Entries in 1. Poems (25)

Evan Commander

Poem for Wednesday

 

the rogue amusement of last Wednesday is not enough

to withstand what happens tomorrow like someone’s

brother who loves to believe in things you are terrible

 

with covers my Christopher Reeves song is a weightless

body and scratched the whole time I was in Cincinnati

I thought I had a brain tumor I remember thinking

 

the cars behind me do not exist yet I closed my eyes

when the world moved around me

 

 

I in bed with noises

 

In Mexico City so lush always above the purr

The tips of lashes flicker like the tips of lakes

A discussion on Earth torn among discussions on Earth

I could stomach the lookers a crowd of bleeders and their

Fallen the thirst of another day’s rain falls away from the slop

The child and the child and the adolescent laugh

Letters fog great washes of snow patterns

Under blankets like sunrooms and into sunrooms

Great merriment the car lights my dear

The all conquers distance and agreements take

Selfish winces the face to see or think or

Move move home move a home to the quiet pleasant

And smoke on chairs and tables of sky and gangs of clouds

A brief white above everywhere wrote the horrible

No stars ever the pavement before a stair before a stair

The modern word idle and whatever is dirt

Small movements on couches like a sort of false wallpaper

Of barns among hallways sun an empty room

How it is to fill the endeavors of some day

Everywhere wrote the horrible again

In the absolute wanting of the parts of others

 

 

Red Clay

 

like all the first lines we wear as paper shoes

 

here I am at 8:08 p.m. indefinable ample frame

 

built for a larger man but holding me up

 

to dig in red clay all hot daylong

 

my canopy is on sideways in case I tip that way

 

from sweat weight and pull of humidity

 

the street is asleep on a mattress of scenery

 

frozen in a winter of whitish white breathing

 

under water the sky looks like a person’s skin

 

I thought you were magic until teenagers beat you up

 

what insurance do I have

 

now words are burnt in a forest of red reddish

Darcie Dennigan

Orienteering in the Land of the New Pirates

 

The New Pirates are men who, as infants,

told their moms Keep your milk and went and suckled gas pumps.

 

In towns of peril and experience, were the twelve-year olds

shrugging It’s an island all around and no water.

 

Coming home to dark houses to moms saying, Baby

they turned our lights off.

 

ConEd turned their lights off. And ConEd turned

their stove off, turned their heat off. And Citgo

sucked the gas from their car. Citgo sucked back the gas from the car as they drove.

 

It wasn’t that they weren’t tender, didn’t want to cry—

just, they saved up each yelp and lachrymal drop

till they could stick a finger in a socket and light up the house.

 

I am not the fountain of all pity.

We were all afraid to go near that neighborhood.

 

I thought, with gold caps on their teeth, they will smile and kill.

Yes, I thought, but they are sort of— beautiful.

 

Destiny for them is right now and right now and right now and the air with spit hovering in it.

 

Hiding in the town shadows, the air gagged

with electrical currents, the cars, the people on the street lagging—

even the moon lagging behind the tides—

they would come, the New Pirates, dark in the dark.

And the light they make and the light they take is gold.

 

That’s the romantic in me, yes, but if you could see the latest maps.

 

The world is all dark

except for the pulses of natural gas etched in purple

the white of fireflies and the golden coils that trace the movements of the New Pirates.

 

Plus the thin red light off one police car chasing them down.

 

If you flipped the switch on that map

you would have seen the little boys, New Pirates-at-the-ready,

standing in line like for a carnival ride

 

because isn’t adventure always better than stagnant water?

 

—I say this standing waist deep in a swamp.

 

Sure the sludge this time of year is golden.

It is a swamp of ancient leaves, logs from ancient forests.

It is a few calendars until a seam of coal.

 

The golden sludge I think is a collection of sunlight.

It only wants to be stirred.

 

A crew of men from the inner city are robbing ships of the rich on the high rivers,

the highrises, the Hoover Dam.

Their treasure is energy, their loyalty to— living?

 

It sounds stupid.

We were afraid to even go near that neighborhood.

 

Still, if I had a son, I might want him

to make a New Pirate of himself. He’d be exhausted, always too thin, but that’s an honest

 

heartbreak. I wouldn’t want my boy to think the world is kind.

Wouldn’t want him to think his games have no dark side.

 

Me the supermarket braggart—

My boy was the first to mechanize his fist. My boy rides a windmill when he needs impetus.

blah blah blah, he surfs on oil slicks.

My boy says energy is the only life.

 

I imagine this waistdeep in a swamp.

 

Or am I the swamp, wanting only to be stirred?

 

And who is the man on the map, in the dark, eating out the heart of the swamp?

Robyn Art

SUPERSYMMETRY

Even now the waves’ gallant receding

as still some whales go unharvested,

 

even now the restless continents

and the clamorous pingings in between,

 

just another amphibious planet crosshatched

with its giant, tsunamic reckonings

 

between the moon’s silvery clavicle and the clouds,

feathered and whorled. So first it’s the body’s

 

clamorous hatchings and another

potentially-bicuspid zygote, the egg

 

shakes loose from its filament into a motorcade

of sperm and Voila, another clueless hominid

 

kicking the Coke machine in the hall.

Someday we will all be so many

 

vestigial organs under glass,

decomposing glial cells of our flogged

 

and sanctimonious forbears as the earth

carries on with its apoplectic music,

 

half Hallelujah chorus,

half Flight of the Bumblebee on kazoo.

