Tag Archives: poetry month

#HookedOnPoetry: Poems with Award-Winning Poet Marge Simon #NationalPoetryMonth #Poetry

Yesterday I announced in an essay the start of my HOOKED ON POETRY project, in celebration of National Poetry Month. It was posted here on my site and at Kendall Reviews, who is partnering with me to host and share pieces I’ve accepted and curated. If you missed it, you can find it here. This will be running now and throughout May, which will also allow us to participate in Mental Health Awareness Month with some poetry. Please join me in sharing things on social media with the hashtag #HookedonPoetry. We have outstanding reprint poems from collections, original poetry, review and articles on poetry, and more coming everyone’s way throughout May.

HookedOnPoetry

I’m excited to start off the HOOKED ON POETRY project with poems by Marge Simon. These are two wonderful poems featured in some of her collections. Marge serves on the HWA Board of Trustees and the Speculative Literary Foundation.  She was the second woman to be acknowledged by the SF & F Poetry Association with a Grand Master Award.

She has won three Bram Stoker Awards, Rhysling Awards for Best Long and Best Short Poetry, the Elgin Award for Poetry Collection, the Dwarf Stars Award, and Strange Horizons Readers’ Award. Marge’s poems and stories have appeared in Asimov’s SF, Silver Blade, Bete Noire, Grievous Angel, Daily Science Fiction, and in the anthologies, You, Human, Chiral Mad, and The Beauty of Death, to name a few.

Enjoy!

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Daddy’s Little Girl

It’s a 4th of July evening

sundown coming slow,

lawnmowers drone distant,

& crickets’ choruses rise and fall

between the spaces of human noise.

 

Someone is cooking on the grill,

delicious smells waft through the trees,

down the block to your back yard.

 

Convertibles pass, radios blasting

the rhythms of the holiday,

teens high on being young,

 

but not you, plain and shy,

doomed to spend this magic night

alone with your books & a silly doll

that Daddy bought for you.

 

Your special gift from him today,

to defray the teenaged tears you cry;

you are his darling one and only —

though you’re much too old for dolls.

 

As for Mommy, she left long ago.

Daddy says she went to hell, but he is wrong.

She visits you in murky dreams,

whispering what to do while Daddy sleeps,

 

something about her old meat cleaver,

in the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet.

Your pretty doll agrees with her,

for after all, Daddy doesn’t understand,

you’re not his little girl.

– Marge Simon

crescent moon

Small Spirits
This poem is from the collection SMALL SPIRITS.
Small Spirits is another of the poems-for-art duets by Bram Stoker® Award winning poet Marge Simon and artist Sandy DeLuca. These unusual poems involve dolls of many sorts, including legends from countries all over the world. You will find small spirits of the wicked, the damned and the beloved. Be prepared for the mystical, magical and often misanthropic dolls in this colorful collection

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The Southern Lady

With death, there should be dignity but there is none here,

the men in dusty blue uniforms continue to pass by,

my precious roses trampled, bleed their perfume into the soil,

and those half dead are brought to my parlor,

soaking my fine couches with their Yankee blood.

 

Cow and calf alike they shot for practice up in Charleston,

by the time they got to ours, they wanted bread and butter,

with pitchers of fresh milk to wash it down;

some seem surprised there’s none.

They’d burned our fields, there was no feed,

did they think our livestock lived on love?

 

I dreamed I was a giant cat,

sitting on a wounded soldier’s chest

watching him quietly while he slept,

then I leapt on his face and clawed out his eyes.

 

But he rose up, playing “Aura Lee” on his harmonica.

One by one, his companions joined in singing,

and we danced all around the room.

Beyond the window it was raining blood.

– Marge Simon

crescent moon

War

This poem is from the collection WAR with Alessandro Manzetti
(Elgin Award Winner, 2019).

Look in my eyes. My bronze skin reflects the flames of the battles.

I feed on bullets and shrapnel.

I have trenches instead of veins and a bombardier’s whirring plays my favorite symphony inside my big head. This is my story, with some of my best camouflages and disguises, and you should expect your peace plans to fail. Because that’s what I do for living.

