Labor Day Storm, 2021 tanka
by Gerard Sarnat
Now, listen to this, and I'll tell you 'bout the Texas
I'll tell you 'bout the Texas radio
I'll tell you 'bout the hopeless night
Wandering the Western dream
Tell you 'bout the maiden with wrought iron soul
— The Doors, Texas Radio and the Big Beat
Let’s use holiday
not just for leisure, but to
dedicate energy so
Court’s new abortion rules won’t
force women into labor.
Bio: Gerard Sarnat won San Francisco Poetry’s 2020 Contest, the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for handfuls of 2021 and previous Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published including in Hong Kong Review, Tokyo Poetry Journal, Buddhist Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, Arkansas Review, Hamilton-Stone Review,Northampton Review, New Haven Poetry Institute, Texas Review, Vonnegut Journal, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, Monterey Poetry Review, The Los Angeles Review, and The New York Times as well as by Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Penn, Columbia, North Dakota and University of Chicago presses. He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles, Disputes, 17s, Melting the Ice King. Gerry is a Harvard-trained physician who’s built and staffed clinics for the marginalized as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he is devoting energy/ resources to deal with climate justice, and serves on Climate Action Now’s board. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids plus six grandsons, and is looking forward to potential future granddaughters.
by Joan Mazza
He struggles up the two shallow steps
to the lectern, excited to lead a discussion
at the library about possibilities of the future:
directed human evolution through genetic
modifications. We’ve already improved
our bodies with new knees and hips,
pacemakers and prosthetics. Next up—
nanotechnologies and uploading consciousness
to an immortal digital system while
freeing us from the entropy of fragile bodies.
The future will give us better memories,
more creativity, strength, endurance,
perhaps the wisdom to get along
and not be run by unconscious longings,
desire determined by hormones, family
myths, and religion. For a moment,
he loses his way in a mind gone cloudy
with pain and medication, but finds
again his footing his chosen path, tripping
but not falling. He’s eager for this future
where robots will do grunt work,
where everyone will have enough.
Pleasure might be virtual, but will feel
real. A world without malaria or anemia,
without hunger and bombs. We’re on
a trajectory toward peaceful lives
where we can develop our full potential,
conquer the resistance of pathogens
and those who don’t want to learn. Celebrate
the curious, the innovators. He emails
links to videos, recommends books,
says he doesn’t want a simple, dull
contentment. He wants to be on fire.
Outside the cool library, the sun is burning.
The planet’s heating up faster and faster.
Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist and psychotherapist, and has taught workshops nationally with a focus on dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The MacGuffin, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia. www.JoanMazza.com
To Move a Whale
by Haley Johannesen
Townspeople, a curse of a town,
Watch the shadow of the whale on a house,
cast over playgrounds-
children, they dared each other, lean against it,
heads toward the skies,
but none did.
He sat alone, the loneliness of islands
next to the shopping carts and peels of things
rotting and smelling, strong winds.
There had been others,
but none who stayed so long.
The biggest yet, men said, gold in their mouth.
Everyone had agreed to wait for the hurricane.
Back into the salt and sea,
to seal him under, as if he never was.
He would have wanted it this way, they said.
It will be better for the town, it is costly, I’ve heard,
to move a whale.
Covered in birds, ocean vines like lace doilies
A young couple might have carved initials in him, some say.
The wind came, cold.
Today is the day. Like a gull takes to the wind.
Secure your roofs, buy water and cans of soup.
He’s wavering in the sand.
Hope it's right when you die old and bony.
Bio:Haley Johannesen is a high school English teacher living in Iowa City, Iowa. She lives with her husband and two cats. She enjoys reading, writing, and baking. Her favorite book of 2021 is Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette.