Photo: Gentl & Hyers
After we solicited original poems from O Magazine readers, we received almost 3,000 submissions in a mere 48 hours! Here's a selection of poems that moved and delighted our editors.


It is always raining
in the hours before the sun,
when leaves boil on blacktop
and cats bolt across the road
like phantom runners.

The way is measured in red,
caution yellow,
and shadows
standing like cedars
at a treeless graveside.

A discarded umbrella sighs
from the gutter.
The sky opens up in a sooty wash
above an abandoned earthscape
of shattered beer bottles,
house condemned,
and no trespass.

Outside, in half shadows
I wade through high grass
to save a spider's web
and press it hard against paper,
spun silver on red.

—Laura Treacy Bentley, Huntington, WV
The Blue Hour

This is the blue hour,
The weak, quivering glow
of an exhausted sun
when the day is done.

This is the hour that's darker than night,
when shadows form in the blue-gray light,
and the back-lit
shift like shadows
when the sun has set.

It's the frail blue glow as a candle dies,
pressing in against the eyes:
a lone smudge of blue in a smoke-gray room

It's a memory lost for many years,
the sleep that falls with falling tears,
the last heard echo off a far away wall,
almost more silent than no sound at all.

It's the haze that forms on a placid lake,
The gossamer thread between sleep and wake.
This is the last hour,
the very last light,
the hour before sunset
turns to night.

—Talie Tebbi, Brooklyn, NY
Ruairi's Prayer

Stars will shine at the sight of you
Ocean waves will rumble from the sound of you
Trees will clear a path for the presence of you
Flowers will bow to the greatness of you
And all the world is enhanced by you...still

—Siobhan Kern, Westport, MA
I am a Verb

For too much of my life
I have been a noun;
child, boy, man, father, whatever;
nouns of identity.
Often, preceded by too many adjectives.

I seem to be the subject,
or the object,
in the sentences of life.
Sometimes a proper noun,
But most often
just a plain, old, common one.

Is this I?
Not really.
The real me is continually in the process
of doing, being, living.
I am a verb, active tense;
not a verb past tense;
rarely a verb intransitive.

I exist through my living,
not because of some label.
Descriptives enhance mind pictures,
but do not define the essence of my spirit.
I am living. I am being.
I am not a noun.
I am a verb.

—Gene McParland, North Babylon, NY

seconds before sleep,
the right down comforter
brings bliss
of smiling sighs
so satisfying,
I feel
this feral world,
begin to purr

—Maria del Pilar, Austin, TX
Fall Arriving

Grey clouds
brush the sky
low and hurried
like a broom sweep.

Sleep is leaden, a dropped corpse.

Leaves verge on blushing.

Air is an impatient mother, barging and sighing through her day.
But is crouched and rustling in the cold slam of darkness.

I keep wearing sandals.

And the crickets chirp to winter, not yet.

Not just yet.

—Allison Dick, Toronto, Canada

the sand dollar I have found,
are marked with little holes
in your nature,
powdered and breakable.
I feel your beauty
as I trace the patterns of your face,
and hold you from the salty grip of beachcombers.

You have been picked up many times
but never kept.
There is a void in your center,
where you carry the memory of your source,
where you vaguely remember the water
running through your body.
You wait for me to drop you where I found you
I smooth away the gritty sediment
and see the strength in you
who have emerged from the ocean
and carry the journey on your face.

—Annabelle Moseley, Lloyd Harbor, NY
Ever the Sweetness

Memories palpable as
pistachio ice cream
and a Great Dane named Clorox,
smooth black coat patched
with large white splotches
on a day in late summer
before school closes in
and we ride over New Hampshire roads
winding down a Cape Cod vacation

A photo clicks in the farewell driveway
blond braided pony tail
caresses the nape of my neck
as I kiss the long snout of Clorox
then wave you good-bye
sweet memories asleep since then
 awaken a new century later
in this commuter train cocoon
chugging on rails toward home

—M. Barbara Duris, Lowell, MA

lasso light where the body bends
relax into the glow it lends
watch peace pearl on waters skin
it is the balm that longs to mend

lasso moon where her light extends
faith begins where worry ends
sip fullness from the silver wind
she is the light that shines to mend

lasso peace where branches bend
climb the beams that know no end
green and lush the joy within
it is the balm that longs to mend

—Kyra Locke, Los Angeles, CA

Strong you were
who I never knew
killing chickens
canning for winter
raising haphazard grandchildren.

Brave you were
half white
whole person
smiling in the dusty yard
of a wooden shack
with no toilet.

Solid you are
 giving us hell
recounting old stories
before the divorces
before your sons died
before you were alone.

Independent you are
walking to church
going to meetings
sheltering all of us
when needed.

Invincible you are
putting food on the table
recovering from death
deciding to take
no more shit.

Tenacious we are
birthed from sturdy wombs
led by callused hands
fed guts in bottle and broth.

—Dana Apple, Centerview, MO

old black cat napping
beneath the blossoming plum
humming with the bees

—Moira Magneson, Placerville, CA
Juliet, Phoebe and Me

I'm a woman
That's who I am
I've been a woman ever since I was a girl
I am strong when I am weak
I am special
I am unique
My spirit soars when my heart is low
I am young
But I will grow
I am gentle when men bring war
I am wisdom
I ebb and flow
The soles of my feet have traveled many roads
They are weary
But I move on
Though you lay me down, I stand firm
I am naive
But I will learn
I'm a woman
That's who I am
I've been a woman ever since I was a girl

—Julie Masiga, Nairobi, Kenya

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