Look at my million golden teeth necklace. Ring any bells? Maybe you’re too young. I probably should have mentioned the fireworks over the Baghdad night sky, my new friend, or the live broadcast of two great skyscrapers disintegrating. You know what I’m talking about, right? So, you can call me by one of my many names: Great General, Lock-box of the Powerful, Red Rain, Lord of Steel or, more simply, WAR.

I appear as strife of many kinds, from Stalingrad to Scotland. Africa to Afghanistan, the civil war of Italy and the War Between the States, ghostly wars, drug wars, the battle of the sexes, World Wars I, II and visions of a holocaust yet to come. It’s all herein and more, with poems both collaborative and individual.

Amazon

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Marge Simon, Biography –

Simonphoto-208x258Marge Simon lives in Ocala, FL. She edits a column for the HWA Newsletter, “Blood & Spades: Poets of the Dark Side,” and serves on the HWA Board of Trustees.  She is the second woman to be acknowledged by the SF & F Poetry Association with a Grand Master Award.

She has won three Bram Stoker Awards, Rhysling Awards for Best Long and Best Short Poetry, the Elgin Award for Poetry Collection, the Dwarf Stars Award, and Strange Horizons Readers’ Award. Marge’s poems and stories have appeared in Asimov’s SF, Silver Blade, Bete Noire, Grievous Angel, Daily Science Fiction, and in the anthologies, You, Human, Chiral Mad, and The Beauty of Death, to name a few. She attends the ICFA annually as a guest poet/writer and is on the board of the Speculative Literary Foundation.

She has a daughter, Melle Tillison Broaderick, and two lovely granddaughters. She married a longtime friend and colleague, Bruce Boston, in 2001. Besides being a fantastic conversationalist and the love of her life, he has taught her a great deal about writing top notch poetry and fiction, for which she is grateful.

In addition to her solo work, she has written collaborative poetry and fiction with Bruce Boston, the late Charlee Jacob, Mary Turzillo, Alessandro Manzetti and Bryan Dietrich.

You can view Marge’s fiction, poetry, and art, and contact her for freelance art assignments on her website.

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Thank you, Marge!

I look forward to readers joining us for many more posts and poems here on my site and at Kendall Reviews. Watch my Twitter feed (@ErinAlMehairi) for updates and posts or follow my site by subscribing in the box at the right!

– Erin

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Hooked on Poetry: How We’re Celebrating Poetry Month #nationalpoetrymonth #poetry

Hooked on Poetry Project Announcement: Join Us to Celebrate –

Erin Al-Mehairi PhotoApril is National Poetry Month, and for several years now I’ve been featuring and publishing poetry as well as various posts from the world of poets and poetry, such as reviews of collections, articles about poets or writing poetry, and interviews with poets. I love that more and more people are reading and appreciating it.

Firstly, why do I write, love, and feature poetry? Do you think it’s something you can’t enjoy or relate to? Many people find, especially with dark poetry, that they can enjoy the raw emotions and like the references to fairytales, mythology, feminism, spirituality (whatever that means to the person), exploration of life and death, or deep and dark ponderings. I’ve had many people tell me with my own work that they had never read poetry till they took a chance on mine and found it relatable and understandable. I know several other dark poets that has happened for as well. I write poetry and feature it because it’s really the most emotional part of the writing process. It’s the truest and most visceral form of writing scenes and emotional snippets of life. Poetry can say so much with little words. We talk through our writing, share our experiences, and learn and connect to each other.

There are all sorts of styles represented just in dark or horror poetry alone, and with it, and often fantasy and science fiction mixes in. However, some of us write other poetry as well: for loved ones, about milestones in life, nature, or love.