 

Somewhere it is autumn,

the woods tossed and heady with pitch;

 

it is May, the sexy Black-Eyed Susans

knock-kneed in the wind.

 

Already somewhere it is too late, but wouldn’t

you do it once all over,

 

wouldn’t you spring the beast from its muzzle

just to see if it could sing?

EARLY INDICATIONS OF THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

 

Already the quorum of stars and their distant,

Apocryphal hum, already the field

Lashed with frost, the lightning’s frenzied

Pyrotechnics, already the sound of water

And sea’s voluminous displays, orbit

Of spinning and hurtling through the body’s

Multitude failings. Soon organelle, soon ribosome,

Soon Golgi apparatus, soon body’s rap sheet

Of forgeries and the vials on clinic shelves,

Soon eruption of fire ants like pus

From a ruptured boil, mosquito’s suicidal

Forays, the zapper’s sharp, unequivocal

Crack. Not the dream of lilies,

But of root-bulbs buried in snow.

Soon the faces of loved ones from where

Already the train has appeared.

 

 

Neil de la Flor & Maureen Seaton

Z – A

Zeeeee:         Is a small yet visible phenomenon exerted on a body rotating directly upon
                     any moving wind of objects at the poles and goes east to zero at the
                     equator because it is an apparent right directed outwards in a clockwise
                     velocity in a non-appreciable suspension non-advection similar to the
                     Zeeman effect.

Y (Why)          Brings to mind the breach between the Seen and the Unseen; or, in other
                     more uncrinolined disciplines, the gross symbiotic effect recently stumbled
                     upon by Yasbel’s Knife or the Kaleidoscope of Rhizomes (See Kay.)

Xotic              Haven’t seen Kay yet but news from Joan about swamps made it this way,
                     i.e., it’s okay to swim barefoot and petticoats are high fashion once again on
                     Thursdays.

V                   L

U (ewe)         Yikes. Stuck between the high court judge who is pro succulent and one
                     who believes in goat man, man goat, man goat woman, goat goat woman,
                     goat goat man, but not goat man woman unions, was fired for fro(licking)
                     with Hellava Bottom Carter. (sound of goat stumping_____!)

Thomas         Is a tank engine train? Is now a government plaza? Is my class brother? Is
                     real? Is buried? Is a punter of screen arts? Is one of Davis area’s most
                     respected dental assistants? Is conservative? Is survived by his wife of 47
                     years?

S (ess)           Slimester. Slimblekey. Once known for his chemical-holding fat bubbles, Mr.
                     Slim Shaky, aka, Whimsy Corpuscle, is survived by his wife of six months,
                     aka, Thomas Stout’s lovely widow.

Rooster          Hoopi dopey do! I want to shake my booty out da’ door. Oops. I lost a
                     feather.

Q (kewpie)     Is the codependent partner of U; sometimes, as in qarif, Q branches out on
                     her own and the results are startling and occasionally couplets. This,
                     however, is not easily perpetrated, so don’t even try if you’re into the four
                     horsemen or if you are a horse. Nothing is worse than all those qills without
                     the quivers. Either way, kewpies rule in quintuplets and then only on
                     boardwalks.

Post               Holy Rosary School of the Little Mosh Pit! I’ve just found a mosaic
                     bracelet with kewpies-encrusted gun metal. Close your little eyes and put
                     your pinkies in your ears and blow. Then write the first thing that comes to
                     your fingertips. Like this: mosquito.

O (boy)          So Steve walked into Unit 7 and I introduced him to Malcolm who, as
                     you know, bites. Steve liked him anyway and was careful to wash his hands
                     after touching him. Later Steve called Malcolm Morty by accident, which
                     actually fits really well now that Malcolm is in this new stage of his lives.
                     When I mentioned the name change to Malcolm he bit me on the leg and all
                     I could say was: Oh boy, Morty, not you too!

Names           I met this guy who changed my cat’s name from Pumpkin to Stella. Then I
                     met another guy and he changed my cat’s name from Stella to Lola.
                     After those guys I changed my cat’s name to Kitty, which better reflected
                     the fact he was 1. a cat and 2. a boy not a drag queen.

M (yum)         M’s birthday is coming up. Therefore, We will eat sirloin burgers (made from
                     mammals) at Le Tub in Hollywood (or dolphin sandwiches, not made from
                     mammals). No beets, no doves, no karaoke.

Lillian             I gave her the copy of the IR because she’s curious and also bought her a
                     journal so she can write her story. She remembers everything (maybe I’ll
                     collab. with her too, how weird?, anyway) to our (my s’s and my) wits
                     feets. When is this fete champetre? (Will you add the symbols above the
                     e’s?)I remember something about shopping at Chico’s and dinosaur kisses.

K(ay)             Kewpie doll heads. See Yasbel’s knife.

Jackson          Fetlock fetid fetishist, stand up! I’ve got geese bumps.

I                    Are you talking to me?

H                   ell no!

G                   She and her husband had tried to open a coffee shop in Englewood, Florida,
                     where the Red Tide is not a kind of tea or a communist takeover, and the guy
                     who was selling the perfectly wonderful space refused to negotiate. G was a
                     gamete, a gameshow, a gamma. She fell backwards into the pool and waited
                     for Gresham’s Law to dissipate. We left her there for about nine minutes,
                     then we pelted her with dog toys.

