Sunday, December 23, 2007
My baby was not born
while I was at war
or when I returned.
There's love. I learned
the women use one
fewer consonants than the men
do. There's also lover.
There's not much I can say
about this layer
cake of knowing.
I'm eighty. I'm eighty,
and I was a roller skater.
Sugar. I still have
all my teeth.
The Hope That Life Would Return
The possibilities of every life
Build a culture of life
A culture that values every life
No human life should be started
Assassins took the life
In the hope of an easier life
For each life saved
The loss of innocent life
The matchless value of every life
The dignity of every life
The richness of life
Succeed in life
The path ahead should lead to a better life
We will improve our quality of life
We are grateful for the good life
A life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment
Our job is to make life better
Schools can teach this fact of life
Children succeed in life
Get involved in the life of a child
Taking on gang life
The knowledge and character they need in life
Change a life forever
The rest of your lifetime
Extend life for many years
People receiving life-saving drugs
Eventually come back to life
Self-appointed rulers control every aspect of every life
The United States is a partner for a better life
Life since 9/11 has never been the same
A special place in our country's life
The shadows of American life
Human life is never bought
Human life is a gift from our creator
The loving god behind all of life.
Text from State of the Union addresses, 2001 – 2007
Jenna Cardinale is the author of Journals, a chapbook from Whole Coconut. Her poems have appeared in number small-press journals, including 6x6, Court Green, and Foursquare. Big Game Books has just published a "tinyside" of her poem, "Four Hands." She lives in New York.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Brick to dust, ore again
to its hollow veins,
glass to sand The trees
again, and the birds
backwards to roost
The thrilled grasshoppers
in pelts of grass
Here are the rivers
thrashing with fish, floodwater
brimming, oh mineral, oh
Buffalo and weather
Thickening weather, the ocean
thick as oil The sun
come to me
calling to itself, all
the stars calling
to each other, again
unbuckles: water, grain
Oh my heart,
all the made
and gallops to the center—
place left; every other place
is erasure, every other place
which is home
Isn’t this sex Isn’t this
the final Glory Was I ever
Will there be a memory
of tree apart or
one foot in front of
a flock of birds
dividing a bird
then a bird’s eye
watching another a feather
rolled stem of a feather
and the fan of threads along it each a
each an each how we will miss
the separate branches and the voices
among the branches calling return
will we be when
there is no we only
the singular element
will It be without longing
without the arched feathers
of the throat which seeks
Danica Colic teaches at Hunter College, where she also received her MFA degree. Her poems have recently appeared in Terrain.org, and are forthcoming in Arts & Letters and Pebble Lake Review.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I'm a human radio station, got it?
Swallowing the mortals, vomit as discourse--
I'm Vincent Price no I'm Charlton Heston--
at current elevation I'm neither of those,
my bachelor life proceeds with canned products.
See you in the valley, you'll be dead, a movie
about vampires proceeds with an orgy of neck ripping--
long story, writer disappointed, standing in light
smoke from teeth filling the image, discourse
as discourse--bad actor explaining the political cause.
Cigarettes unpleasant, bees fucking locusts
become topic of discussion, economics effected
by some guy talking, population control, let's
us kill ourselves a human, tribunal against justice,
taste in mouth found to be garbage, homeless envy--
reasoning hampered by cybernetics, here's the book
you're going to write while in the theater.
Damaged Soul Document
Big hand on the keyboard, diagonal
striped glove, difficult to remember past
christmases, the blur of memory, several
coffee cup stains, row of imperfect circles.
Moron wanted to be the life of parties
unknown. The woods, several years ago.
Annual rememberance of empty box.
I don't want to use the word 'you' anymore.
New and selected strands of hair, mix
myself a poison, call it a potion, endless
nights on the couch, party with wine,
restless clothesline begins to flap.
My glow is not alive. Someone
has spread blankets over ourselves,
morning is sneaking up. Car won't start.
Parties are the in-between, these moments.
Steve Roberts is a Texan living in Brooklyn. He has an MFA from the New School, and his poetry has been published in the Tiny, Big Tex[t] and Red China Magazine. He also is music editor for LVHRD magazine. His first book,VS., will be coming out in Spring 2008 with Black Maze Books.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I'm empty. Quench me with song.
I'm guarded. Open me as the undine.
I'm sleepy. Awaken me to strum.
I'm clipped and shorn of night. With each note brighten me.
Let the eight-stringed harp hallow Your name.
I'm thirsty with praise. Let this golden net manna me in Your Majesty.
The leaves of the sycamore wave their shade through my window
in my underwater sun they dapple my page.
Through me the voice of the sparrow.
Through my song the dying heave of the hooked bluefish
its ribboned gills—the color of bleeding roses.
In its last gasps in the punishing air—so like its birth—it praises You.
What hook have You placed in my lip?
I seek You in the syllable sighs of the sycamore that sings Seek more.
I hear You in the mimosa that murmurs My Moses.
I have sought Your face in the faces of strangers who jostle me at the market.
I have glimpsed You in my son's squint and in my husband's ironic grin.
I have sought You in the late-blooming rose of Sharon.
I have found You in the spider that makes its web in my kitchen corner.
I have seen You in the inchworm caught in its web and in the one scaling my arm.
O the world is filled with those who bait the hook and those who are caught
and You alone know which one we will become
and when You will catch us up in Your celestial net.
