Venice, Unaccompanied, by Monica Youn

Waking
on the train, I thought
we were attacked
 

            by light:
chrome-winged birds
hatching from the lagoon.
 

            That first day
the buoys were all
that made the harbor
 

            bearable:
pennies sewn into a hemline.
Later I learned to live in it,
 

            to walk
through the alien city—
a beekeeper's habit—
 

            with fierce light
clinging to my head and hands.
Treated as gently as every
 

            other guest—
each house's barbed antennae
trawling for any kind
 

            of weather—
still I sobbed in a glass box
on an unswept street
 

            with the last
few lire ticking like fleas
off my phonecard I'm sorry
 

            I can't
stand this, which
one of us do you love?
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Zoom!, by Simon Armitage

    It begins as a house, an end terrace
in this case
    but it will not stop there. Soon it is
an avenue
    which cambers arrogantly past the Mechanics' Institute,
turns left
    at the main road without even looking
and quickly it is
    a town with all four major clearing banks,
a daily paper
    and a football team pushing for promotion.

    On it goes, oblivious of the Planning Acts,
the green belts,
    and before we know it it is out of our hands:
city, nation,
    hemisphere, universe, hammering out in all directions
until suddenly,
    mercifully, it is drawn aside through the eye
of a black hole
    and bulleted into a neighbouring galaxy, emerging
smaller and smoother
    than a billiard ball but weighing more than Saturn.

    People stop me in the street, badger me
in the check-out queue
    and ask "What is this, this that is so small
and so very smooth
    but whose mass is greater than the ringed planet?"
It's just words
    I assure them. But they will not have it.

I Saw the Devil with His Needlework, by Bianca Stone

The air was like a bullet made out of silk
I saw him at the curb
on old upholstery
saw him with his counted-thread-point
and tent-stitch, bent over an embroidery hoop
the trees lifted their drunk limbs and leaves
while the evening
looked through a succession of windows
into other people’s rooms
the evening was a powerful gun
the evening had an Uzi
broad evening
in a neighborhood full of translucent teens
sucking on one another’s backpacks
filling up the trains with their heat
their intelligence pouring out into the street, sobbing—
I saw the devil with his sewing threads
making something special for me
and it wasn’t thunder
it was perfect clouds
I saw the devil with his stitching techniques
textiles and shadow
saw his hands that never stopped
the clean amp of his forehead
tight intervals of flowers in his teeth
bright as an earing in the drain
and I made a force field with the wilderness in my face
and a fortune-teller’s neon sign
that glowed a painted light onto the street
and I said his name
and his crimes
three times against a curse
and found a coin on the ground and read the tiny date
and blessed a bag of weed
and a wild bore
I left my bones and my scars
and went out
like a poltergeist
totally empty

A Sense of Proportion, by William Stobb

On 20th between Madison and Ferry
a line of municipal maples binds the community
to an orderly, serviceable beauty. Platforms
from which our sparrows and starlings
might decorate our domestic sedans,
perhaps these trees serve most to stimulate
the car wash economy. Today, they remind me:

unsatisfied with workaday species, my parents
nailed oranges to a post to attract the exotic Oriole.
When the birds arrived, I wondered if they’d flown
all the way from Baltimore, which in turn
evoked a hotel, gables lined
with black and tangerine, posh clientele
spackled by the vagaries of Maryland living.

By nine I could sigh, climb our single
red maple, which I imagined a national landmark.
Child of movies, I could see the tree even at night
as a kind of beacon, a singularity. White
sheen on the leaves’ pitchy gloss, bodily.
And I too would learn to feel glazed
as any creature accumulating light

cast from stars, hidden in a federation
of equivalent times, distant trains
carrying sugar, coal, whole families beyond
deserts, imposing ranges, shimmering coastlines
said to define the spirit of a people.
Far from the station, the pinpoint aurora,
a line of municipal maples bears its charge.