Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Floater

By Debra Nystrom

—to Dan

Maddening shadow across your line of vision—
what might be there, then isn't, making it

hard to be on the lookout, concentrate, even
hear—well, enough of the story I've

given you, at least—you've had your fill, never
asked for this, though you were the one

to put a hand out, catch hold, not about to let me
vanish the way of the two you lost already

to grief's lure. I'm here; close your eyes,
listen to our daughter practicing, going over and over

the Bach, getting the mordents right, to make the lovely
Invention definite. What does mordent mean,

her piano teacher asked—I was waiting in the kitchen
and overheard—I don't know, something about dying?

No; morire means to die, mordere means to take
a bite out of something—good mistake, she said.

Not to die, to take a bite—what you asked
of me—and then pleasure

in the taking. Close your eyes now,
listen. No one is leaving.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

History of Hurricanes

by Teresa Cader

Because we cannot know—

we plant crops, make love in the light of our not-knowing

A Minuteman prods cows from the Green with his musket,
his waxed paper windows snapping in the wind,
stiletto stalks in the herb garden upright—Now

blown sideways—Now weighted down in genuflection,

not toward,

And a frail man holding an Imari teacup paces at daybreak
in his courtyard in Kyoto

a cherry tree petaling the stones pink and slippery
in the weeks he lay feverish

waiting for word from the doctor, checking for signs—Now

in the season of earthenware sturdiness and dependency
it must begin, the season of his recovery





No whirling dervish on the radar, no radar, no brackets
no voices warning—no Voice—fugue of trees, lightning

Because we cannot know, we imagine

What will happen to me without you?





I know some things I remember—

the Delaware River two stories high inside the brick houses
cars floating past Trenton like a regiment on display
brown water climbing our basement stairs two at a time





Like months of remission—
the eye shifts

the waxed paper windows
burst behind the flapping shutters—

and how could he save his child after that calm,
a man who'd never seen a roof sheared off?





Across town the ninth graders in their cutoffs:
Science sucks, they grouse. Stupid history of hurricanes.

No one can remember one;

velocity, storm surge—
abstractions
the earth churns as Isabel rips through Buzzard's Bay

A hurricane, as one meaning has it:
a large crowded assembly of fashionable people at a private house





The river cannot remember its flooding—

I worry you will forget to check
the watermarks in time

An echo of feet on stone is all the neighbors
knew of their neighbor,
a lover of cherry trees

and of his wife who prayed for him at the shrine,
her hair swept up in his favorite onyx comb

Monday, April 27, 2009

We Address

By Norma Cole

…a lead pencil held between thumb and forefinger
of each hand forms a bridge upon which
two struggling figures, "blood all around"…

I was born in a city between colored wrappers

I was born in a city the color of steam, between two pillars, between pillars and curtains, it was up to me to pull the splinters out of the child's feet

I want to wake up and see you sea green and leaf green, the problem of ripeness. On Monday I wrote it out, grayed out. In that case spirit was terminology

In that case meant all we could do. Very slowly, brighter, difficult and darker. Very bright and slowly. Quietly lions or tigers on a black ground, here the sea is ice, wine is ice

I am in your state now. They compared white with red. So they hung the numbers and colors from upthrusting branches. The problem was light

Our friend arrived unexpectedly dressed in black and taller than we remembered. In the same sky ribbons and scales of bright balance

The problem and its history. Today a rose-colored sky. Greens vary from yellow to brown. Brighter than ink, the supposition tells the omission of an entire color

Which didn't have a musical equivalent. In those days the earth was blue, something to play. A person yearned to be stone

Clearly a lion or sphinx-like shape. The repetition of gesture is reiterated in the movement of ambient light on the windows, curtains, and on the facing wall, the problem

and its green ribbons. The hands almost always meet. Turquoise adrenaline illusions adjacent to memory, to mind. We address

memory, the senses, or pages on a double sheet, classical frontal framing. I want you to wake up now

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Terezin

by Taije Silverman

—a transfer camp in the Czech Republic


We rode the bus out, past fields of sunflowers
that sloped for miles, hill after hill of them blooming.

The bus was filled with old people.
On their laps women held loaves of freshly baked bread.
Men slept in their seats wearing work clothes.

You stared out the window beside me. Your eyes
were so hard that you might have been watching the glass.

