Sunday, September 27, 2009

D. A. Powell

couplets unheroic

he had a girlfriend on the side. he had a boyfriend on the side
he had too many sides: back- front- and be-, the problem was: he’d hide

and in my mind, the darkest runnings: don’t think I didn’t suspect
the mysterious calls from portland. the hickey upon his pec

the cum towel he never laundered had become crusty and shrunk
he drank to function but didn’t function: instead he was a drunk

I pity the woman who marries this straight boy who likes to cheat
who’s a bomb in the sack for anyone—unless it’s not his mate

still, I pray he is safe, and not always dreaming of my casket
like a crappy hired mourner, carrying his own little wilting basket

for Donald Haines Eason, the last

D. A. Powell is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Chronic (Graywolf, 2009). He is co-author, with David Trinidad, of By Myself: An Autobiography (Turtle Point Press, 2009). Powell has published recent poems in New England Review, Barrow Street, Tin House and A Public Space. He teaches in the English Department at University of San Francisco.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Catherine Meng


The island is a graph in which this exists:
you are sitting

                      are you sitting?

you are standing
                      are you standing?

you are reading
you must be reading

because you read
the island
as the poem does

without confidants

it wields a nasty frond

or has never known

this tender shoot it grows


Ocean begets its image in its own turns

how it circles out from the start & cuts off –
how it begins an ending like a wave would.

All the parts are in shadow
complete with unseen gears

that fall across the face

making acronyms
outside of compliance

always peeing where the others have peed.

We have a century! We have a history! Suddenly

even the present is revisable.


Subscription cards fall out of your mouth
like retold stories we snore through
but in this case they were never told

so this is a big fiction

with first fruit
breathing toward intent –

really letting the moment unfurl it
until the ripened object

takes the shape of something
there is no copy of


immediately the thing sounded


& I busied myself with my glasses.

Writing poems for the republican squid
I was nasty in a nice way

same as my enabling neighbors.

Here at last was the imagined but never realized place
leaping into real life


I lost my first fraction of sight in math class

2 years after I watched a load of dripping laundry get pulled
mid-cycle from the machine


William Blake: Do you still have my eyeglasses?
Nobody: No, I traded them. do you have any tobacco?
William Blake: No, I traded it.
Nobody: For what?
William Blake: I’m not telling.
Nobody: Liar.
William Blake: Thief.


The boy had gone missing but the dog remained
a nuisance

digging up relations we never saw die

until the only habit that remained was kunst –
perhaps it survived to revise past tendencies

always kunst in the dream
kunst in the dinner
kunst in the tent


when we arrived there were 74 cigarettes
& now there is one

but we still haven’t decided
on who will be chief

we soon discover voting
decides nothing at all

but the toy of voting can be just as pleasing
as a seashell


There was nothing wrong with anything, but you could not place yourself anywhere


The jungle minutely vibrated


with strains of destroyed music
under palms of a formal math

you are always in a car before me
turning to the left


In our liver perhaps we knew

we were being watched
by a world of terrified animals

but we often forgot that ache
& loved each other.


I think I see a polar bear. No. It’s a white rock.


Perhaps I knew in advance
that the dead thing would die

because I dreamed it died
before it did

& told the dead thing so.
He tried to act unaffected

but I saw his skin betray his theater.

Way after the fact I became pleased with my decision.

I didn’t mind falling behind

a Winnebago on the freeway.

I barfed silently as if on stilts –
as if it was not a good island.


The pilot said nothing to the contrary.
The pilot has the best manners
because, duh! He’s the pilot. Or he was.


When birds fly through the jungle

all at once the many ventricles

sputter out –


that we were stranded outside of the greater sadness

that we took up canteens

& masked, made a go at survival.
Unsure our legs weren’t broke

unsure our brains thumped right
unsure our brains registered anything

against the blue screen.

Catherine Meng lives in Berkeley, CA. Her first collection of poems,
Tonight's the Night, was published in 2007 by Apostrophe Books.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Brett Fletcher Lauer


Let's not speak of ravens, keyholes at twilight, subjects

immediate to observation appearing partly as a doctrine

of chance. It is unlike me to dispute what is grand.

A cloud field can herald distress, command numbers

to fragment, but the rainfall lacked compulsion, how

birds listed as unclean were birds of prey, not a model

for conduct. Every day began with trust; segments

fitted together like small bodies of animals and plants.

Arriving home a touch positioned your face upright

regardless of industrious wind. Restore me to that

then, however streaked with gloom, however riddled

through with worm and sorrow. Part of the problem

was mandatory participation, the other your radiant

neck from certain sadness, half-feelings in August,

or the will to walk many-sided. Restore me to a prior

arena beyond where this letter fills a hand mildly. There

exists no such thing as three beginnings. Earlier gestures

were vague in declaring intention, and what the echo

from the cliff responds with is a general void, minor

modifications in mood like English weather. Restore

the song its bird, bird its egg, egg to concept. This world

mirrored a wonder formerly praised until we discovered

the structure of horror in all inventions. I anticipated

otherwise, the arrangement of light on a woodland stream

to dazzle; a red fox paused on a hilltop to restore

a condition decayed. What could determine the next

question? What answer could halt the mind and its written

description from an eternity grazing on itself? What answer

could relinquish such control or once more bury it

in a hole with anything else the animals might claim?


When I hang in the air

it will be by popular

demand. There is

a contingency of people

who think loving me

is wrong. I made this

for them. I care deeply

about our republic

but I’m unsure what

to do next. I’m lonely.

Duh. Even I can learn

to endure, but can

no longer speak

for us. Your anxiety

is noted. There is

something radically wrong

in the letter I left

or else Scandinavian.

I feel my apartment

getting dirty. I make

a cup of tea. It is

an accomplishment.

Later, I’m going

to haunt everything

in this room.

Brett Fletcher Lauer is the Managing Director of the Poetry Society of America and a Poetry Editor at A Public Space. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Dorothea Lasky


I am not of this world

And when I tell you that
You do not believe me

And force me to do things
I don’t want to do

What do I want to do?
I want to become a poem

Poem poem you went tunneling out of me
Ectoplasmic material
The sound of z

No one believed the monstrosity
Of my birth
No one believed the monstrosity
Of my death

Instead they treated me
As the kind of human
We all esteem

Sun, sunshine
A demon mask, the moon
Bitter trees
And butter, a proposition
A proposition
And days
A proposition

All of me
A candle
Burning as bright as a bird

A demon wife to dark night
A demon wife
I was to the dark night

Dorothea Lasky is the author of AWE (Wave Books, 2007) and Black Life (Wave Books, 2010). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Columbia Poetry Review, The Laurel Review, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Satellite Telephone, among other places. Currently, she researches creativity and education at the University of Pennsylvania.