“The Red Currency” by Ana Casper


The red currency
Blood
spills
open
wounds
Blood
Ruby
tokens
glistening
Blood
The red currency.

Ana Casper
6/3/2022

Ana Casper is a student-writer and incoming freshman at UW-Milwaukee. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and creating digital art. This is her first time composing a Skinny and The Skinny Poetry Nation is very glad she did.

“The Lone Traveler” and “What We Made“ by Michael Stadler

The Lone Traveler

Death walks
forgotten
broken
wounded
dying
forgotten.
They
lay
still,
forgotten.
Death walks.

***

What We Made

The end.
Made
smoking
burning
future
Made
ignorance,
unchanging.
WE
Made
The End.

Michael Stadler
6/3/2022

Michael Stadler is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School. In his free time, Stadler enjoys camping and spending time with friends. These poems represent his first attempt at writing Skinnys, and he greatly enjoyed the experience. He loves writing poetry and looks forward to writing more in the future.

“Whatever Fruits Your Loops” by Luca Schiro

“Whatever Fruits Your Loops”

Toucan Sam loves colorful, circular, fruity cereal.
Delicious!
ix-nay,
oot-fray,
oops-lay!

Delicious!
Follow
your
nose!

Delicious!
Toucan Sam loves colorful, circular, fruity cereal.

Luca Schiro
6/3/2022

Luca Schiro is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School. This student author loves Disney, eating cheese curds, and watching food reviews on YouTube. Schiro is on the Autism Spectrum, and this first published poem is a good reminder to be kind, reverence the talent in all people, and to celebrate and honor all of our differences.

Author’s note: The Pig Latin phrase ”oot-fray, oops-lay” was Toucan Sam’s strange language in the original commercials. It gave a unique identity to the new cereal “Froot Loops.” It was brilliant marketing and all the kids wanted to learn Pig Latin so they could talk like Toucan Sam.

“fast fashion” by Caroline Frost

fast fashion

done quickly —
stabbing
needles
cheap
seams
stabbing
pains
aching
hands
stabbing
quickly done.

Caroline Frost
6/3/2022

Caroline Frost is a senior at Arrowhead Union High School, where she enjoys playing lacrosse and field hockey. Frost is also part of Earth Club and is passionate about the environment, which helped inspire this piece. She loves how poetry allows her to express complicated emotions in a concise way.

The Poetry of Emma Schwenker

Stumbling around.
Crashing
cans
cut
me.
Crashing
captain
bottle.
Father,
crashing,
stumbling around.

***
Pain

I flinch.
Pain.
Bloody
round
fist.
Pain,
waiting
for
more
pain
I flinch.

Emma Schwenker
6/3/2022

Emma Schwenker is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School and enjoyed writing Skinnys. Schwenker likes to play soccer and get together with her friends in her free time. This is her first time composing Skinnys. Relatedly, she reports that she is “glad when she considers the reach of her work,” especially in the context of how her readers may relate to her poetry.

“Gone in a Hurry” by Brooke Hafferman

Gone in a Hurry

time
Passes
through
the
flame.
Passes
my
skin
and
Passes
time.

Brooke Hafferman
6/3/2022

Brooke Hafferman is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School. She loves dancing and spending time with friends and family. This was her first time composing a Skinny. As she found it to be a creative challenge, Hafferman also really enjoyed how the finished product turned out (as does The Skinny Poetry Nation).

“The Nature of Today’s World” by Cam Prescott

The Nature of Today’s World

Another GUNshot
kids
Hide
Door
Shut
kids
Tremble
Curtains
Closed
kids
Another GUNshot

Cam Prescott
6/3/2022

Cam Prescott is a rising senior at Arrowhead Union High School. Her favorite classes have been the writing classes that she took her junior year. She likes to hang out with friends and she works (outside of Arrowhead), ever-industrious, to edify both her academic and professional goals. Note: the author wishes readers to know that this piece was not based on her personal experiences.

“May 24th by Jura Gerlach

May 24th

The voice over the telecom
Shots
Fired,
No
Police,
Shots
Parents
Run,
Cries
Shots
The voice over the telecom

Jura Gerlach
6/3/2022

This Skinny, by Jura Gerlach, regards the tragic shooting that took place on May 24th of 2022 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Gerlach, an avid cyclist from Wisconsin, recently graduated from Arrowhead Union High School. He plans to continue racing his beloved bike in college, as he pursues a degree in business.



New Jimmie Smith, Jr. Poem @ TheSkinnyPoetryJournal.com 4/2022

Just take a literary stroll in the Featured Poetry section.
Jimmie. Smith. Jr. Chicago. Strong.
A Skinny for the CRT Call and Response

https://www.theskinnypoetryjournal.com/featured-poetry

www.theskinnypoetryjournal.com

New Ingrid Bruck Poem @ TheSkinnyPoetryJournal.com 4/2022

Just take a literary stroll in the Featured Poetry section.
Beautiful. Ingrid. Bruck. Poetry.
https://www.theskinnypoetryjournal.com/featured-poetry

www.theskinnypoetryjournal.com

A New Site: A New Call

Dear Poetry Family:
The new version of The Skinny Poetry Journal now lives online
at http://www.theskinnypoetryjournal.com. Start spreading the news. ‘)
Blessings and gratitude always,
truth

The Skinny Poetry Journal is pleased to announce both its new website (https://www.theskinnypoetryjournal.com/) and its new “CRT and Me” Call for Submissions. We are looking for great poetry that documents Critical Race Theory (CRT) as it is Krazy glued to American history and the American present.

Submissions on the subject of “CRT and Me” will be accepted until May 5, 2022. TSPJ seeks your finest, most authentic, work. To submit your Skinnys for publishing consideration, please email them to: theskinnypoetryjournal@gmail.com with your poem, or poems, copied into the body of your email. Full submission fee guidelines and rules of the form are available on the website.

TSPJ is edited by Truth Thomas and a team of other D.C.– based poets. Feel free to share the attached/embedded flyer broadly and help us spread the word about this healing-aimed, very needed call.

The Skinny Poetry Journal
Twitter: @TheSkinnyPJ
https://www.theskinnypoetryjournal.com/

“Seagull” by Em Hollern

Seagull

i call my family for dinner, and
eat
an
unattended
fry,
eat
a
child’s
sandwich;
eat,
and i call my family for dinner.

Em Hollern
1/2022

Em Hollern is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School. Hollern has been writing fiction as a hobby for three years. She enjoys composing poetry as either a serious creative outlet, or just for fun.

“Paper Thin” by Max Rebella

Paper Thin

Paper thin kids.
Plain.
Not
hungry
but
Plain
and
lacking
depth.
Plain
kids, paper thin.

Max Rebella
1/2022

Max Rebella is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School. He enjoys skiing, track, reading, and hanging out with friends. This was Rebella’s first attempt at composing a Skinny and, like TSPJ, he is extremely happy with how it turned out.

The Poetry of Brishanna Malysa

A Child I was
Child
Crayons
Drawing
Laughing
Child
No
Don’t
Touch

Child,
I was a Child.

Brishanna Malysa
1/2022

Brishanna Malysa, whose nickname is “Bri,” is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School. She likes to write in her free time and she enjoyed composing a Skinny. Malysa likes to write about more serious topics and this poem is powerful evidence of that fact.

The Poetry of Caitlyn Klopp

The man in the moon
Smiles,
watching
bats
fly,
Smiles,
stars
crossing
him,
Smiles,
The man in the moon.

Caitlyn Klopp
1/2022

Caitlyn Klopp is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School. She enjoys baking, reading, and cheerleading. Klopp had never tried writing a Skinny before this, but she immensely enjoyed the process. TSPJ immensely enjoys the confection of her composition.

The Poetry of Riley Rogers

The bodies drop.
Falling
bodies,
bullets
flying,
Falling
bombs,
exploding
corpses,
Falling
The bodies drop.

Riley Rogers
1/2022

Riley Rogers is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School. He enjoys getting out and driving around with friends and family, along with playing some tennis in the summer. Rogers had never written a Skinny before, but found it an interesting challenge. TSPJ greatly appreciates his creative efforts.

“February 12th” by Nathan Goodreau

February 12th

Gone too fast
Dad
breathe
no
screams
Dad
gasps
death
gone
Dad
gone too fast

Nathan Goodreau
1/2022
______________________

Nathan Goodreau is a senior at Arrowhead Union High School. This poem is about his dad’s passing (about which, TSPJ extends its sincere condolences). Goodreau enjoys working on diesel trucks for recreation, as well as in the automotive industry. This was his “first go” at a Skinny and, like him, all of us at the journal are very impressed with how it turned out.

The Poetry of Chandler Maniscalco

Clocking into work
Long
Sauce
Cheese
Toppings
Long
Wrap
Cashier
Dishes
Long
Clocking into work

Chandler Maniscalco
1/2022
______________________

Chandler Maniscalco is a senior at Arrowhead Union High School. In his free time, he likes to lift weights, play guitar and cook. He wrote this poem simply about his regular work shift and it was my first time writing a Skinny. TSPJ is happy to share this authentic picture, one noble slice of his life.

The Poetry of Sara Low

Was she breaking?
Cancer
crawled
spread
wandered.
Cancer
surging
through
her
Cancer.
She was breaking.

Sara Low
1/2022
______________________

Sara Low is a student-writer and junior at Arrowhead Union High School. This is Low’s first time composing a Skinny and has let the journal know that she “really enjoyed learning the process.” To be sure, TSPJ has also “really enjoyed” her debut Skinny and is honored to share it with the world.

The Poetry of Onesti Ekholm

Emmett Till

You were a boy
Young
Happy
Small
Naive
Young
Scared
Drowned
Alone
Young
You were a boy.

Onesti Ekholm
1/2022
______________________

Onesti Ekholm is a junior at Arrowhead Union Highschool. She loves watching movies, reading, and most of all writing. Ekholm has always loved composing poems in her free time, and she especially enjoys writing Skinnys because of their accessibility.

The Poetry of Jack Morrow

We Starve
Crumbling
Pastries
Falling
Empty
Crumbling
Stay
Afloat
Kids
Crumbling
We Starve

Jack Morrow
1/2022
______________________

Jack Morrow is a senior at Arrowhead Union High School. In his free time, he loves to ski, lift weights, and embark upon adventures with his friends. Morrow is thrilled (as is TSPJ) with the composition of his first Skinny about child hunger affecting children all over the world.

