Slackpole Poetry Corner

By Yoyi Xie

The animals roam and the grasses grow,
There are forests full of trees and meadows.

Then come the men, axes and fire,
Leaving only ruins at their desire.

The flowing blood of Earth, once pure and blue,
Permanently stained, an ugly tattoo.

The wavy hair of Earth, once green and lush,
Slashed and burned, humanity’s ruinous touch.
Cities, towns and men spread like a disease,
Destroying all habitats as they please.

Factories and cars, spewing their black smoke,
In their smog, the great Earth can only choke.

As men push on, the Earth is set aside,
Revenge is coming with nowhere to hide.

Fitzgerald, GA’s Big-Ass Chicken
By Alys Willman

Said the mayor, after the hardware store closed downtown, 
Why don’t we build a big-ass chicken?
The plan was to build a 58-foot tall topiary sculpture of vines and flowers
bigger than the 56-foot one in Marietta, but he saw on the Internet 
there was a Mickey Mouse in Dubai that was 59 feet
so he said
Screw it, we’re going to 62, 
declared it’d be finished 
by the March chicken festival.

All this to honor the birds, brought from Burma 
because someone thought they’d be fun to hunt.
But they are lean birds, not like yard chickens,
taste like rubber.
Those birds went wild in Fitzgerald, roosting in the pines. 
Folks came from two towns over
to take their picture, feed them bits of biscuit outside the diner.
Now you can’t hunt them, or even chase after them.
Injuring the birds is a city misdemeanor.

The mayor had them put up the scaffolding next to the Harveys’ parking lot.
Then they set up a chicken cam 
so people around the world could watch them build the big-ass chicken.
That was November, 2019. If you go to the website now, 
you’ll see that scaffolding, naked against the South Georgia sky.
Still no chicken.
Every now and then a plastic bag from the Harveys floats across the screen.
Every now and then one of those wild, lean birds struts by.

By Steve Piazza

for the wholesome aroma of morning cinnamon, or any palpable spice
please press 1

for the reassuring sound of the swaying ocean, or whatever calms you
please press 2

if you want to leave a message  
please listen

if you need to talk to someone
please chat

to get what you want
please enter compromise

if you can’t accept someone’s differences 
please enter empathy

if you have anything you value
please enter share

if you feel as if you cannot breathe
please take a breath

if you need to know who you are
please press star

if you can’t decide between yin or yang
yang or yin

if you’re feeling you need some love
someone will be with you shortly

for everything else
please hold

By Kathryn Kyker

In the orange hat you hate I sit 
on the beach of broken trees bordered

by rubble of a road that drove
too close to the sea. Today’s victims 

of water’s whimsy are jellyfish baked 
on dry sand. Death: past, present, and

future, as the eyes of so many birds track
my every move. You ask if I am afraid

as you leave me here alone. “Something in 
the human psyche loves a ruin.” In the

final poses struck by twisted limbs reaching, 
gasping for soil not sand, water not salt, and

in the crumble of man made stones in the 
surf, I find strange comfort, and I am not

afraid: “The only thing to come now is the sea.” 

(last line from Sylvia Plath’s “Blackberrying,”  
earlier quote unknown, possibly Coleman Barks)

By Elliot Nelson Hahamovitch

a book of my experiences will never be published.
i’m at the uncomfortable stretch between “normal” and
too “strange” to write about new discoveries
too “normal” to write about what’s happened.
the only place i could fit in is fiction.
fantasy, sci-fi, anything “alien,” to fill in
the gaps of boring in myself;
to discover new worlds from my perspective.
but i haven’t found myself.
not yet.
my sense of self is already vague,
branching. i see myself in everything.
i will bend and twist my personality
into protagonists, just so i can feel heard.
i find myself in sentient spaceships

The Chain Is Broken 
By Jesmond Cooper

Locked in shackles chained in chains don’t play with your life it’s not a game 
Don’t do it for the fame don’t do it for the money you’ll gain 
I know a lot of people wished they could’ve changed before they were locked in the chains 
the chain is broken even though the locks won’t open you left your family hoping now all they have left is a few portraits and a chain that is broken 
think about this and don’t you forget 
don’t be the one to leave the chain broken and the locks unopened don’t do it for the fame or the money you’ll gain be the change while the cage is still open

Autumn Begins in Athens
After James Wright

By Carson Colenbaugh

The green creek runs beneath the football stadium; beastly feet
Gallop its manicured turf into terrible densities dying for oxygen.
A certain civilization rises to proud-sung chanting; beautiful men
With long hair parade down painted measurements of strength:
They bash their bodies while raccoons claw at crawdads within
The heavy cover of princess tree, white mulberry, Chinese privet.
The ditch sumac flirts with crimson, red jerseys thrash as sweat
Falls and lands in the thick grass—our little world begins again.