Seeing me struggle during this time, Gavin at Kendall Reviews kindly stepped up to help me with shares and hosting for this project, so between his site at Kendall Reviews and mine at Hook of a Book, I’m partnering with him to publish some of the poetry project, called HOOKED ON POETRY. I’m so very thankful to him not only for stepping up to help, but his kindness in reaching out to me. You’ll find mostly both horror and dark poetry in this project but some of the other aforementioned as well. You’ll most likely only find the dark poetry on Kendall Reviews though, to keep with his theme. At Hook of a Book, I feature all types of poetry and genres of books. It’s a great partnership.

HookedOnPoetry

I would have liked it to have been the entire month of April, but as you know the world has been a fly trapped in a tube lately, meaning things have been chaotic and no matter how hard we flap our wings, it’s hard to get anywhere. I like to beat myself up, but I have decided I will not! I work full-time in various facets of publishing, am seemingly on-call from that work at all hours, am a writer myself, and have a busy household without a pandemic (which isn’t in the best of times always conducive to me getting a lot of writing, reviewing, or volunteer projects done after work), but throw in a pandemic and a world gone mad over it, and some days I’m wondering if I’m just treading water… or knock knock… if my brain is still working properly. I’ve not been well mentally or physically lately either so I’m doing the best I can.

I worked during early April asking poets I know and love for submissions, and also did an open call on Twitter from which I’ve had great response and many submissions sent to me. There is some outstanding work here by both established and award-winning poets and also those just getting started. I’m thrilled with the talent that has come my way. I’m excited to publish this poetry and feel that it’s so important poetry still have its voice and time to shine, and so nothing will stop me, even if I must take this throughout part of May. I often already publish poetry for mental health awareness month so I think this will fit in just fine as poetry not only often deal with these issues but can be used to heal and mend. This is a voluntary project, poetry is awesome anytime, and I’m attempting to not worry over timing. So, let’s just celebrate art and those who make it. To those that couldn’t contribute this year, we will miss you and hope to see you back. To new people who are being featured, welcome! To readers, new and old, thanks for joining us.

Starting this week, watch for poetry, reviews of poetry, and articles on poetry to appear on both our sites. I won’t give myself the headache of putting together a schedule to release beforehand, so watch for the posts and learn who is featured via social media. I’m still waiting for a few to turn theirs in as well and I’m cool with people popping up and taking part (just message me). A full schedule with links will be posted afterwards on the poetry page on my site – Oh, for the Hook of a Book – where you can also view poetry from the previous years.

I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of beauty.” – Edgar Allan Poe

Thanks for joining us! Thanks to Gavin and Kendall Reviews for partnering with me. Your support of poetry means so much.

Erin Al-Mehairi
Hooked on Poetry Project
Editor/PR Professional/Owner Hook of Book Media
Twitter: @ErinAlMehairi

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National Poetry Month: Brian James Lewis on Why He Writes and How He Got There, Plus Read Three of His Poems #NationalPoetryMonth #poetry

PoetryMonthGraphic

Today my National Poetry Month project continues as I welcome Brian James Lewis to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Brian is a disabled poet, reviewer, and writer with a friendly and helpful spirit and a talented pen. I found it so interesting reading his post about how he came to writing and why it means so much to him. He’s also shared three of his poems with us below!

Enjoy his pieces and be sure to say hi in the comments or on twitter. Brian enjoys talking writing with others. He’s been a very big supporter of my own work as well as that of my client’s and so I am very thankful for his kindness.

On Why Writing Poetry Gives Me Life

By Brian James Lewis

Happy National Poetry Month everyone! My name is Brian James Lewis and I am a disabled poet, writer, and book reviewer who thinks that writing is as important as breathing. Not in a silly way, but to have a decent quality of life and be a contributing member of society. While I’ve dabbled as a writer for most of my life, I got serious about it when my previously very physical life got put on ice by severe spinal injuries. All of a sudden getting around became a major issue and I was in constant pain. That led to depression, anxiety, and becoming a danger to myself and others. I feel really fortunate that I found a “second life” as a writer.

