National Poetry Month Round-up

We were very fortunate this year to be able to celebrate National Poetry Month with two major events: one with the emerging poets of the ID13 Prison Literacy Project and one with three established, award-winning poets in collaboration with the Ohioana Book Festival!

We Are Human. We Write: Poetry Readings Featuring ID13 Prison Literacy Project Poets

The first was our collaboration with the ID13 Prison Literacy Project with readings from the work of individuals working with the project around Ohio. Dr. Christopher Dum of Kent State University moderated the event and gave a wonderful summary of the work of the project as well as where the term ID13 itself originated. Both poets and mentors read the works, and we are very excited to be able to share a recording of the event through our Facebook page. We’ve also received permission to share some of the work that was read here on our page.

The recording of the event is available at our Facebook page! We highly encourage you to click over there to view it!

You can also find more work by ID13 poets collected in a series of chapbooks available at the website. Also mentioned during the event (which you’ll see on the recording) is mention of Austin’s poem A Small Needful Fact as well as the Cleveland Magazine article: How A Prison Writing Group Is Helping Inmates Find Their Voice (Jan. 14, 2019)

The following is a selection of the works read during the event.

Beyond Fantasy
by E.L.
(Read by Bengt George)

Can you see me in these words in the sounds of the airs as it ushers the oxygen combined with h2 in all solids and liquids?
Can you see me through the windows to my soul the ocular cavities that presents its messages to the lightless void between my ears?
Can you see these thoughts the vision of completion that is but isn't only my mentality?
Can you see beyond the vast layers of mask that covers the beauties that is the natural form of me?
Can you see the dancing rays playing with the darkness the red orbs orbiting my silhouette saturating the emptiness that is my caged reality?
Can you see my challenges the reachless heights of my deformities my effortless efforts to just be?
Can you see the beings behind the voices that operate on my decisions like a doctors precision incisions blurring my good vision to do righteousness in this surgery of my life path?
Can you see me spearheading the separation of science and math the maniacal unachievable fact in this statement because clearly there is a division like light and time?
Do you have vision to see beyond the negative presumptions created by your own personal reflections and prejudmental prejudice. Do you see I am you and everyone else is me?
Can you see our similarities?
Can you see that when the power of love overcomes the love of power that we can find peace?
I was born Elijah before I became human but can you see?
Noticing that they kill the positive people and let the demons run free?
What is the evil eye without the images you repeatedly show clearly?
Open your mind and …See beyond the fantasy.

by Bryant Espinoza
(Read by Eric Sandy)

All American and all about achievements.
Better believe before blueprints become achievements.
Caring can conceive complex core content, creating creative achievements.
Don't do deceitful deeds, Everyone exceeds, embracing everyone's achievements,
Formulating for future financial freedom from future achievements,
Good goals garnish greater achievements.
Halt hate hater, harness hopes, help hone happier achievements.
In instances I'm ignorant. ilI inquire intellectual informed ideas important in implementing individual idealistic achievements.
Judgemental jealous jailbirds joke, just Keep Knowledge, keep knuckling-down/ knocking out achievements.
Love life, live life, live large. live legendary. Let's leave legacies like lifelong achievements.
Magnificent management means more money, more money means many more memories, motivation means meeting milestone achievements.
Nobody needs negativity nor neglect, Next networking nourishes notable achievements.
Others' occupations open our opportunities. offering outstanding odds on ongoing achievements.
Passion powers permanent achievements.
Quick quality achievements.
Represents responsible results releasing Self confidence steadily strengthening self-esteem, stop selling self short, setbacks suck sometimes. so stay strong, start showcasing self's achievements.
The task today takes time, tackle tough times. Understand underachieved achievements
Very valuable validating various Widespread achievements.
X-Ray Yourself your Zen zones "Achievements"

Kings and Queens
by Jason Kahler
Grateful acknowledgement is given to the editors of Club Plum, Vol. 1 Issue 3, where this poem first appeared.

We run holding hands, smelling of french fries and chicken chunks, heading for the giant, inflatable, bouncy hamburger to fool around in under a cool, Michigan summer-night sky. Our shadow is a dragon in the passing cars’ headlights. The dinner rush remains on our uniforms, ketchup on my non-slip shoes, ketchup on my shirt, your hair smells like onion rings and my lips taste like salt.

 Orange degreaser beneath our fingernails, hands rubbed raw, we’ll never be this dirty or this clean. We knew everything, rich at seventeen, cannonballing through the world, always you and me until it wasn’t. 

 Before I engineered our destruction, before I abandoned you for fear and you left me for love, before I invented new ways to hurt you.

 Pickle Lady, our weeknight regular, we knew, sold herself from the Motor Lodge: chicken sandwich, thirty pickles, and how could she tell if there were twenty-eight or thirty-one but I counted them, made that sandwich lumpy and vinegary. Glorious and wet in its wrapper. Me, judging her stringy hair and the way she walked through the drive-thru. Me, driving the car my parents gave me. She thanked me each time and disappeared behind the menu.

 How many of our customers still eat there? Where is Pickle Lady, or the old lady who ordered french fries no salt and salted them at her table? 

 Who visits her grave?

 That one time the sky turned green and the tornado touched down in the field across the street. Hiding in the walk-in freezer. Didn’t someone try to place an order in the drive-thru as the end lurched in the farmer’s field?

 I got to be your hero that day. The gas shut-off on the outside wall, behind the shrubbery. Over my shoulder, the sky inhaling, holding its breath. I cranked the handle and the broiler went dark on its way to cold and maybe that’s the last time you were excited by the pride you felt being with me.

 I was the genius of the grill: extra onions or no onions, mustard and mayo, time-and-a-half every Thanksgiving. And you were the pretty eyes behind the speaker, a smile for every burger, smart with the money. A car full of band clothes and plans. 

 Cardboard crowns on our heads.

Works by Jason Ranger
Read by Dr. Rhonda Baughman

A Winter Day

cut zigzags
in wintery expanse.
to excise Nature's
icy fallout.
A ballet for two
where rivers of symmetry meet.
vis a vis.
placed haphazard
amongst crooked eaves.
Dripped silent
tears hint at
frozen impermanence.
A still image
laid prone and fragile.
Objet d'art.
jet stream lines
through a twilight interlude.
Long shadows
casted against a
cold day's per diem.
A streetlight tattoo
played bright in falsetto.
Au revoir!

Super Dustball

Super Dustball rolling across the floor
around the corner and out the door.
You turned and bounded down the stair
picking up dirt and strands of hair.
You stopped and shivered caught in a draft
I watched from the window and belly laughed!
You launched into the air and tried to pretend
you were only a bird caught in a whirlwind.
You settled down as if to nap and
then you were stopped by the sweeper's trap!
You ducked and dodged and made your escape
lucky you remembered your Superman cape.
You started to roll across the floor
past Clark the cat and out the door.
We stood and watched as you flew away
there goes Super Dustball to save the day!

Works by David Richards
Read by Evelyn Ting

In Her Eyes

A baby in my lap so small
 Somehow thrives and grows.
 Her life, her spark, is magical.
 Look in her eyes, she knows
 Every joy and each sorrow
 Yet lived and not yet borne.
 Among the blind tomorrows,
 Negotiate the thorns.
 Do you see her? There! Alive!
 Victorious - her son!
 In spite of all the years gone by
 No matter the pain, its done.
 Nuzzling this beautiful boy, because
 Yesterdays are past. See? Its in her eyes.


There are no cabooses on
           trains anymore.
 Just a small, sad light strapped
           to the last car.
 A dim, red reminder of the
           color it replaced.
 A small knob rode on top
           like a Lego.
 (The sleeping compartment).

 When I was a child, my block
          was a dead-end.
 The tracks behind my house
          passed a ditch.
 We lived near an intersection
          with a crossing,
 The engine would detach from the train
           towing a boxcar.
 (The boxcar was full of lumber).

 Us kids would stand in the
           shallow ditch,
 Feeling the rumble in our
 Hearing the squeaks of the springs
           and the wheels;
 Tasting the dares of our friends to
           grab on and jump.
 (Feeling pretty good we didn't.)

 The warehouse at the
          dead-end would be
 Waiting for the engine to
           deliver the boxcar.
 It would then return
           by itself,
 To retrieve the rest of
           the train.
 (Here comes the caboose.)

 The train would be moving
           very slowly,
 Because the engine would then
           stop by the
 Delicatessen next to the
           lumber warehouse;
 And the caboose would end up
           right by my house.
 (The cabooseman was expecting us.)

 There he would stand, so tall,
          at the back door
 Looking at us kids fidgeting
           in the ditch.
 He would toss out candy, smiles,
           and sometimes
 When there were only one or two
           of us kids,
 (He would let us come aboard).

