2015 // May


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May 2015
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American Singer, by Matthew Zapruder (5/1/2015) when I walk to the mailbox holding the letter that fails to say how sorry I am you feel your call or any words at all on that day would have stopped the great singer who long ago decided more quickly through to move I notice probably because you wrote that strange word funeral the […]

If You Forget Me, by Pablo Neruda (5/1/2015) I want you to know one thing. You know how this is: if I look at the crystal moon, at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window, if I touch near the fire the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log, everything carries me to you, as if everything that […]

After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard, by Charles Wright (5/2/2015) East of me, west of me, full summer. How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard. Birds fly back and forth across the lawn looking for home As night drifts up like a little boat. Day after day, I become of less use to myself. Like this mockingbird, I flit from one […]

Tablets, by Dunya Mikhail (5/2/2015) 1 She pressed her ear against the shell: she wanted to hear everything he never told her. 2 A single inch separates their two bodies facing one another in the picture: a framed smile buried beneath the rubble. 3 Whenever you throw stones into the sea it sends ripples through me. 4 My heart’s quite […]

Afterwards, by Philip Schultz (5/3/2015) Suddenly everything feels afterwards, stoic and inevitable, my eyes ringed with the grease of rumor and complicity, my hands eager to hold any agreeable infatuation that might otherwise slip away. Suddenly it’s evening and the lights up and down the street appear hopeful, even magnanimous, swollen as they are with ancient grievances and souring schemes. […]

The Call, by C. Dale Young (5/3/2015) in memoriam Cecil Young I am addicted to words, constantly ferret them away in anticipation. You cannot accuse me of not being prepared. I am ready for anything. I can create an image faster than just about anyone. And so, the crows blurring the tree line; the sky’s light dimming and shifting; the Pacific cold […]

Porch Swing in September, by Ted Kooser (5/4/2015) The porch swing hangs fixed in a morning sun that bleaches its gray slats, its flowered cushion whose flowers have faded, like those of summer, and a small brown spider has hung out her web on a line between porch post and chain so that no one may swing without breaking it. She is saying […]

Parowan Canyon, by David Lee (5/4/2015) When granite and sandstone begin to blur and flow, the eye rests on cool white aspen. Strange, their seeming transparency. How as in a sudden flash one remembers a forgotten name, so the recollection. Aspen. With a breeze in them, their quiet rhythms, shimmering, quaking. Powder on the palm. Cool on the cheek. Such delicacy […]

Suicide of a Moderate Dictator, by Elizabeth Bishop (5/5/2015) This is a day when truths will out, perhaps; leak from the dangling telephone earphones sapping the festooned switchboards’ strength; fall from the windows, blow from off the sills, —the vague, slight unremarkable contents of emptying ash-trays; rub off on our fingers like ink from the un-proof-read newspapers, crocking the way the unfocused photographs of […]

Poem with Lines from Pierre Reverdy, by Sandra Simonds (5/5/2015) Maybe the world will not be saved. It will not be saved. Its commerce, its every case also moves into its geology and then that geology moves into some great exit of slowing clocks and the history of saved light. Listen, I’m not crazy. I want you to save something for me. If someone says […]

Stirred Up By Rain, by Chase Twichell (5/6/2015) I fired up the mower although it was about to rain— a chill late September afternoon, wild flowers re-seeding themselves in the blue smoke of the gas-oil mix. To be attached to things is illusion, yet I’m attached to things. Cold, clouds, wind, color— the sky is what the brush-cutter wants to cut, but again […]

I saw a man pursuing the horizon, by Stephen Crane (5/6/2015) I saw a man pursuing the horizon; Round and round they sped. I was disturbed at this; I accosted the man. “It is futile,” I said, “You can never—” “You lie,” he cried, And ran on.

