27 March 2017

Connor Rice

Eleven Oxidations of Iron

Ben got his fingernails pulled off
in the parking garage
The boy peels oranges in the window
and the smell lingers on his fingertips
Throughout the day, he sniffs them
LOVE SONG / ε-Fe 2 O 3
The old couch has a sickly
floral pattern and slumps
in the middle
Kissed a stranger in a club she said
the power is due to go out
Sweat in your gatorade, sand in your eyes
The bunnies are trapped
in the irrigation system
No use trying to free them
How much longer can we feel
like prototypes of ourselves?
Eyes like oil rigs,
an elastic attraction
I like it when our teeth touch
The syrinx is the name
for the vocal organ of birds,
from the Greek for “pan pipes”
APPLAUSE / α-Fe 2 O 3
On a scale of 1 to 10,
how spicy do you like your curry?
The human being in a state
of heightened emotion conducts

22 March 2017

Nikkin Rader (2)

when you climb on top of me
I feel the soles of your feet in my teeth
lick the salt of your brow with breeze past my ribs
when you trim me
bush falls to ground
porcelain pubes tile tears
bloody drops on floor as you carve into my bark
skull meets concrete and we are children again
I swing with you when the wind blows north
and sing to you when the moon howls east
because your breasts are now budding so you don’t want to be held any longer
I want to spread roots into your eyes so you can’t stop looking
syrupy lips open wide for limbs and fingertips on molars tonguing ears with whispers
suckle my fruit I am limber you are limp
wood nymph in yellow eyes with brown hairs underarms
look at me in the night
praise beneath in day
draw me in your books
and paint me on your skin
I am within
of sin

20 March 2017


Zhu Shuzhen, from The Iowa Review, spring 2009

春日雜書十首 / from Ten miscellaneous spring day poems

Nicole Steinberg

Nikkin Rader

Beached nonbody shrivel mountain hearts : keep lips locked to taste each
other’s memories. Would you hawk her bruised fruit? The bulbous cheeks,
sour lips spilling with ephemeral wonder. Graze her banana hip til you peel flesh.
Squeeze her so all life dissipates, juices spilt on flour; sickly waiting for us to
step in her makings.
Elated piece of bark, climbed my trees til branches split. If he spat out the seed
would he taste us for who we really are?
Putrid : unrotting bag of flesh : glorify our grotesque.
undress these wounds so bandages seem like tree-leafs tearing off skin to
seep us of our haunted backwood lingerings of mind.
We let him go rummage through our flowerbed, pick out the bits he didn’t
like and store the parts he did in mason jars to sit on a shelf for decades. We do not
fester but we want to. Waiting, gathering sweetness until we gag at sight of self. No
we do not these becomings desire, so we plunge glass off cliffside and shatter beneath,
letting floor dry us out until none of him is left.

09 March 2017

Alex Dimitrov

Alone Together

Where I’m writing this there’s an ad for high heaven.
It cost me more than those evenings to see you;
more than a lifetime to see my own face.
Money and time then. Both seem misspent here.
I want the bedroom wall bronze
so I sleep without looking for more.
The ocean is old. Planes curve by
and you’re back or that’s luck,
though not lucky enough to become love.
Or the day in my mother’s life
when she forgets (even briefly) about me.
It’s not kind to acknowledge affection is finite,
that all kinds of love have to end.
So if cruelty is one side of freedom
we may want to stay free together alone in the thin afternoon.
I can’t be here or with you. I know that.
But maybe I’m simple, vicious
and human after all.
When the clocks of this world all go useless with promise,
the coyotes crossing the yard look beyond us and roam.
We can dine and pretend that our lives
are our lives without speaking.
Fog in the hills.
People stuck in more traffic but moving.
Someone thinking of us. Someone setting the knives.

