Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Downtown Walking by Preeti Parikh

Did I mention I loved sonnets? Yes, I believe I did! Preeti Parikh of Blue Ash wrote this lovely poem while participating in a Cincinnati Walking Sonnet workshops, starting off from the Mercantile Library. I invite you to read more of these at my page devoted to the Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Project and to try one on your own. Keep an eye out for upcoming workshops—I’m scheming up a Cincinnati Streetcar Sonnet Workshop for the summer. In the meantime, come hear Preeti read this poem tonight, April 26, 7 pm at the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading  at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine.

Downtown Walking

Hot dog stand-smell, a red and white canopy;
up in the wrought iron balconies, four ashen-
faced figurines in white robes and shawls,
their long skeletal fingers beseeching;
a sign on a storefront says–Safeguarding
the children–elsewhere–Divine love always has
met and always will meet every human need;
a homeless man, an etching in a stone facade;
a pink lotus on a green leaf (Saigon Subs and Rolls);
cascading rows of seats in the Paul Brown Stadium;
mounting traffic noise, a well dressed man asking
for spare change. I balk, clam up, walk back past
four porcelain doll jars with fancy hats for lids, and
balloons at the Square–primary colors, primary needs.

Preeti Parikh

Previously published online here.



Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Dear Heroin by Connie Murray

Here is a poem by Connie Murray (soon Hughes) of Florence, Kentucky on the difficult issue of addiction in our community. It is forthcoming in Connie’s second chapbook, The Mirror.


Dear Heroin

Thank you
Thank you for taking
the pain away
Our beloved
have happily succumbed
to your relief
The train track is
very clearly
spelled out
across our arms
We have reached
our destination


Dear Narcan

Your appearance
brings hope
it is only
a temporary
to a definitive
the grass
is SO
much greener
on the other side
Please step aside

Bob Marley

Connie Hughes

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine

Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Ghazal of the Lutanist by John Drury

Yesterday a sonnet, today a ghazal by poet and University of Cincinnati professor John Drury, also of North Avondale (and our sonnet writer LaWanda Walter’s husband.) John will read his poetry at the Cincinnati Library’s Poetry in the Garden Series on April 25, 7 pm in the Downtown Library.) Notice how each couplet’s refrain is made fresh with each repetition.

Ghazal of the Lutanist

Ever Dowland, ever doleful, the lutanist says come again
to melancholy, whether he’s silent or plays “Come Again.”

Invitations that mention “deadly pain” and wail “out, alas”
won’t seduce anyone but a masochist who prays Come! Again!

Torches at court leave shadows for uneasy liaisons,
dark rooms where ladies-in-waiting, in silent lays, come again.

Courtiers whisper on back stairs, place notes in ruffled sleeves,
but the lutanist can’t catch the phrase. Come again?

The page rubs his eyes before stretching gut strings along the lute
and poking around for the tuning peg’s eye. Dark days come again.

When panes of leaded glass fill like goblets with tinted light,
John is fingering scales on his lute as sun rays come again.

John Drury

The poem first appeared in Able Muse (Summer 2011) and was reprinted in John’s most recent book, Sea Level Rising (Able Muse Press, 2015). The book’s website includes a video in which the poet’s reading of the poem is accompanied by lutanist Rodney Stucky playing pieces by Dowland. Here’s the link.

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine

Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: How Girls Walk Through the Eye of a Needle by LaWanda Walters

I’ve grown to love the sonnet form over the last few years, a perfect pocket for holding those quarrels we have with ourselves (a definition of poetry offered by William Butler Yeats.) Here is a fine one by LaWanda Walters of North Avondale.

How Girls Walk Through the Eye of a Needle

The girls are getting slimmer now as if, perhaps,
to keep themselves from mothers’ fates.
They float in thin blouses above the fat plates,
their bodies forced like flowers into shape.
Not eating gives them a high window ledge
from which to contemplate life—an ascetic,
cloistered place. On the back pocket of jeans they like,
a tiny, red-inked Buddha smiles. “True Religion”
jeans are hard to get into, expensive and just
for the thinnest. I say, out loud, “it’s like binding feet,”
embarrassing my daughter. But I did think
of those rich-girl feet that could not walk right—
at night they’d unwind the binding and the stink
drove husbands wild. Girls turn to bone so love will last.
LaWanda Walters
—First published in Danse Macabre (Issue 79, May 2014)
—Reprinted in Light Is the Odalisque (Press 53, Silver Concho Poetry Series, 2016)

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine

Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Poems by Gwyneth Stewart and Scott Whitehurst

Here are two poems by Gwyneth Stewart and by Scott Whitehurst, both from Pleasant Ridge, about family, travel and home.
Blue Mountain Lake

It began in quiet summer pre-dawn,
the trip day-long before the interstate.
Lunch at the Peter Pan Diner–
milkshakes and burgers.

We counted up the Fulton Chain of Lakes
finally turned on to Route 28
eyes peeled for The Prospector gift shop,
our house right across from it.

Late afternoon we fell out of the car
ran down the shaded path to strip of sand,
cold navy Adirondack water, Blue Mountain
a pyramid of green beyond.

Two weeks filled with stair-step cousins.
We wore bathing suits from breakfast
to dinner, fretted through the long hour
after lunch when the water was forbidden us.

