Hibernaculum (Lesley Wheeler)

Paper snowflakes, punchbowl, lecherous colleagues. A science-based
sun leaves the party early. Pissed off. Her allegations, evidence-based.

Lest she mount a solstitial harassment case, Mr. Entitlement
deducts words from her mouth. His trepidations, evidence-based.

Meanwhile, a chill propagates. Meanwhile, impeachment’s a fetus
refusing birth and other deportations. Evidence-based

bacteria could violate its airtight NDAs. A virulent diversity
infect it. For that bad baby, no due date’s in evidence. Based

on current models, however, he’s doomed. All syllables will be transgender.
All punctuation will be fluid. Contamination will proceed with haste.

Talk dirty to us, change. Wheel like a season. Winter’s always vulnerable
to sunlight’s disclosure. Words do return. Their germination’s evidence-based.

 

Lesley Wheeler’s books include Radioland and the chapbook Propagation.
http://lesleywheeler.org/
http://barrowstreet.org/press/book/radioland-lesley-wheeler/
https://dulcetshop.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/propagation-leslie-wheeler
Inspiration: When I wrote this broken ghazal I was sick as a dog, virally and existentially. Robert Macfarlane’s word of the day (12/18/17, “hibernaculum”) helped the fragments come together.

To Those Who May Be Listening [Alicia Hoffman]

Yesterday, on NPR, a man from the Pentagon’s Advanced
Aerospace Threat Identification program was interviewed
about alien spacecrafts, the vulnerable 5-35 pilots catching
glimpses of unidentified flying objects and, risking ridicule,
reporting them. The man, welcome to the entitlement
of his own opinions, thank you, insisted we are not alone.
And now, on another feed, the diversity of our galaxies
reveal an additional interstellar object, elongated in shape
and in no way human science-based. Of course, we fail
to find evidence-based conclusions. The things move
too damn fast. We can only look at the spreadsheet of stars
in our own small slice of sky and wonder: if extraterrestrial
vessels made contact would they only laugh at our fetus-
like brains, so small we cannot, even now, grasp the heady
concepts of transgender restrooms, institutional racism,
equal pay? What would they say of our politics, our president,
the way we hand entertainers who throw balls astronomical
amounts of money while our educators slave away for a
small check they shell out immediately for a mortgage?
Please, I beg of you, if you can hear us, we need you.
We need you to tell us it will be okay, that we are perhaps
only in the infancy of our existence, and that maybe, just
maybe, if we can find the right words, and use them
in the right way, our language could hold us up, make us
brave enough to ask for help, please, before it’s too late.

 

Alicia Hoffman lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. Author of Railroad Phoenix, (Kelsay Books, 2017), her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including Penn Review, SOFTBLOW, Redactions, A-Minor Magazine, and elsewhere. Find out more at: aliciamariehoffman.com.

Inspiration: Soon after reading about the list of words banned from CDC documents, I listened to an interview on NPR with the head of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program where he admitted the existence of UFOs. So, here we are, engaged in the pitiful spectacle of censorship, when we could be spending valuable time exploring our relationship to the wider universe and perhaps communicating with who, or what, is out there.

Disinformation [Lori Brack]

You said you loved us, and we thought you meant
curled fetus love, snuggled warm blood love, cozy
heart-pumping love of all that’s vulnerable:
nuclear winter to Orlando’s frozen Thames love,
his – no, her – transgender glittering mirror-self’s
unfettered love for the bric-a-brac of democracy—
discourse, diversity, equality.
What’s it to you, who doomed us to the cold
like spies skulking around with our evidence-based tools
jangling against words like enrichment, enforcement,
entitlement? Undercover, we speak with an accent
while despite you we encode the fallout, hoard these few
science-based relics of our recent past inside poems
because these are the last places you would ever look.

 

Lori Brack’s poems and essays have been published in journals (including Another Chicago Magazine, The Fourth River, Superstition Review, Mid-American Review) and anthologies (most recently, Rooted: The Best New Arboreal Nonfiction) since 2002. She manages a new project dedicated to developing Kansas artists in all genres.