27 February 2017

Dobby Gibson

What the Cold Wants

Total mind control, obviously,
though it might start with a simple ceviche,
ample off-street parking, 
and a mostly believable alibi.
Generally speaking, what the cold wants 
is ridiculous. The problem with the cold 
is that it comes from more of it.
It’s divisible only by one and itself.
The cold is not invited 
to many weddings.
Among the cold’s lifetime 
achievements: every touch 
of a stethoscope, zero for sixteen 
from the floor, Shackleton’s last note.
According to experts, the average 
temperature of the entire universe
is negative 454.76 degrees.
Room temperature is a miracle.
More than anything else,
that’s what the cold wants you to believe,
that it’s perfectly normal, 
that it should be allowed to feel 
right at home as it seeps beneath the doors
in search of a meal whose first 
course is your bare toes.
Like a hungry predator,
the cold saves the warm, wet heart for last.
The cold is a form of surveillance.
It’s mostly just time.
Safe at headquarters, the scientist
listens to the batteries in the radio collar 
slowly die, but she knows 
the wolf is out there still.
From you, the cold wants nothing.
Only in.

20 January 2017

from Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping

[...] like the pressure of water against your eardrums, and like the sounds you hear in the moment before you faint.

If one should be shown odd fragments arranged on a silver tray and be told, 'That is a splinter from the True Cross, and that is a nail paring dropped by Barabbas, and that is a bit of lint from under the bed where Pilate's wife dreamed her dream,' the very ordinariness of the things would recommend then, Every spirit passing through the world fingers the tangible and mars the mutable, and finally has come to look and not to buy.

I was always reminded of pictures, images, in places where images never were, in marble, in the blue net of veins at my wrists, in the pearled walls of seashells.

It was perhaps only from watching gulls fly like sparks up the face of clouds that dragged rain the length of the lake that I imaged such an enterprise might succeed. Or it was from watching gnats sail out of the grass, or from watching some discarded leaf gleaming at the top of the wind. Ascension seemed at such times a natural law.

She would say I fell asleep, but I did not. I simply let the darkness in the sky become coextensive with the darkness in my skull and bowels and bones. Everything that falls upon the eye is apparition, a sheet dropped over the world's true workings.

The sky above Fingerbone was a floral yellow. A few spindled clouds smoldered and glowed a most unfiery pink. And then the sun flung a long shaft over the mountain, and another, like a long-legged insect bracing itself out of its chrysalis, and then it showed above the black crest, bristly and red and improbable.

[...] and where the world was salt there would be greater need of slaking. For need can blossom into all the compensation it requires. To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow.

The immense water thunked and thudded beneath my head, and I felt that our survival was owed to our slightness, that we danced through ruinous currents as dry leaves do, and were not capsized because the ruin we rode upon was meant for greater things.

And it seemed that for every pitiable crime there was an appalling accident. What with the lake and the railroads, and what with blizzards and floods and barn fires and forest fires and the general availability of shotguns and bear traps and homemade liquor and dynamite, what with the prevalence of loneliness and religion and the rages and ecstasies they induce, and the closeness of families, violence was inevitable. There were any number of fierce old stories, one like another, varying only in the details of avalanche and explosion, too sad to be told to anyone except strangers one was fairly certain not to meet again. For decades this same sheriff had been summoned like a midwife to preside over the beginnings of these stories, their births in ditches and dark places, out of the bloody loins of circumstance.

Cain killed Abel, and the blood cried out from the ground—a story so sad that even God took notice of it. Maybe it was not the sadness of the story, since worse things have happened every minute since that day, but its novelty that He found striking.

One cannot cup one's hand and drink from the rim of any lake without remembering that mothers have drowned in it, lifting their children toward the air, though they must have known as they did that soon enough the deluge would take all the children, too, even if their arms could have held them up.

[...] if you do not resist the cold, but simply relax and accept it, you no longer feel the cold as discomfort.

By some bleak alchemy what had been mere unbeing becomes death when life is mingled with it.

17 January 2017

Jamey Hecht

First Divorce

after Lattimore’s Homer
We live on the flat surface of the world, and compared with a god,
We can do nothing. If the god or the god’s divine messenger
Were to come to Manhattan and approach this parkbench and sit beside me—
And there is plenty of space for him or her and there is no rain—
Then I believe I could do something, as a famous singer does great things
Until he disappoints his people or is killed; or like a preacher
Who works things with his voice, continually greater, till the god
Reaches out and down with hard bereavement and consumes him.
But as it is, my wife, two years ago, left me; I can do nothing.
I quit my job and moved hundreds of miles away and read and wrote
And looked hard at other people’s lives as they tried to do this or that.
I learned from their stories but the inexorable, dangerous warming of the world
Goes on. Now in my speech I call upon the beautiful past, knowing the lines
Come to nothing and are not poetry; and that other men and women
Are left every day by their women and their men, their vows torn open
Like trash into which the raccoons tear, eager to eat of it,
And they wreck the yard and the sidewalk and disown the mess of it;
When they have eaten their fill they return to the trees and are gone,
And behind them the sorry, noisome garbage scatters on the lovely grass.
Order and peace and abundance and joy are the long work
To which young men and women aspire in their early strength,
But madness comes, and the spoiling vermin down the streetlamp;
My wife becomes my ex-wife, and all the bridal veil and dress
And the heaped white lilies of the wedding day somehow dissolve;

