Archive for the ‘poems’ Category

Here are the TOP 10 POEMS of 2020 at NinaAlvarez.net.

It’s worth noting that 2020 was the first year EVER at this blog (started in 2007) that “Ithaca” was knocked from 1st place, replaced with “I Walked a Mile with Pleasure,” a poem about how much Sorrow teaches us. Seems fitting. I hope these poems brought some joy, perspective, and solace to those of you who needed it this year. Thank you for 14 years of celebrating poetry.


Happy New Year.

1. I Walked a Mile with Pleasure

2. Ithaca

3. On The Road Home

4. Deathless Aphrodite of the Spangled Mind

5. The Lost Son

6. The Insect God

7. The Serpent

8. Wish for a Young Wife

9. I Looked at the World

10. The Unicorn


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Anthology of Transcendent Poetry - Cover

Out in late July, 2019

In September 2017 I placed a call for poems here at NinaAlvarez.net. One winner every month would receive $50 and online publication.

I was looking for well-crafted pieces on what I was framing as “transcendent experience,” those glimpses of nonduality and spirit, the quest for self-realization, the longing to understand the mysteries of the universe. I wanted to know if there were still people out there looking for what unites us with each other and with life—especially as the news and media became more and more divisive and reductive—and I would happily pay out $50/month to find them.

For the following ten months I received hundreds of submissions: great poems, not-so-great poems, and everything in between.

I could only pick one winner every month, but often a poem arrested me so much I couldn’t let it go. This month I will finally be able to share all the most significant and compelling poems submitted to the 2017-2018 Poem of the Month contest in The Spirit It Travels: An Anthology of Transcendent Poetry.

This anthology is the indispensable companion to those who want to tap into the consciousness of transcendence by contemporary poets from many locations, backgrounds, and walks of life. With varying styles, voices, themes, and cultures, 84 poems are presented in 7 sections of 12 poems each, loosely categorized into: searching, introspection, secrets, time, the mysteries of nature, awakening in nature, and spirituality. Featuring works by poets from the U.S., UK, Canada, Turkey, and Singapore, these selections paint a dynamic portrait of contemporary transcendent thought and feeling.

The name of this anthology, The Spirit It Travels, is meant to be read both ways: “the spirit, it travels” . . . and “the spirit it travels.” In other words, the spirit as the traveler, and the spirit is also the road we (and all things) travel.

In this collection you will find the soul-work of poets 19 – 80+ years old: professors, poets laureate, college students, English teachers, teaching artists, arts administrators, professors, MFAs, PhDs, copywriters, reporters and columnists, lawyers, visual artists, artists-in-residence, filmmakers, actors, musicians, music teachers, social workers, youth advocates, refugee advocates, travelers, food columnists, semi-truck drivers, and two with interesting library jobs: running the tea service at University of Colorado Law Library and archiving the audiovisual catalog at the New York Public Library.

Some of the writers herein have over a hundred publications, some have multiple poetry prizes, and still there are some for whom this will be their first publication.

Anthology of Transcendent Poetry - Back Cover - THIS THIS

With 84 poems by 63 poets from 5 countries, this anthology explores the many faces of transcendent experience.


The Spirit It Travels comes out in late July 2019, but you can pre-order it now and it will be shipped to you upon publication. We are currently offering 15% off pre-orders if you use the code: PREORDER

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I sit with you in silence

in this place of days spent,
car window down so
morning’s dribble freckles my hand
on the wheel.

Were your knuckles growing fatter,

fingers stiffening, at fifty-one?
It’s only their softness, a quietude,
faded smell of dinner’s
chopped onions lingering on skin
I know now.

And although you left to lie

under a stone
etched with my words, your voice
still worries the wind.
I am not orphaned. You have not gone.

-Cynthia Ventresca


Cynthia Ventresca is the winner of the NinaAlvarez.net Poem of the Month Contest, July 2018.

Cynthia discovered her vocation at the age of seven, when she penned her first poem about her affection for a stuffed Koala bear. Her passion for poetry persists, with work published in various print and online journals. Cynthia is a lifelong resident of Wilmington, DE, where she still resides with her patient partner of many years, Micheal, and five adoring cats.


Many thanks to all those who submitted your beautiful and transcendent work.

The Poem of the Month Contest is closed until further notice. Please follow us on twitter for updates.

And check out our two new recently opened contests:

Cosmographia Prize for Spiritual Fiction

Cosmographia Prize for Spiritual Nonfiction

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They still slice brains at the Moscow Brain Institute
with the same hand-cranked deli meat-slicer,
which carves genius into thin memories
and past sins that could flutter to the floor
from careless fingers. Brains marinate
in formaldehyde inside flowered borscht pots
while history’s great minds rest in glass cases.

