Poetic License



Charm City is home to a wide array of skilled, well published poets, active wordsmiths who give regular readings, produce beautiful books and pay at least part of their way by turn of the lyrical phrase. As the new year strikes—a time of reinvention, resolution and romance, too—we’ve asked four of our favorite Baltimore bards to offer a poem to start 2016.

Kendra Kopelke—famous among the lit community for her springy curls, careful observations and devilish wit—directs the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore. She is co-editor of Passager Books, a press dedicated to writers over 50. Kopelke’s most recent book is “Hopper’s Women.”

Joseph Harrison—beloved for his pleasantly bellowing reading voice and precisely memorized recitations—shares a poem from his most recent book of poems, “Shakespeare’s Horse” (2015). Harrison is Senior American Editor for the Waywiser Press. His honors include an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a fellowship in poetry from the Guggenheim Foundation.
Jennifer Wallace—picture a modern-day Thoreau in jeans and walking shoes—teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is a poetry editor at “The Cortland Review.” Her newest book, “The Want Fire” (2015), was published by Passager Books.

Twenty-something poet and performer Tracy Dimond co-curates Ink Press Productions, teaches composition and schedules events at the Pratt. Her latest chapbook, “I Want Your Tan,” was released in 2015 by Ink Press. When Dimond performs, she works her words—and her eyes—to the max and the entire room listens. Please enjoy.

Grocery store roses

Grocery store roses come off the truck
like state fair goldfish,

to live and die simultaneously,
to eat the unconscious air.

Dozens of roses in black
plastic cones, just 9.99.

A dozen yellow roses
to shine their ardent beams.

They droop one day and then
the next, their only gesture now,

a coma, as if there’s been a wreck.
Faded petals, stained with brown.

A dozen yellow chickens.
A dozen stone heads.

I change the water, trim their stems,
stir in the magic crystals, I cannot

change their course.
I cut off the buds

and arrange them in a bowl
like fruit. I peel one open, shyly,

till I reach the yellow
heart, still alive, the fragrance

radiates out.
I pull and ease each petal into place

and see a star in my hands.

—Kendra Kopelke

Ice Age Art

Fashioned by firelight, nicked and scooped and planed
By crude flint burins nibbed to scrape and hone
Till something like a miracle remained
On bone and antler, ivory and stone,

Where hours of pinpoint labor left behind,
Faithful to details of anatomy,
First inklings of the panoramic mind
In polished, miniature menagerie,

The animals that peopled their stark scene
Of snow drift, barren, glacial watercourse
(Bison, musk ox, mammoth, wolverine,
Cave bear, cave lion, reindeer, ibex, horse)

Hardened to artifact in action poses
(Galloping, swimming, leaping onto prey):
Paleolithic artwork presupposes,
For subsequent endeavors to this day,

Compulsions to creation that inform
Signs of the origin—there at the start
To mine the world to mime the world, and form
The ur-fidelities of Ice Age art.
—Joseph Harrison


Breathing begins with a walk across the boatyard:
oil-soaked gravel, cradled hulls.

Each of these is a heartbeat: step
down, into the wooden dinghy; set
two leather-wrapped oars in brass sockets.

A yellow-eyed gull dips over the green marsh.
Our little black boat rests close across the river: cleats,
coiled cotton ropes, tea and pillows in the cabin,
five sails stowed below.
—Jennifer Wallace

Marry It

I’ll find new opportunities to connect: Tinder, Match dot com, OkCupid, Grinder, Christian Mingle, Plenty of Fish, Zoosk, EHarmony. I search with Sylvia Plath in mind: Will you marry it, marry it, marry it?
We can be reduced to text on a page. We’re framed for love. Here I am in a stream of information, chosen for you. When you approach a dating site you must think:
Here are my Internet confessions. Here is my vulnerability on a page. Here is my embellished self for your choosing. Here is my shining personality, ready to be filled. Because everyone wants to know what is inside. What should you really know?
This is a default profile, unchanged. I’m an empty essay. Fill me out.

Join the best free dating site on Earth.
Start meeting people now!
I am female and
Almost there! Just a little more to go
and sign up faster. We never post to Facebook.
Ahh, the last page. Don’t stop now!
My Details
Last Online
Online now!
Ethnicity Height Body Type
Diet Smokes Drinks
Drugs Never Religion
Sign Education Job
Income Offspring
Pets Speaks English
My self-summary
I’m an empty essay… fill me out!
What I’m doing with my life
I’m an empty essay… fill me out!
I’m really good at
I’m an empty essay… fill me out!
The first things people usually notice about me
I’m an empty essay… fill me out!
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food
I’m an empty essay… fill me out!
The six things I could never do without
I’m an empty essay… fill me out!
I spend a lot of time thinking about
I’m an empty essay… fill me out!
On a typical Friday night I am
I’m an empty essay… fill me out!
The most private thing I’m willing to admit
I’m an empty essay… fill me out!
I’m looking for
Guys who like girls
Ages 18–26
Near me
Who are single
For new friends
You should message me if
I’m an empty essay… fill me out!
—Tracy Dimond


Experience their words live, with us, during Wine & Word at the Ivy Bookshop, Jan. 29. Click here to RSVP

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here