FCAT             Meow.

(m)E              Are you talking to me yet?

Dungeness     Crabby guy, what you want?

CLAM             I am not talking about sounds or forms or silver dolls or saffron. Here’s a
                     money saver for you (not you, lollipops): male bonding is Canadian bacon
                    (which is really ham). In a small twist of things the lice attach themselves
                     to the baby salmon who die because fish farms are run by clergymen with
                     ham sandwich fetishes who then release the (he’s so cute that guy from
                     Boston Legal) what was I talking about? Sea lice are cling-ons and they
                     attach to some fish that swim upstream or river and die because (why do
                     they die?)—lice bites?

Boo(bs)          Possibilities and everyone beautiful on tv. (See Freddie.)

A-                  go-go

Clay Matthews

Exchange Rate

 

I stare at the beard on the tire salesman hoping it’s hiding

something from me inside because on most days I am decent

at reading people, but he is burly in his navy blue uniform and I

would pay almost anything to get back on the road. I lean

against the counter, and look back at the shop through the window

tinting the cars in the rear of the building and the men underneath

and the tires holding on to one another in these perfectly

tilted towers. This elevator goes only to the top, and once there,

my friends, there’s just the one way down. Pit stops on these

the otherwise dramatic versions of life as a highway. And that

cliché wore me out sick in its pseudo radio rock and roll version

back in the nineties but that was an entire other decade, another

century, another time in my life and now when the song comes playing

on the speakers, covered by some country artist trying to make it big

for every one of his moms and pops and aunts and cousins sitting

on the back porch eating corn on the cob and drinking cheap beer,

I think to myself that maybe the song is not so bad after all, and even now

preferred in the original version once un-preferred. These are a people

I know all over the place. America look at your wonderful guts.

And I am wearing khaki pants I am not to be trusted I am looking

at a man who is looking at me and we are both wondering what it is

the other one really wants. And the door opens and the wind comes

in and now it is the weather that brings us together as he and you

and I and we go on standing in semi-circles and wondering what

in the world sends the rain. Because anyone who understands motors

even in the slightest sense understands a chain of command

if you push the why and how far enough you’re always eventually left

without an answer. So I sip on the coffee which is really just water

pushed slowly through a bean, a bean which once pushed slowly

through water, and soil, and air, and this very moment I hope

is a microcosm of larger things that are also not to be understood.

I have loved many women. I have married only one. I have lost

a brother and given up on people. I have no idea how to live

the honest life, the good life, the pure life, the righteous life but I

am working on living the best I can which these days I can sometimes

be proud of. And I have grown to be a better gardener and a better

neighbor and a better listener—all these things in spite of myself.

The whole world in spite of myself. We go on and you go on and in

the background the air ratchet goes on in perpetual motion, removing

the same lug nuts it will later put back on and tighten. Even the machines

take on a life of habit. You can drive a car back and forth to work

the same route every day and then one day head for the ocean only to find

the car would rather stay home. This may imply I was going somewhere.

This may imply an escape. I know freedom is just a word and America

is not itself freedom but they are a concept I continue to love. Like in

the movies about prison escape, of one sort or another, where the caged

man is let out to shake a leg. This happens in one of two ways: on his own

or with the help from friends. And if a history of film has taught me

anything it is that it is beautiful to be alone, and beautiful to rely on friends.

The key is the right camera angle. These are little lessons of life I offer

with a growing respect for little lessons of life. Outside it’s getting

darker and the trees are bending to the will of the wind because

the tree that stands upright is a proud tree but a fool because

as established earlier we have yet to identify the temperament

of the source. And I have yet to identify the source of the automobile

malfunction, which is I am sure something technical but just seems

to have something to do with the heart. Here’s a confession. Sometimes

at the shop I look at the local car papers, at all the fabulous array

of cars, trucks, minivans, campers, and each car stands in as an alternate

lifestyle, another me set to motion by the glimpse of a photograph.

And then at some point (and it happens every time) I feel guilty,

like I have cheated on my own car, like I’ve let it down and this is

the reason he has let me down, because I was the first to break his heart.

Silly notion but it never leaves. Silly is what the life’s all about.

In the front of the tire shop there is a flower bed, surrounded

by concrete and new tires and chrome rims and trash various people

have unloaded while at the stop light. And I wonder who

in their right mind puts a flower bed at an auto-mechanic’s, and which

of the workers comes out, early in the morning, to water the flowers

which go on in spite, in good weather and bad weather, in testament

that inside these doors is a man or woman that cares this much.

Pride in work. There is only the autumn to return the favor.

But I say this as someone in summer simply waiting for rain.

The television is set to the news announcing another bad day

at the stock exchange, though gold has appeared to hold its value.

This gives me hope, if for no other reason than we the people have

set out trying to mean something heavy, and because gold is something

I have none of except for the wedding ring I wear on my finger,

the ring a young Jamaican girl held before my wedding, weighing it

in her hand, asking, Gold? And when I nodded, she answered, Nice,

and I felt like for once I had done something terribly right. Error

and redemption. I’m trying to make up for a thousand things. The door bell

rings and the man up front tells me my car is ready. I pay him with a credit card

because it’s the only option I have. And we shake hands, and I look at the clock

and then back again. And we nod as if knowing the debt owed each other,

and the larger debt owed somewhere else. He hands me my keys and says

You’re all ready to go. As if once gone out the door he already knows where.