*PRE-ORDER 📚* $20.00 – “Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience” (edited by Melanie Henderson, Enzo Silon Surin, and Truth Thomas)


***PRE-ORDER 📚*** $20.00 – “Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience” (edited by Melanie Henderson, Enzo Silon Surin, and Truth Thomas) is ***NOW AVAILABLE for PRE-ORDER on Cherry Castle Publishing.*** To secure your copy, launching 2.1.22, GO TO: https://tinyurl.com/y38gveff

“School” by Christian Carter



School

School could care less
About
Anxiety
Depression
Fatigue
About
Workload
Poverty
Bullying.
About
Less, School could care

Christian Carter
1/2022
______________________

Christian Carter is a senior at Arrowhead Union High School. He enjoys playing tennis, basketball, and performing in the AHS Broadway Company. This is his first time writing a Skinny and TSPJ, much like this student author, is ecstatic at how it turned out. 

Ingrid Bruck, Citizen of Earth, One Poem


lobster pots, harvesting
glop
lost
in
storm
glop
sinking
in
sea
glop
harvesting lobster pots

Ingrid Bruck
1/15/2022
______________________

Ingrid Bruck lives in Pennsylvania Amish country, a landscape that inhabits her poetry. She’s a retired library director with a passion for short forms and poetry. Some of her current work appears in Failed Haiku, Verse-Virtual and Heron’s Nest. Embrace more of Bruck’s poetry at www.ingridbruck.com.
______________________

Ingrid Bruck, Citizen of Earth, Two Poems


the red sun shines
smoking
west
coast
fires
smoking
misty
gray
haze
smoking
the sun shines red

***

fading colors
burn
wind
dried
leaves
burn
rain
plucked
heaps
burn
colors fading

Ingrid Bruck
1/15/2022
______________________

Ingrid Bruck lives in Pennsylvania Amish country, a landscape that inhabits her poetry. She’s a retired library director with a passion for short forms and poetry. Some of her current work appears in Failed Haiku, Verse-Virtual and Heron’s Nest. Embrace more of Bruck’s poetry at www.ingridbruck.com.
______________________

“The Winter Wolf” by Carol Parris Krauss

The Winter Wolf

Once winter howled at the wolf as she
Followed
Ridgelines
Matted
Fur
Followed
My
Evening
Walks
Followed
As one she-wolf howled at the winter.

Carol Parris Krauss
12/11/2021
______________________

Carol Parris Krauss’ poems are visual and New Southern. Her work can be found in a variety of journals such as The South Carolina Review, Story South, Broadkill Review, and Black Bough. She was honored to be recognized as a Best New Poet by the University of Virginia Press. In 2021, she won the Eastern Shore Writers Association Crossroads Contest.
______________________

“Flagged Behavior” by Chad Parenteau

Flagged Behavior

Don’t blame me I voted for Trump
and
changing
back
change
and
shoving
time
back
and…
I voted for Trump! Don’t blame me
for
disease
or
immigrants
for
immigrants
with
disease
for…
don’t Trump me! I voted for blame
on
Black
Lives
Matter
on
Antifa
other
animals
on…
Voted Trump for me! I don’t blame
the
partly
built
wall
the
post
office
or
the…
I don’t blame me! Trump voted for
revenge
for
winning
then
revenge
for
not
endless
revenge!
(Trump don’t blame me, for I voted)

Chad Parenteau
10/15/2021
______________________

Chad Parenteau hosts Boston’s long-running Stone Soup Poetry series. His work has appeared in journals such as Résonancee, Molecule, Cape Cod Poetry Review, Tell-Tale Inklings, Ibbetson Street, Off The Coast, Nixes Mate Review and Wilderness House Literary Review. He serves as Associate Editor of the online journal Oddball Magazine. His second collection, The Collapsed Bookshelf, was nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award. To learn more of Parenteau’s keenly focused poetry and literary events, go to Chad Parenteau: Poet for Hire.
______________________

“Behind Each Win” by Nancy Jorgensen


Behind Each Win

For fans, only results—not the

disciplined

runs

weights

stretches

disciplined

thoughts

nutrition

recovery.

Disciplined

results—not only for the fans.

Nancy Jorgensen
7/30/2021
______________________

Nancy Jorgensen is mom to Gwen Jorgensen, 2016 Olympic gold medal winner in triathlon. Jorgensen’s memoir, Go, Gwen, Go: A Family’s Journey to Olympic Gold, is co-authored with daughter Elizabeth Jorgensen, and published by Meyer & Meyer Sport. Her choral education books are published by Hal Leonard and Heritage Music Press. Other works by Jorgensen appear in Prime Number Magazine, River Teeth, CHEAP POP, and elsewhere. Find out more about her at NancyJorgensen.weebly.com.
______________________

“Principles Drowned” by Anneka Chambers


Principles Drowned

I should believe in the interlocking Rings, the symbol of Unity and Values.

Sinking

Diversity

Hair

Protection

Sinking

Texture

Inclusion

Survival

Sinking

I believe in Unity and Values. The symbol of the interlocking Rings should…

Anneka Chambers
7/6/21
________________________

Anneka Chambers (she/her) is a Black British poet living in London. Anneka’s work can be found in South Bank Poetry, Vine Leaves Press, Dwelling Literary, Superfroots Magazine and other notable publications. In addition to writing, Anneka is a social activist and heads her petition campaigning on behalf of the Windrush Generation in the UK.
________________________

Twitter@annekachambers  Instagram@22poetrystreet

‘Death, With Occasional Smiling’ by Tony Medina / Songs of Black Lament and Love

Review by Truth Thomas
Editor, 
The Skinny Poetry Journal

July 6, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. EDT

Tony Medina does with apparent ease what most people cannot do at all—prolifically composing fresh, compelling work, both in Spanish and in English.  In Death, With Occasional Smiling, his latest collection, he offers readers a moving view of what critical race theory would look like if it took the form of poetry. I make this point, because critical race theory is essentially a documentation of the blues—the social blues of racism that permeates every aspect of American culture. Certainly, the horror of racism, playing out in the lives of Black and Brown people in the United States, is unfettered in its historical and ongoing brutality. Though some folks choose not to see it, Tony Medina is not one of those people. Particularly, in terms of chronicling modern day lynchings, the poems in this volume hit like Mike Tyson in 1985.

“Father, Son Arrested in the Death of…” is a piece that fills the early pages of his full-bodied book with a genealogy of race-based terrorism.  The poem references Ahmaud Arbery’s murder in Georgia, though not by name, it speaks to the names of all the murdered—and martyred, so tragically. For those who may not be familiar with the family tree, which embodies, and emboldens, such evil, this poem is a history lesson, that begins with these words: 

Racism is an heirloom passed down through
Generations like a retrovirus

A rifle handed from father to son
Aiming to please some deep-seated heated

Urge to violate rape maim hurt some thing

Like James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, and a multitude of great writers before him, Medina makes it plain that Black life in America is an abnormal normality, a halfway freedom riding, a daily kind of death (although we sometimes laugh to keep our sanity from snapping). Also, much like those notable figures, it’s clear that his work springs forth from a decidedly beautiful mind. In a myriad of forms (eintou, diptychs, triptychs, odes, and elegies) he paints strikingly vivid pictures that are gut wrenching, of worlds he has come to know. These poems are richly informed by the Black Arts Movement and Nuyorican poets—of which, he is a beacon. This is especially true in his politically themed verses. In “After Pelosi’s Dropkick,” his humor and social commentary are protest marches in a pen:

After Pelosi got through with Trump all he could do was spit out
            some teeth, look
cockeyed and confused, swat aimlessly at stars, and mumble,
            Covfefe, Covfefe,
            Covfefe.
Trump folded like Mumbo Sauce on greasy-ass fries.
Covfefe is Russian for “To Cave.”
Covfefe is Russian for Rosebud.
COVFEFE is Trump’s anti-LGTBQ policy known as Don’t Ask
Can’t Spell…

Pelosi laced up her Timbs and STOMPED Trump’s off-white ass
            into the White House lawn
            until a wall formed around his toupee.
TRUMP CONSIDERS US THE ENEMY.
   WE CONSIDER HIM THE ENEMA…

There is tremendous range and a theatrical quality in the breadth of Tony Medina’s poetry. This book, that captures many sobering snapshots of early twenty-first century Black life, is no exception. With that in mind, if Broadway ever launches a production based on his catalog of work, it would be wise to fend for a front row seat. However, until that good show opens, Death, With Occasional Smiling, now lighting up the literary stage at Indolent Books, should more than tide over any thoughtful soul in search of a stunning, transformational, artistic experience.

Death, With Occasional Smiling
by Tony Medina
Indolent Books, paper, 132 pp. $20.00

———————–

Truth Thomas is a singer-songwriter and poet born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Washington, D.C.  He studied creative writing at Howard University and earned his MFA in poetry at New England College.  His collections include Party of BlackA Day of PresenceBottle of Life, and Speak Water, winner of the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry.  His poems have appeared in over 150 publications, including: Poetry MagazineGhost Fishing: An Eco-justice Poetry AnthologyRinging Ear: Black Poets Lean South (A Cave Canem Anthology), and The 100 Best African American Poems (edited by Nikki Giovanni).  He is the founder of Cherry Castle Publishing, creator of the “Skinny” poetry form, a former writer-in-residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo), and the managing editor of The Skinny Poetry Journal

The Skinny Poetry Journal Seeks Submissions: Poems for the Tokyo Olympic Games: Deadline: August 8, 2021

The Skinny Poetry Journal (TSPJ) is a literary journal that is primarily dedicated to “The Skinny” poetry form. TSPJ is based in Washington, D.C., and edited by Truth Thomas, the creator of the form (in concert with a team of other D.C.- based. poets). The point of The Skinny, or Skinnys, is to convey a vivid image with as few words as possible. The form generally reflects more serious concerns facing humankind. In that light, as the Tokyo Olympics will soon be upon us, TSPJ is seeking poetry related to every aspect of the games–all the intrigue–all the drama–including its many political and social justice elements.

We are currently accepting submissions. The doors to the submission church will remain open until August 8th, 2021– ending with the game’s closing ceremonies. To submit your Skinnys for publishing consideration, email: theskinnypoetryjournal@gmail.com with your poem, or poems, copied into the body of your email. Simultaneous submissions are accepted.

The formal rules of the Skinny form can be found here @ https://theskinnypoetryjournal.wordpress.com/about/.

‘The Dandelion Speaks of Survival’ by Quintin Collins / Review by Dr. Rosetta Codling

Poet Quintin Collins, author of The Dandelion Speaks of Survival: Cherry Castle Publishing, 2021. 66 pages.

The Dandelion Speaks of Survival
Poems by Quintin Collins
Rosetta Codling, Ph.D.

