2015 // August

August 2015

What the Angels Left, by Marie Howe (8/1/2015) At first, the scissors seemed perfectly harmless. They lay on the kitchen table in the blue light. Then I began to notice them all over the house, at night in the pantry, or filling up bowls in the cellar where there should have been apples. They appeared under rugs, lumpy places where one would usually […]

The Eighties, by Brenda Hillman (8/1/2015) An Essay A friend asks, “What was at stake for you in the Eighties?” She’s trying to figure out Bay Area Poetry. There was Reagan’s New Morning for America. Garfield dolls stuck to the backs of windshields with suction cups. At the beginning of the Eighties I was married & at the end i was […]

Epilogue, by Amber Tamblyn (8/2/2015) I took a break from writing about the dead and drinking from writing about the dead to walk around my childhood neighborhood. Everything’s for rent. Or for sale, for ten times the amount it’s worth. Palm trees are planted in front of a mural of palm trees under the Ocean Park Bridge. In the painting, […]

Things I Found and Left Where They Were, by Robert Gregory (8/2/2015) A slow summer morning: new light through a veil of green leaves, young leaves that vibrate and tremble. The shadows are blurred in this light — shadows once ourselves, they say. Clouds and a girl in green trousers, three birds on the blacktop confer, between two buildings a vacant lot, a concrete slab for some […]

Blood, by C. Dale Young (8/3/2015) Someone has already pulled a knife across my chest, and the rope has already gripped our wrists drawing blood. I am naked, and I cannot be sure if you are as well. In the room, the men come and go, yelling blood bath, half-blood, blood-bitch. We never hear the word trueblood. In my dreams I […]

house of strays, by Kristy Bowen (8/3/2015) Suddenly, a hole opens in the year and we slip into it, the riptide pull of strange, lonely dogs and broken phone lines. You forgive me if I mistake hunted for haunted, but I do like to rearrange things in my body every few years. Take a can of gasoline to the frayed and ghosted. […]

The Everyday Enchantment of Music, by Mark Strand (8/4/2015) A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and […]

A Bedtime Story For Mr. Lamb, by Arthur Nevis (8/4/2015) What story would you like to hear, Mr. Lamb? Are you a real lamb? Would you like to hear of Webbers? Or Whales? Here is the Story of Alice:   The Queen wants to have a baby, That’s why she’s kissing her hand. The Mad Habit is pouring specklish tea.   Finally, the Mad Habit and the […]

Room in Antwerp, by Laure-Anne Bosselaar (8/5/2015) Dust covers the window, but light slips through— it always does—through dust or cracks or under doors. Every day at dusk, the sun, through branches, hits a river’s bend & sends silver slivers to the walls. No one’s there to see this. No one. But it dances there anyway, that light, & when the wind […]

B-Sides from my Idol Tryouts, by Harmony Holiday (8/5/2015) 1. Just like in true life The wild geese approaching treason, now federated along one keep May we find a rafter 2. I like the way you don’t go into the cabin That is how I like it: methodically, mythically, my accidents are protests, are my only protests, they are never accidents 3. We even […]

Georgette, by Erín Moure (8/6/2015) Dignified is a heartsong here Harsh traverse of the unknown “Better to go down dignified” Ekes out constant What gives in us, or won’t give (her smile seen once in the Red Café) Turns sparkless Into sparklers One “s” less One “r” more, Georgette — — — — — The new wall we built that […]

Semele Recycled, by Carolyn Kizer (8/6/2015) After you left me forever, I was broken into pieces, and all the pieces flung into the river. Then the legs crawled ashore and aimlessly wandered the dusty cow-track. They became, for a while, a simple roadside shrine: A tiny table set up between the thighs held a dusty candle, weed-and-fieldflower chains placed reverently there […]

If There Is Something to Desire, 9, 17, 18, by Vera Pavlova (8/7/2015) 9 I broke your heart. Now barefoot I tread on shards. 17 Why is the word yes so brief? It should be the longest, the hardest, so that you could not decide in an instant to say it, so that upon reflection you could stop in the middle of saying it. 18 —Sing me The […]

