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.
High Dudgeon Skeletons
“The Dungeness crab, Cancer magister, is a species
that inhabits eelgrass beds and water bottoms
on the west coast of North America.”
Catching the crabs
when I rendezvoused
with an ex-patient
sophomoric freshman year
at Stanford Medical School
in retrospect 1981
was a lowlife jaundiced
disaster except for luck
a lovely case of Kaposi’s
from her gorgeous brother
who landed in county jail
on trumped up bathhouse morals
charges which expanded in condomless
state prison where he eventually
got transferred to the hospital ward
in the days preceding safety syringes,
goggles or dental dams — afterwards
other convicts also passed there from AIDS
as well as innocent doctors who died
before HIV was given a proper name.
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.
All Rights revert to author one year after initial publication.