William D. Waltz

What It Is That Abandons You

 

There is a triangle

and in the triangle a tree.

The tree calls, the tree waves,

the tree hunches over the children

and whispers in their ears.

They hear not the deep sap traveling

through their sleeping tendrils.

 

There is a street. It ignores

the boulevards, the thoroughfares,

the tree. It has no mother, no son,

no daughter. It is a street

whose brick dissolves and intersections

clench and unclench at the cross-

walks like memory’s muscle.

 

There is a square. It is green.

A man has arranged

for four windows to face the tree

and two to gaze upon the mountain.

This is his pledge to her.

After the leaves have fallen

she climbs the tree and pulls him up.

 

This is her gift to him.

When the fruit drops,

the tree shudders,

the golden triangle roars.

 

 

 Please She Said

 

 Mistaking commands

for requests can make

for happy accidents,

unspoken symbiosis,

if you will. Take a moment

and notice the shrubbery,

the pulse behind your knee,

the plane your sole touches,

the earth. No, I mean

look at the world.

You are in a large diffuse field,

part of the field is dying.

You may be that part.

Elsewhere, exotic quadrant,

black staffs of antennae,

ants shepherd aphids

plump with chartreuse translucence,

honeydew, nectar, elixir of wife.

This is their currency, their contract.

For sweet sustenance provide

shelter for our soft, fragile bodies

for as long as we both shall live

well. She said the arborvitae

means the porch isn’t plumb

and the foundation sunk

long before the time capsule

hemorrhaged in the ticktock of twilight,

and the carpenter will not rise again.

Moths balls, in addition,

planted in the tulip bed

indicate the Bavarian hag

hates rabbits roaming wild

more than the smell of death.

The equations, tell me,

echo like empty rooms

without numbers

and shelter dilated

orphans with them.

Mistake request

for command

and make an enemy

out of love

and the neighbor slowly

denuding maples

in the rain.

Laura Cherry

Glimpse

 

Once heading toward a different exit,

I saw him striding down the platform

and cut off my voice in my throat.

 

Just as, when she was still well and at home

and I had a baby for her to meet,

certain plans would have taken me there.

 

He worked five blocks from me;

we rode the same morning train.

I’d stop him to talk another time.

 

 

Layoffs

 

This row of cubicles is haunted.

One by one or in clumps,

the occupants picked off, midday,

made to leave at once.

 

Now, their monitors staring and silent,

notebooks left in hopeful attitudes,

legacies of paper clips:

mine, all mine.

 

 

We Could Use a Few More Members at the Thousand-Dollar Level

 

Again they’ve left the mike on so the fitful

jangling phone is louder than the music.

 

How they must dread these ten endless days:

the manager schlepping her overnight bag;

 

volunteers drooping over their donuts; deejays

rambling, imagining our prolonged wince:

 

same recorded celebrity shuck, same coffee-mad

CD-dropping mania, willing to pledge back

 

almost anything for your call. But they persist

in the biennial slog with all too few

 

Jerry Lewis telethon moments. You will walk alone,

public radio station in the windowless basement

 

of a small-time college, sending out your pleas

to the profit-polluted autumn air.

Wynn Yarbrough

Bird Watching

March , Front Royal Virginia

South on Rte. 340, hundreds of sparrows break into cones, black and white thunder:

whooshing, flailing against the shallow river of orange light. These dark stalkers seek

 

and climb, roll into deep blue breezes while truck drivers hose down their wheels,

spraying salt and snow off the hard rubber. Their hearts fly backwards

 

towards food, wives, and shadows. This afternoon spell spins out of control

on them. Several stare from the cabs or pace the parking lot, alone. Manic, one lifts

 

and glides away from the swirl and vortex of those other twirling sparrows. Bumping

nervously along, he sinks and swivels across Middletown Road, into the hollow.

 

See the redbuds’ early pink leaves flicker like wings in the great gusts from dumptrucks:

all these little boys follow one another, trying to steer like men into Front Royal.

June, Cross Junction

Robin commutes carefully across the road, obeying laws: gravity, exertion.

Tractors sputter and throw obscene stares and short staccato bursts

 

of choking smoke behind them. Her red breast swells and recedes: she never stalls,

never gyrates in circles, never swoops out of control. Across the lawn,

 

her cheerily-cheerup is never desperate, her call never floats into a question.

My girlfriend doesn’t know lovely depressive mornings or the spinning, chaotic evening.

 

Reclining on the lawn, I’m laying my raked and combed head on a spinning planet,

just level with her ordered hopping, instincts, directions. Bobbing, she snaps her beak

 

together, scans the ground with pitiless eyes. Spurs thrust deeply into sandy loam,

she’s pulling a worm from her feet, through her heart, torqued to the back of her neck.

 

The head feeds her hunger, but bites off an extra section for fear she didn’t get enough.

Parade with white foamed lips, she looks like she’s swallowed a blossom.

January, Winchester

Down Cameron Street, the cracked hard glaze of ice wants to thaw. On my steps,

footsteps are frozen, toes pointed away from home. On the open windowsill,

 

pieces of molded bread and tomato ends lure him into the street lamp’s glow.

