Monday, July 31, 2006

Chad Reynolds


And when an item is covered in chalk
and stretched taut between other items
and pulled high then dropped, what it imparts
onto the two-by-four can’t be called a piece
of itself or pieces—itself is still contained
in the item covered: the rope, the line—
a conveyor of particles, a transistor
of instructions, a slingshot of signs.

A simple hieroglyph emblazoned on the board
speaks to me of direction and distance and depth.
I hear my saw buzzing in its casing, the teeth
grinding against themselves for the chance
to grind against something else, something
that gives and goes and lets go
and the only fuss is a golden flower
of pine dust that decorates the floor.

My wife likes the smell but hates the mess.
It is not unlike our bed. I take her there
and while she’s on her back I mark
her chest with the blue-green chalk.
Inside I can hear her muscle quake.
I myself am quaking. This is delicate work.

The poems of Chad Reynolds have recently appeared or are forthcoming
in Swink, Washington Square, Meridian, Puerto del Sol, Redivider, and elsewhere.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sharon Dolin

3 poems from Current Events

Who You

are,   you might have been / framer of your narrative:

inveterate   cap-wearer,   brow-furrower
weakens the tie between proper
                                                               and name

Your were whirrs inside the motor-motive are.

Action are you or memory-bundle
vicissitudes of others' longings

doesn't your pillow own you call you by
                                                                              your secret name

nomen    nombre    nomina
omen    gnomon . . .

When in Lisboa you sport a boa
board the yellow tram to the Baixa
to look for the ghost of Pessoa.

your name suffuses with suffixes: -son, -sky, -zweig, -traub

Do not ask for whom to tell unfolds:
It tells the self.
                           (It wields the wail [within the well])
It's hell to tell [for thee & me].
If I were you (and you are we)
displacement would hardly figure
in the feeling-swirl you're tempted to say
is who we be.

Westerner, you read obituaries of obscure inventors.
Indonesian, you wear a crowd. Or shroud.

Have you financed a massacre—your name is a poster.

(Reporter / killed     peerless unpurled)

Or do you go nameless: mommy    nanny    taxi
driver—the news barely grazes you in the playground or car

unless you're blown to bits or saved from fire or the collapsed mine

But who is the person to whom things happen

(scandal not a name but an outcome)

or to exclaim: Who the devil Who on earth
                                                                                          has done what?

When, Then

             It was and then it wasn't.   An hour
ago.  Two days before. That split second
             boarding the bus. (It was just before 8 a.m.)
He looked like a terrorist in his red bulgy shirt
             when he didn't pay. Then he wasn't.  Just
an exploding belt of ball bearings. Three women
             in frocks sitting there with their heads blown off.

             Why intrudes. They want to see us dead.
Now now now. Not now. Before you came.
             Before you were born. (Or he. Laughing with
the Boss at the cash machine before they crashed the plane tomorrow.)
             Mother at wounded boy's bedside while father's
home rejoicing when he hears his son's a suicide
              bomber. This when ensnares where.

Beit Safafa refugee camp. Afterwards. The next day.
             A year later in Lower Manhattan (Towers burned,
legs crushed) she is still in hospital. And you, over morning tea
             mourning the morning of the day before.
They want to kill us in the when of every
             where. Cry of why. For Ishmael's cold tears? For the when of who
was there first? For Isaac's hoarse laugh? And for what
             kind of God?

Why as in

Wherefore. Motives.
Causes that produce
unasked-for effects. (Who shall live . . .)

As in reproach. Fist-
shaking at sky. At your lover-
other. Maker. (Who shall die . . . ) Resist:

Why couldn't he have been                   elsewhere?
For what reason did I have to lose you?
Paradigm of unanswerables.

As if thinking it through
pieced the puzzle / lessened the ire—
On account of which / in spite of       new

virus discovered. Or exiles' dream-desire.
Attaches to who. Emboldens what.
And where did she. And when. Never

back where you started.
from. Secret cause. Works around
the kiss. Beetles brows.

Opens the oh-my-god mouth
into an afterimage of oh no . . . yes.
Editorials on the soul. Accounts

for wars and local turf skirmishes
in the sandbox, the West Bank.
Island no one wants

until the other side sends in tanks.
That's mine. My
Temple Mount. / My mosque.

