Artwork by Janine Liu

Lucky Jefferson's 365 Collection is a collective of poetry featuring works that transcend theme, style, and genre. We hope you enjoy the works selected.


poetry

The Years Become a Blur

After retirement
The years become a blur
Decades pass
If you’re so lucky as to live
You learn to look down
You learn to use the handrails
And the grab bars
Defying the dreaded fall
That could well end it all

Clothes that you consider new
Are really ten years old
Friends you always thought you
Would see on a yearly basis
Slip away or die outright
You have to put some very good dogs down
And are reluctant to get any others
Until some lovable stray wanders in
And you just can’t chase it away
Dogs that chose you are always the best one’s

The march towards death
Becomes dull and droning
As a drum beat
As white noise from the freeway
The years become a blur
The age you once considered old
Is the age you now are
You wonder how many years you have left
And you ponder if you
Really want to endure their hardships

The years become a blur
Your dream life becomes discombobulated
Your high school class stops having reunions
And you know why
Nothing seems all that important anymore
Doctors and their medications rule you life
You wonder what will finally do you in
Whatever that is it seems it is
In no hurry to arrive

Aches and pains become more debilitating
This friend has cancer
That friend has heart failure
You wonder if you’re merely old
Or if you’re really old
Baselines and touchstones become meaningless
You want to live on for the sake of
Those that need you and your grandchildren
Until you realize that they no longer do
Then you want to live on because you fear death

The years become a blur




John C. Krieg

John C. Krieg is a retired landscape architect and land planner who formerly practiced in Arizona, California, and Nevada. He is also retired as an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist and currently holds seven active categories of California state contracting licenses, including the highest category of Class A General Engineering.

He has written a college textbook entitled Desert Landscape Architecture (1999, CRC Press). John has had pieces published in A Gathering of the Tribes, Clark Street Review, Conceit, Palm Springs Life, and Pegasus.

Riding in a Poem

The poem is a hot-air balloon. I climb
into its wicker and light the flame
to ascend. A rushing whoosh
and the balloon is in motion, sending
heat from the flame to warm my back,
blowing my hair sideways.

Lifting from the earth, leaving
the prosaic behind. Settling into
the tone of this ride, meters above
the farm; chicken yard, duck pond, and root
cellar. Floating past swaying bamboo and empty
oak branches, a lyrical view of my own days.

Draft after draft wafts me higher where
the air is pure, rhythm steady, and a
cacophony of crows sails by, inspecting
the flying vehicle.

Telephone lines appear, just beyond
my outstretched arm, like sentences
widening out in front of me. Still I rise.
At the mercy of the flame’s refrain,
time alters, weeks consumed in a moment.

Drifting in rare spaces,
over waterfalls of passion, empty
cliffs of sorrow. Trusting,
trusting the ride.

Halfway between heaven and earth
the basket moves in slow-motion on
its descent. With a defining punch
it touches earth. Heaving myself
over the edge, my mind
cloud-walks for hours.







Anne Maren-Hogan

Anne Maren-Hogan, a poet-gardener, who relishes farm life with her husband in the South Toe Valley beneath the Black Mountains of North Carolina. Her childhood on an Iowa farm, which her family still farms, provides material for her poetry, as deep and rich as the black earth from which she comes.

Anne began writing poetry after raising children and gives credit to her writing group for their edits and insight. Her first chapbook, The Farmer’s Wake, was published by Finishing Line Press. Her second chapbook, Laying the Past in the Light, published by Longleaf Press, looks at the mystery of death and resurgent power of landscape. This summer her manuscript, Vernacular, was chosen as Honorable Mention by NC Poetry Society.

Soft is hard

Soft is hard
to come by.

If ever my skin
becomes so brittle and cracked

that a match can be sparked
against me, you must know

it is the howling
wind in this rough place

we call home
that made it so. And

if ever my skin mends, I will know
it must have been

your soft touch, your
soft-spokenness.

capers
                   (after John Straley’s every single day)

Suppose I said the words “dinner time”
and I wrote the words “chicken piccata”
on a piece of paper
and mailed it to you
from many miles away.
When you opened it,
would you remember those nights we spent
trimming chicken thighs and
mashing capers in melted butter
because no other recipe could compare?