And all at the moment of birth and at the moment of bloom
and still all at the scissored instant of death
When the good are trampled upon
and it is difficult to muster my faith into song
When I waver I pray
You will set me on the highest rock
For even my doubt is holy and drum-taps Your praise.
Green Laddered Thanksgiving (11 a.m.)
At forest-green at rungs as trees
at shore-rim of shadow-green
(on one high step on mixing bowl » dish towel
to archway) to Japanese maple » ample
leaves climbing I am climbing
to read Nature's book in this nook
in this 21st century kitchen light » at chin height
And all I can do is give thanks » thanks
for the bull frog by my door
give thanks for the cicada's » dada
its persistent IS for these limbs » that limn
that I can still swim » on a whim
in the green pond exceeding thanks » for seeding me »
ceding me Samuel my son
whose name means You heard
prophet anointer of kings » rejoicer in all things
who believes in You
(How else could the whole world
have been created)
More thanks for Sono (know who is)
the red Griffon » fond I am fond of
his beard-face to look upon is to laugh » bark against bark
whose patience is devotion » won't shun
risks drowning swimming out to me
Abundant gratitude in every latitude
for my marry » my helpmate
(not made like me) in his stoic calm
as the morning page of the pond » (my im » ponderable)
Thank You for fashioning me as I am
a woman (no woe-man— not wombed man)
morning-slow (mourning, low) who kneels »
making patterns quickening with words »
(consorts with orts)
May all these lines praise You
rays raise You
for each day's eleventh hour return
the gathering bright haze.
Blackberry City and Sundial Talk (4 p.m.): Time
takes all but memories in the end
(takes time) takes even those
of our tailboned ancestors this
the purplest late-fall sun of my lover's ways (of my own)
of the buildings torn down to make way of those ghosting my dreams
of the bridges packed with smeared people walking away
of other bridge walks to hear
"Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" the ceremony
of marriage even of the brightest
blood birth at the sunset hour of 4:59
when I pushed and strained
forth a child of his immediate gaze
and suckle of stinging milk-breast urge its taste
of my blackberry blood
of that first Brooklyn day outside after
many child-feverish days of racing
down the exhilarating alleyway
into the spangled street of sweating in the City of
Fountains (of drinking at one dipping
my feet in another) of each ecstatic
swim when I once fell in got snow up my nose
of the first time I picked blackberries
in Ithaca and bit in of lavender smell of the last time
I kissed his sleepy face
or held her grasp: Is forgetting
the soul dying finally with the body?
O Blessed One
may it never be so.
Sharon Dolin is the author of three books of poems: Realm of the Possible (Four Way Books, 2004), Serious Pink (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), and Heart Work (The Sheep Meadow Press, 1995), as well as five poetry chapbooks. Her latest book, Burn and Dodge, is the winner of the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry and forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Dolin is Poet-in-Residence at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts. She directs The Center for Book Arts Annual Letterpress Poetry Chapbook Competition and is a Curator for their Broadsides Reading Series, and teaches at the 92 Street Y in NYC.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
For a poem like a city, like a man:
gone light at the extremity,
thinned in sprawl—the river was once
a highway, a heart-sluice of speech—
ribs of bridges arcing, shoulder to shoulder,
you see: a poem of hemispheres,
lolling, too large for its frame, for a frame,
some form lacking locus, some lie
and our knowing, for our unknowing,
for all of these, I am and have become.
New Harmony, Indiana
Between the new
and the new world
a sea so wide to warp the pure idea:
that is to say,
the movement is downward:
below the whiskey still,
down to the ground,
where we hear our blood:
the knocking of the rails.
couple on the train
thought the Sierras
There’s no part of England
not tramped over twice a day:
We were children, would make our loaves of dust,
so we thought:
Throw your possessions away!
or let the railroad line do it for you:
in the city,
our things outlasted us
as they do.
And today, the English ran,
smoke and ash up from the tunnels:
spanning every sea:
great hawk above the hill,
yellow and calm,
and the ravens came down
battering it, tearing its wing, crying,
and the hawk, now hurt, still circled:
no allegory, I saw it happen:
the hawks have all fled:
sing crow-caw, crow-caw
and the leaders answer in turn:
But ours was but the madness of the young,
California to Chicago and on
that last leg where the trains aged
the lines snaking on dark:
a tunneled world
(the movement is downward).
A hundred journeys later, pushing
the West’s end, the wide plains of Washington,
dry grasses and dune,
swatches of green land
where irrigated, and then sudden miles
of farmed poplar planted less than eight feet
between and extending back from the road
to the driver’s eye
and a ways beyond,
fields of powerlines,
wires glistening white
beautiful in their way,
stretching toward the horizon:
the natural image:
beyond the natural.
No, not that exactly, but a nature
that knows the human, more than landscape
or its undoing.
Listen to the old man talk tomatoes—
it is not an art—what will grow will grow,
but taste the fruit…
little more than the raised beds
of the gardener, though extrapolated
metaphor: we all are the fruits,
meant for more temperate climes, but hearty,
well, hearty enough, if lacking insight:
we set out, the whole human race,
ever in love.
Josh Hanson lives in Sheridan, WY with his family. He edits the online journal Eucalyptus: a Journal of the Broken Narrative as well as End & Shelf, which presents free online chapbooks.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Nijinsky's powerful upper thighs
Friends, Americans, countrymen,
Lend Nijinsky a leg
Vaslav Nijinsky's missing brain
Belated carnation from the early 20th century
Our legs take us through summer evenings lawns crickets
Our legs erupt into music as we walk.