Fields and fields of sunflowers.

Arriving we slowed on the cobblestone walkway.
Graves looked like boxes, or houses from high up.

On a bench teenage lovers slouched in toward each other.
Their backs formed a shape like a seashell.
You didn't want to go inside.

But the rooms sang. Song like breath, blown
through spaces in skin.

The beds were wide boards stacked up high on the walls.
The glass on the door to the toilet was broken.
I imagined nothing.

You wore your black sweater and those dark sunglasses.
You didn't look at me.

The rooms were empty, and the courtyard was empty,
and the sunlight on cobblestone could have been water,
and I think even when we are here we are not here.

The courtyard was flooded with absence.
The tunnel was crowded with light.
Like a throat. Like a—

In a book I read how at its mouth they played music,
some last piece by Wagner or Mozart or Strauss.

I don't know why. I don't know
who walked through the tunnel or who played or what finally
they could have wanted. I don't know where the soul goes.

Your hair looked like wheat. It was gleaming.

Nearby on the hillside a gallows leaned slightly.
What has time asked of it? Nights. Windstorms.

Your hair looked like fire, or honey.
You didn't look at me.

Grass twisted up wild, lit gold all around us.
We could have been lost somewhere, in those funny hills.

And the ride back—I don't remember.
Why was I alone? It was night, then. It was still morning.

But the fields were filled with dead sunflowers.
Blooms darkened to brown, the stalks bowed.
And the tips dried to husks that for miles kept reaching.
Those dreamless sloped fields of traveling husks.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lion and Gin

By Dennis Hinrichsen

I pet my father like some big cat a hunter has set on the ground,
though I am in Iowa now and not the Great Rift Valley
and what I sense as tent canvas flapping, thick with waterproofing,
is cheap cotton
choked with starch.
Still, he is a lion on the gurney.
I talk a little to make sure he's dead.
I have some memory of riding his shoulders
through the fragrant night. Three fish coiled in a creel. So many
butterflies
and gnats, it was two-thirds Kenya,
one-third Illinois.
And then home: the clink
of ice and gin.
And so I rub his hair, which is unwashed, and will
remain unwashed, for we will burn him.
I touch the blade of his chest.
Think of all those years I spent hovering beneath the scent of
Marlboros,
the mouthwash trace of booze; all that ice
cracking, going stale: crowned molars and mimic glaciers
fading to bled-out amber among the cuticles of lime.
Maybe that's why when he so blindly flies
on that exaltation of velocity and gas,
he doesn't linger in this world awhile as word or song,
a density we might gather round—
an aquifer, or gushing spring, as pure as gin.
Instead, he departs
as vapor.
Fragments of tooth and bone in the swept-out mass I can
throw back to dirt, or spread—a child's sugared, grainy drink—
to water.
And now I wonder, where's the soul in this?
The agent of it?
If it un-tags, re-tags itself—a flexible, moveable,
graffiti—indelible for the time we have it,
or if it sputters on some inward cycle toward a Rubbermaid
waste bucket, sink trap ringed with cocktail residue.
As on my returning, the trays of ice were reduced to spit.
I had a drink in my hand,
that memory of riding; the fragrant night.
How can I open the freezer now and not see the milky irises
of his passage;
the array of paw and pelt;
jaw wrenched so far open in that rictus of longing, gasping,
his living eyes could not help but tip and follow?

Friday, April 24, 2009

[In Colorado, In Oregon, upon]

By Joshua Beckman

In Colorado, In Oregon, upon
each beloved fork, a birthday is celebrated.
I miss each and every one of my friends.
I believe in getting something for nothing.
Push the chair, and what I can tell you
with almost complete certainty
is that the chair won't mind.
And beyond hope,
I expect it is like this everywhere.
Music soothing people.
Change rolling under tables.
The immaculate cutoff so that we may continue.
A particular pair of trees waking up against the window.
This partnership of mind, and always now
in want of forgiveness. That forgiveness be
the domain of the individual,
like music or personal investment.
Great forward-thinking people brought us
the newspaper, and look what we have done.
It is time for forgiveness. Dear ones,
unmistakable quality will soon be upon us.
Don't wait for anything else.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

