2015 // June

June 2015

Arms, by Richard Tayson (6/1/2015) I’m late for the birth- day party, it’s one of those cool after- noons when the world is clear, is made of glass, the sky so blue you want to look up at the very center of its pupil in case you get a glimpse of what comes after we leave here. I’m thinking my […]

Days of Me, by Stuart Dischell (6/1/2015) When people say they miss me, I think how much I miss me too, Me, the old me, the great me, Lover of three women in one day, Modest me, the best me, friend To waiters and bartenders, hearty Laugher and name rememberer, Proud me, handsome and hirsute In soccer shoes and shorts On the […]

Preface to the “Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion”, by Nick Lantz (6/2/2015) In the late spring of 1985, we met in the weedy lot of the Orchid Pavilion Nursery for a little ritual purification. Everyone came, all the half-brothers and half-sisters, the children not yet born, and men so old they were young again. We sat beside the aqueduct, and gold cans of beer floated down to […]

Casualty, by Seamus Heaney (6/2/2015) I He would drink by himself And raise a weathered thumb Towards the high shelf, Calling another rum And blackcurrant, without Having to raise his voice, Or order a quick stout By a lifting of the eyes And a discreet dumb-show Of pulling off the top; At closing time would go In waders and peaked […]

The Split Ends of My Beard Have Split Ends, by Justin Marks (6/3/2015) My natural instincts are hardly ever right. When I sleep there is a voice in my ear coming through a cheerleader’s megaphone in a really bizarre language. I understand fully. The world is out the window. When we wake on the weekends and my wife wants sex, I say, the furniture is feline, let’s just […]

Packet, by Jamie Ross (6/3/2015) A green light that comes when you never saw it coming, never heard it, felt it, but you knew it like the woman in the sandlot behind Abram’s Grill who’s just lost her lenses, on her hands and knees, her hair cut short but seems as if it’s flowing, and the rush on her throat […]

Drift, by Brenda Shaughnessy (6/4/2015) I’ll go anywhere to leave you but come with me. All the cities are like you anyway. Windows darken when I get close enough to see. Any place we want to stay’s polluted, the good spots taken already by those who ruin them. And restaurants we’d never find. We’d rut a ditch by a river […]

Moths, by Caleb Klaces (6/4/2015) A translator who has a phobia of moths spent three years translating a book with a moth motif. It’s ironic, she has said, that she knew more about the moths than the author of the original, who was merely fascinated. The translation contained a greater variety of moths than the original, drawn from suggestions she […]

Emily Dickinson to the Rescue, by Michael Dickman (6/5/2015) Standing in her house today all I could think of was whether she took a shit every morning or ever fucked anybody or ever fucked herself God’s poet singing herself to sleep You want these sorts of things for people Bodies and the earth and the earth inside Instead of white nightgowns and terrifying letters […]

Slowly in Prayer, by Matthew Lippman (6/5/2015) To be thankful for the Starbucks lady, Lucy, who is pissed at me for asking too many questions about my damn phone app is one thing. To be thankful for my wife plastering my face to the bathroom floor with pancake batter for missing the bus is another thing. I tried to be thankful for […]

Engines Within the Throne, by Cathy Park Hong (6/6/2015) We once worked as clerks scanning moth-balled pages into the clouds, all memories outsourced except the fuzzy childhood bits when I was an undersized girl with a tic, they numbed me with botox I was a skinsuit of dumb expression, just fingerprints over my shamed all I wanted was snow to snuff the sun blades […]

During the Montenegrin Poetry Reading, by Tess Gallagher (6/6/2015) Mira, like a white goddess, is translating so my left ear is a cave near Kotor where the sea lashes and rakes the iron darkness inside the black mountains. Young and old, the poets are letting us know this sweltering night, under a bridge near a river outside Karver Bookstore at the beginning of July, […]