City, by Ander Monson (5/7/2015) Sometimes it is empty and it reminds us all of loneliness. Though we are in love or in affairs that approximate love or long-term relationships we can still be lonely and we are still lonely when it is between 3am and 4am and the world is full of nothingness. We are inside the city. We […]

Muse & Drudge [just as I am I come], by Harryette Mullen (5/7/2015) just as I am I come knee bent and body bowed this here’s sorrow’s home my body’s southern song cram all you can into jelly jam preserve a feeling keep it sweet so beautiful it was presumptuous to alter the shape of my pleasure in doing or making proceed with abandon finding yourself where you […]

Pyrotechnics, by Amy Lowell (5/8/2015) I Our meeting was like the upward swish of a rocket In the blue night. I do not know when it burst; But now I stand gaping, In a glory of falling stars. II Hola! Hola! shouts the crowd, as the catherine-wheels sputter and turn. Hola! They cheer the flower-pots and set pieces. And nobody […]

On. On. Stop. Stop., by Saskia Hamilton (5/8/2015) In the old recording of the birthday party, the voices of the living and the dead instruct twelve absent friends on the reliable luxury of gratitude. The celebrated one hands out presents. The dead dog barks once. We take one another’s hands and follow their lead, past the garden wall, out to the land still […]

Flying at Night, by Ted Kooser (5/9/2015) Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations. Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies like a snowflake falling on water. Below us, some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death, snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn back into the little system of his care. All night, the cities, like shimmering novas, […]

Compulsively Allergic to the Truth, by Jeffrey McDaniel (5/9/2015) I’m sorry I was late. I was pulled over by a cop for driving blindfolded with a raspberry-scented candle flickering in my mouth. I’m sorry I was late. I was on my way when I felt a plot thickening in my arm. I have a fear of heights. Luckily the Earth is on the second […]

The Moment, by Marie Howe (5/10/2015) Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment when,  nothing happens no what-have-I-to-do-today-list – maybe  half a moment the rush of traffic stops. The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be slows to silence, the white cotton curtains hanging still.

Be Drunk, by Charles Baudelaire (5/10/2015) You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk. But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk. And […]

In the Waiting Room, by Elizabeth Bishop (5/11/2015) In Worcester, Massachusetts, I went with Aunt Consuelo to keep her dentist’s appointment and sat and waited for her in the dentist’s waiting room. It was winter. It got dark early. The waiting room was full of grown-up people, arctics and overcoats, lamps and magazines. My aunt was inside what seemed like a long time […]

Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow, by Robert Duncan (5/11/2015) as if it were a scene made-up by the mind, that is not mine, but is a made place, that is mine, it is so near to the heart, an eternal pasture folded in all thought so that there is a hall therein that is a made place, created by light wherefrom the shadows that […]

William Dawes, by Eileen Myles (5/12/2015) faint tinkling down the street moved me from Swan to Mass Ave the skinny men running into Boston. Why I don’t know. Let’s go to town hall giant horses Paul Revere & William Dawes and horses hairy poop lands splat on the brick. Get em to sign your program. It’s not even really Paul Revere […]

Letter To A Future Lover, by Ander Monson (5/12/2015) You were my birthday present; you came to the door—no one else was home, you said “let’s celebrate.” We dropped acid and went to the friend with the nocturnal monkey-like animal and made love for hours…. —inscribed in Gary Snyder, Turtle Island (Casa de los Niños discard library) Handwritten, it goes without saying, this inscription […]

E.H., by John Koethe (5/13/2015) Sometimes I stand in the middle of the floor, Not going left, not going right. —Stephen Sondheim I like to get drunk and I like to write. I search for ways in and can’t find them, But that doesn’t mean they’re not there. What isn’t There is the life between the words, the life that […]

Negotiations, by Rae Armantrout (5/13/2015) 1 The best part is when we’re tired of it all in the same degree, a fatigue we imagine to be temporary, and we lie near each other, toes touching. What’s done is done, we don’t say, to begin our transaction, each letting go of something without really bringing it to mind until we’re lighter, […]

