The Students Write Poems for Their Teacher


The students write poems

like they are painting

in the filtered dust of a late-night studio.

They fling glorious globs

of paint on a canvas

they imagine.


It is abstract.

It is realistic.

It is impressionistic.


They don’t need to find language;

the paint will do it for them.

Yellow will scream metaphors;

brown, onomatopoeia.

Thick black lines are symbols;

red, the gash of simile.


On parent’s night

I hang them up,

(their poem-things)

and their parents respond viscerally


In the gallery of words theirs say

“This is what I mean”

inferred by the yellow stroke that leaps

from thought to word,

invoked by the word

that lolls on the black line of comprehension.

Incised by the red connection

linking me to you.



Seem Bright



Thigh-light ellipses

To and for America

Eat mac ’n’ cheese

Or grilled cheese on


Young mother

Makes living

Seem bright


Okay here in USA

Clownish gyrations

Young girl with urges

Slinks toward

Mayhem with child

Tell her, stop, and

Check with

Lauren Bacall


Later, breast


Hard and drifting

Through years of

Soft dancing


Snake beads under

Skin that hungers toward a mouth

Slink back, sling out


When feet slide into scripted shoes

They yell for free farm love



To Le-Ann, Who Had a Heart Attack


On New Year’s Eve

My student

Legally blind


Had a heart attack

But that was after her eviction

Now she’s in rehab

Submitting her Master’s Thesis

To me for

Our sixteenth iteration


To Le-Ann, who had a heart attack

On New Year’s Eve

Who has more fight in her

Than a drill to the earth


Whom I carry like a wounded sack

Of mashed-up innards

Who will finish

Or finish me


To Le-Ann, berating me

Commanding that I read

Reread, re-tread, explain

Why I can’t make the world right

Why she is blind

Why her daughter’s on the spectrum

Why her veteran status

Can’t save her from the streets

Why Schlossberg’s theory of transition

Means shit in real life.



Should I Care


If an ambulance just

Cruised up my neighbor’s driveway

With flashing red lights

And no noise?



But still

My night goes on


Maybe my neighbor

Will die like my husband did

Right there in the home

Right there on the couch

Slumped over

In the midst of eating some pineapple


We are all stopped short yet

Think the tune will carry us


by Barbara Tramonte



Barbara is currently a professor at SUNY Empire State College, where she teaches in the school for graduate studies. She worked as a poet-in-the-schools in New York City for ten years, and formerly owned a children’s bookstore in Brooklyn Heights. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, The Alembic, The Binnacle, Black Buzzard Review, The Chaffin Journal, Confluence, Crack the Spine, Dos Passos Review, Drunk Monkeys, Edison Literary Review, Eleven Eleven, ellipsis…, Folly, Forge, FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry, The Griffin, Hiram Poetry Review, Home Planet News, Illya’s Honey, Juked, Kaleidoscope, Monarch Review, New Letters, The Old Red Kimono, Pearl, Phantasmagoria, The Pinch, riverSedge, Sanskrit, Serving House Journal, Slipstream, Spillway, The Tower Journal, Tulane Review, Westview, and other literary and academic journals.

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