In 2013, I began sending out stories and poems for publication. Trajectory Journal published my first poem Puppeteer in 2014. Since that time, I’ve been published in Third Wednesday, The Iconoclast, Aphotic Realm, Bards and Sages Quarterly, and the Econoclash Review. Most recently, my poem about a blues club, Blues, is in this month’s issue of SLAB. And my poem Hey Can Lady is in the current issue of The Hickory Stump, a cool online literary zine! I also felt very honored to have my poem Home Sweet Hideaway included in the Unnerving anthology Haunted Are These Houses, released in October of 2018.

Garage Sense was my first “hit” of a poem. It originally appeared in Trajectory Journal issue #13 and in the Editor’s Picks section of their website. A lot of people were like, “Wow! I didn’t know poetry could be like that!” which was exactly what I needed to keep moving forward. For a good couple of years, I wrote a lot of poetry about how frustrated I was and how much pain I was in. Amazingly enough, most of those poems were not picked up by anybody (ha!). Later, I was able to make things a bit smoother and give people a real picture of what it feels like being disabled. Walking After Midnight is a really good example of that without shouting in everyone’s face. Currently, I am expanding more into horror and somewhat Lovecraftian poetry. This recent effort Spellbound Centurion is about a creature that must write itself into being every night or become dust

Many of you might be more familiar with me as a reviewer of speculative fiction and dark poetry, which I started doing in 2016 for the JournalStone sites Hellnotes and Horror Review. I also started my own site Damaged Skull Writer and have guested on Aphotic Realm and Gallows Hill Magazine, a venture I’m hoping will grow into a regular gig! I have met a ton of really great people through reviewing and enjoy being a part of the writing community. Currently I am a member of the SFPA and hope to join the HWA in the near future. I love independent horror and all the really cool people involved! Thanks to everyone who has said a kind word or guided me to a more efficient way of doing things. I appreciate the editors who’ve read my poems and stories and took the time to make a few suggestions. Ideally, I’m hoping to find a paid position working for a magazine, publicity agency, or publisher in the future.

Writing and doing reviews has helped me be a part of things without my disabled body being as much of an issue. Most importantly, it makes me happy and alive. I was a really good mechanic and proud of that. For a while I would introduce myself as the guy who couldn’t do mechanical work anymore. Not real fun for either end of the conversation. Now, I introduce myself as a writer and book reviewer, and that feels just right. Very big thanks to Erin for inviting me to do this. It is an honor!

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Enjoy some of Brian’s poetry!

GARAGE SENSE
First appeared in Trajectory Journal, Issue #13

Nobody would be likely to steal my old Chevy truck, I guess.

Unless they were a fucking idiot. Which is quite possible around here.

Smashed, dented, broken, and leaking everywhere.

It is impossible to start, and even more difficult to keep running.

Unless you know the combination of moves required.

To make the ancient smoking motor roar and growl.

Sure as hell not something they teach you in school.

You learn it all the hard way, by doing it yourself.

People frown on that sort of thing today.

Claiming how unsafe old vehicles are…

“No daytime running lights? No anti-lock brakes?

No airbags? No low tire pressure light?

Call the police, the governor, the president!”

Not trusting what they don’t understand

Modern life is built on fear of everything

From bug bites to flat tires, old cars and grease fires

Then you have the ridiculous new cars and trucks…

With safety features galore, and cup holders

Up the wazoo, along with back-up cameras, DVD

Players, speed sensors, and cars that park themselves

Hell, there’s probably a sensor that knows when you fart

So it can roll down the windows and crank the AC

But, it’s all just a flashy, computerized trap

You can talk to your Aunt Mabel in Ohio

Just speak clearly into your dashboard, and

You can hear all about the boils on Uncle Carl’s ass

While you laugh, and then crash… fatally

Into a huge gravel truck that didn’t even feel you

Mashing yourself and the family into

bloody pulp on his bumper, or better yet,

shaving the roof off your robotic, hypnotic,

super-safety machine, along with your heads

While Aunt Mabel drones on about corn prices

Your car will call the police so that they can

Come scrape what’s left of you and your

Technologically advanced family

Off of route 49 because you got fooled

Meanwhile a drunk guy in an old truck

Backs into a telephone pole

Maybe even knocks it down

Then laughs and drives away without a scratch.

