Rumpus Original Poems

National Poetry Month Day 29: “City of Eternal Spring” by Afaa M. Weaver


City of Eternal Spring

My mind rises up as the silos of interchanges,
streams, passages of myself in floating layers
so nothing can connect, and I dream emptiness
on ships sailing to new places for new names,
this ship my hands cupped in front of me,
a beggar’s bowl, a scooped out moon, a mouth
opened to make noiseless screams, to arrange,
to begin, to break through to stop my arrogance,
believing what I touch, see, feel, hear, taste make
a case for being alive, so I can stop believing what
happens when a caterpillar dreams itself beautiful.


National Poetry Month Day 28: from “Bombyonder” by Reb Livingston


from Bombyonder

Without an imaginary world, without a proper backpack, without my little pink orb,

without an old tablet’s commandments, without a hair dryer, empty hands, empty

birdcage obscured by a crate of empties.

Left without a predictable choice, without direct involvement, without being wiser, left

without leave, left what I came with, left with myself.


National Poetry Month Day 25: “Rogue Benediction” by Wendy C. Ortiz


Rogue Benediction

And we entered the Valley of the Rogue.
And we slowed to a crawl.
The night’s envelope sealed us in.
After several hours, cars deep on the interstate,
we resigned ourselves: this first night
would be the gateway, the opening to a roguish place
where I would no longer have answers,
become unable to make plans, in other words:
less solid.


National Poetry Month Day 24: “After Aftermath” by Cate Marvin


After Aftermath

Orphaned boys plus my mean calculations.
Orphan boys plus desire equals their long
bodies. How they sucked summer-long water
off a garden hose from beside the trailers.
Their mean mothers weary of them sharing
rooms in mental hospitals: I want to meet
them with flowers, thank them for offering
up their sons to this, our glazed plexi-glas


National Poetry Month Day 23: “Embers of Smoldering Homes” by Sean Singer


Embers of Smoldering Homes

It is a major war from
a manufacturing plant
near Ciudad Juárez, a concrete
dust smell from the maquiladoras
cools. There is a pool
of liquid forming
on the stone floor.
When Érika Gándara, the only
cop in Guadalupe Distrito Bravos
was killed the buzzards
were fucking in the wind.


National Poetry Month Day 21: “War With Computers” by Jill McDonough


War with Computers

“We don’t make war with computers.”
—Captain Kirk in Star Trek, “A Taste of Armageddon,” 1966

Now we hover at 5000 feet. It’s not a fair
fight, but IEDs aren’t fair, either. We watch day and night.
We don’t make war with computers, though; we’re not there

yet, are we?


National Poetry Month Day 18: “My Brother” by Carmen Gimenez Smith


My Brother

My brother _is__ a savior
who can torpedo
through privilege with an artistic stun gun
he’s a tempest saturating the city

He makes a scar
in the earth_ draws out
an admixture of folklore
and animus_ plus
a pinch of_ worry from our
adolescent miseries
so he can build_ endless
self-perpetuation_ literally
with big red bricks

This he does with
our so-called inheritance

We once walked
on our father’s periphery
looking in like_ the matchstick

We walked the edge of our houses
to find ___a warm window
Was it there
It wasn’t

the self-preservation__ that hunger
and fear __made of me
a bewitching hybrid of
broken coat trees and orbital
chair and door_ king_ choir
maybe _____that _elemental
of fading into____ the wallpaper
We’re still looking
plush with hunger

My brother speaks
the cloud’s patois
a clatter ___calm ___medium        loosens
a grip wears
on the surface____ of his planet
I said anything
I walked far away
I left my brother behind

More tenderness
might have made us_____ better
failure without the sting

we might have found
magic and known
its transport

the instability was the brutal
______grief of one tornado

-Carmen Giménez Smith


National Poetry Month Day 17: “The Mother In This Poem Is Me or You or Your Mother” by Wendy Chin-Tanner


The Mother In This Poem Is Me or You or Your Mother

mother is
a falling
star a bead

of sweat of
blood of bread
our daily

bread on which
we fed the
thread of life

the trouble
and strife of
he you wed

with heart and
head you pledged
in daddy’s

bed there is
no rest for

lest evil eye
pry babe from
breast again

I rest my
case on wave
and wind hey

knight hey knave
come save me
blame me for

sin of rage
its wage so
high I am

both monster
and slave shame
me slay me

this is the
where you play

and I play

it’s okay
it’s just a

-Wendy Chin-Tanner


National Poetry Month Day 11: “The History of Asterisks” by Elisa Gabbert and Kathleen Rooney


The History of Asterisks

It is midnight under the sky’s dome ceiling.
The moon speaks, saying nothing of consequence.
John Wayne is from Iowa, so we hitchhiked West
and I realized I never really loved you.
Your skepticism of scientific indices of happiness
is probably gendered or otherwise distorted.


National Poetry Month Day 8: “Introduction to the Limits of Metaphor (A Love Poem)” by Jeannine Hall Gailey


Introduction to the Limits of Metaphor (A Love Poem)

I am snowing inside I am a house with a rickety roof
I am a boat that is capsizing I am waves cold on your feet

You are the moon you are beyond my reach
I am the cranberry in your tart you are the splinter from the wood spoon

You have a face like a coin
I am the fingertip print on the window

You are rain you are a storm surge you have devastated
You are the peel of the apple I am the blackberry juice on your lips

You are the peacock’s screech I am somnolent as night doves
You are traffic jams I am a desert road

I have a wool sweater on my heart
You wear socks on your voice box

I am red lipstick you are the pair of shoes that goes with nothing in the closet
You are an untidy and scorched omelet I am a fallen soufflé

I am season one of Lost you are season nine of the X Files
I am missing organs I am the fallen starlet you are the boy born without a face

We are a pile of fur and feathers leather and oilstain
Civet cat and cigarette perfume wine glass and poorly knit rug

I am cesium I am a radon daughter
You are the phosphorous glow you are the sodium flame

We are teenagers in the rain speeding cars tumbles in the corn
We are empty bottles in morning light with labels peeled off

We are wingless fireflies
We are outlying data the graph that goes off the charts

I am snowing I am out of your reach I am a seascape on your wall
I am a boat gone missing on your horizon

-Jeannine Hall Gailey


National Poetry Month Day 7: “Such Unfortunates” by Sophie Klahr


Such Unfortunates

It doesn’t get better, it gets different. Ask God,
Clean House, Help Others. Try taking a trip, not taking a trip,
swearing off forever— with and without solemn oath. This too
shall pass: this rented office space, these folding chairs,

this night where women droop into the room like low fog,
bused in from a halfway house for those with infants.


National Poetry Month Day 6: “The Early Minutes of Without” by Michael Klein


The Early Minutes of Without

You thought you were spared
falling in love with another drunk
now that you were sober and could feel
the ordinary grain that ran through everything.
You were awake in the great city and moved
among the civilians you couldn’t move among
before; structure time and dress for the weather.


National Poetry Month Day 3: “this is me” by Adam McGovern


this is me

PATH train ride, boy and girl
inked, unmarked
legs braided at one knee
a bud from the same split phone cord
speaking in each other’s ear
and girl and girl
pierced, unharmed
platform combat boots and microskirts
one tenderly stroking the other’s knee
without danger, without shame
the world
may be over
but the war
ended first

-Adam McGovern