Trotting, side to side, he sings a song he’s never stopped learning. Fluted phrases,

 

whistling higher and higher: you, you, you.  Winter stops. His long grey tail feathers

bob up and down; he’s warming his behind at the crack in my window. He drags

 

his wings through another singing come from his white chest, spotted

and riddled with mud: me, me, me . The notes scrape the window and creep

 

into where I’ve been left. silence and a new round of snowing. The kettle brags and he

opens his beak when it’s blown, breaking

 

into: pay, pay, pay . We’re both blinking through the steam hovering over the kettle.

He leaves me, my fingers winging across a pane of glass, tracing her name in moisture.

Joshua Marie Wilkinson

Jewel Crook

 

 

The boy pulled

the diamond out

of his forearm

& asked the mattress

in the field why

his apology

would not be enough.

 

 

Scurry Back

 

The twin brothers

spoke the song through

the vent & the sounds

from their mouths

came wet into

the sleeper as if

through a mousehole.

Mathias Svalina

Dew Settles; Our Beloved Explorer Considers the Role of Evidence

 

The cloud-numbed night sky is a warning, confers

mauve to bluestem, starlings’ tongues,

 

imprint of a coat’s seam on a right cheek,

exchanges white-age for twitching synapses,

 

translates sigh-sickness into cymbals’ shudder (maybe treble,

maybe teeth, baby fingers grip a cricket carcass),

 

rips the calloused rind from hard cheese, cyst &

brittle-bitten fingernails, bats wheedle through elms.

 

And if this is broken I will remain broken,

maintain oval-dreams. A drop of egg white

 

on the formica countertop, dew-wet cotton sweater,

egg yolk cloud-seductively sliding the curl-steel bowl.

 

The starling’s breath smells like a morning-wife.

Moon-precarious: so goes carnival, the whirlwind-world

 

said Helen to Paris’ slave as she broke another vase,

said the pink thumbtack to the dead starling’s eye.

 


 

She Uses Her Pinky Finger When She Types

 

Suppose there was an ice cube left over from the Napoleanic wars

     & I’d bought it at auction, Christies or Sothebys

          or something like that & all my friends were like

“Why the fuck are you buying that ultra-rare & ultra-expensive ice cube

     when you can barely pay your rent & your freezer is full

          of perfectly good ice cubes?” And my parents were all

“This time, Mathias, I just don’t follow your line of reasoning.”

 

And suppose that it cost like a million dollars &

     I charged it to my Discover card. And suppose that in sunlight

          its color is glacial-blue & dreampure-blue & remember

that the bubbles caught inside it are the air of Napoleanic France

     & that as ice ages it holds the sins of its owners inside & hence

          our international love of the polar ice caps.

 

And suppose we sat on the concrete steps of my apartment

     & you knocked your finger into the votive candle

          by which we were playing War after 3AM on a Tuesday Night/

Wednesday Morning, moon haloed & nightsky churning

     more violet by the minute & as you hit the wick

          it stuck to your finger, & left a small white burn

 

& I went to the fridge for ice & the only ice in the freezer

     was the left-over-from-the-Napoleanic-wars ice cube,

          shrouded in a insulating sleeve of black velvet

& I was all “fuck it” & I brought the ice cube out

     to ease your burned finger & maybe you’re half-pouting, playful-like,

          the pain hardly worthy of a pout but a pout being the very thing

that seems only permissible & even forgivable due to the pain

 

& I unwrapped the ice cube from its black velvet

     & handed it to you slowly, with an air of mock-stateliness

          & you held the ice cube in the palm of one hand

& slipped your burned finger over it night-breeze gentle

     as a child might pet an oddly affectionate koi fish

          in the backyard pond of her parent’s work-related friends.

 

Supposing all of this, would you let the melted water drip

     off the burned finger? Would you let it pool in your palm?

          Would you hold your wet finger out to me,

 

moon-halo, elms-in-the-breeze & moisten my chapped lips?

     I was born inside a paperback book.

Therefore I can never forget a word of this.

The elms are heavy with coming storm.

Lightning is of the same class as weapons.

The language of water is not yet forgotten.

You use your pinky finger when you type.

John Pursley III

Skyland Boulevard

And I am in love with the Chardonnay      the hard spackled lights,

 

The all you can eat buffet      fat with fritters      little craw, crayfish,

 

Lobster, spice      an atrium of reunion      this brutal closet, this mini-

 

Malled arch of earth      this expenditure      thoroughfare to Jesus,

 

Jay-Z & we’re in it      over our heads with the late Jimmy Rodgers

 

It’s peach pickin’ time in the upper atmosphere      the American

 

Thrift      repeating itself in tintinnabulation      reciprocity & rebound

 

Relationships      doubling for the real thing      like the seltzer pop

 

Of bubbly      food & fast      like the giddy-up & go      of graveyards

 

One headlight, hubcap, hills in every direction      little clay runnels

 

Clandestine with shopping      with Lowe’s, Payless      why pay at all?

 

Even the theaters begin to cloud the stars      with Right Turns Only

 

Headstones you can mow over      just enough gas for getting there

Justin Marks

KINDNESS IS RARE

What a mistake it was

to kick the cat, the fat

one with the bad leg.

Or, when I was a boy

out looking for things to shoot

with my bb gun,

to have all of the sudden

shot the baby bird

with its neck stretched out,

mouth open, waiting in its nest

for its mother to return with food.