Names of Children, by Rachel Sherwood (8/7/2015) In early morning when the sun is vague and birds are furious names of children float like smoke through the empty room: Ariadne, dark as seal skin Ian, fair-skinned baby Marina Terrence Alex John after dinner pulled back from talk of war and morals their names glow like light around a candle — Jack, my […]

Difficult Body, by Mark Wunderlich (8/8/2015) A story: There was a cow in the road, struck by a semi– half-moon of carcass and jutting legs, eyes already milky with dust and snow, rolled upward as if tired of this world tilted on its side. We drove through the pink light of the police cruiser, her broken flank blowing steam in the […]

The Problem of Hands, by Louise Mathias (8/8/2015) And how to fill them is the problem of cigarettes and paint. First time I felt my undoing was in front of a painting—Sam Francis, I believe. Oh, his bloomed out, Xanax-ed California. I liked the word guard, but you know we made each other nervous, standing too close for everyone concerned. All art being […]

Inventing Father In Las Vegas, by Lynn Emanuel (8/9/2015) If I could see nothing but the smoke From the tip of his cigar, I would know everything About the years before the war. If his face were halved by shadow I would know This was a street where an EATS sign trembled And a Greek served coffee black as a dog’s eye. If I […]

The Paper Nautilus, by Marianne Moore (8/9/2015) For authorities whose hopes are shaped by mercenaries? Writers entrapped by teatime fame and by commuters’ comforts? Not for these the paper nautilus constructs her thin glass shell. Giving her perishable souvenir of hope, a dull white outside and smooth- edged inner surface glossy as the sea, the watchful maker of it guards it day […]

The Remarkable Objectivity of Your Old Friends, by Liam Rector (8/10/2015) We did right by your death and went out, Right away, to a public place to drink, To be with each other, to face it. We called other friends—the ones Your mother hadn’t called—and told them What you had decided, and some said What you did was right; it was the thing You wanted and […]

Into Bad Weather Bounding, by Bin Ramke (8/10/2015) (After Wallace Stevens’ “Of The Surface Of Things”) Colligated points, dust, ultimately a cloud, as in an orographic cloud in Colorado cringing against a horizon. Boundaried vision and vapor conspire to exhale, exalt into rain random dispersal into the present: I see as far as that. I never saw farther. In sinking air, mammatus cloud […]

Insomnia, by Alicia Suskin Ostriker (8/11/2015) But it’s really fear you want to talk about and cannot find the words so you jeer at yourself you call yourself a coward you wake at 2 a.m. thinking failure, fool, unable to sleep, unable to sleep buzzing away on your mattress with two pillows and a quilt, they call them comforters, which implies […]

Clonazepam, by Donald Dunbar (8/11/2015) Finally, stability. Finally, the fractal iteration of kings. The legless herds lie still in the fields and eventually the fences crumble and the wilderness returns. Like cinnamon coaxed back out of the tongue, this book is a formalist approach for a kiss. Or vice versa. Like a kiss is oblivious, they don’t know their homestead […]

Ashes, by Paula Meehan (8/12/2015) The tide comes in; the tide goes out again washing the beach clear of what the storm dumped. Where there were rocks, today there is sand; where sand yesterday, now uncovered rocks. So I think on where her mortal remains might reach landfall in their transmuted forms, a year now since I cast them from […]

New York Notes, by Harvey Shapiro (8/12/2015) 1. Caught on a side street in heavy traffic, I said to the cabbie, I should have walked. He replied, I should have been a doctor. 2. When can I get on the 11:33 I ask the guy in the information booth at the Atlantic Avenue Station. When they open the doors, he says. I […]