Kirby Olson's chapbook Waiting for the Rapture was published by Persistencia Press in 2006. He teaches philosophy and literature at SUNY-Delhi in the western Catskills.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Reinhard's got himself under control. He's got wires leading to all his organs, but above all to his mouth. No unconsidered word crosses his lips. His mind has looked at everything. His digestion works. When he says, I'll do that, he'll do it. He can be relied on absolutely. If something doesn't want things the way he wants them, his will pulls on the wires, as if he were pulling on reins.
The wire cables hang slack most of the time. But when he asks himself, after a Sunday of relaxation, how it actually was, he notices that the cables weren't really slack. His movements were hemmed in. They could have been so much more vast.
There's Good and Bad left over from Alexa's daily life. Nearly every day, there's a piece of Good for the glass case. But the Less Good, that is to say the Bad, that stays too and collects in corners; and it must be eaten; how else is it supposed to disappear? It must be eaten by Alexa, for there's no one else around; eaten up and then the corners licked out. This Bad is a dry lump, it fills her mouth and tastes like communion wafers. But licking the corners out isn't too disgusting. For they're Alexa's corners and they're clean and fresh and sweet—all except for the Bad, which must be eaten up.
Florian must become one with himself, or better yet, be one with himself. There are two Florians, the one and the other, that is to say the mirror-image. For Florian One and Two can become congruent. Or better yet, they were so from the start. And it is always a mishap, almost a kind of sin, when Florian One gets out of line. There were always two, and one could say that the second is the mirror-image, the model, the plan, which the first should conform to; the plan that could show how everything ought to be. This plan is beautiful, like Florian himself actually, for Florian does everything he can to match the mirror-image. This is stressful, for the mirror-image has muscles, his eyes shine, and he always reacts with esprit.
When Florian has aligned himself sufficiently with the mirror-image, his gaze shifts, the two images become one, and Florian sees himself three-dimensionally.
- from the series "33 Functioning Machines."
Veronika Reichl was born in 1973 in Baltimore. She grew up in Munich and studied graphic design and media arts in Stuttgart. She is currently completing her PhD dissertation, "Meaning Matches Meaning: Animated Film as Metaphor for Philosophical Texts," in Berlin. Her poems won the prestigious "Open-Mike" prize in 2003 and recently appeared in Circumference and Action, Yes.
Donna Stonecipher (the translator) is the author of The Reservoir (Georgia, 2002) and Souvenir de Constantinople (Instance, 2007). Her translations from French and German have been widely published.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Peter Bogart Johnson currently works as a grant-writer for a New York City non-profit, and also co-edits the journal LIT. He holds an MFA from The New School, and his work has appeared in I do this, I do that and in the chapbook anthology Earshot: the First Offenders. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
Friday, September 14, 2007
You must be more careful. You must wash your hands up to your elbows and dry them with a linen towel. You must say please. You must swallow your lumpy medicine. You must draw a card and return it to the deck. You must deny deny deny. You must put it in writing. You must write your name on a cup and pee in it. You must read Moby Dick. You must read Moby Dick again. You must perform forty hours of public penance. You must eat your spinach and finish your milk. You must shave. You must do windows. You must name names. You must demonstrate your ability to parallel park. You must share. You must lock the door and leave the key under the mat. You must change diapers. You must sift the dry ingredients and fold them into the wet ingredients. You must learn to work around the pain. You must drop a sack of unmarked bills in the trash bin by the sweetgum tree. You must forget what you just saw. You must produce your passport when asked: now. You must slip into something more uncomfortable. You must revise. You must, for your own protection, put on the blindfold. You must reset your clock. You must let the dog lie at the foot of the bed. You must pay the piper and leave a generous tip; use exact change. You must burn the dark letters. You must bail some water. You must forgive your mother. You must march to the river's edge. You must stop crying. You must give away your possessions to the poor. You must soak in bleach. You must pledge allegiance. You must summon the energy to clear the last hurdle. You must be very very brave. You must click your heels three times. Wish to be removed from this list, moved from this list, emptied of all words.
Fancy That Does Not Do But Is
(Dagobert Peche 1887-1923, Neue Galerie)
The box is a bird. Jeweled, impractical.
The elongated Lady Chair
not for a lady, is a lady
as the desk is a castle.
How many flowers are too many flowers?
A scarf field. A wall field.
Solve no problem.
The bird is a box.
In such elaborately framed mirrors
you would never be the fairest
would be, in fact, never more
but here nothing is dulled
by the chilly touch of facts,
why a kind curator has hung them
too high to peer into.
As for the exquisite bird box
we bow to behold it.
Beside it a silver pumpkin
with gilt interior
viewable only to its occupant.
A container detains what it retains.
Attention. A little keeper.
as we walked in the snow
to get here. Crossed the park.
Crossed the century
weary of utility
to dream of a self
detained in an extravagance
that has no earthly use
shŏd´ ē [origin unknown]
She’s nobody and knows it.
She shudders, all shook up
in her shabby body
her shunned body.
Can’t shed odors of a shady past,
a shaggy dog story of shitty odds,
a soggy shack, slipshod
shanty ’mid the sodden sod.
A sure lock on schlocky. Come up short.
What’s sloppy is near ungodly,
what’s odious should be shot.
Should die. Should she? Shhh. . .