Or would you remember that time I sent you
pictures of that very same dish, only this time
made overseas, with my hands only,
and you,
noticing the lack of capers,
asking me where they’ve gone?

I know I am difficult to understand sometimes,
particularly when you are standing
on the front steps of your apartment
holding a stamp-covered envelope
and the words “chicken piccata”
in your hands. But just consider it
an overdone metaphor
that I can never cook
or be quite the same
without you.



Jeremy Pulmano

From Dover, New Jersey, Jeremy is currently a junior studying Computer Science at Princeton University. After graduation, he plans on becoming a software engineer and poet. His most recent work has appeared in Arch & Arrow Literary Magazine.

Vietnam Hangover

I got the news today
My V.A. claim denied.
Fuck you.
Just say you killed me
with Agent Orange,
Say you did It!

The rumor is true: We vets are
time bombs.
Cancer—hiding 50 years,
laying in ambush –
blew up in my body,

Just as Peace of Mind
called a cease fire
and my grand children
Stared from the end
of the hospital bed,
I almost... disappeared.
Just say you did It!

This shared legacy,
the Vietnamese and us
Stillbirth and deformity,
amputation and agony.
Here in our communal family plot
buried in a mass grave,
Yellow ghosts smile across the years,
Tombstones by Monsanto.

The Cong were in the bush
eating fish heads and rice
Seasoned with Agent Orange,
Buried skulls still grin
While our heart clock ticks
this time bomb,
booby trapped in DNA.

Just say you did It!
We still live,
yet—we died in Vietnam
Marching across
your poisoned moon scape.

Your black and grey, lifeless DMZ.
We aliens in camouflage space suits
breathed in your Bardo Plain of the demons
and the phantoms
we were to become.

My Soul dreams of WWI
shell blasted waste lands.
Gentlemen poets in a muddy inferno
Whispering of an endless cemetery,
trenches for graves,
Bones coated with mustard gas.

And in this time,
Future ghosts marching
in black and grey
tailored body bags
embark for the East
From West Point,
Eager sacrifices
Lining up,
All ready
Dead.






Brent Mac Kinnon

Mac began his writing career by journaling in Vietnam while living alone in the village of Nong Son, near Cambodia, in 1967. After two tours with the Peace Corps he returned to graduate school to teach writing.

More recently, he taught the art of memoir with incarcerated veterans for three years. Currently, he facilities a poetry group and mentors first time authors through the publishing process using Expressive Writing as a technique for writing- what cannot be said.

Tipping

Catch it up front
Split-second eye contact
So much stuffed
In two tiny orbs

True person comes through
Reacts to you
Slips through your fingers
Becomes someone else

Ditches of pain
Little space in-between
Breath held for days
False smile of survival

Flatfooted shuffles
Worn floor of a myth
Starts pulling answers
From a black hat

On the brink
Fragile to breakable
Feel for small shards
In cracks between floorboards



Susan Dashiell

Susan is a middle school teacher living in Bloomfield, NJ who enjoys collaging and writing during quiet moments. I appreciate the opportunity to share this poem with you and thank you for creating space for late in life writers.

For nothing

I cried for nothing last night.
Over nothing, because of nothing,
felt nothing, felt hollowness,
felt my own absence.

Who am I now: skeleton without body?
Body without frame? There is a lack,
a sense of floating, like no anchor pulls,
I am free to leave.

I cried last night, but know
I love life, I wish to stay here
even without you,
so -- guilt, my heart erratic,
mind-whirl, body-ready,
I will stay, miss you, wish you
here, but not yet do I
wish me there.



Cleo Griffith

Cleo Griffith was Chair of the Editorial Board of Song of the San Joaquin for its first twelve years, on the Board in its 16th year. A member of the Modesto branch of the National League of American Pen Women, and widely published, she lives in Salida, CA with her cats, Amber and Neil.