In short, this is a diverse and uniquely beautiful collection of poetic gems. Beauty transcends diversity. This the lesson of The Dandelion Speaks of Survival. From the bowels of the city’s concrete, a flower…a dandelion…. defies convention and nature to spring forth. It is, simply, beauty triumphing over adversity. This is the message sent to us in Quintin Collins’ poetry collection. He announces, “This is Where You Belong” and it is in Chicago, in Atkins Park, and it is in Chris’ backyard. The concrete summons you in “After the Towers Fell, Black Boys Felt American.” You belong in New York on Baker Street and witness the smoke on Pulaski Avenue. But there are more seeds to be planted in Collins’ poem “Sag.” You lumber, you launch, and you have the security of a safety pin that evolves to become a life preserver in the form of a rope, provided by a teacher.

Things blossom further in Quintin Collin’s poetic bouquet. “The Barber Chair” is an ode that springs from the concrete cracks. This selection is about the ultimate union among men in the traditional barber shop. The fraternity of male kinship springs forth here because “Elsewhere, only a woman/gets this close to your blood.” There are challenges in any given city. There are obstacles in every given city. And there is the drive to defy the known barriers. There, within, is the poetry of Quintin Collins.

———————–

Dr. Rosetta Codling is a freelance literary critic. She has written reviews for the Ama Books, the Manhattan Book Review, the San Francisco Book Review, the Journal of African Literature, Autres Modernites, and Examiner.com. She has obtained scholarships and fellowships from Queens College (NYC), Teachers College/Columbia University (NYC), and the Open University (UK). She retired (in 2006) as a secondary school teacher and Adjunct Professor of English for over 30 years in New York. However, she attends global conferences and continues to write professionally. In addition, she now is an Adjunct Associate Professor of English at Herzing University in Atlanta, Georgia.

———————–



———————–

Order at Cherry Castle Publishing: The Dandelion Speaks of Survival

‘Indiana Nocturnes’ by Curtis L. Crisler and Kevin A. McKelvey / Review by Truth Thomas

INDIANA NOCTURNES, by Curtis L. Crisler & Kevin A. McKelvey
(Nebo Publishing, paper, 2020. 85 pages, $15.95.)

Honest conversations about race between Blacks and Whites in America are about as common as hunger running away from a steak. In books of poetry, as well as any other aspect of life in the United States, this is true. Poets Curtis L. Crisler and Kevin A. McKelvey, hoosiers to the core (one Black, one White, respectively), engage in such cultural discussions with courage — and without pretension. Indiana Nocturnes is their deliberate attempt to demonstrate both how separate — and yet similar we all are — through a literary concert that features two distinct poetic songs of ourselves. The implied racial and cultural dialectic that takes place within the pages of this book is notable for its authenticity and resonance of dual realities. Crisler writes of gripping urban farmlands in lines that often place humor on the point of thematic daggers. A glimpse into his “Hollywood B-Side,” makes this plain, as he writes:

Rudy Ray Moore’s
karate kicked so slow I could make a fried-

bologna sandwich before his foot hit the floor.
I knew he’d never catch my black ass in one
of his flicks. Maybe white actors couldn’t see
him—they never hid behind cars or trees

at night, trying to make it home.


McKelvey’s poetic scene-setting is as expansive as the Indiana flat lands where most of his work comes to life.  His imagery is as rich as sweet corn and as multi-layered as shingles on a rooftop. Indeed, although the two authors are framed in wholly different Indiana worldviews, both Crisler and McKelvey “see” each other in this book in ways that are fruitful — far from venomous screams across hate-filled canyons. Theirs is a book of unselfish poetic solos and duets that honor the salient and intertwined beauty of two halves of the heartland whole. McKelvey speaks to that healing geometry in the poem, “On Cliffcrest Dock Near The Dassier Cabin, Isle Royale National Park,” where readers find these words:

We see water and life differently when we stand above it.

And from “Standing and Seeing,” he goes on to say:

I can look through a window in my house,
through windows in the next house,
and see an apartment building two doors down.
As a kid I could see evergreens
at my elementary school three miles away.
Proximity doesn’t matter.
People can create their own cure for a place.


To declare a poet’s poems inaccessible, is sometimes seen as a literary term of endearment.  In the context of Indiana Nocturnes, I will not lead myself into that temptation. Suffice it to say that in the same way that people and cultures are complex, Crisler and McKelvey’s poems reflect a comparable range and complexity.  Full disclosure: Readers will find no name tags linking poems with their authors in the book proper — not until its final curtain call. To that extent, identifying who exactly is speaking can be somewhat of a challenge. However, the challenge is well worth the effort. The poems are equal parts literary concert and parable. Two quite culturally different Indiana voices ultimately become one voice, one humanity, one joy — much to the joy of joy itself.

TO order, go to: The Nebo Media Group

___________________________________________________

Truth Thomas is a singer-songwriter and poet born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Washington, D.C.  He studied creative writing at Howard University and earned his MFA in poetry at New England College.  His collections include Party of Black, A Day of Presence, Bottle of Life and Speak Water, winner of the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry.  His poems have appeared in over 150 publications, including: Poetry Magazine, Ghost Fishing: An Eco-justice Poetry Anthology, Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (A Cave Canem Anthology), and The 100 Best African American Poems (edited by Nikki Giovanni).  He is the founder of Cherry Castle Publishing, creator of the “Skinny” poetry form, a former writer-in-residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo), and the managing editor of The Skinny Poetry Journal.

The Dandelion Speaks of Survival by Quintin Collins / Review by Curtis L. Crisler

Collins, Quintin. The Dandelion Speaks of Survival, Columbia, MD: Cherry Castle Publishing, 2021. 66 pages.

