Along with our postcards, Red Flag releases one poem a month to your digital mailbox. On this page you will find all of our past Poetry Express poems along with information about their authors. The Poetry Express email format allows us more freedom to publish work that would not necessarily fit on a postcard. If you like these poems and want to read the upcoming ones before anyone else, or if a poetic email sounds much better than the spam mail you sort through everyday, head on over to our subscribe page. All Red Flag postcard subscribers are automatically added to the Poetry Express mailing list as a benefit of their subscription.
Maya's Garden Party
In the afterglow of a balmy August day,
party guests are beginning to depart.
Wind chimes announce the latecomer’s arrival.
“Would you like dessert?” Maya asks her last guest,
who has paused at a tray of plundered pastries.
“Oh, no,” she responds, “just coffee, please.”
And do you know my son died in June?
The garden is resplendent with hydrangea,
begonias, mums, and a rainbow of gladioli,
the petals dancing in a red-gold fire.
Maya’s dog chases a ribbon of butterflies.
“Isn’t it gorgeous?” exclaims the hostess,
attempting to engage the visitor.
“Oh, yes,” she responds, “it’s breathtaking.”
But do you know I’ve buried my boy?
Maya’s son strums a love ballad,
holding the guitar in a soft embrace.
His wavy hair elicits a shock,
pricking the raw skin of memory.
“Isn’t it a pretty song?” remarks Maya,
suspending the young mother’s reverie.
“Oh, yes,” she responds, “it’s beautiful.”
But my Nicky will never hold a woman.
Nature is busy lifting shovels of dusk.
The guest hoes a garden where sunsets bark,
dogs wag petals, mums play melodies…
and boys become men.
Maya again offers her dessert.
“Thanks,” she sighs. “I’ll have the chocolate cake.
It’s my Nicky’s favorite.”
Ellen A. Grazioso teaches literature in a public high school in New Jersey. She especially enjoys an elective poetry course for juniors and seniors. Additionally, Ellen is a professional folk singer and lyricist. Her favorite activities are writing, recording, and karaoke. A passion for folk music and narrative poetry has greatly influenced her work. “I like that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature,” she writes, “because his prestigious win officially honors folk music and gives me an excuse to analyze his lyrics in my poetry class. Monday through Thursday we study famous poets but on Friday, it’s the genius of Dylan or other iconic singer-songwriters.”
A Love Without Edges
1. Burrow deep inside earth, away from angles. Befriend worms pink and slippery. Melt into loam, into each other.
2. Float to the ether, limbs entwined. Spin slowly; where does one body end and one begin.Dissolve into clouds, lush and wet.
3. Sink into sea. A deep hush; green weeds glide around you; octopi drift. In the hovering glow of jellyfish, your mouths find each other, lose themselves.
My Father Shot and Killed a Cat When I Was Six Years Old
The crack rang out across the lawn
like angry lightning, echoed
off the white oak trees. The neighbors
He came inside afterward, kicked off his boots,
locked his rifle in the tall cabinet, and made a coffee,
a sandwich. It was time
for lunch. Leaning across the worn kitchen table
he told me, kindly, dark eyes the color of mossy bark
she ran away
Jay Douglas is a recent graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a dual degree in Religious Studies and English. When not furiously scribbling poetry Jay can usually be found playing Smite or Vainglory, learning mad yo-yo tricks, or immersed in a book on queer theory. Jay identifies strongly as a queer Appalachian and tries to write poetry that reflects that experience. You can find Jay on Instagram @monstrous.invert or, @jdsuperhero. You can find Jay in-game as JesseTheGhost (Vainglory) or JDSuperhero (Smite).
The train was late,
but the crowd thin,
so she noticed the
flowers in his hand
first, and remembering
their last conversation,
she called his name
and let Chance roll.