 We would grab his huge
           calloused hand
 As he pulled us up to
           his world
 We would be awed by the
           stifled silence,
 The cramped quiet, the
           dim, hazy light
 (The smell of warmth and smoke.)

 Then the train grumbled like
           a great beast,
 A mighty blast of its
           air brakes;
 Our pockets full of
           chewy candy
 (It was time to go).

Views by E.L. (click to read online at the ID13 Project website)

Baggage by Worth (click to read online at the ID13 Project website)

Read by Theresa Göttl Brightman

Ekphrastic: The Art of Poetry

Our second poetry event was in collaboration with the Ohioana Book Festival and featured three established Ohio poets: David Lee Garrison, Kip Knott, and DE Zuccone.

The recording of the live session is also available at our Facebook page! We encourage you to take a look at the lively discussion and readings there.

book cover

David Lee Garrison’s work has appeared widely in journals and anthologies, and two poems from his book Sweeping the Cemetery were read by Garrison Keillor on his national radio show, The Writer’s Almanac. The title poem from his “Playing Bach in the DC Metro” was featured by US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser on his website, American Life in Poetry, and read on the BBC in London. David won the Paul Laurence Dunbar Poetry Prize in 2009 and was named Ohio Poet of the Year in 2014. His most recent book is Light in the River.

book cover

Kip Knott’s debut full-length collection of poetry — Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom, and so on — was published in 2020; his second collection — Clean Coal Burn — is forthcoming in 2021, and his third book of poetry entitled Hinterlands has just recently been accepted by Versification Publishing House and will also be out later this year. His writing and photography have appeared in numerous journals and magazines throughout the U.S. and abroad. Kip is also a regular monthly contributor to Versification. He has received grants from the Ohio Arts Council in both poetry and playwriting and is the author of five poetry chapbooks. Currently, Kip is a teacher and an art dealer living in Delaware, Ohio. His official website is

Dominic Zuccone was born in Youngstown Ohio, has a B.A. in Theology and Education from Xavier University, and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Dom has published poetry in numerous journals and anthologies and curated the on-line poetry discussion Ex Libris. He was also on the Board of Directors for Houston’s “Public Poetry” and has been a featured reader in Houston, Brooklyn, Taos, and Los Angeles, in addition to being a frequent reader at Archway Gallery and the Menil Museum in Houston and Words & Art at Rice University. His recently published collection of poems is entitled Vanishes. You can visit him online at

The following is a selection from the readings our panelists gave during the event. You can read them below or link to their text online. Enjoy!

Kip Knott “Rust and Blue” and “Watching 2001 with My Son the Film Major
Dom Zuccone “Knucklehead
David Lee Garrison “Bach in the DC Subway(Note: You can see the video of Joshua Bell playing in the DC subway here on YouTube.)

Two more poems by David Lee Garrison that appear in the session…

Memento Mori

Imperative in Latin, remember
you must die, becomes a noun phrase
in English, reminder of death;
in painting it’s the skull
set like a paperweight on the desk
of a priest, or nestled among
the eggs and apples of a still life.
The curve of ashen bone
becomes the bend in the road
that wanders into nothingness—
momento mori, moment of death—
the phrase misquoted, the idea clear.
Cancer forced me to imagine sockets
that once held eyes, dead teeth still
in place. My friend may have seen
the skull as he slumped into a chair
and died, and Donna, with cancer
in her marrow, dreamed it for months.
She brought cookies for everyone
in radiation, and one day we talked
about the loneliness that drifts in like fog
when nurses leave you laid out
half-naked, head flat on the metal table,
listening for the beam, waiting for the light.
The Fifties by the Numbers

 Five, six, and seven became
 brown, red, and yellow leaves
 reflecting in the lake,
 four gave silver
 to the sailboat masts,
 and with number three
 you made the sky.
 As the artist,
 you identified yourself
 in the right hand
 bottom corner on two,
 the deepest water.
 White was number one,
 and there was no black at all.
 The whole thing—brushes, paints,
 light gray outlines on canvas—
 came in a box. You knew
 the proper place and color
 for everything and everyone,
 and your picture was always perfect
 if you never crossed the lines.

Thank you to all those who made our National Poetry Month a success! We are impressed by the talents of all the poets that graciously shared their work at our two events!