January 2019 Poetry Feature

New Poems by Our Contributors



PATRICK RIEDY | “Vacant with beauty”

          | “To last a lifetime safety begins in the mind”

DENISE DUHAMEL | “Crème de la Femme”


Say Nothing

I go home to my dead
try to want less 

the communion with my closest candle 

—not worry about the color
the stick part the wax staining the wood

or the table standing through
the do-you-feel-it earthquake.

What are the chances I’ll be struck by that.

Forget the fire I have done fire.
I haven’t burned anything without planning.

There is a man that stays away in me
as if he already missed my daylife.

He never found words and is either too old
or too young.

Try to go back to shy smiles
slow appetite

a dress that floats up on a bus

through the daydreams of strangers.
With a lantern—that kind of child.

Was it mine, my daydream

awareness, even then it was the awareness
that made me more despicable.

Some were wrongful I’m sure

they did want more than
to pinch my cheeks and

rode the elevator just to find me

and some were caretakers as they claimed,
if only I had let them adore me.


Luna Moth

It was like a woman throwing off

her shawl at the end of an evening.

The way it dressed itself in moonlight.

The way it planted itself on the sill.

Settling against the glass, its head shook

like anything that has traveled a distance.

And each of its green muscles ticked

even closer to the end of its slenderest life.

Pacing all night, the lights turned on

and humming in a house I did not own,

going over the ways you did not love me

I stopped for this creature: heavy wings.

Antennae crossed like bodies in sleep

before it composed and lumbered itself

toward morning, flying back into absence,

flying back into what it was made from.


Vacant with beauty

The stoker built eyelid clicked and closed. They call it blind shine.
Some concern grew for a second agreement as we lost the first.
I took a late walk last night, saw the exhaust pipe broken off.
But that’s why I babied it, so we could talk this over.

To sustain us.

I feel strange with my dark golden face of forgiveness, enough to hate
lights extinguished across the street. Any reminder of the past
became catalytic. Because it still stands, yielding few signs
of its former grandeur. Because to our east this city’s split
by a network of rails. Southbound lines further separated
into two sections. All built atop marshland. Then that sway
under our lone bridge connecting each side. Because smoke billows
at city limits, where a simplistic union takes place—
a commentary on the thing and the thing itself picking up steam.


To last a lifetime safety begins in the mind

           based on interviews from “Lackawanna: Survival of a Steel Plant (prod. by Bethlehem Steel, 1977)”

Cold                       you couldn’t see nothing was blowing
They operated in people you couldn’t see arms
We wouldn’t have dug out till spring the high paying
High class jobs people out with shovels and picks
Opening switches we would have lost we had very heavy
Snow very heavy blizzard conditions never stopped
Trying never quit in a way of speaking we kinda enjoyed it
I kinda enjoyed it they had us food coffee
We’d take breaks something was breaking down
We’d grab salt we’d put it on the tracks salt and rails
Get the machines and things going sometimes they wouldn’t go
We’d be back in the warm lunch room a lotta luck
A lotta hard work at the time there was everybody
Busting their hump at the coke ovens was a vicious circle
In the matter of an hour-and-a-half the big one put us flat down
You could walk fifty yards and be afraid to not get back
Even if you knew where you were you couldn’t see
An arms length away you couldn’t and the wind was so
If you didn’t have something over your mouth
Your mouth and your nose would freeze shut
In the beginning we were worried about personal safety
But once you get into a job of that type you forget
The only thing you think about is to accomplish what you’ve been
Set out to do you worry when you get back double and triple shifts
We had no idea what harm we were doing damage you couldn’t see
We needed to survive we grabbed a nap                       we came back


Crème de la Femme

            “how many femmes can you hold in dusk”

              —Anne Waldman

a femme afraid of the dark

a femme who knows not what she does

a know-it-all femme

a femme on her deathbed

a femme giving birth

a femme who once had fun pushing her doll in a stroller

a femme who wants to be taken seriously

a femme who was once a secretary

a femme fatale with fatal flaws

a femme with a buzz saw

a femme who outdoes herself when it comes to kitsch

a femme witch

a femme who knows which is which

a femme and her lipstick

a femme performing femme (drag queen bravado, web cam girl)