Such damaged goods
the source of Schadenfreude.
Shocking. Her show of shards.
What a lot to shoulder.
Shut the shutters, shadow lady,
shut the shouting out
(ah, but not the shame)
the stab of an age-old jeer
that seems to call your name—
"Cheap shoes! Cheap shoes!"
bănt´lĭng [origin unknown]
With a fling: singapore slings at the bar,
linguini and big band, banter on a
banquette, lingering over brandy,
a bit of bling bling, bangles and dangling earrings,
bank on it, babe, an errant fling.
Blood bad as a bee & ant coupling—that sting.
Or when a banshee bangs a worldling,
a bandit beds a linguist,
or two battling bantam weights go at it.
Antler-bashing in the ring— ding!
And the offspring? Its bad parents banished,
can’t blame barely known bantling.
Not banned but rarely bandied,
Bundled in bunting, abandoned
on language’s back step:
bound to banter soon—
free to good home"
Jeanne Marie Beaumont is the author of Curious Conduct (BOA Editions) and Placebo Effects (Norton). New work is forthcoming in Court Green and Crab Orchard Review, and in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: 20th Annual Collection. She teaches in the Stonecoast MFA Program and at the 92nd Street Y, and is director of the Frost Place Seminar. She lives in Manhattan.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
The smoky battle blew in through the curtains we put our haddock down
and listen to the antagonistic with musket and parched boots snorting
Elements packed densely no time for ivy replay
Still we hear the sod protesters in starchy wares
Outside the laughter is a deduction and terminally compressed coinage
The slip-shod accuser bravado moves to tantalize the good-for-nothings to be
well-behaved with beauty parlor hypnotism
Where is the chorus of wisdom where are the stories our little ones must hear before
the flyswatter before the admiring thresher before the gummy statesman
before this conquest
No investment is simplistic the toothbrush the books the bicycle the leaflets
Afraid of the marble majority afraid of their sweetness attraction to rail activity
afraid of what my fear will do to us
Julia Cohen has a chapbook out with horse less press (If Fire, Arrival) and one forthcoming with H_NGM_N B__KS (Ruby in the Microphone). Her poems appear or are coming out in Octopus #7, typo, Denver Quarterly, Spinning Jenny, and Copper Nickel. Find her at onthemessiersideofneat.blogspot.com.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
To be too at the mercy of human interactions makes it difficult to be a student of human interactions. I want to be the soft hand of Marlon Brando, heartbroken, softly pushing the gun away. Because I want to be that much man and that much woman all together- I need to have the power to punch through the window to unlock the door and also to be able to softly, softly push the gun away. He would be as I would be - someone's pet - but I mean dangerous pet – exotic, a lion in the house. When you turn and give a dirty look, I'm too at the mercy I've been all my life too petalish not lionish enough. I've got to become in part that part of Marlon Brando that is so hard as I feel right now the part of Marlon Brando that is so heartbroken, so terribly soft.
In the Middle
I awoke in the middle.
Apple trees were rooted visibly,
rotting apples and new ones
amid exposed, numerous roots.
The smell of rotten apples and new ones
was heavy and sweet or light and sweet
depending on the wind. When the wind stopped,
the smell dropped in and was heavier.
Though I knew
the farmer could appear,
I knew, along with this,
that I was quite alone.
in the way of birds
listening to other birds,
with nothing lurking.
My mother said instantly,
though I thought I was alone,
always pretend you're a tiny animal.
You are prey.
You should be alert
in the natural way
when you are alone.
I considered her and went half back
to being myself-
my legs beginning to chill,
my back against the knotted trunk,
the sky holding onto its blue
in the late afternoon-
Dining With The President
What death is, for one thing, is not enough food. I am not dead. I am dressed for dinner. How Eva Braun to be in this dress, bright and floral, to be wearing this turquoise necklace, to have smoothed hair and coral lips. Like her, I've wanted beautiful moments. Unlike her, I hunch over my plate. The legions of dead offer us their food. These aren't vegetarian meals. This isn't aesthetic eating. If I weren't so hungry, I could dish out seconds for him; pass over half of my dessert. With his mouth is full of pistachio halva with Persian honey (bee keepers dead, their bees, our bees dying or dead) while his mouth is full of something expensive and sweet, I could have some sway. I might persuade him out of his blind spot. But my greed is unified with his greed. I am an abomination in a suburb of same faced abominations, in a cosmopolitan streetscape of same faced hunger, in a pastoral field alone in my greed only because no one else is around. This companionable avarice, how on earth to give it up?
She worries about a horse charging past.
She would be able to stand as it approached,
the earth changing fast under its hooves,
the body slick, enormous.
She wouldn't flinch.
But even if she thought in quiet,
long after the horse had gone
shrinking up over the hill,
she wouldn't know that
the body of the dream of God
came close enough to graze her.
Laura Cronk has published poems in Barrow Street, Conduit, LIT, Lyric, McSweeney's, No Tell Motel, and other journals. Poems anthologized in The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel and Best American Poetry 2006. She is co-curating the Monday Night Poetry Series at KGB Bar in Fall 2007 and lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Friday, August 17, 2007
over the mountains
on rocky roads
not to dublin nor
over the top in
any symbolical sense
on a bicycle
raven who had
bought it from
a siamese twin
cat who built
it in a boat
shed in some
a fish might have
found it useful
OVER THE TOP
i think you
better stop. now
look down the
other side. then
slide a few yards
to find firm footing
for your slippery
sandals. the scandals
are not yet written
or even invented
though the light
bulb needs some
or drinking or
even blinking the
shrink winks &
The author of three currently available chapbooks, Lars Palm lives in Lund, in the south end of Sweden & edits the blogzine skicka .