To Those Of You Alive In The Future, by Dean Young (5/14/2015) who somehow have found a sip of water, on this day in the past four syndicated series involving communication with the dead were televised and in this way we resembled our own ghosts in a world made brief with flowers. To you, our agonies and tizzies must appear quaint as the stiff shoulders of someone […]

Unpacking a Globe, by Arthur Sze (5/14/2015) I gaze at the Pacific and don’t expect to ever see the heads on Easter Island, though I guess at sunlight rippling the yellow grasses sloping to shore; yesterday a doe ate grass in the orchard: it lifted its ears and stopped eating when it sensed us watching from a glass hallway—in his sleep, a […]

The Room In Which My First Child Slept, by Eavan Boland (5/15/2015) After a while I thought of it this way: It was a town underneath a mountain crowned by snow and every year a river rushed through, enveloping the dusk in a noise everyone knew signaled spring— a small town, known for a kind of calico, made there, strong and unglazed, a makeshift of cotton in […]

valentine for Sally Hemings, by Sojourner Ahebee (5/15/2015) there’s a dead jefferson in every black girl’s belly, an unknown hunger for something stolen. i found a poem in these parts, in the belly of a black girl. i was told to look in the garage, into the person i almost liked, at the bottom of an odd blue sock buried in my dresser […]

Animal Graves, by Chase Twichell (5/16/2015) The mower flipped it belly up, a baby garter less than a foot long, dull green with a single sharp stripe of pale manila down its back, same color as the underside which was cut in two places, a loop of intestine poking out. It wouldn’t live, so I ran the blades over it again, […]

The Very Nervous Family, by Sabrina Orah Mark (5/16/2015) Mr. Horowitz clutches a bag of dried apricots to his chest. Although the sun is shining, there will probably be a storm. Electricity will be lost. Possibly forever. When this happens the very nervous family will be the last to starve. Because of the apricots. “Unless,” says Mrs. Horowitz, “the authorities confiscate the apricots.” Mr. […]

Kissing Stieglitz Good-Bye, by Gerald Stern (5/17/2015) Every city in America is approached through a work of art, usually a bridge but sometimes a road that curves underneath or drops down from the sky. Pittsburgh has a tunnel— you don’t know it—that takes you through the rivers and under the burning hills. I went there to cry in the woods or carry […]

crack house, by Quraysh Ali Lansana (5/17/2015) greeter she hustles us in eyes tired shadows stutter behind nervous trees   outer room screen door grime a porous portal paneling drips frantic carpet   living room up early ricki lake an endless loop tv’s wide blue mouth the only thing moving   pantry she fast food she buy one get one free   […]

In the Surgical Theatre, by Dana Levin (5/18/2015) In the moment between the old heart and the new two angels gather at the empty chest. The doctors flow over them as winds, as blurs, unnoticed but as currents around this body, the flesh of the chest peeled back as petals, revealing a hole. In it the layers are fluttering—the back muscle, the bone, […]

Rocket Fantastic [excerpt], by Gabrielle Calvocoressi (5/18/2015) He’s really beautiful. When he’s standing in the trees like that and thinks nobody sees him. He’s like a stag. Which sounds silly but he is. The way the light shines on him. The way it bounces off his hair like spray from the sprinkler. And he doesn’t know it right then. Because he’s looking […]

Koi, by Katie Ford (5/19/2015) After all the days and nights we’ve spent with Starry Messenger, with Dante, with Plato, his temperance painted as a woman who pours water into a bowl but does not spill, after particle theory and the geologic time of this quartz gilded beneath the roaming gone, composites of limestone calculated down to the animal that […]

Continuity, by A. R. Ammons (5/19/2015) I’ve pressed so far away from my desire that if you asked me what I want I would, accepting the harmonious completion of the drift, say annihilation, probably.