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WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT

I liked to walk after midnight
with my dog on city streets

We’d go so far – blocks and blocks
neither of us afraid

Because the dog protected me and
I did the same for him

Which might sound funny or puzzling
but it’s just the honest truth

Both of us saved each other many
more times than once

I kept him from being run down by cars
He saved me from muggers

But now, I’m disabled and it’s hard
just to walk down the hall

My dog is hobbled by arthritis and
we’re both in a medicated fog

Yet, at night during sleep we both dream
that we’re walking after midnight

We walk for miles, just he and I, going on
until we’re woken by the cruel sunrise

_________________________________________

SPELLBOUND CENTURION

When the dawn comes
my body shrinks away
from its effervescent light
that pokes at my tired eyes
like white hot laser beams
meant to destroy my vampiric body

I only live for the nights
spent mostly alone and cursing
this balky typewriter and what
you fools think of as a life
Pah! Tis but a mere hour
to this ancient centurion

The city I reside in is perfect for
what I do inside its crumbling walls
of wasted post-industrial buildings
Abandoned hulks housing squatters
engaged in depravity known only
by the lowest creatures

Who are my favorites by the way
because they make such easy pickings
yielding up the whisky, wine, and heroin
polluting their bloodstreams into mine
offering a lovely high and sustenance
that fulfills most of my desires

It always starts with the words
that escalate into spells
enrapturing me and waking
my ravenous hunger which
turns me back into my true form
a twisted nightmare creature

Burnt flesh sprouts wings
of skeletal flapping parchment
that fly into others’ dreams
causing hellish fever and pain
driving even the most rational
of people deep into madness

Hunched and shaking
they whimper and scream
Music to this old beast’s ears!
Minds melting as they see
something they refuse to believe
but there’s no denying the truth

So I am allowed to exist
Dismissed by “sensible” folk
and fervently worshipped by
those blessed with imagination
and the ability to see our world
of gauze wrapped shapes in the fog

Undead creatures hidden
in your world until the spells
that we must write ourselves
pull our false coverings away
and send us out into the night
to feed and collect life essence

The key is to never take too much
or overstep my boundaries
Unless I wish to die yet again
at the hands of Christian
torch-bearing folk who know
the secrets of my immortality

I am not the Devil
and most certainly not a god
my lineage is closer to that
of the gargoyles or gryphon
but without sacred blessings
So I am a monster

Savoring a smorgasbord
city during the hot nights
when the windows are open
Allowing me to just blow in
on the fitful breezes or
be sucked inside by a fan

But I never touch animals
those trusted spirit guides
into the next world
They are true innocents
and take too much abuse
from their “masters” as it is

Nothing in any world
can be totally evil or
every atom to the good
I have my purposes
but it is rare for anyone
who sees me to listen

A pity, but not my problem
that people are so set
on what reality should be
Meanwhile, I drink blood,
stay alive, and clear the streets
of dead men walking

Now my eyelids grow heavy
The spells only last so long
which means that it’s time
to draw the curtains and
transform so I may sleep
until the darkness calls again

_____________________________

Brian James Lewis, Info –

Flannel author pic

Brian James Lewis is an emerging disabled poet and writer, for whom writing is as important as breathing. After an accident left him with spinal injuries and mental health problems, Brian turned to writing as a way to feel better and channel energy positively. He writes in a wide variety of styles has appeared in Bards And Sages Quarterly, the EconoClash Review, Aphotic Realm, and the Haunted Are These Houses anthology of poetry and stories published by Unnerving. Brian is also a member of the Journalstone and Gallows Hill book review teams, SFPA, and the Academy of American Poets. When he has time, Brian repairs vintage typewriters and uses them for first drafts.

Contact or find more infomation on Brian James Lewis at his site Damaged Skull Writer or follow and talk to him on twitter: @skullsnflames76.