Friday, August 10, 2007
You can spend an entire life
in the company of words
not ever finding
the right one.
Just like a wretched fish
wrapped in Hungarian newspapers.
For one thing it is dead,
for another it doesn't understand
Visit from My Father
My dead Father comes to visit
and sits down in his chair again, the one I got.
"Well, Niels!" he says.
He is brown and strong, his hair shines like black
Once he moved other people's gravestones around
using a steel rod and a wheelbarrow, I helped him.
Now he's moved his own
by himself. "How's it going?" he says.
I tell him all of it,
my plans, all the unsuccessful attempts.
On my bulletin board hang seventeen bills.
"Throw them away,"
he says, "they'll come back again!"
"For many years I was hard on myself,"
he says, "I lie awake mulling
to become a decent person.
I offer him a cigarette,
but he has stopped smoking now.
Outside the sun sets fire to the roofs and chimneys,
the garbagemen make noise and yell to each other
on the street. My father gets up,
goes to the window and looks down at them.
"They are busy," he says, "that's good.
-Translated by P. K. Brask & Patrick Friesen
Niels Hav is a Danish poet and short story writer living in Copenhagen with his wife, concert pianist Christina Bjørkøe. His new collection of poetry We Are Here is published by Book Thug, Toronto (firstname.lastname@example.org), and a selection of his poetry from the early years, God's Blue Morris, was published in Canada in 1992. He is the author of five collections of poetry and three of short fiction.
Friday, August 03, 2007
If all of them are right and if all pills are Pink Pills, let us
try for once not to be right.
-Tristan Tzara (tr. Robert Motherwell)
I laughed and clapped
As my dog shat on the
Neighbors' daffodils I thought
When spring pushes, push back
It was March I was still here
Stitching up a small tear
In my heart It was hard
Like sewing a button on a shirt
While you wear it
Like ironing a shirt
While you're wearing it
Using only the steam
When spring pushes push steam
Push pause push the door of the
Bedroom shut and mend
Tzara you were right the pink
pill is ubiquitous is meaningless
is All The pink pill is the tear
pushed from God's eye as he yelled
Up, whorish daffodils!
Sun, turn snow to rain to steam!
And humans my puppets, laugh & clap!
Heather Green lives in Nebraska and works in Alabama. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Pilot magazine, Boxcar Poetry Review, and The Cupboard Pamphlet.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
seen from a great enough distance i cannot be seen
i feel this as an extremely distinct sensation
of feeling like shit; the effect of small children
is that they use declarative sentences and then look at your face
with an expression that says, 'you will never do enough
for the people you love'; i can feel the universe expanding
and it feels like no one is trying hard enough
the effect of this is an extremely shitty sensation
of being the only person alive; i have been alone for a very long time
it will take an extreme person to make me feel less alone
the effect of being alone for a very long time
is that i have been thinking very hard and learning about existence, mortality,
loneliness, people, society, and love; i am afraid
that i am not learning fast enough; i can feel the universe expanding
and it feels like no one has ever tried hard enough; when i cried in your room
it was the effect of an extremely distinct sensation that 'i am the only person
alive,' 'i have not learned enough,' and 'i can feel the universe expanding
and making things be further apart
and it feels like a declarative sentence
whose message is that we must try harder'
today is tuesday; email me on saturday
the secret of life is decisiveness
and to describe something
i see the distance and move immediately into it
now i am really alone
from here i know these things: that i feel like a lonely fist,
that my poems exist to dispel irrational angers, that i want to hold your face
with my face
like a hand;
the secret of life is that i miss you, and this describes life
tonight my heart feels shiny and calm as a soft wet star
i describe it from a distance, then move quickly away
when i leave this place
the distances i have described in my poems
will expand to find me
but they will never find me
when my head touches your head
your face hits my face at the speed of light
holding it a little
i want to cross an enormous distance with you to learn
the wisdom of lonely animals with low IQs
i want to remember you as a river
with a flower on it
Tao Lin is the author of a novel, EEEEE EEE EEEE (Melville House, 2007), a story-collection, BED (Melville House, 2007), and a poetry collection, YOU ARE A LITTLE BIT HAPPIER THAN I AM (Action Books, 2006). His site is READER OF DEPRESSING BOOKS.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Brings the mail without exceptions.
Smells like a prom limousine.
Soft rabbit eyes—
Doesn't read my letters! Respects
privacy. (I too am private,
but not as much as he.)
How methodical the delivery.
How clean the procession.
How unopened the mouth.
God what I would give
to be slung in a mailbag
with breathing holes and taken
door to door, like a valentine.
Philadelphia Gas Station Valentine
The gaudy fairy painted on recycled card stock
cannot breathe beneath the dark purples.
Her gaze cannot meet mine. The raspberry,
she says. Her words: a heavy dark marker
inside a man's wood. Palpitations!
Who allows this demon to speak
of what is beautiful between us?
poisons the train's third car—
Might as well fog the windows.
Her sleeping body ripples and heaves.
Her head lolls towards
me? The floor? FOR MY MAN
blazed across her chest in Copperplate.
The train jerks and grunts.
