Listen to Poems from Our January Issue | The Sun Magazine
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Listen to Poems from Our January Issue

By Nancy Holochwost, Associate Editor • January 17, 2024

The three poems featured in our January issue are filled with rich sensory writing. Each one contains an image that stops me in my tracks: a motionless panther; a dark mine shaft; the turn of a lock. Click the play button below each title to listen to recordings of the poems.

Take care and listen well,
Nancy Holochwost, Associate Editor


Key Marco Cat
By Robert Cording

Carved by the Calusa circa 500–800 CE

Half human, half panther,
barely six inches high,
and only a replica
of the original totem,
it’s placed before me
on my desk to remind
me of the concentration
and discipline needed
to live in the dark,
to pass through
the smallest opening
in thickets of wildness
and enter the grasslands
as easily as water
following the path
always waiting for it
to arrive. Legs folded
under its body,
the figure sits
straight up, alert,
an incarnation
of stillness, of eyes
looking everywhere
at once. I look at
this possibility of me
rooted in the dark,
invisibly still. What more
could I wish to be
than a being at rest,
my arms and hands
lying calmly on
my folded knees
as I grow less afraid,
knowing what it is
to become smaller,
to disappear,
as the panther does
in what surrounds it,
its view widening
as it takes the shadows
apart to see.


Lumps of Coal
By Robert P. Cooke

Read by Nancy Holochwost, Associate Editor

Remembering my grandfather

He was ten and drove a team of mules
through the shadows in mine shafts,
pulling a wagonload of coal
that glinted in the carbide light
anchored to his cotton cap.He tells me how the animals were raised in the dark
and he had to punch their sides to keep
them moving and how they would
stop and blink, shuddering,
at the shaft opening,
where the brilliant sun
streamed in too suddenly.Years later, when the local politician came to the door
asking for his vote, he said slowly,
almost inaudibly, through lungs of coal dust,
that the world was too unjust,
and he could bray like a mule, if asked.


Last Bath
By Jared Harél

It hasn’t happened yet: the awkward bloom
of my children’s bodies, the bathroom pin-lock
pushed in, the steady stream of marathon showers,
bolts of thick steam all shadowy blue.
They’re still here, together, the two of them
like seal pups in a porcelain tub as it brims
with bubbles, rubber fish, spongy green letters
speckled with mold. How long till toy ships
are docked and moored? It hasn’t happened yet,
but just yesterday my daughter asked for privacy
before brushing her teeth, of all things —
that delicate word out there, on her lips,
like new fruit. I almost laughed but nodded instead.
The white door before me: The knob. The click.
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