In Knowledge of Young Boys

By Toi Derricotte

i knew you before you had a mother,
when you were newtlike, swimming,
a horrible brain in water.
i knew you when your connections
belonged only to yourself,
when you had no history
to hook on to,
barnacle,
when you had no sustenance of metal
when you had no boat to travel
when you stayed in the same
place, treading the question;
i knew you when you were all
eyes and a cocktail,
blank as the sky of a mind,
a root, neither ground nor placental;
not yet
red with the cut nor astonished
by pain, one terrible eye
open in the center of your head
to night, turning, and the stars
blinked like a cat. we swam
in the last trickle of champagne
before we knew breastmilk—we
shared the night of the closet,
the parasitic
closing on our thumbprint,
we were smudged in a yellow book.

son, we were oak without
mouth, uncut, we were
brave before memory.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where Man is in His Whole

By Hannah Zeavin

The heart on the breast of my mother
Saint, sleeping on the wing
of any number of blackbirds
their feet sticking out the end
of red pies.

Danger is my jester,
is the only thing keeping me here.

He holds nothing to himself.
In public he goes public.

There is a man who takes
blue silt to his brow
and kisses pollen.

No one notices.

They call him their leader.

Between breast in the morning
and open arms at night

Clouds of hair:
Gin guard has toes splayed to
receive me to receive me.

Songs and clouds and
pots banged. It's natural,
it's considered natural here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Luxury of Hesitation [An excerpt from The Proof of Motion]

By Keith Waldrop

things
forgotten
I could


burn in hell forever


set the glass
down, our
emotion's moment


eyes vs sunlight


how removed
here, from
here


towards the unfamiliar and


frankincense forests
against the discerning light


everybody
sudden


frightful indeed, the sound of
traffic and
no appetite


the crowd


I would like to be
beautiful when
written

Monday, April 20, 2009

Transit of Venus

by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

The actors mill about the party saying rhubarb
because other words do not sound like conversation.
In the kitchen, always, one who's just discovered
beauty, his mouth full of whiskey and strawberries.
He practices the texture of her hair with his tongue;
in her, five billion electrons pop their atoms. Rhubarb
in electromagnetic loops, rhubarb, rhubarb, the din increases.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

User's Guide to Physical Debilitation

By Paul Guest

Should the painful condition of irreversible paralysis
last longer than forever or at least until
your death by bowling ball or illegal lawn dart
or the culture of death, which really has it out
for whoever has seen better days
but still enjoys bruising marathons of bird watching,
you, or your beleaguered caregiver
stirring dark witch's brews of resentment
inside what had been her happy life,
should turn to page seven where you can learn,
assuming higher cognitive functions
were not pureed by your selfish misfortune,
how to leave the house for the first time in two years.
An important first step,
with apologies for the thoughtlessly thoughtless metaphor.
When not an outright impossibility
or form of neurological science fiction,
sexual congress will either be with
tourists in the kingdom of your tragedy,
performing an act of sadistic charity;
with the curious, for whom you will be beguilingly blank canvas;
or with someone blindly feeling their way
through an extended power outage
caused by summer storms you once thought romantic.
Page twelve instructs you how best
to be inspiring to Magnus next door
as he throws old Volkswagens into orbit
above Alberta. And to Betty
in her dark charm confiding a misery,
whatever it is, that to her seems equivalent to yours.
The curl of her hair that her finger knows
better and beyond what you will,
even in the hypothesis of heaven
when you sleep. This guide is intended
to prepare you for falling down
and declaring d├ętente with gravity,
else you reach the inevitable end
of scaring small children by your presence alone.
Someone once said of crushing
helplessness: it is a good idea to avoid that.
We agree with that wisdom
but gleaming motorcycles are hard
to turn down or safely stop
at speeds which melt aluminum. Of special note
are sections regarding faith
healing, self-loathing, abstract hobbies
like theoretical spelunking and extreme atrophy,
and what to say to loved ones
who won't stop shrieking
at Christmas dinner. New to this edition
is an index of important terms
such as catheter, pain, blackout,
pathological deltoid obsession, escort service,
magnetic resonance imaging,
loss of friends due to superstitious fear,
and, of course, amputation
above the knee due to pernicious gangrene.
It is our hope that this guide
will be a valuable resource
during this long stretch of boredom and dread
and that it may be of some help,
however small, to cope with your new life
and the gradual, bittersweet loss
of every God damned thing you ever loved.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hunger

By Sarah Gambito

I had a canoe that took me into the forest I read about. It was fleet and I asked no questions. I saw the careless embroidery of the sky above me. I was small. I was embracing. And I was dear all my life. My instrument is silent. I never learned to play. But it sits poised in my arms like an amber deer that I'll give my life for. What does it sound like? Why haven't I tried?