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National Poetry Month: Poetry from Bram Stoker Award Winner Stephanie Wytovich #nationalpoetrymonth #poetry

April is National Poetry Month and because I write, read, and love poetry, I’m featuring poetry on my site this month! You’ll find poetry, articles, reviews, and more so stop by often. Yesterday, Bram Stoker Award winning poet Marge Simon brought us a wonderful article called “Illumination Dark Poetry” with various examples of her poetry, which you can find here.

Today, please enjoy some samples from Bram Stoker Award winning dynamo, Stephanie Wytovich. I dare you not to feel.

Thanks for sharing with us, Stephanie!

crescent moon

Surgical Fantasies of the Past Ten years
Originally Published in Yes, Poetry

I tattoo incision lines on my stomach,
dream about surgically removing my ugliness.

At sixteen, the girls put laxatives in my peppermint tea,
laughed at me in the mirror when I tried to scream away my calories.

At 26, I cried in the shower when my skin didn’t fall off,
vomited the memories of my ex telling me I was diseased.

Inside, my lungs are a crawl space filled with candy wrappers,
my ribs broken from too many bathroom breaks ending in blood.

There are 206 bones in the human body,
Tell me, how many are in a monster?

 

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Emergency Masturbation Fantasy
Originally Published in Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare

I masturbate to an empty chair

My hand moving up and down

like yours never did

I try to see your face

Scream your name

But     I       can’t

And I wonder if you exist

If my memories are from photographs of people I never met

Whose stories I don’t know

I climax to your eyes

Taste the saliva on your lips

But       I           don’t

Because you’re an empty chair

And my box is broken

Like yours never was

I should stop blaming myself

Quit bleeding for sport

But       I           won’t.

 

___

 

Post-Traumatic Spiders
Originally Published in Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare

My doctor scribbled in her notepad,

“What do you want to talk about today?”

I was already crying

I ate all the cough drops on the table when she wasn’t looking

Her dog was asleep on my foot

I just left my one-night stand in the parking lot.

Frustration wore on her face like the foundation she forgot to wear

“Are the nightmares back?”

I spun my ring around my thumb

I thought about how you said I wore too much jewelry

I tongued the scar on the inside of my cheek

The tarantulas are everywhere.

Her right foot tapped against the carpeted floor

“You know it’s okay, right? That none of this is your fault?”

I didn’t believe her

I felt its legs crawling up my shoulder

I watched it watch me.

I could have stopped it. I could have said no.

 Fifty minutes passed like fifty seconds

“Same time again next Wednesday?

I nodded my head

I picked the spider off my cheek

I swallowed the web it had spun around my mouth

The silk tasted like semen and blood.

Stephanie M. Wytovich, Biography –

Wytovich Headshot_4Stephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her work has been showcased in numerous anthologies such as Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Fantastic Tales of Terror, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror: Volume 2, The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 8, as well as many others.

Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Western Connecticut State University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Point Park University, and a mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction.

Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, and Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press.

Follow Wytovich on her blog and on twitter @SWytovich​.

Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare is her most recent collection. Read about it here!

Sheet Music Front CoverSheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare, Info –

Roll the windows down, wipe the blood off your cheek, and turn the music up. Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare by Stephanie M. Wytovich is a collection spattered with dirt and blood, sage and corpses. The poems inside are confessionals and dirges, their stories the careful banter of ghosts and sinners over tequila at the bar.

These pages hold the lyrics to the beautiful grotesque that Wytovich is known for, but here she writes with a raw honesty that we haven’t seen from her before. This new direction takes readers to hospital rooms and death beds, shows the mask that was skinned off her face time and time again. There’s a brutality to her lines that cuts with the same knife she fantasized about it, her blood and tears mixed in with stanzas as she talks about suicide and abuse, heartbreak and falling in love.

Written during a time when the road was her home, these poems were sung under the stars and screamed in the woods, carved into trees. They are broken bottles and cigarette butts, stale coffee and smeared lipstick, each its own warning, a tale of caution.
Listen to them carefully.

They very well might save your life.

Find it on GoodReads to Add or Buy.

Stop back tomorrow for a post from Sara Tantlinger. Then, join us next week when we highlight a bunch more wonderful poetry. Have a great week!

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