NPM 2: North Carolina & Beyond

And here is Installment #2 of  our National Poetry Month (NPM) event “Crossing the Country Line by Line, starting with Mark Prudowsky of North Carolina.  Cool note: We had TWO poems branch off from Karen Llagas’s “Pantoum,” and we’ll be sharing the second of those chains next week.  So stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter!


Image courtesy of Geographicus Rare Antique Maps (Wikimedia Commons) PD-US

Mark Prudowsky (North Carolina)

Crossing the Desert, No Destination

Don’t trouble yourself with thought,
no. Be the horizon and exhale
clear across the plain to the compass point
directly opposed; a coyote howl
rising slow and with purpose, bent
like a blue note in the dark pricked with stars;
a spire of sandstone, red with the sun rise;
the lizard on the hard-pan, among salt bush
and mesquite
quick and with purpose;
the donkey with its burdens—
flies round its head, snake at its hooves; or
if it is in your nature, worry
the driver behind the four wheels,
into the wind, towards the horizon
that always approaches and never arrives.

Karen Llagas (California)


I waited by Wal-Mart, among rows of lit houses.
Your face tired, expectant.
Friday, so we drove to Blockbuster, lingered
silent by old movies for a long time.

Your face tired, expectant—
It was clear I couldn’t have made you happy.
Silent by old movies for a long time,
is a line in a poem that keeps repeating.

It was clear I couldn’t have made you happy.
In the suburbs, in their formulaic simplicity,
is a line in a poem that keeps repeating.
Americais big enough for love, too big for tenderness.

In the suburbs, in their formulaic simplicity,
Slant of fluorescence and a bright requirement coming back.
Americais big enough for love, too big for tenderness.
We tried, but we couldn’t believe.

Slant of fluorescence and a bright requirement coming back.
The car door unstuck, catching us in tears.
We tried, but we couldn’t believe.
Everything I said I was saying to myself.

The car door unstuck, catching us in tears.
I waited by Wal-Mart, among rows of lit houses.
Everything I said I was saying to myself.
Friday, so we drove to Blockbuster, lingered.

Angela Narciso Torres (Illinois)

To Do

Call Adolfo about broken refrigerator gasket,
find model number first. Buy chicken-flavored
toothpaste for Lilli. Consult vet about lump
in her eyelid. Ask Jade if she can pick up Timmy from band.
Yoga class tonight. Write Ian’s letter for camp. Search
in basement for Bishop’s Collected Prose, read the one
about her mother getting fitted for a purple dress in Nova Scotia.
Buy folder with metal prongs for Matt’s book report. Schedule
the boys’ dental check-ups, mammogram for me. Thank Irene
for birthday present, choose hers—spring bulbs? mystery novel?
even though she writes, Please do not shop for me! There’s nothing
more welcome than your new work. Whereas you are young
and can always use things. Write poem about the boy with the faux-hawk
wearing good shoes on the train from Chicago, reading a Bible
from a zippered case. Note the elderly couple and their two-year-old
grandson, how the grandfather clutched the boy when the train
lurched, then picked him up as though lifting a brittle
Chinese urn from the mantle. When the boy wriggled
into his grandmother’s lap, how she, so unconcerned and vast,
kept her eyes on a paperback held open with one hand,
her other arm around the boy whose body draped over her chest
like a favorite sweater, his cheek pillowed by her shoulder
so he could look out the window. The grandfather watched the boy
with utter concentration, no—amazement—at the small face, smooth
as cream and lit as from within, watched him with the kind of awe
for the young that only intensifies as one grows older.
How we grow older. How I tracked the boy’s sleepy gaze
to the smokestacks, the skeletal trees, the towering church spires,
the leaning warehouses painted with signs he could
not yet read: Glass Block Factory, Art’s
Body Shop, Bright Metals Finishing.

Brandi Gentry (Oklahoma)

Dogwood Winter Glass

If, from this window, I
point out a moss, will you
remember a web?

I get cold, and yes,
too wet for walking with you
among Oklahoma’s exploding

Redbuds today, although
nothing’s frozen. Further rain
holds back its palm. It has left us

the clouds’ shadows like dark vines
across Cypressand Sassafras,
Gaura Lindhermeri, Fruitless Sweetgum,

Pin Oak, Creeping Euonymus.
What is it you want to see?
The apple blossoms like puffs of breath?

The cupped hands of the Azalea?
That’s all still out there
beside the bull calves.

For the moment, from
the house, you could just
tell me what you know of this

double-paned glass, all
about the working Labradors
flooding the heels of the sheep.

Amy Beeder (New Mexico)

What is it you want to see?

Zanzibar and catbirds’ tangled bowers,
Lazarus in Sunday best, North seas dark

with swan. Aurochs, pearls. Pterosaurs

preserved in Dover stone, and tiny fish
within them. Guillotines, conversions,

your hands that time over my eyes


in the darkest room a white profusion
(Zanzibar!) and when I come to strike

the fetal spark, then blow it to a flame

to see that luminescence loosed in air
above an unplumbed sea, to see light

drown in light our mute & furtive spawn.

Mark Prudowsky, an electrical contractor in Western North Carolina, earned an MFA in poetry fromWarrenWilsonCollege.  His work appears both online (most recently at On Barcelona), and in print (most recently in “City of the Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poems”).


Karen Llagas is a recipient of the second Filamore Tabios, Sr. Memorial Poetry Prize, and her first collection of poetry, Archipelago Dust, was published by Meritage Press in 2010. She has an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and a BA in Economics from Ateneo de Manila. Also a recipient of a Hedgebrook residency and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, she lives inSan Francisco where she works as a Tagalog interpreter & instructor, and a poet-teacher with the California Poets in the Schools (CPITS).


Angela Narciso Torres was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Manila. Her poems are available or forthcoming in Baltimore Review, Cream City Review, Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, North American Review, Rattle, and other publications. She has received a fellowship from the Ragdale Foundation and a scholarship from the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. Her first book was a finalist in the Crab Orchard Open Series competition, the Philip Levine Prize, and the Brittingham and Pollak prizes in 2012. A graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, she lives in Chicago where she edits RHINO and teaches poetry workshops.

Brandi Gentry’s poetry has appeared in Rhino and The Cortland Review. She is an MFA candidate in the Warren Wilson College Program for Writers.  She lives in Oklahoma.

Amy Beeder is the author of “Burn the Field” (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006) and “Now Make An Altar” (2012). Her work has appeared in POETRY, Ploughshares, The Nation, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, AGNI, and other journals. She lives in Albuquerque and teaches poetry at the University of New Mexico. She has received the “Discovery”/The Nation Award, a Bread Loaf Scholarship, and a Witness Emerging Writers Award.  She has worked as a freelance reporter, a political asylum specialist, a high-school teacher in West Africa, and an election and human rights observer in Haiti and Suriname.


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