I can’t wait to meet you
By Jake Hendon

Golden rays stream
through the break in the curtains pulled back occasionally by the licking of
the fan’s breeze, I sluggishly roll over to make sure you’re still next to me. You
are silent and still. A spell, only broken by the infrequent jerks of some deep

I want to reach out
and touch you, to make sure you’re real, but I don’t in fear of breaking such a
fragile beauty. As I watch your chest rise and take a slow breath, joy seeps
from the crack in my stone to fill me.

You are light and
bread and water in endless ocean. The gratitude I feel for the white caps that
brought me here now eclipses the pain of knowing I only have one life to spend
with you.

Remembering Laura (1991-2016) 
By Liz Conroy

Awake before dawn
Touched by the crescent moon’s light
Till clouds form a shroud

By Dan Johnson

Late night kitchen talk
The bougie lounge is open
Another cognac?

“Carr Street Walk”
Flat frog on the street
Mistletoe on the sidewalk
Ants kissing, feasting

“Beth’s Wine”
Scuppernong wineshine
Very good time had by all
Bottled homemade joy

Strange shadows dancing
Daylight dark engulfs the sky
The world is changing

One eyed cropduster
Dropping his load on my car
Hope I make Tampa

Rear ended again
Why do I stop for redlights
Nobody else does

Who Am I?
By Delia

I am the fourth in a line of eleven
I am of Case Rustiche di Panaccio
I am of Armando and Adelaide
I am the poorest, but proud and beautiful
I walk 2 miles to school with my friend Paolo
I walk back home in the knee deep snow
I walk to school hungry some days
I haven’t taken a bath in a week
I feel small and alone, crazy lady wants to befriend me
I am afraid, I stay away
I am at new house, it is November, 1966, there is no heat
I am together with my sisters, all younger than me
I am with Delia, Flavia, Laura, Silvana, Bruno is being born
I am waiting for Zia Maria to come and cook us breakfast
I am waiting for food that can’t be cooked; there is no gas to cook
I go away with orphan kids, even though
I am not an orphan
I am at the Institute Sant’Orsola
I have everything I need, food, shelter and school, but
I still feel small and alone, one of the orphans I suppose.
I am not an orphan!

Soulful Eyes
By Jill Hartmann-Roberts

Burrowed in the cushions
Of our favorite chair, 
Your body rising and falling as you slept atop my head.
At night we snuggled close,
Your head on the pillow next to mine.

Watching out the window,
Always on patrol,
You barked at every animal–
Chasing squirrels and chipmunks,
Neighborhood feral cats,
Leaping across the yard
like a jackrabbit,
Protecting your territory.

Sitting on the stoop,
Enjoying the sunset,
Moving into dusk.
Watching for fireflies
Into the twilight hour.
Neighborhood walks,
Brisk and long–
In the coolness of fall,
And the heat of summer.

Dog park antics,
Chasing dogs bigger than you,
Jumping in the middle of their tussles– 
My heart stopped,
Worried you’d get hurt.

Stealing Lizzie’s toys,
Mounting to dominate,
Fighting like brother and sister–
But always keeping her close.
Your head resting on her body,
A bonded pair. 

Your daddy was your human.
He’d tease you,
Grabbing at your paws,
Until you took off like a lightning bolt.
Racing in a blur down the hall,
Back and forth,
Two, three, four, five times-
Spinning around in circles,
Jumping into his lap, 
When you ran out of breath.
You made us laugh so hard we couldn’t stop.

Years later, age took its toll. 
A slipped disc,
Your cries of pain,
Unable to walk or move- 
A miraculous surgery saved your life.
You recovered,
But were never quite the same.

A year-and-a-half later,
The vet found the cancer.
In those final months,
Strolling down Barnes & Noble aisles,
Visiting friends in Jittery Joes,
Ike & Jane cafe,
Marti’s at Midday.
You became a virtual celebrity,
A town mascot–
The Frenchie pug in a stroller.

Tallulah Gorge.
Anna Ruby Falls.
Toccoa Falls.
In your last 10 days
We traveled far- 
Climbing hills,
Walking trails,
Rivers raging,
Cascades thundering.
The air was crisp and cold
As you gloried in the sun.

In your last moments,
You left my arms,
Crawled into your daddy’s lap,
Lay your head on his chest,
And looked back at me–
Your soulful eyes wide and resolute.
And I knew–
I’d done the right thing.

In some ways,
You were like any other dog–
Food, balls, toys, walks, cars.
They all moved your spirit.
But it was your people that 
Filled your days with love.
Your family– 
Lizzie, your daddy, me–
We were the center of your world.

Your soulful brown eyes,
Wide open and warm–
Bespoke of your sensitivity 
And love. 
Your paw print 
Now forever set in clay,
Imprinted on my heart.
If the Rainbow Bridge truly exists, Reggie–
You and I will find each other,
And never be parted again.