December 1, 2023

Haley Winans


and I ain’t afraid to use it. My therapist
says trauma is stored in the hips
and I replied that’s why I have this overflowing dump
truck. I’ll hit a stray
parking-lot-abandoned grocery cart with my hip
into the metal corral cuz ya’ll don’t have the juicy gluts
to walk ten feet. I bless you with a smörgåsbord
when I strut by on the street. My mom packed this
delicacy in my puberty’s
lunchbox to make all the bitches jealous
of my non-tradable treats.
This three-Michelin-star feast.
She always asks if I’m in a movie
theater cuz I keep picking my seat. Not my fault
this monster ass always needs to eat like Michael Phelps
before a swim meet. Gordon Ramsey screamed
my beef wellington booty is raw as in undercooked
underloved underseared by the singe
of eyes the size of sauté pans. But I’d rather be sashimi
than well-done and sent back to the kitchen
of mediocre missionary fuckboys. Does it confuse you?
How I stick to my pythons and nude
nylons like superglue? I don’t need a hollow hand
puppet of a lover that gaslights like a candle
in a power outage. Yes my earthquake ass snaps
all the telephone poles and bridges like toothpicks. Yes I snuff
his chode of a flame with my gorilla
grip’s downpour. Yes I cause car crashes like Pokemon
Go when they hydroplane on this pussy
in search of a jiggly puff
to sing them to sleep. I’m done
being treated like chopped liver
when I’m wagyu beef, massaged by grief
and loves that leave me in the pasture of solitary relief.  

Prompt: “Write a poem about something we love about ourselves.”

from Rattle #81, Fall 2023
Tribute to Prompt Poems


Haley Winans: “I love writing prompt poems because they pull you out of your familiar trajectories of composing poems and plop you into another headspace where it almost feels like an unpressured task or goal to achieve. Prompts grant you the off-putting space to create poems you don’t intrinsically think about producing. It’s a Russian roulette of prompt interpretation.” (web)

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November 30, 2023

Shadowland by Arthur Lawrence, painting of shadowy bird-like figures flying toward a mountain or volcano

Image: “Shadowland” by Arthur Lawrence. “Pilgrims of the Mound” was written by Conal Abatangelo for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, October 2023, and selected as the Editor’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Conal Abatangelo


after Genbakukuyōtō

By the riverbank, where the herons
no longer fed, for lack of food
and lack of herons, they pulled bodies
from the water until the days began
to drop low in the horizon. If the sky
cleared, the cloud remained, and near
to the ground, the sun bloomed
dimmer than all the summers
before. There came a rain like night
which swallowed all colors, painting
in ash where ash had not been. Exhumed,
exhausted, returned to the land. The workers,
even as they buried, began too to drop
dead. In the coming weeks, the months,
the long years, a whole people became
a vault, a chapel, then the mound.
The line of ghosts unburying itself
each time a bomb speaks, even if no one will
listen for it.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
October 2023, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the series editor, Megan O’Reilly: “I found the poet’s use of language so unexpected as to be mesmerizing–I kept rereading phrases to savor them, and to marvel at how artfully and accurately they capture aspects of Arthur Lawrence’s ‘Shadowland.’ The rich but muted hues of the image are reflected in the phrase ‘a rain like night / which swallowed all the colors,’ and I was moved by the description ‘a line of ghosts unburying itself’ in relation to the crowd of figures in ‘Shadowland.’ I think the phrase ‘a bomb speaks’ is the one which will haunt me most–the idea of a bomb having a voice and something to say is an unsettling truth. Truth is something neither poem nor image shy away from, and I think that’s why they create such a resonant harmony.”

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November 29, 2023

Nancy Carol Moody


Mother married The Farm and hated it.
The marriage.
The Farm.
Eventually she came to understand
that a thing is never
just one thing.
Poppies etched in shower glass
are flung drops
pollywogging down through fog.
And taillights headed out the drive
are relief,
but emptiness as well.
This longdeep house, milky with dream—
one lamplit star on a street among streets
named for constellations.
Collision of night trains
uncoupling in the distance,
the honeymoon over
(they told you so)
before it had even begun.
A swab or strand
can tell us what we’re made of
makes no mention of who we really are.
And the mirror—
revealing what’s behind while we
stand there, dumbly,
looking ahead. 

from Rattle #81, Fall 2023


Nancy Carol Moody: “An early instructor noted that I liked to inhabit the liminal space. I was so green that I had to look up ‘liminal,’ an assessment which turned out to be spot-on. I’ve spent a lifetime straddling interstices. Writing poetry keeps me from slipping through the cracks.” (web)