Spent, by Mark Doty (8/13/2015) Late August morning I go out to cut spent and faded hydrangeas—washed greens, russets, troubled little auras of sky as if these were the very silks of Versailles, mottled by rain and ruin then half-restored, after all this time… When I come back with my handful I realize I’ve accidentally locked the door, and can’t […]

The more Alice reaches out, the more her dream-rushes, by Jenny Boully (8/13/2015) disappear: one by one by one the darling scented rushes sink back into melt. In the dream stream, the boat glides past too quick, and there is no chance to gather the loveliest of the dream-rushes. No less satisfying was the old sheep: so many knitting needles, dozens and dozens all pierced into a ball […]

Encounter, by Czeslaw Milosz (8/14/2015) We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn. A red wing rose in the darkness. And suddenly a hare ran across the road. One of us pointed to it with his hand. That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive, Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture. […]

Lights They Live By, by Pamela Alexander (8/14/2015) 1. nightjar A carafe beside her bed or a glass goose; a piece of water, stoppered, or a solid chunk, like ice? She watches it all night, death, the brightening star. She thinks it is one with her all along or she thinks it is the final thing she contains. She reads all night. Under […]

Sorrow Home, by Margaret Walker (8/15/2015) My roots are deep in southern life; deeper than John Brown or Nat Turner or Robert Lee. I was sired and weaned in a tropic world. The palm tree and banana leaf, mango and coconut, breadfruit and rubber trees know me. Warm skies and gulf blue streams are in my blood. I belong with the […]

Jazz Lady of the Subway, by Daniela Gioseffi (8/15/2015) She sings her heart out with a smile like Louis Armstrong on the subway’s dusty platform with her band, a bass, guitar, horn player, and drummer. She keeps singing with a smile even as an old demented man dances up and down, keeping rhythm in front of her, blocking the audience view, with his big […]

Antique, by Arthur Rimbaud (8/16/2015) Graceful son of Pan! Around your forehead crowned with small flowers and berries, your eyes, precious spheres, are moving. Spotted with brownish wine lees, your cheeks grow hollow. Your fangs are gleaming. Your chest is like a lyre, jingling sounds circulate between your blond arms. Your heart beats in that belly where the double sex […]

Tattoo Writing Poem, by Fawziyya Abu Khalid (8/16/2015) Not with your tribe’s spears i write for they are dull but with my nails words without walls Sister, For you i have inscribed Love-songs weaving the sun’s rays to your latticed window. To tell me you accept The tribe’s traditions and prescriptions is a concession to being buried alive The noble inch or two […]

No world is intact, by Alice Notley (8/17/2015) No world is intact and no one cares about you. I leaned down over don’t care about, I care about you I leaned down over the world in portrayal of carefulness, answering something you couldn’t say. walking or fallen and you were supposed to give therapy to me— me leaning down brushing with painted feathers […]

A Portrait of the Artist as a Freemason, by Jascha Kessler (8/17/2015) Where the heart was, a domestic chasm, an abyss bridged by snow As France, once great, collapsed into tourism and poetry Behind the sublimity, obscene Unable to command even the words useful to propose toasts Having filled space beneath the zodiac with debris And found the moon in its rounds merely vague This is the […]

The Allure of Forms, by Coral Bracho (8/18/2015) translated by Mónica de la Torre Blissful dance. Scream of the shadows in light. Night that pours its animal shrill into the morning’s joy. There it ramifies, bursts, intertwines itself. It blossoms on its clearest edge. It’s the allure of forms in their steep nearness, their engulfed proximity. Rivers become entangled with, yet do not […]

Learning How to Make Love, by Denise Duhamel (8/18/2015) This couple couldn’t figure it out.  The man licked his wife’s genitals while she stared straight ahead.  The woman poked her husband’s testicles with her nose.  The man put his toe in the folds of the woman’s vulva.  The woman took the man’s penis under her armpit.  Neither one of them wanted to be the […]