The great Grumman canoe could hold
five kids, took us to the island for picnics,
rode the wake of ancient mahogany
lake boats from the lodge.

Minnowbrook, the last great camp–
The caretaker took us there on his rounds.
Our voices, our feet too loud
in the high-ceilinged empty rooms.

Warned away from the woods with
stories of lost children, we went anyway,
just to feel pillowy moss and slick
old pine needles beneath bare feet.

We fished for sunnies under crimson
skies, the clouds lit like paper lanterns
long after sunset. We fell asleep and woke
to the scent of fresh water and sharp pine.

It lingered on clothes, hair, skin,
long after we returned home.

Gwyneth Stewart


All Night Diner

My brother comes to mind
when I come here late at night
Of him sitting in my living room
high from talking
from driving all day from Georgia
from the freedom of leaving our sister’s
confining house and habits

It is one in the morning
and I have been up since four
And he asks me,
Is there an all night diner?
It’s so great talking with you
I love these conversations we have
I wish you lived closer
I could stay up all night

I think hard for I am tiring fast
I think of the family restaurants
on my side of town
long since closed
and the franchises, too, that have
shuttered for the evening
I come up empty

My brother laughs,
Come on! This is Cincinnati!
It’s a city- there’s got to be
something open!
I tell him of how the city
rolls up the streets a little after ten,
that the traffic lights turn to blinking
fluttering like eyes closed in REM sleep

Honestly I cannot think of a place.

I long to stay up all night talking
as he wishes
but I cannot
for my twenty-four hours are almost done
He bids me goodnight then
and stays downstairs
Where he can watch tv and sleep on the couch

My brother comes to mind
when I come here late at night
Come visit me again, I think
I know a place now
where we can sit and talk
late or early

Come visit me
and we will talk ‘til three
and watch people eat three-ways
and grilled cheese sandwiches
like those priests over there
sharing their own Last Supper,
a brief respite during Holy Week-
and we’ll hear the laughter of carry-out customers
beat a counterpoint to Rockin’ Robin

Visit me and we will solve the Universe
We’ll figure out how string theory will someday unify
quantum mechanics and relativity
and think about how that string
might be a Mobius strip
and how many dimensions are there really
and what if God is one of those dimensions
and can we actually slow time
by being observers?

We’ll sit and talk and eat and feel satisfied
and slow time
Then we will go home and say,
I love these conversations we have.
I wish you lived closer.

Scott Whitehurst

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine

Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Election by Rhonda Pettit

Sometimes “all” that poetry can do is to ask the important questions, as does this meditation by Rhonda Pettit of Erlanger, Kentucky, whose book Riding the Wave Train will be out soon from Dos Madres Press.




There is something to say.
There is so much of something to say.
Are we the ones to say it?
Would a whisper do?

There is so much being said.
Having said, so much more to know,
then more to say. Who says?
Who knows? Who listens?
Would a whisper do?

From the quiet of screens and pages
from far away images of faces
from versions of ourselves
our updates, our lost ones,
from behind the grid’s

What are we selling, buying, hating?
(In what are we in love?)
What are we screaming
to our circle?

All is not said
in the game of hide-n-say.
How shall we be saying it?
Would a whisper do?

Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!
Do the words fathom themselves?
Do they reach down to the word table
or run off the surface eroding?
Will they leave a claw in the trap
of yin and yang?

and still the saying.
Haven’t we said it all?
Aren’t we ourselves a saying?
If more must be said,
would a whisper do?


Starting from scratch
grunt     vowel      syllable
sprout up the ancient trees of language
people hung on a word
zero one zero one
towering babble of gods

It is too much   //   not enough

What is right?
What is left worth saying?
Don’t we all come down to breath:
the dawn re-dawning?
We feel it around us
We feel it within us
Blood singing the joy
or drumming to the sorrow of bones.
What the words? How shall the voice?
Would a whisper do?

Two lips
close to a body, an ear,
the breath of words heard and felt –
sweet, pungent, or stale the breezes.
The body knows

The living inside us listens.

Still the saying, still the question:
Would a whisper do?

Rhonda Pettit

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine

Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Poems by Nancy K. Jentsch and Jen Davis

Today’s offering is two poems by two northern Kentucky poets, Nancy K. Jentsch of Camp Springs, whose book Authorized Visitors will be out soon from Cherry Grove Collections, and Jen Davis of Villa Hills. I admire them for how each natural image offered is both utterly itself, and more…

Untamed Sweetness

Black raspberries ripen wild at creek’s edge
my eyes close, lips tingle
to memories of brimming backyard bushes.

These untended berry-gems hide tiny
behind stickers beyond reach.
I bend the canes to mine the ready flesh

lest deer or songbirds steal
the pear-fed coyote plunder.
At days end, red-lipped,

I leave a fruit or two of untamed sweetness
like words that stray from verses
and still are pearls.

Nancy K. Jentsch
Published in Route 7 Review. Vol. IV (2016): 47.


Two Trees

Two trees stand together
in an otherwise naked field,
branches linked like
young lovers’ fingers,
roots twisted into a
labyrinth of nourishment and survival.

When high winds sweep across their grasses,
spiraling and conspiring with rain and lightning,
the West Tree leans east and the East Tree
pulls in a breath.
Their tangled foundation gives them leverage
as saturated soil gives and takes.

Jen Davis
Originally published online by Peacock Journal in December 2016.

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine