Sunrise/Sunset by Cynthia Atkins
Because Tevye was left out of the memoriam
at the Oscars—I needed to come to a rooftop
and scream from the groin of my lungs, Thank you.
I needed to pray, write a poem to say
how his character shaped my faith
and my belonging, in a world where
I never felt I belonged. His nostrils
flaring in a barn of chickens and cow dung.
His way of singing through every chore,
stirring up dust, his way of talking
to God. Picking out hooves,
late for the Shabbos candles his wife
and daughters are lighting.
I want to rattle cages, wake
the neighbors, tell them my son
knew every word to every song.
How life is about the simple things—
Milk and cheese and bread and friends.
How beautiful traditions need to be
tailored for change—a place at the table
for one more. How life teases us
with blessings and curses.
How life cheats us with straw men
burning houses down.
Marriages, losses, and deaths.
We must find the hutzpah, the strength
to pick up and start again. We must plumb
the horizon, the fiddler plucking strings
on the roof to make us whole again.
Apocalypse in Twitter-Verse by Cynthia Atkins
Devil’s truth, my brain is the size
of a pea, cannot hold 5,000
cats, dogs, vacations, comments,
circumcisions, breakfast muffins,
bald head radiations. Here’s a sad fact,
people are dying while other people
eat their muffins. All the thresholds pass by
like fast-food signs, golden anniversaries, the Oscars
of stay-at-home celebrity. I am wearing sweatpants,
face unwashed, teeth unbrushed, but I’ve posted
a photo of me all dolled-up in fancy stretch pants.
I am just one of the throngs of sad people
looking for the corporeal bottom
of human loneliness. Is that, finally,
the ache we shed with the last breath—
Empty faces passing on a train
of our imagination, trees and smoke
and hills. Screens amok in thousands
and thousands of sorrowful rooms.
I am one of the many. I am here.
I am the size of a clip of hair.
I was promised solitude, but my navigation
system is collapsing. Smell my essence,
irrevocable losses, time stolen from
old coloring books—My wax crayons made
real marks. The sky is eclipsed.
We are pinholes. We are flagships.
I do have opinions, but no one cares to hear them.
Long ago, we smelled like fresh cut grass
and played outside until the dark.
"Apocalypse in Twitter-Verse" first appeared in Vox Populi
Photo: Anne Valerie Portriat
Cynthia Atkins (She, Her) is the author of Psyche’s Weathers, In The Event of Full Disclosure (CW Books), and Still-Life With God (Saint Julian Press 2020), and a collaborative chapbook from Harbor Editions, 2022. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Anti- Heroin Chic, BOMB, Cider Press Review, Diode, Green Mountains Review, Indianapolis Review, Los Angeles Review, Rust + Moth, North American Review, Permafrost, SWWIM, Thrush, Tinderbox, and Verse Daily. Formerly, Atkins worked as the assistant director for the Poetry Society of America, and has taught English and Creative Writing, most recently at Blue Ridge Community College. She is an Interviews Editor for American Micro Reviews and Interviews. She earned her MFA from Columbia University and has earned fellowships and prizes from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Writer’s Voice, and Writers@Work. Atkins lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, Virginia, with artist, Phillip Welch and their family.