A Place Beyond Song

After we younglings
in choir loft
intone our last song
we close our hymnals
wander down uneven steps
kneel beside statues
lit with flickering candles
burning with intentions.
so silent
just listening
smell dripping wax

After awhile
a few fidget
wiggle up
disappear
to backyard
tree forts
Box Car children
adventures
rowdy
hop-scotch

But the rest of us
so silent,
not even a fragment
of hymn begs attention
But the rest of us
so quiet
are here
still listening





Marianne Lyon

Marianne has been a music teacher for 43 years. After teaching in Hong Kong, she returned to the Napa Valley and has been published in various literary magazines and reviews including Ravens Perch, TWJM Magazine, Earth Daughters and Indiana Voice Journal.

She was nominated for the Pushcart prize in 2017. She is a member of the California Writers Club and an Adjunct Professor at Touro University in California.

THE RADIOLOGIST

I still remember the day I sat
on a padded bench among other women,
waiting to be zapped with invisible rays,
aimed at an invisible place inside my breast,
reduced by surgery to pulp and scoured
by chemicals, hoping to burn away
the remnants of those reticent cells
that grew with abandon just months ago.

You were the fourth in a line of doctors
to step up and take a turn at curing me.
It was faith alone that brought me here.
A nurse came up to me and said,
right on cue,that I looked depressed
in my disposable gown, as you said I
would be, for one does not go unscathed
when zapped on a regular basis.

You assured me that only a small
percentage of your patients became
clinically depressed and had to be committed.
I laughed.
You had lifted the anvil of depression
with a single joke. And that’s why
they pay you the big bucks.
Twenty years out, I am still laughing.





Susan Love Brown

Susan Love Brown is a professor of anthropology and an aspiring poet. Although she has been writing poetry since childhood, her only published poem, "Autumn Jazz," a villanelle, won the Writer's Digest 87th Annual Writing Competition for rhyming poetry in 2018. She hopes to inspire further publications in the future.

Speed Dating

Tell me who you are.

Tell me not the familiar,
the embellished well-worn
fantasies woven into facts.
Tell me only your story’s truth.

Reach deep – open long-barred doors.
Unleash the undeniable cowering in a corner.
Tackle the guardians of your psyche,
lay low the purveyors of hidden shadows;
shine a blinding light on buried memories.

Release the raw, the wild, the broken,
the bone-deep cravings;
liberate libatious longings,
give voice to silenced screams.

Brave the bereavements;
strip bare the inhibitions;
fight the flames of fear.

Take my hand.
Tell me

who you are.




Evelyn Hampton

Evelyn Hampton is a member of the Jersey Shore Poets. Her publications include Monmouth Review, The Lyric, Asbury Park Press and Stories of Music Vol I. She is inspired to take pen to paper by the restorative power of humor, music, nature and human connections.

Sunset Poem

I still write about sunsets.
Mundane as it is,
the closest

I have ever come to God
is violet-fuschia
nature-wrought

numinous intent. Every
night, I’m still surprised.
Each to each:

Our great big wonder
of grandeur.



Samantha Melamed 

Samantha Melamed is an emerging writer in New Jersey. She is a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Bananas

flesh of
fruit
soft but
un           ripe
shan’t be
split
by long
teeth
best off
in             terred
at the
bot           tom
of the
sea
wrecked and
ob           so          lete
stained with
bun         gles
and flesh
wounds





Stephen Ground

Stephen Ground graduated from York University’s Theatre and Community Arts programs, then moved to a remote, fly-in community in Saskatchewan’s far north.
He’s since returned south, and co-founded Pearson House Films.

His work was featured recently in, or is forthcoming from (inparenth), Orca, Panoplyzine, Bending Genres, and Thin Air Magazine. Find more at stephenground.com, or his tweets @sualtmo.


Interested in having your work published in the 365 Collection? Complete your submission here.