Out the window,
the sun glares right back at me,
blinding polka dots— (Do it!)—
between the trees and my flattering reflection.
So many trees in Connecticut.
Now we pass a river.
Now a motor boat
manned by a boy in a red muscled shirt,
his father on his back.
Fences now. A law firm.
Quiet line of cars jamming Main St.
FOR MY MAN drools a line
from chin to vinyl,
to spritz herself, once more,
with the chemical flowers. Nobody
raises a white hand against her.
Maya Pindyck is the author of the chapbook, Locket, Master, which won a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship in 2006. She is the recipient of Bellingham Review's 49th Parallel Poetry Award and her poems have appeared in elimae, Mississippi Review, Sink Review, and Sycamore Review. She holds an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Eating sushi without you
Can be really depressing,
And this is one of those times.
The rain spatters the East Village,
Little dogs look at me without interest.
Having no piercings is also depressing
Because then I can't buy more with you,
A diamond nose stud,
A new silver labrette,
I don't miss thinking of you
O.D.ing in a shooting gallery here,
After which I e-mailed Matt, still
Half-crazy from Ohio, ecstatic
That you were alive, and he said,
"From the outside it sounds really, really bad,"
Then O.D.ing in the same place
A month later before you hit the floor
One final time in Carlton Arms 6B.
And it was bad, it was fucking horrible,
And as I sip this good green tea,
Alone with your mysterious essence,
I look out on St. Mark's Church,
Where I said goodbye to you,
Where I said hello to you,
And I know that one day we'll meet
In full regalia once again,
But as I dreamed of you at three
Then had to walk past horrors toward you,
I imagine this life for me
Will be a series of slow sips and longings,
And that I will go on a long, long time,
I fear and think.
We Had a Fight
Slurred guilt is a fish
We suck the bones out of,
A vertical declaration through an orange
Megaphone to keep time time.
Every Nasty Thing billows out
Of a wall-to-wall alias. Sundry misfortune,
Do we then honor the random landscapes
Escaping through a train window
I watched as you shot up and died?
We both felt wrong, but the I'm sorry
Part failed to crop up. I'm sorry.
Trust is a skyscraper through a keyhole
Shivering in a thunderbolt-flavored rant.
Until your laughter joins with mine
I will mow my way through the shiny grass of a lyric
Moored to antique torsos, drown myself in the shell-
Pink scent of air fresheners lodged in the gaps
Where the world used to be.
The asphalt is sufficient nourishment for stars,
And if I swallowed an elixir of chrome,
I'm sure I could become a car shooting from disheveled lips,
My headlights eroding the city.
But I am losing my form,
I am form collapsing into itself,
I am a triangle dangling from the throat of a murderer,
And I can see my spirit in the red behind my eyes
When I kneel before the pillars of the real
And the foggy amplitudes of creation bounce
Over the messy gurgle of my tears.
I will all my bad traits to be baptized in the feathers of owls.
I will the spitting tongues of rivers to slick me in their skins.
But time is knotted around the perfumed skirts of the ancients
When the distant plaint of a surgical knife
Dives into an ambergris of pain.
The evening resumes its former shape,
A shop window full of jewels,
A remnant of the ideal sky lost atom by atom
And trapped inside a jar.
Your deepest looks summon vapors rising
From the rusted machinery of the infinite.
And if night takes you into its mouth with its soft wiles,
I promise I will explode both your memories and mine
That have left their imprints on the air.
Until your laughter joins with mine,
I will be the spectator raking light over tangled thickets
Of this vegetable cathedral of all my thoughts,
I will be the dream and the death,
The errant bridge between dream and death,
And I contemplate myself arriving at a mirror
Propped inside a tomb of somnolent clouds.
I have been seeking you for a long time now,
And my soul refuses to rest in your image
That fled its sleeping body
Curled around a metal lake burning with the logic
Of a tenement on fire, its pronged inertia
Welded to the shifting wax of shadows
Congealing into steady flame.
Until your laughter joins with mine,
I will be this strangled alphabet
While words collect in canisters somersaulting
Through hallways of mournful music while my coffee grows cold.
Noelle Kocot has published three books of poetry, 4 and The Raving Fortune with Four Way Books in 2001 and 2004 respectively, and Poem for the End of Time and Other Poems with Wave Books in 2006, and has received awards from The American Poetry Review, The Academy of American Poets, The National Endowment for the Arts and The Fund for Poetry, among others. Widow of composer Damon Tomblin, she lives in Brooklyn, where she was born and raised.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The universe is mostly made of thought,
a few weirdly simple mathematical formulas
known and still unknown.
Sentient beings are numberless
and I promise to save them,
when you are old and I am a story.
It is all contained
in a few words
written and unwritten.
Winter, thank God. I will wander
from room to room, window to window,
a fictional person gazing at fictional skies.
the booky wood;
beware abrupt attack
by large packs
or ravenous back-scratchers:
I don’t even know what that means.
Moth light, north night;
Fate and its opposite,
ruined bird’s nest hair.
Franz Wright's Earlier Poems, comprising the complete texts of his first four books, is now available from Knopf.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I loved that they were indivisible.
Unlike brothers. Unlike bodies.
The white horizon flat with elements
standing arms akimbo, daring to be split.
But more and more in looking at
their curves, every week I was being divided,
sent to one side of a white fence, re-arranged.
In the end, little accounted for the idea of them.
Why did prime numbers come when they did?
