Poems from Federal Poets

About storing things you have said

Things you have said

can be salted and stored

in large casks, to be thrown overboard

in case of pursuit.

Make them palatable for further digestion

by soaking them for hours ahead of use.

Be careful which hold you pack them in:

always put the heavier things

in the lower hold, in the stern,

so that you do not founder

in a making sea.

Pam Blehert

* * *

Blown Up

Ultimate Destruction

wedded my best girl.

I thought they’d never

make it as a couple:

a nuclear shade of winter

and the color of spring,

one diminishing

stars and black holes,

the other helping build

floats for a parade

heading straight into

TV cameras.

Too many of their interests

wouldn’t mesh, though

the sex would slay them

both with euphoria,

the Reaper reluctant

to give either up.

Maybe this is about how

I failed to offer her anything

but a thumbs up when

she decided to paint life

black with her fortunes.

How I stepped into a garden

and simply fell asleep

for a thousand years.

How she wasn’t able to find me,

though the signs glowed

like Vegas, my breath blew up.

Donald Illich

* * *

The Help

“You have something on your butt,” she said

she had been sitting and reading, “The Help,”

and didn’t appear to notice her boyfriend

until she looked up and found some imperfection

a slice of light brown not really like [expletive]

but more like something that might fall from an ice cream cone.

He was standing with his side to her, holding onto the pole,

earlier he had let her sit down

She rose from her seat, letting go of the book,

walked over to him, crouching down, level with his [expletive],

and with her pointing-finger

she began to flick off the mysterious dropping that had obviously

upset her sense of him.

She rolled the grime between her thumb and her finger

until it disappeared perhaps into her own skin

or maybe it dropped to the floor

and she put her finger to her nose, sniffed, then smiled,

sat back down and continued reading her book.

He instantly tried to help, reaching with his hand and pulling at his pants

then pressing the flesh of himself, trying to get the stuff off,

but, she had already done the work.

She was the help.

He could have been her lover, her husband, her date,

but reading about the maids of rich people absorbed her more

than her boyfriend whose tall body must not have any imperfections.

I imagined that their sex life was incredible but probably very clean

and then the train stopped, he found a seat next to her.

she read, her played a game on his iphone, and it was Friday night.

I got off at the next stop and wondered what it would be like

to be so young, so clean, and filled with so little to say.

Nancy Allinson

* * *


I told my mother I did not want any babies

I lied

I wanted babies I wanted a creche full of babies

I wanted babies

sweet round babies

Like bowls of m & ms Like marshmallows

Whose roly poly bodies

you could pour on your face

piles of babies Babies you could wrap yourself in

like bubble paper The world could not crack or injure you

because you were wrapped in babies

My husband did not agree

We had a big fight Not about babies

He thought it would be a good idea to pave

the back yard so we wouldn’t have to more any more

Of course we divorced

A few years later I met someone who preferred

living matter to construction material

I fell in love when he told me he was driving

his Red 1972 Road Runner to work

when he found

his neighbor’s cat had been hit by someone’s car

and instead of going to work he took Buttercup

to the vet swaddling her in his jacket

He noted how her blood fell like cinnamon balls

to roll beneath her fur until they flattened

She cried and bit his arm when he laid her in the car

determined to rescue her

even though I knew what her heart’s stain would

do to his white leather seat

Ellen Cole

* * *

Poems from Hart Middle School students


Forgive me unnamed. I lost

my daddy before I was


Forgive me he never said

what he said. He never took

back his word.

I don’t know what I

became. Forgive me. An anger


books on the floor,


ripped paper under my feet.

Tamera Pearson

* * *

Poem to the Unborn Child

You weren’t born into

this world because I

was not ready to

have you because I

would be lonely I

wasn’t ready to have

a family yet, I would

gaze out the window

and wonder and think

about not telling my

child about what I said

and how I said it.

Seleen Ford

* * *

Get Your Elbow Off The Table

I was raised by get your elbow

off the table, don’t never say you’re

not able, get dat money real faithful

type of family.

Always on my back, never let me

slack, they always stay packed

Do anything for me, loved me to the

max type family.

Get your butt in this house

fore I tear you up. Always

drinking out the juice cup

type family.

Tore up off the goose

put a lil cranberry in it to

give it a boost, come over

here and give Grandma a

smooch type family.

Hand me the remote right

here beside me, move out of

the way of the TV I can’t see

type family.

Come here boy, then smack

me in my head, I know you

ain’t wet your bed, even though

I did, I’d tell her it’s water instead

type family.

You better do your homework

beat with the belt had me crying

like water type family.

Davon Ford

* * *

I Be

I be of DC

I be a block from Eastover

I be having glitter in my hair

I be goofy all the time

I be happy all the time

I be cute a lot I be having nothing to do

playing with my puppy I be

eating popcorn on the couch I be

Wingate all the time. I be school I be

all the fun times I be loving my family I be

I be happy because the world makes

me and I be

Bernice Caldwell

* * *


Your rules are


we make up, like


touch. The

endzone is

wherever we

like, by

the trashcan


the corner


the trash

of dirty

beds. Ant’s


hit the

back of


truck and still

he caught

the ball.

Devin Jenkins