Call it the key
to an unbuilt room
you discover—too late—

you may not enter        by asking.

Sharon Dolin is the author of 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 four poetry chapbooks. In 2006-07, Ms. 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 the Center Broadsides Reading Series. She also teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y and at Poets House.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Heather Bartlett

Scroon Lake: June 8, 2000

I should tell you how it happened:
bunk bed with only one
mattress, just springs and the outline
of a black rectangle
on top; a sleeping bag, fully open
across my unshaven legs;
a wooden chair against the wall;
no lampshade.

I should tell you
why: the sound of a belt buckle
from chair
to carpet.

I should tell you, before
we go any further
that it happened more than once –

campfire in the back yard;
smoke through bedroom
windows; I stand
legs half bent,
inhaling and then
blowing back
through the screen toward the fire and
bottles and people and
cigarettes gathered
around it.

I should say that at this moment
it is happening
again.   You ask
Can you smell
the smoke?
or maybe
Are you afraid?

One eye focuses on the springs,
the other trying
to adjust; hand against the wall
for balance; head
on mattress –
no pillow.

Ask me again.

I say, listen and
look.  Breathe in
and out and
in.  The answer is in the sound
of reading, in the voice
of the poem
that still speaks
long after you have deleted
the words.

Heather Bartlett received her MFA in Poetry from Hunter College in New York City, where she also teaches. Her recent work has appeared in California Quarterly.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Joshua Marie Wilkinson

the diamond cutter speaks

The diamond cutter speaks with his mouth shut in my dream & I have to ask him for something but my teeth turn to dust.  Clocks of five cities crashed in my chest with their ticking.  His bucket of jewel cuttings smelled of pitch & I stood up slowly to begin counting aloud.  You must count backwards with your eyes shut & listen for Jupiter's little quiz to drop you into the grasses behind the toy factory.  This is Centralia, this is Sequim, these are the aphids drilling the trees in Wenatchee.  Even the swimming pool drains are clotted with moths. I am holding my brother's arm.  I am holding still like you said.  I am near the garage light again & the air is burning a soft button into my ribs.  Won't you count with my counting?

Cut Transom

White letters arrived
in the city of cardboard boxes,
dropped through the cut transom
& the twins took the letters
with the biggest swooping signatures
into the woods to assemble
the story of the city.

Joshua Marie Wilkinson is the author of Suspension of a Secret in Abandoned Rooms (Pinball, 2005) and, most recently, Lug Your Careless Body out of the Careful Dusk, which won the 2005 Iowa Poetry Prize and was just released this spring. A tour documentary about the band Califone is forthcoming next year and this fall he will join the Wave Books bus tour from Denver to Chicago. He lives in Colorado where he is at work on a new book and a collaboration with poet Noah Eli Gordon.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

jeroen nieuwland


Other words have given way,
beneath the ones you read.
Were not in the right place,
had come with too few,
anyhow; became obsolete.

The paper unsuccessfully attempts
to shake the words that made it on
by pressing others through.

The word is not to blame,
its inkless form,
sometimes resists
its distilled form

but ultimately
speaks only when
on the page that
with its whiteness
immobilizes it;

muted interpreter
of some meddlesome
reader     period     context     syntax

Just beneath the surface
the word attempts
to accustom to
its new unchosen home

favouring its previous meaning.
Between all objects.
Bouncing off all objects.
The colour of objects
that angels in movies only guess at.

to pass and turn my head at you
have sat and said nothing with you

to share the arrival at a certain same place
with such frequent variations that they

the arrivals     or      the place

began to mirror general truths (like
ones that some have thought successfully

to describe with the language of their time
you know the ones you think of as you read)

when you were kind to mirror them for me
so I was able to adjust myself to them

with varying accomplishment resulting in no
more than shifting mental attitudes

to kiss with them the impossible centre of my belly

and always in approach my translucent hands
arranged themselves along your solid forms

tried to fit on a realm of shimmering reality that with
its flicker seemed at least more constant than

the outlined promise of my hands
Would they remain folded into themselves

you would have told me who you were
had I not used your body and your mind

to try the words that thereby faltered well
before I let you

tell me all about yourself.

jeroen nieuwland. writing a PhD on social commitment in modern Hindi poetry (in Leiden, Netherlands). editor of poetry magazines and poetry stage Perdu in Amsterdam.