July 17, 2024

Siddharth Dasgupta


Come walk with me through the bones of this bustling city.
Time hedges its bets in the spit-spatter of this hustling city.
On the streets, fragrance is rampant. Catharsis of us, strained
through the finely-woven forgetfulness of this muslin city.
A silent movie plays at the Regal. Speak to me of silence,
lest I scream mercy in the bare fangs of this cuspid city.
You and me at the speed of sound. Leave behind a note
for me in the rich, riotous libraries of this lovesick city.
There is a war on TV. The ratings are high. Lay down
your arms for me, in the bravado of this muscling city.
Mythology’s all the rage. The disco dance of antiquities.
It prospers florid as the footnotes to this tussling city.
Jesus speaks to me from a mosque that peals with temple
bells, deep in the wide-eyed throb of this puzzling city.
Siddharth, you should leave prophecy behind. Sing, write,
scream, prosper. Tonight, dream up this druglicked city.

from Rattle #84, Summer 2024
Tribute to the Ghazal


Siddharth Dasgupta: “As an Indian writer, to write the ghazal is to follow in a centuries-long tradition—from the ache of Amir Khusrow, the twin longings of Jan Nisar Akhtar and Faiz Ahmad Faiz, and the revered mysticism of Mirza Ghalib, to the more contemporary English explorations of Agha Shahid Ali and Jeet Thayil. This ghazal then is one leaf in a long line of flourishing forests, infused with an ethnic heartbeat and existential ache that keep time to lost cities, bars filled with anonymous jazz, and love that knows no agenda.” (web)

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July 16, 2024

Dick Westheimer


My son asks me how can I run the same
mile-long loops through the woods every day
and not be bored and I tell him it’s different—
every time. The sun angles through the trees
in changing ways. The undersides of the leaves
shudder to the breeze much as a lover’s kiss
differs from the next and the next. Shadows dapple
the path in new ways with each step and I know
the route but not the way until I walk it. Sometimes
the creek wafts the gaseous smell of heron dung, sometimes
it’s the reek of rotting scum, sometimes it’s the faint taste
of the sea. Often I hear the water wash over the rocks
like little bells, other times it sluices like a million million mothers
whispering shush. There are portals in the heat of summer
when a pocket of cool air comes up from the bottoms
like a great refrigerator door that I stand before.
How could anyone dream this—this moment on this path
with my foot suspended right before it falls, this definitive minute
closer to my death? And who wouldn’t want to visit this
very point in time, this infinitesimal instant when
there is no pain, this instant between two others I know
I share with you dear reader. Maybe you too saw that single
dewdrop cling to the tip of the blade of grass, the lone bee
foraging the one white clover that did not succumb
to weed killer? I don’t recall your name or face
but I know this about you: If you are reading this,
you will hear this click. And I will take this one more
breath. Then this. Then …
And you will hear the word “this.”

from Prompt Poem of the Month
June 2024


Prompt: Write a poem set in a place you’ve always dreamed of going to but never have. Allude to all the basic senses.

Note from the series editor, Katie Dozier: “When one cultivates the practice of writing poetry, the world can reveal itself in ways it never had before. When I first heard Dick read this poem on the Prompt Lines of the Rattlecast, we were taken along for his morning run in such detail that we could almost hear our own footsteps pounding in his woods. And like any good journey, I was surprised by the last turn, in this case towards a bold, fourth-wall-breaking ars poetica. Aren’t we, as poets, always running towards a poem?”

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July 15, 2024

Cindy Guentherman


It was the mid-’60s, a time of rock and roll and hippies, yet men still wore hats to work, and ladies wore dresses and pantyhose. Suits were displayed on neat racks and people looking for new shoes were fitted by a professional at Weise’s Department Store in Rockford, Illinois. After years of babysitting, my first summer job at 16 was to take the bus downtown and ride the elevator up to the store office, where I was preparing a new inventory on a manual typewriter. The subject matter was not exciting and every time there was an inventory addition or change, I had to start that page over. It was kind of like the Groundhog Day movie in real life. But for this I was paid a dollar ten an hour, way better than the 50 cents I got for babysitting. Before the summer was over, I would move on to another place for a few cents an hour more.
carbon copy
all the mistakes
I tried to fix

from Rattle #84, Summer 2024


Cindy Guentherman: “I’ve been making up poems since age five on the way home from kindergarten. I like all kinds of poetry, but haiku has been my favorite for about 50 years. This haibun was written after a Rattlecast prompt—to write a haibun about our first job. I love prompts because they let me write things I would have never considered before.”

