Katie Daley has, in her time, scrubbed the toilets of poets and mowed the fairways of gangsters. Her work has appeared in various journals and on stages across North America, and she is a seasoned semi-finalist of four National Poetry Slams. In collaboration with her husband, she writes and performs in the band Drifters Inn, a weaving of guitars, banjos, spoken word, and song.
Reasons to Be Cheerful in an Age of Really Bad News
There are breachmenders in the world
they advertise their expertise on the sides of trucks
There are tea kettles that moan like trains
Entire evenings that smell like rain
The county prison library is full of adult romance novels
with the last three pages torn out
Your heart is still versatile enough
to beat in that holy emptiness between your legs
Between earthworms & stars
us & us
Every blister runs out of fester & steam
All eras weep & fade
You've seen worse days
Maria Callas & Deep Purple shatter the same courtyard
under the same blue dome of morning
While at the other end of town
carpenters sang between hammer beats
about how pretty they are
in a fungus lab, under a piano, by a river
Tablefuls of old French farmers once stood,
raised their glasses in your direction
& wished you good courage
as you struggled through the square
under the weight of your hunger and your burdens
You've bought warm loaves of bread from strangers
& carried each one home in the crook of your arm
Cretan widows have left peanut butter jars
full of wildflowers on your doorstep
And finally, & always, you must remember that
in a laundromat somewhere not far from here
it’s entirely possible
that a naked accordionist is still playing a polka
while the other patrons
strip down to their underwear
David Hassler directs the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. In 2009, he cofounded Traveling Stanzas, a community arts project which creates illustrations in response to poems generated from community workshops in schools, healthcare facilities, libraries, senior centers, and veterans’ organizations. Hassler is the author or editor of nine books of poetry and nonfiction, including Red Kimono, Yellow Barn; Growing Season: The Life of a Migrant Community; and Speak a Powerful Magic: Ten Years of the Traveling Stanzas Poetry Project.
Beneath a thin layer of soil, along vast fungal networks, trees talk to one another, warning of insect attacks. They have evolved as allies. We, too, are relational beings, what trees breathe out, we breathe in. The earth is a vast lung of which we are a part.
When George Floyd gasped, “I can’t breathe,” his dying words became a rallying cry, another distress signal to wake up and activate a seedbed in our bodies to dismantle systemic racism and white supremacy. Can white America learn from the trees to work as allies and honor the breath of Georgy Floyd?
Launched by poets Mark Flanigan and Jim Palmarini in 2014, Word of Mouth was inspired by the late Cincinnati poet Aralee Strange. Poets of all stripes are welcome to show up, listen, and mouth off.