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November 28, 2023

Perie Longo


He woke up thinking what he said she said
or was it she said he said
or each didn’t say
the other said
and he said I didn’t say that and she said you did
you said it screaming so loud the children
ran into the street
neighbors shut their windows
and he said you’re always twisting my words
but there were no words other than
it goes on like this gathering saids
to set the record straight
the past stacking up like fallen boulders they could never
unaware as soon as something is
said it is
unless she says remember
when you said and he says it’s not
what you think I said
you misunderstood or else wanted me
to mean what you imagined
so you could correct me
we can’t go on like this
but they do all the saids etched
on their faces
until they don’t recognize each other
and she says
I hope you are happy now
and he says
about what

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010


Perie Longo: “Rarely, first words of a poem drift into consciousness from the fog of sleep and before coffee, and I write them down. Watching the poem grow from under the pale light of day is a gift that gives we poets supreme joy. Such is the way of ‘Said,’ perhaps a result of years of listening to couples speak to each other in therapy with a dab of my own history. I love the way poetry clears the air.” (web)

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November 27, 2023

Susan Trofimow


This poem is a dog
that shits all over your house.
This poem is the shit
you find ground in your carpet.
This poem is you
abandoning the dog
on the side of the road
where you found him.
Free! This poem is the road
as you drive away,
but then your car stalls out
in traffic, and suddenly  
you miss the dog—
his company on the couch.           
And you feel
that old bone he’s buried 
in the hollow of your chest.
And you imagine 
him back home, nose pressed 
to the sliding glass, 
tail wagging when you let him in. 
Oh, how that beast will leap 
and bound across the carpet, 
laying himself down
an inch from where you started.

Prompt: “This prompt came from a workshop with Peter Campion: ‘I’d like you to write a poem no longer than twenty-five lines in which the speaker relates an encounter with an animal. The only other guidelines are that the poem should contain one sentence that’s five lines or longer, and one sentence that’s an interjection, exclamation, oath, or swear.’”

from Rattle #81, Fall 2023
Tribute to Prompt Poems


Susan Trofimow: “To be honest, I wouldn’t say I enjoy writing prompts. Often, I read one and my mind goes blank! But if I continue, and something clicks, I find myself writing poems I would have never imagined otherwise. Prompts challenge you. They focus you. They give you a net to shoot for and the chance, sometimes, to have some fun.”

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November 26, 2023

Lexi Pelle


Like Christian kids,
hopped up on guilt
and hormones, looking
for a loophole—
the bat’s penis is too big,
a scientist says
in the article, and
the tip is heart-shaped.
What god
of ridiculousness
blew into his kazoo
to make this morning
of sensational
headlines and half
-burnt toast?
There’s laundry
to fold and
an appointment
to cancel. The dog
won’t stop licking
what doesn’t appear
to be a stain
from the blanket.
What’s the difference
between making
love and making
do. What does
bat foreplay look
like? How do you
ask for touch,
but not too much.

from Poets Respond
November 26, 2023


Lexi Pelle: “When I read the story about bats having non-penetrative sex in a church I knew it needed to be in a poem. It made me laugh, but also made me think about the lengths (pun intended) scientists will go to understand the world’s mysteries, which feels related to the process of writing poetry.” (web)

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November 25, 2023

Marty McConnell


nights I was afraid of the moon
or spiders or the janitor
who was always whistling
I’d cross the long hall
like a river, like Jordan
in the song, toward the bed
where my parents slept. I’d stand
by my mother’s head for seconds
though it seemed my whole life,
perched at the hem of their
paired breathing, the light
from the double windows,
moonlight woven through the oak,
laced across them and the porch roof
we were to climb out on and down
in case of fire (one of my mother’s fears,
not mine), and she would wake
and say Martha, what is it? and I
would whisper I’m scared though
I wasn’t anymore, in that room
with the platform bed and the breathing
and I would climb in between them,
their cotton pajamas hushing
across the sheets. the air
from their mouths was the air
in dreams, cloud-like and solid
as spun candy. the dark
of their room was the dark
of the moon when it is there
but hidden, the shadow
of our planet draped across it
like a shroud or the caul
a mother lifts to watch
her first daughter’s pink mouth
release its originating scream.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007


Marty McConnell: “It’s only recently that I’ve begun trying to mine a fairly idyllic childhood for poems, as I believed for so long that no drama lived there. And now you all know my given name. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone in Brooklyn.” (web)

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