Barbara Crooker: poems from Slow Wreckage


The past is never dead. 
It’s not even past. 
William Faulkner

Oak leaves stamped against a chicory sky
swirled with clouds, like a marble I once had
and lost.  It’s probably still there, caught in a dry
puddle, a tree root, or one of those cracked

pavements of childhood that we walked
on going to school.  We roamed the neighborhood
in feral packs, marked up the curb with chalk:
hopscotch, marbles, kickball, only going in for food

or band-aids.  No sunscreen, helmets, fancy bikes.
Once, we rode to the creek to swim, dead deer
resting in the shallows.  We didn’t think alike:
was it safe to swim, or not?  I can still hear

my mother calling my name as darkness fell
and fireflies sent messages that only they could spell.


and how can you train the body 
to be the body? 
Carrie Addington, “Waist Training”

How can I train this body,
with its baggage, the freight
load of dinners in France, plates
gleaming with sauce and cream,
sauté pans sizzling, a glass of rosé
at the start of the meal that’s raised
to the setting sun? Breakfast: an array
of croissants in a basket, display
of confitures, especially les fraises
des bois, wild strawberries. Cushioned
in a chair, I’m sedentary: at my keyboard
writing essays or reading a roman à clef.
The days when I ran before dawn, gone.
Praise be to my left knee; the right one says
mercy going down stairs. The pain in places
I never knew existed. Ahead, there’s a station,
and I’m slowly chugging towards it.
No weight training at the gym
or miles on the exercycle can stay this decline.
In the passenger car, a conductor sways,
pushing his clicker, punching tickets: sprays
of confetti, little o’s litter the aisles, ricochet.


           Whoever can see through all fear
            Will always be safe
                 Lao Tsu, The Tao Te Ching

It’s a day of brilliant blue, lightly smudged
with chalky clouds. In the larger world, there’s
fracking, climate change, industrial sludge.
But here, none of this can reach us. Who cares

about the news? I’m in this lawn chair,
secure in its embrace. In the distance,

the surf of traffic, the hum of bees. Chances
are, none of us gets to live forever.
The shadow of the vulture on the lawn
cannot dispel this blue euphoria.

Barbara Crooker is author of twelve chapbooks and ten full-length books of poetry, including  Some Glad Morning, Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press, longlisted for the Julie Suk award from Jacar Press, The Book of Kells, which won the Best Poetry Book of 2019 Award from Poetry by the Sea, and Slow Wreckage, forthcoming from Grayson Books. Her other awards include: Grammy Spoken Word Finalist, the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council fellowships in literature.  Her work appears in literary journals and anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature.

Two of Barbara’s books can be purchased on the links below, including Slow Wreckage, from which these poems were selected.

Hollywood Woman A Poem by Sara L Russell 18th March 2023

She has had an illustrious lifestyle
and many well-earned accolades;
donates to some causes quite worthwhile
she has gongs and awards now, in spades.

Her mansion’s been featured in Tatler
in Mode Avantgarde and OK;
She’s been called a trooper and a battler
and she always has plenty to say.

But her face is a bone of contention
it is fixed in a permanent grin
from a facelift hauled too tight to mention
and too much Botox in her skin,

And her lips, in an unnatural rictus,
have a top lip that sticks out too far,
Yet she boasts how her surgeon could fix us
if we weren’t as poor as we are.

She goes to cafés with her ladies
all from the same era as she;
and their pooches are treated like babies
and given fresh truffles for tea;

And when she is smiling or laughing
The waiters recoil in sheer fright
For her terrible grin leaves them gasping
She’s like a cobra poised to bite;

and some of her friends look like harpies
and some of them look like vampires
and their eyeliner’s drawn on with sharpies
and they drink to lost loves and desires;

But they carry on laughing regardless
For they clothes-shop at Rodeo Drive;
They are diamonds of high grade and hardness,
though they look to be barely alive.