They Romp with Wooly Canines, by Patricia Smith (6/7/2015) and spy whole lifetimes on the undersides of leaves. Jazz intrudes, stank clogging that neat procession of lush and flutter. His eyes, siphoned and dimming, demand that he accept ardor as it is presented, with its tear-splashed borders and stilted lists, romance that is only on the agenda because hours do not stop. Bless his […]

1939, by Marjorie Agosín (6/7/2015) I She knew how to seduce her destiny, predict the time of flight In 1939, dressed in garments of night and happiness at the threshold of a fearful Hamburg Harbor resolved to live, she sailed to Southern seas. In 1938, the windows of her house of water and stone resisted the extreme horror of that […]

Drowsing over The Arabian Nights, by Thomas Kinsella (6/8/2015) I nodded. The books agree, one hopes for too much. It is ridiculous. We are elaborate beasts. If we concur it is only in our hunger: the soiled gullet. And sleep’s airy nothing. And the moist matter of lust —if the whole waste of women could be gathered like one pit under swarming Man, then […]

[Persian Letters], by Solmaz Sharif (6/8/2015) Dear Aleph, Like Ovid: I’ll have no last words. This is what it means to die among barbarians. Bar bar bar was how the Greeks heard our speech— sheep, beasts—and so we became barbarians. We make them reveal the brutes they are, Aleph, by the things we make them name. David, they tell me, is […]

Disgust, by Liam Rector (6/9/2015) I was well towards the end Of middle-age before I Realized I loved saying Disgusting things but didn’t Really myself much enjoy hearing Them. They Go to the heart of life, I realize (I think Everyone recognizes this), Since almost everyone Can agree: Life, so Generally disgusting. But no one really Wants to hear That […]

A Natural History of My White Girl, by Ching-In Chen (6/9/2015) after Mendi Obadike When I was a white girl, I had no mother. I drank whiskey, lived in a house with no walls. Girls visited and marveled at my room to breathe. When it was sunny, they let down their hair, drank fresh orange juice. We drank all morning, didn’t go to class. I knew […]

In Portraits in Seasons, by Danielle Pafunda (6/10/2015) As a feral thing would. As a dead leaf whose crunch she herself hears, whose buggy interior floods the sidewalk. Beamy the world, yet a blank all the same. Where you’ve tucked your pen into your notes, I tuck my fingernail, burned and cursed and shut tight my eyes. I tuck my feet up like […]

Confessions: My Father, Hummingbirds, and Frantz Fanon, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (6/10/2015) Every effort is made to bring the colonised person to admit the inferiority of his culture… —Frantz Fanon And there are days when storms hover Over my house, their brooding just this side of rage, An open hand about to slap a face. You won’t believe me When I tell you it is not personal. […]

Vodka, by Joel Brouwer (6/11/2015) The Stoli bottle’s frost melts to brilliance where I press my fingers. Evidence. Proof I’m here, drunk in your lamplit kitchen, breathing up your rented air, no intention of leaving. Our lust squats blunt as a brick on the table between us. We’re low on vocabulary. We’re vodkaquiet. Vodkadeliquescent. Vodka doesn’t like theatrics: it walks […]

Francesca, by Ezra Pound (6/11/2015) You came in out of the night And there were flowers in your hands, Now you will come out of a confusion of people, Out of a turmoil of speech about you. I who have seen you amid the primal things Was angry when they spoke your name In ordinary places. I would that the […]

Accomplishments, by Michael Chitwood (6/12/2015) What you have not done is without error. What you have not said is beyond contradiction. What you understand of God was yesterday. Today a bicycle waits, chained to a bench. The success of this afternoon’s nap is the dream of lifting seven boxes, your week, sealed with clear tape. They stack, three to a […]

Jet, by Tony Hoagland (6/12/2015) Sometimes I wish I were still out on the back porch, drinking jet fuel with the boys, getting louder and louder as the empty cans drop out of our paws like booster rockets falling back to Earth and we soar up into the summer stars. Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead, bearing asteroids and […]