How could one amount of beans, or pins,
be a permanent army, all of them so easily
grouped with one captain, Number One.
Pliers could clip, or a knife split things.
But oh, putative kingship. Was there
any limit to their wide yards, bordered
by stones? I wished we could go there.
Gripped in crevasses, under blue disguises
the mountaineers all shrink like ants.
They sprinkle, black pepper across white.
Back home they argue the person who drew the mountain
ringed by stars, tacked to movies, was drawing out a figment.
An argument went that it came from a mind.
Or that it was Mount Madeup from the Bogus Range.
And one person said, actually it's Artisonraju.
There was a free element of wanting to be
correct, lapsing like time. Another person claimed
it was an image of his mountain in Switzerland, distorted.
Another person claimed it's the east face of Artisonraju,
without proof. An endless line of crampon marks claiming
it was a memory, no it's Mount Ben Lomond, no I
climbed where the sun throws rays down hard, no
the mind's a white negligee frozen over everything.
No pigment ferments. A conglomeration of Utah
and mind enlarging the chance of not needing
actual earth. "A horse" sounds green to the blunt
intention of the actual. Artisonraju. Congruent to what?
Cynthia Arrieu-King is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati and an echocardiographer. Her chapbook The Small Anything City won the Dream Horse Press National Chapbook Contest in 2006. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Diagram, Pilot Poetry, Hotel Amerika, Forklift Ohio, etc.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The dot of midnight, I've just gone to bed,
when I meet a quick-witted carpenter.
His back pilots me through a copse,
we enter a hill village, its silent darkness.
There's a scented lamp.
The old sort, young but white-haired,
his workshop is still an extraordinary expanse.
His axeblade alters all things, makes all things ideal.
When we change, it's sudden.
I sit on a stone stool,
skirted with silk-like folds –
heat, the perfumed capitalist.
A man and a crowded floor's obedient stones.
His intricate, finely carved danger
intrudes on our ultimate restricted zone.
Blood, then urine stop; he says sorry and smiles.
Stones with white hair, the craftsman's house...
His mouth sends a whistle up the slope. I turn round
before the dream becomes a problem,
the air whirling with milk.
As if one dubious afternoon, a car breaks down,
and the traffic slows to a stop, as if that's what it always does.
A nearby wheat field, some grassy ground, a farmer and a foal,
a white sail far out to sea, as if always, always this remote.
I swallow my surprise, my skewered-together doubts.
Xiao Kaiyu was born in 1960 in Sichuan province, China, has published several volumes of poetry, spent a number of years in Germany and now lives in the central Chinese city of Kaifeng.
Alistair Noon (translator) is poetry editor of Bordercrossing Berlin, coordinates the annual Poetry Hearings festival in Berlin and translates from German, Russian and Chinese.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
from A MAP OF THE COUNTY
A map of the county involves a crayon and a sunken town, a snakehandler, a boyscout, a television left on in an empty room. A map of the county’s drawn on the bathroom wall of an abandoned gas station two towns over, stained with tobacco and snuff. Or tattooed or ballpoint scrawled on someone’s hand. A map of the county’s torn in pieces gathering moonlight in the pliant grass. It sounds like water in the breeze. A map of the county has a river in its crease, something illegible where the page is scored.
The ramshackle clouds, oblique in its abandoned roadbed beneath the levee, swarmed with what look like children in the moments they still, truant flies authority would grasp. Foredawn, when even the light is poor, tired lights descend from the tar-and-gravel, decrepit comets that dream some mossy ground, and a silhouette unfolds from the meteorite door, a gravity in its arm. And through the cloud, up the soft pine steps, cut nails groaning as for coffee. Within, the scene is entropy, everything is winding down. From the bag, greasy with half-light, a ham in a net, a moon he hangs on a hook. Children gather to drag their scraps of biscuit in eclipse.
A boy stands in a pool of boy, thin pole raised, line disappearing in the early sky. The river’s mother’s hair pulled along his legs, straw and dandelion seed schooling from the net, spiderweb anemone, silt silk in his toes. If he digs harder, roots, flood-smooth rocks, catfish bone. Clouds watermark the plate-metal morning. He pulls heron, he pulls swallow, he pulls starling and redwing blackbird. His willow creel’s a sing.
The grandmother blows his tea till leaves sprawl, backward constellations, in the cup. This one is a fox, she says, something stealing into town. A blind man watches, rifle in his hand. The chicken coop is noise to ignore, the footsteps minor quiets, and he’s distracted by the crash of grackles in the naked canopy. An iceberg boats downriver, a preacher poling it from the shoals. God, he says, is cold to our indifference. His sermon drifts into the hollows and coves and sets up stills in winter gardens where revivals spread. A stonemason stacks a tower on the bluff where converts dive to salvation’s channel. She tells the boy to stay away from cold, and church, then pours him another cup of tea. When she drinks, he sees the future in her teeth.
Jake Adam York is the author of Murder Ballads (Elixir 2005) and A Murmuration of Starlings (Southern Illinois University Press 2008). Now an associate professor at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, York edits Copper Nickel with his students. For more information, visit his website.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
"Hello," she lied.
She was dressed in black with
enough piercing to swing a compass needle
at five paces, some
real Mexican prison tatoos,
and a voracious appetite for an astonishing variety of
extremely dangerous drugs.
"Hi," I said.
"I'm into natural highs like hiking and paint thinner.