MiG-21 Raids at Shegontola, by Mir Mahfuz Ali (8/19/2015) Only this boy moves between the runes of trees on his tricycle when an eagle swoops, releases two arrows from its silver wings, and melts away faster than lightning. Then a loud whistle and a bang like dry thunder. In a blink the boy sees his house roof sink. Feels his ears ripped off. The […]

Caro Nome, by Kathy Fagan (8/19/2015) Jets shake the air and snow breaks off a tree branch in little puffs. One cardinal. Cars moving slowly downhill on the ice. It is always someone’s last day. Dearest Bird, she read from the card she’d found unattached to the flowers, Happy Day To Our Sweetest Hart. Love Monster And Beef Dad. Their secret […]

Ancient Theories, by Nick Lantz (8/20/2015) A horse hair falls into the water and grows into an eel.     Even Aristotle believed that frogs                                formed from mud,that mice sprouted like seedlings in the damp hay.      I used to believe the world spoke                           in code. I lay awakeand tried to parse the flashes of the streetlight—       obscured, revealed,                    obscured by the wind-sprung […]

Train to Agra, by Vandana Khanna (8/20/2015) I want to reach you— in that city where the snow only shimmers silver for a few hours. It has taken seventeen years. This trip, these characters patterned in black ink, curves catching on the page like hinges, this weave of letters fraying like the lines on my palm, all broken paths. Outside, no snow. […]

Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, by Amiri Baraka (8/21/2015) for Kellie Jones, born 16 May 1959 Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way The ground opens up and envelopes me Each time I go out to walk the dog. Or the broad edged silly music the wind Makes when I run for a bus… Things have come to that. And now, each night I […]

Flying, by Sarah Arvio (8/21/2015) One said to me tonight or was it day or was it the passage between the two, “It’s hard to remember, crossing time zones, the structure of the hours you left behind. Are they sleeping or are they eating sweets, and are they wanting me to phone them now?” “In the face of technological fact, […]

Solitaire, by Sam Riviere (8/22/2015) I think I always liked the game because it sounded like my name combined with the concept of alone. (My name really does mean “alone” in Slovenian!) We don’t actually care if it’s true, but we want to know the person telling us is telling us the truth. Say his name is “Hank,” as in, […]

Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds, by Eleanor Lerman (8/22/2015) This is what she says about Russia, in the year 2000, in a restaurant on Prince Street, late on a summer night She says: all the chandeliers were broken and in the winter, you couldn’t get a drink, not even that piss from Finland. The whole country was going crazy. She thinks she is speaking […]

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Molemen Beat Tapes, by Kevin Coval (8/23/2015) were copped from Gramophone. cassettes jammed into a factory- issued stereo deck of the hoopty i rolled around in. a bucket. bass and drum looped with some string sample, fixed. a sliver of perfect adjusted. the scrapes of something reconstituted. there was so much space to fill. an invitation to utter. Iqra– Allah said to […]

Her Father, by Thomas Hardy (8/23/2015) I met her, as we had privily planned, Where passing feet beat busily: She whispered: “Father is at hand! He wished to walk with me.” His presence as he joined us there Banished our words of warmth away; We felt, with cloudings of despair, What Love must lose that day. Her crimson lips remained unkissed, […]

Sometimes Night is a Creek Too Wide to Leap, by Gail Martin (8/24/2015) The sky wears black serge pants while hemming up another pair for tomorrow night. A bit shorter, but you won’t notice. Some nights the blue pill brings a dream where a young girl is trying not to cry in the sheep pasture, stuck where her brothers eyed the watery gap and mossy stones and sailed […]

Invictus, by William Ernest Henley (8/24/2015) Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and […]

The Family Photograph, by Vona Groarke (8/25/2015) In the window of the drawing-room there is a rush of white as you pass in which the figure of your husband is, for a moment, framed. He is watching you. His father will come, of course, and, although you had not planned it, his beard will offset your lace dress, and always it will […]

Vision, by Erica Funkhouser (8/25/2015) With age mirage assuages what the youthful eye would have studied until identified— chicory? bluebird? debris? Today no nomenclature ruptures the composure of a chalk-blue haze pausing, even dawdling, now and then trembling over what I’m going to call fresh water.