Sara L Russell aka pinkyandrexa

Sara Louise Russell, aka PinkyAndrexa, is a UK poet and poetry ezine editor, specialising particularly in sonnets, lyric-style poetry and occasionally writing in more modern styles. She founded Poetry Life & Times and edited it from 1998 to 2006, when she handed it over to Robin Ouzman Hislop and Amparo Arrospide; Robin now runs it as Editor from Poetry Life & Times at this site.  Her poems and sonnets have been published in many paper and online publications including Sonnetto Poesia, Mindful of Poetry and Autumn Leaves a monthly Poetry ezine from the late Sondra Ball. Her sonnets also currently appear in the recently published anthology of sonnets Phoenix Rising from the Ashes. She is also one of the first poets ever to be published on multimedia CD ROMs, published by Kedco Studios Inc.; the first one being Pinky’s Little Book of Shadows, which was featured by the UK’s national newspaper The Mirror, in October 1999. (Picture link for Mirror article) Angel Fire. And the 2024 AI version of The Perils of Norris cartoon, by Sara L Russell using Canva Pro AI, Episode 1. The Perils of Norris featured from this site Poetry Life and Times

When the Messiah Comes poems from Aieka by Daniela Ema Aguinsky Translated from Spanish by Amparo Arróspide & Robin Ouzman Hislop


La foto de mi abuela el día de su casamiento

Sé que no lo deseabas
pero lo hiciste.
El buen chico judío asignado
no resultó
tan buen chico.

Pasé tu edad
no me casé con el mío.
Lo deje ir lejos
una noche de luna
en la terraza
tomó mi mano y dijo

no me gustan las chicas
con las uñas pintadas.

Las mías
eran rojas
y dejaban marcas
en las paredes de su intestino.

A veces recuerdo al goy
de la fábrica de máquinas de coser
gritaba tu nombre
en la cueva privada de su boca.

soprano de interiores
en una caja húmeda
durante un corte de luz

vos empezás a irte
yo recién estoy llegando. 


The photo of my grandmother on her wedding day

I know you didn't want to
but you still did.
The assigned good Jewish boy
did not turn out to be
such a good boy.

I am past your age
I didn't marry mine.
I let him get away
a moonlit night
on the terrace
he took my hand and said

I don't like girls
with painted nails.

were red
and left marks
on the walls of his intestine.

Sometimes I remember the goi*
from the sewing machine factory
he screamed your name
in the private cave of his mouth.

indoor soprano
a match
in a wet match box
when there is a fuse

you begin to depart
I'm just arriving.

* Goi (non Jewish boy)



Me tiré ácido
me raspé la piel
y me escribí encima.

Abajo quedaron huellas
los textos que no llegaron
al canon de mi existencia.

Que vengan los cabalistas
los estudiantes de Talmud
voy a desplegarme sobre la mesa,
una escritura sagrada.

Desnúdenme con cuidado
rastreen los indicios
discutan el estado original
de esta mujer borrada.



I threw acid on myself
scraped my skin
and wrote on it.

Traces were left below
the texts that did not make it
to the canon of my existence.

Let the Cabalists come
students of the Talmud
I'm going to spread myself on a table,
a sacred script

Undress me with care
track the signs
discuss the original state
of this erased woman.


Las copas están hechas para romperse

Lo sé
desde que mi abuela guardaba la vajilla
de su abuela, en un aparador especial
que nunca se abría
por lo delicadas que eran
esas copitas verdes de tallos finos como lirios
capacidad mínima, brillantes.

Nada ameritaba
de su estado decorativo
los nietos no le habíamos dado
una jupá, un compromiso, un nacimiento.
No le habíamos dado nada.

Pero mi abuela sabía mejor que nadie
que las copas
están hechas
para romperse:

van a quebrarse
mientras lavás los platos
o estallar contra el piso cuando levantás la mesa
un día que estás sobrepasada
o se le van a caer a tu nieta, dentro de veinte años,
cuando se mude sola a su primer departamento.

Van a resistir
como las personas viejas resisten
hasta quebrarse
un día cualquiera de sol.



I know
since my grandmother put away the crockery
of her grandmother, in a special sideboard
she never opened
because of how delicate they were
those little green glasses with thin stems like lilies
bright in miniature capacity 

Nothing was worth
disturbing them
from their ornamental state     
grandchildren hadn´t give her
a chuppah*, an engagement, a birth. 
We hadn't given her anything.

But my grandmother knew better than anyone
that glassware
are made to be broken

they are going to break
while you wash the dishes
or explode on the floor when you ´re clearing the table
stressed out
or your granddaughter will drop them in twenty years´ time
when she moves into her first apartment alone.

They will resist
as old people resist
until breaking
any sunny day.

* chuppah: a Jewish wedding


                Cuando venga el Mesías van a curarse todos los enfermos
                     pero el tonto va a seguir siendo tonto.
                      Refrán Idish

Cuando venga el Mesías

y reconstruyan el Tercer Templo
no quiero estar arriba
mirando a los hombres rezar
en círculos que cantan y bailan
mientras mujeres charlan
y chicos gritan.

Cuando venga el Mesías
no quiero estar arriba
con el humo de los sacrificios
abajo los sacerdotes entran
y salen como amantes
el nombre sagrado.

Cuando venga el Mesías
y todos retornemos a la tierra
quiero estar en la tierra de este mundo.


                   When the Messiah comes, all the sick will be cured.
                        but the fool will remain a fool.
                         Yiddish saying

When the Messiah comes

and they rebuild the Third Temple
I don't want to be above
watching men pray
in circles singing and dancing
while women chat
and children shout

When the Messiah comes
I don't want to be above
with the smoke of sacrifices
the priests entering below
and exiting like lovers
the sacred name.

When the Messiah comes
and we all return to earth
I want to be on the earth of this world.


Teléfono fijo

Mis papás me dieron un teléfono fijo
la línea está incluída dijeron
tenelo por las dudas
y quedó en el piso

cuando suena, rara vez
sé que son ellos
(nadie más tiene el número)
me siento en el sillón
espero tres tonos y atiendo

a veces una noticia terrible otras
una invitación para almorzar
lo único fijo este teléfono.



My parents gave me a landline
the line is paid for they said
keep it just in case
and it stayed on  the floor

when it rings, rarely
I know it's them
(no one else has its number)
I sit on the couch
I wait three rings and answer

sometimes terrible news other times
an invitation for lunch

The only fixed thing this phone. 

Daniela Ema Aguinsky (Buenos Aires, 1993) is a writer and filmmaker based in Argentina. She Directed the shorts Virtual Guard, Hurricane Berta, 7 Tinder Dates, and several others. She published Amante japonés, Aieka (2023) and Terapia con animales (2022) in Argentina, Mexico and Spain, book that won The National Poetry Prize Storni in 2021. She is also the spanish translator to the California based poet Ellen Bass; Todos los platos del menú (Gog & Magog, 2021). Twitter: laglu Instagram: laglus

Amparo Arróspide (born in Buenos Aires) is an M.Phil. by the University of Salford. As well as poems, short stories and articles on literature and films in anthologies and international magazines, she has published five poetry collections: Presencia en el Misterio, Mosaicos bajo la hiedra, Alucinación en dos actos y algunos poemas, Pañuelos de usar y tirar and En el oído del viento. The latter is part of a trilogy together with Jacuzzi and Hormigas en diaspora, which are in the course of being published. In 2010 she acted as a co-editor of webzine Poetry Life Times, where many of her translations of Spanish poems have appeared, she has translated authors such as Margaret Atwood, Stevie Smith and James Stephens into Spanish, and others such as Guadalupe Grande, Ángel Minaya, Francisca Aguirre, Carmen Crespo, Javier Díaz Gil into English. She takes part in poetry festivals, recently Centro de Poesía José Hierro (Getafe).
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times ; at
You may visit Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)

Singularity Poem by David Jackson

Trillions of galaxies and
each one unique,
all filled with solar systems and
each one unique.
Every single person is different,
every rock, every bird,
every one of us
everything in the
is a singularity.
There will never
That is a
Good luck
Be safe
Be kind
Be you

Melcome | Poem by Jessica Skyfield


to my echo chamber.

I’m having fun, (right now).

And that’s what it’s all about, right?


Behold the meaningless rantings of a mad(whoa)man.

Sliding slipping sagging

as time warps and wears

picking up speed on the downhill slide.

Infinite neural networks

these/those/them/there/their/they’re sliding glass doors shut

but I can still see back through;


It’s cold outside.

Scaramouche is fandangoing

and nothing truly



at all.*

*Actually, everything matters/everything’s matter and this is just a coping

mechanism for reality because everything is so big and I am so little and

the forces that exist are so great and I don’t feel strong enough…said hurriedly with flushed cheeks and zero free oxygen anywhere.

But I’m trying.

In Ordinum ist Progress.

(What esoteric concepts!–whose order and progress towards what?!)

Literally all our plundering is in the name of progress, so…

& of course I moved to the state whose motto is Ad astra per aspera.

ad nauseam per Astrae, 

blundering through inumerable difficulties

tale as old as Time.

Hit me where the wind blows

& know that endless questioning is nothing but to beg for sorrow.

Adapted ahead of print from JP Skyfield’s Condensed Chronology.

About That First Love and other Poems by John Grey


It did not feel like they had told me.

Less emotional, more like somebody

gifting me a brand new red sports car.

Hormones, I barely understood.

But horsepower was a cinch.

I didn’t lose my heart.

It was more a great flap in my head.

And it wasn’t war of course.

Not unless I wanted the other side to win.

It did strange things to conversation.

When I spoke to the girl,

it was like offering her a bite

of my candy bar.

Words had to taste delicious.

Or she had to be prepared to make a sacrifice,

devour them spit and all.

It was dividing myself in two.

One half still threw footballs.

The other was careful none landed

unsuspectingly near her.

And she wasn’t even the real thing.

First love was just rehearsal for second love.

And all I knew of second love was

that one of them was me.


He rode in on a
glorious steed of Rilke,
alighted like pick-pocketing
Wordsworth from
a crowded shelf of prose.
He was dressed in a fancy, glittering suit
of Flaubert and Fitzgerald,
though his weapons were Russian novels,
“War and Peace,” “Crime And Punishment”.
he sure had me covered.
When the villains arrived…
Grisham, Clancy and
some Harlequin hired hands,
he was waiting for them
with Racine, Pushkin and Cervantes.
It was all over before you could say,
“For Whom The Bell Tolls.”
No, he didn’t take me in his arms,
but he did recommend I read
Durrel’s “Alexandria Quartet.”
We would have rode off into the sunset
together but, luckily, there was
a Starbucks next door.


It’s Saturday night, a glitzy nightclub,

and I’m feeling useless and lonely

until I spy an attractive woman

sitting all alone at a nearby table.

I’m thinking to myself,

this is the angel who will restore me

to the very pinnacle of manhood.

She has long blonde hair

and I appreciate the way she tosses it.

And her eyes are surely blue

though the cross-breed lights,

the boogieing shadows, won’t yet concur.

I stand and stare in one motion.

A few confident steps,

some of my best one-liners,

and before you know it we’re dancing…

we’re a couple even.

If only it were that easy.

If the angel, precious as she may be,

weren’t just some replica of myself –

embarrassed by the past,

concerned for the future.,

and stuck here in some kind of perverse present

of money worries, family issues

and relationship anxiety.

My nerves fail me.

I return to my forlorn drink and chair.

The dance-floor is a throbbing, buzzing hive

of men and women.

Those guys andme-1can’t get over how alike we are.

And the women —no different from her, surely.

Before the approach,

I wonder how secure they were in the knowledge.

Did they imagine perfectly matched twosomes,

here, there, in all directions?

Are we meant to be together, that’s what I want to know.

The song that’s playing keeps implying yes.

And yet it’s not one I know.

She’s not singing along.

I’m not either.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Stand, Washington Square Review and Rathalla Review. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.