YAWP 2020-2021


blue mussels

by liv bailey

In the summer, the nights are short and warm

and spattered with bright stars

but when the red Sun rises hot and early

the Ocean is left to long for the Moon’s return

The rocks and shells here, however,

tucked in a tangle of seaweed and shielded

from the red heat, long only for the tide to return

with her cool swirl of currents.

A red crab, deep within the rockweed

is not yet close with the Sun,

and will bury themself in the muck

when the time comes for the tide to recede.

They will find a kind of safety there.

But the tide does not always return, and eventually

they are left, flesh to be picked out by gulls

and shell to dry and redden in the summer sun.

A bed of blue mussels,

tied to the rock and to each other

with their spiderwebs of ropes

will know no such scorching fate

They’ve knotted themselves tightly to the ragged rock

and thus as the tide ebbs and flows around them

their ropes hold as if tied by a sailor.

They know only stillness.

They never seek movement, but regardless

someday their shells will be wrenched open,

their small, black stomachs pulverized by tooth or beak,

and their empty shells will learn the movement of the tide,

the Ocean’s desperate reach for her lover.

She will polish their calcite skeletons to look like pearls,

so that when the Moon rises again

she might smile at all those stars in the sand.


by Erik Borda

I woke up with new pangs today:

a cave in my right palm,

another gap to complement

my three-hole-punched arms.

Across my chest, across my back,

through stomach, lungs, and heart,

each pit collides, fully intent

on carving me apart.

While hollowed through, I am intact,

my vigor will remain.

Observe, the fibers of a life

hurdle from vein to vein.

Veiled hands caress me as I lay,

skin’s tenderness excites,

by chisel, corkscrew, subtle knife,

they sculpt me in the night.

Now see how the North Wind will receive me,

with outstretched arms of blithest vice.

Ambling forward, smiling warm,

he slips between my meshwork form,

leaving only winter bites,

my blood is turned to ice.

Half blinded to the genesis

of chasms interposed,

in shame to peer into the depths,

I’m scared to see them closed.

I’ll fall to fragments in light hands,

I’ll splinter at a touch.

One perforation-burdened breath

is already too much.

On matchwood stilts my body stands

before the bonfire glare.

Facing danger, bashfully bold,

as feeble bones prepare.

But callous to all hesitance,

these fingertips combust,

I’m brittle, ruptured, hollow, old,

in seconds I am dust.

Come morning, sunlight trickling through my face,

I realize the world has stilled.

Pins of grass, skin interrupts,

give way as hyacinths erupt,

windless skies watch brush, unthrilled,

a moment, I am filled.

by Lily Lonigan

by Lily Lonigan


by Erik Borda

Summits and dips, peaks and valleys,

the horizon winks, my feet alight.

I beat each step, an echo rallies

loyal creatures of the night:

a pleasant start, for perfect stars.

Truly, my compass came broken,

untethered from its righteous thread,

the face, a gray and helpless token,

its needle, teeters gently dead:

I make a poor astronomer.

Yet soles lie flat, as visions track

the skies, impatiences in vain,

unfurling fabric of richest black

atop the Earthen plane:

we’re but low stones in a vast bowl.

Not a one of us has seen a star born,

naught but the bed and the seas they adorned

fore they left us their firmament.

All free things play on the face of their reign,

hot with live hope that Auriga should deign

to prod time forth an increment.

Save for the wicked, who walk in disguise,

who nourish deceit with star-darkened eyes,

for them, waits a just punishment.

Cry not for the cruel, tonight we are blessed,

soft beacons of light heed Earthly requests

to smooth hearts worn with detriment.

Perhaps, the stars made themselves for our needs,

Cassiopeia, bravely she leads

our lost ships to her embankment.

Or perhaps, just perhaps, they're a pretty accident.

There’s a wistfulness I take,

when I look Ganymede in the face,

that starshine glows forever

but devotees fade.

That as I look yonder, past suffering untold,

the tides will yawn long,

the stars will burn cold.

That justice grows fat on the harvest moon's plenty,

a friend to a few, a foe to many,

that fairness became a toy to adopt,

a necklace, a compass, a gold pocket watch.

That for want of a filament,

I'm made your embarrassment.

With every tenet I decline,

the horizon becomes a finish line,

at last, the final stretch I see.

So rest easy, my intimate,

my discarded, loyal instrument,

I care not who we’re meant to be.

Writing Prompt, February 4, 2021, In 100 Words: Thoughts on Love

Traitor's Love

By Anonymous

Love was war, treasonous secrets

whispered in second twilight.

Love was an English surgeon's hands,

fugitive knife drawing life from certain loss

of two.

Love was a rare, rested while, passing

looks and jokes like liquor vials.

Love was fire in a black queen's eyes,

ire of ages, heart far hardened to cave

under shackles and staves.

Love was a pair of footprints down the aisle,

two slow dancers approaching immortality.

Love is the wick which licks

vivid over a scholar's desk,

littered in fishy scrolls.

Shadows whistling,

cold fingertips kiss,

leaving mere wispy mysteries.

No matter, love is history.

Euphoric Roads by Anonymous

Blood-red muscles of the heart

twitch, gaining the momentum of

a running start until their toes lift

from the ground of sinewy artery

and soar, up and out of the driver’s

window, tangling with sound waves

of throbbing music as the wind whisks

them into the dusk.

Fingers tap, quick and inconsistent, while

the arm straightens and the neck falls back,

eyes flutter closed, lips turned up, and the

brain dances inside the skull. Its signals

are rhythmic, bursting with light energy

that makes the tapping and grinning

so easy while it wonders what could possibly

be better than this.

Fifty Seven Words on Love

by Liv Bailey

the earth’s crust is made up of mostly igneous rocks

cooled into granite from hot peridot magma

the moon tugs hard on the tides and, tonight,

venus rises two degrees above the horizon

deer travel at dawn, and bed down in the tall grass

and we are warm under all these makeshift stars


Liv Bailey

Claudia Coolidge

Mary Psyhogeos