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July 14, 2024

Nina Peláez


after Shahzia Sikander and Esther Strauß

Blessed are the bones, the scaffold
that holds, seed set in the depth
of the mouth, waiting to sprout
in the slippery dark. Blessed mother
in labor, sweat on the brow. Look
how they loved, how they hated her.
Blessed the navel, blessed the vine
uncoiling toward freedom, blessing
her crime. Her horns and her halo.
Wings held on her back, blessed be
the jabot worn on her neck. Bless
be her grit, bless be her glitter,
bless be the downfall of men
who have hurt her. Bless her rough
hands, lungs out of breath, bless her
milk seeping from each of her breasts.

from Poets Respond


Nina Peláez: “This poem was written after reading two articles from the past week reporting on the destruction of two sculptures: Esther Strauß’ “Crowning,” depicting Mary in the throes of childbirth, and Shahzia Sikander’s ‘Witness,’ an allegorical female figure. Within a week, both sculptures were beheaded. I was disturbed to read about the brutal vandalism of these two images, both of which engage with biblical subjects in ways that seek to reframe traditional narratives about female empowerment, particularly around reproductive justice. This poem offers a benediction to the two violated figures.” (web)

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July 13, 2024

Elliott Egan (age 8)


On one of February’s false springs,
I hike to the creek near my house,
Searching for mica, pottery, and shells.
Over my head a kingfisher zings,
His song is whooping and wild.
I’m a prospector, panning for gold.
I crouch, move pebbles in the stream.
I stuff my treasures in the pocket
Of my jacket—it’s lapis lazuli blue.
I see mica by its gleam.
I slip over the muddy bank,
I see signs of a beaver, both new and old.

from 2024 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Elliott Egan: “I like to tell stories about the world around me, and I like how poetry flows together. Stories are so hard to write down when they are long, but in poetry I can get all of my ideas down on paper. I also really enjoy making magnetic poetry and haiku poetry, because counting the syllables and making things fit together is like a game.”

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July 12, 2024

Roberto Christiano


“You can do what you want. Write a ghazal or do the dishes.”
I’m in Zoom, a poetry class, and I know, there really are dishes
in my sink accumulating guilt and luring the reckless red ants,
but I am thinking of Uvalde, of all the kitchens with one less dish
to wash tonight. I am thinking of my great niece and nephew,
aged nine and ten, who toss each other the warm dry dishes
straight out of the dishwasher. I am thinking of those bright dishes,
bought from across the border, on the governor’s dark pine table,
each one a swirl of blue and red. I am thinking hard about all the thoughts
and prayers, and every my heart goes out, and every platitude dished out.
I am thinking of a shy little girl in her white communion dress.
On the table behind her, Mother has set a mass of churros in a dish.
I am thinking of the antique, porcelain, Bavarian dishes my mother gave me.
Nobody cares about them anymore. Roberto, you can put away the dishes.

from Rattle #84, Summer 2024
Tribute to the Ghazal


Roberto Christiano: “The ghazal, like the villanelle and the pantoum, has its roots in song. This appeals to my musical past. My father and brother were both musicians—Father played Portuguese and Italian folk music on the accordion and my brother was a rock guitarist. I played the piano and was a church pianist for a while. The repeating end words of the ghazal couplets remind me of the rounds of my childhood, the songs I sang in school, the quick refrains, the catchy and playful rhymes.” (web)

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July 11, 2024

Bob Hicok


Of course, when my mother asked
that I give my wife a kiss for her, I did so,
telling my wife, I am my mother, kissing you.
My wife’s mother, it turns out, had asked the same,
so of course she told me, I am my mother,
kissing you back. When we informed our mothers later
that they had kissed as lesbians
through heterosexual proxy
beside our cat’s sense that something
like a mouse or with the potential
to be a mouse would eventually move
through the spot she was staring at,
where nothing was or had ever been, as far
as the record shows, my mother asked, was tongue
involved? My wife and I consulted the log
but there was no entry. We shrugged
at our mothers and went about our lives,
though now with an awareness
there are gaps we’ll never fill
that may or may not have tongues in them,
though given a vote, I say yes, tongues, red
like our mouths are where flames go
to be alone.

from Rattle #30, Winter 2008


Bob Hicok: “I think of myself as a failed writer. There are periods of time when I’ll be happy with a given poem or a group of poems, but I, for the most part, detest my poems. I like writing. I love writing, and I believe in myself while I am writing; I feel limitless while I’m writing.” (web)

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