Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity


Near our snow condos,

penguins slide across ice.

No ostrich plumes, these birds

wear sleek, Edwardian suits.



I have always walked like a penguin.

In fact, I was born a penguin long ago

in the days when the ice caps were intact.

I slipped into church under knotted skies.

There, the gray day plummeted to black.

A man and a woman laugh

at penguin prostitution:

The birds must trade sex

for rocks to build nests.

I herringboned up hills

and slid on snowfields.

I pecked through tundra

to unearth pebbles—

and often came up empty.

Snow clings to branches

and creates an enchanted

silhouette against a gray

horizon. A penguin strolls

along the coast, searching

for her mate.

Dr. Fiona Hunter says penguins

stick with the same mates.

But she adds, “stones are valuable

currency” for them. That

urgency creates reckless hens.

Such a day it was—a day

when everything went asunder:

Penguins thundered

and cracked the ice

when a sea lion

raped a penguin hen.

But some of the birds didn’t care.

Take that penguin over there

leaning against a snow-wall.

He stares into space

then waddles to a pool

of balloons rising.

You grumble about Christmas

and gatherings—

ignore these birds

sliding by us now—ignore

the calls from family.

Your words fall

like frogs from your mouth,

and I say the world will end

soon for these penguins

skidding into the blue.

Today, these gregarious birds

waddle into politics.

I’d figured they’d march for ecology,

but no—the feathered creatures

fight for civil rights.

I watch a penguin pile stones.

She stops and looks into my eyes.

We do not speak but know.

~ Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Previously published in Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017).

Lindsey Martin-Bowen: 39 West Press released her 4th poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock. Her third, CROSSING Kansas with Jim Morrison (in chapbook form) was a semi-finalist in the QuillsEdge Books 2015-16 contest. A poem from her Inside Virgil’s Garage  (Chatter House 2013) was nominated for a Pushcart, and Standing on the Edge of the World (Woodley), was a Top 10 Poetry Book for 2008 (McClatchy). New Letters, I-70 Review, Thorny Locust, and others have run her work. She taught at MCC-Longview and currently resides in Oregon.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. Other books are a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (U. of Nebraska Press) and A Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan Press). Jackalope, fiction, was acclaimed by Pennyless (U.K.), American Book Review, and New Letters. She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and recognition from PSA, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Award, NEH, and more. Low has an MFA (Wichita State U.) and Ph.D. (Ks.U.). She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. www.deniselow.net

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