The Bistro Styx, by Rita Dove (5/20/2015) She was thinner, with a mannered gauntness as she paused just inside the double glass doors to survey the room, silvery cape billowing dramatically behind her. What’s this, I thought, lifting a hand until she nodded and started across the parquet; that’s when I saw she was dressed all in gray, from a kittenish cashmere […]

To The One Upstairs, by Charles Simic (5/20/2015) Boss of all bosses of the universe. Mr. know-it-all, wheeler-dealer, wire-puller, And whatever else you’re good at. Go ahead, shuffle your zeros tonight. Dip in ink the comets’ tails. Staple the night with starlight. You’d be better off reading coffee dregs, Thumbing the pages of the Farmer’s Almanac. But no! You love to put on […]

San Antonio, by Naomi Shihab Nye (5/21/2015) Tonight I lingered over your name, the delicate assembly of vowels a voice inside my head. You were sleeping when I arrived. I stood by your bed and watched the sheets rise gently. I knew what slant of light would make you turn over. It was then I felt the highways slide out of my […]

Pretty Polly, by Jane Springer (5/21/2015) Who made the banjo sad & wrong? Who made the luckless girl & hell bound boy? Who made the ballad? The one, I mean, where lovers gallop down mountain brush as though in love- where hooves break ground to blood earth scent. Who gave the boy swift words to woo the girl from home, & […]

On 52nd Street, by Philip Levine (5/22/2015) Down sat Bud, raised his hands, the Deuces silenced, the lights lowered, and breath gathered for the coming storm. Then nothing, not a single note. Outside starlight from heaven fell unseen, a quarter- moon, promised, was no show, ditto the rain. Late August of ‘50, NYC, the long summer of abundance and our new war. […]

Panther, by Ned O’Gorman (5/22/2015) When the panther came no belfrey rang alarums, no cleric spat his tea. When the panther came the sky and lawn were still. The panter came through forest, through field, up to the wall and my one blossoming cherry tree. I had constructed the world as it was and had pared the body from the […]

The Blue Cup, by Minnie Bruce Pratt (5/23/2015) Through binoculars the spiral nebula was a smudged white thumbprint on the night sky. Stories said it was a mark left by the hand of Night, that old she, easily weaving the universe out of milky strings of chaos. Beatrice found creation more difficult. Tonight what she had was greasy water whirling in the bottom […]

Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, by Patricia Smith (5/23/2015) My mother scraped the name Patricia Ann from the ruins of her discarded Delta, thinking it would offer me shield and shelter, that leering men would skulk away at the slap of it. Her hands on the hips of Alabama, she went for flat and functional, then siphoned each syllable of drama, repeatedly crushing it […]

The Pomegranate, by Eavan Boland (5/24/2015) The only legend I have ever loved is the story of a daughter lost in hell. And found and rescued there. Love and blackmail are the gist of it. Ceres and Persephone the names. And the best thing about the legend is I can enter it anywhere. And have. As a child in exile in […]

One Day, by Joseph Millar (5/24/2015) Everything shimmers with the sound of the train rattling over the bridge especially the ears and nostrils and teeth of the horse riding out to the pasture of death where the long train runs on diesel fuel that used to run on coal. I keep listening for the crickets and birds and my words fall […]

Streets, by Naomi Shihab Nye (5/25/2015) A man leaves the world and the streets he lived on grow a little shorter. One more window dark in this city, the figs on his branches will soften for birds. If we stand quietly enough evenings there grows a whole company of us standing quietly together. overhead loud grackles are claiming their trees and […]

The Parallel Cathedral, by Tom Sleigh (5/25/2015) 1 The cathedral being built around our split level house was so airy, it stretched so high it was like a cloud of granite and marble light the house rose up inside. At the time I didn’t notice masons laying courses of stone ascending, flying buttresses pushing back forces that would have crushed our flimsy […]

Inland, by Chase Twichell (5/26/2015) Above the blond prairies, the sky is all color and water. The future moves from one part to another. This is a note in a tender sequence that I call love, trying to include you, but it is not love. It is music, or time. To explain the pleasure I take in loneliness, I speak […]