Quintin Collins’s debut poetry collection represents release—a personification of voices from the mosquito, a suicide note, hip-hop freestyle, code-switching, the afro, the washcloth, the dandelion, and narrators who are witnesses to this vascular world of beautiful and ugly wonderment. Quintin impregnates The Dandelion Speaks of Survival with a brume of language—reverberating our ears with smoked, apple-wood, bacon sizzling in a hot, black, cast-iron skillet. No matter if you down with pork or not, it smells delicious.

In the titular poem, “The Dandelion Speaks of Survival,” the personification is melodic. There’s a luxuriant language with the juxtaposition of nature confronted by manmade tools and wording that cuts—that “shears,” “snaps,” and “poisons.” This is the confrontational (life and death) shared between a weed and a Black man. Yet, with vulnerability comes restoration. Also implied in this poem, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”—defying heartache and sorrow, hearing her belt out, “Oh, no, not I! I will survive. Oh, as long as I know how to love I know I’ll stay alive.” The disco high-hat and snare drum against a back beat with a melodious piano quivering out its truth, all underneath Gaynor’s turbulently defiant lyrics. Yet, this is not all the poem exemplifies. In another act of genius, Quintin summons one of the greatest line breaks in poetry, Miss Lucille Clifton’s “won’t you celebrate with me.” She wrote, in her ending:

come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

Quintin replicates Clifton’s sentiment. Many in Chi-town still do due diligence to Clifton’s declaration, as well as what the first African American Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks represented—contin-uing vying for individual and collective Black voices. Quintin even replicates Miss Clifton’s line break. His narrator believes:

I survive. I survive. I survive. I survive
again and again.

Throughout the trauma of life, survival’s what we do. Therefore, be it organic or not, the allusion of the dalliance with Gaynor, Clifton, and Brooks demonstrates Quintin as a practitioner with an eclectic ear—using his language, history, and his love for women’s voices (his mother and grandmother) to articulate the ambience and bittersweetness of Black existence.

In “Ice Cream Economics” he directs us to some sweetness. He moves in and through us, as the Ice Cream truck bombards our ears, jerking our heads—rubbernecking and swiveling because it just got real:

You chase melody. Xylophone reverberations
crawl up Ravisloe Terrace. Sneakers percuss
sidewalks. Pause Double Dutch
hi hats, basketball timpanis. Screen
doors slap like cymbals. Faster tempos

The lyrical play in “Ice Cream Economics” elucidates the backbeat and rhythm of summer as children are told to either come in or go out, but you ain’t gone be slamming my door all damn day. It’s a cacophony as exhilarating as the kinetic energy of bodies participating in the breathing of air. This is universal, no matter the neighborhood, for the most part. And if not, Quintin lets us come behind the curtain. He continues…

as kids bolt. Pockets maraca
nickels, quarters, dimes. Adolescents
drumroll right up to the window.

And you are there, in Quintin’s cinemascope, an actor in the scene—a witness next to the narrator—putting your hand out for Mama to give you some change for ice cream—negotiating how fast you can run on the hot asphalt to obtain “Choco Tacos,” “Bomb Pops,” or “Good Humor strawberry shortcake”—returning before anything got a chance to even try to melt.

“Ice Cream Economics” is a reprieve from the ulcers, the blood draws, and the IVs, where the “immune cells attack healthy tissue,/internal wounds open.” “The Body’s Betrayal” and “Only Pussies Bleed” unveil a black boy’s vulnerability as his body bleeds from his anus, only adding to the external repercussions of shame the narrator takes on by other boys who call him a girl.

“Sold As-Is” seems the crux or thematic metaphor in Dandelion Speaks of Survival—revealing what Quintin’s narrator hears…

one final thing                   i should tell you                  people have died
in the house             some natural causes
some murders
but if you don’t believe              in ghosts              or oppressed people
then you have nothing
to worry about

Is this not America? Capitalism? All the different tribes currently beefing? Only here, we are looking through the poet’s lens, with a particular set of skills, honing the foci on Chi-town, and all those “homes” (all those bodies). These are not new goods. They are “being used and abused and served like hell” (Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five “The Message”) in a capitalist system where a profit must be made. Why does he want us to see this? What does “Sold As-Is” really mean? To the seller? The buyer? Isn’t it about what we will and will not accept? Quintin is Louis and Clark exploring this midwestern landscape; yet, he is also Sacagawea and York, giving us its truth and its culture. 

The narrator of these poems addresses the internalization and affirmation that black lives matter like all other lives. In “Signs of Life”

You smile
to promote the lie that you’re not afraid of death,
that your notions of long life weren’t in a pile of ash

Only if death, and only if gaining freedom through death, were not poised implications for redemption in boys named Brandon, Chris, Keith, Toine, or Quintin.

Quintin’s vulnerability and love for place takes us back, then moves us forward, singing names we take for granted. In one of the meccas of blues, “We pull off to the shoulder,/ unaware of what we’ve done wrong.” The “we” are just trying to make it home after being pulled over by police. Dandelion Speaks of Survival is our access home. Quintin’s writing so “we” all make it home.

———————–

Curtis L. Crisler is Professor of English at Purdue University Fort Wayne. He is the recipient of a residency from the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh (COA/P), the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), Soul Mountain, a guest resident at Hamline University, and a guest resident at Words on the Go (Indianapolis). Crisler’s poetry has been adapted to theatrical productions in New York and Chicago, and he has been published in a variety of notable magazines, journals, and anthologies.