Katarina Boudreaux is a New Orleans writer, musician, composer, tango dancer, and teacher. Her novel Still Tides was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Faulkner-Wisdom competition. Her novel Platform: Dwellers is forthcoming from Owl Hollow Press. www.katarinaboudreaux.com
EMILY AS THE REST OF THE HORSES
of my youth,
on the beach,
a better ride
the clouds. Drugs
of the whiskey
& almost all
of the women,
the same horse.
to be the rest
of the horses.
Darren C. Demaree is the author of six poetry collections, most recently“Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly" (2016, 8th House Publishing). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.
We Wanted Loose Change
We spent long darknesses
over greasy food
in cracked booths and
washed out glasses.
We learned the difference
between lay and lie,
and between Susie who loved
and Laurie who never
would. We were full of
pain because we
felt better listing to one side.
In our fists we
carried the fight into the
light. We tried to make
poems out of whatever
we were holding. We
tried to make love out
of whatever we were holding:
phone numbers, cigarettes, loose
change. We wanted readers
and chums. We wanted loose change.
What the Bass Player is Thinking
Usually his thoughts go to warm beaches,
women in San Francisco, but lately
he has been working out iterations
of the Mandelbrot Set. Reviewing what
Aquinas in the Summa thought about
the simplicity of God. His fingers
move of their own accord. He realizes
he does not know whether he is playing
in a jazz combo or a country band.
He watches the drummer and deduces
they are playing a tango. Perhaps they are
in Montevideo. Or Helsinki,
in a big band. People like to tango
in Finland, mainly in the minor keys. . . .
More and more it seems that these gigs confirm
Cartesian principles: the mind performs
its aerials, swinging free of earthly
claim; the body continues, keeping time.
How shall I walk?
The sharp stones, the dirt. I would
Or should I walk the air
rising to the tree line
with a step invisible and light
beyond the power of pain?
My father lost his shoes once,
left them on a train churning
toward a city in the mist.
By the time he reached our
garden, his feet were shredded,
he limped with footprints
of blood. I watched him
cover his feet with rags, head
bent to his ankles, as if
to hide his misery and shame.
Even then his voice, tuneless
and deep, rose from the stream
bed of his chest, ash fountains
propelled by geysers and flood.
Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared in nine countries, in such journals as Antiphon,
Boston Literary Magazine, Chiron, Deep Water, Expound, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Ygdrasil,
and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and
Best of the Net, including four in 2016. The most recent of his eleven collections include
My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems. Family Reunion, and A Landscape
in Hell are forthcoming in 2017.
On Fainting in Tube Stations
I don’t want that smart bomb sort
of love, that painless thing all
beset with clang of rust knife,
mouse click, screen swipe, before you
meet to touch.
I wish us notto belong to modernity’s
gold-laced bars, that hedonist’s
psychology of the thing,
but rather in some futurist’s fashion,
reinventing risk in step.
To pass time with pine needling
observance, vain seduction
of pictures waiting in turn,
runs its course as long as rivers
flow, grass grows green.
Revealing stares of Platonic
shape, shoving awkwardly in
slumber party chatter, imagination
of wedding cake decorations
at fifteen and vine hanging solemn.
Can’t let the clock hands drop
mania of wording tongue;
buying books of Badiou
and Sartre to make sense
Like opening of lips to
accept chest breath, resigned
laying, light pollution obstruction
for North Stars on south-facing
youth spit-shine ball diamond.
There aren’t five couplets for that
stringing lamppost memory I’ll
write in old age about it, these
summery flings between accolade pages.
Or, then again, with bonfire we make
of address books, of phone records
like some desperate Polish secret police
archivist on the walls’ last day:
that clumsy kind of love.
Carter Vance is a student and aspiring poet originally from Cobourg, Ontario, currently studying at Carleton University in Ottawa. His work hasappeared in such publications as TheVehicle, (parenthetical),and F(r)iction,
amongst others. He received an Honourable Mention from Contemporary Verse 2's "Young Buck Poetry Awards" in 2015. His work also appears on his personal blog "Comment is Welcome."
All Rights revert to author one year after initial publication.