What about you?"
It's like when you turn the box on at three AM
and the offscreen boyfriend turns out to be
George Sanders and you say,
Oh boy, this isn't going to go well.
I fear she will fashion my skull
into a decorative fruit bowl.
But everything's changed since 7/11.
I was hanging out in Osama's Home Abortion Porn and
My girlfriend, Blanche Davidian,
Miss Conduct of 1985.
Did anyone question my freshness?
Surprisingly, no. I was like a
poodle on linoleum I was so nervous.
"Gee," I said.
"You're the prettiest girl that's ever talked to me,
Later she died of a broken heart.
Love hurts but
you usually have to pay more.
"I'll miss you at first," I said.
I was abandoned by wolves and raised by Republicans, no,
I was abandoned by wives and raised by Republicans,
and both my parole officer and court-appointed psychiatrist
will attest to my character.
Somewhere, even as we speak,
Donald Rumsfeld is planning the invasion of Bolivia.
People come to watch.
They sell popcorn.
It's a carnival of ugly.
But that's not what your mother said last night.
I told her not to talk with
her mouth full.
Stay tuned there's
more crap to come.
Sal Salasin is the author of Stepping Out of the Plane Under the Protection of the Army (Another Chicago Press, 1988) and Optima Suavidad (Greenbean Press, NY, 2000 - order from greenbeanpress.com or amazon.com), as well as the online (free) collection 12 Cautionary Tales. Sal is the founder, publisher, and managing editor of RealPoetik. He currently lives, studies and writes in a working class neighborhood in Guadalajara, Mexico and can be reached at email@example.com.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Having spent the better part of the morning
among birds, having heard
what they whisper
to each other as the sun comes up,
having noted how they name their offspring,
with names like Fuzz Packet and Mr. Charming,
Devily Doo and The Potato Famine Boy,
having observed, if momentarily,
as they begin to glide, their haughty eyes
and knife-like toes,
I hereby reject birds
and not only birds but
the places where they dwell, the patterns
of their lives, the very cosmic instinct
that brings them into being—in fact, the skies;
having been raised by birds and
having nursed at their impossible teats
and been subjected to their whimsical
sarcasm, also having been approached by
them on several occasions—
when my star had risen and theirs perhaps had not—
in the name of
neighborliness or good citizenship and having
politely asked them to step off,
can't you see
I'm busy, type of thing, and having quietly
informed them that I no longer belong
to their so-called tribe,
I hereby request
that they wipe the silly smirks off their faces
and find other people to circle, other places
to drop their glob-like feces, and that is all
I ask of them, not that we can't exist on the same
planet, free-thinking individuals,
if separate and clearly demarcated communities.
Aaron Belz is the author of The Bird Hoverer. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
—a transcontemporation of Max Jacob
In Hell, Dante and me were inspecting a barrel we suspected of containing chemical weapons of mass destruction. Dante circled it like a Chevrolet salesman. I struck what I’m pretty sure was a yoga position. It turned out to be a funkified jar of Vlasic dill pickles. Eve, acting as an accidental backdrop to a middle-school photo in the mid-80’s, pulls down the laundry, the whites, she looks like an angel on the bowsprit of a sailboat, liable for her halo of nakedness; if only I had my camera phone. She walked by Dante and me with a hollow and disposed look, as if somebody had just robbed her. As soon as I saw her I wanted her. I placed an apple in the grass. Then I became the apple. Awaiting transgression.
The Flying Nun
—a transcontemporation of Max Jacob
The confession booth. Someone smoking a bowl. Smoke seeps through the triangled holes like the breath from the shoe salesman’s larynxless-neck. At the pulpit, flies halo a cup of wine. A bunch of benches built by local fraternity boys are brought in as a bodiless surplice speaks using many persuasive gestures, and the lip of the cup is wiped by the armless sleeve of an alb, and the women in the front pews close there eyes and see the Virgin Mary bleeding milk, and from somewhere, like a chorus, the sound of coughing.
XV from Trilce
—a transcontemporation of Vallejo
In the racquetball court, we made love, the world watched
through a tiny square window. A janitor weeping in the dark.
We went to Sheets for Super Nachos and a mixture of all the sodas.
A CEO sprained his ankle slipping on the spot of our sex the next afternoon.
You slept in the shape of the number 4, and left
like a tooth beneath a pillow. I went back to the racquetball
court with your ghostmoney, I read a book
of poems in French amid all your gentle points;
the same old story: a boy and girl in love: somebody’s
gonna end up crying on a racquetball court.
I’ve watched hours of home movies
about how the light came in our kitchen, it was you,
scant anvil, white fire, coming in and out of rooms.
But tonight, when the rain says your name,
now far from both of us, I suddenly start to….
Two doors open and two doors close, a life
spent(,) trying to make the number 3
shadow enters shadow.
XLIV from Trilce
—a transcontemporation of Vallejo
The computer travels inward,
feminine, without the luxury of salt;
it breastfeeds itself in the fetal position,
screwed together by seven dream-bits.
It Restarts. Flies through wire, wants
to be blood, goes underground, a life
without eyes; hacked, mushrooming
Sometimes its tubes burn out
and simultaneously an Asian’s eyes
eclipse; a micro-chip isn’t afraid
of death, but of losing its memory;
the nightmare of having hands.
Computer, who does your spywear protect;
with your password that saddens me;
with my longing that indulges you?
oooh— remember to save me too.