Mary, Color Scientist, by John Beer (6/13/2015) No one comes here anymore. I have a token NO I have an idea NO I was washed up on a lab table, in the traditional manner. “Everybody wants to say the joyful joyfully, and I finally saw it, when I was destroyed.” Talk all you like, you’re already dead. ** Mary, would you like […]

The Strange Hours Travelers Keep, by August Kleinzahler (6/13/2015) The markets never rest Always they are somewhere in agitation Pork bellies, titanium, winter wheat Electromagnetic ether peppered with photons Treasure spewing from Unisys A-15 J mainframes Across the firmament Soundlessly among the thunderheads and passenger jets As they make their nightlong journeys Across the oceans and steppes Nebulae, incandescent frog spawn of information Trembling […]

Epistle: Leaving, by Kerrin McCadden (6/14/2015) Dear train wreck, dear terrible engines, dear spilled freight, dear unbelievable mess, all these years later I think to write back. I was not who I am now. A sail is a boat, a bark is a boat, a mast is a boat and the train was you and me. Dear dark, dear paper, dear […]

Miz Rosa Rides The Bus, by Angela Jackson (6/14/2015) That day in December I sat down by Miss Muffet of Montgomery. I was myriad-weary. Feets swole from sewing seams on a filthy fabric; tired-sore a pedalin’ the rusty Singer; dingy cotton thread jammed in the eye. All lifelong I’d slide through century-reams loathsome with tears. Dreaming my own silk-self. It was not like they […]

Ghostology, by Rebecca Lindenberg (6/15/2015) The whistler’s inhale, the white space between is and not or after a question, a pause. Nothing isn’t song: a leaf hatching from its green shell, frost whorling across a windshield, an open door opening

La Pelona as Birdwoman [excerpt], by Rigoberto González (6/15/2015) Tonight I dared to crawl beneath the sheets to be nailed down around me, waiting for my lover, she who enters without knocking, she who will unstitch my every seam along my thigh, my side, my armpit. She who carves a heart out of the heart and drops it down her throat. Sweet surrender this […]

Beside You on Main Street, by Jillian Weise (6/16/2015) We were stepping out of a reading in October, the first cold night, and we were following this couple, were they at the reading? and because we were lost, I called out to them, “Are you going to the after party?” The woman laughed and said no and the man kept walking, and she was […]

God the Broken Lock, by David Rivard (6/16/2015) I’ve died enough by now I trust just what’s imperfect or ruined. I mean God, God who is in the stop sign asking to be shotgunned, the ocean that evaporates even as we float. God the bent nail & broken lock, and God the hangnail. The hangnail. And a million others might be like me, […]

I Pack Her Suitcase with Sticks, Light the Tinder, and Shut the Lid, by Rob Schlegel (6/17/2015) She used to sit on the forest floor and I would cut her hair until it piled up onto the ground, like ash. Tonight, her name is a leaf covering my left eye. The right I close for the wind to stitch shut with thread from the dress she wore into the grave where the […]

Winter Letter, by Huu Thinh (6/17/2015) The letter I wrote you had smeared ink, But the bamboo walls are thin, and fog kept leaking through. On this cold mountain, I cannot sleep at night. By morning, a reed stalk can fade. White snow on my thin blanket. The stove glows red for lunch, but the mountain remains hazy. Ink freezes inside […]

On the Platform, by Tom Sleigh (6/18/2015) 1 The omen I didn’t know I was waiting for pulled into the station the same instant as the train. It was just a teenage boy busking on the platform, cello cutting through garble, Bach’s repetitions hard-edged as a scalpel probing an open wound. But then I kept thinking how a sound wave travels the […]

Slanting Light, by Arthur Sze (6/18/2015) Slanting light casts onto a stucco wall the shadows of upwardly zigzagging plum branches. I can see the thinning of branches to the very twig. I have to sift what you say, what she thinks, what he believes is genetic strength, what they agree is inevitable. I have to sift this quirky and lashing stillness […]

Peanut Butter, By Eileen Myles (6/19/2015) I am always hungry & wanting to have sex. This is a fact. If you get right down to it the new unprocessed peanut butter is no damn good & you should buy it in a jar as always in the largest supermarket you know. And I am an enemy of change, as you know. […]

Her Body Like a Lantern Next to Me, by John Rybicki (6/19/2015) There’s this movie I am watching: my love’s belly almost five months pregnant with cancer, more like a little rock wall piled and fitted inside her than some prenatal rounding. Over there’s her face near the frying pan she’s bent over, but there’s no water in the pan, and so, no reflection. No pool where […]

Those Graves in Rome, by Larry Levis (6/20/2015) There are places where the eye can starve, But not here. Here, for example, is The Piazza Navona, & here is his narrow room Overlooking the Steps & the crowds of sunbathing Tourists. And here is the Protestant Cemetery Where Keats & Joseph Severn join hands Forever under a little shawl of grass And where […]

Blackwater Fever, by Vandana Khanna (6/20/2015) They didn’t find it in me until months later— just like Vallejo who died on a rainy day far from the heat rising over a garden in silvers and reds—far away from the din of buses, tobacco vendors, cows that overran the streets with their holiness. Laid on the surface of the Ganges, the thin […]

To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like a Death, by Lloyd Schwartz (6/21/2015) In today’s paper, a story about our high school drama teacher evicted from his Carnegie Hall rooftop apartment made me ache to call you—the only person I know who’d still remember his talent, his good looks, his self- absorption. We’d laugh (at what haven’t we laughed?), then not laugh, wondering what became of him. But […]

Cracked Ice, by Julie Sheehan (6/21/2015) When I return, I’ll come in clapboard, stained chestnut, with lead-based paint on radiators, old-fashioned, and a little bit insane but sturdy to a fault. A spalting grain on punky myrtle and no refrigerator when I return. I’ll come in clapboard, stained shake shingles skittering on skewed roof planes that snarl the corner lot like […]

The Ghazal of What Hurt, by Peter Cole (6/22/2015) Pain froze you, for years-and fear-leaving scars. But now, as though miraculously, it seems, here you are walking easily across the ground, and into town as though you were floating on air, which in part you are, or riding a wave of what feels like the world’s good will- though helped along by something foreign […]

from Mesongs, by Kamau Brathwaite (6/22/2015) XXIV for Barbara at Devizes And suddenly you was talking trees fall black with birds behind the hill and green as grass fly off into the sun o blinding girl the whole cathedral crash at your back XXV Not the blue the orthodoxy of the day But a blue like intuition The soft of the […]

The Cloister, by William Matthews (6/23/2015) The last light of a July evening drained into the streets below: My love and I had hard things to say and hear, and we sat over wine, faltering, picking our words carefully. The afternoon before I had lain across my bed and my cat leapt up to lie alongside me, purring and slowly growing […]

Given, by Joanna Klink (6/23/2015) And I carried to that emptiness between us the birds that had been calling out all night. I carried an old bicycle, a warm meal, some time to talk. I would have brought them to you sooner but was afraid your own hopelessness would keep you crouched there. If you spring up, let it not […]

The Culture of Glass, by Thylias Moss (6/24/2015) Thanksgiving 2004: I’m thankful for Columbo’s eye, Peter Falk’s indivisible from the other’s vitreous dupe that he can pocket, rub into, off of, and shine the crystal eyeball after it subs in a game of table pool. Oh yeah! The future of fortunes is manufactured revelation of a snow globe: when the right someone gets […]

Oklahoma City: The Aftermath, by Ira Sadoff (6/24/2015) Sometimes I’m so lachrymose I forget I was there with my darling—I call her my darling to make her more anonymous, so she can’t take up all the space in my brain. But please, can I continue, or must I look away from such openness, those spools of light bringing red and fine threads of […]

