Session Four Anthology

MENTOR: Javier Zamora

We Are Coming For Our Language

In the history of words      suffragettes    fighting   for rights
badges of honor     queer an insult      to some   but a fortune
to others    who wish to    tell it slant   & mingle fact with fiction
as they try to     copyright our words we must reclaim our names
This appropriation is unnecessary for the power of language
has been distorted       & used against us

This is unacceptable        our culture will not be tainted   our words
will not be appropriated   we will veto this wrong an offensive
sting    a symbol of irrational actions now in play   must be
restricted by law     singled out for the corruption   that it is
& present itself    for intense scrutiny for our language is at stake


shirley luke jones.png

Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet and a writer. Ms. Luke lives in Boston, Massachusetts. Shirley has an MA in English from UMass Boston and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Ms. Luke's focus is poetry and memoir. She is working on a manuscript that combines the two genres. Her work has been published in several journals and magazines. Shirley was a participant at VONA, Tin House and Breadloaf Writing Conferences during the Summer of 2018.

Sometime the Work Comes to You

A herd of horses gathered outside my cabin, their hoofbeats steady as a bonfire crackling green logs. At the same time I could hear them bent to the earth, nipping the young grass. It was the wrong season. I wore two sweaters. In my dream, from across the lake, a wolf howled to remind me of a wound I'd left open in the soul. My blood flew with his howl. Then it turned in the air like a flock of pigeons and came back. The wolf sat beside me and watched. I asked to borrow his nose.

Caught the scent of decay and followed it to my heart.
A ruin of promises I never kept.
Lifted a lie and a pup with my eyes looked back.
I knew which poem he was, and lowered my hand to feed him.

He said it was time to stop writing poems and start living them.
A crow cawed in agreement.
A squirrel dug up a nut and brought it for courage.
I ate it and my eyes became light.

When I woke I could still hear the horses grazing. Went out to look and an angry wind blew leaves that bit the ground. The mountain dropped rocks, click-clack, into the valley. No birds at the feeders, ice on the day's tongue. I put on another sweater, thick gloves. My last piece of oak in the woodstove. It was time for work. I sat in the lap of the earth and closed my eyes. The wolf howled and I could feel it in my throat.


Rick Ray

Reunion at La Jolla Cove

The sugar sand scents
  the air between
      whiffs of seal pee

& Our toes pull
  into each ocean wave
    & The cries of

the buried boy for
 his phone-bound father
    overpower seals’

clamor as they
  urch off the cliff’s
      rubble outcropping.       

Look! Do you see
 the swimmer from
   a popsicle stick pier,

arm trailing grace in
 cove’s fractured crystal
    & Let’s not touch

the liquid ice, just
 goodbyes dripping
    from brimming lips

before feather-soft
 moon chases fluid up
     this crumbled bluff


Kendra Sitton


We will not lower our hands. We will not be given time enough. Between instructions and riots. They could mould statues after us. Roll tears over tear stains. Been primed now to paint. Primed by tired expressions. To accept used band-aids. From our heated pleads. They conditioned themselves. Found cool in the shade. Pour shots. Hand us war. And entrench us as slaves. Only the soil spreads its arms. So we sink in like water does. Do not cross. Do not sound alarm. You are the sign to be misread. Tie the tongue. Hold the breath. Count backwards from a hundred. Count sheep. Imagine clouds looking down at us. And how they must make us out as animals.


Elizabeth Mudenyo


the sound of purple clouds

cuticles pushed far back like
low tide with all the seaweed and garbage.

my nervous hands lilt into the lisps of her skirts.

i know last time i said a storm was coming nothing happened,
we just laughed for hours in bed with honey-sweet fingers.

(remember that time i spilt it in our bed. we were intoxicated for days.
my hands kept dripping over your skin.)

but this time it’s true. the sky is grey and billowing.

we are in bed when the storm breaks. feels like spitting apple seeds across the front yard.
ripe fruit lingers in the air above your chest.


El Horner