my feet
Along the garden path
Behind the rose bushes
Within the confines of my home
Before nighttime
Against all odds
During the outbreak
Unlike anything before
In uncharted territory
Upon contemplation
After the crisis
With misgivings
I ponder our fate

Virginia Van Amburg

Thirteen Ways of Enduring Self Isolation

A result of the 2020 pandemic
is staying at home.
Sometimes all alone.

Not going to school.
Not going to work.
Not meeting with groups.

No exercise class.
No book club meetings.
No Mariner games.

No church services
No shopping sprees.
No coffee klatches.

We explore new ways to communicate.
A virtual book club
meeting on Zoom.

We visit old ways to communicate.
Writing letters.
Spending time on the phone.

We find new chores to do.
Cleaning cupboards,
washing walls.

Baking as our mothers did.
Cookies, cakes,
even homemade bread.

Purging our closets
of clothes we don’t need,
shoes we don’t wear.

Connecting with the world
by watching too much TV,
listening to the radio.

By reading the newspaper
and, of course, reading books,
without which I would be lost.

The outdoors still welcomes us.
Hiking, walking, gardening.
Letting us keep our sanity.

All the while wondering
when this will end,
when we will get to
see each other again?

Karen Gookin
May 7, 2020

And then everything changed

Not the sky’s certain blue or green-gold trees,
Not the spring-slant of light and the urge
It brings to grow. But this—my trust

In the air I’ll breathe as it leaves
Your lungs to enter mine. And this—
Minding our hands now. No clasping yours

On a morning walk, no caressing
A grandson’s tanned cheek, or even
My own. And this. No sure promise

Of your arms or the warmth of our daughters’ hold
When the end does come. And this. The night
At its darkest, the dew point hour when silence

Chills and I startle, sending my breath to search
The bottom of my lungs, counting heart beats that lift
Bed sheets every half-second, again, again.

On this island of now, I know a random breath
Or touch a few days back could set my fate, schedule
My passion and death eight days out. Buried, then,

By the end of next week. What reasoning, what prayer
Sustains our hope for one more day without symptoms,
For days ahead like those we remember?

Phil Cibicki


there is more than one
virus out there:
and thus we need to
stay away from
another thing
that makes us sick,
by flattening the curve
of panic in order to
prevent our own
infrastructure from
being overwhelmed
with despair so that
hopefully this wave
of mass hysteria
doesn’t infect
everyone at once.
To do this, we should
remove ourselves from
the infection of noise
and seek the vaccine
of pure solitude.
There is some truth
to “ignorance is bliss”.
We must unplug from
the illusions of screens
in front of us and
replug into the
reality of life
all around us.
In doing so,
we can all begin
to practice the art of
media distancing.

Susan Johnson

Along Scatter Creek

The pebble in the brook secretly
thinks itself a precious stone.
Japanese proverb

And aren’t we each a pebble,
stone broken long ago,
one piece of great formation,
purified in mountain melt,
ground by glacier flow,
tumbled, rushed into eddies,
under rapids, shaped, polished,
magnified in water, jewel among
jewels, as light as the weight of god?

David Fonfara

APRIL 2020

They walk amongst us every day,
Provide us help without delay.
They go about their business without fanfare, flaunt, or flourish.
Our lives’ daily needs, they do furnish.
They do their jobs responsibly.
They work long days with easy grace and dignity.
The fruits of their labor bear a bountiful harvest of comfort, health, and service,
The sweat from their brows supports our country’s common purpose.
America’s workforce, in years gone by, labored in obscurity,
Orphans in the shadows of anonymity.
They, amongst us, unrecognized faces,
Sight unseen in crowded places.
Suddenly a spiky headed bug emerges,
And with it, fear, panic, death converges.
The coronavirus – highly contagious,
Life as we know it dramatically changes.
Social isolation – prisoners in our own homes,
Confined in dark spaces like gnarly gnomes,
In solitary deprivation,
Stagnation, damnation, a zombie nation.
Running out of food, in great distress,
No medicine to cure this dreaded viral mess.
Helpless, some without friends or hope. No saints or heroes in sight.
From all over the land come pleas for help against this dystopian fright.
Wait a minute. Help is on the way.
Point of fact, always been there, every day.
Presenting America’s “Everyday Saints & Everyday Heroes.”
Been out there all along you know. Ordinary people – ten fingers – ten toes. They are here to help with determination and grace.
Just let them do their jobs and give them a minimum six feet work- space.
America’s once invisible workforce – Everyday Saints & Everyday Heroes – sacrificing their health and safety for me and you.
A brave and selfless crew, who knew.
Grocery store workers, checkers, clerks, and stockers,
Some among them friends and neighbors.
Farm laborers in fertile fields, orchards, and vineyards,
Forget not those who tend the herds.
Restaurant workers preparing food for the table,
Shippers, truckers, postal carriers, all quite able,
Health care workers and first responders, we offer our thanks and prayer.
You put your lives on the line with your service and care.
These are but a few of America’s Everyday Saints & Everyday Heroes, their secret identities now revealed.
Their fortitude to do what’s right will not yield.
Special thoughts and prayers go out to all of you who courageously risk your lives on the COVID-19 battlefield.

Katrina Strathmann

A Parent’s COVID Haiku

School, work, chores and unease burst
Love binds and spring blooms.

Working from Home During Quarantine
     by LeAnne Ries

Through the office window
during a quarantine
against the COVID19 virus

I can see barely past the trees
Just behind the greenery, one spindly brown pine
I’ve needed to cut down for a long time

My husband has taken to feeding the birds
we never used to buy bird seed

We are inside, working from home
The best part of our days spent talking into our computers
typing onto our phones

laying wire in our brains for new bytes of information
we will be expected to learn

and we will

Some bright green leaves wave on the cottonwood beyond the fence

Over the top of my reading glasses, I flash them a glance
my new co-workers

Link to You Tube video
Working from Home During Quarantine

Dotty Armstrong

Pruning the Roses

When the forsythia blooms
it’s time to give the roses
a serious haircut.
I am dressed for battle:
leather work gloves,
two winter coats,
a thick scarf whirled
around my neck,
a hat the color of my favorite rose,
Golden Masterpiece.

I plunge into
Moonlight Magic,
Double Delight,
slice carefully just above the buds.
Thorns grab my hat,
my sleeves,
the hem of my outer coat.
An unusually large thorn
Scrapes my cheek.
I try to unhook myself
but the thorns
have their way with me.

You would think that plants
With names like Queen Elizabeth,
Mr. Lincoln,
would be kinder to those
who care for them.

Tell me
do you know of a brave warrior
with sharp shears? 

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