Its little cheeps slowed

then stopped, as if

its batteries had merely run down,

and I turned back to the house

to pretend it never happened.

Kicking the cat

was an accident.

It has a small brain

and I’m sure forgot

the whole thing almost

immediately.

 

 

A DESK IN THE CREATIVE DEPARTMENT

 

The Jesus nightlight pinned

to my cubicle wall is never on.

I haven’t even taken it

out of its package.

Pigeons are on the street below,

which I can’t see.

Someone told me once

they aren’t really birds

so much as flying rodents.

They were probably right,

but I love them anyway—

the pigeons, that is—

because I’m a poet

and it’s my job to love things

and hate them.

I’m supposed to hate

my real job, but I don’t.

The work isn’t bad,

the people are nice.

Some of them are saying

the Jesus nightlight is really Yanni,

a woman whose name I can’t recall

tells me as she admires the army men

battling on my desk.

They were a birthday present

from Stephen, the creative director, I say.

That’s fitting, she says.

I’m so wired on coffee, I say,

I may never come down.

And she says, Aren’t we all.

Robert Krut

GRAVITYPANTS ROCKETBOY IS FASHIONING A FLYING APPARATUS

 

Gravitypants Rocketboy is fashioning a flying apparatus

made of old newspapers and wood from his childhood home.

 

You wouldn’t know GP Rocketboy if you saw him,

only revealing his face to invention—

 

head bowed, kicking his left foot with right,

walking past your breath, helium for take-off—

 

GPRB admits to himself:

when I was young, I moved with the grace

 

of a pair of cement legs on glass-face earth.

 

Gravitypants Rocketboy asks himself:

how long until we’re not the people we were before?

 

And, of course, it is never—

 

but he gives light

to each of his Russian-nesting-doll-selves—

 

weightlessness so their new ghostskins may leave

only the dense core of who he has been all along,

 

grounded on this rooftop, ready for flight.


 

LOSING SIGHT OF YOUR RIGOROUS SOCIAL INTERACTION MANUAL

 

—dropped your guidebook of motivational interpersonal

conversation suggestions, and it keeps getting kicked further

from reach. Sweat on your forehead when a stranger

asks a question, and you reply all good clouds want peace.

 

He stammers away in a fog … a billowing steam arm

from above taps your shoulder, says please speak for yourself

from now on, but that’s the problem, after all, and the manual

teeters on the lip of a sewer—every time you speak

 

a bullet ricochets off street signs, lodges in just

the wrong wall, which will post a billboard the very next day

that says Bullet Speaks for Boy—World, Suck It,

and that’ll be that and all rugs will be pulled out,

 

and not just the rug but the hard wood floor beneath

and you will be balancing on the pipes that run the world

until you say screw it, let it flood, the place filling with water

and there, as the phone rings in sonar, your guidebook

 

notebook floats out of the lead, now a concrete shut

artifact with your initials in its surface

and you think to say, a mouth full of dusty water,

yes, go ahead—please help me.

Michael Jauchen

After Sneaking Into The Museum of the Moving Image In Queens

for Patrick McNamara and Tommy Two Times

L’Arrivéê [d’un train en gare] was a visual tour de force, and audiences are said to have stampeded at the sight of the locomotive barreling toward them from a distant prospect into the foreground of the screen.

—David A. Cook/A History of Narrative Film

 

Where are the days of the lone harlequin juggling knives passed hand to

    hand with a bookkeeper’s precision?

The cadenced bend to unbend in his left knee (a retraction into the push

    up of retrace) completes the aesthetic line

of the whirring steel arc, knighting our jester with a counterpoint sharpness

    of his own. Here’s an amazing thing:

on the museum’s third floor the phenakistoscope slowed, I think I

    remember wondering if the, it was

only for a second, knives might fall, the ceased whirring spawning its own

    second sequence, some melodrama

involving a severed thumb, his left foot run through by a falling blade, a rumbling

    ambulance of some kind, enter the mumbling

ringmaster pissed-off at the compensations coming out of his pocket. The wheel

    slowed, the fool’s knee straightened and bent again a

last time. And the knives rested mid-toss, any notion of their capacity

    for brutal amputation remained only a stored potential

energy per square inch per square inch. The sign beside the display can explain

    better than I can how animation works. I read

it then but I’ve semi-forgotten what it said. We’d smoked a lot of marijuana

    that morning and I was convinced I was losing my front tooth.

 

On the F train home, we talked about taking a headshot of either you or me,

    done right complete with the noir

of a glamorous hollywood chiaroscuro, framing it, adding it to the empty slot

    I saw in the floor to ceiling mosaic of movie

stars lining the entry hall on the second floor (the spot just to the left of Dana

    Andrews), just to see how long it might stay

there. You thought it would be a week before anyone noticed. I thought

    it would only take minutes, some woman, some

valued East Side donor, walking in, her quick double take, and then her boast to the

    curator four minutes later:

“I knew all along that one was missing something. I could tell all along

    it was lacking that certain magic.”

 

 

After a Drunk Reading of Pablo Neruda, I Walk Along the Beach and Think of You

 

I would recite “Buscar” for you but I’ve

forgotten the first two lines. My drunken

words make tra lalas! I’ll find a trunk and

force them inside! I will send them by night

by waves coursing the ocean to islands

far away! Where idle birds nest in silence,

where along the sweat troughs of your ribcage,

my mouth, a slow kettle exhaling fire-

salt and rain and dumb laughing desire,

will spell an actor’s fright. Somewhere offstage

to his gone alchemy beats a clear vision;

its sounds make our hero cough his admission:

“Dithyramb, loneliness, both held within her.

