A Prize-Winning Poem

Morning Moon by Amy Wray Irish

Prayer to the Phasing Moon

Dear pale, nocturnal guardian
who safeguards entrance
to the holy valley of the stars

Let me sleep like caterpillar, unmade
of body and adrift in metamorphosis

Let me sleep like winter cottonwood, unmade
of leaves and untethered from the sun

Let me sleep like copperhead, unmade
of skin and slipping from its past

In exchange for new eyes, new limbs,
new self—let me emerge

From your chrysalis embrace
refreshed, bathed clean in your waterfall

Of faint light and star song. Let me sleep
like a stasis traveler through vast space, unmade

Of Earth, drinking your amnesiac nectar
and dreaming only you for a thousand years.

Let me sleep until my pilgrimage of self
ends, and I wake fetal and tender
to completely undreamed-of worlds.
I am happy to announce that my work has been honored by
several state poetry organizations in their annual contests:

  • “Prayer to the Phasing Moon” will be published in Sandcutters, the annual publication of the Arizona State Poetry Society
  • Three poems will be published in Ink to Paper, the annual
    publication of the Indiana State Poetry Society.
  • One poem will be published in Cadence, the annual publication of the Florida State Poetry Society.

In this season of thanksgiving, I am very grateful to have been
selected for awards and publication.
Thank you, poetry community!

Workshop: Saturday 10/8 & Upcoming Events

Dream Imagery. Surrealism. The Hyper-Real.
Register Here for the Writing Workshop
“Poetry as Alternate Reality” with Amy Wray Irish

Surrealism Workshop: Register Here
When: Saturday Oct. 8 at 12:45
Where: Wolverine Farm & Publick House, Ft Collins
$15 fee goes to MiddleCreek Publishing, supporting Colorado authors
Come early for the Free Reading at 11:30am

Other Upcoming Events
9/25: Reading in Celebration of Fall
At the Loveland Art Museum, 1-3pm, FREE
Open Mic at 1pm, Featured Readers at 1:30

10/8-10/9: MiddleCreek Publishing Two-Day Event
At the Wolverine in Ft. Collins, 10am-6pm
Check out the Full Schedule of Events Here
all fees will be donated to MiddleCreek Publishing

10/24: Featured Reader at BookBar with Kathleen Willard
At Denver’s BookBar, 7pm
FREE Fourth Monday Poetry Reading, Learn More Here

Coming Soon: “We are the West” Launch Party
TwentyBellowslit.com is excited to release its debut anthology, featuring more than forty literary voices, representing the spirit and experience of Colorado. Featuring fiction, non-fiction, essay, poetry, and visual art from every corner of our home state.
Available for purchase now on Amazon

Reading June 12, from 1-3 and Future Events

Smeared with Pollen/Loveland Summer Reading Event
Please join me at the Loveland Art Museum (503 N. Lincoln Ave, 80537) on June 12, from 1-3, to enjoy a great line-up of poets, storytellers, and musicians celebrating the pollination of summer! I will be reading at about 2pm; other readers include:

  • Current Loveland Poet Laureate, Lynn Kincannon.
  • Former Loveland Poet Laureate, Veronica Patterson.
  • Head of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Julie Cummings.

Future Readings and Publications

  • I will be one of the many Colorado poets celebrating our community at the 2022 Poetry Rodeo. The event runs from 1pm-11pm at the Mercury Cafe in Denver; my reading is at 7:20.
  • I will have two first place poems published in the 2022 Prize Winners Journal of the Pennsylvania Poetry Society.
  • I will be included in the “We are the West” anthology, forthcoming this year by TwentyBellows Lit. Reading dates TBD.
  • I will be presenting with Kathleen Willard, author of The Incendiary Season and Cirque & Sky, at Book Bar’s fourth Monday poetry reading series. Save the Date: Oct 24, 7pm, at the Book Bar in Denver.

Recent Publications

I currently have three nature poems in the 2022 issue of Waving Hands Journal. I hope you will enjoy this selection, and join me for a reading sometime soon!

At the Equinox

This single day of stillness,
with the axial precision
of a dancer en pointe
reminds me of the opposite—
the daily errors,
the wobbles and sways and stumbles
of the Earth along its path,
like mine.

Tugged by the gravitational pull
of opposing stars, dizzy
and aswirl from facing each day,
breathless from the constant dervish
of urges and desires—
our imperfect ballet
tipping us
like a drunk.

Unwound by every revolution,
we trip and lurch and slip.
But for a single
elegant spin, oh
with what grace
we dance.

Four New Poems Published Today

I am excited to share four new poems in the April 2022 issue of the Bristlecone E-Journal (edited by Joseph Hutchison, Jim Keller, Sandra S. McRae, and Murray Moulding).

Bristlecone supports poets of the Mountain West, and I proud to be included. Take a sneak peek at my piece entitled The Crime of the Poem, then enjoy the entire Bristlecone E-Journal (see below). And please feel free to download the journal and share!

The Crime of the Poem
after Douglas Kearney

The poem stormed your defenses
in an angry mob of words.

The poem slipped into your dark
and rearranged the furniture.

Invited into your home, the poem played
with matches.

Invited to your table, the poem devoured
the decorative flowers.

The poem lurched against you in the subway
and picked your pockets.

The poem pressed against you for one steamy moment
leaving you aching and wanting.

Stretching out its languorous language,
the poem sold itself for anyone to undress.

Kidnapping a body of language
the poem strip-searched history.

Searching for hidden pockets of decay
to expose, to diagnose, the poem

Turned you—turned us all—into bystanders
of this dissection. The crime of the poem

Came when it made us chose
to be voyeurs complicit in the violation,

Or archivists delicately digging in the dark.

Celebrating National Poetry Month

In honor of poets everywhere, I am happy to share the poem Savoring the Meal, about the delicious nature of catching and eating poetry. I am very thankful for Twenty Bellows Lit for supporting my work—see below for links of other poems that are currently featured on their site.

For National Poetry Month I will also be posting a poem each day on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. This April is the three-year anniversary of my Poem-A-Day Group, with more than 1,000 first drafts! This group has really helped me break through many writers blocks and make me the writer I am today.

If you’d like to read more, my recent publications include:
Conjugating Verbs After Colorado Burns. Written in response to the Marshall Fire of 2021, currently the most destructive on Colorado record. Poem featured on Twenty Bellows Lit.
—Three pieces in The Mountain: An Anthology of Mountain Poems, available to purchase from Middle Creek Publishing.
—Two poems in Ink to Paper Volume 6, a Poetry Society of Indiana Anthology, now available to purchase on Amazon.
–One poem in Quiet Diamonds 2021, an anthology of prize-winning poems selected by Orchard Street Press.

I also have poems forthcoming in the following publications:
Waving Hands Review, the literature and arts magazine of Colorado Northwestern Community College.
Re, an anthology of Zoetry poets.

Winning Poem: The Vocabulary of Heat

I am pleased to share my 1st Place poem from the Forces of Nature art and poetry exhibit. Many thanks to the judges and to the Windsor Art & Heritage Center!

You may view the free exhibit on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 12-4pm, through January 9th. For more information check out The Art & Heritage Center online.

The Vocabulary of Heat
 By Amy Wray Irish

I thought I knew pyrotechnics.
Forbidden sparks catching in a state
built of kindling. Fire so wild
we destroy even more
to contain the contagion.
Inhaling smoke and cinders.
And long-term water shortages
drying all the way down the aquifer
to our heat-stroked cells.

But now extremes crack open the dictionary
to words too hot to handle.
Like pyrocumulonimbus,
when a firestorm cloud is formed
by thermals rising from fire.
120 degrees flown in on a jet stream
so the power cables melt
and the roads buckle
and the flesh of the trees ignites.

Or like the anticyclone that forms,
the sky a whirling dervish dome
that traps hot air, intensified
to the point of lightning.

I know we are headed for megadrought,
for the funerals of failed grids
that die trying to keep us alive.
I can stretch to grasp the feedback loop
such heat creates, the greenhouse
within a greenhouse effect.

But then I learn of the cryoseism,
sounding deceptively frozen.
In Alaska, glaciers melt so fast
they are seismic events, ice shearing
and falling to the tune of a 2.7 magnitude
on a single day.

With such words to learn, my mouth
goes dry, starts to smolder. 
I struggle with language smoking
like ash and cinder,
unable to choke it down.
But I shouldn’t be forced
to swallow such extremes—
now is the time to spit
them out, fight the fire
with every fiber,
before the whole world burns.

Outrageous as flowers and other poems

Check out Amy’s poem “Outrageous as Flowers” on South Broadway Ghost Society’s site. (Be prepared to scroll down, new work is added regularly. Or just read the other amazing work as you go!)

You can also find these poems by Amy online and in publications:
— “The Room” on TwentyBellows Lit
— “Terratoma” in All the Lives I’ve Ever Lived Vol. II, produced by Lighthouse Writers
— “The Freedom Sickness” in Stain’d Magazine Vol. V, The Responsibility Issue
–“The Beauty of Redundancy” in Progenitor Vol. 56, produced by Arapahoe Community College

reading tomorrow!

7pm July 2nd at The Mercury Cafe

On July 2nd, come join us at the Mercury Cafe for a celebration of the Thought for Food collection! Doors open at 7pm, performances start at 7:30, there will be readings from many of the poets from the anthology!

Hosted by Emylee Frank & Kali Heals, with performances by:
Ted Vaca
Liza Sparks
Matt Clifford
Hayden Dansky
Bruce Sterling
Patricia McCrystal
Sarah LaRue
Danny Mazur
Shelsea Ochoa
Jane Ripley
Zeta Sage
Irina Bogomolova
Grace Mitchell
John Staughton
Lee Frankel-Goldwater
Dalton Telschow
Liam Max Kelley
Brett Randell
Amy Wray Irish
Ashley Howell Bunn
Chelsea Cook
Caroline Savery
and more!

Event is Free, but please consider making a donation to the Denver Food Rescue. Or buy a copy of the anthology! Proceeds from every purchase go to the nonprofit and its work.

“Fire hazard” and upcoming reading

on Twenty Bellows Lit

I am pleased to announce that Twenty Bellows Lit has chosen a second poem to include online. Check it out here: Fire Hazard.

Ready to turn off that zoom screen and get back to live poetry? South Broadway Press is turning its fundraising anthology Thought for Food into a fundraising reading! Join us at The Mercury Cafe on July 2nd. Door open at 7pm, reading starts at 7:30. I’ll be among the many readers, check out the line up and get more information here. This event is free to attend, but please consider making a donation to the Denver Food Rescue if you can.