———————–


(Curtis L. Crisler / photo by Lou Bryant)

Order your copy of The Dandelion Speaks of Survival from Cherry Castle Publishing today. 

Poetic Prayers for India and More: Two Poems by Ruchi Chopra: “Lullabies” and “(peace) lilies”

Photo by Ruchi Chopra

Lullabies

from the Ganges River exhumed dumped corpses, foraging, pending lullabies.
nameless
mass-graves,
scarce
firewood.
nameless
border,
expensive
crematoriums.
nameless
exhumed, pending lullabies, foraging dumped corpses from the Ganges River.

Ruchi Chopra
5/20/2021

Victims of coronavirus are cremated on the banks of the Ganges river in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh – Courtesy of REUTERS – 5/10/21

(peace) lilies

(peace) lilies unfurl from the chaos.
cicadas
shrill
silhouette
dead
cicadas
collect
gunpowder
lingers
cicadas
unfurl (peace) lilies from the chaos.

Ruchi Chopra
5/20/2021

________________________

Ruchi Chopra is a poet, social media influencer, and former journalist. Born and raised in India, Ruchi now lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with her family. She is a bilingual writer and enjoys reading, writing experimental poetry, and non-fiction. Chopra explores different mediums of creative self-expression through photography, writing, recycled crafts, and collages.

About the candle photo above: Last year, Ruchi Chopra participated in a virtual “Peace Candle Prayers” event for people affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. On the evening of Sunday, April 12th, 2020, Chopra and others prayed for peace, solidarity and harmony in the world. She continues to this humanity-edifying practice, along with her family and friends, to this day. 

Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies, journals, ezines, and magazines. You can find her on Instagram at @banjaran_life. Indeed, link to her Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/banjaran_life/



“they spoke for him (for george floyd)” by Brian Gilmore

they spoke for him (for george floyd)

1. (video)

i do not
doubt
killing.
neck.
knee.
doubt.
breath.
life.
malice.
doubt
i do not.

2. (blood)

the cardiologist made it
plain.
not
drugs
clots.
plain
like
malcolm
fannie
plain
the cardiologist made it.

3. (love)

george was a momma’s boy
said
his
brother,
lover
said
his
lover,
she
said
george was a momma’s boy

4. (george)

not a perfect man, but a man,
george
he
struggled
some
george
he
fell.
rose.
george,
not a perfect man, but a man

5. (us)

a black news channel…
they’re
black
proud
united
they’re
waiting
wanting
demanding
they’re
a black news channel.

6. (race)

defense says george is
brute
strong
savage
dangerous
brute
prone
choked
dead
brute
is george, defense says

7. (george 2)

george floyd is speaking to us today.
them.
professionals.
women.
men.
them.
humanity’s
bouquet.
crying.
them.
today, george floyd is speaking to us.

8. (what they do)

it is not going to work
counselor.
dirty
deeds
transgressions.
counselor.
stop
doing
it
counselor
it isn’t going to work.

9. (justice)

to the jury i yell
ashe’
george
is
human
ashe,
spoken
for,
loved
ashe’,
to the jury i yell

10. (guilty)

hands behind his back,
cuffed.
he
knows.
feeling
cuffed.
feeling
less
than.
cuffed,
hands behind his back.

11. (peace)

i wanted it to go on and on…
justice.
accountability.
public
truth.
justice.
a
beautiful
song,
justice
i want it to go on and on

Brian Gilmore
5/8/2021

________________________

Washington D.C. poet, writer, and law professor, Brian Gilmore, is author of four collections of poetry, including his latest, come see about me, marvin, (Wayne State Press), a 2020 Michigan Notable Books recipient. He has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Progressive Magazine. His 2015 collection, We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters (Cherry Castle Publishing) was an NAACP Image Award nominee and a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award nominee. Gilmore is also a Kimbilio Fellow.

To order come see about me, marvin, go to: WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS

To order We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters, go to: CHERRY CASTLE PUBLISHING

“Human Highway” by Kay Fields

Human Highway

Big problems in Knoxville
kids
trafficked
groomed
intersection
kids
I-40
I-75
abused
kids
In Knoxville, big problems

Kay Fields
3/25/21
________________________
The work of award-winning poet and writer, Kay Fields has appeared in Tennessee Magazine, where she won several poetry awards, Verse Virtual, and is to be published in Muddy River Review. Her memoir will be published in late spring of 2021. A resident of Dandridge, Tennessee, she spends her days with her senior Yorkie, Rocky.

“Fossil Fuel Vampire” by Rebecca Spring

Fossil Fuel Vampire

A fossil fuel vampire is biting into Mother Earth’s turned neck.
Vampires
Fangs
Sink
In.
Vampires
Keep
Sucking.
Addicted
Vampires.
Is Mother Earth turned into a neck-biting fossil fuel vampire?

Rebecca Spring
3/9/2020
________________________
Rebecca Joy Spring is a 9th grader at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in the Literary Media and Communications Department. She films and writes in a variety of genres and forms, and she loves doing all art forms for fun. Spring has made several short films that are available for viewing at Rainbow Rebecca Films on YouTube. She tries to use art to speak out about and fight the climate crisis. Additionally, she’s part of the media team at the climate organization Extinction Rebellion DC


This poem was generated from celebrated poet Derrick Weston Brown’s intensely inventive creative writing class at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Enduring thanks to Mr. Brown for continuing to teach the Skinny form and nurture young artists as they grow–and add beauty to all our grown-up days.