The motion in sex swerves poems to splinters.”

Dan Hoy

Love before Talkies

 

The first time I got so excited I ran all the way

down the street and knocked on Dana’s window:

these weren’t photos but moving photos, motion

in motion instead of the lie of “captured” moments,

which were too overtly artificial. Like the one

of my best friend and true love making a face

I never saw her make, not even as the picture

was taken. But one day in a dark theater

she leaned over and in a hushed voice told me

that what I was watching were discontinuous,

totally not moving images. So that constant motion

was an illusion too, and the joy I felt just a conspiracy

between the camera shutter and either my eyes

or brain or both. There were no alternatives

outside of real time experience, which was now

tainted by my inability to stifle the feeling that

some kind of ontological metaphor was going on.

“On the surface,” I told Dana, “deep down

it’s all disjointed.” “So adjust your strategy,”

she told me, “learn to admire the first illusion

for being more obvious yet more strange, and the second

for being so convincing and unashamed.”

There was honesty and truth in that —

but then I walked into Dana’s new mom’s

new dining room, and my voice echoing against a room

void of carpet or furniture sounded more false

than either of these and more strange because

more true, with no manmade tricks of technology,

just available acoustics. The fundamental truths

of hearing and seeing I’d grown up believing

had been irreversibly subverted and I’d only

been dating Dana for four months. That it felt like

we’d been together forever only compounded

my confusion, which, combined with my lack

of official parentage and spotty memory, made

for an ever-increasing empirical mess of affairs.

How could I propose in this condition?

But Dana wasn’t interested in marriage,

she told me, “Look, if I believed in state-

sanctioned love or public validation of my feelings

or (when it comes down to it) if elegantly tacky rituals

didn’t make me totally uncomfortable — but I just

want somebody to understand what I’m saying

without me having to say anything, or to understand me

without understanding sometimes what I just said.

Both of these. The rest is icing or just details,

but not really.” I told her I felt the same way

and that no amount of italicizing could ever

put the emphasis in the right place. But by then

the cinema was all the rage and I remember the day

we came face to face with the tangible impact of

silent stars, and their over-enunciating arms and faces.

It was night. We cowered between the restaurant

and the theater as the gestures became more and more

pronounced. It would be years before the talkies,

and years before the talkies restored subtlety

to modern courtship, only to take it back.

If we knew then what we know now — but then

we wouldn’t know now what we knew then,

which I’d know if only I could remember.

Or forget. I had to remember to forget so I could

“know now what you know right now,”

that was Dana’s new mother’s advice

that we ignored along with her admonitions.

Either way we ran into the theater, because

it was dark in there and the “collective dream”

as Dana called it had already started, meaning

the patrons were passive and figuratively sleeping,

so long as nobody yelled “fire” we were safe.

Anne Heide

Omen of Construction

 

A house is built on a wall and you live there. You build a birdhouse adjacent and live there. There are crows there that live there. This is good.

The house is constructed on a wall, and you live there. You build a jack, adjacent and alive there. There are beaks, there they lives there. It is good.

Home it is built in a wall, and you live there. Find a home, adjacent and alive there. There are crows, there lives there. Sign your walls carefully.

Matt Hart

WRITING AND READING

                                      drinking Stella Artois

and how exciting to be firing

                                      again

                                      all my cylinders’ engines

after long week of working and dying to mend

                                      to conduct myself in flowerpot

                                      not to hate

to be floored

                            and now, more particularly

                                                                              to wait

for Melanie who will bring home Italian

                               aglio olio and fried mozzarella

Live from Cincinnati it’s Saturday night!

where I have already copied the poems of Commander

                         have said in my mouth both Ginsberg and Clare

                         What could be more mooring?

and the windows flung open and the yard in its thrall…

Welcome, swallows!

                     Consider your allegiances

                     Remington Noiseless and a clean white shirt

                                 Full throttle yours,

                                                            Nobody move


NEST EGG

It’s midnight, and I’m fading after too many drinks;

you’re blue-speckled, mostly sober, right beside me.

We’re wondering what to do next, but also what to do ever—

which leads us

                       frequently, if figuratively

                                                            to the question:

How is this beginning the start of something crucial? Well,

I have a sonnet for your trumpet, but it’s lost and now I’m laundry.

There are so many forests for the burning to rebuild.

Bob Dylan might say, “The vandals took the handle.”

And you might respond, “How now brown cow,” i.e.

“What on earth are you talking about?” an inquiry

which would be perfectly apt considering the circumstances

                     and to which I would answer:

this poem is little more than a chalkboard equation,

and you, with any luck, the fastidious after-class eraser. Still,

I have emptied my motor-mouth. And you have walked

                                                      through junk expired.

What we do ever

                          is significant magic

                                                     is better than teeth.

Bespectacled alive in the eggshell beside us.

                                           Anything else is beside the point.


NEW YORK SCHOOL LEAF LETTER

More than a hundred thousand copies. Massive

the piling of leaflets to burn. The cento.

The BINGO. The leaves and the letters.