Their promise is consumed; the great love dies of smallness and is gone.

03 January 2017

Judith Ortiz Cofer


My dolls have been put away like dead
children in a chest I will carry
with me when I marry.
I reach under my skirt to feel
a satin slip bought for this day. It is soft
as the inside of my thighs. My hair
has been nailed back with my mother’s
black hairpins to my skull. Her hands
stretched my eyes open as she twisted
braids into a tight circle at the nape
of my neck. I am to wash my own clothes
and sheets from this day on, as if
the fluids of my body were poison, as if
the little trickle of blood I believe
travels from my heart to the world were
shameful. Is not the blood of saints and
men in battle beautiful? Do Christ’s hands
not bleed into your eyes from His cross?
At night I hear myself growing and wake
to find my hands drifting of their own will
to soothe skin stretched tight
over my bones,
I am wound like the guts of a clock,
waiting for each hour to release me.
The Magnitude of Silence.

Emilia Phillips

Age of Beauty

This is not an age of beauty,
I say to the Rite-Aid as I pass a knee-high plastic witch
whose speaker-box laugh is tripped by my calf
breaking the invisible line cast by her motion
sensor. My heart believes it is a muscle

of love, so how do I tell it it is a muscle of blood?

This morning, I found myself
awake before my alarm & felt I’d been betrayed

by someone. My sleep is as thin as a paper bill
backed by black bars of coal that iridesce
indigo in the federal reserve of

dreams. Look, I said to the horse’s
head I saw severed & then set on the ground, the soft
tissue of the cheek & crown cleaved with a necropsy
knife until the skull was visible. You look more
horse than the horses

with names & quilted coats in the pasture, grazing unbothered

by your body in pieces, steaming

against the drizzle. You once had a name
that filled your ears like amphitheaters,
that caused an electrical

spark to bead to your brain. My grief was born
in the wrong time, my grief an old soul, grief re-
incarnate. My grief, once a black-winged

beetle. How I find every excuse to indulge it, like a child
given quarters. In the restaurant, eating alone,

instead of interrogating my own
solitude, I’m nearly undone by the old
woman on her own. The window so filthy,

it won’t even reflect her face, which must not be the same
face she sees when she dreams

of herself in the third person.

Hillery Stone

Lexicon for a Simpler Childhood

In those early days I was afraid
my daughter would overhear the word death,
the words stupid or rich startling the dialogue
like blackbucks leaping onto a wheat field.
Then it was sex I hid, suicide,
schizophrenia that took her young uncle
in front of the shed—shotgun, two
strained weeks out of the clinic. Suicide
was my mother’s father hung
at forty-two, stupid the name boiling
from the mean kids on the street,
rich what we disdained in envy, sex
a rush to the end of her brief childhood.
And death,
death was the emptiness I could not bear
for her to know was ahead, the rain
the antelope can smell coming.
Remember when the world still hid
its shadows? When the saiga had not yet died
by the thousands in a single day?
How good it felt before you knew.

