Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Tuesday poem #569 : Robert van Vliet : Leaving the Story Unfinished




You said it was a cloud.
I said it was birds.

You said I was afraid.
I said I was cold.

You said the spirit had entered you.
I said it was dust.

You said it was a temple.
I said that’s just another name for war.


You said: Adrift
on the dry lake,
the fish looked up at us
like lost stars
trying to bite the wind.

I asked: Is it more
than letting
your skin unfurl
like a thirsty leaf?

You said: It is more
than simply setting it down
and walking away.


I said: The silent bishops
toss their feathers
over the rim of the white well.

You said: They will not
teach you the name
of every magnificent
rite. They will only whisper
the same secrets
over and over.


I said: Do you remember? Cut
roughly from the bolt,
its bias confessing almost
everything, but leaving
the story unfinished.

You said: I remember those
faint patterns in the weave, beneath
our fingertips. We will never
know whether they were
blood or wine.


I asked: Can you hear them
walking away, stepping
lightly over the war
as it grinds the moon
down to sand?

You asked: Do you really think
they will just leave us alone
and forget all about us, like
apples once the seeds
have been stolen?


I said: They always wore the sun
at their hips like a warning, smoke
on their tongues. They gave nothing away.

You said: What seemed to us
like shadow or spice
was the false rain
of rumor and sorrow.

I said: This lethal breath
is more tireless, more
true than the sunset.

We fled before it,




Robert van Vliet’s poetry has appeared in The Sixth Chamber Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Wine Cellar Press, Otoliths, Guesthouse, and elsewhere. He is the author of the chapbook This Folded Path (above/ground press 2023). His debut book of poetry, Vessels, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in 2024. He lives in St Paul, Minnesota, with his wife, Ana.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Tuesday poem #568 : Summer Brenner : A BIRD SEES



what a bird sees on the glass is a garden of floribunda whorls of blossoms caracoles of petals concentric lines drawn with a compass

what man’s eye sees is a fragment of cloud no less beautiful than flowers but simpler with swaths of sky in between

what a bird sees is a hill of smoke and puffs of explosions animals falling and debris flying in every direction

what a woman sees is a child shattered by a bullet or a bomb a child’s limbs bloodied and broken a child’s shirt shredded along with a child’s skin

what a bird sees is a thicket of trees standing then falling flowers also falling roofs and windows cracked grass scorched blossoms exploding like stars

what a man sees is an enemy everywhere an enemy with no name strangers with guns or bombs with a task to kill whatever comes in view

I want to be a bird a flower or a cloud not a man with a gun or bomb not a task or target

Like the bird I want to fly from cruelty like the flower fold into kindness like the cloud float
over another land





Summer Brenner’s [photo credit: Michael Weber] books include short stories and novellas from Coffee House Press, Red Hen, and Spuyten Duyvil; poetry from The Figures; crime novels from Gallimard série noire and PM Press; and the occasional essay. Dust, A Memoir was published in early 2024.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Tuesday poem #567 : Sonia Saikaley : A Winter Festival



Once in the land of the rising sun,
I witnessed lit candles along a canal.


It was February in a city in Hokkaido

filled with tourists wanting to see the Winter Festival

with gigantic snow sculptures

and a field of mid-sized snowballs with scarves,

carrot noses and black bean eyes.


I snapped photo after photo like other tourists

and longed for my cold city

in another country far from here.


Winter numbed my uncovered skin

between my wool scarf and hat.

It was as cold as my hometown

maybe even slightly colder on this day.


A winter festival with a canal lit with flickering candles,

giving the illusion of warmth on this night.


I bowed and prayed like a Shinto nun,

my sins would have scorched snow sculptures,

melted them into puddles of holy water.

Maybe God would have mercy

if Buddha convinced Him

I wasn’t a sinner, only human.


Neither Catholic nor Buddhist,

I shivered, rubbed my gloved hands together,

holding them over the shimmering candles.





Sonia Saikaley is a Lebanese-Canadian author whose novel The Allspice Bath won the 2020 Independent Publishers Book Award Gold Medal and the 2020 International Book Awards for Multicultural Fiction. Other works include two poetry collections, a children’s picture book and an award-winning novella. She is a graduate of the University of Ottawa and the Humber School for Writers.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan