“When she is feeling despairing, she goes to eddies at the mouth of the river and tries to comb the water apart with her fingers. The Straightfoward Mermaid has already said to five sailors, “Look, I don’t think this is going to work,” before sinking like a sullen stone. She’s supposed to teach Rock Impersonation to the younger mermaids, but every beach field trip devolves into them trying to find shells to match their tail scales. They really love braiding.”
— "The Straightforward Mermaid" in If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? by Matthea Harvey, reviewed by Jeannine Hall Gailey
“Simone Muench: As I was reading across a variety of international poetry and American poetry, I discovered that so many writers utilize the wolf—Vasko Popa, Ted Hughes, Tomas Transtomer, Emily Dickinson, etc.

Ellen: Did you specifically search for poems with wolf once you had that theme in mind? Or did you just let them find you?

Simone Muench: …both. I was definitely hunting but also being hunted/haunted by the wolf.”

Rumpus: Well, we’re aiming to bring some fun back to poetry. Would you say being a poet is fun?

Anderson: Not especially. Let’s put it this way, if you consider tireless self-doubt, a near obsessive attention to detail and the corresponding, nagging sense that you just aren’t getting it right, and a hesitancy to actually tell anyone what you do with your working hours fun, then, hell yeah, it’s a blast. That said, there can also be great satisfaction when you have gotten something right, and that’s what keeps me doing it, I suspect.

Easter Sundays

Daniel Anderson

These yellow April evenings I,
no longer idealistic or inclined
to wish my life were something that it’s not,
sip gin-and-tonics and enjoy
a fragrant breath of just-mown grass.
Immaculately laned front lawns
are flower-crowned, our windows bright and clean.
The lime-wedge bobbing in my glass
suggests an effervescent, new
and utterly surprising thought of green.
Who could complain? Yet someone surely will,
about the pollen count or lack of rain.
Not me. No one is happier than I
to watch the sprinkler’s grainy rainbow spill
across broad vacancies of watered light
or study sun-glazed copper weathervanes
stamped against the cloud-flown April sky.

But still, it happens nearly every spring—
a blossomed stroll through Holy week,
Good Friday off, a lull, and then
that sadness Easter Sundays always bring.
It’s hard saying exactly why.
it’s not as if I even got to church,
though there are those who wish I would.
Why isn’t it enough just being good?
Extending charity, I mean,
kindness, compassion, concern, and love?
All things I like to think I do.
Who needs an organist and choir,
a brass collection plate, the priest,
and an excruciating pew? Truth is,
it’s something that I’ve often understood:
a deep desire to believe and belong.
Communion in a stony, cool
and solemn atmosphere. Women
who dress and smell like fresh-cut flowers.
Men starched and ironed, splashed with aftershave.
The comfort someone’s looking after us.
That kind of reassurance has a price—
worship with purpose, prayer on time,
ice-cream socials, driving kids to camp,
reading to shut-ins, selling Christmas wreathes.
It’s not enough, just being nice,
and I suppose I understand this, too.

But what about the ones who get it wrong,
who do all this and still despise
the stupid and the ugly and the poor?
Perhaps they celebrated God in song,
tithed 10 percent and kneeled to pray,
but then two-timed the marriage, harbored hate
against their neighbors, screwed a friend or two—
not even really anything that’s new.
It’s just so dull. You’d think they’d preach
a little less, not judge so much.
But who am I to say? It’s just so dull,
that righteous indignation of the blessed.

My next-door neighbor hates my guts,
at least when we talk politics he does.
He loves me like a brother, though,
when we talk gardening, cooking, music, dogs.
We plan long weekend trips we’ll never take—
wine country or the coast. Our families eat
together once a week or more.
This is not paradise, I know.
This is not paradise, it’s only home.
And yet imperfect as it is,
it would be difficult to disagree,
another Easter days away,
that home seems just about as flawless now
as it may ever be.


“Easter Sundays” appears in The Night Guard at the Wilberforce Hotel, by Daniel Anderson © 2014, Johns Hopkins University Press. It has been reprinted with permission from the author and from Johns Hopkins University Press.

“I am so not myself (sometimes) I look at her.
And we are never equal to the break that we bring.”
— "Elegy" in Gephyromania by TC Tolbert, reviewed by Charlie Atkinson
“When you’re writing a poem you will certainly face obstacles, and these obstacles will likely be fluid. In these moments it may be wise to allow the dynamism to become attractive and of great interest to you so that your poem can become a means to illustrate, dramatize, mythologize, and still the motion of that disruption — if only for the time it takes to read the poem.

I say this because I believe that the poetic imagination is a state of mind that prefers mutability over permanence, and that poets — across the centuries and across languages and across styles — have come to understand that to write a poem is to favor change over constancy.”
“When you hold me there are words for that.
I do not remember the words for that but I remember that there are words.
There are not words for when you do not hold me.
I remember that there are no words in the world so I say them.”

Two Poems


by Daniel Hales


"Abandoned Portals" by Jennie Kaplan

How To Make The Light Come

Look at me, I’m introducing myself to the slush mound
the plow left at the foot of our driveway.
I’m extricating the matted clump from the cat’s ruff
as National Public Radio plays me a scherzo.
I change in front of the window to prove I’m naked.
I’m addicted to not dying ever.

Read More

“Some half the poems in this book
from an iconic work a way was took
and as when obeying the rules of the dead
you’re right to ask yourself, Who Said?”
Who Said by Jennifer Michael Hecht, reviewed by Molly Sutton Kiefer
“I’m fascinated with the voyeurism that defines so much of contemporary culture. We watch others, we watch ourselves, and share images of ourselves being watched. Revisiting the stories and myths that encompass many of the poems in Spectator necessitated a kind of voyeurism, too.”