Karen Neuberg

Link to home pageLink to current issueLink to back issuesLink to information about the magazineLink to submission guidelinesSend email to misfitmagazine.net


Beware! Only, don’t. Not too much. Just enough. Cautious. Be cautious. About cars going through red lights. About bikers going through red lights and also riding the wrong way on a one way street. And of sidewalks—beware toddlers adept on scooters who seem hellbent to get

where they are going even if you’re in the way. Beware this new virus. Clean clean clean clean. Beware others. Late nights. Late night streets. Traveling late at night. Beware early mornings. Don’t text and walk—or drive. Don’t touch your eyes or nose or mouth. Wash. Wash. Wash your

hands. And clean (again!) surfaces. Stock up! Three month supplies of medicines in case the supply chain is broken. Beware the sedentary lifestyle. Walk 10,000 steps. Drink water. More water. Still more water. Breathe. Love your children. Send love thoughts to all the children in

case it helps the universe in the long run. You’ve got a short run, even if it seems long. Short in the sense of deep time. Seek the richness in/of diversity. Find the good and make it your context. Your subtext. Your content. Your substance. Forgive. Unless you can’t yet. Clean clean clean.

Don’t hoard. But stock up. Foods you’d be eating anyway with a long shelf life.. You’d be surprised. Be surprised. In a good way. And listen. Listen. Heart. Soul. Breath. But beware. Something is bound to get you if something else doesn’t.

Let me call it a garden.

Let me turn the green into my new dream,
let me roam along the path
that leads to the forest of song. Let me find
what I’ve lost in the passage between
thick walls. Let me roll through the garden,
collect the yellows and purples,
bathe in the luxury of butterfly
and bee. Let the hummingbird
hum in the afternoon light,
let the firefly light in the blue hour,
let me sing. Let me sing in the forest,
let me sing the forest, let me
be a tree. Let me reach. Reach into
the song of the seasons. Let the seasons
keep their pace, steady in promise.
Let the promise be a garden. I’m lost
in a dream with no garden. I’m lost
in a world where green is lost, where
creatures are lost, some who we never
met or named. I want to un-dream
the present and walk backwards
onto the canopy of the forests. Leap
from tree to tree. Let me sing with the birds.
Sing with the flowers. Let me sit
in the crook of a branch, let me be a nest.

            title is a line taken from Natalie Diaz’s poem From the Desire Field


Perches in me
calling itself 

eagle, cougar, asp
adroit in & over

meadows of myself
and dark woods, and sky

beyond falls’ shelf,
horizons edge,

calling with tongues
left behind, circling

hours, waiting
for a chance to shine,

& I want to not want 
to let it.

After Looking at a Figurine of a Chinese Master’s Snake Creeps Down

            for Master Cheng Hsiang Yu (1929 - 2010)

I remember how you called me little bird.
How you said I was light as a feather when I pushed.
On Sundays, for 6 years, we students wrote down
the secrets you gave us about this marital art. We’d laugh
among ourselves how the telling was told in ways that kept the secrets.

I went three times a week, Wednesday evenings, Saturday and Sunday mornings.
We begin with our practice, slow, precise, something to inhabit, focus on shifting
weight, keeping alignment, where the hands g, where the movement came from.
Each move had a name and some I still recall these 20+ years later

grasp the sparrows tail
white crane lifts its wings
carry the tiger to the mountain
wave hands like clouds
fair lady works the shuttle
snake creeps down

how could a poet not fall in love with Tai Chi?
How could I not respect your skill?
You’d studied all your life having gone at age 7 to the Shaolin Temple
because you were sickly with asthma and your parents thought it would strengthen you.
And then you studied with Cheng Man-ch'ing who first brought this royal, secret martial art
from china. You were a master. It was all practice.

While this is not a statue of you doing snake creeps down, the statue’s form is as precise and correct as yours. It brings you back, keeps you with me as I practice my form almost every day, the short form, 20 minutes. The long form with you took an hour.

And each day when I practice my tai chi, I thank you. And I think you might be pleased
to know your little bird still still follows you as I move through the form.


Karen Neuberg’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Glassworks, Gone Lawn, Really System, Unbroken, and Verse Daily.. She is the author of PURSUIT (Kelsay Books, 2019) and the chapbook the elephants are asking (Glass Lyre Press, 2018