In Praise Of The Passivity Of Paper, by Sam Riviere (5/26/2015) I felt suddenly convinced that I had feelings for the wallpaper. I was especially captivated by its blonde hair and bad dreams. I had the impression the wallpaper needed longer to properly respond. By the time I left, my affections had produced this abrasion on my cheek. People looked on the abrasion as unquestionable proof […]

Consolation Miracle, by Chad Davidson (5/27/2015) In the pewless church of San Juan Chula, a Neocatholic Tzozil Indian wrings a chicken’s neck. Through piñoned air, stars from tourist flashbulbs flame, reflecting in the reddened eyes, in the mirrors statuary cling to, inside their plate- glass boxes. A mother fills a shot- glass with fire. Others offer up moon- shine swelling in […]

A Score for Tourist Movies, by Mary Austin Speaker (5/27/2015) If music plays with film then film is an illustration of music’s movement. Snap, blast, sever, sever, stop. Even the dog twitching his ears. If islands nestle in the ocean, and a statue rises above the pilgrim, then we are standing on a cliff and the pilgrim has reached her goal. The light is as […]

For A Traveler, by Jessica Greenbaum (5/28/2015) I only have a moment so let me tell you the shortest story, about arriving at a long loved place, the house of friends in Maine, their lawn of wildflowers, their grandfather clock and candid portraits, their gabled attic rooms, and woodstove in the kitchen, all accessories of the genuine summer years before, when I […]

For What Binds Us, by Jane Hirshfield (5/28/2015) There are names for what binds us: strong forces, weak forces. Look around, you can see them: the skin that forms in a half-empty cup, nails rusting into the places they join, joints dovetailed on their own weight. The way things stay so solidly wherever they’ve been set down— and gravity, scientists say, is weak. […]

How Do I Know When a Poem Is Finished?, by Naomi Shihab Nye (5/29/2015) When you quietly close the door to a room the room is not finished. It is resting. Temporarily. Glad to be without you for a while. Now it has time to gather its balls of gray dust, to pitch them from corner to corner. Now it seeps back into itself, unruffled and proud. Outlines grow […]

Manifest Destiny, by Cynthia Lowen (5/29/2015) The god I’d left behind sent one last email before returning to his people. That summer was sixty-five degrees and fluorescent. I was working at a law firm. The logical mind thinks, You’ll be paid for your suffering. Paradise is of this earth and it is yours, said the copy-machine. The impenetrable old growth of […]

Humanimal [I want to make a dark mirror out of writing], by Bhanu Kapil (5/30/2015) 47. I want to make a dark mirror out of writing: one child facing the other, like Dora and little Hans. I want to write, for example, about the violence done to my father’s body as a child. In this re-telling, India is blue, green, black and yellow like the actual, reflective surface of a […]

Making a Meal Out of It, by Joel Lewis (5/30/2015) Hoboken snowtime and the big slushy mounds are the laundry of the future, with next-door’s mortician rating my clumsy shoveling by shouting: “You’d never make it as a grave digger!” Time pulse quickens with walkers and curb lackeys merged in the quadrille of symbiosis. In local shop windows they sell devices capable of reordering speech. […]

Humanimal [Feral children are fatty], by Bhanu Kapil (5/31/2015) 4. Feral children are fatty, complex and rigid. When you captured the two children, you had to brush the knots out of their hair then scrape the comb free of hard butter. Descent and serration. No. I don’t want to ask primal questions. 5. Kamala slips over the garden wall with her sister and runs, […]

Suicide In The Trenches, by Siegfried Sassoon (5/31/2015) I knew a simple soldier boy Who grinned at life in empty joy, Slept soundly through the lonesome dark, And whistled early with the lark. In winter trenches, cowed and glum, With crumps and lice and lack of rum, He put a bullet through his brain. No one spoke of him again. You smug-faced crowds […]

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