31,000 slivers of flesh mounted on glass,
stored behind three reinforced, alarmed
doors. 14 green leather-bound volumes,
embossed with five letters: L-E-N-I-N.
What used to be a state secret is no longer.

These books transcribe the territorial map
of Lenin’s brain: 31,000 snapshots
of each decision, good or bad, each strength,
each weakness exposed slice by slice.

Greatness comes with more of everything.
Most brains there get only two or three
thousand chances to prove themselves.
Rocket scientists, writers, secret police,
Lenin’s widow, and Stalin—the architecture
of their brain cells disassembled.

Poor Mayakovsky, your suicide celebrated
by a white labcoat who chopped through
your apartment walls with an ax, raced
away with your unusually large brain
in a washbasin straight to the slicer.

Lenin’s widow answered questions
about her husband’s personality,
to shine more light on science.
But the Bolsheviks changed her answers
to ensure greatness. His tenor voice
became baritone—no lovesick, romantic
lead role for him. Shaky vision
in one eye vanished.

In the end nothing could be discovered
by examining under a microscope
what makes a genius—or a dictator.

-Meg Freer


Meg Freer is the winner of the NinaAlvarez.net Poem of the Month Contest, February 2018.

Meg Freer grew up in Montana and now lives with her family in Kingston, Ontario, where she teaches piano and enjoys running and photography. She began writing poetry recently, and her photos and poems have won awards both in North America and overseas and have been published in chapbook anthologies and in both print and online journals. In 2017 she won a fellowship and attended the Summer Literary Seminars in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.


Many thanks to all those who submitted your beautiful and transcendent work.

Submissions to the Poem of the Month Contest are always open.

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WINNERPOEM OF THE MONTHCONTESTPrince Christian Sound, Greenland


We shelter from freezing winds
in sun-warmed nooks on the deck.
Indoors, the crew ladles
hot Dutch pea soup
hunked with ham into bowls.

To starboard, mountains march past
like a row of stout children
with waterfalls pinned to their jackets.
Their mountain neighbors, faces blackened
with gneiss, torsos girdled in mist,
wear witches’ hats on their peaks
as if hoping to frighten the children away.

As we watch icebergs calve
I think of the cow made of ice
in Norse myth who nourished
primeval Ymir with her milk.
The calves birthed today
are blue and translucent
as premature babies
who cannot survive.

The ice sheet, whitened
with bubbles of air in July,
deepens to aquamarine
in December. Eons ago,
glacial behemoths sheered
mountainsides slick; now,
as the icecap retreats,
its dirty fingers reach out,
grope the slopes, seeking water—
a panorama reflected, reversed,
in the blue-green glass mirror
of Prince Christian Sound.

Where one glacial digit
Dips down to the strait,
the ship pauses and rotates.
Each revolution’s a vista unveiled.
Only the clicking of cameras,
the chunk-chunk of idling engines.
Breathless and stilled,
we are seized by what Jack London
called the “white silence:”
time suspended in a caesura
of one billion years.

-Sharon Whitehill


Sharon Whitehill is the co-winner of the NinaAlvarez.net + Cosmographia Books Poem of the Month Contest, January 2018. The other winner is Ari Gold’s poem “Fire Dancer.” The two created a lovely juxtaposition that put in me the mind of fire and ice, and that is why I broke tradition and chose two winners.

Happy New Year!


Sharon Whitehill is a retired professor of English from Michigan, now living in Florida and attempting poetry for the first time.


Many thanks to all those who submitted your beautiful and transcendent work.

You can still submit to the Poem of the Month Contest (ongoing), and to the Cosmographia Chapbook Contest (until Jan. 12, 2017).

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My brother danced at last with explosions and fire—
Not a helicopter, just mushrooms at Burning Man.
I had Minha with me,
accidental lover,
former ballerina with a titanium knee,
a crescent scar on golden skin.
My brother had us,
temporary parents
so he shouted in triumph at the beauty of a bespectacled blonde dancer incoming from the skyscraper of flames.
My twin let loose at last.

Got burning ash in my fucking eye!
he screamed.
So much for bliss.
The carnival was now Hieronymus but I was not going
to allow
my hypochondriac brother
to chain himself to the wheel in the sky.

