Without Force - M.J. Iuppa

Careful where you step in these woods
covered with coppery leaves & fallen
trees and moss, rusty & pale green, is
a warning from your mother, who ate
her mother’s words, before you set out
to walk among cemetery’s ruins where
toppled headstones score the earth with
names of someone’s loved ones & Ghost
flowers rise on waxy stems; their white,
nearly translucent, hooded heads tipped
downward like shepherd hooks, like
mourners in a procession to a murky
plot where they’ll survive, tapping
energy from fungi, pulling under-
ground breaths of life from death;
& you will want to touch them, not
realizing that the heat of your hands
will turn them into water.

M.J. Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. For the past eight years, she and her husband Peter Tonery have been committed to food sustainability. She has numerous publications (poetry, fiction, nonfiction and plays) in national and international journals as well as two full-length poetry collections Night Traveler (Foothills, 2003) and Within Reach (Cherry Grove Collection, 2010) and five chapbooks; her latest prose chapbook is Between Worlds Foothills, 2013. She served as the poetry adviser (2007-2012) for the New York Foundation for the Arts, and since 1986, has worked as a teaching artist in the schools, K-12 for a variety of agencies (RCSD, BOCES 2, Young Audiences, Genesee Valley BOCES, Project U.N.I.Q.U.E. and V.I.T.A.L. Writers & Books, and others) Currently she is Writer-in-Residence and Director of Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College.