a femme bedeviled by deviled eggs and devil’s food cake

a femme throwing up

a femme adamant in her femme self

a femme who rallies against capitalism

a femme who loves butches

a femme who loves men

a femme who loves another femme

a femme who questions if she is a femme after all

a secure femme

a femme who needs approval

a femme who hates to get her hands dirty

a moisturizing femme

a femme who wraps herself in plush towels

a poverty-stricken femme shoplifting at Payless

a femme who believes in the feminization of power

a femme who wants to abolish power in all its forms

a femme frustrated by beauty standards

a femme who just wants to have fun with hair dye

a subversive femme

a suburban femme

a femme who has been raped by a man in her own home

a femme who is afraid of razors

a femme who is afraid of wax

a femme who locks arms with other femmes

a jealous femme

a femme who doesn’t get enough credit

a fearless femme meeting her radiologist

a femme repulsed by roaches and rodents

a femme who fumbles the ball

a femme unafraid of sweat

a femme with a butterfly net

Disney princess femme

minimum wage femme

a democratic femme

an autocratic femme

a femme who can’t drive stick

a thick femme

a thin femme

a hemmed in femme

a femme who hems and haws

a femme with a runny nose

a homeless femme

a femme who poses nude

a femme suffering under the male gaze

a femme cow grazing

a femme masturbating

a vegan femme

a rib-eating femme

a fairytale femme from Adam’s rib

a celebrity femme with six ribs removed

a lesbian femme

a hetero femme

a bicoastal femme

a bi femme

a femme who will not be defined by labels

a designer label femme

a Fendi femme

a retro-loving thrift store femme

a Betty Boop hula hoop femme

a Gidget femme

an I Love Lucy femme

a hateful femme

a hated femme

a femme on a pedestal

a pedestrian femme

a femme on her pink beach cruiser

a femme in the gutter

a femme who loves glitter

a streetwalker femme

a femme who chews gum

a femme who loves bubbles

a femme who bites her nails

a manicured femme

a rural femme weeding her garden

a sober femme

a femme with a meth addiction

a mathematician, an electrician, both femmes

a pastry chef femme

a femme who wears pasties

a thrill-seeking skydiving femme

a femme who hates men

an infiltrating femme

a private eye femme

a femme with contact lenses

a femme with contacts

a well-connected femme

a well-concocted lie of a femme

a femme posing as ultra femme

primordial femme oozing from the sea

ocean femme

earth mother femme

mother femme

femme trees with lush femme leaves

a tree house femme

a femme with a handwritten “boys keep out” sign

a femme with cooties

a femme who votes against her interests

anarchist femmes

protesting femmes

anti-war femmes

the femme brigade

a femme with braids or ponytails

My Little Pony femme

homely femmes

homebody femmes

grandma and grandpa femmes

an authentic femme

a femme deceiving herself

a femme who can’t spell

a femme who casts spells

femmes who are cast as femmes on TV

femmes who cry easily

a femme’s overwhelming perfume caught in the breeze

a femme who stinks

a femme who blinks twice to warn another femme she’s in danger

a dangerous femme

a cantankerous femme

a baby femme in her rosy buggy

a haggy femme in fake pearls

a teen femme with frizzy curls

a boy crazy femme

a lazy femme

a menopausal blaze-of-glory femme

gory femmes in horror movies

mean femmes

femme memes

QVC femmes

KFC femmes

DOA femmes

a famous femme

a blemished femme

a blameless femme

a nameless femme

a femme in the spotlight

a femme who will only make love with the lights off

the femme goddess of dawn



Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry is Scald. Blowout was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other titles include Ka-Ching!; Two and Two; Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems; The Star-Spangled Banner; and Kinky.  She is a Distinguished University Professor in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami. 

Matthew Gellman’s poems are featured or forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Narrative, Ninth Letter, Passages North, Lambda Literary’s Poetry Spotlight, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. He has received awards and fellowships from The New York State Summer Writers Institute, the Academy of American Poets and the Vermont Studio Center, and was awarded a Brooklyn Poets fellowship in the Fall of 2018. He was also included in Narrative’s 30 below 30 list in 2018. Matthew holds an MFA from Columbia University and currently teaches at Hunter College. He lives in Brooklyn.

Elizabeth Metzger is the author of The Spirit Papers, winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry, and the chapbook The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. She is the poetry editor of The Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal.

Patrick Riedy was born in Buffalo, NY and lives in Providence, RI. He has an MFA from Brown University and teaches creative writing in Connecticut.

January 2019 Poetry Feature

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