My gold and silver velvet robe flapped open,
sharp sand pierced my chest.
I was a king.
He was jealous when I bought my costume on Haight
As though I had stolen it from him.
A clump of soot, glowing orange,
somersaulted jerkily across the desert floor
A lizard on bad acid.
Minha placed her hand on the back of mine.
We should find a medic.

Had I really witnessed my twin at age six,
friendless in the playground riot,
friendless save for the pale-green puffy jacket
he clutched in his lap?
Or was it our mother who saw him there,
and told us later
how she’d burst into tears at the sight of one of her little boys
who didn’t know how to play?

Maybe it’s hard to lead another person to joy,

but here in the windy inferno,
I’d be damned if I didn’t try.
He’ll be fine, I said.
The crust of sand crackled under my boots.
My left palm gripped a ribbon that Minha gave me
a hundred minutes before.
Her hair whipped around her big soppy deer’s eyes.
Ethan moaned, on his knees,
convinced by the inferiority of his boring black robe
he was doomed to go blind.

Now inside the medic’s tent,
my brother being tended
I wait with Minha on folding chairs.
Another young lady punches herself in the forehead.
Neither the tattooed doctors scurrying around, stethoscopes flapping,
nor I, hairy knee trembling with fear for my brother’s eye,
know what to do about the weeping stranger.
I was
a dancer,” the young lady cries
to the canvas ceiling
fluorescents revealing her despair
for all to see.
Party time over.
A tiny ballet shoe on the hard dirt beneath her folding chair.
A bone pressing out of her ankle skin.
Her joy is embalmed on her wrists–
a hundred multicolored bangles rise and fall with her tears.

Minha crosses the floor, kneels behind the girl.
Her hand on the stranger’s shoulder.
She whispers into her ear.
The girl softens
the cacophony of competing sound systems retreats
the plastic-and-tin folding chair holds me eighteen inches above the packed dirt.

A single sparkle that had once graced a cheek
calls to me from the floor
to tear my eyes from my queen’s caress of this stranger,
because as she whispers to the girl,

sweet milk pours over the other patients
in their soon-to-be-obsolete-again Victorian costumes
straight towards me.
Look away.
She is an accidental lover,
a girl from the midwest who I’m not supposed to fall in love with tonight.
So I tear my eyes from her,
to the tent door flapping open,
to the chaos of the night and a thousand other parties,
to the road like a long tall princess waiting to be fucked,
to a thousand restless flappings of my mother’s wings.

-Ari Gold


Ari Gold is the co-winner of the NinaAlvarez.net + Cosmographia Books Poem of the Month Contest, January 2018. The other winner is Sharon Whitehall’s poem “Prince Christian Sound, Greenland.” The two created a lovely juxtaposition that put in me the mind of fire and ice, and that is why I broke tradition and chose two winners.

Happy New Year!


Website: AriGoldFilms.com
Instagram: Instagram.com/AriGold
Twitter: Twitter.com/AriGold
Facebook: Facebook.com/AriGoldFilms

Ari Gold is a student-Oscar-winning writer and film director whose films are linked by musical and environmental themes. As a writer, his work has been serialized in the Serbian newspaper Danas, and he is completing both an adult novel and a middle-grade novel this year.

His new feature film, “The Song of Sway Lake,” has been selected as Opening Night Film at four films this month; he also directed the cult comedy “Adventures of Power” (“One of the funniest films in recent years” – NY Magazine), dozens of award-winning shorts and videos that have been presented everywhere from Sundance to Karlovy-Vary, and the short film “Helicopter” about his mother’s death in the helicopter crash that killed rock music promoter Bill Graham.

His most unusual distinctions include winning High Times Magazine’s “Stoner of the Year” award, and being enshrined in the Guinness Book of World Records for commanding the largest air-drum ensemble on earth. His next major project, currently in development, is a game-changing action-adventure fiction TV series about ecology, war, shamanism, and the liberation of the human spirit.


Many thanks to all those who submitted your beautiful and transcendent work.

You can still submit to the Poem of the Month Contest (ongoing), and to the Cosmographia Chapbook Contest (until Jan. 12, 2017).

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Two of my poems “Mary, Mary” and “Nietzsche” can now be read at the online literary journal Contemporary Rhyme. Many thanks to them (especially because they’re a paying market)…So rare for poetry. But free to you, gentle reader.

roadsepia.jpgVive la rhyming poetry! I know some think it’s woefully old-fashioned, but I sure ain’t over it. It incorporates the musicality we look for in song and the sense of inevitability that we look for in art.

I also have a free-verse poem “bees” being published in the print journal Grasslimb. I will let you know when that issue comes out.

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