The Bear, by Galway Kinnell (6/25/2015) 1 In late winter I sometimes glimpse bits of steam coming up from some fault in the old snow and bend close and see it is lung-colored and put down my nose and know the chilly, enduring odor of bear. 2 I take a wolf’s rib and whittle it sharp at both ends and coil […]

NINE, 86, by Anne Tardos (6/25/2015) The insubstantial and changing quality of space is appreciated. Intellectual understanding is based on harmless and spontaneous perception. Supposition gold-digger advocating pleasure—be the laughing stock! Amber cushion softly evident seagull commentary, we shall prevail. Tirelessly pedaling along the ever present source of ideas. Long, drawn-out suffering is not what we’re after. Palpably diligent search for […]

In the great snowfall before the bomb, by Lorine Niedecker (6/26/2015) In the great snowfall before the bomb colored yule tree lights windows, the only glow for contemplation along this road I worked the print shop right down among em the folk from whom all poetry flows and dreadfully much else. I was Blondie I carried my bundles of hog feeder price lists down by Larry […]

With All Due Respect [excerpt], by Vincent Aleixandre (6/26/2015) Trees, women and children are all the same thing: Background. Voices, affections, brightness, joy, this knowledge that finally here we all are. Indeed. Me and my ten fingers. Now the sun isn’t horrendous like a cheek that’s ready: it isn’t a piece of clothing or a speechless flashlight. Nor is it the answer heard by […]

Gradeschool’s Large Windows, by Thomas Lux (6/27/2015) weren’t built to let the sunlight in. They were large to let the germs out. When polio, which sounds like the first dactyl of a jump rope song, was on the rage, you did not swim in public waters. The awful thing was an iron lung. We lined up in our underwear to get the […]

The More Loving One, by W. H. Auden (6/27/2015) Looking up at the stars, I know quite well That, for all they care, I can go to hell, But on earth indifference is the least We have to dread from man or beast. How should we like it were stars to burn With a passion for us we could not return? If equal affection […]

The Language of the Birds, by Richard Siken (6/28/2015) 1 A man saw a bird and found him beautiful. The bird had a song inside him, and feathers. Sometimes the man felt like the bird and sometimes the man felt like a stone—solid, inevitable—but mostly he felt like a bird, or that there was a bird inside him, or that something inside him was […]

Redaction, by Carmen Giménez Smith (6/28/2015) We make dogma out of letter writing: the apocryphal story of Lincoln who wrote angry letters he never sent. We wait for letters for days and days. Someone tells me I’ll write you a letter and I feel he’s saying you’re different than anyone else. Distance’s buzz gets louder and louder. It gets to be […]

Names, by Fady Joudah (6/29/2015) Thank you for dreaming of mefor letting me knowfor waking up to remember that you dreamedI never wake up when I dream of you What woke you upwas it someoneelse’s body? A small thrill a little secret is oursa desire for safe travelin unspilled blood

Getting Close, by Victoria Redel (6/29/2015) Because my mother loved pocketbooks I come alive at the opening click or close of a metal clasp. And sometimes, unexpectedly, a faux crocodile handle makes me weep. Breathy clearing of throat, a smooth arm, heels on pavement, she lingers, sound tattoos. I go to the thrift store to feel for bobby pins caught in […]

Bells II, by John Ashbery (6/30/2015) For just as a misunderstanding germinates in a clear sky, climbing like a comma from rack to misunderstood rack of worried clouds, now difficult, now brusque, foregrounded, amoral, the last birds took off into the abyss. Now it was just us, though shielded, separate, disparate. It almost seems— and yet it doesn’t. Broken glass announces […]

The Dover Bitch, by Anthony Hecht (6/30/2015) A Criticism of Life: for Andrews Wanning So there stood Matthew Arnold and this girl With the cliffs of England crumbling away behind them, And he said to her, ‘Try to be true to me, And I’ll do the same for you, for things are bad All over, etc., etc.’ Well now, I knew this […]