“Dyslexia and I” by Isley Gold

Dyslexia and I

Dyslexia writes for I
Don’t
say
I’m
slow
Don’t
call
me
Braindead
Don’t
I write for Dyslexia

Isley Gold
3/9/21
________________________
Isley Gold is a writer, filmmaker, and dyslexic advocate whose a freshmen at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Before Ellington, she went to the Lab School of Washington D.C., where she found an appreciation for the written word, despite having a learning difference. Outside of writing, she has been an actor in multiple productions, such as Fame, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night. In her free time, she spins tales of mystery playing Dungeons and Dragons and watching bad action movies with friends.




This poem was generated from celebrated poet Derrick Weston Brown’s intensely inventive creative writing class at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Enduring thanks to Mr. Brown for continuing to teach the Skinny form and nurture young artists as they grow–and add beauty to all our grown-up days.

“Cold” by Maya Ray

Cold

The distant eye is awake
Frigid
Hands
Reach
For
Frigid
Hearts
Warming
His
Frigid
Eye, the distant is awake

Maya ray
3/6/21
________________________
Maya Ray is a Sophomore at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in the Literary Media and Communications Department, graduating class of 2023. She enjoys cross examining her classmates in Street Law, fishing at Fletcher’s Boathouse and apple picking to make homemade apple pies. In her spare time, she enjoys watching anime on Zoom with her friends.


This poem was generated from celebrated poet Derrick Weston Brown’s intensely inventive creative writing class at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Enduring thanks to Mr. Brown for continuing to teach the Skinny form and nurture young artists as they grow–and add beauty to all our grown-up days.

“I Can’t Cry” by Jameela Ayoub

I Can’t Cry

I’ve run out of tears to cry
Dry
eyes
leave
me
dry
cries
fill
me
dry.
Of tears to cry, I’ve run out

Jameela Ayoub
3/3/21
________________________
Jameela Ayoub is an aspiring writer and photographer based in the Washington D.C. area. She’s a sophomore at Duke Ellington School of the Arts and is a first year student in the Literary Media and Communications Department. She will be graduating with the class of 2023.


This poem was generated from celebrated poet Derrick Weston Brown’s intensely inventive creative writing class at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Enduring thanks to Mr. Brown for continuing to teach the Skinny form and nurture young artists as they grow–and add beauty to all our grown-up days.

Charles Barrow: The One and Only: A TSPJ Treasure

I just want to press pause for a beat to say how much I thank Brother Charles Barrow for all he does to support The Skinny Poetry Journal, and also, Cherry Castle Publishing. A treasure, he is. – truth

“State of Emergency” by Patricia Hope

State of Emergency

Texans are not prepared for ice, snow covering everything.
Cold
iced
roadways,
lines
cold
enough
to
break,
cold
Texans are snowed, unprepared for ice-covered everything.

Patricia Hope
2/26/21
________________________
The work of award-winning writer Patricia Hope has appeared in Voices On the Wind, The Avocet, Weekly Avocet, Artemis Journal, Tiny Seed, Liquid Imagination, American Diversity Report, Maypop, Plum Tree Tavern, Muscadine Lines, and many newspapers and anthologies. Born and raised in Appalachia, she now lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

“Ancient Echoes, Present Pain” by Nancy Davis

Ancient Echoes, Present Pain

Kingdom divided, feet of clay, signs of the times…
Human
powers,
Iron
Strong.
Human
feet,
fragile
clay.
Human
signs of the Kingdom, divided times, feet of clay.

Nancy Davis
1/31/21
________________________

“January 6, 2021: A Skinny” by Martha Deed

January 6, 2021: A Skinny

Supremacists smash Congress with flags and spears to stop the count
killing
democracy
on
TV
killing
their
own
Destroyers
killing ‒
Congress stops Supremacists smashing with flags and spears to count

Martha Deed
1/21/21
________________________
Martha Deed has published seven books, including mixed media and two poetry collections: Under the Rock (2019) and Climate Change (2014), both with FootHills Publishing, and six chapbooks. Her poems have been included in dozens of anthologies and dozens of journals. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

TSPJ CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: “Poems to Document the January 6, 2021 Trump-Led White Supremacist Insurrection / Violent Attack at the U.S. Capitol.”

THE SKINNY POETRY JOURNAL CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:” Poems to Document the January 6, 2021 Trump-Led White Supremacist Insurrection / Violent Attack at the U.S. Capitol.”

Tell the truth. Make it poetry. Make it plain. – TSPJ Editors

Rules of the Skinny Poetry form: A Skinny is a short poem form, developed by Truth Thomas, that consists of eleven lines. The first and eleventh lines can be any length (although shorter lines are favored). The eleventh and last line must be repeated using the same words from the first and opening line (however, they can be rearranged). The second, sixth, and tenth lines must be identical. All the lines in this form, except for the first and last lines, must be comprised of ONLY one word.

SUBMISSION BRIDGE: TheSkinnyPoetryJournal@gmail.com

Continue to Register, Plan, and Vote in the interest of freedom and justice for all Americans.

“A Goodbye” by Emma Rathje

A Goodbye

The image of death
Replaying:
hiccups–
choking
labor.
Replaying:
tears,
cigarettes,
alcohol.
Replaying
the image of death

Emma Rathje
6/3/2022

Emma Rathje is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School. She keeps busy with running track, playing ice hockey, and reading in her free time. Rathje enjoys reading fiction, but when writing, she finds herself using poetry to express her thoughts, ideas, and feelings.