Poets’ Brew – June

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Sarah Augustine


Return to the land that once claimed you
in spite of the curse of your fathers

Return to the place
you have always believed you left behind
where not one song calls you back

Return to silence

return to the frugal rain
and his drunken brother,

Return to the grass that kneels on the hillside
where even the dust knows your name
where the soil
with its secrets
holds its breath

where the trees you planted stretch, aching
to cover your little house with their hair

Return to the place where your mother
in her time
limped home
her last jar broken

Return to the simple way
the light fills up the hills
each barren hollow revealed

Return because it is easy
and there is no debtor to claim you

Because the crooked path that brought you here
has long vanished in the sand

Elaine Smith

I Stand In Defense of Poetry

My pretty grey cat, Nikki
understands me
not my words, not what I say.
She hears
my sweet summons, my commands, my questions.
And I understand
her mews or purrs
or muted annoyed complaint.

Howls or groans or aches
rise unworded in us
like breezes or moon light
fill flesh, redden faces, demand tears
tighten the throat
throw us to ambivalence.

What rises gets lost
held up,
coated with irony
laughed at
tied to someone’s knowledge or memory
or dream.

a tremor, a strain, an aria
from the body
our body
before it is our words
our body
before it is a poem.

Lowell Murphree


They are all finished now:
The cockroaches, the broken Miata
The hospital bills
The new electric bed
The dining table with inlaid triangular chairs
The mailbox you had no breath to reach
The oxygen bottles with their progressively more difficult to remove masks
Your program of donation and cremation and spread in Duke Forest
Your picked-up body and the mailed certificates
The pandemic masks, the Hospice medication box reclaimed
The computer and TV
The Facebook pages
The potting shed filled with your friends, outcast smokers, and abandoned shards
The condo, first floor, three room, saved from repossession
The lawyer fees
The child you gave up for adoption out of love then took back again, loving you
The child you adopted out of love and drove away, who reclaimed you, loving you
The parents you returned from exile to see buried
The brother you came to know and love and trust with every remaining task
The wounds, the voids, the fabrications forgiven

Finished now, you stand before me, finished too.

Leon Petty

We Are Standing Before

I think of the time when Jesus was standing before Pontius Pilate
and Pilate said “I don’t know if you’ve noticed
but I am about to sentence you to death
so just as a small consideration
I thought that I would ask you
if you would like to put up some kind of defense”
and Jesus said to Pilate
“Any power you have comes to you from far beyond!!!”

I think we all could relate to the way Pilate
must have felt at this moment
It’s like
don’t you realize that wherever you think power comes from right now
you are standing before all of the power of Rome
and consequently
it is not a question of whether
I need to adopt some of the precepts
of your particular philosophy
it is a question of whether you would like
to live or die

Now today
while we relate and debate
within our own philosophical miasmas
it is incumbent to anybody
that has ever gotten a traffic ticket
to see the insanity of this situation
yet “The Christ” still went on to become
one of the greatest mythological heroes of all time

And too
I can certainly have communion with this Jesus
trying to do the math of morality
while living in an alternate reality
thinking that “I have really found a way
to make earth and sky add up
there, here, there, here, there, no no, maybe just here, there”
but still, somehow, standing before Pontius Pilate

Marie Marchand


I have been acquainted with
morning sun through a window
illumining your curves beside me,
the moment I knew love
was my savior.

I have been acquainted with
the soft indentation left
by your absence,
the moment I learned
how heavy emptiness is.

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