Selected Poems by Students of Charles Hartman



Sitting on a wooden bench

In April, I consider

Sisyphus in hell. How hot

He must be under the gods’

Persistent hands, and tired.

Though he is clever and cruel,

I’d like to take his gray weight

For a moment. I’d like to

Use my limbs to urge the stone

Further, though I know it is

Futile. Still, I recognize

Metaphor. (The stars never

Are merely the stars.) He is

Doing what we all must do—

Pushing just to push again,

Chasing just to chase again,

Building muscle for nothing.

We all do and do more with-

Out progress. No dents in the

Grass, no horizon. This is

Living—She writes the same damn

Poem over and over

Until there is no poem

Anymore. But there is still

A She and a Me who is

Watching through owl’s eyes and

Saying, “There is no poem

Anymore.” And we can hold

Each other and take weight. I

Can push her stone when she is

Tired, and she can push mine.

We can forgive and forget,

As many promise they will,

But then forgive and forget

Themselves only.We do not

Get anywhere, but closer

To each other, which is why

We are alive and breathing.

If Sisyphus had a hand

In his task, the same futile,

Endless task of trying to

Fight the inevitable

With no weapon, you tell me

If it would still, then, be hell.


-Chloe Ford


She Still Gardens


He likes the way smoke curls up and hangs in mid-air,

but keeps discount sunflowers on the windowsill

to convince me he doesn’t.


I watch my husband from the kitchen

as he lights another, sitting on the bench in the yard,

popping daffodil heads from reluctant stems.

Momma had a baby.


I lost my mind last April,

when I discovered his armchair resting between two clouds,

He couldn’t manage reality.


My yellow and green striped lawn-chair,

sank to the bottom of a lake I used to visit.

Children’s toys in bright reds and purples bob among the waves.


I planted a tiger lily seed in a mason jar in our bedroom,

hoping it would rise up tall and smash through the skylight,

carry me up, up.


Yesterday, I called my mother for the first time in twelve years.

She still gardens.


-Lauren Baretta




Waiting at the cliff jump,

we peered off the edge

hoping someone would leap

but no one stirred.


As we bickered, in the water thirty feet below

a discoloration erupted beneath the surface,

expanding until it distorted our reflections

and we appeared diaphanous.


I knew it was oil that had escaped from the bottom.

So lighting my shirt aflame,

I held my breath,

jumped from the edge,

and swam in watery immolation.


-Cam Netland