Sunday, April 23, 2006

José Luís Peixoto

ars poetica

whenever i feel like writing a poem
the first word that comes to my mind is

nobody reads poetry

but who can blame them?
i would read a newspaper
if i could understand it.

poem with eight arms

as goddess durga, i have one head and eight arms.


1. this line is an arm that exists because of your eyes,
2. this line is an arm that ends with the word 'prophecy',
3. this line is an arm that has about twelve and a half words,
4. this line is an arm that doesn't tell you much about me,
5. this line is an arm that talks about blood and pain,
6. this line is an arm that ends with the word 'morality',
7. this line is an arm that disappoints most people,
8. this line is an arm that disappears when you turn away.


and i have two tiny feet, one here and the other one very far away.

José Luís Peixoto is a Portuguese-born writer, and the author of a number of novels, two plays, and two books of poetry: A Criança em Ruínas/ Child in Ruins (2001) and A Casa, a Escuridão/The House, the Darkness (2002). His work has been anthologized on all five continents and translated into 11+ languages.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Stuart Greenhouse

My Lead Hat
after two masters

As if, could I keep thoughts from
                getting in,

I'd have any,
                I make it

thick and deaf.
                At its crest

I scratch
                the sentence "who am I?"

then flush the filings.
                Now I'm safe.

Afraid to take off my lead hat as if,
if I forgot myself,
I'd cease to be.

my lead hat is useless
yet everyone recognizes
me by it

people who are afraid
do more than they know.
I am lonely

it holds me tight
so when I dream
I do so of my body
not with my body

my lead hat
my lead hat
my lead hat
there. Now
that's heavy.

I heart my lead hat
soft and heavy enough
to seep in
yet unlined;
thus we are unbroken.


You mistake acquiescence for intimacy.
Me? I don't know, I mistake understanding,
I think. Goodbye.

It takes the shape
from whatever strikes it
so I don't have to

the sin of the lead hat
upon thee my three
and four generations

when I envision my heart
it is wearing
a little lead hat.
When I cry, my tears
are heavy with theirs.
The sun and the pine
close daily
with their offer
of strings-in-air. They are learning,
they are my friends,
they are lonely.

Please don't give up on me
my hands and my shoulders are free
almost always

You think it's funny?
Today, meditating, my head
so full of light
it felt like a helium balloon.
Without you, my closest friend,
I'd be gone.

Under you,
my own hemisphere,
I am fighting my life
for my life.

It is odd.
Nothing is stranger.

Help me be myself,
surmount it, though I cry.

Haven't you ever
mistaken a thing
for belief?

Neutrinos are my ideal.
They aren't anti matter, but
they are indifferent.

Hamlet. Job. Arjuna.
Bartelby. Prufrock. Eve.
Emily. (Your name here.)

My lunch hour, and
even if I weren't wearing it
he would have said
"Are you here to visit a grave?
Then get out!"

My parents crawl on me like fleas.
There are thousands of them.
Division, and company. Rank.

Look, at least I admit
it's an option.
I'd be afraid not to.
Or rhythmic.

Sometimes it tilts
to the left, and I circle,
or to the right, and I circle,
or back, and I wonder,
or forward, and I sleep.

I was in a restaurant
and all the people had spoons
they were trying to fit into their nostrils.
One crying begged me
to ease his pain,
so I grabbed his arm and held down
against his jerking,
aided of course by the weight
of my lead hat, though not
an impossible task without it.
Weeping he thanked me, and all
clamored for me to exert myself
in their service likewise;
and I, emboldened, instructed
them to lay their spoons
down themselves; and they looked up
from their red faces to mine
and they saw my lead hat
and they laughed me out.

It's just a little joke
between me and God.

Nearly all fundamentally
unstable materials
end in lead.

Stuart Greenhouse is the author of What Remains, a chapbook
published by the PSA in December of 2005. He lives in New Jersey with
his wife, son, and daughter.

"My Lead Hat" first appeared in What Remains, copyright (c) 2005 by
The Poetry Society of America.

Monday, April 10, 2006

rob mclennan

Lise Downe's metalwork

a stretch of wire        predestined
into twelve unbroken parts               a hole
in limitless release              a broken
stool not waned

or waxed        the bleed of increase
a damp cloth excised               a solitary wash
jeweled roses, pure       the screen
the slightest sound                            explains

a bargain sense        the burning soil
burnished, cleft hook & a hole
in white        the threaded forum
hush of calm, inhales

dust & shavings, heat marks
invisible to the touch                            a stone
& then another stone                        two birds
a harness in her gold mosaics
& thrill

of boat        unnoticed in the calm
someone understands                            trees

Artie Gold’s allergies

allergic to everything, scent
of dander in, from pets
to printed matter
                            , oxygen
& solitude, fifteen years
his only study

his bodys boundaries, air
& living threshold

perhaps a line, perhaps
a poem, sometimes

a postcard through the mail

some drafts
are never final

like spicer, has no problem w/
the open end

Robin Hannah's grandfather

though days have blurred to nights,
on his christmas card knee
when he was still prime minister

& she was five years old

his stories of the lord elgin hotel in ottawa
& the socialite elizabeth smart

when she was still eighteen

before anything; her new york nights,
toronto days, a chain

that bound her

days turn into night, turn in
to other nights, carrying every night
a cigarette, a shabby mast

absorbing light

robins dictionary of cats & solitude,
& poems safe in jars

when the peace of something finally done,
old mike, sleeps wakefield breath

as days turn into other days,
she visits, ear held keeping
to his sleepy ground

a sink between them

rob mclennan lives in Ottawa, even though he was born there. The author of twelve trade collections of poetry, most recently name , an errant (Stride, 2006) & aubade (Broken Jaw Press, 2006), he is currently working on a number of projects including a non-fiction book for Arsenal Pulp Press, Ottawa: The Unknown City (2007); a poetry collection, The Ottawa City Project; & finishing a novel, Missing Persons. He often writes, reviews & rants on his clever blog –

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Ilya Kaminsky


We were leaving Odessa in such a hurry that we forgot the suitcase filled with English dictionaries outside our apartment building. I came to America without a dictionary, but a few words did remain:

Forgetting: an animal of light. A small ship catches a wind and sails.

Past: figures coming to the water’s edge, carrying lamps. Water is suspiciously cold. Many are standing on the shore, the youngest throwing hats in the air.

Sanity: a barrier separating me from madness is not a barrier, really. A huge aquarium filled with water weeds, turtles, and golden fish. I see flashes: movements, names inscribed on the foreheads.

A swift laugh: she leaned over, intrigued. I drank too fast.

Dead: entering our dreams, the dead become inanimate objects: branches, teacups, door-handles. I wake and wish I could carry this clarity with me.

A Toast
If you will it, it is no dream.
—Theodore Herzl

October: grapes hung like the fists of a girl
gassed in her prayer. Memory,
I whisper, stay awake.

In my veins
long syllables tighten their ropes, rains come
right out of the eighteenth century
Yiddish or a darker language in which imagination
is the only word.

Imagination! a young girl dancing polka,
unafraid, betrayed by the Lord's death
(or his hiding under the bed when the Messiah
was postponed).

In my country, evenings bring the rain water, turning
poplars bronze in a light that sparkles on these pages
where I, my fathers,
unable to describe your dreams, drink
my silence from a cup.

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union, and arrived to the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. Ilya is the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) which won the Whiting Writer's Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, and the Ruth Lilly Fellowship given annually by Poetry magazine. Dancing In Odessa was also named Best Poetry Book of the Year 2004 by ForeWord Magazine.