Inspiration: The day after the CDC list appeared in the news, I saw a poem using them on social media and had an online conversation with poet friend Karen Craigo about trying our hands at the same thing. She alerted me to this project which gave me the impetus to mix the absurdity of banning words with my concerns about the rising threat of conflict with North Korea and my long obsession with Virginia Woolf’s writing.

 

Fear [Annie Reid]

Tolerance is an entitlement from the insects
each day they allow us to be vulnerable in
their world. They could choose to consume
us off the face of the earth in a single year.
This is science-based, this is not a lie we tell
ourselves to tantalize our sense of safety.
Some insects are transgender, far beyond your
limits: animals too, even the ones you call daughters
and sons. Diversity cannot be contained; sea-creatures
not yet known to humanity are reproducing without
binaries in the darkest crevices of the oceans. All
of this is evidence-based, all with antecedents far
more tangible than your mere will. It’s fun
to think you are endangered, as long as
you are safe. But if you really want to
scare yourself, think of the fetus growing
without your god, who has not given each
creature a purpose known to man. Consider the
seamonsters, unnamed in the depths, swimming
in the poisoned seas, waiting for their time
to come again. And think of the mercy of the
insects, as they consider you from the corners
of their kingdom, legs bent in their webs, as though
searching the air, sensing the vibrations, awaiting the
limit of a threshold.

 

Annie Reid is an American now living in Sweden. She’s published short fiction in several magazines, including American Short Fiction, Alaska Quarterly Review, Another Chicago Magazine, The Baltimore Review, Nimrod, and Prism International, among others. She has only recently begun writing poetry and this is her first published poem.

Inspiration: I began to think about the existential arrogance around the policing of language, as though we knew perfectly the moral compass of the universe, and the presumption that we’re in charge of it. This poem was an exploration of the fact that we don’t even know whose mercy we have the grace to survive under.

 

 

Solstice Alternative [Gianna Russo]

The beautyberry is vanishing
in the side yard, vulnerable
to Florida’s December,
the thermometer and science-based
lapses in climate.
Leaves droop, hot gray fetuses,
suspended. Branches poke up,
round out, transgendered,
purple-gemmed, but dwindling.
The soil is not soil
but sand, sans the entitlements
of minerals. Here: something’s waning.
Something’s fading.
Like the beautyberry.
Someplace else
creates a diversity
of solstices, longest nights, shortest days,
all of it evidence-based and pagan.

 

Gianna Russo is the author of Moonflower, winner of a Florida Book Award bronze medal and founding editor of YellowJacket Press (russo15.wordpress.com and www.yellowjacketpress.org).

Inspiration: As an organic gardener, I rely on science and evidence to help my plants thrive. A lifetime lover of the natural world, I got my inspiration by looking at the native beautyberry plant in my yard that has been slowly, mysteriously dying. Somehow, its death seems to mime the slow assault on truth we are witnessing. (By the way, in a similar instance, in 2015 our governor, Rick Scott, issued an edict that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection could not use the words “climate change” or “global warming” in official documents. Still can’t.)

Hibernaculum (Lesley Wheeler)

Paper snowflakes, punchbowl, lecherous colleagues. A science-based
sun leaves the party early. Pissed off. Her allegations, evidence-based.

Lest she mount a solstitial harassment case, Mr. Entitlement
deducts words from her mouth. His trepidations, evidence-based.

Meanwhile, a chill propagates. Meanwhile, impeachment’s a fetus
refusing birth and other deportations. Evidence-based

bacteria could violate its airtight NDAs. A virulent diversity
infect it. For that bad baby, no due date’s in evidence. Based

on current models, however, he’s doomed. All syllables will be transgender.
All punctuation will be fluid. Contamination will proceed with haste.

Talk dirty to us, change. Wheel like a season. Winter’s always vulnerable
to sunlight’s disclosure. Words do return. Their germination’s evidence-based.

 

Lesley Wheeler’s books include Radioland and the chapbook Propagation.
http://lesleywheeler.org/
http://barrowstreet.org/press/book/radioland-lesley-wheeler/
https://dulcetshop.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/propagation-leslie-wheeler
Inspiration: When I wrote this broken ghazal I was sick as a dog, virally and existentially. Robert Macfarlane’s word of the day (12/18/17, “hibernaculum”) helped the fragments come together.