Survey: Phototropes, by Eleni Sikélianòs (8/26/2015) The snow falls, picks itself up, dusts itself off a sparrow flying like a leaf back up to its tree The future does a backbend toward you, it’s what you can almost see, scrimmed in the clouds which crowd the sky, elbowing, laughing After that I see space and its influence in a bucket of […]

High Yellow, by Hannah Lowe (8/26/2015) Errol drives me to Treasure Beach It’s an old story, the terrible storm swerving the dark country roads the ship going down, half the sailors I think about what you will be, your mix drowned, half swimming the white, black, Chinese, and your father’s slate waves, spat hard onto shore Scottish-Englishness. We cross the Black River Smashed crates, bodies where […]

Big City, by Amaud Jamaul Johnson (8/27/2015) He promises a canary dress, white gloves, says they’ll eat chops, thick as her thighs, that they’ll order doubles of the “finest,” see all the Big Names when they arrive. But it’s the thought of them dead: half of what they own draped around them, her head against his chest, his back slack against the […]

The Coriolanus Effect, by Tim Wells (8/27/2015) For Jack the Ripper walking tours Come ye learned, ye loquacious, ye lost. Walk a pentagram around ego, erudition, experience. Our shuls, mosques, and homes be yours. Our murdered laid bare, our slums still teem, our souls sold. As for us, we marvel as our own effluvia swirls widdershins.

Present Light, by Charles Ghigna (8/28/2015) If I could hold light in my hand I would give it to you and watch it become your shadow.

Footfall, by Julie Maclean (8/28/2015) I used to live on the chalk where clay gives way to the Roman road en route to an Iron Age fort Laid a bivvy bag off the track squinting into the night bling for meteors and space junk Hiked for days dodging sarn and tor Woke to dew on blade of plantain shoved aside […]

An Institute Is Closing, by Ish Klein (8/29/2015) I’m not in with this mystery. Somebody steady me. Cool ocean breezes don’t make me laugh. I’m in with noisy metal little nils. A million apologies. I must have made more. You were sensitive, you needed them No you weren’t and you didn’t. In fact . . . oh forget it! In the middle of […]

Jane, by Howard Moss (8/29/2015) The startling pleasures all broke down, It was her first arthritic spring. Inside her furs, her bones, secure, Suddenly became a source of pain And froze on a Saturday afternoon While she was listening to “La Boheme.” Strength had been her weakness, and Because it was, she got to like The exhilaration of catastrophes That […]

This, Here, by Kush Thompson (8/30/2015) This, we tiptoe. This, we flower in euphemism. The street has swallowed itself into border. Into railroad track. This, where the bus line ends. This, where little boys bike across curfew and into eulogy. This, where board-slapped windows domino into mansions. Runaway men into joggers. This, where Oak Park River Forest alumni rep westside, Redlands […]

Accidents Of Birth, by William Meredith (8/30/2015) Je vois les effroyables espaces de l’Univers qui m’enferment, et je me trouve attaché à un coin de cette vaste étendue, sans savoir pourquoi je suis plutôt en ce lieu qu’en un autre, ni pourquoi ce peu de temps qui m’est donné à vivre m’est assigné à ce point plutôt qu’à un autre de toute […]

Waiting On The Reading, by Samiya Bashir (8/31/2015) Many of my race have lived long without the touch of these fine things which separate us from beasts. Things I call my own now. Having served thirty-six years as needleman for a family far more ape than we will ever be, I rode the moonlight train to find my free. Up here it is […]

Study In Orange And White, by Billy Collins (8/31/2015) I knew that James Whistler was part of the Paris scene, but I was still surprised when I found the painting of his mother at the Musée d’Orsay among all the colored dots and mobile brushstrokes of the French Impressionists. And I was surprised to notice after a few minutes of benign staring, how that […]

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