She crept into my arms like a red flower a stranger gives me. She is tame and soft. In a low voice, I tell her stories of when I was a girl. I bring her fruit from the brook of my own glad tidings. I overflow and I almost forget her. My hair is wet and I feel I can be alone. I know other songs. But what about my deer? She's sleeping. I fit an arrow through my bow. I kill so she eats. She says if only I'd been a better mother.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The National Interest

By Ted Mathys

We are interested in long criminal histories
because we've never bedded down in a cellblock.
With the sibilance of wind through the swaying
spires of skyscrapers as my witness. When I say
cover your grenades I mean it's going to rain I mean
there is mischief in every filibuster of sun.

We are interested in rigorously arranging
emotions by color as we've never been fully
divested of blues. With drinking till my fingernails
hurt as my witness, with hurt as my witness.
When I say be demanding I mean be fully
individual while dissolving in the crowd.

We are interested in characters who murder
because we've never committed it or to it.
With an origami frog in a vellum crown spinning
on a fishing line from the ceiling as my witness.
When I say please kneel with me I mean between
every shadow and sad lack falls a word.

We are interested in ceaselessly setting floor joists
because we've never pulled a pole barn spike
from a foot. With bowing to soap your ankles
in the shower as my witness, lather as my witness.
When I say did you see the freckle in her iris I mean
the poem must reclaim the nature of surveillance.

We are interested in possessing others who possess
that which we possess but fear losing in the future.
With a fork as my witness. A dollop of ketchup,
hash brown, motion, with teeth as my witness.
When I say you I don't mean me I don't mean
an exact you I mean a composite you I mean God.

We are interested in God because we can't
possess God, because we can't possess you.
With a scrum of meatheads in IZOD ogling iPods
as my witness, technological progress as my witness.
When I say no such thing as progress in art I mean
"These fragments I have shored against my ruins"

We are interested in ambivalence as ribcages
resist being down when down, up when up.
With the swell of the argument and the moment
before forgiveness as my witness. When I say power
is exclusion I mean a box of rocks we don't
desire to deduce I mean knowing is never enough.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Children in a Field

By Angela Shaw

They don't wade in so much as they are taken.
Deep in the day, in the deep of the field,
every current in the grasses whispers hurry
hurry, every yellow spreads its perfume
like a rumor, impelling them further on.
It is the way of girls. It is the sway
of their dresses in the summer trance-
light, their bare calves already far-gone
in green. What songs will they follow?
Whatever the wood warbles, whatever storm
or harm the border promises, whatever
calm. Let them go. Let them go traceless
through the high grass and into the willow-
blur, traceless across the lean blue glint
of the river, to the long dark bodies
of the conifers, and over the welcoming
threshold of nightfall.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Is Obama a Badass?

Death Barged In

By Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

In his Russian greatcoat
slamming open the door
with an unpardonable bang,
and he has been here ever since.

He changes everything,
rearranges the furniture,
his hand hovers
by the phone;
he will answer now, he says;
he will be the answer.

Tonight he sits down to dinner
at the head of the table
as we eat, mute;
later, he climbs into bed
between us.

Even as I sit here,
he stands behind me
clamping two
colossal hands on my shoulders
and bends down
and whispers to my neck,
From now on,
you write about me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Poem of the Day

I have decided to try to have a poem of the day on my blog starting today. I am going to do it at least through the month of April, it being National Poetry Month. But it could extend if I feel like it. I hope you enjoy!

Little Ending

By Charles Wright

Bowls will receive us,
and sprinkle black scratch in our eyes.
Later, at the great fork on the untouchable road,
It won't matter where we have become.

Unburdened by prayer, unburdened by any supplication,
Someone will take our hand,
someone will give us refuge,
Circling left or circling right.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Grown Up

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Was it for this I uttered prayers,
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,
That now, domestic as a plate,
I should retire at half-past eight?