This is not always so easy. This is not always

 

so massive. Nor is it more than a hundred thousand

copies. It is not Joe Brainard either. It is not

his painting BINGO. Dear Ron Padgett.

The cento. The aching machine. The

 

raking the leaves. You may think this is

nonsense or merely a penny, but it isn’t.

Nor is it. Nor leaflets to burn. Liberty’s

Statue proclaiming inferno. Joe Brainard.

 

Ron Padgett. Heroes both and towering

above me. The raking. The poem. Massive is more

than a hundred thousand copies. Otherwise sold to

a nonsense inferno. Joe Padgett. Ron leaflet

 

Dear BINGO,


SIRENS MUSES FATES HOURS

Consider the ages. The fates and the muses.

The face that amuses and despises a kitten.

A kitten named Podiatrist. O good grief.

No one despises a kitten, not even

 

the Sirens, and they have a lot of reasons

to despise us. Me And You And Everyone

We Know. A very fine movie by Miranda

July, starring Miranda July. July July

 

it’s the end of July. Consider the aegis.

The podiatrist. The rhinoceros. The fates

and the muses and the new Honda Civic.

It has all the features. Me and you and

 

everyone we know should buy one. Starring

Miranda July. The Sirens, the Muses, the Fates

and the Hours. They have a lot of reasons.

A lot of features. All new shipwrecks, 2007

 

Honda Civic.

Elisa Gabbert

SCREENSHOT FOR ALLEN

Here’s you. Here’s your street. Now zoom out—way out.

That speck on the right-hand side by the scrollbar is me.

Hanging on the coast. Hiking around, in the cold-day air,

cerulean wind whipping at our faces with our own hair.

Over the dunes, always more dunes. You would have said,

Why does it have to be so sandy? Since you weren’t there,

I said it instead. I wonder what you were doing then.

Probably writing out equations on unlined paper

in your fast loopy hand: something I couldn’t comment on

except at this superficial level. How stupid of me

to find your pencil marks sexy. To prefer them

to the world: the huge freezing ocean: it does nothing

for me. This gull wing jutting up out of the sand.

Is there a bird down there, objecting? Politely?

Excuse me, world. I wasn’t ready to be buried.

 


 

DISASTERPOEM (FOR KR)

 

I want to drive under the overpass all night,

turn the stripe of light, the light’s blink

to a strobe effect—turn the light epileptic—

 

the interior goes orange, night-orange, the orange

of black—the edges go sharp/slack, sharp/

slack. I think So this is how it feels to be high—

 

I always think that when I’m high …

& I play & replay the film clip of K

when she stood up to go—when the towering

 

wave of her drunkenness hit, flattened her

there—when she fell like a building

down into itself, its own empty air—

 

freeze frame & rewind—those heart-breaking

legs, collapsible spires—it never gets old.

She’s with me now, half-asleep in the back

 

& ice-cold & now the moths are coming,

the moths of spring—moving toward the car

as it moves toward them—we will pass

 

thru each other’s fields. Don’t be afraid, K—

though afterward we may not remember

who we were before the crash.

Julie Doxsee

MY WINTER FILM

 

Anthony is a good

name for a

whale.

 

And presto, the ink

forms indelible

obscenities

 

addressed to mortals.

Out in the

mud, we

 

sweet-talk footage

shot with a

broken zoom

 

until it looks spit

on.

Mark DeCarteret

instrumental

w/each breath

I am sucked in again

 

though it always claimed nothing

rhymed w/it but din

 

or the heart as it burrowed in

deeper & finally deep

 

like the last time I’d let lion

have a line to its self

 

proof that I had begun once again

to uproot all its secrets

 

step over me please

we are nothing more than elbows & knees

 

& me w/my swashbuckler’s pen

clenched between these falsest of teeth

 

I am only attached to the world

by the words it has tried keeping from me

 

dead leaves cupping water

tissues mangled into blossom

 

my feet are reluctant to take me anywhere

when neither can agree on my history

 

a janitor’s mop barring the entrance

to paradise’s longest sleep over

 

the only mercy I’ve been shown is the wind’s

that one difficult note that’s played over & over & over

 

again

malled

more concessions this morning

several chin strap elixirs

& a bic pen discharged from all figuring

how I’ve flipped through my fears

w/an unblemished finger

while I feasted on holiness

like an echo long confined to a cave

& what was mustered was meatless

an almost archaic condiment

these slips which they’d predicted

though I knew nothing of their product

when I’m falling into silent conversation

my power lines coated w/sleep

& that pacifying hum

if an ageless & colorless rampage

has come to visit our dreams

what would one need to know

to have it sentenced to a book

to unpack & restrain up these thermals

I hammered more scrap into heart

& wound up w/a hunger for things

these the terms for addressing my hand

such as quilt there I said it

& quilt again we’ll return

this established while only a head

more flinch & dictation

who can taste resurrection through the salt

what is made out is faked

just a little bit dark & a little bit light

so let’s have the word for it

from those speaking for most of us

in a part of the world

that is aroused by the scheme

the unnecessary weight of more fliers

& a month of convertibles

(or was it mouthed the whole time?)

as much as something can be murmured responsibly

the hesitant flash of uncertainty

so I checked in the mirror again

a rain only slightly recovered

my bones sugary light in the toy-r-us parking lot

I should have flown, ran, etc.

before the last of any angels

turned blue from these formulas

& my eyes became tied to what voids me
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