31 December 2016

Jennifer Sperry Steinorth

Dear Robber

Robert Frost is hard for me to get 
excited about. Sacrilege you say? 
But I need him now. In order to write— 
don't know what— not sure how. He loved him. 
My father-in-law. Robert Frost. The world 
he wrote about. Educated on site. 
With a drill bit. And know how. I need him 
now. My father-in-law. To tell me how 
to tell my husband I need him now. 
To hold the world we've lost about. The loss 
we love about. I write it down. Nothing. 
Nothing Robert Frost about it. Nothing 
even. Odd love. Nothing Platonic. 
Something catatonic. Maple saplings 
aren't even. Three leaves tall. Leavings. Three 
leaves tall all about the base of the tree. 
Not even saplings yet. Not even 
saplings, yet leafing out. I pull one out 
of the lichen. I loved him. My father—
in-law. I loved him fatly. I loved 
his portly wobble through the forest. 
Gone now. Why I kite about it. A string. 
A white line between hand and flying thing. 
A white line spooling out of a hand 
at the raised end of a body beached. 
A raised body. Reclining. A friend 
I know barely. A friend I know barely 
dressed on this beach has lost her father. 
I take a lover. Rob Frost. Sacrilege 
you say? He took his own life. My husband's 
father. My husband's wife is afraid of— 
what? The drill bit? A robber? The frost? 
What we winter over all summer. 
The hammer and ten penny nails. What is 
written. What it costs.

Charles Wright

21 December 2016

Marie Antoinette, according to Michael Kimball.

Nobody said, "Let them eat cake."

Marie Antoinette was believed to have said, "Let them eat brioche," but it was a fiction.

Zhu Muzhi, president of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, asserts that Rousseau's version is an alteration of a much older anecdote:

An ancient Chinese emperor who, being told that his subjects didn't have enough rice to eat, replied, "Why don't they eat meat?" The phrase was attributed to Emperor Hui of Jin in Zizhi Tongjian.

There were no actual famines during the reign of King Louis XVI and only two incidents of serious bread shortages, which occurred, first in April–May, 1775, a few weeks before the king's coronation—11 June 1775—and again in 1788, the year before the French Revolution. The 1775 shortages led to a series of riots, known as the Flour War, la guerre des farines—a name given at the time of their occurrence—that took place in the northern, eastern, and western parts of France.

Letters from Marie Antoinette to her family in Austria at this time reveal an attitude totally different to the, "Let them eat cake" mentality.

15 December 2016

Sarah Rose Etter

Still Life with Bird Holes

Words for Love — Ted Berrigan

for Sandy
Winter crisp and the brittleness of snow
as like make me tired as not. I go my
myriad ways blundering, bombastic, dragged
by a self that can never be still, pushed
by my surging blood, my reasoning mind.
I am in love with poetry. Every way I turn
this, my weakness, smites me. A glass
of chocolate milk, head of lettuce, dark-
ness of clouds at one o'clock obsess me.
I weep for all of these or laugh.
By day I sleep, an obscurantist, lost
in dreams of lists, compiled by my self
for reassurance. Jackson Pollock René
Rilke Benedict Arnold I watch
my psyche, smile, dream wet dreams, and sigh.
At night, awake, high on poems, or pills
or simple awe that loveliness exists, my lists
flow differently. Of words bright red
and black, and blue. Bosky. Oubliette. Dis-
severed. And O, alas
Time disturbs me. Always minute detail
fills me up. It is 12:10 in New York. In Houston
it is 2 pm. It is time to steal books. It’s
time to go mad. It is the day of the apocalpyse
the year of parrot fever! What am I saying?
Only this. My poems do contain
wilde beestes. I write for my Lady
of the Lake. My god is immense, and lonely
but uncowed. I trust my sanity, and I am proud. If
I sometimes grow weary, and seem still, nevertheless
my heart still loves, will break.

07 December 2016

The Lazy Susan

The lazy Susan, in antiquity, would have been a fire.Drinking all night, the parents never get drunk.This is an ancient brew, with nuts, seeds, fruitto fuel the hours, to light a center.The tea dispenser’s orange light reminds us:they’re in the dining room, laughing in Chinesewhile we play Scrabble or Monopoly out here.They’re telling stories we don’t bother to recordbecause the nights are long. We’ve heard them before.We don’t comprehend the punch lines. They’re tired.They live this way because of us.
We live this way because of them.We don’t comprehend the punch lines. They’re tiredbecause the nights are long. We’ve heard them before,telling stories we don’t bother to record.While we play Scrabble or Monopoly out here,they’re in the dining room, laughing in Chinese.The tea dispenser’s orange light reminds usto fuel the hours, to light a center.This is an ancient brew, with nuts, seeds, fruit.Drinking all night, the parents never get drunk.The lazy Susan, in antiquity, would have been a fire.
— Adrienne Su